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.
--image and description from Goodreads.com
I feel like I say this every time I review an Anne Elisabeth Stengl novel (though, to be fair, she says this almost word for word about what her favourite of her books is): Golden Daughter, the newest scroll in The Tales of Goldstone Wood series, is my absolute favourite of all her books.
Part of it is the fact that the setting is influenced by ancient Asian cultures. While I was reading, I was simply struck by the respect and love Stengl showed for both the achievements and histories of those peoples. I loved that Masayi Sairu, the heroine, was a warrior. I loved that she was smart, actually saved the day on numerous occasions, and, most of all, I loved how she--and the book--kept revealing new facets of their natures.
This book has a lovely, dreamy-dark atmosphere. Terrible things happen, but these terrible things are lightened by adorable fluffy dogs and a certain loud-mouthed cat.
The romance in this book was heartbreaking yet beautiful--subtle and true. Love, like in all of Stengl's novels, is explored in various depictions...each with a heartache of its own.
And it was amazing. This is the book that I will be toting with me to Oxford (if I can fit its near-600 page bulk into my suitcase).