Today I’m going to introduce you to The Witch’s Tower – the first book in the Twisted Ever After series by Tamara Grantham. There’s a giveaway and an excerpt, but first: a little bit about the book.
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 11, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Gothel is a witch. Punished for the actions of her mother, her choice is simple: either she stands guard over Princess Rapunzel — or she dies. But just because a choice is easy doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. Protecting Rapunzel means watching as the princess lays trapped in a tower, bedridden by hair that is so long and heavy it’s slowly driving her insane. Gothel’s life has become one of imprisonment and solitude as well — until a prince and his handsome squire appear at the tower.
Only one object can cut Rapunzel’s hair and end the curse: a pair of magical shears. But the shears are guarded by the most terrifying witches in the land, who also happen to be Gothel’s aunts. As Gothel and the prince’s squire, Raj Talmund, work to form a plan, she finds herself more and more drawn to the mysterious young man from the Outerlands. Unfortunately, his destiny is far more dangerous than she wants to admit: to save a princess, he must kill the witch who’s been forced to guard her.
Blood. My blood.
Rapunzel was getting bolder. A gust of rain-scented wind rushed through the clearing as I pulled a scrap of rolled linen from my cloak. I wrapped it around my wrist where she’d clawed my skin. Droplets soaked through, staining the fabric.
Sighing, I straightened to stare at the moonlit tower looming over me. I didn’t know what to do with Rapunzel. She was growing more unstable. It didn’t help that my mother had placed a curse on her. How could Rapunzel’s mind be right when she was forced to lie in bed all day, a prisoner to her hair that was so heavy, it prevented her from moving?
The clouds thickened, covering the sky, making the tower seem to disappear. I lit my lantern. The flame burned bright inside the glass as I started down the trail through the forest. As I walked, twigs snapped under my boots. The sounds of chirping crickets, and the occasional hoot from an owl, filled the air.
The scent of rain lingered on the wind. I hoped it held off until I made it to the village. The trail sloped downward, and I followed it over a narrow footbridge spanning a stream. As I crossed, my footfalls echoing over wooden planks, I reminded myself why I was traveling through these cursed woods. We needed supplies. Going into the village was the only way to get them, although leaving the tower was risky. If the high sorcerer found me gone, he’d hang me for sure, but what choice did I have? The flour was growing rancid, I would eat dirt before I touched another wild beet, and I was certain the dirt would taste better. It would help if I had skills in gardening, but I’d always had rotten luck when it came to growing things.
A breeze rushed through the woods, stirring the turquoise blue strands of my hair. I tucked it beneath my cowl, hoping to keep it hidden. It made me easily identifiable, and if anyone saw its strange color, they’d start asking questions.
I hated questions. I hated answering them even more.
The trees grew thicker along my path, making it hard to see anything.
A noise caught my attention.
Hoof beats came from up ahead. I ducked behind a briar bush as two forms emerged from the trail. Dousing my lantern’s flame, I stared at the shapes of two men on horseback approaching me.
I held my breath, my own heartbeats sounding too loud.
“Halt!” one of the men called. “I see you there.”
“Come out,” the other man shouted.
Under the light of their lanterns, the gleam of their swords’ pommels shone, peeking from their scabbards strapped to their backs. Would they use their weapons?
Breathing deeply, I attempted to keep my cool. They had no reason to harm me. I kept that in mind as I stood and stepped away from the bush.
“What are you doing out here?” one of the men asked.
“I’m on my way to Willow Wood village.”
“At this time of night?”
“That’s my business, if you don’t mind.”
“Very well, then. What’s your name?”
Should I lie? If I did and they found out, what then? Better to play it safe. Hopefully, they’d never heard of me.
“I’m called Gothel,” I answered.
His eyes lit up. “Gothel. What luck! You are just the witch we seek.”
Both men dismounted. Holding their horses’ reins, they approached me. The man nearest me wore armor that gleamed in his lantern’s light. He also wore a cloak and cowl that partially hid his face, though from the light stubble sheathing his jaw, and his full lips, I got the impression he wasn’t much older than me. The man behind him was taller, and he stayed in the shadows. I couldn’t distinguish any of his features.
“We are seeking the princess in the tower. Do you know where it is?”
Double drat. Now I had no choice but to lie.
“I’m afraid I don’t.”
“Really? That is odd. We were told a witch named Gothel could show us the way.”
“It must’ve been someone else. Now, if you’ll please excuse me.”
I attempted to brush past them when the tall man caught my arm. I gasped as he gripped me.
“Release me,” I said.
“Gothel, listen,” the first man said. “We really must find that tower. We’ve been riding for weeks trying to find it. Please, the war must end, and the only way for the fighting to stop is for the high sorcerer’s daughter to be united with a prince of our kingdom. We left the war in search of the princess in the tower—the woman rumored to be the high sorcerer’s only offspring—the last princess left alive in the land.”
He seemed to know a lot, which piqued my curiosity. “Who are you?”
The man threw back his hood, revealing a silver crown atop his crop of unruly blond hair. His eyes were dark blue under the firelight, and the shape of his nose and jawline made him look as if he came from nobility.
“My name is Prince Merek Duc’Line.”
“You’re the king’s son?”
My stomach knotted. A prince? Could he be the one? If he was, then I should’ve fought him off. I should’ve kept him as far away from the tower as possible. There was a foretelling that a prince of noble blood would free the princess and kill the witch.
But after five years of being trapped inside a tower, I no longer feared soothsaying. Those tales were usually rubbish anyway. If he could save Rapunzel, shouldn’t I let him try?
“The tower is down that path,” I said. “But there’s a spell in these woods to keep it hidden, which is why you couldn’t find it.”
“Can you remove the spell?”
“Will you do it for us? Please?”
He sounded sincere, but I still wasn’t sure if I should help him. If the high sorcerer found out, he’d have my head. But if there was a chance the prince could undo the curse, wouldn’t it be worth it to tell him?
“I can show you the way, but once you reach the tower, you must speak the spell to get inside. Call the princess’s name two times, then command her to let down her hair.”
His eyebrows rose. “Her hair?”
“Very well, and what is the princess’s name?”
I hesitated. What if he wasn’t the one? Then again, he was the king’s son. If anyone was worthy, it would be him. I hoped.
“Her name is Rapunzel.”
“Thank you,” he said, heaving a relieved sigh. The tall man with the hood held my arm a moment longer than necessary, then released me. I rubbed my arm. He’d most likely left a bruise.
“Be careful,” I said as the men mounted their horses. “There’s a spell on the princess. If you are not worthy, if your heart is not noble, or if you have ill intentions, you will be under her enchantment.”
“I do not fear enchantments,” the prince said. “I’ve vanquished many enemies in the war, fought dragons, slaughtered giants, and delivered justice to my enemies. Magic doesn’t scare me.”
He sounded overconfident, but maybe if he were as brave as he said, he would be the one to break the curse. I opened my pack and removed a vial of crushed primrose petals. After uncorking the glass, I emptied its contents on my open palm, then with a whisper of magic, I gently blew the petals across the path.
A blue glow appeared, snaking along the trail and through the forest, leading the way to Rapunzel’s tower.
“Follow the magic to the tower,” I said. “And do not forget my warning.”
“No need to remind me,” he shouted, then kicked his horse. The two men galloped away. As I watched them go, their lantern’s light quickly disappearing in the thick foliage, I regretted my decision to help the prince. Someone so self-assured could never beat the spell, but one could always hope.
“May the goddess protect your souls,” I said, my words a quiet whisper that got lost in the wind.
Where you can buy the book*:
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Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books and novellas, including the Olive Kennedy: Fairy World MD series and the Shine novellas. Dreamthief, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in INDIEFAB’S Book of the Year Awards, a RONE award for best New Adult Romance of 2016, and is a #1 bestseller on Amazon with over 200 five-star reviews.
Tamara holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University. She has been a featured speaker at multiple writing conferences, and she has been a panelist at Comic Con Wizard World speaking on the topic of female leads. For her first published project, she collaborated with New York-Times bestselling author, William Bernhardt, in writing the Shine series.
Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, taking nature walks–which fuel her inspiration for creating fantastical worlds–and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made.
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