Guest Post: Cheryl Mahoney on Fairy Tale Connections


I am super excited to have Cheryl Mahoney back on my blog for the fourth time to discuss all the interesting connections she has made between her books and fairy tales. I don’t usually host guest posts but I always make a special exception for Cheryl; a fellow book blogger at Tales of the Marvelous, and the author of The Wanderers, The Storyteller and Her Sisters and The People the Fairies Forget. Take it away Cheryl…

I’m delighted to be welcomed onto Jessica’s blog for a guest post today! I love stories that draw in references and connections to other stories, creating a bigger tapestry beyond a single book.  Today, I’m going to explore a bit about some of those connections layered into my newest book—with maybe a secret or two from the author’s-eye view!

My Beyond the Tales series began with the intention to create larger, more complex, hopefully more logical (!) stories that go beyond what we see in the traditional fairy tales. The Wanderers pulls in frequent elements from fairy tales, like youngest sons always succeeding at quests; The Storyteller and Her Sisters retells “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces;” and The People the Fairies Forget retells “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella” and “Beauty and the Beast” from new points of view. The Lioness and the Spellspinners is closer to the first book, more independent in plot—but still with plenty of fairy tales references for readers to spot.

In the first portion of the book, one of the chief challenges for the characters is strange spells cropping up without explanation. I hope readers won’t immediately solve the mystery of the spells, but will recognize the literary sources: I use elements of “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “The Red Shoes,” plus a talking animal who could be from many fairy tales.

A later scene involves exploring a magician’s study. This particular magician is a collector of magical items, and I had fun thinking of objects to present from different tales.  The magician has traditional things like Snow White’s apple, walnuts from the tale of “Donkeyskin,” and a golden apple from Greek mythology.  I also couldn’t resist a teacup with a chip in the rim!

Besides connections to fairy tales, I like connecting my various novels. Each book in the series can be read independently, but readers of multiple books will spot connections.  This one links most closely to The Storyteller and Her Sisters.  The princesses in that tale must free twelve princes from a curse, and Lioness is set in the princes’ country, in pre-curse days.  Prince Dastan, the love interest in Storyteller, appears as a child in Lioness.

Magical knitting is a major theme in this book that has not directly appeared in the others—but there is a small link.  I added an extra detail at the last possible moment when I was doing final edits for Storyteller.  That book came out October, 2014, a month before I started writing Lioness, but I was already working out the magic system.  I was just barely in time to include a new detail where Dastan gives my heroine a scarf, dyed a special color that is a trade secret in their country. Lioness reveals what that scarf and color mean magically, for readers who go back to compare the details.

I also had to sneak in another character—Sam Jones is a personal favorite character of mine, who has made appearances in every novel I’ve written, including the unpublished ones I wrote in high school.  He’s always earnest, well-meaning and deeply clumsy.  He already appeared in the other books in this series, and with this one set significantly earlier he can’t really be the same person…so we have to assume that the Sam in this book is an ancestor of the other one.  But really, they’re all Sam, and I was particularly pleased to be able to give him a nice moment highlighting his best qualities.

I hope readers will enjoy looking for the connections in the story—and I haven’t given away every secret about characters or references that may turn up!

Thank you so much Cheryl for another great post. I loved your previous books and I can’t wait to read your new one:

The Lioness and the Spellspinners

Forrest can’t fathom this prickly, knife-wielding girl who so unceremoniously turns up in his family’s barn one morning. His life has never been thisthe-lioness-cover exciting.  Karina can’t make herself trust the strangely hospitable villagers on this island she’s now stuck on, and when they claim they can knit spells into their garments, that doesn’t help.  She knows magic exists, but that’s just ridiculous.

And no one can understand why the chickens have suddenly started laying gilded eggs, or why the horse is talking in rhyming couplets.

When the inexplicable magic goes from mere bad poetry to actual threats, when dancing becomes dangerous and the wrong thought could cause disaster, the only answers are in the past Karina is fleeing—and the only way to survive is for the knife-wielder to trust the spellspinner.

The Lioness and the Spellspinners is now available to buy in paperback or Kindle edition at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Have you read any of Cheryl’s wonderful books? Are you looking forward to reading her new one?

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Villains

Blog - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

All About The Villains

For me, Autumn is a time for mysteries, thrillers and other books on the darker and creepier side, and what would they be without a good villain?! So here is a list of my top ten favourite literary villains (ordered alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

Count Dracula

Transylvanian nobleman and centuries old vampire, antagonist of Bram Stoker’s gothic horror, Dracula. An alluring, dangerous and love-sick villain, who I would be in serious danger of falling for; especially when he is played by Gary Oldman!

~ 2 ~

Ebenezer Scrooge

The cold-hearted, miserly protagonist of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. While Scrooge starts out all bad, it is wonderful to watch his miraculous transformation and final redemption.

~ 3 ~

Frankenstein’s Monster

Often mistakenly called Frankenstein after his creator and/or book title, the monster or creature of Mary Shelley’s gothic horror, Frankenstein, actually has no name. A nameless, confused and shunned figure who I can’t help having some sympathy for.

~ 4 ~


A villain so feared and reviled that most characters in J K Rowling’s fantasy, Harry Potter series won’t even use his name out loud. Lord Voldermort or Tom Riddle is a dark wizard who will stop at nothing for power and influence over others.

~ 5 ~

Professor James Moriarty

Criminal mastermind who keeps the famous detective Sherlock Holmes on his toes in several of Arthur Conan Doyle’s crime stories – anyone who can get Holmes second guessing is a great villain in my book.

~ 6 ~

Mrs. Danvers

Manderley’s head housekeeper and chief antagonist of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic Rebecca. A bitter, cruel and manipulative woman who seeks to undermine the new Mrs. de Winter at every opportunity.

~ 7 ~

Cersei Lannister

A central point-of-view character in George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The scheming and ruthless Queen of the Seven Kingdoms – a character you love to hate; portrayed brilliantly in the TV series by Lena Headey.

~ 8 ~


Dark lord, necromancer and main antagonist of J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. In which Sauron is an evil spirit who takes the form of a giant, unsleeping eye which wishes to cover the land in a second darkness.

~ 9 ~


A terrible dragon who has stolen the home and treasure of the dwarves in J. R. R. Tolkien’s children’s fantasy novel, The Hobbit. A greedy, highly intelligent and cunning villain who you shouldn’t strike up a conversation with!

~ 10 ~

Jadis, the White Witch

A powerful witch and main antagonist of C. S. Lewis’ children’s fantasy novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The cruel, self-styled Queen of Narnia who has brought perpetual winter and fear to the inhabitants of the land.

Who are your favourite villains? Also, link in the comments if you have also taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic.

New Books: September 2016


Hello my fellow bookworms, I had such a splurge of new books in August that some books have had to be carried over into this month’s post. Here are those other goodies I have added to my bookshelf:

Dreaming Spires by Laurie R. King

The Language of Bees by Laurie R. King

Jingo by Terry Pratchett

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

At the end of August, I had another chance to browse in some of my favourite bookshops. In the St. Giles Hospice bookshop I snapped up four books. First, two more of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries which I have been keeping my eyes peeled for, after enjoying The Beekeeper’s Apprentice earlier this year. Secondly, I am always looking to add to my Pratchett collection and this time I found two books; both of which are new-for-me.

The Butterfly Summer by Harriet Evans

Then at the end of the long Summer break from work, I went to visit my mother who asked if I fancied reading this. I have never read anything by Evans before but the synopsis mentions a big, country house with a mystery; how could I not give it a try?!

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

New Books: August 2016

New Books - Aug #3

Hello my fellow bookworms, after being so good in July I am now bringing you my second new books post in August, oops! Here are more goodies I have added to my bookshelf:

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

On a recent trip to my hair dressers I had the chance to browse in some of my favourite bookshops. First, in the St. Giles hospice books shop I was pleased to find these two books. I am always looking to add to my Pratchett collection and this is a new-to-me story. And, after enjoying Ibbotson’s lovely young adults novel I have been keeping my eyes peeled for her children’s novels to try.

New Books - Aug #4

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

The Adventures & Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Next, on the same trip I went in the Oxfam bookshop and found another two books. First, I found a nice compilation of Sherlock Holmes stories – I have previously read and loved these but that was on my Kindle; I am now pleased to have a physical copy for my bookshelf. Then, I was thrilled to find Moon Over Soho the second book in Ben Aaronovitch’s fantasy, crime series, because I already have book one and five on my TBR pile.

New Books - Aug #5

Surprised by Hope by Hope by Tom Wright

Finally, in the post arrived a second-hand copy of this Christian non-fiction which is the October required book for my church’s new book club. I am currently reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson for our first meeting in September.

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books with a Fantasy Setting

Blog - Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Books With X Setting

This week’s topic is one we can personalise – we could go with books set near the beach, books set in boarding school, books set in England, etc. I am a big fan of fantasy books and fairy tales, so I have decided to share my top ten books set in a fantasy world (ordered alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum

Set in the merry old land of Oz, where we travel the yellow brick road to the shining Emerald City.

~ 2 ~

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Set in Wonderland – a surreal, dream like place reached through a rabbit hole.

~ 3 ~

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Set in the brutal, dystopian state of Panem where people are separated into strict districts.

~ 4 ~

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Set across All-World – a collection of parallel worlds which have started to bleed into each other as the old magic dies.

~ 5 ~

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis

Set in the magical, winter-bound land of Narnia; discovered at the back of an old wardrobe.

~ 6 ~

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Set across the epic Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

~ 7 ~

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Set on the magical Discworld which rides on the backs of four elephants, who in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle.

~ 8 ~

Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Set in Camp Half-Blood – a secret refuse for the children of the Ancient Greek Gods from us mundane mortals.

~ 9 ~

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling

Set in the Wizarding World which secretly coincides alongside us muggles (non-magical folk).

~ 10 ~

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Set across the epic, diverse and old Middle-Earth.

What are your favourite books with a fantasy setting? Also, please let me know and link in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday rewind.

New Read: Wendy Darling, Volume I

Wendy Darling

After loving her previous novels, I immediately snapped up a copy of Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars by Colleen Oakes, the start of her new, young adult series inspired by J M Barrie’s Neverland. Sadly however this book languished for too long on my Kindle until the 10 Books of Summer challenge finally gave me that push I needed to pick it up.

Wendy Darling and her brothers are part of a wealthy family who live a comfortable and conventional life in a town house in London. One clear, starry night their world is to be turned upside down when they are visited by a wild, magical boy, Peter Pan. Who, with the promise of adventures, lures them out of the nursery window and up, up away into the stars and on to Neverland! A magical land of turquoise seas, beautiful beaches, mermaids, pirates and the freedom of life as a Lost Boy. Wendy finds herself intoxicated by the place and Peter, and yet she is plagued with misty memories of home and an annoying sense that all is not as it appears.

I liked how Colleen Oakes, the author, has chosen to tell her re-imagining of Neverland from the point-of-view of Wendy. A young lady, who at the start of the story, is sad about growing up but is also excited by the prospect of love and womanhood. At this hormonal time Wendy easily falls for this beautiful, wild boy who flies through her window without much thought for consequences. I often wanted to give her a jolly good shake for her naivety and emotional weakness however she is a kind character with potential; I hope to see her develop further. Wendy is joined by her brothers: the adorable Michael and the thoroughly dislikeable John, both are completely  immersed in life on Pan Island and do not share any of Wendy’s misgivings.

While I didn’t particularly always ‘like’ the characters I did find that Colleen Oakes re-imagined classic and new characters are realistic and much better fleshed out than in the J M Barrie’s original tale. I also loved being able to delve deeper into the settings too. While I’m not sure I totally bought Oakes’ Edwardian London – I was completely blown away by her description of Neverland. I really could imagine the turquoise seas, sandy beaches, towering peaks, humid jungle, sinister Skull Rock, and the giant, sprawling tree that constitutes Pan Island.

Previously I have read and loved two of Oakes’ previous novels: Volume 1 and Volume 2 of her young adult series Queen of Hearts which is a re-imagining of Lewis Carol’s Wonderland. I enjoyed them so much that they both made it on to my Top 10 Books of 2014. So my expectations were perhaps too high for this new series, Wendy Darling. This first book in the series was again well written, detailed and imaginative however I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous books/series. I think that was simply down to the characters though – which is just my personal taste and not any reflection on the quality of writing or story.

Wendy Darling, Volume I: Stars is an enjoyable fantasy adventure in an expanded, detailed and magical re-imagining of Neverland. I am looking forward to reading Volume 2: Seas to see how the characters develop. Good read.

Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Or any other books inspired by Peter Pan and Neverland?

10 Books of Summer – 5/10

New Books: June – August 2016

New Books - Aug #1

Hello my fellow bookworms, since my splurge in June I have been rather good and new books have come in slowly. Here are the goodies I have been adding to my bookshelf and Kindle over the last couple of months:

Lirael by Garth Nix

Abhorsen by Garth Nix

At the end of June, in one of my favourite charity bookshops I was thrilled to find copies of Lirael and Abhorsen; the second and third books in the Old Kingdom trilogy. I have previously read Sabriel and Lirael but not Abhorsen, so I am looking forward to re-reading and finishing this trilogy.

S5 Uncovered by James Durose-Rayner

Also in June, I was contacted and accepted a review copy from the publicist of S5 Uncovered; a new, dark crime novel.

New Books - Aug #2

Wendy Darling, Volume II: Seas by Colleen Oakes

Fast forward to this month, where I couldn’t resist requesting a copy of Wendy Darling, Volume II: Seas from Netgalley, as at the time I was reading Volume I: Stars. I am looking forward to continuing the series.

Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

This month, I was also thrilled to be contacted by the author Rosy Thornton about receiving a review copy of her short story collection Sandlands which I have been hearing such wonderful things about.

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson

And finally this month, I purchased a digital copy of The Circle Maker for my Kindle in eager anticipation of a book club that is starting at my church in September.

Do you fancy any of these? What new book purchases have you made recently?