Today I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for Beneath the Haunting Sea! This young adult fantasy debut novel was just released on January 9, and Joanna Ruth Meyer describes her new book as follows on Goodreads:

This book is for you if you like:
Betrayal, true love, heartbreak, adventure, a boy who plays piano, a mysterious library, an immortal tree, and an intensely malicious evil sea goddess. Basically, Jane Austen meets The Silmarillion, with kissing.

If that sounds like a book you want to check out, you can keep reading for an excerpt from chapter 9 of Beneath the Haunting Sea (and check out the lovely cover)!

Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer


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.

The door opened again. A tall man stood there, dressed in a smart black coat and crisp cravat. He was somewhat past middle age, with the shockingly pale skin Talia was growing used to seeing in Ryn, and dark hair shot through with silver, tied back at the nape of his neck.

“Good afternoon,” he said, addressing the driver, though his glance rested briefly on Talia. “You have word from the empress? I’m Ahned, the baron’s steward.”

The driver jabbed his thumb at Talia. “Was paid to deliver her here. You did receive notice of her arrival?”

“We were expecting two ladies. Weeks ago.”

The driver shrugged. “There’s just her. Ship was delayed on account of weather.”

“I see.”

Talia kept chewing on her cheek, trying not to feel like an unwanted horse at an auction.

“Well then.” The driver handed Ahned the leather chest. “Payment, as promised. The annual installments will of course be forthcoming. You may inform the baron.”

“Of course.” Ahned looked at Talia again. “Do you have trunks? Any luggage to bring in?”

She shook her head.

“Ah, well. Best get out of the wet.” He opened the door wider.

The driver tipped his cap to Ahned and dashed back to the coach.

Talia took a deep breath and went into the house.

She stepped into a grand entrance hall made of stone, dim light slipping through the windows set high in the vaulted ceiling. It was just as cold in here as it was outside, if less damp. Talia shivered, dripping water on the floor like a half-drowned cat.

Ahned came in behind her and shut the door. “Welcome to the Ruen-Dahr, Miss Dahl-Saida. Give me a moment, and I’ll see if your room is ready.”

She nodded and he disappeared up the sweeping staircase on the far end of the foyer. Underneath the curve of the stairs was a large pair of double doors, the dark wood carved into shapes she couldn’t distinguish from this distance. Across the room to her left an open doorway led into a carpeted hall.

As she stood there waiting for Ahned, she became gradually aware of a faint thread of music, winding its way from somewhere deep in the house. She’d never heard anything quite like it: soft and sad and beautiful, too. The rain pounded overhead and the music seemed to twist into the scattered rhythm, like the melody was just as natural as the weather.

Minutes ticked by and Ahned didn’t return. Talia’s toes and fingers grew numb with cold. She fidgeted, anxious and impatient, wanting just to sit down with a cup of tea or curl up by a warm fire or—gods above—take a hot bath. She wished Ayah were here—she’d have found some way to get into mischief already.

Talia cast an irritated eye up the stairs, but Ahned still didn’t appear.

The music wound on, tugging at her strangely as she waited, and after a few more moments she couldn’t stand it any longer. She had to find out what it was. With one last glance at the staircase, she crossed the foyer and stepped into the hall. The music grew a little louder. She passed a doorway that looked into a small dining room and kept going. The hall turned to the right, drawing her past a few more doors, all shut, and then at last to the source of the music—a room in the back of the house spilling light and melody into the corridor. She stopped in front of the door and peered in.

The room was small, but comfortable. A pair of armchairs were pulled up to a small fire; a window in the back wall looked out into the rain. Haphazard shelves, overflowing with books and sheet music, lined the walls. Between them hung all kinds of instruments—viols and miniature harps, flutes and recorders of various sizes, a half dozen drums, and more that Talia had no names for.

Underneath the window stood another instrument she didn’t know. It looked like a harpsichord—same shape and strings, same black-and-white keys marching up and down its widest part—but it had a completely different sound.

A young man sat behind the not-harpsichord, lost in creating the mesmerizing music that Talia had heard from the entrance hall. He looked to be about her age, with a wiry build and arms too long for his sleeves. He had light brown hair and skin paler than Ahned’s. The inhabitants of Ryn clearly didn’t spend much time in the sun, although—Talia glanced at the rain running down the window—maybe there wasn’t much sun to spend time in.

She stood there and watched him play, his hands running so easily up and down the keys that she wondered whether the music controlled him.

And then he lifted his head and saw her in the doorway. His fingers froze over the instrument and the music cut off abruptly. He blinked at her, his bright blue eyes owlish behind a pair of silver spectacles, and seemed to grow paler than he already was.

He jerked to his feet, still staring, and slammed a cover over the keys so hard it made Talia jump. “Who are you?” he demanded.

She suddenly wondered what she must look like to him: a half-drowned stranger who hadn’t had a real bath in half a year.

“I’m Talia.” Her voice came out in an undignified high squeak. “Talia Dahl-Saida,” she added, more firmly, “heiress of Irsa.”

“No, no, no.” He shook his head, stepping around the instrument to come over to her. Up close he was several inches taller than Talia, his thatch of hair falling into his eyes and curling a little around his ears. A spattering of freckles ran across his nose and a cravat hung loose around his neck.

He grabbed her arms. “You can’t be here. You have to leave.” He turned her about and propelled her back into the hallway.

She jerked free. “I beg your pardon?”

He unhooked his spectacles and rubbed his eyes, pacing a few steps down the hall before coming back to her. He shoved his spectacles into his shirt pocket and swore, vehemently, by all nine gods and a handful of spirits Talia had never heard of before. “I don’t believe this.” He finally looked at her again.

She liked him a little better after all that swearing. “Who are you?”

He shrugged. “I’m Wen.”

That was not exactly enlightening.

“But you really can’t stay. You have to leave. Tonight, maybe. Tomorrow at the latest. It’s not safe, do you understand?”

No. No, she didn’t understand. She wanted to strangle him with his cravat. “Do you have any idea what I’ve been through to get here? Of course you don’t. How could you? In the last six months I was arrested, shoved onto a boat, and watched my mother die. I just got here and I am not leaving, damn you!”

His eyebrows lifted nearly to the top of his head and he took an involuntary step backwards. “I’m so sor—” he began.

But then Ahned stepped up beside her and offered her his arm. “Ah,” he said, his glance flicking between her and Wen, “I see you two have . . . met. Miss Dahl-Saida, your room is ready. So sorry for the delay.”

Talia took his arm and allowed him to lead her down the hall, casting a baffled look at Wen over her shoulder as she went.

Excerpted from BENEATH THE HAUNTING SEA © Copyright 2018 by Joanna Ruth Meyer. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Joanna Ruth Meyer 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.

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Visit the other stops on 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 18: YA Interrobang