• First published by Tor, 1990


Modern-day people are caught up in an Arthurian adventure.


  • The song Will Shields and family sing (pp. 114, 232, 276) is The Ducks of Magheralin (audio)(lyrics).
  • Ann Schindler rediscovers the need for faith when faced with the unknown. The cheesecake recipe becomes her rosary. The meaning of her name is "one who covers a roof with shingles, a roofer," perhaps symbolic of her role as homemaker. Possibly interesting is the connection with the historic figure of Oskar Schindler, known from Schindler's List.
  • Wrangler is "Artie" (Arthur) Dunstan, and he is no doubt a descendant of the Doctor Dunstan whose house became the County Museum (p. 25), with the Excalibur-carved fireplace (pp. 113-114).
  • Both Magheralin and Castleview are the names of wards in Northern Ireland.
  • Viviane Morgan seems to combine Viviane, the Lady of the Lake and Morgan le Fey. She is also the ghostly hitchhiker of urban legend. See The Magic Animal for another take on the Lady of the Lake.
  • King Geimreadh (whose name means winter) may be Merlin. He lives with Viviane, he appears old while she appears young, and he is key to an act of magic at the end.
  • The Master of the Hunt combines many legends also:
  1. The Green Man -- a pagan nature spirit, associated with resurrection and Spring.
  2. The Green Knight -- especially his beheading exchange with Sir Gawain.
  3. Odin -- with one eye, a dwarf-forged spear, and his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir (p. 261).
  4. Leader of the Wild Hunt, which is normally death for mortals to see.
  5. Cernunnos, the Horned God, associated with stags and other horned animals.
  • The hairy, smelly, red-eyed monster who attacks Will Shields is probably a troll, especially because of the Peer Gynt reference (see below). Trolls can turn invisible and shift their shapes, so the boy caught in the trap was probably the troll in disguise to catch Shields off-guard. Bright light can burn trolls (p. 160); sunlight can turn them to stone.
  • "Rex von Madadh" means "King of the Dogs." (Madadh means large dog or wolf in Gaelic). He is a werewolf and seems to have no fear of ordinary firearms (p. 272).
  • Liam Fee is a vampire because of the following:
  1. His name is probably a reference to "Leanan sídhe" or "Lhiannan Shee". According to Wikipedia, the leanan sídhe of the Isle of Man, Scotland, and Ireland are fairy spirits with decidedly vampiric tendencies.
  2. He enters the Howard home only on invitation (p. 72).
  3. Breaks mirrors and other reflective glass, like Dracula (p. 89).
  4. Recruits young women, like Lucie and Sancha, to become vampires.
  5. Lucie was probably bitten by Fee, and she would have risen as a vampire after her death except Long Jim says that modern embalming kills vampires (p. 253).
  6. Sancha's coma allowed her spirit to wander Faerie as a vampire. Since she didn't die, she wasn't embalmed.
  7. Kate, Judy's mother, also had a wandering spirit (p. 204) -- it was probably vampiric mind-control that caused her to become suicidal.
  • Von Madadh seems to fit the archetype of the relatively good opponents of King Arthur, like Lancelot or Accolon, whereas the vampire Liam Fee is more like Mordred. Both seem to be rivals to replace Tom as Sally's husband (Sally is something like Guinevere). Von Madadh is comfortable with French and how it should really be pronounced (p. 135), a trait Lancelot and Accolon of Gaul would share.
  • Will Shield's fight with von Madadh has echoes of the fight with Accolon in Le Morte d'Arthur, in that Shields fights on bravely with a useless weapon and his side gets back Excalibur with a little help from the Lady of the Lake.
  • Robert Borski once suggested Lucie and G. Gordon Kitty are the same. He is probably correct, with the qualification that this is only so after her death. Lucie's death by vampire attack seems to have caused her to change sides.
  1. Lucie's last name is d'Carabas (p. 37), a name associated with Puss in Boots (referenced on p. 274).
  2. G. Gordon Kitty only starts acting human after the death of Lucie, so it may be due to a possession by her spirit.
  3. Kitty is a tomcat, but there is a suggestion that females may be playing male roles (p. 226).
  4. Kitty's first words to Mercedes are in French: "Chère Mademoiselle" (p. 243).
  5. The courage and chivalry of the small cat recall C.S. Lewis' Reepicheep.
  • It was suggested on the Urth Lists that Jose Balanco and Hwan Lee are the equivalent of Balan and Balin, brothers who kill each other in battle in the Grail legends. (Hwan sounds like Juan.) The equivalent of the Dolorous Stroke might be Hwan's attack on the Wrangler at the hospital.
  • The "Valse Triste" (p. 53) is not from Grieg's music for "Peer Gynt" but actually a piece by Sibelius. In Peer Gynt, the protagonist encounters trolls. In Valse Triste, a dying woman waltzes with Death. It seems that von Madadh is the one who played the piece on the organ -- he hums a "doleful waltz" later (p. 218).
  • John Smith on Urth List commented that there used to be a Castleview restaurant near Barrington, Illinois (where Wolfe lives), named that because you could see a strange house built to resemble a castle from there. I found a link to a page about that castle/house, with a picture.
  • I looked on Google Maps for other interesting locations near Barrington, and I found Meadowsweet Ranch, a possible model for Meadow Grass in Castleview. On p. 127, a state trooper mistakenly calls it "Sweetmeadow."


  • The goal of the Fae seems to be to find a brave champion of the blood of Arthur to fight in single combat with their champion. Even if he loses, the champion's sacrifice will allow the surrender of the Master of the Hunt/Green Man/Green Knight/Odin/Cernunnos to the beheading by Winter which he will return (a la Sir Gawain and the Green Knight), allowing the cycle of the seasons to continue. The champion is healed and taken by boat to Avalon, as in "Le Morte 'd Arthur" and "The Once and Future King."
  • Wolfe is tying in not only the old Arthurian legends but also modern legends, showing that people continue to believe in strange beings but differ in what they call them, like elves vs. aliens. The being in A Cabin on the Coast can take many forms.

Unresolved Questions

  • Why does Judy say "There was a battle a little while ago... and the wrong ones won. This is how you make it go the other way" (p. 265)? The battle in which King Arthur was lost was a long time ago. Does she mean the battle in which the human adventurers joined the Wild Hunt, chasing the Green Man?
  • Is there a link between Castleview and The Sorcerer's House? Meadow Grass was founded by Sylvia Baxter, a successful businesswoman. In The Sorcerer's House, Bax and George had a wealthy aunt named Carla Baxter. Could they be related? Both books are set in northern Illinois, also.
  • Similarly, is there a connection to The Wizard Knight series? They both reference Faerie, Arthurian legends, and Norse mythology. For example, the Isle of Glass is mentioned in Castleview, and the Isle of Glas (one "s") is in The Wizard Knight series. The protagonist in The Wizard Knight series seems to have crossed over from our world similar to the crossings going on in Castleview.