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Eileen Kernaghan

(1939- )
Eileen Kernaghan grew up on a dairy farm in Canada. While her contemporaries read Nancy Drew, she was lost in the worlds of Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft, A. Merritt, and Jack Vance. The moment she stumbled across those yellowing pulp magazines, her future career was decided. She conducts writing workshops in the Vancouver BC area, and used to run a used bookstore. Ms. Kernaghan has three grown children and four grandchildren, and lives near Vancouver with her husband and an eccentric cat. Read excerpts of her novels at Eileen Kernaghan’s website.  She also keeps a blog.

The Sarsen Witch: Unusually nuanced view of a dated theme

The Sarsen Witch by Eileen Kernaghan

Since her family was killed by the invading horse lords, Naeri has lived a wild and solitary existence, surviving on what she can scrounge or steal. But when she is caught trying to steal a pig, she is caught back up again in “civilized” life. She falls in love with Gwi, a kindly smith, and rediscovers a long-lost cousin, the minstrel Daui, who senses in Naeri a gift for geomancy. Then she catches the eye of the local warlord, Ricca, who believes she will bring him good fortune and that her earth-magic abilities can help him build a great monument to immortalize himself.

The Sarsen Witch takes place in Bronze Age Britain and centers on the building of Stonehenge and how it affects the horse tribes and the Goddess-worshiping peoples they have conquered. We see these events through the eyes of Naeri, who begins as something of a pawn and develops strength as the nove... Read More

The Snow Queen: Enchanting short YA

The Snow Queen by Eileen Kernaghan

The Snow Queen arrived on my doorstep on an unseasonably cold March day. I grabbed a blanket, curled up in my favorite chair, and read the book in a matter of a few hours. The Snow Queen is a short novel, a single-sitting book if you’re a fast reader like me, yet more enchanting than many longer works. Nothing is superfluous here; Eileen Kernaghan tells the story she has come to tell — a mythic reworking of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale of the same name — and that's it.

The enchantment begins with the lovely cover, graced with an illustration drawn from a 1913 book of fairy tales. Then, in the first paragraph, I was taken back to my childhood storybooks as Gerda and Kai sat among the flowerboxes, conversing across the narrow space between their townhouses. The setting is homey and familiar, both to the characters an... Read More

Wild Talent: Gently feminist coming-of-age tale

Wild Talent by Eileen Kernaghan

While Wild Talent is very different from Eileen Kernaghan's 2000 novel, The Snow Queen, there are two major themes that the two novels have in common. Both feature young girls striking out precipitously on their own into an unsafe world. Both also address the frustrations of intelligent women up against the repressive mores of Victorian society. The result, in both cases, is a gently feminist coming-of-age tale with a strong sense of place and time.

Wild Talent tells the story of Jeannie Guthrie, a young Scottish farm girl who flees her home suddenly, fearing charges of witchcraft and murder after a telekinetic talent helps her fight off a would-be rapist. She reaches London, where she befriends Alexandra David and finds employment with Helena Blavatsky. The historical characters are fascinating, and Jeann... Read More

FanLit Asks… About style

We often post our chats with authors on Tuesdays, but we're trying something new today. Instead of asking one author several questions, we've asked several authors just one question. Please leave a comment and let us know how you like this format. We'll choose one commenter to win a copy of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver on audio CDs (or something else from our stacks).

Question: Which speculative fiction writer has had the greatest influence on your own writing style and what, specifically, do you find most inspirational about that writer’s style?

Daniel Abraham / M.L.N. Hanover: Read More

Other books by Eileen Kernaghan

Eileen Kernaghan fantasy book reveiws: Dance of the Snow Dragon, The Snow Queen, Winter on the Plain of Ghosts, The Alchemist's Daughter, Wild Talent

Dance of the Snow Dragon — (1995) Young adult. Publisher: Dance of the Snow Dragon is an engrossing tale of spiritual development and magical wonder set in the Buddhist enclaves of the Himalayas.Eileen Kernaghan fantasy book reveiws: Dance of the Snow Dragon, The Snow Queen, Winter on the Plain of Ghosts, The Alchemist's Daughter, Wild Talent

Winter On the Plain of Ghosts: A Novel of Mohenjo-daro — (2004) Publisher: A tale of sorcery, religious conflict, political intrigue and ecological disaster in the lost cities of the Indus Valley, circa 2000 BC.

Eileen Kernaghan fantasy book reveiws: Dance of the Snow Dragon, The Snow Queen, Winter on the Plain of Ghosts, The Alchemist's Daughter, Wild TalentThe Alchemist’s Daughter — (2004) With R P Macintyre. Publisher: The enchantment and mystery of Renaissance Elizabethan England and the threat of the Spanish Armada serve as the backdrop for this tale of natural magic, alchemy and scrying. What is endorsed is the classical quest, and archetype heroic pattern. Kernahan’s use of real historical figures like Humphrey Gilbert and William Shakespeare, blended with original and unforgettable fictional characters add to the rich detail, while her impeccable research allow this novel to travel beyond its initial young adult audience. The language components are uncompromising, and although there is a familiar feel of a young protagonist (Sidonie Quince) and her reluctance to use her gifts (seeing the future), the archetype plot of saving her father and her country is reinvented with great power.