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Young Adult Fiction General

Rough Magic

by (author) Caryl Mullin

Second Story Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2009
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 13 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12
  • Reading age: 13 to 18


Caliban, born to a great sorceress, grew up on an island. Having escaped to live amongst kingdoms and courtiers, he now finds himself returning with his young charge Chiara, a girl who has a power within her that no one suspected.

About the author

Caryl Cude Mullin grew up on an island on Canada’s eastern shore, and as a result she developed an abiding fascination with islands and odd characters. She now lives in Montreal, Quebec. Her first fantasy novel was A Riddle of Roses.

Caryl Mullin's profile page


  • Winner, Quebec Writers' Federation Literary Awards, Children's and Young Adult Category

Editorial Reviews

[An] ambitious and heroic tale worth reading.

Library Media Collection

I found myself absorbed from beginning to end. There was thematic cohesion, and there was cohesion to the plot--it was necessary that time should pass, and new characters to emerge.

Charlotte’s Library blog

The chief strength of this moody and atmospheric book is the aura of ancient magic that it captures.

Canadian Children's Book News

An absorbing and fascinating re-imagining of Shakespeare's The Tempest... This would be a great companion piece or introduction to Shakespeare. Students could relate to this book and its language while looking at how stories told from other viewpoints can differ dramatically.

Resource Links

Kiss the Book Blog
This mysterious desert island has seen humans come and go, stealing its magic and enslaving its spirits. When the staff holding the powers of the island gets splintered and abandoned it is slowly dying with only one option that could save it from this fate. This book is interesting, but some parts are extremely confusing. The author does not go into enough detail, most of the time, to let the reader fully comprehend what is happening.

Kiss the Book Blog

Mullin’s environmental message of hope and restoration is an enthralling take on the Bard.


3.5 out of 4 stars Imaginative retelling and extension of Shakespeare's play, The Tempest… The power of transformation shines through this retelling. The power of water and shipwrecks, magic and alchemy, and parental love and devotion steamroller their way through this compelling story…. This complex, poetic novel with its shifting settings and times (at once both real and imagined) will appeal to sophisticated readers...Highly recommended.

CM Magazine will find yourself pleasantly enthralled.

Kutztown University Book Review

This book will also be a treat for anybody who enjoys seeing strong female characters in the media. From a powerful sorceress to a girl who's just so very competant and forthright that you can't help but like her, this book puts women in the spotlight and does it with flair, but doesn't relegate males to the background as completely unimportant to the plot.

Tea and Tomes blog

Librarian Reviews

Rough Magic

This is the story of the lonely island of Shakespeare’s The Tempest – steeped in ancient magic and mystery – and of the various people who claim the magic for their own. The first is Sycorax and her son Caliban, then the exiled duke Prospero and his small daughter Miranda. Prospero harnesses the island’s magic for himself, until the day that he and Miranda return to their home in Naples, taking Caliban with them and tearing him from the only life he has ever known and leaving the island to wither and fade.

Caliban finds happiness in Naples as the years pass and he develops a close bond with Miranda’s daughter Chiara. Through a series of events, Caliban and Chiara return to the island of his birth to find a very different place – broken and ravaged and needing to be made whole at long last. Caliban and Chiara seek to repair the damage that humans have wrought on this island, but in order to do so, Chiara must travel to the depths of the ocean and face the great Leviathan. She returns, reborn and transformed, but in the end, it is Caliban who makes the terrible sacrifice that will restore harmony and wholeness to all.

Caryl Cude Mullin provides an intriguing re-imagining of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in this elegant, intricate tale. The chief strength of this moody and atmospheric book is the aura of ancient magic that it captures. The island itself is perhaps the book’s most sympathetic character. Those who have some familiarity with the play will savour Mullin’s treatment of the characters of Prospero, Caliban and Miranda and will perhaps pause to consider them in a different light.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2010. Vol.33 No.1.

Other titles by Caryl Mullin