Welcome, friends, to my stop on the Boldly Bookish Blog Tour! Thanks to the lovely people at Bloomsbury, there’s a chance for you to win the books on the tour! And the one I am featuring today is one that I quite enjoyed- Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser! I’ll be sharing an excerpt from the book, as well as info about the book, and then your chance to WIN!
Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.
Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.
From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.
“Pa, don’t’ be mad at me.” The words tumbled out. “I told the commander I’d do it.”
His fists gripped the bars. “Caro, no. No.”
Tears burned my eyes and throat. “They were going to send you to a prison ship. And take Cormorant away…” I explained what had happened. As I finished, my voice trailed off into the silence of the dark room.
Pa rubbed his chin, his face unusually still. I steeled myself for a scolding. I’d been reckless. I was gambling with both our lives, and with Cormorant. But he said nothing.
“You don’t think I’m ready.” I dared to whisper my doubts aloud. “You said when my fate came for me, I’d know.” I lifted my chin. “What if this is it?”
He exchanged glances with Fee. “Oh, Caro. Of course you’re ready.” He looked down at his hands. “Perhaps it’s me that’s not ready.”
“That cutter doesn’t know the riverlands. But I do.” I sniffed. “I reckon almost as well as you do. I know you were trying to protect me, when you told him you wouldn’t run the cargo.” I touched my pocket, where I’d tucked the letter of marque. “But I can do this.”
“It ain’t exactly the easiest run.” Pa sighed. “Not what I would’ve chosen for your first solo delivery. Suppose it’s too late now. You already signed the contract?”
“You read it from back to front, I hope?”
I rolled my eyes. “Pa.”
The commander rapped sharply on the door. My five minutes were almost up. I scrubbed my eyes with my sweater, so he would see I’d been crying.
Pa glared at the door. “Ayah, let him barge in! I’d like to give him a piece of my mind, I would.” His glance flickered toward Fee then back to me. “Caro, listen. The thing you got to know about gods is, they can be tricksy. Don’t be in a rush for your fate to come a-visiting. It might not be what you expect, is all.”
“What do you mean?”
“A god will do what—” He hesitated. “What he wants. A god won’t be forced, nor hurried.” He sounded as if he wanted to say more, but he just shook his head. “Well, what’s done is done.”
I wasn’t sure what to make of his words.
“No more tears, girlie. You’re an Oresteia.” Pa grabbed my hand through the bars, giving it a shake. The clenched feeling in my chest lightened. “Deliver that crate. Take the river route north, past Doukas. Don’t mess with Iantiporos or the chnnel. That part of the coast is full of pirates. And don’t tie up in any towns. If you need help,” he added grudgingly, “send to your mother’s people.”
I raised my eyebrows. Pa didn’t always get along with them/
“Well, as a last resort anyhow,” he said. “Listen, that letter of marque? You’re not to use it unless it’s an emergency. Draw as little attention to yourself as possible. Flashing that letter about ain’t going to do nothing but get you dead, no matter what that commander says.”
I kept nodding, though his words streamed over me like rain. Doukas. Hide the letter. No towns. Overcome by the shock of this evening, I could barely take it in.
“You can do it, Caro,” Pa said firmly. “You mark this: I’d rather have Cormorant in your hands tha any one of them wherrymen in the Spar and Splice.”
“Even Captain Krantor?”
“Ayah, even him. He ain’t an Oresteia. You are.”
A memory swam to the surface. I was seven years old, listening to Pa tell stories as my legs dangled off the cockpit seat. I could feel my hair pulled tightly into two little poufs on either side of my head. We were going up Nemertes Water, the sea wind buffeting my face.
A gull perched on the rail beside me, its feathers fluffed up. With one gleaming black eye, it stared at me.
“Your great-grandma once smuggled four barrels of rum through the Siscema harbor master’s back garden,” Pa had said, his hand draped loosely over the tiller. “Because she was bold enough. My pa faced down a gang of river bandits with naught but a knife and a frying pan and lived to tell the tale, and how?” Pa pointed at me. “He was bold enough. During the war, it were folk like the Oresteias and the Krantors who took their wherries through the blockades. And you know why?”
I’d heard this story many times. “Because the Oresteias were bold enough.”
He poked me, making me giggle. “Ayah, right you are.”
I closed my eyes on the memory, the world whirling around me. I knew how to read a depth chart, how to reef and stow the canvas. I had the skills, but I had never sailed Cormorant without Pa. Was I bold enough?
“The wind’s changed,” Pa said, bringing me back to myself.
I didn’t ask how he knew, stuck inside this tiny cell with only the one closed window. The god at the bottom of the river told him things like that.
Pa relaxed back against the wall, closing his eyes. “And so it comes,” he whispered. “I can’t stop her.”
Before I had time to ask what he meant, Commander Keros loomed in the doorway. “Time to go.”