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A Different Kingdom

(Different Kingdoms)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  217 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A different kingdom of wolves, woods and stranger, darker, creatures lies in wait for Michael Fay in the woods at the bottom of his family's farm.

Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods there are wolves; and other things, dangerous things. He doesn't tell his family, not even his Aunt Rose, his closest f
Paperback, 416 pages
Published February 13th 2014 by Solaris (first published July 1st 1993)
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3.82  · 
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 ·  217 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book was first published in the UK in 1993, but it seems it got pretty much lost in obscurity (except by second-hand book store owners it seems). Being re-published 20 years later, it gets a chance at redemption – and I hope it gets it, because I enjoyed reading this lyrical coming-of-age fantasy book, that often takes a darker, grim turn too.

Michael Fay is a young boy growing up in rural Northern-Ireland, quite sheltered from what happens in the world itself. The acquisition of a new tract
Branwen *of House Targaryen*
What if there WERE Little People in the woods, like in the stories Rose told him? What if there were wolves and bears and trolls, wicked witches-and faeries too? But not ones that lived in flowers. What if they were big and silent and gleeful, more like goblins? They would have a goblin kingdom, castles and mines. And there would be knights in armor with swords and women in towers with long hair. What if it were all real, all true?

When Michael is a young boy growing up in rural Ireland, he sees
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The English first edition of Mythago Wood came out in 1984. I feel this may’ve been an influence on A Different Kingdom. However this did not detract from the quality of Mr. Kearney’s book. There were certain descriptive passages I liked so much they almost seemed to jump off the page.
Seregil of Rhiminee
Originally published at Risingshadow.

It's great that Solaris Books has republished Paul Kearney's A Different Kingdom, because it has been out-of-print for a long time (only certain bookshops and online bookshops have sold second-hand copies of it). It's a fantasy novel that deserves to be republished, because it's one of the richest fantasy novels ever written.

Before I write more about this novel, I'll mention that Paul Kearney is unfortunately a lesser known fantasy author than several other a
A Dark twisted fairy tale. An adult tale that does not shy away from graphic sexual moments or violence. Time travel and visits to an alternate plane where things are very different.
I really wanted to love this book. An fairy tale set in 20th century Ireland, with something in the woods. Sounded great to me, just my kind of read. Sadly, I did not enjoy it as much and I hoped.
We follow Michael, a young teen, in his search for his sister who disappeared after having relations with someone in the
Feb 05, 2016 marked it as deals  ·  review of another edition
5 February 2016: $2.99 on Kindle
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
After enjoying Paul Kearney’s 2016 Oxford-based tale ‘The Wolf in the Attic’, I sought out this earlier work by him. ‘A Different Kingdom’ was first published in 1993, and republished by Solaris in 2014. It tells the story of Michael, a young boy growing up on a rural farm in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. In the woods near the farm, Michael begins to witness things he can’t explain. Are there strange creatures living in the woods, or does Michael just have an overactive imagination?

This is a
Jun 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I seem to have a weakness for stories about people going into Fairyland/Elfland/The Other Lands/Under the Hill/etc. This is one of those books.

Michael Fay can occasionally go into The Other Land and have adventures there. This is the story of how that happens for him.

It's not a happy, magical time. There is real danger, and hunger, and monsters. And there's love and friendship too, but more of the dark bits than the happy bits, I think.

The book this reminds me most of is Mythago Wood, by Robert
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bought it last night read it thru in one sitting !

That is testament to the way this adventure fantasy will keep you turning the pages.

Reminded me a bit of my friend Barry's favorite, Weaveworld and one of my favorites, Stardust, but this is its own world with its own secret ways.
So what am I saying?

I loved this book.

That is all.

Read my full review here:
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)

In mid 20th century Ireland, Michael Fay is coming of age on his grandparent’s farm, after the death of his parents. He’s particularly close to his Aunt Rose, who is young and impetuous, and who dotes on Michael. Days are spent tending the animals and working the land, yet Michael begins to sense something watching him: a dark horseman, just out of the corner of his eye, always at the edges of the woods. When Rose is sent away, never to return, Michael sus
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
Disclaimer: This ARC was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

I really enjoyed reading this. It was a little hard to follow at first, but once I got going it started to make sense. It's like a early 20th century fantasy tale mixed with faerie tale. There are some time travel aspects, but it's not exactly time travel. Really hard to explain. If you like fantasy and/or faerie tales you'll enjoy this. This is also not a children's book.
Adam Whitehead
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Growing up on an Antrim farm in the 1950s, young Michael Fay has an idyllic but hard-working life. However, he soon discovers that the woodland beyond the farm is a doorway to another place, a place of wonders and stark terrors which has a strange hold on his family and where he must travel to right an old wrong.

A Different Kingdom was Paul Kearney's second novel, originally published in 1993 by Gollancz. It's a stand-alone, although it shares a thematic link with The Way to Babylon and Riding t
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
In A Different Kingdom a young boy, Michael Fay, lives on his parent's farm in the Irish countryside, and stumbles upon an alternate world at the river at the end of the property. He becomes drawn to it, encounters the strange inhabitants and befriends Cat, a girl who lives in this "other place" and goes on an adventure with her.

The story reminded me of Mythago Wood to a degree - a woodland that has a life of it's own, with bizarre inhabitants that are steeped in mythology and folklore. Kearney'
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really good book which made me want to travel to Ireland and look for mystical beings and old legends. The writing was of the sort that conjures pictures in my head and I enjoyed every bit of it. This is not a fairy tail in the sweet "happy ever after" meaning. It is dark and feels realistic and even cruel at some points. It shows that not all quests can be solved and not all heroes can save noble maidens. The ending though didn't feel quite fitting for the story, that's the minus one ...more
Marion Armstrong
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An adult fairytale....I was very unsure about reading this initially but loved it. The two main characters were so vividly portrayed, the descriptive prose had me hooked from the first page. It was gruesome in are most fairytales...but all in keeping with the story. I didn't give it give 5 stars as suspect you would get somewhat bored reading this sort of novel again ....checking out his other books, they appear to be in a similar vein ....slipping back into another life/forest where ...more
lynda mccarthy
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this author's take on the parallel world of fae folk and the primeval forest that sometimes intrudes into our world.
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was long time coming but I finished it....

It was worth the wait. Fantastic tale of 2 worlds, 2 fleshed out characters making their way thru the worlds. Highly recommended.
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, fantasy
Paul Kearney is an author I've seen people rave about ever since I started blogging. At the time he was in the middle of publishing his The Macht trilogy and there were a number of bloggers I discovered early on who are huge fans of that series (Looking at you, Speculative Scotsman!). So I was excited to learn that Solaris would be republishing his earlier work and The Macht series. However, based on what I'd read about The Macht, which as I recall it was akin to military fantasy, A Different Ki ...more
Patrick St-Denis
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Right off the bat, let me just say that, as is the case with Guy Gavriel Kay and L. E. Modesitt, jr., it feels as though Paul Kearney, even after all these years of writing quality novels, remains criminally unread for the most part. The Macht trilogy, his latest work, is in my humble opinion one of the very best fantasy series of the new millennium. So when it was announced that Solaris were reissuing A Different Kingdom, what many fans consider Kearney's best novel to date, I was pretty excite ...more
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can also find my review of A Different Kingdom on my book blog

(Read through netgalley)

A Different Kingdom is the tale of Michael Fay, an orphan boy growing up on a farm in Ireland. It’s a time when rural life still feels eternally static, but is actually on the cusp of big changes. The first tractor makes an appearance, and while horses are still the most popular beasts of burden and means of transport, there are cars, too…

But that is backdrop. Really, it is the story of a boy stumbling towa
David Harris
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is really good to be able to recommend a book unequivocally. Even giving a book five stars, I sometimes have reservation (perhaps I should be tougher) - but "A Different Kingdom" is dazzling both in concept and in execution. Not always an easy read, it still draws one in, not only to see how everything will turn out, but also to marvel at the sheer quality of the writing, the layers of story, and the characters.

As the story opens, we meet young Michael Fay, eight years of age, growing up on h
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Different Kingdom is a lyrical fantasy novel that owes a huge debt to Irish myths and legends in the same way that much British fantasy does to the King Arthur mythology. Fairy folk, mysterious lands that touch the coasts of Ireland and their clash with Christian tradition are all familiar from Irish mythology and all combine in the tale of Michael Fay, a young boy growing up on a farm in Antrim in the 1950s who starts to see things in the woods around his home.

There's no sweeter fantasy than
Jan 28, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

The story follows Michael, a young boy growing up in rural Ireland who is lured through a portal between worlds by the enigmatic Cat. This is very much a grown up fairy tale that delves into the loss of innocence, and the consequences of choices we make.

I really enjoyed the dream-like quality to the writing style, which very much fit with the fairy tale theme of the book. However, I felt a bit cheated the closer I got to the end. The book implies early on that Michael spent "an entire lifetim
Charon Lloyd-Roberts
Well this was 'meh' kind of book that sounded good then kind of took a nose dive into the 'I'm trying a really cool concept and making it boring' route. Ah and this book had promise too and maybe I should lower my expectations next time.

A summery for A Different Kingdom:

Micheal Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods-once thought safe and well-explored-there are wolves; and other, stranger things. He keeps them from his family, even h
Clare O'Beara
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unusual in being set in Northern Ireland, this is a dark fantasy bordering on horror.
Michael is a boy when he's drawn out from his country home to explore the wild woods. He meets a girl there, who never leaves the wood, and stays with her. As he grows and ages faster than normal, he realises that the woodland is magical and haunted.

There is a dark horseman and hounds and the trees seem to be alive - more or less antagonistic in different areas of the woodland. Then Michael finds that he cannot
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bald description of the plot makes it sound like too many children's novels you might once have read - a boy in his early teens finds a way into an alternate world at the bottom of the fields where he lives - but in fact this book has much more to offer.

For one thing, this is not a book for children. It does not shy away from sex and sexual desire - indeed it provides a central motivation. The magical secondary world in which the hero finds himself is not one purely of fairy tales; it is just
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably 3.5 stars.

As with most of Kearney's work, this is one very dense. Meaning there is so much packed into a relatively small amount of pages that I don't know how he manages to pull it off without it feeling rushed. But he always seems successfully do it. Somehow you're left feeling you've read an entire series of books when you've finished.

I understand why, at the time, he was urged to write more "traditional" fantasy, though. Probably a case of being too far ahead of what might eventuall
Dec 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every place where humans have lived is steeped in history. In some places, however, the history is every far from what we can see and sense everyday. In Ireland the barrier between past and present is terribly thin, maybe thinner than most places. The protagonist of Paul Kearney’s A Different Kingdom, Michael Fay, tumbles through the barrier one evening as he’s running home for dinner. He sees primitive people in fox and wolf skins before he finds his way back. Between the ages of eight and thir ...more
Nicholas Whyte
Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a brilliant, erotic, somewhat mystical novel, about a teenage boy in County Antrim in the 1950s who finds himself crossing into the Different Kingdom of the title and finding his faerie lover while looking for his lost relative (and then reminiscing about it in exile in London, years later). Kearney's images of the Northern Irish countryside are perfect ("clouds of midges floating like gauze in the air"). His construction of the fantasy otherwher
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Paul Kearney was born in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, in 1967. He went to a local grammar school, and then to Lincoln College, Oxford, where he read Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, and Middle English

Shortly after leaving Oxford, he went on a solitary climbing trip to the Isle of Skye, and it was after tumbling off a mountain there that the character of Michael Riven first came to him. The first half of Th

Other books in the series

Different Kingdoms (3 books)
  • The Way To Babylon
  • Riding the Unicorn
“This land does not go out of its way to provide happy endings” 0 likes
“Who is to say where you are?’ Mirkady asked lightly. ‘Some say there is a different world for every story ever told or untold, that there is no such thing as the here and now, only the unfolding of infinite possibilities, all of them real in some place or other.’ ‘In which case,’ Dwarmo said, vastly amused, ‘there is no such thing as a mistake.” 0 likes
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