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About the book
  • Published: 1 June 2012
  • ISBN: 9781869799144
  • Imprint: RHNZ Children's
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $19.99
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Red Rocks




Adventure tinged with magic when a boy finds a sealskin in a cave in this exciting junior novel. Winner of Esther Glen Medal 2013.

Adventure tinged with magic when a boy finds a sealskin in a cave in this exciting junior novel. Winner of Esther Glen Medal 2013.

While holidaying at his father's house, Jake explores Wellington's wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he's compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family.

Red Rocks takes the Celtic myth of the selkies, or seal people, and transplants it into the New Zealand landscape, throwing an ordinary boy into an adventure tinged with magic. With its beautiful writing and eerie atmosphere, junior readers will be thrilled and moved by this captivating story.

Shortlisted for the NZ Post Children's Book Awards 2013.

  • Pub date: 1 June 2012
  • ISBN: 9781869799144
  • Imprint: RHNZ Children's
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Rachael King

Rachael King is the author of two novels for adults: The Sound of Butterflies, which won the award for the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction at the 2007 Montana Book Awards and was published in 10 languages, and Magpie Hall. She has since published Red Rocks, a novel for junior readers, which won the Esther Glen Medal in the LIANZA AWards in 2013.

Rachael has a Master's degree in Creative Writing from the acclaimed International Institute of Modern Letters at Wellington’s Victoria University. In 2008 King was the Ursula Bethell Writer in residence at Canterbury University, and she has lived in Christchurch ever since.

See www.rachael-king.com, which has links to her blog and Twitter accounts.

King’s first novel, The Sound of Butterflies, was greeted with critical acclaim from around the world, her writing variously described as ‘mesmerizing . . . captivating’ (The Washington Post), ‘rich and evocative’ (Financial Times, UK) and ‘opulent’ (Observer, UK), and she was singled out as ‘a writer to watch’ (Publishers Weekly, USA).

In The New Zealand Listener, Eleanor Catton wrote: ‘[Italo] Calvino explores the idea that all great literature exhibits the qualities of Quickness, Lightness, Exactitude, Visibility and Multiplicity. All these qualities inhered in perfect measure in Rachael King’s novel The Sound of Butterflies. The story of traumatised lepidopterist Thomas Edgar had such a quiet and unsettling power that I found myself dreaming of the Amazon for weeks after finishing the book.’

The Australian Literary Review found it ‘engaging and tremendously well-imagined’, ‘a ripping yarn’ with prose that ‘flows as strongly as the Amazon, rich with easy lyricism’, and concluded: ‘This is a complete meal of a novel, ambitious and well planned.’
Her second novel, Magpie Hall, confirmed King as ‘a hugely talented writer’ whose ‘prose is effortless’ (The New Zealand Herald) and who has the reader ‘gripped by the power of her writing’ (North & South). The New Zealand Listener summed it up: ‘With its racy mix of themes — taxidermy, tattoos, gothic novels, cabinets of curiosities, old country houses and ghosts — combined with a couple of mysteries and a good dollop of sex, Magpie Hall romps along at a thoroughly entertaining pace.’ Iain Sharpe, writing in Metro, concluded: ‘An assured performance, it confirms that King is not just a one-off talent but here for the long haul.’

Her first novel for children, Red Rocks, was described as ‘a magical adventure story . . . that children and adults alike will love. Rachael King has taken the Celtic myth of the selkies and transplanted it into a New Zealand setting that kiwi kids will relate to … There is a hint of darkness running throughout the story and you get a feeling of foreboding right from the start.’ (Zac Harding, My Best Friends Are Books). Award-winning children’s writer Phillipa Werry wrote of it: ‘The language is rich, warm and slightly mysterious, like the cover, and the seals themselves are beautifully described as they gambol in the waves and kelp, or dive into the water like a “silky missile”… This is a story of enchantment, but also of a boy finding the inner strength to solve problems, fight bullies, protect his family and conquer his fear.’

Rachael King is the daughter of Michael King. She was born in Hamilton in 1970 when her father worked at the Waikato Times. Rachael has published numerous articles, short stories and two novels: The Sound of Butterflies (2006, winner of the Montana NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction), and Magpie Hall (2009). She currently lives in Christchurch with her husband and two children.

Also by Rachael King

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Praise for Red Rocks

“A sad, sweet and slightly creepy selkie tale for children. With a southern-hemisphere setting, for a change.”

Margo Lanagan

“Rachael King… works magic in Red Rocks, her first novel for younger readers… A gentler exploration of the [selkie] myth than Margo Lanagan’s Sea Hearts, this is equally convincing.”

Ann Packer, The Listener

“It’s the school holidays; usually, Jake lives with his mum and stepfather in Auckland. With dad, he enjoys relative freedom. He explores the coast and finds the selkie’s hidden skin. A cracking yarn follows. It’s not just a great story, with unexpected twists. It’s also a lovely evocation of that stretch of Wellington coast.”

Phillip Matthews, Your Weekend

“A must read for readers who love animals, a bit of magic, and stories about family. Rachael King is the author of two adult novels and won the Montana Book Awards for the Best First Novel in 2007. This is her first children’s book and I hope she writes many more!”

Adele Broadbent

“Red Rocks is a magical adventure story, set in New Zealand, that children and adults alike will love. Rachael King has taken the Celtic myth of the selkies and transplanted it into a New Zealand setting that kiwi kids will relate to… There is a hint of darkness running throughout the story and you get a feeling of foreboding right from the start… One thing that I particularly love about Red Rocks is Rachael King’s beautiful writing. She’s very descriptive so she paints a vivid picture of the wild, windy coast. It’s the sort of book that you want to read snuggled up in bed because you almost feel the biting wind and the freezing ocean. 5 out of 5 stars.”

Zac Harding, My Best Friends Are Books

“The language is rich, warm and slightly mysterious, like the cover, and the seals themselves are beautifully described as they gambol in the waves and kelp, or dive into the water like a “silky missile”… This is a story of enchantment, but also of a boy finding the inner strength to solve problems, fight bullies, protect his family and conquer his fear.”

Phillipa Werry, Beatties Book Blog

“An exciting tale… that will keep young readers on their toes.”

Bob Docherty, Bob’s Book Blog


Awards & Recognition

  • Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award

    Awarded • 2013 • Storylines Notable Junior Fiction

  • NZ Post Children's Book Awards

    Finalist • 2013 • Junior Fiction category


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