Secret of the Shadow Beasts

Secret of the Shadow Beasts
Publisher: Dial Younger Readers, Penguin Random House
Cover art: Vivienne To
ISBN: 978-0735229327


Big Kids Book Club Podcast Interview (In which we talk about blending video games into fiction, how Scotland is an inspiration, and re-writing The Hobbit at bedtime.)

“Power and Choice: How a Pandemic-Written Adventure Can Model the Future” (an article I wrote for the School Library Journal’s Teen Librarian Toolbox)

“The Face of Real Life in Escapist Fiction” (an article I wrote for Smack Dab in the Middle)

Interview with MG Book Village (with thoughts on vulnerability and important moments in children’s lives)

Interview at Jean Book Nerd (including where Nora’s fiddle music came from!)

Introducing a swift-moving contemporary fantasy about a young girl tasked with destroying deadly shadow creatures.

In Brannland, terrifying shadow beasts called Umbrae roam freely once the sun sets, so venomous that a single bite will kill a full-grown adult. The only people who can destroy them are immune children like Nora, who are recruited at the age of seven to leave their families behind and train at a steampunk castle called Noye’s Hill. But despite her immunity, Nora’s father refused to let her go. Now, years after his death by Umbra attack, Nora is twelve, and sees her mother almost killed by the monsters too. That’s when Nora decides it’s time for her to join the fight.

At Noye’s Hill, Nora’s new companions draw her into a sweeping world of round-the-clock battle training, fierce loyalty to one another, and sworn allegiance to defeat the Umbrae above all else. But despite slaying so many beasts night after night, the Umbrae’s population is quickly growing. And the government is keeping secrets about the source of the Umbrae, secrets that may tie back to Nora herself . . . and lead Brannland’s downfall.

Want a sneak peek? Check out this excerpt of Secret of Shadow Beasts! (View in full screen for best results.)


“Percy Jackson meets The Witcher in this fast-paced middle-grade fantasy filled with creatures of the night. . . . Nora proves to be an endearing and courageous protagonist . . . [R]eaders will be equally enchanted by the world of Brannland and the mythology behind the Umbrae. A thrilling fantasy.”


“an action-packed fantasy for middle graders that ties into real-life themes of kids facing a world full of crises that they didn’t create, but have to solve”

Girl Talk HQ

“This fantasy adventure sparkles with friendship, heart and courage in a world of danger, secrets and revelations.  A magnetic read for young adventurers and gamers of 9+, and is one that I will definitely be adding to my class library.”

Book Craic

“[A]n an emotionally rich, character-driven contemporary fantasy.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Brimming with thrills and high-stakes action, this nonstop adventure swoops like a battle-axe, even as it races along with courage and heart. This one will hold a high place on my bookshelf.”

—Brad McLelland, co-author of the award-winning Legends of the Lost Causes trilogy

“Part science fiction, part medieval quest, Secret of the Shadow Beasts sparks with action and swells with emotion. Diane Magras has created a diverse cast of compelling kid characters who forge strong friendships, fight off terrifying beasts, and above all, seek the truth. I couldn’t put it down!”

— Rajani LaRocca, Newbery Honor-winning author of Red, White, and Whole; Midsummer’s Mayhem; and Much Ado About Baseball

“This middle-grade book filled with action and heart is like Dungeons & Dragons meets Stranger ThingsSecret of the Shadow Beasts will keep young readers rooting for Nora, the story’s brave protagonist, and her friends, reminding us of the importance of taking care of our earth as well as each other.”

—Samantha M Clark, author of Arrow