Today I’m happy to take part in a book tour for Joanna Ruth Meyer’s debut young adult fantasy novel. It’s called Beneath the Haunting Sea, and it sounds like an intriguing tale set in a mysterious land. Below you can find more information about the book and author as well as an excerpt from Chapter Four.
The book is set to release in early January,
and I have one copy to give away to a reader who leaves a comment below. In your comment tell us why you like to read YA fantasy. Enter by midnight (PST), Tuesday, January 2, 2018 for a chance to win. Please note: the giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Hannah on winning.
About the book:
Can’t you hear it, Talia?
Can’t you hear the waves singing?
Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.It is here, in the drafty halls of the Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy with a troubling vision of her future, and a relic that holds the power of an ancient Star. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, revealing long-forgotten tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that Talia unravels about the gods’ history–and her own–the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.
About the Author:
Joanna Ruth Meyer is a writer of Young Adult fantasy. She lives with her dear husband and son in Arizona, where it never rains (or at least not often enough for her!). When she’s not writing, she can be found teaching piano lessons, drinking copious amounts of tea, reading thick books, and dreaming of winter.
Visit the upcoming stops on the Tour!
It was night when they reached the sea. She could smell it through the rough sacking a guard had shoved over her head as he yanked her from the carriage. She could hear it, crashing against creaking wood, feel its sudden cold spray against her bare legs.
She’d spent five days rattling onward in that awful carriage, with little food and nothing but her own dark imaginings to keep her company. Worry for her mother ate her up, dwarfing even her dread for her own uncertain future.
And now she’d come to the sea.
The long days of immobility made her unsteady on her feet. She tripped as her guard hauled her along, his grip too rough just under her armpit. She tried to shake him off, but his fingers dug deeper. Salt-drenched wind whispered underneath the sack, and a chill ran down her spine.
The harsh cries of birds and shouting men tangled with clanging bells and snapping ropes. Wooden planks swayed back and forth beneath her, scraping her feet through the holes in her ruined calfskin sandals. The wind stank of salt and fish and tar. Her free hand scrabbled to pull the sack off her head, and she had a brief glimpse of stars and dark water, stretching out to meet the moon, before the guard jerked her across a deck and shoved her through a low door.
She nearly collided with a brown-skinned man in a naval uniform and blue cap, who caught her by the shoulders and steadied her. He looked about forty, and had a captain’s sigil pinned to his collar—she recognized both uniform and sigil from the envoys who reported regularly to Eddenahr with shipping reports for the emperor, though she didn’t remember seeing this particular captain before.
“Hey, now!” he said, peering behind Talia to frown at her guard. “There’s no cause to be discourteous to a lady.”
“You have your orders, Captain, and I have mine. She’s your responsibility now.” And then her guard was gone, his boots creaking back across the deck the way they’d come.
She was on a ship, Talia realized belatedly, staring through the doorway at huge white sails that billowed full in the light of the moon. Men clambered on the rigging, hauling ropes and shouting to each other. The sea shimmered black beyond the rail.
It was only then that she understood the true scope of Eda’s words. I’m banishing you from Enduena, little sister.
“Welcome aboard, Miss Dahl-Saida.”
She turned back to the captain, who gave her a polite bow. “I’m Captain Oblaine Al-Tesh, at your service. I believe you know my other passenger.”
He stepped aside so she had a clear view of what had to be the ship’s great cabin. The low chamber, lit by a green glass lamp swaying from the ceiling, had a wooden table ringed with chairs and square-paned windows, tall as grown men, winking out into the night.
A woman crouched on one of the windowsills, the dirty red silk of her dress pooling in tatters to the floor, black hair hanging in knots on her shoulders. She lifted her head, remnants of kohl and gold powder smeared across her cheeks.
“Mama!” Talia cried out, lunging across the tilting cabin and into her mother’s arms. “I thought I’d lost you—I thought you were dead!”
Her mother kissed her hair and hugged her fiercely. “My dear, dear girl. I thought I’d lost you too.” She sounded more tired than Talia had ever heard her, and dark circles sagged under her eyes. But her smile was bright. “It seems the gods are watching out for us.”
Talia flinched. She wished her mother wouldn’t bring the gods into this—sometimes she was as bad as Ayah. “How can you say that, when everything went so wrong?”
Her mother’s smile vanished; she seemed suddenly listless and ill. “The gods saved us, Talia. Don’t blame them for what Eda did. I think she’s been planning this for a very, very long time, no doubt bribing supporters with her parents’ fortune. And I suspect the timing of the emperor’s death was no accident.”
“Before I hear any other treasonous remarks,” said Captain Oblaine behind them, “Her Imperial Majesty commanded me to give you this.” He held out a letter, sealed in red wax. “For you, Miss Dahl-Saida.”
She took it, breaking the seal with her thumb and squinting at the elegantly penned words in the dim light. Beneath her the ship creaked and swayed, and water slapped up against the hull.
Aria Dahl-Saida, formerly the Countess of Irsa, and her daughter, Talia Dahl-Saida, are hereby stripped of land and titles, and banished to the imperial province of Ryn for the duration of their lifetimes, under pain of death if they should ever attempt to return to Enduena, by order of Her Imperial Majesty Eda Mairin-Draive, gods-blessed Empress of Enduena, Queen of Ryn, and Ruler of Od.
Talia felt numb, seeing her fate inscribed before her eyes in stark ink. She passed the letter to her mother without a word.
Ryn was the most remote part of the empire that Eda could possibly send them to. Besides Od, it was the only other non-mainland province, located thousands of miles northeast across the sea, and was little more than a large island. The emperor had conquered Ryn on one of his first campaigns, shortly after ascending the throne some forty years ago. Ryn’s only export was fish, and by all reports its people were uneducated and boorish.
They might as well be going to the ends of the earth.
There was a knock on the door, and a sailor stepped in with a laden tray, which he balanced expertly against the roll of the ship.
“I expect you’re hungry,” said Captain Oblaine with a kind smile as the sailor set three places at the table and then left again.
Oblaine sat at the head of the table and poured tea, while Talia took a seat next to her mother. The two of them piled their plates high with biscuits and salted fish. A week ago, Talia would have sneered at such fare—now it seemed a feast fit for the emperor himself. She’d had nothing but dust-dry bread and stale water since her party, and she found it horrendously difficult to not devour everything in sight like a starving hound.
“Where are we?” she asked between mouthfuls.
The captain took a swig from his mug, which Talia suspected contained something stronger than tea. “Just leaving the main port in Evalla. If we catch a steady wind we should reach Ryn before autumn.”
Talia nearly choked on a biscuit. “That’s half a year from now!”
“It’s a long way. But I’ve made the journey many times, and perhaps the wind gods will favor us.”
“And the sea goddess too,” said Talia’s mother unexpectedly.
Oblaine laughed. “The sea goddess favors no one but herself, if the stories are to be believed.”
“They’re just stories,” Talia snapped.
“Right you are.” He took another drink. “Seafaring men tend more toward religion than most, but I only care about a safe journey and a ship in one piece at the end of it. My men can sort out which of the gods to thank. Ryn, now there’s a place filled with superstitious people. They’re always going on about the Tree—supposedly that’s where it fell, when the gods tore it out of the ground.”
Her mother was eating at a much slower pace, trembling as she lifted her fork. “All stories have at least a grain of truth in them. One ought to think carefully before dismissing them out of hand.”
Talia frowned. Her mother hadn’t gone on about the old myths in years—what was wrong with her? “Do you know where Eda’s sending us once we get to Ryn?” she asked the captain.
“You’re to be wards of Baron Graimed Dacien-Tuer. Used to be a prince before Ryn became part of the Empire.”
So Eda was shutting them away with other forgotten royalty. Talia would have no life to speak of, no future. She stared at her plate, her appetite gone.
“I’ll endeavor to make your journey as comfortable as possible. You’ll have to stay belowdecks during storms and keep out of my men’s way, but other than that you’re free to go where you please.”
Her mother drooped in her chair, and Talia laid a hand on her arm.
“We need to rest now,” she said to the Captain.
Oblaine nodded. “I’ll have one of my men show you to your quarters at once.” He scraped back his chair and stood, eying them with a distant sort of pity as he left the cabin.
Her mother’s shoulders shook, and tears leaked from her eyes. She seemed like a wholly different person from the impenetrable woman Talia had known all her life, and it scared her. “What’s wrong, Mama? We’re together now. Everything is going to be all right.”
“Can’t you hear it?” her mother whispered.
The only sound was the water, slapping the sides of the ship. “Hear what?”
“The waves. They’re singing.”
Excerpted from BENEATH THE HAUNTING SEA © Copyright 2018 by Joanna Ruth Meyer. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.