Katherine Catmull is one of our favorite Austin writers. Her first middle grade novel, Summer and Bird, was a huge staff favorite and one of our bestsellers. Consuelo, one of our managers and an early fan of Summer and Bird, described it as, “The story of two sisters each trying to find her own way in an underworld where nothing is as it first appears. Rich in beautiful imagery, it’s a story that has remained with me long after I closed the book’s pages.”
We’ve eagerly anticipated Catmull’s second novel, The Radiant Road, which will finally be on our shelves this month. Once again, Consuelo read an early copy and, once again, she fell in love with Catmull’s storytelling. Here’s her take on the novel.
The Radiant Road is the story of a fifteen year old girl who sees the magic (or Strange with a capital “S”) in everyday life. When Clare moves back to her birthplace and childhood home in Ireland, she learns she is a gatekeeper between the worlds of humans and fairies. She is soon embroiled in battling a centuries old evil in which the ability to love and create is at stake. Catmull beautifully explores the themes of both worlds. As someone who has very vivid dreams, I was particularly drawn to how much of the plot revolves around dreaming, and how influential it is in our lives.
The novel is full of superbly gorgeous language. Catmull’s writing is incomparable, unique in a genre that is already full of magical tales. Her style is a study in contrast; playful yet haunting, full of youthful spirit and age-old wisdom.
Both her previous book Summer & Bird and The Radiant Road toe the line of the age group they are written for. Their folklorish whimsy of children trapped between worlds lends itself to young readers, and yet they both have a sophistication that any fan of literary fiction will appreciate. Which goes to say, she doesn’t write with a certain type of reader in mind, she writes for everybody. She is an excellent maker, as the fairies would say.