Children's Book of the Month: Shadowsmith

Book: Shadowsmith by Ross Mackenzie | Age category: 8-11 years

Join Ross Mackenzie, winner of two Scottish Children’s Book Awards and the Blue Peter Best Story Award, for his spooky new tale, Shadowsmith.

Kirby hasn’t ever given much thought to being brave. But when spiders start following him around and a mysterious girl called Amelia turns up on his doorstep in the middle of the night, his courage is quickly put to the test… Amelia has arrived because dark forces are at work in Kirby’s village, and they are dragging out all of the dark and scary creatures who usually lurk in the shadows. It’s up to Amelia and Kirby to defeat them before it’s too late.

Readers who enjoyed Ross’ last book, The Nowhere Emporium, will find another compelling and magical world in Shadowsmith, but this time with a darker, more frightening twist. This is the perfect story to read on Hallowe’en – if you’re brave enough, that is!



We have 5 copies of Shadowsmith to be won! To be in with a chance of winning one, just answer this question:

What creature is following Kirby?

Send your answer to Sarah Mallon at The competition closes on Monday 31 October at 5pm.


Q&A with Ross Mackenzie

What inspired you to write Shadowsmith?

I've always loved the east coast of Scotland, particularly the East Neuk - places like Anstruther and Cellardyke and Crail. I've been going there since I was a baby, and now I take my own kids, and I've always been fascinated by the history and atmosphere. These fishing villages are so beautiful, with fishing cottages built on narrow winding roads and working harbours. There's so much history you can almost hear the walls whispering their stories as you walk past, and I have always wanted to write something in this setting. When the spooky premise of Shadowsmith came to me, I knew I had the right story to match the place.


The book talks a lot about bravery and fear. What were you scared of as a child, and does it still frighten you now?

I have vivid memories of being afraid of not fitting in. Looking back, I had nothing to fear as I was lucky enough to have a few really close friends, but I was always really scared that my friends would suddenly become disinterested in me and leave me and I'd be alone.

This doesn't frighten me so much now as I have wonderful friends and the best family I could ever wish for. I think I must be the least lonely person in the world - and I'm very grateful for that.


What tips would you give to any aspiring young authors?

The first is to read. Read as much as you can - because reading teaches you all about the shape and feel of a good story, and what makes good writing. When you read books you will learn this stuff without even realising that anything is settling into your brain.

The second is to write. It might seem obvious, but only by writing will you develop your own style and voice and get better at what you do. Write what you want to write, not what you think you should write, because if you are having fun it will shine through on the page and the reader will have fun too.

The third is to never take no for an answer. Almost every writer has piles of rejection slips from publishers - and many of these writers go on to have wonderful careers. When it comes down to it, you must remember that it doesn't matter at all how many nos you get - it's that one YES that counts.


Don’t forget to enter our competition to win a copy of Shadowsmith

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