Sinder weaves together the parallel stories of Ceit, grown to adulthood and having taken her rightful place as Matrarc of the Society, and her great-grandmother, Ainsley Robertson in 1924 Ireland, and the inception of the community that would come to inhabit Sinder Avenue.
In 1996, Venice Beach, Ceit struggles with the confines of superstition and tradition that have defined the Society since its start. As her younger brother, Alan, turns eighteen, Ceit enacts a plan to end the Society for good. And in doing so, releasing Alan from what she sees increasingly as a toxic and antiquated way of life as well as freeing herself from her mortal ties to the human realm.
In 1924, Ainsley Robertson lives in a secluded community outside of Cork, led by her father, an abusive and cruel ceannaire. Ainsley’s story opens with her expecting a baby in a world where being an unwed mother is a criminal act. Ainsley grows to realize her own gifts and connection to the world of the fae as she navigates a world dominated by dogma and oppression. As the sparks of what will become the Society grow to a flame, Ainsley becomes the Matrarc of her people, leading them to a new world, and a new tradition.
"With SINDER, Kathleen Kaufman continues the gripping story of cults from DIABHAL, this time going deeper into the origins of the Society. Kaufman weaves together magic and myth with the visceral, real-life horrors of life in 1920s Ireland to create a dark, richly-layered portrait of a girl finding her power in a patriarchal society. This is a powerful, poignant tale—and a must-read for fans of folk horror."
Jo Kaplan, author of It Will Just Be Us
"Get immersed in the dark and magical world of Sinder, where imagination and the key to salvation meet at an Americana crossroads lurking only a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean. Steeped in folklore, myth and legend, Sinder casts an unforgettable gothic spell that will leave you wondering what is real . . . and what is magic . . ."
John Palisano Bram Stoker Award Winning author of Ghost Heart and President, Horror Writers Association
MORE FROM KAUFMAN
Diabhal (Devil) is the story of cults, exorcisms and the devil in 1980’s era Los Angeles. Ceit Robertson, age ten, is the next Matrarc to the Society, a cultish, matriarchal group living in an inconspicuous cul-de-sac in Venice Beach. When Ceit’s mother is attacked by spirits from the old world, a failed exorcism results in Ceit’s exile into the foster care system in Los Angeles. She eventually lands in the infamous MacLaren Hall, a very real and historically auspicious center for disturbed and abandoned children in El Monte, CA. Diabhal is the sympathetic story of the devil in Los Angeles. The exploration of the true nature of evil and how intention colors what our definition of wickedness truly is. Ceit grows into a force of nature, as she contains the potential and mythology of the darkest degree, but discovers that perhaps the devil is not what we should truly fear.
At this, the Cailleach would release a single drop of indigo dye onto the topmost layer. See, she would tell her daughter. See? It bleeds through the topmost path and onto the next. In this way, so many things from the next world touch ours, and our world touches the layer beneath.
High above the sea, hidden in the rocky Scottish cliffs, something stirs. An ancient matriarchal power has set the wheels in motion for a long line of descendants. But to what end?
Spanning centuries of human history, these daughters of the lowland hag, the Cailleach, must navigate a world filled with superstition, hatred, violence, pestilence, and death to find their purpose. With pasts half remembered and destinies denied, the daughters of Cailleach are women with uncanny, and often feared, abilities to heal, to see the future and to cause great destruction and pain when threatened. With each passing generation, the waves crash against the shore, and the Cailleach awaits a homecoming that will bring everything full circle.
When seven-year-old Jamie falls down a very long hill, he finds himself trapped in a world of strange creatures, harsh landscapes, and near-perpetual darkness. Lost and confused, Jamie is desperate to get home. The nightmares, fears, and all manner of what-ifs that inhabit this shadow world are unfamiliar to him–all except one: the Lairdbalor, Jamie’s personal nightmare, once relegated to his dreams. In this fantastical land, however, the Lairdbalor and all the fears and nightmares of children are very real.
But Jamie’s nightmare is different. It is the sum total of the anger and anxiety that imprisoned him in his former life, and it threatens to consume and rule the nightmare realm, a place where time passes differently. With each slumber, Jamie finds himself inexorably changed. The farther he travels through this terrifying world, the better he understands the one he left behind.
Crossing genres of folklore, horror, fantasy, and magical realism, The Lairdbalor is about a child, but it’s not meant for children. It’s a story for anyone who lives with anxiety and fear and has ever wondered “what if” and a darkly imaginative meditation on life, death, fear, and the nature of reality.
Kathleen Kaufman is a native Coloradan and long-time resident of Los Angeles. Her prose has been praised by Kirkus Reviews as “crisp, elegant” and “genuinely chilling” by Booklist. She is the author of The Tree Museum, The Lairdbalor, soon to be a feature film with Echo Lake Studios and director Nicholas Verso, Hag, and Diabhal due out in October 2019. Kathleen is a monster enthusiast, Olympic-level insomniac and aficionado of all things unsettling. When not writing, she can be found teaching literature and composition at Santa Monica College or hanging out with a good book. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, terrier and a pack of cats.
© 2020 Kathleen Kaufman