So far, there are three volumes in the “For Keeps” series, which deals with the adventures of Kinlea Waltham, the keeper of Haneth’s End, in the early twentieth century England. Synopses are available below, and excerpts for all three books are linked to the right of the titles. The first two volumes were once available from Drollerie Press, since closed. Other publishing options are being explored. In the meantime, please enjoy the excerpts.
Kinlea Keeper (Excerpt Here)
At ten years old, Kinlea Waltham has spent his entire life hearing people tell him he is dying and can not be cured. Everyone who sees him takes it as a foregone conclusion. He has never left his house or made a single friend.
Everything changes when his parents send him to stay with family friends in the country (to “die in cleaner air”), and his hosts tell him that he is not actually ill. Rather, he learns that he has been cursed with a powerful enchantment forged from the worst kind of hatred. He is suddenly immersed in a new world of magic, danger, and responsibility. Born to be the Keeper of Haneth’s End, a small but pivotal corner of the world’s magical realm, he must face the ones who have made him the target of their loathing since his infancy in order to protect everything he loves. Their perplexing, seemingly chaotic actions endanger his Keep, the world, and even magic itself. Without Kinlea to stand in the way, everything might fold in upon itself, and the world might have to learn the true meaning of the words “the end.”
Curse (Excerpt Here)
(Beware! If you haven’t read Kinlea Keeper, the following is fraught with spoilers!)
When the Witch of Barren Hollow comes to collect her due (Jordan Wheeler’s first-born child on the eve of the child’s third birthday), Curtis Wheeler is taken from his loving, tame family life and whisked away into a world where curses, goblins, and fae are real and every bit as dangerous as the folk tales say.
It is therefore a very good thing that Curtis Wheeler is no ordinary child. He finds nothing but satisfaction in his new situation; miraculously enjoying life in the home of the hostile witch and ultimately discovering that he is the Keeper of Barren Hollow. At the age of seven, due to a highly unusual sequence of events, Curtis meets with his predecessor, Kinlea Waltham, the current Keeper of Haneth’s End, and together with a kitten who fancies himself the greatest thief in the world, they set out to find and rescue Barren Hollow’s cursed and alienated guardians.
This task in itself is easier said than done, but the witch sets out to make it impossible, attacking Curtis’ and Kinlea’s every weakness along the way. After all, if they fail and she succeeds, she can erase the effects of her life’s greatest regret: helping Kinlea live to save the world.
Alternately, Deena F. released this (quite flattering) synopsis in a press release:
Curse, the second in E. Grace Diehl’s “For Keeps” series finds us with a new Keeper for Barren Hollow, Curtis, known as “Curse” to just about everyone, including the evil Witch of Barren Hollow herself. Young Curtis “Curse” is the new keeper of Barren Hollow, but he’s also captive of the Witch, and all his guardians, magical humans given the duty of protecting a Keeper, are missing—scattered and broken by the Witch years before he was born. Curtis is only 7, and a bit of a magical prodigy. He’s also lonely, afraid, and far from home. Kinlea agrees to help him find his missing guardians, and in doing so, save Curtis’s baby sister from a curse.
They travel from England all the way to the Alps, meeting a dizzying array of magical creatures, making friends, and discovering how magic works in different places. This series is a treat for Diehl’s handling of magic and magical creatures from different cultures, as well as her deft weaving of old ballads, poetic prose, traditional magical creatures, and great characters with a compelling plot.
Anna Marie Anomaly (Excerpt Here)
(Warning: If you have not read both Kinlea Keeper and Curse, this synopses is pretty much solid spoiler, beginning to end)
Kinlea Keeper may have finally met his match, and not in the conventional use of the term. After a desperate and deadly showdown with a monster from the unkeepable North Sea, Kinlea finds that he has accidentally awakened a sort of alternate-self forged from a combination of his parents’ hopes and the reality of the man he might have been had he never been cursed. This alternate Kinlea appears to be far more interested in making his parents happy and fulfilling family obligations than the original Kinlea would have liked, and now the two of him must forge a sort of middle ground between his new life as a bank solicitor in the non-magical world and his beloved life as the keeper of Haneth’s End.
In the meanwhile, Kinlea’s actions in that fateful battle also lead to the birth of the most peculiar monster in the ancient succession of the North Sea Greenwitch. Instead of a green, void-eyed, succubus daughter of the sea, the monster child is a peach-skinned, bright-eyed daughter of Kinlea Keeper, and the sea is not pleased with the arrangement. At a very young age, the anomaly child is forced from the seabed of her birth and onto the shores of mainland Europe, which is embroiled in the horrible and bloody Great War. Though she is adopted by a loving French family, she soon finds that keeps do not like sea monsters any more than the sea likes keepers, and the newly christened Anna Marie Verne soon sets out to find some corner of the world that will not seek to cast her out for being what she is.
It is not an easy task, and as her travels drive her toward her father and Haneth’s End, the balance Kinlea has struck between his lives is compromised in ways that are not only extremely strange, but dangerous and potentially deadly.
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