Carmody, Isobelle 1958- (Isobelle Jane Carmody)

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Carmody, Isobelle 1958- (Isobelle Jane Carmody)


Born June 16, 1958, in Australia; children; one daughter. Education: B.A. (literature and philosophy).


Home and office—Apollo Bay, Victoria, Australia.


Writer. Formerly worked in journalism and public relations.


Australia Council Literature Board grant; Australian Children's Book Council shortlist, 1988, for Obernewton; Australian Children's Book Council (ACBC) Honor Book designation, 1991, for The Farseekers; Talking Book of the Year Award, 1992, for Scatterlings; ACBC Book of the Year designation, and Children's Literature Peace Prize, both 1993, both for The Gathering; Aurealis Award shortlist, 1996, for Ashling; Aurealis Award for young-adult short story, 1997, 2002; Aurealis Award, 1998, for young-adult novel Greylands; Ditmar Award for Australian Long Fiction shortlist, and Aurealis Award for Fantasy Novel shortlist, both 1998, both for Darkfall; Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature shortlist, 2001, for Billy Thunder and the Night Gate; Aurealis Award for Young-Adult Novel and Golden Novel honor, both 2006, both for Alyzon Whitestarr; Aurealis Award for Children's Long Fiction, and ABPA Book Design award, both 2006, both for Little Fur; Aurealis Award for Children's Novel shortlist, 2007, for A Fox Called Sorrow.


Scatterlings (novel), Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1991, Puffin (New York, NY), 1992.

The Gathering (novel), Puffin (New York, NY), 1993.

Green Monkey Dreams (stories), Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1996.

Greylands (novel), Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

(With Steve Taylor) This Way Out: Five Plays, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1998.

The Landlord (novel), Lothian (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1999.

Dreamwalker (novel), illustrated by Steven Woolman, Lothian (Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2001.

Wildheart, illustrated by Steven Woolman, Scholastic Australia (Norwood, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

(With Marc McBride) Journey from the Centre of the Earth, Lothian (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2003.

Angel Fever ("Quentaris Chronicles"), Lothian (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

The Cat Dreamer ("Quentaris Chronicles"), Lothian (South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2005.

Alyzon Whitestarr (novel), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2005.

Magic Night, illustrated by Declan Lee, Random House (New York, NY), 2006, published as The Wrong Thing, Viking (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2006.


Obernewtyn, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1987, Tor (New York, NY), 1999.

The Farseekers, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1990, Tor (New York, NY), 2000.

Ashling, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1995, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.

The Keeping Place, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1998, Tor (New York, NY), 2001.

The Obernewtyn Chronicles: Books One, Two, and Three, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

The Stone Key, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2008.

The Sending, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2009.


Darkfall, Viking (New York, NY), 1997.

Darksong, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2002.


Billy Thunder and the Night Gate, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2000, published as Night Gate, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

The Winter Door, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2003, Random House (New York, NY), 2006.

The Sending, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2009.


The Legend of Little Fur, Viking (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2005.

A Fox Called Sorrow, Viking (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2006.

A Mystery of Wolves, Random House (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to Writers on Writing, edited by James Roberts, Barry Mitchell, and Roger Zubrinich, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2002, and The Road to Camelot, edited by Sophie Masson, Random House Australia (Milsons Point, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.


Considered one of Australia's most popular science-fiction authors, Isabelle Carmody is the author of a series of young-adult novels exploring the fantasy world of Obernewtyn. Carmody began her "Obernewtyn Chronicles" books while still in high school, although she did not complete the work until years later. Other novels by Carmody include the books in her "Gateway" trilogy and "Legendsong" saga, her "Legend of Little Fur" books, and novels and short-story collections. Focusing on younger readers, she has also produced picture books such as Magic Night, a story about a curious cat on a magical night that features what a Kirkus Reviews writer described as a "quietly urgent, deliciously immediate narrative" as well as "ghostly, luminous" pastel illustrations by Declan Lee. In 2007 Carmody was the guest of honor at Melbourne's Australian National Science Fiction Convention.

Series opener Obernewtyn is set in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust dubbed the Great White due to its effect on the skies. A handful of humans escapes the carnage and reestablishes a form of civilization. In the remote mountain village of Obernewtyn live the Misfits, mutant exiles on whom grisly experiments are performed. An orphan, young Elspeth Gordie, has a special paranormal talent, which she struggles to hide from society. However, when her secret is revealed, Elspeth is branded a Misfit and sent to Obernewtyn. Teaming up with similarly gifted peers, she battles the evil Council that would exploit her telepathy to wreak further havoc on Earth. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted of Obernewtyn that while most of Carmody's characters "are clearly bad or good, she avoids blatant stereotyping by imbuing many with conflicting interests."

The Farseekers, the second work in the "Obernewtyn Chronicles," finds Elspeth undertaking a dangerous quest to find both a powerful Misfit who has become stranded in the lowlands and a mysterious collection of books. Joined by several companions, including a telepathic horse, she travels through enemy camps and devastated wastelands. According to Library Journal contributor Jackie Cassada, The Farseekers "blends graceful storytelling with appealing characters."

A series of strange visions is at the center of series installment Ashling. After Elspeth dreams that she must destroy a cache of terrible weapons left by the Before-timers, she leaves the safety of Obernewtyn to enlist the aid of the rebels fighting against the Council. "Much of the story concerns the Misfits' attempts to meet and ally with secular rebel groups, who may tolerate the paranormal talents as little as the religious forces," noted a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. In The Keeping Place, the Misfits are forced to ally with the rebels against the Council, while Elspeth is guided in her journey through the Dreamtrails by a seer and a winged beast. The series continues in The Stone Key and The Sending.

Night Gate, the first book in Carmody's "Gateway" trilogy, concerns Rage Winnoway, a young girl who desperately wants to help her comatose mother, the victim of an auto accident. While traveling through the forest with her four dogs and a neighbor's goat, Rage steps through a mysterious portal and enters Valley, a strange land where the teen's animal companions are transformed into sentient, quasi-human creatures. The group then embarks on an important mission: to find the wizard who created Valley and obtain the cure for Rage's mother. Reviewing Night Gate in School Library Journal, Tasha Saecker remarked that "Carmody manages to take familiar elements and turn them into something magical and unique," and Booklist critic Jennifer Mattson noted that "Carmody's writing is satisfyingly brocaded … and her elaborate world building will impress genre fans."

In The Winter Door, Rage dreams that Valley is being destroyed by an enchanted winter storm, and she realizes that her efforts are needed to save the special world. Carmody's "skillfully designed worlds, expressive prose, and theme of hope in the face of despair will appeal to fantasy fans," predicted School Library Journal critic Christi Voth. Noting that in The Winter Door, Carmody retells the story of Persephone, a Kirkus Reviews critic noted that while Rage's equivocating personality can be frustrating, "Carmody's lyrical writing displays flashes of startling beauty, precisely capturing the piercing pain of loss and the dull ache of despair."

In Carmody's environmentally focused "Legend of Little Fur" books, readers meet a half-elf, half-troll and her friends. In Little Fur the three-foot-tall, slant-eyed and pointy-eared creature is at home in the forest, surrounded by the seven trees known as the Old Ones. When the Old Ones are threatened by humans hoping to set them afire, Little Fur undertakes a search to find the tree guardian who can protect her home. The evil Troll King is the threat to Earth that Little Fur battles in A Fox Called Sorrow, and fighting the king's plots brings her to the troll realm called Underth. Joined by her animal friends, the elf/troll becomes concerned with a helpful fox, whose ennui is causing him to fade in both body and spirit. A Mystery of Wolves finds Little Fur searching for Ginger the cat, a quest that necessitates that she discover the secrets of a mystic order of wolves that is intent upon battling humans. In the process, she uncovers more about her own family. Dubbing Little Fur a "wee eco-fantasy heroine," a Kirkus Reviews writer predicted that, "with her green message, [Carmody's heroine] will win the hearts of young environmentalists." In School Library Journal, Amanda Raklovitz praised A Fox Called Sorrow as "more cohesive and less didactic" than Little Fur, citing the story's "better developed and more rounded characters."

Carmody has also produced several stand-alone sci-fi novels, including The Gathering and Greylands. In the former, the action takes place in the quiet suburban community of Cheshunt. When high-schooler Nathaniel moves there with his mother, as Horn Book critic Peter D. Sieruta noted, "he immediately senses the dark side of his ‘squeaky-clean’ model neighborhood." A strange stench rises; feral dogs roam the streets, and his new school "is ruled by a brutal band of the principal's chosen ruffians," Jeanne Triner observed in a Booklist article. Joining forces with a group of student rebels, Nathaniel joins in the quest to quell the evil in Cheshunt. "Utterly riveting" was the conclusion of a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the critic adding that the novel's "suspense never slackens and the resolutions of the many conflicts are powerfully wrought." According to Triner, in The Gathering Carmody "effectively creates and sustains a sinister atmosphere" to appeal to young fans of horror fiction.

Greylands tells the story of youngsters Jack and Ellen, siblings coping with the suicide of their mother and the resulting emotional withdrawal of their father. Adding to the confusion are the mysteries Jack detects within his social circle: fellow student with mysterious powers and messages. In Jack's mind, the mystery relates to the "greylands" that exist in the world inside his mirror, a place devoid of color and scent. Gillian Rubinstein, writing in the Australian Book Review, stated that the greylands "are an unforgettable metaphor for grief, and one of the strengths of the story is its recognition of children's emotions." Rubinstein had further praise for Greylands, remarking that "chapter endings are invariably cliff-hangers, and there are some remarkable inventions." While the author's "spur-of-the-moment storytelling style introduces characters and plot elements as they are needed in the narrative" and "sometimes results in inconsistencies and confusions," her text "does give the impression of going through a maze of mirrors."

In an Australian Book Review column, Sophie Masson summed up Carmody's appeal to young readers: "The Celtic element in her work is very strong; evident not only in the general feeling and shape of her sagas, but also in such details as many of the names of characters and places. There is a fascination for fallen worlds in Isobelle Carmody's novels, such as the one created in her Obernewtyn chronicles…. And she has a lot of fun with the taxonomy of her worlds, the creatures living within them, and the powers they hold."



Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.


Australian Book Review, October, 1997, Gillian Rubinstein, review of Greylands, p. 28, Sophie Masson, profile of Carmody, p. 58.

Booklist, April 1, 1995, review of The Gathering, p. 1415; January 1, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of Night Gate, p. 858; February 1, 2008, Krista Hutley, review of A Mystery of Wolves, p. 40.

Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, September, 1994, review of The Gathering, p. 9; January, 2005, Krista Hutley, review of Night Gate, pp. 202-203.

English Journal, September, 1995, review of The Gathering, p. 118.

Five Owls, May, 1996, review of The Gathering, p. 102.

Horn Book, November, 1995, review of The Gathering, p. 778.

Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, November, 2000, review of The Gathering, p. 301.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of Ashling, p. 1075; January 15, 2005, review of Night Gate, p. 117; May 15, 2006, review of Winter Door, p. 515; October 1, 2006, review of Little Fur: The Legend Begins, p. 1011; July 15, 2007, review of Magic Night; November 15, 2007, review of A Mystery of Wolves.

Library Journal, September 15, 1999, review of Obernewtyn, p. 115; July, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of The Farseekers, p. 147.

Magpies, May, 1991, review of Scatterlings, p. 21; May, 1994, review of The Gathering, p. 32; March, 1995, review of Ashling and Obernewtyn, p. 6; May, 1996, review of Green Monkey Dreams, p. 50; November, 1997, review of Darkfall, p. 8, and review of Greylands, p. 36; November, 1999, review of The Keeping Place, p. 6; November, 2000, review of Billy Thunder and the Night Gate, p. 32; July, 2002, review of Wildheart, p. 30; March, 2003, review of Darksong and Darkfall, p. 40; March, 2004, Moira Robinson, review of Journey from the Centre of the Earth, p. 30, and Jo Goodman, review of The Winter Door, pp. 32-33.

Publishers Weekly, November 7, 1994, review of The Gathering, p. 44; August 30, 1999, review of Obernewtyn, p. 57; July 31, 2000, review of The Farseekers, p. 76; October 1, 2001, review of Ashling, p. 42; August 27, 2007, review of Magic Night, p. 88.

School Librarian, August, 1996, review of The Gathering, p. 117.

School Library Journal, July, 1994, review of The Gathering, p. 116; January, 2005, Tasha Saecker, review of Night Gate, p. 126; July, 2006, Christi Voth, review of Winter Door, p. 98; March, 2007, Amanda Raklovitz, review of A Fox Called Sorrow, p. 156; August, 2007, Kara Schaff Dean, review of Magic Night, p. 77.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1994, review of The Gathering, p. 283; December, 2000, review of The Farseekers, p. 357; February, 2002, review of Ashling, p. 443.

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Carmody, Isobelle 1958- (Isobelle Jane Carmody)

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