A big welcome to Joanna Ruth Meyer who is here with an excerpt from Beneath the Haunting Sea (published on January 9, 2018 by Page Street).
Excerpt from Beneath the Haunting Sea
Joanna Ruth Meyer
The coach rattled up the road, icy air leaking in through the crack under the door. Talia didn’t think she would ever be warm again—the cold gnawed into her bones. She shuddered in the ratty blanket she had stolen from last night’s flea-infested inn. She had no money to purchase any kind of coat, and no leisure to shop for one even if she did. The driver who had collected her from the seaport kept a strict schedule.
The landscape stretched out before her, the endless low-rolling hills spotted with patches of purple heather. Clouds hung overhead, moody and dark, blotting out any hint of the morning sun.
She knew only two things about the Ruen-Dahr, the Baron’s estate where she was headed: it stood on a bluff overlooking the sea, and the proprietor at the last inn thought it was haunted.
It had been four days since she left Captain Oblaine and Hanid at the seaport. Four days since she’d seen the ocean.
It had been two months and eleven days since she’d lost her mother.
They’d had a funeral of sorts, on the ship. She’d tied a scrap of white sailcloth around her arm in lieu of proper mourning clothes. Captain Oblaine had spoken the formal words of burial, but Talia had stumbled over the traditional prayer: May your spirit be gathered beyond the circles of the world, and your body rest quiet until the end of time, when the world is unmade.
She didn’t know the prayer for burial at sea.
She curled tightly on the carriage seat. Her mother’s death was a constant, gnawing ache, as if her leg had been cut off but she still had phantom pains. Most days she did her best not to think about it, because when she did, when she really, truly thought about that night in the storm when her mother flung open the window, the world went black and she didn’t know how she would ever go on, how she could ever go on. Because the truth was—the truth was—
The truth was she should have leapt up in time to pull her back.
She should have jumped out the window after her, grabbed her before the sea swallowed her up.
She should have done something.
But by the time she tore up on deck screaming for help it was already too late. Sailors threw ropes into the water below the spot where her mother had fallen. They shouted her name through the wind and the rain. One of them even dove overboard to look for her.
But it was too late.
She was gone.
And Talia wished the sea would have claimed her, too.
She didn’t know how to live with her mother’s absence, with that phantom pain that would never go away.
The only solace she could find was to try not to think about it, and that was no comfort at all. It left her feeling numb and awful. Empty.
The coach lurched over a stone, shaking Talia from her thoughts. It turned onto a rutted path that wound steadily upward. She strained her eyes out across the hills, yearning to catch some glimpse of the sea. The wind blew harder, shaking the coach from side to side, and Talia pulled the awful blanket tighter around her shoulders. Where had Eda sent her?
The coach climbed higher, the road grew steeper. Talia thought she caught the sudden hint of salt in the air blowing under the door. Her heart slammed hard against her ribcage.
The carriage came over another ridge and then she did see it: the gleam of the sea off in the distance. A thrill went through her, and she hated herself—the sea had taken everything from her and yet here she was, as glad to see it again as a drowning man gasping a longed-for breath of air.
The coach turned and Talia lost the ocean behind a grassy bluff. She tried to swallow down her disappointment.
On and on they wound through the hills, her anxiety mounting with every moment.
A break in the road, the coach wheels clattering onto cobbled stones, a tall grim house rising above her, with the sea gray and restless far down behind it.
She tamped down her nerves as the driver swept open the coach door and handed her out. She left the blanket on the seat in a burst of Enduenan pride, but she wasn’t sure it mattered—she was still dressed in the cast-off trousers and shapeless, worn shirt Captain Oblaine had given her half a year ago. The lady she used to be had been left far behind in another life. She looked like what she was: an outcast, an orphan. A nobody.
She squared her shoulders and peered at the house, a sprawling old mansion that had clearly seen better days. The stones were weathered, the slate roofs crumbling, the windows smudged and dark. Several crooked towers stretched up into the sky, and from the highest one flew the Imperial banner of three stars on a blue field edged with gold. It flapped listlessly, its edges ragged and fraying. The scent of the sea wrapped all around her and she heard the waves pounding hard on the shore beyond the house. She longed to run down to the beach for a proper view, but she forced herself to stand there, waiting for some instruction from the driver.
She glanced back to see him wrestling a small leather chest from under his seat, and she heard the clink of coins as he tucked it under his arm.
“Well, m’lady,” he said in a mocking tone, climbing down from the coach. “Let’s be rid of you.”
He strode up the cobbled drive to the house and Talia followed, anxious and jittery. She didn’t precisely understand the conditions of her stay here, but, if Eda had anything to do with it, they couldn’t possibly be pleasant.
The clouds broke, letting rain fall icy and cold, and they ran the rest of the way, darting up several steps to a tall brown door that was mercifully sheltered by the overhanging roof. The driver grasped the brass knocker and rapped three times.
Talia clamped her teeth down hard on the inside of her cheek to keep from shaking.
Footsteps sounded on the other side of the door, and a moment later the door creaked inward to reveal the plain face and starched cap of a middle-aged servingwoman. She peered at them with some annoyance, her eyes darting from the driver to Talia and then back again. “What is it? His Grace isn’t expecting visitors today.”
“Delivery from the empress.” The driver jerked his head in Talia’s direction. “Miss Talia Dahl-Saida, erstwhile heiress of Irsa. Is the baron at home?”
The servingwoman blinked a few times. “I’ll fetch His Grace’s steward.” She shut the door in their faces.
The driver swore, glaring at Talia like everything was her fault.
She shifted from one foot to the other, in a dual attempt to generate warmth and dispel her nervous energy. The rain pounded hard at their backs—the driver would be soaked through on his trip back to the village. The thought gave her more pleasure than it should have.
Excerpted from BENEATH THE HAUNTING SEA © Copyright 2018 by Joanna Ruth Meyer. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Joanna Ruth Meyer
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.
Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Available on January 9, 2018 by Page Street
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.
Check out the rest of the tour:
December 19: Mother Daughter Book Club
December 20: YA Books Central
December 21: Fantasy Book Critic
December 22: Brittany’s Book Rambles
December 27: SFFWorld
December 28: Short & Sweet Reviews
December 29: SciFiChick
January 2: The Cover Contessa
January 3: Seeing Double In Neverland
January 4: All Things Urban Fantasy
January 9: Mundie Moms
January 11: Fantasy Book Cafe
January 18: YA Interrobang
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