It’s been an exciting month as we celebrate the release of Dragonwitch. July 1st was the kick off with Prism Book Tours and one big giant interview with Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Plus, I got to share my review on the 5th. Check it out for a chance to win the ENTIRE Tales of Goldstone Wood in print!
Today, begins the Dragonwitch Release Day Blog Tour filled with sneak peeks, interviews, and more. Not to mention another awesome tour wide giveaway. On this stop, I get to share with you all a sneak peek, a glimpse into the world of faerie. Don’t forget to visit the other bloggers and learn more about Anne Elisabeth Stengl, the books, and the characters.
Sneak Peek from
By: Anne Elisabeth Stengl
The cat padded confidently, tail high and ears perked, down a certain path in the Wood Between, which grew in the strange, predominantly timeless stretch of existence separating the Far World from the Near. It wasn’t really a Wood, or not entirely a Wood. Indeed, the more the cat trod the various highways and byways beneath the trees’ long shadows, the more he suspected the Wood was itself a living consciousness, possibly many living consciousnesses all bundled into one. Some of those consciousnesses were pleasant enough sorts. More were cheeky devils, and the rest downright wicked.
The Wood would twist a person up and turn him round and flip him inside out if given half a chance. This the cat knew for certain.
But as long as one walked a path—a known, safe path belonging to a known, safe master—there was little the Wood could do to interfere.
So the cat remained firmly upon his particular path, scarcely looking to the right or the left. The Wood was always shifting around him in any case, and he did not expect to see familiar landmarks, or at least not in familiar places. That boulder shaped like a rabbit’s head, for instance, had been a good mile or two back up the way when he’d been here last. And that tree which last time had been split right down the middle as though by a bolt of lightning was mostly mended now, the trunk knitting itself back together with threads of green ivy and pins of stout branches.
No, landmarks were of little use to the cat. He was interested only in the gates.
He approached one of these now. To any mortal eye, it would look like nothing more than a thick cluster of bamboo standing incongruously in the middle of a fir grove. The firs were newcomers; the bamboo, however, remained ever in place.
The cat sniffed at it, his pink nose twitching delicately. Then he put out a paw and touched one of the slender green stalks. It swayed under that slight pressure but sprang firmly back into place when the cat removed his paw.
“Good,” said the cat. “Still locked.”
Just as he’d expected it to be.
He continued on his way.
There were several hundred such gates to be checked on this patrol through the Wood Between; soft places, so to speak, in the fabric of reality. Places where those of the Far World could all too easily slip into the Near, wreaking havoc on delightful mortal disbelief in Faerie tales and magic. Thus they must be locked. And those locks must be carefully guarded. So the cat patrolled this stretch of the Wood, following the path of his liege lord and checking all the gates.
Sometimes it still surprised him.
For one thing, he’d never much cared for mortals and their problems. Immortal himself, he had spent countless ages of cheerful existence never once considering those who lived beyond the Between in the time-bound realm.
And yet here he was. A knight. A defender of the weak, as it were. A minister of truth, advocate of justice, and who knew what other nonsense no self-respecting cat ever wanted to be!
The cat shook his whiskers as he continued his trek. The path opened up before him with each step, and the trees and ferns and underbrush drew back to make way. He tested another gate and another after that. All locked. All safe.
The fact was, he admitted to himself, he could no longer claim to be entirely indifferent to mortals.
“Dragons blast it,” he muttered. “I warned you, didn’t I, Eanrin? Get involved, and you’ll find yourself caring. Then there’s no end to the mischief!” He flattened his ears at this thought. He could blame no one but himself for his present circumstances, however. He had chosen this lot. Or he thought he had. Often he felt a little unclear on that score.
Often he felt that knighthood had been chosen for him against all his best efforts.
A certain smell tugged at the cat’s nose. Or rather, not a smell, but an unknown sensation whispering to an unknown sense, earnest and quiet and dangerous.
At first the cat ignored it. But within a few more paces, it had strengthened until his nose twitched and his tail flicked and his whole cattish being could no longer deny what he was sensing. He could only hope he was mistaken.
“But when has that ever happened?” he asked himself, with typical feline shortness of memory.
He turned and, stepping carefully, pursued a small path opening itself to him off his regular track. Very soon he found what he’d expected.
“Light of Lumé,” he growled then sighed heavily. “Not another one.”
Before him lay a circle of white stones shining out brightly against a bed of dark moss. Even a mortal might have recognized it for a Faerie Circle.
The cat recognized a new gate beginning to open.
From this position, he could not tell exactly where it opened to. It could be anywhere in the Near World. It wasn’t completely formed yet, he knew that much for certain. And, if precautions were taken, it might never fully form.
One way or another, it would have to be added to his regular patrol. An unguarded gate was a dangerous gate.
“Where do you lead, I wonder?” the cat mused, sniffing each of the circling stones in turn. Then he hissed and drew back sharply, his nose filled with the aroma of caorann berries. They littered the ground around the Faerie circle, dozens of them, squashed and stamped flat among the stones so that the moss was stained with their juices. No caorann trees grew in this vicinity that the cat could recall. Which meant someone had carried the berries here purposefully.
Caorann trees were known for one specific quality: their ability to unravel enchantments.
The perfume of the berries was very light, but once it entered the nostrils, it didn’t easily let go. The cat sat for a while grooming his face as though he could somehow push the smell out of his nose with one white paw. As he groomed, he thought.
Someone had been working enchantments here. Someone whose smell was now hidden by the caorann, all traces of enchantment dispersed. Everyone knew that knights of Farthestshore patrolled this particular stretch of the Wood, and someone wanted to disguise nefarious doings.
The cat finished grooming and sat quite still, his paws placed delicately before him, his plume of a tail sweeping gently back and forth and collecting squashed berry hulls. His eyes were mostly closed so that one might assume he dozed, but the thin membrane of his third eyelid remained open as he studied the setting from behind long, cattish lashes.
He came to a sudden decision and stood. Trotting back to his regular path, he hurried on to the closest gate. This appeared to mortal eyes like a pair of young trees with unusually large and twisted roots twining together in vegetable affection.
With a slight shiver of his whiskers, the cat stepped between these two trees and into another world.
Delicious! Hope you’ve enjoyed the piece. Don’t forget to check out all the other participating blogs as well!
July 14 – Day 1
July 15 – Day 2
July 16 – Day 3
Blog Tour Finale and Prize Awarded back at the Tales of Goldstone Wood!
Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the author of the award-winning Tales of Goldstone Wood series, adventure fantasies told in the classic Fairy Tale style. She makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University.