Margaret Atwood devotees, meet your new favorite author

Ronlyn Domingue is the critically and commercially acclaimed author of The Mercy of Thin Air.

She returns in March 2013 with The Mapmaker’s War which is already receiving some fantastic advance praise.

mapmaker's war

Here’s a little bit about the book…

In an ancient time, in a far-away land, a young woman named Aoife is allowed a rare apprenticeship to become her kingdom’s mapmaker, tasked with charting the entire domain. Traveling beyond its borders, she finds a secretive people who live in peace, among great wealth. They claim to protect a mythic treasure, one connected to the creation of the world. When Aoife reports their existence to her kingdom, the community is targeted as a threat. Attempting to warn them of imminent danger. Aoife is exiled for treason and finds refuge among the very people who had been declared her enemy. With them, she begins a new life surrounded by kindness, equality, and cooperation. But within herself, Aoife has no peace. She cannot share the grief she feels for the home and children she left behind. She cannot bear the warrior scars of the man she comes to love. And when she gives birth to their gifted daughter, Aoife cannot avoid what the child forces her to confront about her past and its truth.

This is a mesmerizing and utterly original adventure about love and loss–and the redemptive power of the human spirit.

Take a look at some the wonderful advance praise below.

“Journey to the heart of a fairy-tale land with doomed queens, epic quests, and enemy kingdoms in The Mapmaker’s War. Ronlyn Domingue’s jewel of a book has a big canvas, memorable characters, and intimate storytelling. You will be swept away by this otherworldly tale that charts the all-too-human territory between heartbreak and hope.”-Deborah Harkness, New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night

The Mapmakers War is an extraordinary tale of a woman’s courage in an ancient Utopian world. Domingue has taken on the herculean task of inventing a new legend, and the result is a remarkable novel at once absorbing and heart wrenching, but above all mesmerizing!”
M.J. Rose, internationally bestselling author of Seduction

“A map can make sense out of the seen world. But it can also evoke greed. And what of a map of the heart? Legend, allegory, fantasy—this second novel by Domingue entwines genres to cast a spell upon its reader…. A curious, thought-provoking story about how the heart’s terrain bears charting, too.”
Kirkus Reviews

“What a stunning, original book this is—restrained and sensual, cerebral and lush, always blazingly intelligent, epic and expansive, yet filled with the most precisely and lovingly observed details. This is one of the best books I’ve read in years. Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s best work and yet wholly its own, The Mapmaker’s War evokes one of its heroine’s fantastic, world-defining maps: giving lines to human landscapes as old as myth, seemingly for the first time. You won’t be able to put this book down, and it will take you somewhere you’ve never been, leaving you transformed.”
Carolyn Turgeon, author of Mermaid and The Fairest of Them All

The Mapmaker’s War evokes not mere fantasy, but the real magic I found as a child, reading by flashlight under a blanket. As then, the story takes me by the hand to exotic lands and noble people. As it proceeds, I’m reminded of myself as a teen-age girl, chafing under the restrictions of an established order. Further on, I’m lead into adulthood. The story keeps me under its spell, but it fills with adult contradictions, with experiences of betrayal and regret, with sex and self-knowledge, with the reality of evil, and all the while, yes, the same old magic. But the magic has matured, now, redeemed by love and wisdom.”
Ava Leavell Haymon, author of Why the House Is Made of Gingerbread: Poems, Winner of the MIAL 2011 Prize for Poetry

“With an original voice, Ronlyn Domingue takes us into a land of strange truths and raw beauty. Writing against contemporary norms, she dares to forge into new territory even as she takes us into an ancient world. To the place of a red dragon and warm desire. A world full of love, and hate, and recompense. Domingue has a rare eye for the honest word and a heart willing to travel where the story leads. The Mapmaker’s War offers us the chance to reflect on both our sins and saving graces and to believe in the possibility of a future that holds kindness and understanding as key. This novel is a celebration of brave women and men, of expansive vision, and ultimately, of a humanity not easily denied.”
River Jordan, nationally bestselling author of Praying for Strangers and The Miracle of Mercy Land

I have a few ARCs available. Send me an email at if you’d like a copy. First come, first served.

A Little Bit of Fantasy

I am the luckiest intern in all the world. Today I get to blog about three of our (“our” !) amazing new titles: Something Red, The White Forest, and The Map of the Sky. AND, if this already wasn’t cool enough, they’re all FANTASY books, one of my favourite genres to read—simply because it contains so much of everything. Actually, it’s nearly impossible to describe what exactly the fantasy genre encompasses, because it’s limited only by a person’s imagination (hence why I like it so much). These books definitely demonstrate how wonderfully different fantasy books can be while still belonging to the same genre; here’s what I mean:

Something Red begins in thirteenth century England, during a winter that is described so vividly I actually felt the need to put on a sweater. A small group of people—a middle-aged Irishwoman named Molly, her mysterious and powerful lover Jack, her fey granddaughter Nemain, and the young apprentice Hob—are trying to make their way across the Pennines before the heavy snows set in. But something terrible is hunting them through this forest, and Hob soon begins to learn that there is more to his companions than meets the eye. Featuring shapeshifters, Irish battle queens, young and old love, knights, warrior monks, sorcery and mystery, there’s definitely something here for every kind of fantasy fan.

The White Forest is unlike any fantasy novel I’ve read in a while. It has a heroine with a special “talent” (she can see the souls of objects), the mysterious disappearance of the man she loves, secret societies, detectives, cults, dream manipulation, virtual realities and a heartbreaking love triangle… did I also mention it was set in Victorian England? It’s the perfect combination of fantasy and gothic storytelling with a great twist ending; I honestly can’t recommend it enough. (Fun fact: I liked the book so much I tweeted author @AdamMcOmber about it, and he responded! Starstruck!) Click here to see this book’s awesome website, which includes a book trailer, a reading group guide and an author interview!

The Map of the Sky is Palma’s sequel to his bestselling The Map of Time, a book so great  that I couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks afterward. Obviously I was incredibly excited for The Map of the Sky, and with it Palma surpassed my own high expectations. This is a book that combines Victorian England, time travelling, a love story, aliens and intrigue with an incredible cast of characters that includes H.G. Wells and Edgar Allen Poe themselves; it will leave your head spinning in a way that only the best stories can. I absolutely cannot wait for Palma’s next book, and urge all fans of science fantasy to read this book if you haven’t already! You’ll love it, I promise.

Clearly all three of these books belong to the fantasy genre, but aside from sharing a similar setting (albeit in different centuries), they are very, very different. This is part of what makes fantasy books so difficult to categorize, but I’m going to attempt to do so anyway by breaking down some of fantasy’s subgenres.

To start: as a whole, fantasy books consistently tend to contain some sort of magical, mythical or supernatural element that is crucial to the story’s plot, theme or setting (especially if it takes place in some sort of imaginary world). While this can also be true of science-fiction, as a general rule the distinguishing feature between the two genres is that fantasy avoids central scientific themes (as an English student, I respect this a lot). In terms of fantasy subgenres… there are many. Here’s a brief overview of some of the ones that I think are most pertinent to the three books described above:

MAGIC REALISM: when magic elements blend with the real world. Something Red and The White Forest, both have very different characters with very unique magical abilities who must navigate through our real historical world, but in very different settings. While incredible creatures lurk in the forests in Something Red, Jane from The White Forest has grown up knowing she is different from the people she loves and the world she lives in—she just doesn’t yet know howdangerous the magic secrets she holds actually are.

HISTORICAL FANTASY: this is a fantasy subgenre that has its own subgenres, but generally it makes use of actual historical fact and generally takes place prior to the 20th century. Something Red takes place in 13th century, while The White Forest and The Map of the Sky both occur during the Victorian age. England is vividly brought to life in such different ways that I once again feel the need to get myself to this country ASAP and go on a tour of the countryside and some old castles.

URBAN FANTASY: while this subgenre is defined by its setting (it must take place primarily in a city), it can occur at any point in history, including the future. This subgenre applies to The White Forest (which features both the English countryside and Victorian London) and The Map of the Sky; The Map of the Sky is actually the only one of our three titles to be set in not only one city, but two: New York and London!

SCIENCE FANTASY: The Map of the Sky is a perfect example of this subgenre since it contains a mixture of elements from science fiction (aliens attack!) and fantasy (the battle between heaven and earth just evokes the feel of this parent genre). An argument could even be made that The White Forest belongs to the science fantasy genre… but I don’t want to give anything away.

STEAMPUNK: there’s a lot of debate about whether or not steampunk is a subgenre or a genre unto itself, but since it does borrow so heavily from fantasy themes I’m including it in this list. Steampunk-based literature can take in any place and at any time, so long fantasy elements are evoked and steam-powered technology is widely used in the setting, especially in the technologic warfare described in The Map of the Sky!

PARANORMAL FANTASY: this subgenre has sky-rocketed in terms of popularity these past few years, so I’m sure I’m stating the obvious when I say that these stories involve a romance either framed by or focused on themes or elements that belong to the fantasy genre as a whole. Luckily for us, fellow paranormal fantasy fans, both Something Red (Hob’s relationship with the mysterious Nemain BEGS fan discussion) and The White Forest (the “talented” Jane is at the heart of one of the most intense love triangles I’ve ever read about) belong to this category! Personally I think that The Map of the Sky belongs here as well, but some fans may disagree with me. You’ll have to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments!

I realize that I’ve left out a LOT of fantasy subgenres, but please let me know what ones are YOUR favourite either in the comments or through Facebook or Twitter! And in the meantime, if you’re a fantasy fan like me, I can’t recommend these books enough.

Feel free to check out these author sites too!

Learn more about the author
Follow @FelixJPalma on Twitter.

Learn more about the author.
Follow @adammcomber on Twitter.
Explore The White Forest‘s landing page here.

Learn more about the author.
Follow @DouglasScribes on Twitter.

The Wind Through the Keyhole: Game of Thrones Meets the Wild West

Listen up, Stephen King fans! The Dark Tower series isn’t over yet. Although King released the last installment in the seven-book series in 2004, fittingly titled The Dark Tower, gunslinger Roland Deschain is back again in The Wind Through the Keyhole. On a stormy night, Deschain and his ka-tet take shelter as Deschain begins to recount a story from his youth, his first quest, which is where the tale within a tale begins. In the year following Deschain’s mother’s death, his father sends him to seek out a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man,” and to find the only surviving boy from the skin-man’s last attack.

The story is set just before the fifth book in the series, Wolves of the Calla, but stands alone, making it a great book for both fans of the series and King’s fans who love his other work but have yet to begin the series. The Dark Tower series started in 1974 and garnered attention in the 80s. Rebooted in 2003 for its thrilling conclusion, the bestselling series tied it up with Wolves of Calla, Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower.

It’s a series that is best described as Game of Thrones meets the Wild West. It has conflict, struggle and fantastic violent battles like the acclaimed television show, plus a mix of western and horror characteristics, with King’s signature style. Exhilarating and enchanting, the series is a perfect choice for those who love King and epic fantasies like Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings.

The Wind Through the Keyhole releases April 24, 2012. Click here for more information. While you’re there, be sure to enter to win a copy of The Wind Through the Keyhole!

Jump into spring break with these excellent reads

Take your imagination on incredible journeys this spring break with these excellent reads!

Beyonders series: A World Without Heroes and Seeds of Rebellion
A World Without HeroesSeeds of Rebellion

The most powerful weapon in the land of Lyrian is not a sword or a book — it’s a word. Lost over the ages, it’s six syllables scatters across the land. When put together, this word can unleash magic so strong that it can destroy the evil wizard Maldor and end his reign of terror. Who is brave enough to embark on a quest to find this word of power? Find out the Brandon Mull’s bestselling fantasy series, Beyonders!

The Hundred-Foot Journey
The Hundred-Foot Journey

Immerse yourself in the aromas, colours, and flavours of the kitchen in Richard C. Morais’ The Hundred-Foot Journey, a succulent treat about family, nationality and the mysteries of good taste!

What if you could travel back in time and change the past? Let Stephen King take you on an incredible journey into the past and alter it to prevent the Kennedy assassination in 11/22/63. Never before has time-travel been so believable or so terrifying.

His next book, The Wind Through the Keyhole, comes out in April.

My Life As An Experiment
My Life as an Experiment

One man goes on ten humble quests to improve himself from living as a woman to impersonating a movie star to practising radical honesty! Follow Jacobs through his eye-opening situations that will change the way you think about the big issues of our time — from love and work to politics and breakfast cereal in this humour and wisdom-filled memoir, My Life as an Experiment.

A.J. Jacobs’ next book, Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection, comes out in April.

The Mortal Instruments series
The Mortal Instruments
Cassandra Clare’s ferociously entertaining fantasy, The Mortal Instruments series takes readers on a wild ride that they will never want to end. Follow Clary in the world of the Shadowhunters as they fight to protect the world from demons.

Read The Secret World of Arrietty before the film comes out!

For those who don’t know, I’m a Hayao Miyazaki fan. He is an internationally acclaimed animated film maker whose films deal with humanity’s relationship with nature and technology. Most of his animated films feature fantastical worlds with characters that don’t fall into the traditional good-evil dichotomies (which is one of the things that makes his films special).

The Secret World of Arrietty is another masterpiece (screenplay written by Miyazaki) that follows Arrietty, a four-inch tall girl living under the floorboards of a typical house, “borrowing” simple items to make her family home. Life changes for her and her family when they are discovered by Sho, an ordinary boy living in the house. This delicately hand-drawn animation embodies the dreams and longings of childhood all wrapped within a well-written, charming story. It will be sure to delight audiences of all ages!

Discover The Secret World of Arrietty before the film comes out Friday, February 17! Check out the film comic and artbook!

Click on the covers to learn more:

Read what other people are saying about these books!

Back to Books’ review of The Secret World of Arrietty, Volume 1
Back to Books’ review of The Secret World of Arrietty, Volume 2