The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull + INTERVIEW

Title: The Radiant Road 
Author: Katherine Catmull 
Pages: 368 pages
Published: January 19th, 2016
Source: ARC from Penguin Random House 
Genre: Urban fantasy, magical realism 
And sometimes the Strange came to visit Clare, and dreams walked through her waking life. 

After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they'll inhabit the house Clare was born in - a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they're both in great danger from an ancient foe.

Fast-paced adventure and spellbinding prose combined to weave a tale of love, loyalty, and the strength we carry within ourselves.

Now Available! 
Katherine Catmull's writing is unlike any other author's on the YA market. Her eloquent writing and attention to detail sets the stage for a dark and spine-chilling read. Be prepared to travel back in time to your childhood, when fairies (*cough cough* the tooth fairy) and the monsters under your bed existed. 

Catmull's storytelling and writing style is probably the major shining factor to this book. What some of the story line and characters lacked, the metaphorical writing style and imagery made up for. I was always drawn to the words and adjectives the author used to build her world and express its uniqueness, and yet at the same time it was somewhat overwhelming. It felt like she was trying too hard to make you fall in love with her words rather than the story itself. Some sentences even end up being too cryptic to decipher that you find yourself going back to reread said sentence.

I was extremely surprised by the lack of romance. In the synopsis there is mention of a male figure and most of us would assume- due to the fact that this book is classified under YA- that there would be some romantic relationship weaving this story together. It was an unexpected delight and didn't bother me much, although I do miss the typical YA romance.

One thing I do want to point out was the setting of this story. Clare moves back to her old home in Ireland. If you've ever searched up Ireland on Google Images, you'll believe me when I say that Ireland is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, it makes number 2 on my list of places I must visit before I die (number 1 being Bora Bora). Katherine Catmull did an exceptional job at capturing the beauty and intricate landscapes of Ireland. I was breathing Ireland. I was walking in Ireland as I was reading this book! It was also a nice touch to add the presence of fairies and evil spirits in such a picturesque setting. I would read this book from the beginning to just recapture her imagery on the scenic views and the serene feeling of simply breathing the air of green hills and blue skies.

You could also sense the light and the darkness to the story (i.e. the fairies and the evil spirits). There is such a contrast in her writing when she's switching between the scenes of the fairies' magic and Balor, the evil spirit who is after something that Clare has. Balor is sinister and everything I would imagine the author wants her spiteful characters to be like. I felt no personal attachment to the characters in the book and wasn't really concerned with what would happen to them after the conclusion of the book.

A refreshing dip into the world of dark fantasy YA stories. The story behind Clare's life is, for a lack of a better word, strange. It's more a story that writes itself as more surprises come into play. I don't see myself buying other works by this author but it's definitely something all fantasy lovers should try!

**I received this book as an ARC from Penguin Random House. Any of my thoughts are honest and not based on this fact**

1. Ireland is a beautiful country that attracts people from all around the world with its stunning green hills and intricate landscapes. Your book primarily takes place in Ireland. How did you capture the beauty of Ireland while still keeping to the dark and haunting atmosphere of your story? 

I spent a couple of weeks in Ireland to research this book, and I found that its great beauty often has a somewhat haunting or mournful quality. Maybe it’s all the gray skies, or the green moss under old trees, or crumbling castles? 

Actually, though, a good bit of the book take place in other locations, or maybe I mean “locations”—like the artisanally-made worlds of Timeless, or the insides of dreams, or the roots of trees, or the night sky.

2. Other than dark and lyrical YA novels, what do you see yourself writing in the future?

Let’s see: I also sometimes write scary stories at And I write short plays and am working on a longer one. I’m also working on a weird piece that takes place entirely in text messages on your phone, but that’s not ready to talk about yet. The book I’m drafting now—it’s early days, so who knows—is YA, but it’s also a sort of version of that crazy medieval story Gawain and the Green Knight that takes place in an American wilderness . . . oh who am I kidding, it will probably be dark and lyrical.

3. As an author, what's one aspect of your writing that you strive to perfect the most? Is it the plot, setting, or characters?

I think I would choose None of the Above and say it’s the voice. As a reader, although those three are important to me—I love a good story!—they’re not as important as voice. When I’m reading a book, I feel like I’m on a cross-country trip in a VW bug, and the person in the passenger seat is telling me a story. If their voice is boring or fake or inhuman-sounding, I can’t deal. I kick ‘em out. I want a voice that sounds like a very particular human being.

4. Clare [the main protagonist of the book] is visited by the Strange every so often. Have you even been visited by the Strange? Can you describe the feeling?

I feel that I have. I think everyone has, whether they admit it or not! I don’t think I can describe the feeling better than I do on the first page of the book:

It’s that feeling when you’re alone at twilight, and the birds go suddenly silent, and a wind lifts up the leaves and drops them, and you listen, but you don’t know what for.

Or that odd sense, when the light shifts a certain way, and you say, “Oh, this feels like a dream, I feel like I’m dreaming”—that’s the Strange.

Or the Halloween feeling—you must know that one—the feeling of dead leaves and chill and early dark, when a burning orange mask, freshly cut, bars the way to a familiar door. The breath of the Strange slips under your own mask as you walk down the dark street, carrying your trick-or-treat bag, pretending it’s only fun and not scary at all. The Strange swells and sighs beside you, almost close enough to touch.

5. The cover is beautiful, I must say. How does the cover correctly capture the book's story?

The cover is gorgeous—I’ve been very lucky. That artist, Scott McKowen, does remarkable work—he made this cover by engraving onto scratchboard, then added the color. It beautifully catches the eeriness (I hope) of the book. The red hair is important, too—and trees play a, let’s say (no spoilers), transformative role.

About the Author

Katherine Catmull is an actor, freelance writer, voice-over artist, and sometimes playwright. Her first novel, Summer and Bird, was called "a stunning debut" that "thrills with complex storytelling" by Booklist. She lives in Austin Texas.

Author's Website

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  1. Oh, I've seen this cover floating around but never checked it out. I'll have to add this to my TBR now since I love stories about faeries and Ireland. :) Great review and interview!

    Ang @The Gilded Pages

    1. Thanks for reading, and I'd love to know your thoughts when you do!

  2. Sounds fun but not enough to capture me, I've had about enough of three star reads.

    1. I totally understand. I won't read something recommended by someone most of the time unless it's gush-worthy book.

  3. The Radiant Road sounds great! I hadn't heard of it until super recently, so I'm excited to get to it soon! And I don't think I've read many books set in Ireland, maybe one or two? I don't remember.

    Awesome review and interview Alex!

    1. Thanks gurll! It was such a refreshing novel to read and different from many YAs we read today. Hope you get a chance to read it :D


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