Draven’s Light (A Goldstone Wood Novella) – Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Draven's Light Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Draven's Light by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Also by this author: Golden Daughter, Shadow Hand, Dragonwitch, Starflower, Moonblood, Veiled Rose, Heartless, Fallen Star: A Short Story of Goldstone Wood
Published by Rooglewood Press on May 25, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Fantasy
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four-stars

In the darkness of the pitThe light shines brightest
Drums summon the chieftain’s powerful son to slay a man in cold blood and thereby earn his place among the warriors. But instead of glory, he earns the name Draven, “Coward.” When the men of his tribe march off to war, Draven remains behind with the women and his shame. Only fearless but crippled Ita values her brother’s honor.
The warriors return from battle victorious yet trailing a curse in their wake. One by one the strong and the weak of the tribe fall prey to an illness of supernatural power. The secret source of this evil can be found and destroyed by only the bravest heart.
But when the curse attacks the one Draven loves most, can this coward find the courage he needs to face the darkness?

After Goldstone Wood came to an ignominious end, Anne Elisabeth Stengl tried her best to keep the series going. Book seven, Golden Daughter, was published under Rooglewood Press, her own independent publisher. While a full-length novel never came after this, Stengl did give readers a couple of novellas and a short story. This novella, Draven’s Light, is officially the last new thing written in the Goldstone Wood universe.

Despite it being the last published, it takes place farther back in Goldstone’s timeline than we’ve ever been. Like her other novella, Goddess Tithe, the story does not follow any of the main characters, but rather explores some side characters whose stories have been hinted at but not completely revealed.

Written in the style of a story-within-a-story, Draven’s Light tells us of a young girl who is tasked with taking water up to the two men who are building a large structure on the hill above her village. When Akilun noticing the girl’s interest in his project—he is carving a statue—he begins to tell her the story of the carvin’s likeness: Draven, “The Coward.”

Draven’s Light is a fast-paced but enthralling addition to The Tales of Goldstone Wood. It’s listed as a novella, but at almost two hundred pages, this really is a like a full-length story. Set earlier in the series than any other book, this is the dark but ultimately hopeful story of a young warrior spurned by his resentful tribe and must face his greatest fears.

It really feels like Stengl knew Goldstone needed to end, but had this one story from early in her universe’s history that she just absolutely needed to tell. As it’s separate from the overarching storylines in the main novels, it’s a bit disconnected from what we know of Goldstone, but at the same time, it provides us deeper background on characters that feature in those books.

Draven’s Light (and the other non-novel additions to Goldstone) reminds me a bit of Tolkien’s appendices. They are stories in the world. Do they fit the main narrative? Perhaps not. Should they still be told? Absolutely. Stengl again shows us that Goldstone is bigger and greater than just the main storyline and that there are hundreds and thousands of stories in that world—just as there is in ours.

The downside to this is that the characters are presented fully formed. They don’t necessarily go on a complete journey. The universe is not self-contained in the story. That means, taken alone, Draven’s Light can be a difficult read. It requires some knowledge of Goldstone to truly appreciate Stengl’s genius. But go and gain that knowledge. Although she now writes as Sylvia Mercedes, Stengl’s original work is worth the read and remains my favorite contemporary Christian fantasy series.

four-stars

About Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, NC, 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.

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