Thursday 15 February 2024

Excerpt of Berja by J.K. Divia

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the BERJA by J.K. Divia Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 About The Book:

Title: BERJA

Author: J.K. Divia

Pub. Date: January 27, 2024

Publisher: J.K. Divia

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 102

Find it: Goodreads

“They will make you a mother of monsters . . .”

A village built on ancient promise. A woman destined to run.

The old ways are crumbling. Every spring, a new sacrifice is chosen—a Spring Maid bred to
seed the future of the village through a ritual before being led to the foreboding woods. But this
season will mark the end of a barbaric tradition and the birth of something even more horrifying.
There’s a war coming—one of gods and giants. The Spring Maid has been chosen by a force far greater than her to be the mother of great warriors.

Destiny has forged a path of bloodshed, and she is the center of it all, willingly or not.

But she is no Spring Maid, no sacrifice to be made.

She is Berja.


The Way of the Forest Gods

Once, we lived in darkness, deep in caves not far from here. There was only one season, and it was one of death. That  was before we followed the Forest Gods; before they 

showed us the way and the stone altar built. To receive the forest’s blessing, we must go through the seasons with it. We must offer up our  own, the first children of spring or a child born of the Forest Gods, for  blessings or blood. 

Chapter 1

The Nest
Tonight, I will run. 

This giant nest of dried out branches and straw won’t keep  me.

I know what is ahead of me if I stay. I have watched it every year since  I was a child.  

I have paid attention. 

They say it is an honor, but what they mean is that it is a duty for me as a daughter. A sale by my family. They were pleased when I  was chosen as the Spring Maid. They knew it meant their bellies would  remain full this year, regardless of whether I lived or died. 

The space around me is filled with the movement of  preparation for tomorrow. Fragrant herbs and laced fresh flowers in  whites, yellows and pinks adorn the nest. Hands flock to pick and pull  my dark hair apart like little birds, weaving it together as I sit prettily  in the nest, feigning obedience. 

“Drekka,” they urge me, pushing a small wooden bowl with  intricate carvings to my mouth. 

The carvings show the cycle of the seasons: of life, death, and  rebirth. I am meant to mark the end of death, to usher in the rebirth of  the village. 

My lips feel fuzzy as the sickly-sweet smelling liquid  unsuccessfully searches for a way inside. 

The drink is meant to ease my nerves and dull my senses. To  ease the pain and fear. To make us, the chosen Spring Maids, submit willingly to what awaits us in the forest. To what we must endure  before we enter the dark, tall tree line.  

Braided locks of my hair fall one by one against my back with  gentle thuds as each set of hands flies away to attend to another task. The village men, the strongest warriors, file in one by one and take their  place around the nest, like predators circling their prey. Their breath in  the cold morning air creates a fog that threatens to smother me like  smoke from a fire. They believe me to be a helpless bird, like the little  blackbird that sits upon the mistletoe, staring at me with bright green  eyes. None of them believe that I would dare fly away. They brush my  actions off as nerves, harmless as the trembles from a newborn calf  seeking and failing to find its first footing.  

When I do escape, maybe the little bird will help lead my way. I smile at him, and those green eyes smile back. They say he is  a bad omen, that he foretells of death, and maybe he does because he  appeared the day I was chosen. He is my only friend though, besides the  little straw doll we have made together over the last few weeks. The  little bird is the only one who brings me gifts—tiny piles of berries and  smooth rocks that sit hidden in the nest beside me. He doesn’t sing like  other birds though, but rather looks down upon us and laughs when  they try to chase him away. If it is my death that he is warning of, at  

least it comes upon a friendly face, a laugh, and his company. My body rests easily upon my bare feet and legs that lie under  my long, green linen dress as I sit upright in the nest. I stretch my head  and neck above the nest walls and look toward the sky. As we near closer to the start of spring, the sun begins to linger just a bit longer  above me.  

The Elder comes and I tuck my little doll under the lip of the  nest. I will not share her with anyone. The Elder lightly lays her gnarled  hands upon my shoulders to push me back into my captivity. There are  no others as old as her in the village. None with as many lines in their  face or rings on their body. Soon, she will take her place in the forest at the base of the oldest tree, whose trunk is as wide as four men and its  height we cannot tell. When she lays amongst its roots and becomes a  part of it, another will assume the role of Elder, and the cycle will  continue as it has for countless seasons. 

The South Men follow no such cycle. They only take. They  only kill. They never give back. Their seasons are only that of harvest  and death. They have no Spring Children and no Forest Gods. I wonder  what that freedom is like, to not be beholden to someone or something.  

They say that is why the South Men are cursed to always move  and encroach upon others; setting up only to leave for the next place to  take from. Why their roots are weak and constantly seeking the water  and fertile soils of others and moving on once they have depleted the  land. Why they have been coming up further north, though they fear  what lives in our dark woods: our Forest Spirits and Gods. 

The Elders say there is nothing to fear when you give the Forest  what it desires; when you awaken it with gifts of Spring Maids, and  when that doesn’t work, then with the blood of Spring Children upon  the fields and altar.

The burning sensation builds in my thighs and stomach as she  pushes harder. My body holds, resisting her, and I smile. “Drekka?” she asks another elder woman. 

Shaking her head of long grey hair, she places the still-filled  bowl into the Elder’s outstretched hand. With the cluck of her tongue,  pain begins to grow in my cheeks as the branch-like fingers of the  Elder’s hand shoot around my chin and take root in my skin. She tries  to force my lips apart, but I only smile. I take the pain as the flood of  liquid brings again the feeling of fuzziness to my lips as I deny entry once  more. Another cluck, and her sharp fingertips pull away from my skin,  leaving behind only their sting. My still hands rest upon my lap, and I  keep my gaze fixed forward. My little bird friend laughs again from the  mistletoe branch, and I resist the urge to laugh with him at my defiance,  or my folly. 

Drink or not, the ritual continues, and I feel the air move in  with the men who come into the nest with me. Their fingers attempt  to take root in my skin from the many branches of outstretched arms that surround me and try to pull me down into submission.  I am rigid. 

I am unyielding. 

The seeds cannot be planted if the Spring Maid is unwilling.  Their attempts will bear no fruit. No seeds will be planted—seeds that  will grow to become new Spring Maids, sacrifices, or servants to the  village. Seeds that will never be allowed to be free, but only grow to  serve one single purpose, one that offers no joy.

No control. 

No sense of self.  

No name beyond that of Spring Child and then Spring Maid if  chosen by the Elder. 

We who are born of Spring Maids are like saplings forced with  bindings to grow in specific patterns to please and support the village.  To appease the Forest Gods and mark the beginning of the hunting  season in the woods. To symbolize the earths rebirth after it’s long  winters death. I’d much prefer the quick press of a blade against my skin  or heart than surrender to my duty. To surrender to a life of sacrifice.  

The drink has always ensured our acceptance, softening our  fields for planting.  

I have taken no drink. 

I do not accept my fate, and they cannot force me.

About J.K. Divia:

J.K. Divia is a Dark Fantasy and Thriller writer from the US. She is a Spoonie and has learned the importance of rest while pursuing her writing dreams. As a child she was often found playing in the woods or reading about world mythology, folklore and ghost stories which have influenced her writing. She has always loved creative writing and once she decided to take it beyond flash fiction writing contests, she found a writing coach and editor to help her achieve her goal of writing a page turning novel. A Sea of Blood and Tears is her debut novel.

Some of her favorite books include Jane Eyre, Little Women, Dracula, The Hobbit, Outlander, Girl on the Train

When not writing, you can find her spending time with her family, chasing after her kids.

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Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a signed finished copy of BERJA & swag, US Only.

Ends March 2nd, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One: 


Kountry Girl Bookaholic

Excerpt/IG Post



IG Post


#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt/IG Post


Writer of Wrongs




IG Review


Review Thick And Thin

Review/IG Post

Week Two:


Books With a Chance

Review/IG Post


Callisto’s calling

IG Review



Review/IG Post


The Guild



Destiny's Path

Review/IG Post


Country Mamas With Kids

Review/IG Post


A Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review/TikTok Post

Week Three:


100 Pages A Day




IG Review/TikTok Post

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