The Shadow Moth
THE FIRST BOOK IN THE CLOCK OF STARS TRILOGY
Imogen should be nice to her little sister, Marie. She should be nice to her mum’s boyfriend too. And she certainly shouldn’t follow a strange silver moth through a door in a tree.
But then . . . who does what they’re told?
Soon, Imogen and Marie find themselves trapped in a magical kingdom where no-one behaves as they should. The sisters must move fast to escape the monsters that come out after dark.
Longing to return home, they find help from a spoiled prince, a dancing bear and even the stars above…
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“Utterly irresistible and hugely imaginative.”
Waterstones Best Books of 2020
“A sparkling debut… boasts a funny, engaging voice, a strong sibling dynamic and a bold, intransigent heroine.”
“Sometimes you pick up a book and know – from the very first pages – that you’re reading an instant classic. This is one of those books.”
Author of I, Cosmos
“A timeless fantasy adventure perfect for fans of the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. I loved it.”
Katherine Webber Tsang
Author of Dragon Mountain
What the book’s about
The Shadow Moth is about a girl, called Imogen, who follows a moth into another world.
But why a moth? Why did I pick that creature, when there are so many others more appealing? Why not a butterfly or, indeed, a white rabbit?
Moths are creepy, scary things. Moths eat clothes. They’re pests. If you find one in the bathroom you get your parents to put it outside – or squish it, depending on the parent.
And that’s exactly the point. The shadow moth is a dreary grey, but in some lights it shines silver. It’s an ambiguous character whose motivations are unclear, much like the humans in the story.
Many of the people who seem trustworthy are up to no good, and often the most vilified characters are telling the truth.
This is a book about learning who to trust – about sorting truths from lies. It’s about the importance of questioning the stories we’re told (including the ones we tell ourselves).
“Imogen looked at the sign. It said: NO TRESPASSING. She didn’t know what trespassing was, but it sounded like fun.”
Where the idea came from
When I was twelve, my parents used to take me to a garden. The owners were going bankrupt and the estate was falling into disrepair (or repair, depending on your point of view).
It was the kind of place with tall grass and otters. The kind of place where you might have adventures. The kind of place with doors in trees.
I wrote a story inspired by the garden and read it to my long-suffering sisters.
Thankfully that ‘first draft’ has been lost, but ideas aren’t so easily mislaid. It came back to me many years later, when I was old and pretending to work in an office.
A sprawling garden. A door in a tree. Where might such a door in a take you? I started to write again.
The new version of the book grew slowly, across a period of about eight years. A lot of it was written while I was visiting my husband’s family in the Czech Republic.
Some elements of the magic kingdom are inspired by our adventures there – others are straight out of fairy-tales.
The astronomical clock in Prague’s Old Town Square looks like something from a book. So it didn’t take a great leap of imagination to put it in one.
Legend has it that when the clock was first made, Prague Council were very proud. They didn’t want anyone else to have a timepiece like theirs.
The councillors had the clockmaker blinded, so he couldn’t repeat his work. But the clockmaker took his revenge…
Even without his eyes, he knew how to stop the clock working. It wasn’t fixed for over one-hundred years.