MY CURRENT BOOKS
in both print and eBook editions
click on the links below each cover
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"Billed as the most comprehensive book of its kind ever produced by a UK author, this fascinating sounding collection of Native American myths – including such extraordinary characters as Bear Woman, the Thunderbirds and the Keeper of the Brains of the Dead – is the result of three years' research in hundreds of archives. Also covers ten different American cultures and their histories."– The Bookseller
"Sensitive, well collected and written from the perspective of a trained anthropological interpretivist"
– 5-star review on amazon.com
"Myths and legends expert with a collection of 34 of the most important Viking myths, heroic legends and historical sagas... bring Viking people, culture and beliefs vividly to life...along with the odd dragon, ghost and valkyries" – The Bookseller
"Weaves together different versions of Norse sagas into highly readable and tellable renderings, that have also been carefully researched as the unobtrusive but informative notes show." - Gramarye, The Journal of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy at Chichester University
"In presenting her versions of stories from Scandinavian myth and legend, as well as extracts from Icelandic sagas, Rosalind Kerven... writes in a distinguished tradition. While many modern retellings of these stories are sanitized versions for children, Kerven's are aimed at adults and are better described as 'reimaginings', with copious endnotes explaining how her versions differ from their sources. The stories are short and lively, a few even successfully presented in vers. There is a strong focus on character and dialogue... Those who already know Kerven's sources will enjoy spotting her many re-interpretations. Other readers should first enjoy these stories and then seek out the originals, precisely for their differences of tone and emphasis." – Times Literary Supplement
“An excellent and informative book surrounding all the Viking myths and legends. The author’s writing style is so excellent and at a perfect pace so that it truly feels like you are sitting round a fire at camp being told a story… The range covered in this book is also exceptional, from all the places the Vikings travelled to, to the number of mythical creatures; gods, dragons, trees, trolls, all sorts. All in all, an excellent, insightful and informative book that I am very pleased to have discovered.” – 5-star reader review on both goodreads.com and amazon.
REVIEWS OF THE FIRST EDITION
'What riches there are to read here! A wonderful variety of stories... and in a variety of tellers' voices, so that every story is different and a delightful surprise. The language itself is immediate... The words have a truth and depth... a book both to instruct us on Chinese culture and to delight our narrative thirst. A real find!" – School Librarian
Rosalind Kerven is the author of a number of excellent retellings of traditional stories from around the world and this collection is as good as the others. The language is lively and direct and she avoids both the archaic and the over-colloquial so that the stories have a timeless feel, but are easy to read." – English and Media Magazine
Rosalind Kerven has a fine record of retellings of traditional stories...luminously clear prose... Her style is free of the stilted formality which can still occur in such retellings." – TES
"My ten year old son doesn't like reading but he really enjoyed this book. He said it was different to other stories he had read and it was full of surprises!" – 5-star reader review on www.amazon.co.uk
'Ask me, ask me, ask me!' chanted another voice.
She spun round, and saw a green parrot looking down at her from the branches of a cinnamon tree.
'Sea Girl,' said the parrot, 'it is no good looking for the Golden Key until you have found the Dragon King's third and youngest daughter.'
'Oh where?' cried Sea Girl; but the parrot had already flown away.
She turned and walked back into the bamboo forest. Very soon, a peacock alighted before her and began to strut about, displaying his beautiful tail.
'It is not “where?”, Sea Girl but “how”,' he said. 'And “how” is easy: you must sing! Go back to the shore and sweeten your throat with more water. Then do not stop singing until the Dragon King's third and youngest daughter comes to you.'
So Sea Girl did as the peacock told her. She sat down and sang until her voice was hoarse. By then the sun was turning red and sinking behind the distant slopes.
The waters of the lake began to stir and ripple. Slowly, the Dragon King's third daughter came rising out. Her body shimmered like a rainbow: one moment a dragon, the next transformed into a young woman, her necklace of water droplets sparkling with golden sunset fire.
– from The Golden Key
5-star reviews on www.goodreads.com:
"A fantastic collection of fairy stories...gorgeous illustrations throughout...Go out and buy this book."
"Frankly, I have never encountered an author who does short stories quite like this author does. She breathes new life into OLD tales and does it with wit and humour. Utterly engaging, and a wonderful trip down memory lane."
"A truly enchanting read."
"Not only does this book contain quaint tales from all over Britain, but it contains little tidbits of knowledge as well. It is so hard to determine which story was my favourite. I loved them all... a wonderful book of tales."
"my visiting grand-nieces and grand-nephews enjoyed them tremendously. Asking if they could have some read again the next night. To me that is the best recommendation, but I have to tell you as an adult this reader got just as much enjoyment from the stories as the children they were read to."
"Possibly the finest collection of faery stories I've ever read. The author has a keen eye for faery 'type' and retells the tales with such finesse that she truly captures their capricious, mischievous, funny, mysterious natures in a way that would appeal to a modern reader while still hearkening the ancient-tale traditions."
"Endearing collection of cherished stories for all ages... I loved the additional information at the back of the book to read separately from the stories. The illustrations were lovely... The wealth of additional information and where to find it makes this one shine above the others. Very well done."
"Simply lovely and beautifully illustrated."
"Well selected, well-written (eloquent, enjoyable and close to oral storytelling...) Bonus points for the fact that each story comes with extensive notes...and there is a long bibliography at the end for further research... Enjoyable read for fans of fairy folklore, and a very useful research for storytellers."
"This is a wonderful book. I enjoyed reading this and will do again. A great read. Delighted with this."
"I loved this book and really enjoyed it"
"Really lovely for a gift, gorgeous illustrations"
"A beautiful book. Delightful classic pictures illustrate the magical tales within. A must for believers and non-believers alike."
"You may call them Good People, Strangers, The Gentry, Honest Folk, People of Peace, Tiddy Ones, Mother’s Blessing, Them That’s In or simply Themselves; but never speak their true names.
They are older than history and bitter-sweet as memories. They dwell under the ground, inside the hill, through the passage, beneath the water and beyond the mist.
They are both male and female, young and old, immortal. They may grow tall as kings or stay small as sucklings. They are of the earth yet unearthly. Some are beautiful, angelic and light as gossamer; others are wizened, moth-eaten, prickly old men. They dress in caps and feathers, breeches and gowns: green, red, white or the colours of dust. They spin and weave, bake bread, work metal. Their music is like honey spiked with sorrow.
They are passionate, vengeful and cunning, yet neither good nor evil. They are secretive and sly, creators of illusion, shapeshifters. They fly with magic cap or powerful words, astride twigs and stems, or dizzily on gusts of wind. They can fade, turn invisible and vanish."
Once upon a time there was a thick, dark forest that was said to be enchanted. Sweet scents often drifted from it; creeping ivy and vicious thorns blocked every path that led to it. Nobody with any sense ever ventured inside it.
It happened that the laird who owned the land where this forest grew had a wayward daughter called Janet. One damp and misty day, Janet loosened the braids from her long hair, slipped out from her father’s hall, ran to the forest edge and went in.
Under the trees, everything was utterly still and eerily silent. Janet walked on slowly until she reached an ancient well. Beside it stood a solitary milk-white horse in full harness; but there was no sign of its rider.
Janet called out but nobody answered. She crept closer to the well. The crumbling bricks were half-hidden by a mass of sweet smelling wild roses. She reached out to pick one... and at that very moment a young man stepped out from the trees.
‘Stay!’ he cried. ‘Do not take my lady’s flowers! How dare you enter this forbidden place?’
Janet stared at him. ‘I can come here any time I want to,’ she said coolly. ‘My father owns this forest.’
The young man advanced on her, fixing her with wild, grey eyes. ‘You lie! No Mortal can have dominion over this place. It belongs to the Queen of Faeryland.’
‘What nonsense,’ retorted Janet. ‘You can’t frighten me.’
‘You may change your mind when you hear my story,’ the young man said. ‘My name is Tam Lin, and I used to be an ordinary person like you - until the day that I entered this forest. I was overcome by a strange drowsiness that caused me to fall off my horse and break my back: I almost died. But I was rescued by the Faery Queen. She nursed me with her own hands until I was well again. Then she named the price of her care: I must stay here for ever as her bondservant and serve her every whim. One of my tasks is to guard the forest - and to capture anyone who enters it.’
Janet tossed her head. ‘You’ll not catch me, Tam Lin.’
He said, ‘The Queen has evil ways to punish me if I let any intruders go free. But I am prepared to risk that for you - if you will help me in return.’
‘Help you, Tam Lin? In what way?’
‘You must come back here,’ he said, ‘at midnight tomorrow.’
‘I'd be a fool to agree to that,' said Janet. 'Tomorrow is the most dangerous night of the year - it's Hallowe'en!’
‘Indeed,' said Tam Lin. 'But you would be even more of a fool to refuse me. For at Hallowe'en the Faery Queen will lead her procession past this very well - and I will be able to escape her if you can pull me free. Come back here, deliver me from her torments! It is my only chance - and your only chance too. For if you either spurn me or fail this task, the Faery Queen will hunt you out - and make you her slave as well.’
‘But what must I do?’ cried Janet. 'Surely it cannot be so easy?'
'You are right,' said Tam Lin. ‘The Faery Queen will terrify you: she will try to beat you down with grotesque shape-shifting spells. You must find the strength to resist them.'
Janet shook her head and shuddered, making to flee him. She searched frantically for the path she had come down, or for some deer track that might take her away from this haunted glade; but whichever way she turned, he was there first to block her way.
- from Tam Lin, a Scottish faery tale