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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 10/2022
  • B0BCCZ3CFB
  • 196 pages
  • $4.99
Hardcover Details
  • 10/2022
  • 978-1953259455
  • 196 pages
  • $14.99
Paperback Details
  • 10/2022
  • 978-1953259462
  • 196 pages
  • $9.99
Rachel Randall
Author
Shadelands

Middle Grade; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

A Starbeam girl, must evade controlling imps to rescue a friend, reclaim her light, and return to the family she lost. Will she escape in time?
Reviews
Inspired by her years of living in Latvia, Randall gathers elements of folklore from that country—especially kidnapping devils who drag their prey through the forest and to other worlds—and reinvents them to spin a shivery tale in this clever middle-grade debut. In the unrelenting dark of the Shadelands, twelve-and-a-half year old Nia is trapped by regrets and despair, longing to return to her home, the Sunlands, and hearing negative thoughts (and a repetitive lullaby) from her imp, Pester, poison her mind. When a charismatic boy from her world, Tanni, offers to lead Nia back to the Sunlands, she finally jumps at the chance, with Pester giving chase. But after Tanni is captured, Nia fears she will be stuck in the gloomy dark realm for good.

This middle-grade fantasy will draw in readers who love mystery and magic from the first page. Randall’s tight plotting and skillful characterization power the story, and a clever plot twist involving the amusing imp Pester will keep them guessing about the loyalties and secrets of the various creatures who cross the heroes’ path. The Shadelands themselves, meanwhile, are an evocative, spooky creation, alive with sprites and drudges and surprises, a place close to the fairy-tale roots of fantasy. Nia suspects, among the dull gray light., that “the trees were whispering dark thoughts to each other overhead.”

Nia’s pluck and perseverance is a continual delight, as are the author’s world-building skills, replete with clever imps (some, surprisingly, with unexpected moral compasses) and sprites, gloomy drudges, scary forests, and yawning portals to alternate worlds. Randall makes readers feel Nia’s naked hope, her intense desire to return to her home and loved ones, even though she originally left because after a family fight, she felt like a burden to all. While geared toward middle-grade readers, adults who love fantasy stories tinged with darkness but light in approach will also devour Randall’s tale.

Takeaway: Drawing on Eastern European folklore, this debut will delight middle-grade fantasy lovers.

Great for fans of: Gary Paulsen’s Northwind, Juliana Brandt’s Monsters in the Mist.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: B+

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 10/2022
  • B0BCCZ3CFB
  • 196 pages
  • $4.99
Hardcover Details
  • 10/2022
  • 978-1953259455
  • 196 pages
  • $14.99
Paperback Details
  • 10/2022
  • 978-1953259462
  • 196 pages
  • $9.99

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