Happy Monday morning guys! Today we are doing a stop forÂ The Queen of Blood blog tour! We have a great excerpt for you guys, and an AMAZING giveaway!
Filled with political intrigue, violent magic, and malevolent spirits, Sarah Beth Durstâs mesmerizing entry into adult fantasy is sure to capture the imaginations of anyone who reads it.
Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snowâ¦ But these are not sweet, frolicking nature sprites. The spirits that reside within this land want to kill all humans. Only a few women have the power to command and control the spirits. These women become queensâor die trying. Without a queen, humans will die at the hands and teeth of hostile spirits. But with an unstable queen, no one and nothing is safe.
Born during the reign of a paranoid and bloodthirsty queen, Daleina is determined to become queen and right the wrongs in her land. Ven is a disgraced champion, a man whose life has been destroyed by the queen. Hating her cruelty, he wants to replace her with a queen of his own. He chooses an overlooked student at one of the academies: Daleina. Together, they must find the strength and skill to stand against both enemies and friends, before their beloved land is bathed in blood.
Donât trust the fire, for it will burn you.
Donât trust the ice, for it will freeze you.
Donât trust the water, for it will drown you.
Donât trust the air, for it will choke you.
Donât trust the earth, for it will bury you.
Donât trust the trees, for they will rip you,
rend you, tear you, kill you dead.
Itâs a childâs chant. You jump over a rope, faster and faster, as
you name the spirits. Trip on the rope, and that is the spirit
that someday will kill you. Fire, ice, water, air, earth, or wood.
Clutching her rope, six-year-
Daleina slipped out her window
and ran along the branches toward the grove, drawn to the
torchlight. Her parents had said no, absolutely not, go to bed and
stay there, but even then, even when she was still so young and
eager to please, Daleina would not be kept from her fate. Sheâd
run toward it, arms open, and kick fate in the face.
All the other children were already gathered on the forest
floor, under the watch of the local hedgewitch. Dropping from
the branches onto the moss, Daleina joined them. Her cheeks
pink from her run and her hair wild from the wind, she swung
her rope and began the chant. âDonât trust the fire . . .â
Ribbons fluttered around them, bright colors to represent
each of the six spirits. Buried beneath the ribbon poles and dangling
around them and between the torches were charms. The
childrenâs chant and the ribbons would tempt the spirits, but
the charms would repel them. It was as safe as the hedgewitch
knew how to make it, and she smiled at the children as she circled
counterclockwise and spoke the words of protection as sheâd
The children jumped faster, repeating the chant. At least two
dozen girls and boys, the youngest six years old and the oldest
twelve, had come to the grove to prophesy their future. Some were
dressed in their finest, with lace in their hair and starch in their
shirts, blessed with their parentsâ approval. Others, like Daleina,
wore their nightshirts and dresses and had uncombed hair and
As she skipped, Daleina saw the first tree spirit poke its sharp
nose between the leaves. It scurried over the branches and hung
upside down to watch them, its shadow large in the torchlight.
âDonât trust the water . . .â Another wood spirit separated from the
trunk of a tree, its bulbous body covered in a thick mat of moss
and leaves. Teasing the edges of the charms, an earth spirit, hairless
and brown, bared its rocklike teeth. âDonât trust the air . . .â
One child faltered.
Like Daleina, theyâd seen the spirits emerge from the dark
forest and encircle the grove. âDonât trust the earth . . .â Her
bare feet squished on the soft ground. It had rained a few hours
before, and mud stained her toes. She imagined an earth spirit
reaching up through the muck to grab her ankle, and an air
spirit swooping her into the air and dropping her from high
above. Squeezing her eyes shut, she kept jumping. âDonât trust
the trees . . .â
Because her eyes were closed, she didnât see when the tiny tree
spirit launched itself off its branch and over the charms, or when
the other children stumbled and fell, every one of them, tripping
on their ropes. â . . . rip you, rend you, tear you . . .â
Hers was the only voice, until the screaming began.
She opened her eyes as the hedgewitch shouted and the
children shrieked. Blood stained the womanâs bodice, and the
creature clung to her shoulder. Daleinaâs foot
stuck in the mud and she forgot to jump as the rope swung down.
Her parents ran toward herâher mother first, with a knifeâ
and sliced the rope as it swung toward Daleinaâs motionless feet.
The two halves of the rope fell on either side of her.
Other villagers poured into the grove. Swarming past Daleina
and her parents, the others scooped up their own children. Several
hurried to help the hedgewitch. Still clutching the ends of
the limp rope, Daleina saw the spirit, blood on its shriveled, leafy
face, flee up the trunk of an oak and then disappear into the
âWood will not take you,â her mother murmured into her
hair. âNor fire, nor ice, nor water, nor earth, nor air. You will live,
my child. You must live.â
âIâm fine, Mama,â Daleina said.
âYou were stupid.â Lifting Daleinaâs chin, Mama forced her
to meet her eyes. âJust because something is a tradition doesnât
mean itâs smart to do, or necessary. Promise me you wonât ever
endanger yourself again.â
âIâll try,â Daleina said, her cherubic face solemn, âbut Mama, I