Sunday, 30 November 2008
The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan
A NEW Irish fantasy talent has appeared. Celine Kiernan is one of the crop of animators developed by Sullivan Bluth when the company was in Ireland.
She went on to follow the work around the world, then she and her husband came home to set up their own studio in Dublin.
She's always had stories niggling away in her head, one of them about Wynter Moorehawke, Protector Lady, well-qualified carpenter's apprentice, former King's Cat-Keeper.
With the first burst of happy laughter, you know you can settle down to a happy fireside read with this fantasy set in a version of a 14th-century south of France.
But this is a France not only of witch-hunts, torture and roadside gibbets, but also of talking cats, clubbable ghosts, and supernaturally chilly statues (which, handily, can be used to keep the milk and butter cool).
That first laugh was at the traditional greeting for cats: "All respect to you this fine day, mouse-bane" - and its most cat-like response: "All the finer for you, having seen me".
But as Wynter arrives home after years, the cats won't acknowledge her, and even the ghosts run away at her greeting. Something is most definitely wrong.
The first of a trilogy, this shows serious promise. I forecast a rosy future for Celine Kiernan.