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Minerva Alumni Book Review: "The Heir of Blood and Secrets" by Linda Xia

Meet Linda, a Class of 2022 alumna, and learn more about her debut novel, "The Heir of Blood and Secrets".

May 8, 2024

In our Alumni Book Review Series, Mira, Class of 2025 will be digging into alumni-written works and then interviewing the authors. The aim of this series is to encourage others in the community to delve into the literary creations of Minerva alumni.

In the grand hall of the annual council gathering, the air is charged with anticipation. The room boasts the most influential people from Devovea: the wealthiest, the magistrates, and the crown, all convened in one place to debate and decide on the future of the nation. Scylla, the daughter of the Magistrate Delevan, and heir to the Council Seat, is patiently listening to the speech prepared by her father and his colleague, Magistrate Reas. As Scylla tries to conceal her disagreement with the proposed defense bill aimed at curbing the rising unrest outside the castle walls, everything halts abruptly. Reas collapses and blood pools across his chest. Silence engulfs the room. The world as Scylla knows it is beginning to fracture.   

This is a small illustration of a scene from Linda’s, Class of 2022, debut novel, The Heir of Blood and Secrets, published in 2021. Her work follows Scylla Delevan on her journey of finding the person responsible for the murder of Magistrate Reas while discovering the darkest secrets hidden within the Castle. As Scylla delves into Devovea’s history, a nation with a mysterious past, the reader is drawn into a whirlwind of intrigue and scandal. With each page turned, the reader walks alongside Scylla, sharing her discoveries and dilemmas. Ultimately, the read is thrilling, a tour de force in storytelling that smashes down gender norms, tradition, and story tropes such as the “chosen one.”

“I don’t like the ‘chosen one’ trope in general because I think it’s unhelpful… it really makes the circumstances of your birth this really important, all-defining thing, and I think that you should be able to choose to do exactly what you want… it is entirely unfair for someone to go, ‘oh you but you know, it said that you have to save the world, so you have to go save the world now,” notes Linda when we interviewed her back in December. The “chosen one” trope traditionally portrays a person who is prophesied to overcome significant challenges and achieve great things. In many narratives, the “chosen one” is at first reluctant to fulfill their destiny but then comes to still accomplish it throughout the story. This trope had key philosophical appeal to Linda as she saw it written over time and time again in the stories she was reading. She wanted to write something different, something she would have liked to read herself and that challenged this common narrative structure. 

Oftentimes Linda drew inspiration from her own life and her academics. For example, after taking a class on motivation and human behavior, Linda was able to integrate her acquired knowledge into thinking through how certain characters would respond to situations or pursue certain quests and goals. After an Economics class that looked at different economies across the world, Linda was able to establish core principles for the setting of Devovea. Traveling to different cities and meeting new people was also key to inspiring aspects of the novel. One of the main characters, Ilya Ochion, was inspired by a chance encounter while on rotation in Berlin; altruism and kindness at the forefront of the budding relationship of a newly found friend. 

The book has long been in the making. Linda officially decided to write it in 2014 after learning about National Novel Writing Month, which is a global challenge where people around the world attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. At the time, she didn’t necessarily see herself as a writer but was drawn to the challenge. Since 2014, those first 50,000 words have gone through a lot of iterations.  

Linda initially attempted the formal publishing route for a few years, which is, according to her, a long, tedious, and unrealistic way to live – conferences, talking to agents, and writing email after email did not move the needle for her work. She put a pin in the project, began her four years at Minerva, and did not revisit the work until the global pandemic interrupted her senior year. She returned home for the semester, fell into a month of self-pity, and felt motivationally depleted. She couldn’t wake up for her classes, she couldn’t, in her words, “do anything but feel sorry for myself.” So she went back to the book and used it as a kind of lifeline to bring purpose back into her world. From there, the writing and finishing process moved fairly quickly. “It’s a lot easier to write quickly because you don't have enough time to worry about what you’re doing or not doing,” says L.

At its core, Linda notes that The Heir of Blood and Secrets is about a girl whose father is accused of murder, and her journey to find the real murderer. We won’t spoil anything further, but Linda says that she really went back and forth on whether or not Scylla’s father actually did do the murder, but ultimately “you have to make a decision at some point.” If you want to find out the truth, we highly recommend giving it a read.

Learn more about what Minerva University alumni are up to on our blog.

Quick Facts

Name
Country
Class
Major

Natural Sciences

Social Sciences

Cognitive Science and Economics & Political Science

Social Sciences & Business

Business & Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Computational Sciences & Social Sciences

Computer Science & Arts and Humanities

Business and Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Arts and Humanities

Business, Social Sciences

Business & Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences, Natural Sciences

Data Science, Statistics

Computational Sciences

Business

Computational Sciences, Data Science

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Business, Natural Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Computational Sciences, Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Science

Social Sciences, Business

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Science

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Science, Statistic Natural Sciences

Business & Social Sciences

Computational Science, Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Business

Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Arts and Humanities

Computational Science

Minor

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Science & Business

Economics

Social Sciences

Concentration

Economics and Society

Cells and Organisms & Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Applied Problem Solving & Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence & Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Designing Societies & New Ventures

Strategic Finance & Data Science and Statistics

Brand Management and Designing Societies

Data Science & Economics

Machine Learning

Cells, Organisms, Data Science, Statistics

Arts & Literature and Historical Forces

Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Cells and Organisms, Mind and Emotion

Economics, Physics

Managing Operational Complexity and Strategic Finance

Global Development Studies and Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Scalable Growth, Designing Societies

Business

Drug Discovery Research, Designing and Implementing Policies

Historical Forces, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, Psychology

Designing Solutions, Data Science and Statistics

Data Science and Statistic, Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science

Strategic Finance, Politics, Government, and Society

Data Analysis, Cognition

Brand Management

Data Science and Statistics & Economics

Cognitive Science & Economics

Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery

Internship
Higia Technologies
Project Development and Marketing Analyst Intern at VIVITA, a Mistletoe company
Business Development Intern, DoSomething.org
Business Analyst, Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Conversation

In our Alumni Book Review Series, Mira, Class of 2025 will be digging into alumni-written works and then interviewing the authors. The aim of this series is to encourage others in the community to delve into the literary creations of Minerva alumni.

In the grand hall of the annual council gathering, the air is charged with anticipation. The room boasts the most influential people from Devovea: the wealthiest, the magistrates, and the crown, all convened in one place to debate and decide on the future of the nation. Scylla, the daughter of the Magistrate Delevan, and heir to the Council Seat, is patiently listening to the speech prepared by her father and his colleague, Magistrate Reas. As Scylla tries to conceal her disagreement with the proposed defense bill aimed at curbing the rising unrest outside the castle walls, everything halts abruptly. Reas collapses and blood pools across his chest. Silence engulfs the room. The world as Scylla knows it is beginning to fracture.   

This is a small illustration of a scene from Linda’s, Class of 2022, debut novel, The Heir of Blood and Secrets, published in 2021. Her work follows Scylla Delevan on her journey of finding the person responsible for the murder of Magistrate Reas while discovering the darkest secrets hidden within the Castle. As Scylla delves into Devovea’s history, a nation with a mysterious past, the reader is drawn into a whirlwind of intrigue and scandal. With each page turned, the reader walks alongside Scylla, sharing her discoveries and dilemmas. Ultimately, the read is thrilling, a tour de force in storytelling that smashes down gender norms, tradition, and story tropes such as the “chosen one.”

“I don’t like the ‘chosen one’ trope in general because I think it’s unhelpful… it really makes the circumstances of your birth this really important, all-defining thing, and I think that you should be able to choose to do exactly what you want… it is entirely unfair for someone to go, ‘oh you but you know, it said that you have to save the world, so you have to go save the world now,” notes Linda when we interviewed her back in December. The “chosen one” trope traditionally portrays a person who is prophesied to overcome significant challenges and achieve great things. In many narratives, the “chosen one” is at first reluctant to fulfill their destiny but then comes to still accomplish it throughout the story. This trope had key philosophical appeal to Linda as she saw it written over time and time again in the stories she was reading. She wanted to write something different, something she would have liked to read herself and that challenged this common narrative structure. 

Oftentimes Linda drew inspiration from her own life and her academics. For example, after taking a class on motivation and human behavior, Linda was able to integrate her acquired knowledge into thinking through how certain characters would respond to situations or pursue certain quests and goals. After an Economics class that looked at different economies across the world, Linda was able to establish core principles for the setting of Devovea. Traveling to different cities and meeting new people was also key to inspiring aspects of the novel. One of the main characters, Ilya Ochion, was inspired by a chance encounter while on rotation in Berlin; altruism and kindness at the forefront of the budding relationship of a newly found friend. 

The book has long been in the making. Linda officially decided to write it in 2014 after learning about National Novel Writing Month, which is a global challenge where people around the world attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. At the time, she didn’t necessarily see herself as a writer but was drawn to the challenge. Since 2014, those first 50,000 words have gone through a lot of iterations.  

Linda initially attempted the formal publishing route for a few years, which is, according to her, a long, tedious, and unrealistic way to live – conferences, talking to agents, and writing email after email did not move the needle for her work. She put a pin in the project, began her four years at Minerva, and did not revisit the work until the global pandemic interrupted her senior year. She returned home for the semester, fell into a month of self-pity, and felt motivationally depleted. She couldn’t wake up for her classes, she couldn’t, in her words, “do anything but feel sorry for myself.” So she went back to the book and used it as a kind of lifeline to bring purpose back into her world. From there, the writing and finishing process moved fairly quickly. “It’s a lot easier to write quickly because you don't have enough time to worry about what you’re doing or not doing,” says L.

At its core, Linda notes that The Heir of Blood and Secrets is about a girl whose father is accused of murder, and her journey to find the real murderer. We won’t spoil anything further, but Linda says that she really went back and forth on whether or not Scylla’s father actually did do the murder, but ultimately “you have to make a decision at some point.” If you want to find out the truth, we highly recommend giving it a read.

Learn more about what Minerva University alumni are up to on our blog.