One of my favorite authors, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, has just released a new book in her fantasy series Tales of Goldstone Wood.  I had the privilege of receiving an early copy of the novella Goddess Tithe in exchange for an honest review.
Each of the stories in the series so far has seemed to me not just a book but a window into one part of an intricate world.  Stengl has built up this world so thoroughly that when I read one of her books I feel that I’m getting just a glimpse into something much bigger.  So far, every one of them has left me feeling that I’ve just paid a short visit to a place I could spend years and years exploring (and never grow tired of, so I’m glad she has several more planned!). 
Though significantly shorter than Stengl’s other books, Goddess Tithe provides the same kind of reading experience; the same kind of window.  It gives an intriguing glimpse of a culture alluded to only briefly elsewhere, but one that Stengl has obviously put a lot of time and thought into developing.  The characters are well rounded and believable, and I feel that I know them well now.  Their adventures and the settings, though unique, are still consistent with the rest of the series.  
This story takes place during the time of one of the previous ones, Veiled Rose, and provides readers an extra look at an episode in the life of the character Leonard – from a new character’s point of view.  This little novella serves to enrich the world of Goldstone Wood by adding one more angle through which we can see it; one more set of eyes through which to seethe experiences of a character we already knew.  And like all the rest of the books, it makes me wonder what other angles there are that I don’t know about yet; what other cultures exist there that we have yet to see.  I can’t wait for the author’s next books!
Click here to view or buy Goddess Tithe on Amazon.

A couple of months ago I featured Goddess Tithe on my blog when Anne Elisabeth Stengl did a cover reveal.  Click here to read that post, which includes an excerpt from the story.

Have you read any of the Tales of Goldstone Wood?  I’d love to hear what you like about them, or which one is your favorite.  Feel free to reply in the comments!

I’m excited to feature fellow author Anne Elisabeth Stengl’s new book Goddess Tithe on my blog today.  I’ve really enjoyed all the others in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series, and I can’t wait to read this one!  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom for your chance to win a free copy.

Title: Goddess Tithe
Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood
Expected Release Date: November 12, 2013
Publisher: Rooglewood Press
Page Count: 130 pages
The Vengeful Goddess Demands Her Tithe

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya‘s only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown’s garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?

Goodreads * Blog Page

You can learn more about Goddess Tithewhich novel it’s connected to and read Chapter 1, here: 

Excerpt from the Story:

Here is an excerpt from the middle of the story. In this scene, Munny has been ordered to Captain Sunan’s cabin to clear away his breakfast . . . an unexpected task, for a lowly cabin boy would not ordinarily dare enter his captain’s private quarters! Munny hopes to slip in and out quietly without attracting the captain’s notice. But his hopes are dashed when Sunan addresses him, asking how their strange, foreign stowaway is faring:
“And what do you make of him yourself?”
Munny dared glance his captain’s way and was relieved when his eyes met only a stern and rigid back. “I’m not sure, Captain,” he said. “I think he’s afraid. But not of . . .”
“Not of the goddess?” the Captain finished for him. And with these words he turned upon Munny, his eyes so full of secrets it was nearly overwhelming. Munny froze, his fingers just touching but not daring to take up a small teapot of fragile work.
The Captain looked at him, studying his small frame up and down. “No,” he said, “I believe you are right. Leonard the Clown does not fear Risafeth. I believe he is unaware of his near peril at her will, suffering as he does under a peril nearer still.”
 Munny made neither answer nor any move.
“We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly, won’t we, Munny?” the Captain said. But he did not speak as though he expected an answer, so again Munny offered none. “We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly and there let him choose his own dark future.”
“I hope—” Munny began.
But he was interrupted by a sudden commotion on deck. First a rising murmur of voices, then many shouts, inarticulate in cacophony. But a pounding at the cabin door accompanied Sur Agung’s voice bellowing, “Captain, you’d best come see this!”
The Captain’s eyes widened a moment and still did not break gaze with Munny’s. “We’ll keep him safe,” he repeated. Then he turned and was gone, leaving the door open.
Munny put down the pot he held and scurried after. The deck was alive with hands, even those who were off watch, crawling up from the hatches and crowding the rails on the port side. They parted way for the Captain to pass through, but when Munny tried to follow, they closed in again, blocking him as solidly as a brick wall.
“Look! Look!” Munny heard voices crying.
“It’s a sign!”
“She’s warning us!”
“It’s a sign, I tell you!”
Fearing he knew not what, Munny ran for the center mast and climbed partway up, using the handholds and footholds with unconscious confidence. Soon he was high enough to see over the heads of the gathered crew, out into the blue waters of the ocean. And he saw them.
 They were water birds. Big white albatrosses, smaller seagulls, heavy cormorants, even deep-throated pelicans and sleek, black-faced terns. These and many more, hundreds of them, none of which should be seen this far out to sea.
They were all dead. Floating in a great mass.
Munny clung to the mast, pressing his cheek against its wood. The shouts of the frightened sailors below faded away, drowned out by the desolation of that sight. Death, reeking death, a sad flotilla upon the waves.
“I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Munny looked down to where Leonard clung to the mast just beneath him, staring wide-eyed out at the waves. “How could this have happened? Were they sick? Caught in a sudden gale? Are they tangled in fishing nets?”
There was no fear in his voice. Not like in the voices of the sailors. He did not understand. He did not realize. It wasn’t his fault, Munny told himself.
But it was.

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.

Anne Elisabeth is offering two proof copies of Goddess Tithe as prizes! (U.S. and Canada only) 

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