{Guest Post + Giveaway} Ronlyn Domingue: The Catastrophe and Wrinkle in Time That Influenced My Work

Drawn in by the gorgeous cover and an intriguing synopsis, I put in my name for the debut fantasy novel The Mapmaker's War on Goodreads. I loved its uniqueness and was pleased when the author contacted me with her second book The Chronicle of Secret Riven. Today, I'm happy to welcome her to Guiltless reading to share some of her childhood reads that have impacted her work today. 

A hardcover copy is also up for grabs (US/Can). (if you haven't read Book 1, it's not a problem, the books can stand alone)

Take it away, Ronlyn!

The Catastrophe and Wrinkle in Time That Influenced My Work by Ronlyn Domingue 

Author of The Chronicle of Secret Riven, Book 2 of the Keeper of Tales Trilogy

As a teenager, when I imagined what kind of writer I would be—if I would be one—I assumed I’d write somewhat cynical, reality-based novels, heavy on theme, light on whimsy. Well into my twenties, and beyond, this presumption stayed with me.

Despite evidence to the contrary.

My early works, stored in a box in my closet, reveal elements of the fantastic. There are more than a few ghost stories, one tale that involved a wizard, and one laughable story about a cannibal babysitter. At least half of what I read for pleasure involved something otherworldly, impossible, or at least dreamy.

Now that my third novel is out, I suspect my work could possibly be the product of what I read as a child.

1. Ultra-Violet Catastrophe! Or, The Unexpected Walk with Great-Uncle Magnus Pringle by Margaret Mahy; illustrations by Brian FroudAn active little girl is forced to wear a dress and visit with her relatives. She and her great-uncle leave the house to have a grand adventure. I related to Sally, who liked climbing trees, and I loved Great-Uncle Magnus who used outrageous words and had a spirit of adventure.

2. The Borrowers by Mary Norton Oh, the idea that little people lived in the walls of houses and borrowed things to make their homes! The Borrower girl Arrietty put me on the edge of my seat when she bravely ventured into the “human bean” world. Countless times, I checked out this book from my school library.

3. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  Love can save. That’s the ultimate message of this novel, which I loved to tatters. My favorite characters were Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which—the mysterious beings who helped Meg and her little brother Charles on their journey to rescue their father. Oh, and Aunt Beast—I wished I could touch her.

4. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George SpearePoor Kit arrives in the dour world of 1680s New England after her grandfather’s death. Her struggle to fit in but keep a part of her spirit intact always fascinated me. Although there was no actual witch, there was just enough mystery about the old woman who lived outside of town to make the book spooky. (This is the first book I read in which I paid attention to whether the girl got the boy…)

5. A String in the Harp by Nancy BondThis novel was unflinching in its depiction of grief (a woman dies leaving behind a husband and three children), but aside from the profound subject matter, I was drawn into the magical experiences of Peter. He finds a harp’s tuning key while on a walk. When he touches it, he’s able to look into the world of 6th century Wales and see the bard, Taliesin. The “hidden” story builds slowly, and it was thrilling to see what Peter would discover next when he held the key.

About Ronlyn Domingue

Credit: Susan Shacter
Ronlyn Domingue is the author of The Chronicle of Secret Riven and The Mapmaker’s War, the first two books of the Keeper of Tales Trilogy. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel, The Mercy of Thin Air, was published in ten languages. Her writing has appeared in New England Review, Clackamas Literary Review, New Delta Review, The Independent (UK), Border Crossing, and Shambhala Sun, as well as on mindful.org, The Nervous Breakdown, and The Weeklings.

Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and ronlyndomingue.com.


Synopsis of The Chronicle of Secret Riven by Ronlyn Domingue: An uncanny child born to brilliant parents, befriended by a prince, mentored by a wise woman, pursued by a powerful man, Secret Riven has no idea what destiny will demand of her or the courage she must have to confront it in the breathtakingly epic, genre-spanning sequel to The Mapmaker’s War.

To see is a trick of the mind, but to believe is a trick of the heart.

One thousand years after a great conflict known as The Mapmaker’s War, a daughter is born to an ambitious historian and a gifted translator. Secret Riven doesn’t speak until her seventh year but can mysteriously communicate with plants and animals. Unsettled by visions and dreams since childhood, she tries to hide her strangeness, especially from her mercurial father and cold mother. When her knowledge of an esoteric symbol brings unwelcome attention, gentle, watchful Secret finds acceptance from Prince Nikolas, her best friend, and Old Woman, who lives in the distant woods.

When Secret is twelve, her mother, Zavet, receives an arcane manuscript to translate from an anonymous owner. Zavet begins to suffer nightmares and withdraws into herself. Secret sickens with a fever and awakens able to speak an ancient language, discovering that her mother is fluent as well. Suddenly, Zavet dies. The manuscript is missing, but a cipher has been left for Secret to find. Soon, Secret will have a choice to make: confront a destiny tied to an ancient past or deny it, never to know its whole truth.

A spellbinding story, rich with vivid characters and set in a fascinating world, The Chronicle of Secret Riven explores the tension between love and hate, trust and betrayal, fate and free will.


  1. I love seeing the books that influence authors. Several of my favorites are on this list, but I've never even heard of Ultra-Violet Catastrophe, and it looks wonderful.

    1. I love The Borrowers. A few I've heard of but never get around to reading. Happy reading Ultra-Violet Jenclair!

  2. Harry Potter definitely inspired me and great giveaway, I just got the first book.

  3. I'm glad I'm came across this post - I just took out The Mapmaker's War from the library and am excited to read it. When I was 12, I read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I love the trilogy and I'm always looking for books in a similar vein. I look forward to reading your blog!

    1. I'm so glad you found me Reno! I love the Inkheart trilogy too.

  4. I read the Chronicles of Narnia as a child (all of them) and feel these books influenced me heavily regarding my moral code, as well as the way I looked at the world. Closets always have the potential to be an entrance to another world.

    1. Such a wonderful set of books to be influenced by! The Narnia books have stood the test of time because of the timelessness of its morals and I don't doubt they'll continue to influence generations to come! Love your last sentence :)

  5. I read Jane Austen, Brontes, and Alcott before I was a teen and still enjoy historical settings in my reading to this day.

    1. Sadly, I neglected the classics and still do. With the exception of Little Women. Historical fiction is such good reading! Good luck in the giveaway!

  6. Thanks and I haven't read much in the classics lately though I go through swings as I'm rather eclectic in taste - I read anything but horror/intense thriller, romance minus a plot besides the love story angle (bedroom scenes tend to get to me when used too liberally), and what I consider boring nonfiction which is most of it. My faves run to mystery, chick lit, romance, inspirational fiction, fantasy, paranormal (sometimes), literary fiction (sometimes), some historical fiction, some memoirs/biopics ... depends on the mood and what I've read too much of lately.

  7. I read and loved the Chronicles of Narnia before I was old enough to understand the books are considered by many to be Christian allegory. I loved the high fantasy and that though evil was present, good generally triumphed.


© guiltless readingMaira Gall