PERSONAL: Married. Education: B.A. (with honors); diploma in education.
CAREER: Writer. Worked in various positions until turning to writing full-time.
The Ill-Made Mute (first novel in "Bitterbynde" fantasy trilogy), Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001.
The Lady of the Sorrows (second novel in "Bitterbynde" fantasy trilogy), Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Battle of Evernight (third novel in "Bitterbynde" fantasy trilogy), Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The Iron Tree (first novel in "Crowthistle Chronicles" fantasy series), Tor Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Well of Tears (second novel in "Crowthistle Chronicles" fantasy series), Tor Books (New York, NY), 2006.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Weatherwitch, and Fallowblade, the third and fourth novels, respectively, in the "Crowthistle Chronicles" series, both for Tor Books.
SIDELIGHTS: Australian author Cecilia Dart-Thornton had been interested in writing stories since her youth. At an early age, her mother also shared her own love of science fiction and fantasy literature. As an adult, while working a variety of jobs and writing on the side, Dart-Thornton discovered an online writing workshop where participants could submit excerpts of their work; she began to workshop parts of the book manuscript she was currently working on. One of the Web site's moderators gave Dart-Thornton the contact details of a literary agent, and she has since become a prolific and popular fantasy/science-fiction author.
In 2001 the author published the first novel in the "The Bitterbynde" fantasy trilogy, titled The Ill-Made Mute. This story focuses on an unnamed protagonist who is an abandoned mute living on Erith, a world inhabited by supernatural creatures drawn from English and Celtic folklore and dominated by a society where the people are either privileged aristocrats or "lower" class. The nameless mute, who is disfigured because of exposure to poisonous plants, ends up in Isse Tower and is horribly abused. The character escapes as a stowaway on a "windship" and, when discovered, is forced to work as a dockhand. Eventually, the nameless one escapes once again when pirates attack the ship, meets up with the treasure-seeker Sianadh, who names the character Imrhien, and the two are off on an adventure that includes a battle with the forces of evil.
Dart-Thornton received much praise for her work on The Ill-Made Mute. Many reviewers found the author's debut to be a creative and gripping story, one that had much potential as the first in a trilogy. "A stunning, dazzling debut … tirelessly inventive, fascinating, affecting, and profoundly satisfying," commented one Kirkus Reviews contributor. Others found it a welcome addition to Dart-Thornton's genre. "For fans of mainstream fantasy, this is likely to be one of the high marks of the year," declared Don D'Ammassa in a review for Science Fiction Chronicle.
Dart-Thornton's second novel in the "Bitterbynde" trilogy is The Lady of the Sorrows, picks up with a young woman who has no memory of her past and is troubled by her inability to remember. Given a message for the king-emperor of Caermelor, she disguises herself as Lady Rohain in order to gain admission to court society. When she finally is able to meet with the king, she learns an amazing secret and also discovers that wicked creatures are pursuing her for an unknown reason.
The author enhances her plotline and story with actual myths and folklore, an aspect of her novel that appealed to many reviewers. "Dart-Thornton flavors her saga with retelling of traditional folktales and legends," observed Library Journal contributor Jackie Cassada. Other reviewers found the author's writing to be well researched and thought out. This second book in the trilogy is "a very intelligently written novel that draws heavily on legend, filled with fairies and other creatures of wonder," wrote Don D'Ammassa in Science Fiction Chronicle.
In 2003 Dart-Thornton published the third novel in her "Bitterbynde" trilogy, The Battle of Evernight. Readers discover that Tahquil, although mortal, once lived in the Fair Realm and holds the key to the Gate of Oblivion's Kiss. In order to end the war between the brother kings of the Faeran, Tahquil needs to cross the land of Erith and open the gate for them. In addition to the novel, the author provides summaries of the previous two novels as well as a short glossary and references.
Reviewers found The Battle of Evernight to be a satisfying conclusion to Dart-Thornton's science fiction trilogy. The author's use of folklore again gained attention and praise by critics. "Those who esteem the Irish and Scottish myths of faerie folk will be delighted by the magic folklore and tales within the tales that fill this book," wrote one Publishers Weekly contributor. Other reviewers lauded the author's creation of a strong main character who could support the hefty plotlines of three novels. "Dart-Thornton's epic fantasy features a courageous heroine determined to fulfill her destiny," observed Jackie Cassada in the Library Journal.
In 2005 Dart-Thornton began a new fantasy series, the "Crowthistle Chronicles." The four books—The Iron Tree, The Well of Tears, Weatherwitch, and Fallowblade—follow the story of a charmed young man named Jarrod, who is searching for his estranged father.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
AAP General News Wire, December 3, 2004, Jenny Napier, "Fantasy Writer's Rise to Fame a Fairytale Come True," p. 1.
Booklist, April 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of The Ill-Made Mute, p. 1539; April 15, 2003, Roland Green, review of The Battle of Evernight, p. 1454.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2001, review of The Ill-Made Mute, p. 299; March 1, 2002, review of The Lady of the Sorrows, p. 296; February 15, 2003, review of The Battle of Evernight, p. 276.
Library Journal, May 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of The Ill-Made Mute, p. 167; April 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of The Lady of the Sorrows, p. 127; April 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The Battle of Evernight, p. 129.
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August, 2001, James Sallis, review of The Ill-Made Mute, p. 43.
MBR Bookwatch, February, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of The Iron Tree.
Publishers Weekly, March 26, 2001, review of The Ill-Made Mute, p. 67; April 1, 2002, review of The Lady of the Sorrows, p. 58; March 24, 2003, review of The Battle of Evernight, p. 64.
Science Fiction Chronicle, April, 2001, Don D'Ammassa, review of The Ill-Made Mute, p. 35; April, 2002, Don D'Ammassa, review of The Lady of the Sorrows, p. 46.
Washington Post, June 24, 2001, Paul Di Filippo, review of The Ill-Made Mute, p. 13; February 20, 2005, Paul Di Filippo, review of The Iron Tree, p. 13.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation Web site, http://www.abc.net.au/ (May 6, 2002), "Australian Writer to Make U.S. Debut."
BookBrowser, http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (May 6, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of The Ill-Made Mute.
Cecilia Dart-Thornton Home Page, http://www.dartthornton.com (July 15, 2005).
Greenman Review Online, http://www.greenmanreview.com/ (May 6, 2002), Michael M. Jones, review of The Ill-Made Mute.
Road to Romance, http://www.roadtoromance.dhs.org/ (May 6, 2002), autobiography of Cecilia Dart-Thornton; Sue Waldeck, review of The Ill-Made Mute.
SFRevu.com, http://www.sfrevu.com/ (May 6, 2005), Neal Asher, interview with Cecilia Dart-Thornton; John Berlyne, review of The Ill-Made Mute.
Time Warner Bookmark, http://www.twbookmark.com/ (June 20, 2005), biography of Cecilia Dart-Thornton.