Looking for a mystical adventure series that both you and your children can enjoy? Check out the Kalika Magic books. This series written by Karen Hughes, a Hunter Valley mum is a wonderful addition to children’s fantasy fiction.
The series starts with Emerald Child which introduces the two main characters Kai and Indie who together help the Kalika people in the land of Gort. Kids will be able to relate to the young protagonists Kai and Indie who each have their own distinct personality. Indie is a young girl, smart and strong-willed while Kai, her brother is more serious and contemplative. Together they embark on adventures and face challenges and danger.
In the second book The Shaman’s Secret, Kai and Indie set out to the mountains to rescue the King of Gort in the Dasa Mountains. Sorrow of the Waters is the third book which revolves around the return of a dangerous enemy. And there still more Kalika Magic to come with five more books scheduled to be published in the series.
The Kalika Magic books are atmospheric and filled with spells, magic and ancient lore. It’s easy to get caught up in this magical kingdom. The author perfectly describes the land of Gort. As you read the books, you can visualise the varied landscapes of the Kalika forest, Disappearing Islands, the Ice Caves and the city of Ballyndoor. In addition, there’s plenty of fascinating characters in these books (both good and bad) and the author brings them to life through rich descriptions and dialogue.
Themes of courage, strength, family and the wonder of magic are evident. I especially appreciate the strong environmental message that permeates these books. Protection of our environment and nature is an ongoing theme.
This chapter book series is best suited to readers aged 8 and over. But, it’s also a lovely set of books to read out loud to younger kids and discuss the plot lines and themes. My six-year old daughter and I would read a chapter together at bedtime. However, I did end up reading the books after she was asleep as they’re so engrossing.
The Kalika Magic books are available from kalikamagic.com and wherever good books are sold. RRP $16.99 – 18.95. Review copy provided to The Mummy Project.
For more information on the Kalika Magic books and author Karen Hughes plus your opportunity to win a set of books, read my Q&A below.
How long have you been writing for?
It feels like forever. My childhood was filled with short stories, poems, songs, and plays. I started my own newspaper at age 10 and delivered it to the whole neighbourhood for the next 2 years. I also sent lots of stories to magazines – mostly they sent them back, sometimes they published them, once they even paid me. As an adult I missed the richness and wonder of writing fiction, so I started writing the Kalika Magic series about 8 years ago.
What or who inspired you to write the Kalika series?
The series started as a way of maintaining my sanity. I was practising as a commercial lawyer in Canberra at the time, and I had three small children. Life was pretty intense. Writing magical stories was my escape. At first I was influenced by all the books I’d read and loved as a child – books like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, A Wizard of Earthsea, Howl’s Moving Castle, and of course, The Lord of the Rings – but as the series continued I found I was tuning into the natural world and my own experiences. That’s when the writing became really magical.
Are the characters Indie and Kai based on anyone?
Indie and Kai are definitely their own people. They’d be upset with me if I tried to tell you otherwise! But I do have four children and they have lots of friends, so I’ve had plenty of inspiration. Like most of the teenage girls I know, Indie is strong-willed and no one can tell her what to do. She’s smart and reckless, and she has a fiery temper. Kai reminds me more of my son. He’s quieter, more serious, and he likes to think things through.
Do you have a message or messages that you are trying to communicate to your young readers?
I’m always surprised by the themes that emerge in my stories. Most of the time they are unintentional. I started the Kalika Magic series as a fun-filled adventure, but it has become so much more than that. It’s a story of courage and perseverance – reminding young readers that there is magic and wonder in this world, and they’ll be okay in the end, no matter what happens. It’s also a story about our connection with the land, and the importance of caring for mother earth.
The books are set in a magical kingdom. Who do you count as your literary influences?
I’m a huge fan of Diana Wynne Jones (the queen of magical kingdoms), Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin, and Eva Ibbotson. J.K Rowling, because Hogwarts is the ultimate magical world. Patricia Wrightson, because her work, in books like The Nargun and the Stars, shows an understanding of the importance of the land. And Kate Forsyth and Angela Slatter, because their writing is rich, contemporary, and inspiring.
In The Shaman’s Secret, Kai and Indie find their spirit animals, an owl and golden eagle. Do you have a spirit animal with whom you identify?
It’s a mind-blowing experience to journey with a shaman and make contact with your spirit animal. I think that’s why The Shaman’s Secret has been so popular. It’s an experience that shakes up your view of the world – you realise there really are no limits. I drew on my own connection with Golden Eagle when I wrote about Indie’s adventures with her spirit animal. Eagle reminds you to trust yourself, to broaden your perspective and reach for the sky.
Are there more books planned in the series?
Of course! I’m just warming up. Emerald Child explores earth magic and the power of the four elements – earth, water, air and fire. The Shaman’s Secret introduces the shaman and the spirit animals. The Sorrow of the Waters is a more emotional journey, with the spirits of the water grieving over the destruction of the land. Book 4, which I’ve just started writing, will be deeper still, as the children encounter wind spirits and shadow animals, and learn more about themselves and their magical world. Then there’ll be another four books, bringing the total series to eight.
Other than your books, what are your favourite books to read to your children?
I loved reading Emily Rodda’s Rowan of Rin series to my children when they were younger, and they were always demanding Grimm’s Fairytales. Lily, aged 9, is currently reading Deltora Quest to me. Before that it was the Spiderwick Chronicles. What else? Well, How to Train Your Dragon is always fun. And I do love The Wind in The Willows, especially if I’m allowed to read it in a British accent.
Any other interesting things that your fans should know about you?
I grew up on a large wheat and cattle property on the Liverpool Plains. As a child, I spent my days exploring the bush and building shelters of sticks in dry creek beds. When I went away to boarding school at age 12 I almost died of homesickness. Maybe this explains my love for the land. Maybe it also explains why I believe imagination and magic is so important for kids – it gives them the tools to cope when life gets tough.
Favourite spot in Newcastle or the Hunter to go with your kids?
There’s a spot on the river near Dungog that feels like another world. The trees lean down over the road, and it’s cool and dark, like you’re driving into a green cave. The water is fresh and clear, with pebbles at the bottom, and I love that my pioneer ancestors are buried at the little church nearby – it gives me a sense of history and belonging.