“An old-fashioned fairy tale of curses, magic and selflessness,
complete with a kindhearted heroine and misunderstood monsters… Sakelson’s debut is a worthy addition to the canon of medieval fairy tales.”
—Kirkus Reviews (Gwendolyn and the Seeds of Destiny)
I’ve always loved fairy tales. Not the tame, formulaic, happily-ever-after stories that you find in Disney movies or after-school specials. Nope. I’m talking about stories with blood-stained ruins and dark forests where not even the trees can be trusted; where people are capable of heroic acts of beauty and heart-wrenching betrayals; and where things aren’t always as they seem.
Perhaps most of all, I like fairy tales because there is only one guarantee: life is dangerous. We hurt each other. The decisions we make have lasting consequences. Fairy tales don’t insult us by making it seem as if we can avoid all of that. Instead, they show us that the stakes are real—and that despite the pain, life is beautiful, and very much worth living.
After reading my kids these fairy tales, I started making up some of my own. These grew into three books about a land called Valmar where a boy and a girl discover just how beautiful and dreadful life can be. If you or your kids love to dream about dragons, riddles, sea serpents, trolls, secret tunnels, and particularly brave children, read on. I hope you have as much fun reading the books as I had writing them.
NEW: The Wolf and the Miller's Daughter
A Heroes of Valmar Short Story
I wrote my kids a short story to enjoy over the holidays, and want to share it with you, too. It takes place before Gwendolyn and Aethelred were born, and gives you a glimpse into the youthful exploits of Argus, Wulfric, and a few other characters that you might recognize. I hope you enjoy it!
Argus looked down at Wulfric, amused by his younger brother’s clumsy attempt to follow him up the tree. It was a massive oak, old and impossibly thick, growing an hour’s walk from the castle in which they lived. In other words, it was the perfect place for a treehouse. The boys had worked diligently on the structure for a few days, lashing together dead branches with rope to create a crude platform on which to stand. Now, after several false starts, they had almost finished. But to reach the platform, Argus insisted they both had to learn how to climb the tree themselves without the aid of a rope, ladder, or anything else if it was to be a “proper” hideout.
As it was, the older boy had trouble reaching the lowest branch himself but that didn’t stop him from growing impatient with ten-year old Wulfric.
“You’ll never get up here that way,” said Argus, watching his brother struggle to hook an elbow around one of the tree’s limbs. “Here, let me help you.”
Monsters of the North
The Heroes of Valmar Book 3
Something has awakened in the White Waste . . .
When the Steadfast Lady and her crew go missing, King Argus and his family set out to find them in the northern wilderness only to encounter the naradi, a reclusive people thought to exist only in myth. But the icy tundra harbors a cunning enemy, one that has been waiting years to meet Edubard’s heirs—and take its revenge.
Gwendolyn and Aethelred must use all they have learned to face this ancient foe, realizing that growing up is full of goodbyes and new beginnings.
Gwendolyn and the Seeds of Destiny
The Heroes of Valmar Book 1
Would you choose to live in a beautiful prison?
As the princess of Valmar, Gwendolyn lives in an island kingdom filled with lush forests, ancient castles, and magical beasts. What twelve-year old girl wouldn’t want to dwell in such a place? Gwendolyn herself . . . for the island is also her prison. Conquered by an evil sorcerer-king named Skoll, she and her people must struggle to pay him tribute even as he plots her family’s destruction.
However, when she learns that she is heir to a strange, ancestral magic, everything begins to change. Accompanied by Aethelred, her younger brother, Gwendolyn sets out to forge an unlikely alliance with a hostile race of giants and reclaim her people’s freedom. Along the way, she discovers a “peculiar treasure” that lies at the heart of Valmar’s problems—but one that could also be its salvation.
Aethelred and the Wand of Woe
The Heroes of Valmar Book 2
Without discipline, power can be dangerous...
When young prince Aethelred finally gets the chance to explore the sea, he discovers a strange island, and an even stranger wand with unimaginable power. Using the wand’s magic to perform daring acts of valor, he tries to overcome his fears by matching the courage of Gwendolyn, his older sister. The more he wields the wand, however, the more he realizes that an ancient and sinister power lies behind it all—and that a terrible price must be paid to regain his freedom.
Will Aethelred find the strength to resist the promises the wand offers? Or has the dark magic already become too much a part of him?