Ashael Rising

By Shona Kinsella

A tribal medicine woman must learn the truth of her past and the extent of her abilities to protect her people from invaders.

Fiction | Sci-fi & Fantasy
104% funded
70 supporters

Publication date: TBC

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Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe.

The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on Ashael’s world 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of the folk that were taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

Ashael begins to experience strange and terrifying visions, around the same time that Iwan arrives in the village. After saving a child from drowning, Iwan is invited to join the tribe. Still under the control of the Zanthar, he begins to form attachments to the folk of the village and especially Ashael.

Ashael’s visions grow more powerful, interfering with her ability to carry out her duties. Bhearra fears these visions are prophetic and considers sending Ashael away to train with a seer in another village. Ashael does not wish to go, desiring nothing more than to continue her training in healing and to explore her growing relationship with Iwan. When Iwan realises that Ashael is the one the Zanthar are looking for, he rejects his mission and does all he can to shield her.

When Ashael slips away from a foraging party to have some time alone with Iwan, the rest of the group goes missing with no trace. Bhearra joins in the search for them and is caught in a powerful psychic trap which renders her comatose. Ashael tries to heal her but as time passes and she is unable to wake Bhearra, the situation grows dire. In her distress, Ashael taps into a power that she did not know she had and is able to save her mentor.

One of the missing foragers returns with a message. The Zanthar have returned and they want Ashael. If she hands herself over, they will release the rest of the foragers. If she doesn’t, the rest of the group will be killed. To prove they are serious, they send the burned and damaged body of one of the foragers.

Ashael does not understand why the Zanthar would want her. She is frightened but wants to trade herself for the lives of the foragers. The question is raised with the tribe and they vote to keep Ashael in the village. Ashael is distraught but accepts their decision, until she has a vision of the foragers in their prison. She goes against the will of the community and exchanges herself for the foragers.

Only when she is a prisoner of the Zanthar does she discover the true nature of their plan, the terrible danger facing her world and her own role in protecting it.

Ashael Rising is a story of finding our place in the world, a story of relationships, with each other and with the land we live on.

"A strong debut that builds on traditional fantasy… fresh, exciting, and interesting" — Alex S Bradshaw, BFS Indie Reviews

"A wonderfully constructed novel, epic world building and a fantastic story... what more can I say?" — Peter Hutchinson, TheGrimDarkFiles

"Ashael Rising is an exciting high fantasy debut, with intriguing characters and excellent world building - an easy choice if you love fantasy!" — Sarina Langer, author of the Relics of Ar'Zac series

"This is a strong debut novel and the start of a new series. Kinsella has a sparse writing style that will not satisfy anyone who's after a wordy Hardy or Tolkien-alike and allows the more foolish of us to make some assumptions about this new universe. However, the prose flowed well enough to get me over my initial, jaded assumptions without much work and it is most definitely worth the time. This is not just a faux-medieval fantasy, but a stone-age people dealing with a much more advanced group of returning oppressors - who may be significantly beyond medieval if the series follows the potential "sword and planet" route rather than appearance of "sword and sorcery". Better still, the heroine turns out to be the shaman who rescues herself rather than the princess who waits in the castle." — Jo Thomas, author of 25 Ways to Kill a Werewolf

"Refreshingly original, intense and exciting, Shona Kinsella's Ashael Rising is an impressive debut from a wonderful new voice in fantasy fiction." — Michael Rowley, Fiction Editor and Former Editorial Director of Del Rey UK


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  • Shona Kinsella avatar

    Shona Kinsella

    Shona Kinsella is a fantasy author who lives near the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, in the west of Scotland. She is a member of the British Fantasy Society where she writes reviews of indie books. Shona has a degree in Law from the University of Strathclyde where she learned a lot about narrative structure. Everyone loves a story. Shona enjoys spending time outdoors and much of her writing is inspired by the environment that she lives in, at the edge of Scotland’s first national park. When she is not writing, she enjoys geocaching with her husband and children and reading as many books as she can get her hands on.

    You can connect with Shona on twitter (@shona_kinsella) or at where she blogs about the experience of being a writer, warts and all.

  • Ashael awoke early, the late autumn sun not yet up. The home she shared with Bhearra was quiet. Perhaps she had awoken before her mentor for a change. Maybe today she wouldn’t feel like she was trying to catch up with the old woman all day long. Hurrying through her morning routine, Ashael swept aside the curtain that separated her alcove from the main room. Bhearra’s curtain was still closed. Ashael moved quietly to the hearth in the centre of the room and raked the embers around, adding kindling to get the flames going again.

    Ashael busied herself mixing herbs for tea and preparing some food then set about checking their supply of herbs in the various baskets that lined the shelves carved into the far wall. The grey light of pre-dawn began to seep through the small window and Ashael looked uneasily towards Bhearra’s sleeping quarters. The older woman usually rose first, and in the two summers since Ashael moved in with her, she had never stayed in bed long after her young apprentice was up. Could she be unwell?

    Perhaps someone needed her during the night, Ashael thought as she filled the leather cauldron with water and set it over the fire. But wouldn’t she have woken me?

    The light grew stronger and still there was no movement from Bhearra’s alcove. Ashael had almost decided to check on her when Bhearra stepped through the entrance to their home, flushed and bright-eyed.

  • Shona Kinsella has written 3 private updates. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    14th March 2019 Podcast Fun

    Today I'm making my podcast debut on the brilliant Speculative Spaces Podcast. Check it out to hear me talk about discovery writing, The Vessel of KalaDene Series, challenging your own assumptions and much more as I chat to the lovely EM Faulds.

    Do let me know what you think

    6th February 2019 Ashael Has Fallen

    Hello all! 

    I have news of the most exciting sort. The first draft of Ashael Falling is now complete. It feels really good to be able to say that. Before it goes anywhere near Unbound and my editor, I'll go through at least two or three passes., during which I'll play with the structure, possibly move some chapters around. There'll will be some cuts and filling out of ideas and lots of tweaking…

    12th December 2018 Ashael Falling

    Hello all, 

    I hope you're all well and making the best of the season. Winter is always a time that I struggle with. I miss the light and I can't spend as much time outdoors as I would prefer - I think I may have been a bear in a past life. I'm fairly sure I was designed to hibernate! 

    Despite that, recent months have been very productive. I have bene hard at work on Ashael Falling and I'm writing…

    9th January 2018 2018 - The Plan

    I always start the year with a plan, although things so rarely end up looking like I imagine they will! So, this is my plan for 2018.


    Monday - my own experiences and musings on the writing life.

    Tuesday - author spotlight; guest posts and interviews from a variety of authors.

    Wednesday - alternate WWW Wednesday and Reviews

    Friday - I'm going to keep this loose at the moment. There…

    1st November 2017 Fantasycon and other stories

    Hi all, 

    Ashael made her first appearance at Fantasycon this year and it was brilliant! I met so many wonderful, friendly people and I can't wait to go again next year. 

    I also attended the first ever Loch Lomond Comic Con, sellign copies of Ashael Rising and chatting to people about the challenges of writing a series. 

    The word is getting out slowly but surely. I was interviewed for radio…

    28th September 2017 Can You Help?

    I'm writing to you today to ask for your help. As I mentioned in my last update, I spent the first half of this year putting together an anthology called Borrowed which is crowdfunding now. 

    Borrowed contains stories by eight different writers, each story connected to the library in the fictional Scottish town of Finlay. The stories share locations and characters but each is told in the unique…

    27th July 2017 Lots of News

    Hi everyone,

    I've been pretty quiet lately, mostly because I've been hard at work but without a lot of news to share. Writing is like that sometimes. Most of the time. All of a sudden its July and I realised that an update was long overdue.

    First of all, I hope you've all enjoyed reading Ashael Rising. If you haven't already, please consider popping on to Amazon or Goodreads and leaving a review…

    13th February 2017 The Next Step

    Well folks, we did it! Ashael Rising is out in the world and it's looking great. I hope you've all been able to download your copies and have been enjoying the read so far. This is the nerve-wracking part now, waiting to hear what you all think. I do hope you'll get in touch and let me know if you enjoyed it.

    I'm going to ask for your help again. Now that Ashael Rising has been published, the next…

    17th January 2017 News!

    Well friends, the wait is almost over! Ashael Rising will be released on the 2nd of February and pledgers should receive their copies a little earlier. It's almost time for the next stage of the journey abc in so glad to have you all along with me!

    15th November 2016 What's been happening

    Well, the proofread is finished, and the pages have been sent back for the final tweaks. The cover has been designed and again, is going through final tweaks. I'm working with Unbound on a marketing plan and the book will be released in January.

    It's been a crazy journey, folks, but we're almost there. It's all starting to feel real now and it's a very emotional time - although some of that might…

    26th October 2016 Advance Reviews

    Good morning shed people!

    I don't know about where you are, but here, it's autumn and it's very cold! Luckily, I got a couple of advance reviews of Ashael Rising and all the blushing they caused has warmed me right up. Maybe they'll warm you up too.

    From Peter Hutchison, blogger at :

    How is everyone? What do you love most about the fantasy genre? This is a…

    21st October 2016 Flash Friday

    know it's been a while so I'm really pleased to get back to Flash Friday. I've got something light-hearted for you today and I hope you enjoy it. The prompt for this piece came from my mum, Margaret Williams, in the form of the photo at the end. Have a good weekend everyone!




                Overlord Scranton opened his eyes with great difficulty. Everything was blurry. His head felt…

    13th October 2016 Belated Update

    For anyone reading this who doesn't already know, I moved house on the 1st of October which is why I have been absent recently. I was unwell for the few days leading up to the move and I received my copyedits on Ashael Rising on the 29th of September so I'm sure you'll all excuse my time away from the blog.

    We're settled in the new house, although still unpacking, and the copyedits were sent in…

    8th September 2016 Cover

    So, this week, as well as working on the final few content edits before the manuscript goes for copyediting, I'm also starting to think about cover design.

    I'm really excited about this process. It's my understanding that in traditional publishing, the author gets very little say in the cover design, while with unbound it's a very collaborative process. So I got a questionnaire to complete, giving…

    29th August 2016 A Day in the Life

    Today, I thought I would share a day in my life. Last Monday, I took notes throughout the day of everything I was doing in order to give you a glimpse into my day as a stay-at-home mum and full-time writer.

    My alarm went off at 06:20 am and I pressed the snooze button twice before pulling myself out of bed at 06:40. While in the shower, I started thinking ahead to the launch of Ashael Rising. At…

    19th August 2016 Editing is Hard!

    Hi all!

    I've spent the last few weeks working through the edits suggested on the manuscript and I finished that and submitted everything yet. I have to say, both Michael and Annabel have been wonderful, a real pleasure to work with. I got the chance to add in some new scenes that I'm really excited about. After Michael has had a chance to look over them, I'll try to give you a sneak peak here.

    2nd August 2016 Update

    Hi everyone,

    I'm sorry I haven't updated here for a while, I haven't forgotten about you! I've received the first round of edits from Michael, my wonderful editor. I'm working away on his suggestions now and we're both very excited about where the book is going. I'm very much looking forward to getting the book into your hands.

    In other news, I'm the process of moving house, which is taking…

    28th June 2016 Lessons Learned

    So, it's been just over two weeks since Ashael Rising reached it's funding goal and one week since I submitted the manuscript for professional editing. I've had some time to catch my breath and relax a little. I've had the opportunity to look back over my campaign and think about what I've learned. Here are some of the lessons that I'll vbe taking with me into any future campaigns.


    1 - Prepare…

    13th June 2016 We Made It!

    Today, for the first time in almost three months, I didn't check my project page within moments of waking up. That's because last night, Ashael Rising reached its funding target. We're at 100% and you should all have a copy of the book before the year is out. I can't thank you all enough for your generosity and support, especially my parents and my parents-in-law. You have all shown a faith…

    6th June 2016 Almost There!

    First of all, I'm sorry that I've been neglecting the blog over the last several weeks. I'm sure that you can all imagine how busy I've been with the second draft and the Unbound campaign. I just haven't been able to fit much else in but I wanted to stop by and give you all an update.

    It's day 81 of my funding campaign and I'm at 91% funded. So I have nine days to raise 9% funding - somewhere in…

    26th May 2016 Prize Draw Winners

    Well, today we reached 78% funded! We're almost there, folks. This book is going to be a reality and it's thanks to all of the people who have pledged their support. I'd like to take this opportunity to announce the winners of the prize draws. 30% - Connor McKee 50% - Gillian McLelland 75% - Jean Allan Jean, if you read this, please drop me a line at to arrange…

    28th April 2016 Why Publish with Unbound?

    Some of you may already have seen this over on my blog, but I really wanted to make sure that all of my supporters got a chance to read this and to understand why I'm asking you to part with your hard-earned cash in support of my book.

    Today I would like to talk to you about Unbound.

    Unbound are a relatively young publishing company, having been founded in 2011, by Dan Kieran, John Mitchinson…

    17th April 2016 Public Reading

    I'm excited to announce that I will be holding my first reading in Alexandria Library on 26/05/2016 at 7pm.

    I'll be reading from the Prologue to the book, material that is not in the excerpt here, followed by a brief talk about the Unbound publishing model and whyI chose to crowd-fund my book, instead of approaching traditional publishers. We'll finish the evening with a Q&A and an informal…

    10th April 2016 Prize Draw

    Hello and Happy Sunday to you all!

    This week, I was thinking about what I could do to thank all of my supporters and show my appreciation and I came up with this:

    I am going to run four prize draws. When funding reaches 30%, 50%, 75% and 100%, I will place the names of everyone who has pledged their support into a hat and draw one at random. Each pledge will give you one chance to win, so the…

    1st April 2016 Week Two

    Hello and thank you to all who have supported this project so far.

    We're now two weeks into this campaing and so far we have reached 14% of the funding target so I think we're looking really good! I honestly don't know how to thank you all.

    This week I've spent a lot of time without wi-fi so I've mostly been working on the second draft which is coming along nicely. I've also been getting to…

    25th March 2016 One week down

    Hi all,

    So far, we're one week into the funding period and we have raised 13% of the target. I can't thank you all enough for your support, it has been truly humbling.

    This week, I've been working on the next draft of Ashael's story. I'm about,14,500 words into that and it's going well. I can't wait for you all to get a chance to read it, I have to say, it's shaping up very nicely. I've also…

    19th March 2016 Day three

    It's lunch time on Day three and we're at 11%. I don't know how to thank you all.

    It was a Wednesday afternoon. Last Wednesday to be exact. My sister had just arrived for a visit. An e-mail came through to my smartphone and (rude though it was) I checked it.

    The subject line read Your Book on Unbound. Having just pledged for A Murder of Crows by Ian Skewis I assumed the e-mail was about that…

    17th March 2016 Welcome to the shed


    Welcome to the shed for Ashael Rising.

    First of all, I have to say thank you. Your support will help make this book a reality. Please do share it with anyone you think might like it - and spread the word across your social media sites. The more people who know about the project, the better the chance of reaching the funding target.

    I'll be back with an update soon. Please feel free to…

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