The Border Keeper: Announcing Kerstin Hall’s Debut Novella

She lived where the railway tracks met the saltpan, on the Ahri side of the shadowline. In the old days, when people still talked about her, she was known as the end-of-the-line woman.

When I came across these eerie, spare opening lines, I knew I owed it to myself to put everything else aside and find out what came next, which turned out be a novella of unusual and unsettling beauty. Publishing is proud to announce the acquisition of debut author Kerstin Hall’s The Border Keeper, a lyrical underworld narrative about loss and renewal that begins around a desolate, near-forgotten border to the land of the dead. Vasethe, a man with a troubled past, comes to seek a favor from a goddess who is not what she seems, and must enter the nine hundred and ninety-nine realms of Mkalis, the world of spirits, where gods and demons rage in an endless war.

Fans of JY Yang’s Tensorate series and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy will find something familiar here in the richly developed world and compelling voice. It’s both a very, very old story, lushly told by someone who understands how to write myth and divinity, and a fresh one, spinning wonders epic—the Byzantine bureaucracy of hundreds of demon realms, vast yellow oceans, hidden fortresses—and devastatingly quiet—the sizzle of onions and turmeric, a spear flung straight, the profound terror and power of motherhood.

I couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce readers to this world and this story in my first acquisition for Publishing, selected from our unsolicited submissions program, and to an author who I know will continue to astonish SF/F audiences for many years to come.

From Kerstin:

The Border Keeper started out as a short story I could never quite finish. I had almost given up this project as a lost cause, but the idea kept nagging at me. So I started over and my short story was reborn as a novella. I am so fortunate to be working with Ruoxi and the team at Publishing, and can’t wait to share The Border Keeper with a wider audience.

Kerstin Hall is a writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She completed her undergraduate studies in journalism at Rhodes University and, as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, continued with a Masters degree at the University of Cape Town. Her short fiction has been published by Strange Horizons, and she is a first reader for Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She also enjoys photography and is inspired by the landscapes of South Africa and Namibia. You can find her at and on Twitter at @Kerstin__Hall.

The Border Keeper will be available from Publishing in 2019.


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