I was enchanted by this lighthearted historical fantasy. Scenes describing Simon Quince’s failed experiments . . . are hilarious, and the author’s precise language and brilliant depictions of the Elizabethan world are a pleasure to experience. Young adults will delight in the romance and magical setting, and adults will appreciate this wonderfully written novel as well.". — Sarah Johnson, Historical Novels Review

“This brief and witty historical novel, with overtones of fantasy, is both intellectual and entertaining. …The text is filled with curious details of alchemy, with its rich allusions and metaphysical maunderings, demonstrating the interplay between magic and science admirably, both in the alchemist father’s teachings and in the doings of the daughter, who is a seer.” — The Endicott Studio, Recommended Young Adult Novels.

“With her vivid descriptions of the haunting beauty of Glastonbury and the exotic splendors of Twelfth Night revels at Greenwich palace, Kernaghan does a marvelous job of transporting the reader back to the sixteenth century. The dialogue is seasoned with just enough Elizabethan expressions to give a taste of time and without bogging down the flow of conversation. The Alchemist’s Daughter would be a good book for a young teen who likes Renaissance festivals, Robin Hood, and the Knights of the Round Table. I wish it had been on the shelf of my junior high school library.”—SF Revue

“Author Kernaghan delivers a fast paced story, salt and peppered with real and fictitious characters, interlaced with enough magic to keep the fantasy reader, but painted over a vivid, realistic backdrop that would serve the mainstream reader too.”Yet Another Book Review Site.

“Just the right amount of magic to balance the realistic details. This page-turner will keep young teenaged readers fascinated.”—Welwyn Wilton Katz


The Alchemist's Daughter: (Thistledown Press 2004) , was shortlisted for the Sheila Egoff Prize for Children's Literature (2005 BC Book Prizes)), a 2005 Aurora Award (Best speculative novel in English), the 2006 Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award, and a Saskatchewan Book Award for Publishing in Education

   ". . .language saturated with beautiful image-rich, poetic descriptions" — Olga Stein, Books In Canada

. . ."it is the fascinating picture of an era long past, painted with such skill that as we read, we are there." — Canadian Teacher Magazine

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The year is 1587. Queen Elizabeth is on the throne of England, and the country is on the brink of war with Spain. In a world of Renaissance magic, dire portents and dangerous secrets, eighteen year old Sidonie Quince has inherited the ability to foresee the future. Sidonie, whose true interest is in the rational world of mathematics, is frightened by her powers of vision, knowing that they brought about her mother's death.

Sidonie is summoned to Hampton Court Palace as a temporary replacement for the Queen's astrologer, Dr. John Dee, while he travels abroad. However, Queen Elizabeth knows all too well what the future may hold, if she cannot obtain gold to build more ships and supply her navy. The real purpose of the visit, in this age of subterfuge and hidden agendas, is to hire Sidonie's father, the alchemist Simon Quince, to make alchemical gold. And Sidonie knows that in courts all over Europe, would-be alchemists have been tortured and imprisoned, even executed, for promising gold they could not produce.

Read an excerpt from The Alchemist’s Daughter

In the chair of state beneath a canopy studded with pearls and precious stones sat Elizabeth herself -- looking, thought Sidonie in the first thrill of recognition, more like a gorgeous icon than any woman of flesh and blood. The Queen's gown was white taffeta lined with crimson silk, and covered with rubies and pearls. Over it she wore a silver shawl, loose-woven and delicate as gossamer, that hung to the hem of her skirt. Beneath her jewel-ornamented red wig her high smooth brow and delicate oval face were white as alabaster -- their flawless pallor preserved, so Sidonie had heard, with a lotion of egg white and alum and white poppy seeds. Still, it was the face of a woman in her fifties, and in that unforgiving blaze of light, a fine tracery of wrinkles showed beneath the alabaster mask. The eyes, for all their fierce intelligence, looked tired and a little sunken, as though the Queen had not slept well.

Fire and quicksilver, thought Sidonie, gazing at the garments of snow and crimson, the pearls and rubies, the moon-white face beneath its crown of dark-red hair. Sidonie was her father's daughter, and she knew the language of alchemy well. Rubedo and albedo Lion and unicorn. The mystical union of male and female, spirit and soul.

I must remember everything, thought Sidonie. I must fix every detail in my mind -- the jewels, the tapestries, the damascene carpets, the harp of glass and unicorn's horn and all the rare and curious objects that stand about the room — so one day I can tell my children how I met the greatest lady in Christendom.

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