The following books are available 
in both print and eBook editions
from all good bookshops and eBook retailers

To find out more with reviews and extracts
click on the links below each cover
or scroll down for full details



The following are available 
in eBook editions only
from ALL eBook retailers



"Rosalind Kerven, connoisseur of myths and folktales...has translated and condensed sprawling, beautiful but inaccessible original texts from the 12th to 15th centuries into concise, elegant tales. Capturing Christian, Muslim and folk influences at play in Western Europe during this period, they celebrate romantic love at the same time as offering some salient points of  comparison. Whether it's simple escapism or century-spanning wisdom, this is a book to savour."
– The Independent

"A fine collection of medieval stories, 
some well known, others deserving to be better known 
than they are. It forms a great introduction to the whole area" 
– Professor Helen Cooper, University of Cambridge

"As soon as all was quiet, Guenever summoned Launcelot to come urgently to her chamber... A spicy collection of almost 30 stories that originated from the 12th – 15th centuries, authentically and accessibly retold, and featuring courtly love, mystical passion, bawdy and jocular tales, scandal and feminist longing" – The Bookseller

"A well selected collection of accessible 
translations...I enjoyed looking at them!"
– Dr Andrew Dunning, curator of medieval manuscripts,
 Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford


To find out more visit

collected 1636–1919

(Talking Stone – published July 2018

on amazon and Goodreads

"fascinating collection...presents some outstanding examples of historical Native American stories...sensitively retold to convey the flavour and colour of the oral storytellers...allowing us as readers, an enthralling insight into Native American storytellers and their diverse cultural backgrounds. Each of the ten sections of the collection has an introductory section describing the life, history and storytelling traditionsof the people behind these stories, complete with historical pictures... Each story is accompanied by short notes giving details of the original narrator where known, and summarising related stories...  Overall, it was a pleasure to review this book.  I recommend it without reservation; the scholarship is excellent."
Grammarye, the journal of the 
Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy
at Chichester University

"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

Over 100 ancient stories, verse narratives, songs, anecdotes and fragments of wisdom, all collected before 1920, sources from 55 different Native American peoples.

Presents much material never before available to the UK general reader.

Promotes harmony between people
and respect for the natural world.

Dramatic, humorous, haunting and inspiring –
using fantastical allegory 
to explore universal human behaviour and concerns.

Includes fascinating information about
the original Native American storytellers
and their diverse cultural backgrounds and histories.

Enhanced by ancient songs, wisdom and historical pictures.

Combines meticulous scholarship
with vivid storytelling true to the original narratives


UK print edition published by Talking Stone 2015
US / Canadian edition published by Chartwell (Quarto Books)  2017
eBook edition published worldwide by Talking Stone

‘I met a wild woman walking down the road.  
Her grey hair was grimy and unkempt, 
coiling round her shoulders like winter snakes, 
her eyes unnaturally bright.  
She hailed me and began to speak 
in a clear, compelling voice.  
This is what she told me.’

The stories of the Viking Age rank amongst the world’s great narrative traditions. Preserved orally through countless generations and eventually transcribed in the 13th Century, their vividly imagined characters and high dramas are richly embroidered with dark humour and wisdom.

This definitive and unique collection presents thirty-four of the most important Viking myths, heroic legends and historical sagas, many previously known only within the academic world. Gods, giantesses, dwarfs, valkyries, ghosts and dragons mingle with real life queens, kings, slaves, lovers and outlaws. Visions of the mythical creation and end of the world contrast with a graphic account of the Vikings’ discovery of North America. It includes tales of the cursed ring that inspired Tolkien, and the story behind Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Written  in consultation with leading scholars, the book also contains proverbs, spells, poems, riddles, detailed notes and a comprehensive glossary, offering a unique insight into Viking Age culture and beliefs.

"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 and amazon.


(Talking Stone eBook September 2016)
Originally published by Cambridge University Press as
'In the Court of the Jade Emperor – Stories from Old China' 
two editions 1993, 1999

The first C.U.P edition
was selected by the 
Federation of Children’s Book Groups 
for National Tell a Story Week 1994

Great for reading aloud!


'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

  • King Monkey, the outrageously loveable, mischievous, anarchic anti-hero who ruled the whole world – and tried to take over Heaven too
  • Sea Girl, who climbed a lonely mountain and dived into a lake for the Golden Key, saving her people from dying of thirst
  • Bald Head, whose ocean-warming pig led him into the arms of a dragon princess
  • The talking ox who helped his kindly but impoverished owner to marry a goddess


  • On a cloud-trapeze – head over heels 108,000 leagues in a single leap
  • Forward in time with chess-playing fairies
  • Up to the sky and the Palace of Boundless Cold 
  • Down to the Underworld, where King Yama weighs up rewards and punishments for all the souls of the dead.

  • The secrets of Everlasting Life
  • The origins of yin and yang
  • The realms of the dragon kings
  • The magic horse that makes it rain
And lots more!

My research for this book led deeply into the world of traditional Chinese beliefs – Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, the deities of Heaven, the importance of family ancestors and the supernatural world – a fascinating counterpoint to the Western perspective. 

The first section tells of the extraordinary Monkey who tries to take over the whole world and Heaven too, only to be vanquished by the Buddha himself.  It's based on China's much loved 16th Century novel of the same name by Wu Ch’eng-en. My retelling  picks up the whimsical style of the original.  I often used to read this story aloud to older children in primary schools; they were always totally gripped and enthralled by the non-stop action and rich array of enchantment.

It's followed by a selection of China's favourite traditional stories – each one full of surprises, astonishing magic and unforgettable characters.

The stories are complemented by brief notes on traditional Chinese beliefs, updated for the new eBook edition.


  • In Which Monkey Proves That Nothing Is Impossible
  • In Which Monkey Gets Too Big For His Boots
  • In Which Monkey Tastes The Peaches Of Immortality
  • In Which Monkey Takes A Giant Leap To Nowhere

  '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 



The Old Stories

 (Batsford 2019)


First edition, National Trust 2013) 

5-star reviews on 
 "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."

5-star reviews on
"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"

 5-star reviews on the National Trust Shop:
"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."

A definitive collection of traditional tales about the Faery tribes of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man, aimed at adults but also with much appeal to children. The 25 stories are interspersed with spotlight features on Faery folklore, including their morals, the various  tribes, spells and dealings between Faeries and Mortals. There are also quotes from historical manuscripts going back to Anglo-Saxon times, 17th Century spells to summon up Faeries and numerous sightings of them recorded over hundreds of years. Beautifully produced by the publisher with illustrations by vintage artists such as Arthur Rackham.


Of Faeries, Elves & Goblins
Hob Thrush
Midwife to the Faeries
The Bogie’s Field
Edain and Midhir
Whuppity Stoorie
Yallery Brown
The Man Who Married a Faery
Faery Wishes
Only Me
The Faeries' Mist-Gate
Some Faery Tribes 
King Herla
The Leprechaun's Trick
The Miser and The Spriggans
Tam Lin
The Goblin and the Sprites
Dealings between Faeries and Mortals
The Faery Borrower
The King of France’s Daughter
A Box of Faeries
A Year and a Day in Faeryland
The Good People's Shawl
A Brewery of Eggshells
Thomas the Rhymer
The Magic Ointment
Flying with the Faeries

"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

Take a glass vial, first washed with rose water and marigold flower water, 
the flowers gathered towards the east.  
Put put salad oil into it. 
Add buds of hollyhock, flowers of marigold, 
wild thyme (gathered near the side of a hill where Faeries often go), 
buds of young hazel, and the grass of a Faery throne.  
Set it to dissolve for three days in the sun, 
and keep it for your use.”
- simplified from a 17th Century manuscript, England