Why was Soul of Kandrith so dark?
First off, I’m sorry. The book went into much darker territory than I had originally intended (SEE my Blog: How the Villain Stomped on My Outline). If you found the rape scenes too hard to read I fully understand. I read very little horror for the same reason. I read for enjoyment and if I’m not enjoying the book, that kind of spoils the whole purpose. There are parts of Soul of Kandrith I would go back and rewrite if I could.
So why did I choose to include those scenes?
1/ Slavery is a horrible thing: brutal labour, beatings that often led to death, forcible separation from loved ones, and, especially for women, rape. I do not find slavery romantic and dislike stories that paper over the truth of slavery. Since the Kandrith series is about slavery, I did not feel I could adequately deal with the issue while ignoring the fact that slaves were frequently raped.
2/ Believe it or not, I considered the rape scenes to be mild. (Again my apologies if I missed the mark.) The horror of rape comes from two things: the pain caused by the violence of the act and the emotional trauma that results. At this stage in the book Sara is still soulless: her emotions are disconnected from her body. She is not immune to pain, but she is indifferent to it. She does not fear it. (This is amply demonstrated throughout the book when she reaches into boiling water and steps off a roof etc.) In fact she sometimes seeks pain out because it gives her a faint echo of an emotion. It is just a sensation to her. Since her emotions are muted to non-existent she doesn’t suffer from the emotional trauma any normal person would either. Her trust in men is not shattered, her heart is not broken, she doesn’t feel any of the bullshit ‘shame’ often inflicted on rape victims by society. When she regains her soul, Lance, Pallax and her brother save her from further rape by Nir.
3/ I disliked writing the rape scenes, but I LOVE the aftermath scenes. Nir doesn’t want to just possess Sara’s body, he wants to break her spirit, to turn her into another Cassia. He repeatedly tries to humiliate, degrade and shame Sara and FAILS. He leaves her naked, chained to a wall, the door open so everyone can see? Sara wonders when breakfast is coming. He prepares to brand her as his property? Sara gets impatient and holds the iron to her own flesh. He tries the abusive husband trick to convince her that he’s beating her because she dropped a tray? Sara calls bullshit: there is no way to please him, he’s beating her because he likes to beat women and no servile fawning in the world will save her once he’s made the decision. He will always find an excuse.
4/ In order for Sara to earn back her soul, she needed to endure hardship. If she regained her soul too easily, from the mere passage of time, I felt that it took away from the enormity of her sacrifice in book one. A too easy route would have tarnished her victory.