I’d recommend How to survive your magical family for any reader young adult and up. No need to limit yourself if you’ve passed that age bracket. Clare Rhoden is an excellent author. Her storytelling will draw you in. An afternoon of entertaining reading pleasure awaits you.
Right from the opening line, How to Survive Your Magical Family is a delight. This novel for younger readers delivers magic, mystery and mayhem… plus credible characters, lots of humour and action aplenty.
Toby is the youngest of the Dartin family and has the least magic. His sister, Helen, has much more practical magical abilities, such as healing animals, ‘imagining a parking spot into existence’ and turning off the iron after she’s left home. All Toby can do is charm any cat that comes to him.
Told between Toby’s point of view and that of his best friend Mia, How to Survive Your Magical Family leaps between normal family dynamics and kidnapping, bribery and vengeance.
Rhoden has created a completely believable alternative world where magical people and ‘flats’ – those who can’t see magic – interact happily, mostly without the ‘flats’ knowing. But she has also created credible child characters, Toby and Mia, who show courage and
intelligence, and have real agency throughout, even in the most hopeless situations. It’s also refreshing that she shows them as young people clearly out of their depth at times, kids who need to rely on the adults in their lives (most of whom are loving and capable) to help them.
… How to Survive Your Magical Family is great fun, and there are enough loose ends to mean that a sequel could be on the cards, to which I say, ‘Deal me in!’ A fabulous read. Highly recommended.
A stunning dystopian world with heart, soul, and hope. For ages 15+.
The complete Chronicles, with one copy of all three novels, signed, plus standard postage for only $45.95. Order the box set by December 12th for pre-Christmas delivery.
“Progressing through the series, I was in awe of the author’s ability to handle grief and intense drama, yet bring hope, faith, loyalty and kindness into such abysmal chaos.”
Thank you for reading and sharing my books.
And please remember how awesome it is if you ask your local library to order one of my books. It helps me to reach readers and adds it mite to the upkeep of the writing attic, all at no cost to you. Thanks!!
What an incredibly sweet story about a boy, friends, family and a loveable group of cats! — Megs, on Goodreads
This is a fun magical story! Really really cool worldbuilding here. I love in general that cats are the “good guys” even though this is a story about cool, sometimes spooky, magic. — Julia, on Goodreads
“Waiting is the hardest thing ever.” Heart, soul, and adventure; this one has it all. Absolutely a light, fun read. — MyBookNest7
I really liked how cute the story was, where it went, the cats, and how they colored the whole story. I feel like there’s a second book in the future. There is not really a cliffhanger, or any thing to indicate that specifically, but I was left with some questions I could see wrapping a second story around and I would absolutely be there to read it. — Steph Bauer
♥️If you like books featuring cats…ESPECIALLY magical cats….this is your next book to pick up♥️ — ShortBookThyme on Instagram
In the meantime, here’s a little snippet of the action:
While Helen drew the sedan over to the side of the carriageway, I walked slowly along the wet verge, scanning the asphalt where the cat was struck, listening for any mewing. There was no sound other than the slick swishing of tyres on rainy road as the traffic sorted itself back into its usual pattern. There wasn’t even any blood. In the gutter, though, was a silver bracelet.
The bracelet was pretty battered and bent, but it looked like solid silver. I considered picking it up. It had a charm clipped on it, in a kind of round shape. But I was searching for something alive, so I walked right on, scanning the verge. Nothing. I turned back toward the car.
Passing that shining bit of silver again, I could see that the round charm was actually in the form of a cat, and the bracelet was more of a bangle and not so battered as I first thought. When I turned to look at it a third time, the round cat charm was seated upright on top of the bangle, looking directly at me.
I gave in. I’m not my father’s son for nothing. Okay, cat plus charm plus silver equals magic. Though why the street cat thought this was a kitten …
I picked up the bangle…
Can’t wait to read on? How to Survive Your Magical Family is available now at these online stores:
Toby’s father is a surgeon and his older sister is a lawyer. But Toby’s dad is also a renowned wizard, and so is his uncle, and his sister can influence people. His mum was special too, but she had to leave…
Toby isn’t any of those things. The only special thing he can do is pretty useless. Toby can talk with cats.
When Toby and his sister rescue a family of abandoned cats on the side of the road and Toby spots a mysterious silver bangle in the gutter, everything changes.
Mia is Toby’s best friend. She’s not magical either – she doesn’t even know magic exists! But when she watches Toby get on the wrong bus to school and a ferocious bus driver screams away with Toby on board, Mia’s world is about to change too.
If you love cats, or magic – and especially both! – this is your book. For confident readers 10+, and cat lovers of all ages. It’s a book with a dual point of view (‘dual POV’ in book-speak), with half of the story told by Toby and half told by Mia.
A year of potential, of reckoning, of change and reassessment. A year of the Tiger, a strong character who banishes evil and demonstrates courage. It’s a year to keep going.
For me, 2022 is a year for new writing projects, and the completion of earlier ones. Let me show you my planned journey.
New writing projects
From the WasteLand
An anthology of literary speculative fiction inspired by TS Eliot’s seminal poem The Waste Land, first published in October 1922.
If you are unfamiliar with the poem, suffice it to say that it’s as long as a novella, and its subject matter is the fragmentation of society during and after World War One (WWI). All in beautiful, strange, evocative words. I’ll be writing a lot more about this project soon. It’s going to be wonderful and amazing.
In this novel, I’m focussing on the Australian home front during WWI.
If you’re familiar with Stars, you’ll know that it’s the story of two brothers, Harry and Eddie, who fight at Gallipoli and in France. This new book will fill in all the gaps about what was happening back in Semaphore. More about this story as it progresses. I hope to have the whole manuscript completed this year to submit for publishing in 2023 or 2024.
Don’t worry, How to Survive Your Magical Family is definitely coming this year, from the wonderful Odyssey Books. There have been just too many interruptions to the publishing industry, and too much pressure on staff due to the pandemic.
I’m now hoping for a February release. And I’ll most definitely keep you updated!
In 2021, I kept busy with some substantial shorter fiction for themed anthologies, as well as the odd little tale for drabble collections (a drabble is a tale told in EXACTLY 100 words, no more, no less).
New Tales of Old Volume 2
New fantasy tales based on old myths, fairy stories and legends.
This fantastic (pun intended) anthology is coming from Black Ink Fiction in March. My story features the Cwn Annwn, ghostly hounds of the Welsh hunt.
Stories about a fantasy ancient kingdom inspired by Greek myths and legends
In this wholly realised world, gods and demons vie for supremacy, with humans at risk. Twelve inter-linked stories unfold the tale of the semi-divine women who must face the demons. My story is ‘Ione and the Sea Demon’. This is also coming from Black Ink Fiction in 2022.
Fantasy tales of a malevolent magic mirror
An ancient curse, a lingering threat: these stories tell of the evil effects of the broken mirror’s curse. The stories are all based on legends and all feature the fateful Fae mirror. My story ‘Lady Marian’s Gambit’ plays with the Robin Hood legend. This is coming in 2022 from the groundbreaking Australian independent Black Hare Press.
This wintry horror collection features my drabble about the Sugar Plum Fairy. The book is available now from Black Ink Fiction. Here’s a link: Winter Shocks
Almost 100 people entered the draw for The Stars in the Nightbook giveaway earlier this month. Awesome! It’s nice to be wanted.
I’m happy to tell you that a signed copy of the book, plus the little rosemary sprig badge, went to country Victoria and received a glowing welcome!
Here’s some ideas for anyone who missed out:
ask your local library to order a copy for you to read. Getting the book into more libraries means that it reaches more readers, which is wonderful. And a trickle of Public Lending Rights cents go to the author, which is a lovely thing … yes, if you see my book on the shelf, please borrow it 😉
keep an eye out for a special price on the eBook version coming next month – for most of December, The Stars in the Night will be on special
see if your book club would consider adding The Stars in the Night to their 2022 reading list. I guarantee that it would make fabulous reading for the month of April, when Anzac Day shines renewed interest on war service and its aftermath
Some reflections on social media for authors:
I decided that The Stars in the Nightbook giveaway would do two jobs: send my work to another reader, and give me feedback on my communication channels.
I’ve listed the effectiveness of each channel, in descending order:
Of course, this is my experience with one giveaway, and most of the numbers reflect my pattern of usage. I’m not on Twitter much (*someone did enter from Twitter, but ineligible as it was for Australia only), and rarely on Pinterest (though I have an absolutely AWESOME collection of pins related to my books).
I don’t send newsletters very regularly. The strong response surprised and gladdened me! With this mini-experiment, I have a new direction for communication in 2022.
Oh – and keep an eye out for my December newsletter. Coming soon!
An enthralling read, The Good Childtells the story of two women whose lives are linked – and damaged – by the one man.
Unfolding through a series of flashbacks interspersed with current happenings of the 1990s, the story introduces us first to Lucille and Quin. They’ve both lost everything. The two women meet on a country train headed to Melbourne. They’re on their way to attend a trial. Although they don’t know it for a while, they both have their lives invested in the man in the dock.
Lucille, like many of our mothers or grandmothers, was born between the wars. She lived through the hungry 1930s and blossomed in the 1940s. She suffered some awful tragedies, the sort that rip the heart out of women. Then WWII stamped all over her life.
Maybe her grandmother’s warning was right:
“Marry the wrong man and your life will be nothing but misery.”
When at last Lucille raises Tom, a golden boy, everything seems better. Perhaps life will be kind after all. Maybe the mistakes and heartaches will disappear into the mists of time.
A well-loved child, Tom leaps on the ‘greed is good’ train of the 1980s, spreading his charm and his captivating energy with a generous hand.
How could anything go wrong with his ambitious financial scheming? Well, what about shady dealings? Or the mates’ rates he shares glibly? And what about his greedy, grabby habits?
Ah well, if you lived through the 80s you’ll know what can go wrong.
Quin was one of Tom’s star workers, writing up loans, sealing deals, helping as he schmoozed up customers.
She knows that some of what she did enabled Tom’s rapacious dealings, but she wasn’t prepared for the double cross that sacrificed her to the wolves when the going got tough.
Quin would love to right her own wrongs and see Tom pay for his crimes. Her budding relationship with Lucille promises to heal some of the wounds of the past.
Finally, the compassionate insight of women bypasses the slick and deadly traps of masculine over-confidence.
This story is very generous in detail
The Good Child recreates its diverse time periods with such a keen attention to everyday life that readers are immediately immersed in the settings.
It’s almost possible to smell the kitchen of the 1940s, touch the dresses of the 1950s, hear the hubbub of the 1960s six-o’clock swill, and taste the extravagance of the 1980s.
Author S.C. Karakaltsas has a thorough understanding of the periods covered in this wide-ranging novel, as well as a keen eye and a happy gift with dialogue. Perhaps most remarkable is her ability to bring out the green shoots of hope in a story that charts so many tragedies.
It’s easy to get lost in the world of The Good Child, riding the emotional lows and brief highs as the story inevitably unfolds to its very satisfying end. If you love Australian historical fiction with a feminist slant, this one is for you.
From ABL: To celebrate Australia Reads and the Australian Reading Hour, we’ve put together an audio extravaganza of truly spectacular Aussie authors reading from one of their amazing stories! So tune up the ears and ready the imagination for the following wonderful audio treasures –