Searching for a book I read as a teen

Have you ever been in the situation where all you can remember about a book is pieces of the plot, parts of what the cover looked like, maybe a word or two of the title? That’s been me a lot recently as I regress to re-reading books I enjoyed during my formative fiction years (ages 12 – 17). Don’t get me wrong, I’m still reading new-to-me books, but there is something comforting about reading books you know you enjoyed so much that they haunt you later in life.

Now, I consider myself a pretty good hunter when it comes to information seeking on the internet, but this one really stumped me. Here is what I could remember about this book:

  • It was young adult fantasy when I read it between 1997 – 2003
  • The cover featured a brunette with a braid, and there was a lot of green
  • Or maybe the title had “Emerald Moon” in it
  • It was about a magical girl who was matched with a male magical partner who was older and of higher socioeconomic status
  • At some point, this man gets turned into a talking dog, and it’s hilarious
  • In this book, all magical pairs are male-female, but romance between them is highly discouraged due to lessons learned in the past
  • The ruling class are all magic users and grouped by jewels like emerald, diamond, ruby

Clearly, the more I wracked my brain, the more details I was able to remember… except the title or the author. I tried searching “emerald moon green cover YA fantasy” and various combinations into Google, Goodreads, Amazon, and eBay to no avail.

But then I found this amazing group on Goodreads called What’s the Name of that Book??? I was careful to follow the rules, and tried searching my combination of words, but again, I couldn’t find the book. So I created my own posting with many of the details I listed above.

Then on a whim, I searched the group with just “emerald” and found the thread below… where it turns out someone was actually looking for a different book, but one of the respondents suggested the book I was seeking!

Screenshot of the unrelated post that gave me the title

So it turns out the book I was looking for is called Emerald House Rising by Peg Kerr. It was published in 1997, and I did in fact remember many of the details correctly. I’m a sucker for nostalgia so I found the edition from my childhood on eBay. But after more internet searching, I also found out Ms. Kerr only ever wrote another book after Emerald before stopping to raise a family.

Screenshot of my original post on Goodreads

I learned through Wikipedia that unfortunately her husband died of cancer in 2018, and that she had a LiveJournal account until 2017 when they switched the servers to Russia. She now blogs on Dreamwidth, and it has been fascinating for me to revisit an author like this. Back in 2000, it never would have occurred to me to seek out an author’s website or journal, I just wandered the library stacks and picked up books based on what the cover looked like.

I’m happy to share that Ms. Kerr has the rights for both her books now, and is republishing them for eBook and print. I’m interested to follow her work, much like M. Louisa Locke, I think Ms. Kerr has an opportunity for a second career creating the fiction she loves.

Have you hunted for a childhood favorite book? To what lengths did you search, and what did you discover?