The Healers / Balance Academy series

The Healers/Balance Academy series takes place in a fantasy world where magic has always existed, to the point where it is considered no more fantastical than engineering or ballet: a difficult skill that many learn, based on a number of competing philosophies or traditions. The Academy of the Divine Balance is one such institution of magic, training magical healers as well as priests and temple guards to staff its pantheist shrines.

The three books so far follow the story of Agna Despana, a recent healing-magic graduate of the Academy, the scion of an influential art-dealing family, and a general know-it-all who is wildly out of her depth when the story begins. Her deuteragonist / worst enemy / best frienemy / ride-or-die friend is Keifon the Medic, who has just crawled out of a nasty breakup yet again when the story begins, and tries to protect his bruised heart with rigid self-righteousness. Which, as you might guess, does not work very well.

The series maintains a personal scope, focusing closely on character development and on relationships of various kinds. It happens to dovetail in some ways with the cozy fantasy movement (though not in others), taking time to unpack the characters’ journeys and lives.

On purchasing options: As of November 2023, this series is in Kindle Unlimited, which means it’s free to KU subscribers and paid on Amazon, and not available anywhere else as an ebook. (It’s actually not available anywhere else in print right now, but that’s due to my own lack of time/energy rather than an intentional omission.)

I have plenty of issues with Amazon, and understand completely if someone doesn’t want to patronize them. It’s not a perfect decision. But so far, I’ve been able to reach more readers through KU than I was through the other storefronts. And while I acknowledge that it isn’t an uncomplicated or ideal situation, I’d still rather reach more people than not, if I can.

Down the road, maybe that will change. And I don’t mind at all hearing from people who would rather not use Amazon. It’s good to know. But for the time being, that’s the situation.

Book 1: The Healers’ Road

Second chances and unexpected friends

Agna Despana has studied magical healing for nearly half her life, and now she finally gets to prove herself. Ambitious, opinionated, and out of her depth, she will plan her way out of any situation. Except the presence of the dismissive doomsayer she’s been matched up with.

Keifon the Medic has nearly given up. Having lost his family, his old life, and his revolutionary ex-boyfriend, he puts himself at the gods’ mercy to give him a new purpose. Maybe helping people as a medic will suffice. If only he weren’t saddled with this pompous young heathen.

Assigned as partners, the two travel the back roads with a merchants’ caravan, providing medical aid. They each have all the answers, but it will take a long journey, some chance encounters, and a deep look inside to reach the truth.

The Healers’ Road is an enemies-to-friends low-stakes fantasy road trip with warm campfires, good books, and the power of healing yourself as well as others.

On Amazon – print and ebook; Kindle Unlimited where available
On Goodreads – rate and review

Content Notes / Trivia

Published: Nov. 2014

Book 2: The Healers’ Home

Sometimes home is a place, sometimes it’s a person

At the conclusion of their travels, friends Agna and Keifon have found the perfect spot: a frontier town with a new hospital, a friendly community, and a short route to Keifon’s homeland for visits with his daughter. And it lacks an art gallery, leaving Agna the opportunity to stake her claim.

Keifon has always dreamed of establishing a life with someone, but sharing an apartment with his friend is a purely practical arrangement… right? And when someone from Keifon’s past shows up, Agna finds her doubts are too much to bear. Maybe hopping on the next carriage out of town isn’t the most mature solution, but she has business to settle with her family back home…

The Healers’ Home is a cozy fantasy about establishing a life, navigating the lines between friendship and commitment, and finding where you belong.

On Amazon – print and ebook; Kindle Unlimited where available
On Goodreads – rate and review

Content Notes / Trivia

Published: Oct. 2016

Book 3: The Healers’ Purpose

Some burdens can’t be carried alone

After her disastrous trip back home, Agna could use a win. A promotion to a position of authority over her team of healers seems like the perfect chance to turn things around. But the kind of leader who relies on meticulous planning and complete control can only stretch herself so thin for so long.

Keifon has settled into his new life: a mentor he respects, a circle of friends, and even a chance to give back to his community. He has confessed his feelings to his dearest friend, or so he thinks, and waits for her reply. But questions rise along the way: could he keep the next lost soul from making the same mistakes he did?

Something has to give when the pressure builds. The only way through is to work together with those they love — if they can figure out what that means.

The Healers’ Purpose is a medium-stakes fantasy about building community, finding balance, and defining your own path.

On Amazon – print and ebook; Kindle Unlimited where available
On Goodreads – rate and review

Content Notes / Trivia

Published: Aug. 2022

…But is it cozy?

It depends on how you define it. The first book was released in 2014, several years before cozy fantasy was created as a genre. It was inspired by LeGuin’s Tehanu, the character-driven focus of the romance genre, and iyashikei anime, not genre source Legends and Lattes (which didn’t exist at the time). It is not recommended by the cozyfantasy subreddit’s official list. Some reviewers have commented that it’s too dark to qualify as cozy.

On the other hand, it’s about empathy, optimism, and overcoming trauma and personal shortcomings. There are a lot of quiet, domestic moments. There is no evil overlord threatening to blow up the moon. So if you have a broad definition of cozy, it could fit. I consider it closer to hopepunk or slice of life, but the boundaries are fuzzy.

But if you are looking for a 100% chill and comforting time, the first book in particular is not it. Our leads start in a pretty unhappy place before they earn their warm fuzzies. The third book isn’t either, because some challenging things happen. The second is the closest, but even then, some challenging things happen in that book too.

So there’s a lot of tea and ride-or-die friendship, but it may not be the story you’re looking for. Please heed the content warnings above, read reviews first, and take care of yourselves.