Welcome to the book tour for A.E. Bennett’s Gathering of the Four, the first novel in the Serrulata Saga!
Gathering of the Four (Serrulata Saga #1)
Publication Date: April 2, 2021
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi/ Fantasy 18+
“In the Realm, every citizen knows their place.”
Leora of Mae is a young woman orphaned at birth and raised on a remote farm. As a wielder of Xanthcraft, her abilities set her apart from her adoptive family and the other villagers.
Shortly before her twentieth birthday, she learns of her family’s plot to sell her into servitude. Fearing for her life, she flees from the only home she’s ever known—defying societal conventions and breaking the edicts of the Realm.
As she runs, Leora meets Roland Shallowbrook, a traveler on the Thieves’ Road; Lady Aurora Verte, daughter of a powerful member of the gentry; and the White Rider Leopold, a soldier with a secret.
Together, this found family will have to band together to survive.
Set in the far distant future, Gathering of the Four is the first book in the Serrulata Saga.
Leora beat her arms to make the blood and feeling return to them. She hated sleeping in the barn, although the only alternative was on the floor by the hearth in the cabin, which Liza only permitted during the coldest winter months. The cabin had been built before Leora was born and probably could have been modified to comfortably sleep more than three people, especially when one was a child. But Liza would have none of it and had banished Leora to sleeping in the barn shortly after the marking of Leora’s fourteenth birthday. Nial had protested, and a compromise had been made, but it was now Third Month, so Leora had recently moved back into the loft.
She knew sleep would continue to elude her so, grumbling, she stood slowly for a walk around the small parcel of land that her adoptive parents could call their own—as much as anyone could call anything theirs under the gentry. She made it to the lone serrulata tree on the lawn before she realized she was not the only one awake.
She crouched down and held her breath as she strained to listen to the voices coming from the direction of the farm- house. Concentrating as she closed her eyes, she breathed in and out slowly, then opened them, feeling a surge of triumph. Her skin was tinged lavender, as was everything around her, which meant her Xanthcraft was working. She was now invisible. She still had to creep toward the farmhouse, though. No one could see her, but they could still hear her if she made any noise.
“I don’t care; we made a promise—”
Liza and Nial were arguing in hushed whispers. Although Leora had heard them disagree in the past, Nial’s voice was more urgent and strained than she’d ever heard it.
“It’s been nineteen years! Years! And now this comet! And we’re starving —”
“—not starving! What are you talking about? The comet means nothing—”
“—put that thing before your own son—comet a sign—time to let her go—”
Leora shivered when she heard her adoptive mother refer to her as a “thing.”
A slight breeze picked up then, rustling the grass and making it impossible to hear their next few sentences. It died almost as quickly as it had come, and Leora slapped her hands over her mouth at the next word she heard.
She knew Liza hated her, but not even she could be so cruel. Or could she?
“Are you out of your mind?” “Keep your voice down!”
There was a pause, as though a heavy cloud had descended on the field.
“You needn’t be here—will come for her—out in the field—don’t even have to say goodbye—”
“Not cruel—our son—our family—”
There was another dark pause. Leora’s chest constricted, as though a large beast had curled up and taken residence within her heart. Surely Nial couldn’t—wouldn’t—let her go. Not like this! She only had another half of a year before she would be of age and could go off into the world…and leave the family with nothing to profit from. Twenty was the legal age of majority throughout the Realm, no matter a person’s station, and a child under that age could be sold into the servantry. An adult who had committed no crime could not.
Her twentieth birthday was this summer.
Bile rose in her throat. Nial had yet to give his wife a firm no. He had been her one ally against Liza’s, and eventually Preston’s, cruelty. He had tended to Leora’s skinned knees and bruised elbows and other growing pains. He’d mopped her forehead free of sweat during that one winter, years ago, when she’d fallen ill with fluenza. He was the only one in the farmhouse who’d had time to give her smiles and asked about her well-being. He couldn’t abandon her. Not when she needed him so desperately.
“—make it quick—I don’t want to be here when they come.”
“—I will give you that—”
Available on Amazon
About the Author
A.E. Bennett lives in Washington, D.C. She is originally from North Carolina
A.E. Bennett | Newsletter | Instagram | Goodreads
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