Anne Elisabeth Stengl is the award-winning author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, a series of fantasy adventure novels told in the classic fairytale style. She is married to the handsome man she met at fencing class and lives with him, a gaggle of cats, and one long-suffering dog in NC.
The first book of the series, Heartless, was published in 2010; the last, a companion titled A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold, came out in 2016. In 2017, Stengl announced that she would no longer be writing Goldstone Wood books, instead focusing on a separate series under a pen name (read the full update here). The previously-active fanfiction site, Dame Imraldera’s Library, was also discontinued. [photo and bio source]
The Tales of Goldstone Wood series features 7 full-length main novels, 3 novellas, and 1 companion novel. The seventh original novel is also available as a four-book series.
While the Tales were not chronologically written and don’t follow a linear timeline, reading in publication order will aid your understanding of the story.
- Heartless (2010)
- Veiled Rose (2011)
- Moonblood (2012)
- Starflower (2012)
- Dragonwitch (2013)
- Goddess Tithe (novella, 2013)
- Shadow Hand (2014)
- Golden Daughter (2014) | also available as a series (The Crouching Shadow, The Perilous Gate, The Long Fire, and The Dying Moon)
- Draven’s Light (novella, 2015)
- Fallen Star (novella, 2016)
- A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold (2017)
Whatever reading order you choose, be sure to start with Heartless, which introduces several pivotal characters and concepts.
The next five books are (mostly) chronological. Veiled Rose and Moonblood are a sort of duology, following the same characters and general plot (with Goddess Tithe taking place during Veiled Rose). Starflower and Dragonwitch are similar, but set in the past, and Shadow Hand brings together characters from both time periods. The other books are not connected in terms of plot and time period, but are legends from the past and character backstories.
The Dragon King seeks his princess — who dares to stop him?
Princess Una of Parumvir has come of age and will soon marry. She dreams of a charming prince, but when her first suitor arrives, he’s not what she’d hoped. Prince Aethelbald of mysterious Farthestshore has travelled a great distance to prove his love — and also to bring hushed warnings of danger. A dragon is rumored to be on the hunt and blazing a path of terror.
Una, smitten instead with a more dashing prince, refuses Aethelbald’s offer –and ignores his cautions with dire consequences. Soon the Dragon King himself is in Parumvir and Una, in giving her heart away unwisely, finds herself in his sights. Only those courageous enough to risk everything have a hope of fighting off this advancing evil.
“Have you ever dreamed of one thing for so long, wanted nothing more than to have that dream fulfilled, only to find out that maybe it wasn’t what you actually wanted all along?”
He juggled four stones lightly. “I believe that’s called growing up.”
Rose Red trusts no one with her secret. She hides in the forest, her face veiled in rags, shunning the company of all save her old father and her nanny goat. Her life is bleak and lonely.
Until she meets a privileged young man sent to spend his summer in the mountains. Headstrong young Leo startles everyone by befriending Rose Red, and together they begin searching for the monster rumored to be stalking these lands.
But the hunt, which began as a game, holds greater risk than either imagines. Soon both are forced to test their trust in each other as a far more terrifying scourge puts their entire land at risk.
“What’s the good of a story that ain’t got a happy endin’?” the girl demanded, crossing her arms.
Leo considered. “Maybe it does have a happy ending. At least, when it’s actually complete. I mean, this part of it is sad. But maybe something good will come from it still? I suppose you have to read all the legends together to know for sure, but I don’t know all of them. This one is sad, but there might be a story out there somewhere to make it happy.”
The girl nodded. “I’d like to know that story someday.”
Desperate to regain the trust of his kingdom, Prince Lionheart reluctantly banishes his faithful servant and only friend, Rose Red. Now she is lost in the hidden realm of Arpiar, held captive by her evil goblin father, King Vahe.
Vowing to redeem himself, Lionheart plunges into the mysterious Goldstone Wood, seeking Rose Red. In strange other worlds, Lionheart must face a lyrical yet lethal tiger, a fallen unicorn, and a goblin horde on his quest to rescue the girl he betrayed.
With the Night of Moonblood fast approaching — when King Vahe seeks to wake the Dragon’s sleeping children — Lionheart must discover whether or not his heart contains courage before it’s too late for Rose Red… and all those he loves.
“You don’t understand,” Lionheart said, turning his back on the cat. “No one does.”
“While I am a firm believer in the uniqueness of each person,” said the cat, “the motications of the spirit are as predictable as the seasons.”
The Black Dogs are on the hunt, but who is their prey?
When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps fairest Lady Gleamdren, the Bard Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission… and a race against his rival for Gleamdren’s favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.
But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren’s rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?
A true name is a powerful thing. Dangerous. Many go through life asleep inside, because no one has ever called their true name. And so, they think themselves safe.
Who will dare to face the Dragonwitch?
Submissive to her father’s will, Lady Leta of Aiven travels far to meet a prospective husband she neither knows nor loves–Lord Alistair, future king of the North Country.
But within the walls of Gaheris Castle, all is not right. Vicious night terrors plague Lord Alistair to the brink of insanity. Whispers rise from the family crypt. The reclusive castle Chronicler, Leta’s tutor and friend, possesses a secret so dangerous it could cost his life and topple the North Country into civil war.
And far away in a hidden kingdom, a fire burns atop the Temple of the Sacred Flame. Acolytes and priestesses serve their goddess to the limits of their lives and deaths. No one is safe while the Dragonwitch searches for the sword that slew her twice… and for the one person who can wield it.
“I can’t believe in the impossible,” he whispered as though trying to convince himself against what he had just witnessed. “A man can’t be big and small at once. He can’t be a freak and a hero.”
The cat glared. “Do you believe in justice?”
The Chronicler hesitated. Then, only once, he nodded.
“Do you believe in mercy?” pressed the cat.
“Ha!” [the cat] lashed his tail again. “What an impossible contradiction. Ha!”
Goddess Tithe (novella)
The vengeful Goddess demands her tithe…
When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya’s only hope to return safely home.
Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown’s garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.
Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?
Vengeance cannot abide the agony of grace.
This is a tale of blood.
And the many things that lie between.
By her father’s wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. As her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.
But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal parasite.
A world that is hauntingly familiar.
The heart is a peculiar thing. It sees and interprets details long before the brain has started to think there might be something worth noticing. The brain resents this skill, however, and will often spitefully do all it can to repress what the heart might be whispering.
(The Crouching Shadow, The Perilous Gate, The Long Fire, and The Dying Moon)
Beyond the realm of dreams is a world she never imagined.
Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty, delicate, demure… and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest of her life.
But when she learns that a sacred Dream Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious Faerie cat and a handsome slave — possessed of his own strange abilities — to help her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor touch?
For the Dragon is building an army of fire, and soon the heavens will burn.
Sometimes the worst failures in our lives turn out to be for the best. Sometimes our path leads through darkness, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t walk it. Sometimes our path leads to loss. But that doesn’t mean we’ve gone astray.
Draven’s Light (novella)
In the darkness of the pit
The 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?
Fallen Star (novella)
She is a Knight of Farthestshore, a woman of courage… and secrets. She has faced many perils in her time, but nothing has prepared her for the evil she is about to encounter in the treacherous Wood Between.
A Branch of Silver, A Branch of Gold
A ghost trapped in a tower. A peasant girl. A curse six hundred years old…
For six hundred years I have dwelt in this prison. Trapped. Helpless. Unliving and undying.
For six hundred years I have watched as cursebreakers come and go. Brave young women all, gifted with powers beyond mortal understanding.
I have watched them die. I have watched them wish to die.
Once again the Family of Night invades this country to claim its dues, and this generation’s cursebreaker has her chance to break the endless chain of torment. To save me. To save her sisters.
But how can a peasant child scarcely fourteen years of age discover the three-part key and liberate the captives? Will she too be doomed to join the Death Dance binding us all to the Family of Night?
Before she’d gone five paces, she heard Benedict speak softly behind her. “You matter, Heloise,” he said.
She didn’t stop. She didn’t turn.
“Whether or not you believe it. Whether or not you rescue your sister tonight,” he said, his voice reaching out to her as the distance grew between them. “You matter. You matter… to me.”
Another step. Then another. The Great Hall was so terribly long! But she kept walking, and she would climb those dais steps.
“You reminded me what it means to live. I thought I was dead and done, but you taught me otherwise. ” I… I’ll never…”
She could hear what he was going to say. I’ll never forget you. It caught in his throat, but she heard it as clearly as though he’d spoken the words.