As soon as I finished writing Shallow Grave, I knew I wanted to tell Khaleda Morningstar’s story. I mean, she’s the Devil’s daughter. You don’t get to be a much more interesting character than that in my book. Plus, the only side of her story I was ever able to tell in The Lazarus Codex got filtered through Lazarus’s cis-het white male POV. While he tries to be a progressive male, he’s still himself. I knew Khaleda deserved her own story, but was never sure exactly how to weave it into the complex world of gods, monsters, angels and demons.
Until Death’s Door. After the events of Death Match where she convinces Lazarus to help her in her (failed) assassination attempt against her father, dear old dad decides she’s in need of some parental guidance. Of course, being the Devil, his version of punishment is twisted and monstrous. Death’s Door only lightly touches on some of the torture that Khaleda undergoes.
While Fractured Souls doesn’t unpack all of it, it does go further into showing her cope with PTSD, finding her identity as a person and not just a weapon, and reclaiming control over her own future.
Fractured Souls is very much a story about overcoming PTSD, both for Khaleda and Josiah, a topic I’m intimately familiar with. I’ve battled my own complex PTSD hard over the last two years, coping with traumatic events from my childhood. Coming out on the other side of such a fight is disorienting. Once you’ve come to terms with past abuse, and left behind your abusers, there’s a moment where you’re not quite sure who you are without that painful past to define you, something I tried to showcase in Khaleda’s narrative in Fractured Souls. Childhood trauma often goes on for years and leaves PTSD sufferers without a strong sense of identity. The challenge for adult survivors of PTSD is to re-define themselves and their purpose.
Raised by Lucifer to be an assassin for Hell, Khaleda’s identity was formed early on, not by her choices, but by the choices her father made for her. He sent her all over the world where she seduced and killed whomever she was ordered to, or helped Lucifer cement alliances and favorable business deals.
By the opening of Fractured Souls, she’s left this life behind. The perpetrator of her abuse—her father—is dead at the hands of the Pale Horseman and Josiah, who helped rescue her. While she’s also dealing with a sense of loss (her father is dead and she feels the need to mourn him, despite all that’s happened) she’s also confused by the sadness that overtakes her. After all, why would she want to mourn the man who handed her to demons to torture?
All these things are parts of Khaleda that Lazarus never gets to see, as he’s generally too concerned with his own safety and wellbeing. He views Khaleda as an uneasy ally at best, and a free-will sucking monster at worst. Since free will is one of Lazarus’ most important ideologies, he can never fully trust someone who can take it away from the innocent with something as innocuous as a kiss.
In Fractured Souls, however, I hope Khaleda was able to prove that her most dangerous weapon wasn’t her succubus powers, or her connection to Hell, but her tenacity. Even when the going gets tough, and the monsters seem unbeatable, she won’t walk away. Maybe it’s out of spite. Or maybe there’s something deeper going on.
You can pre-order Fractured Souls today. Click on the link below to check it out on Amazon.
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A reformed succubus. A devilish old flame. This rescue mission just went off the deep end…
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