Dunkle, Clare B. 1964–
DUNKLE, Clare B. 1964–
PERSONAL: Born 1964, in Fort Worth, TX; married Joseph R. Dunkle (an engineer); children: two daughters. Education: Trinity University, B.A., 1985; Indiana University, M.L.S.
CAREER: Writer 2001–. Coates Library, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX, librarian, 1990–99.
AWARDS, HONORS: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, Best Books for Young Adults designation, American Library Association, Best Book selection, Bank Street College of Education, and Best Young Adult Book selection, Locus, all for The Hollow Kingdom.
Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of Academic Librarianship, OCLC Micro, Library Acquisitions: Practice and Theory, and Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association.
"HOLLOW KINGDOM" FANTASY TRILOGY
The Hollow Kingdom, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2003.
Close Kin, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2004.
In the Coils of the Snake, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2005.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Rat Trap, a novel; The Way of Water, a novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Fantasy novelist Clare B. Dunkle began writing while living in Germany for five years while her husband, an engineer, worked for the U.S. Air Force. On her Web site, she explained that after her two teenage daughters left for boarding school in 2001, her husband suggested that she begin writing a book since she now had the time. Discussing the influences on her writing, Duncle noted that one of her earliest memories "is of my mother reading me the story of Perseus, and, as a child, I knew many of the Greek myths by heart. I also enjoyed the Norse myths, and I read collections of tales from many cultures of the world. My English professor mother taught about folk tales, nursery rhymes, and myths in her classes, and we discussed their meanings and literary devices." Dunkle has also been inspired by the texts and stories of her religion, Catholicism. "The grandeur and delicacy of these spiritual texts have had a profound effect on my writing," she noted, "and I wouldn't have it any other way."
Dunkle's The Hollow Kingdom, set in nineteenth-century England, is the first volume of a trilogy. In it she introduces orphaned sisters Kate and Emily Winslow, who are living with aunts at Hallow Hill, the family home to which they are heirs. The estate is located in an isolated region shrouded by the supernatural. When Marak, the local goblin king, seeks a wife, Kate is his choice. She will have none of it, however, until Emily disappears. Kate then descends into the goblin world to bargain for her sister's return. Emily is rescued, and Kate keeps her side of the bargain and agrees to marry the grotesque but kindly king. The two girls go underground into the beautiful goblin kingdom, which Emily finds enchanting but Kate does not. As time passes, Kate becomes a true queen to her people and her husband when she saves them from a wicked sorcerer who would steal their spirits.
A Publishers Weekly contributor called The Hollow Kingdom "a masterly debut," and wrote that, "paying tribute both to the elements of Victorian novels and fairy tales, first novelist Dunkle turns out a luminously polished fantasy that starts off strong and just gets better." Janice M. Del Negro noted in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books that Dunkle "creates a weirdly attractive otherworld with touches of humor that make it fully dimensional. Characterizations are solid with intriguing complications."
In Close Kin, the next book in the series, now eighteen-year-old Emily is the object of the affection of Seylin, who is part elf, the result of elf brides captured by the goblins long ago. When he awkwardly attempts to express his love for her, the situation goes badly, and Seylin flees the goblin kingdom to explore his elfin roots. Emily realizes she loves Seylin and goes off with the goblin Ruby to find him, even as Marak plans a strategy to add more elf blood to the goblin's gene pool. Seylin and Emily, meanwhile, discover that the few surviving elves they find no longer have their magic, their culture, or even their literacy, since they have lost everything, including their books, in the goblin-elf wars.
Reviewing Close Kin for School Library Journal, Farida S. Dowler wrote that "the narrative draws readers into a multifaceted world of strong, compelling individuals." Timnah Card commented in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books that, "as in the first book, nimble narration and sympathetic characterization involve the reader from page one."
In the Coils of the Snake is the third and final book of the trilogy. Marak now hands his reign over to Catspaw, the new goblin king, and to Miranda, the human girl who will sit beside him. Eventually, an elf opponent with real magical strength appears to face the goblins, challenging their heavy-handed tactics as well as their assumptions about their own racial superiority.
Discussing her first non-series work, Dunkle told CA: "I have taken on a different challenge in my fantasy/horror novel, By These Ten Bones, striving for as much historical accuracy as possible in the story's medieval Highland setting while still providing an exciting fantasy read. Now I am taking a break from historical fantasy altogether. My completed manuscript, Rat Trap, features a futuristic science-fiction dystopia full of modern slang and catchy gadgets, based loosely on the Tale of the Pied Piper."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2003, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 608; October 1, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Close Kin, p. 322.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 2004, Janice M. Del Negro, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 227; December, 2004, Timnah Card, review of Close Kin, p. 165.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2003, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 1223; September 15, 2004, review of Close Kin, p. 913; April 15, 2005, review of By These Ten Bones, p. 472.
Publishers Weekly, November 17, 2003, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 66.
School Library Journal, December, 2003, Bruce Anne Shook, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 149; October, 2004, Farida S. Dowler, review of Close Kin, p. 161.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2004, Stacy Dillon, review of The Hollow Kingdom, p. 58; December, 2004, Stacy Dillon, review of Close Kin, p. 402.
Clare B. Dunkle Home Page, http://www.claredunkle.com (March 13, 2005).