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Finding The Lost Girl King by Catherine Doyle

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the lost girl king catherine doyle

By Catherine Doyle

The final book in the Storm Keeper trilogy, my magical middle-grade saga set on Arranmore Island, was released during lockdown, and though the launch was more muted than those that came before it, it allowed me to celebrate the end of a trilogy that I am fiercely proud of. The launch also represented the end of a creative era for me. After four years of writing, editing, and promoting a series that was so close to my heart (and my family), it was finally time to leave Fionn Boyle behind, and to move onto the next middle grade adventure…

Much to my dismay, the next adventure did not present itself, as readily as I hoped it would. Every afternoon, I sat down at my laptop, but the words refused to come. The world was in turmoil, the pandemic was in full swing, and the end of lockdown was nowhere in sight. I tried to jog my imagination, but it was bogged down by a pervasive sense of fear and exhaustion. Hardly the right ingredients for a children’s book.

For the first time in my writing career, and after seven published books, I was experiencing a true, debilitating case of writer’s block. I felt like someone had tipped my brain upside down and shaken all the ideas out. I tried not to put too much pressure on myself, but I knew I had to do something. I watched movies and read books. I went for walks in the forest and down by the sea, I listened to music on repeat, read and re-read my favourite poetry, desperately searching for a single spark to ignite my next novel. Nothing seemed to work.

After a few fruitless months, I decided to return to the stories I first fell in love with as a child. I cast my mind back, past Twilight and The Hunger Games, past Narnia and Artemis Fowl, and even The Cat in the Hat. And then I remembered something…

When I was a little girl, my dad had a big blue book of Irish myths that he used to read to me at bedtime. They were my favourite stories, and the best one of all was the legend of Tír na nÓg, a paradise not too far from ancient Ireland, where no one grows old or sick. Within nothing to lose and my deadline fast approaching, I decided to return to Tír na nÓg one last time.

To my delight, I was enthralled all over again. Only, this time, in a different way. When I was young, I used to think there was nothing more magical than a land where time itself stands still. And yet, there I was, in the middle of the pandemic, where it felt like the entire world had been set to pause, feeling as far from magic as I had ever been.

Then I started to wonder, what if Tír na nÓg wasn’t blessed, but stuck? Cursed, even? That simple question was the spark of the idea that I had been searching for. I knew that I wanted to write a modern-day adventure story inspired by Tír na nÓg, where the well-beloved kingdom is stuck in a time rut and in dire need of saving. I started writing at once, and after four months, the bones of what eventually became The Lost Girl King had finally taken shape.

The Lost Girl King follows siblings Amy and Liam, who are sent to stay with their gran in the wilds of Connemara, where they follow a strange hawk through a golden waterfall and end up in the lost kingdom of Tír na nÓg. But it isn’t long before the siblings’ wonder gives way to fear. When they spot the sun chained in the sky, they realise the entire realm is cursed. Before they can do anything about it, Liam is kidnapped by a terrifying troop of shadow riders and whisked away to the wicked sorcerer, Tarlock, who is seeking human bones for a new spell.

It’s up to Amy to assemble the bravest warriors in the kingdom (including herself!) to rescue her brother it’s too late. She sets off on an epic quest across the rolling plains of Tír na nÓg, where she encounters other well-known characters from Irish folklore, including the mighty Fianna warriors, a host of brave Pookas, a cantankerous Banshee and a prowling band of wolf-riders.

Meanwhile, Liam has become a prisoner of Silverstone Castle, where he meets a lost little girl, who has accidentally become king and is also looking to find her way home. Liam has a stirring feeling that for both of them, home might just lie in the very same direction…

The Lost Girl King is steeped in Irish mythology, but is very much set in the modern world. It’s a story about old magic and new bonds, family loyalty and epic adventure, but most of all, it’s about the enduring light of hope, which is powerful enough to break even the strongest curse.

(c) Catherine Doyle

Author photography (c) Julia Dunin

About The Lost Girl King:

the lost girl king catherine doyle

Amy and Liam Bell have been packed off to stay at Gran’s house in the wilds of Connemara for the summer. Out for a walk on the first morning of their holiday, they trace the flight of a hawk to a nearby waterfall – only to watch the bird disappear through it. Intrigued, the children follow and soon realise they’ve discovered the entrance to Tír na nÓg, the legendary land of eternal youth.

But they’ve been tricked. Almost immediately Liam is captured by a troop of headless horsemen who take him to Tarlock, the ruling sorcerer of Tír na nÓg, who is seeking the bones of a human child for a sinister new spell.

Packed with edge-of-your seat adventure, incredible imagination, humour and warmth, The Lost Girl King is the rare kind of story that has you reading long past lights out.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Catherine Doyle grew up beside the Atlantic Ocean in the west of Ireland. Her love of reading began with great Irish myths and legends, and fostered in her an ambition to one day write her own. She holds a first class BA in Psychology and a first class MA in Publishing from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and is the author of the YA Blood for Blood trilogy. The Storm Keeper’s Island is her debut middle-grade novel and was inspired by her real-life ancestral home of Arranmore Island, where her grandparents grew up, and the adventures of her many seafaring ancestors. After living in Dublin City for two years, Catherine is now based in Galway but spends a lot of her time in London and the US.

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