The Black North

Nigel McDowell
"Based on Irish legends and mythology, this is an enchanting new fantasy from the author of TALL TALES FROM PITCH END."
The Black North – picture

Based on Irish legends and mythology, this is an enchanting new fantasy from the author of TALL TALES FROM PITCH END.

The Divided Isle, once a place of peace and tranquillity, has been ravaged by war. Twins Oona and Morris live with their grandmother in a stone cottage in the quiet southern county of Drumbroken, but the threat of the Invaders of the Black North – the ravaged northern part of the island – is coming ever closer. When Morris, fighting against the Invaders, is kidnapped by one of the evil Briar Witches, Oona must journey to the unknown realms of the Black North in search of her brother.

She is accompanied only by Merrigutt, a jackdaw with mysterious transformative powers, and a treasured secret possession: a small stone in the shape of a plum, but a stone that reveals truths and nightmares, and which the Invaders and their ruler, the King of the North, seek more than anything. Oona must keep the stone safe at all costs, and find her brother, before the King of the North extends his evil hold over the whole island and destroys it forever.

Publication Date: Thu 5 Jun 2014
ISBN Paperback: 9781471400674
ISBN Ebook: 9781471400681



Nigel McDowell

Nigel McDowell grew up in County Fermanagh, rural Northern Ireland, and as a child spent most of his time battling boredom, looking for adventure - crawling through ditches, climbing trees, devising games to play with his brother and sister, and reading. His favourite book as a child was The Witches by Roald Dahl.

After graduating with a degree in English he spent almost two years living and working in Australia and New Zealand. With him he took a small notebook containing notes about a boy called "Bruno Atlas", and a seaside town called "Pitch End". When he returned to Ireland after his travels, one notebook had multiplied into many, and eventually his notes for Tall Tales from Pitch End filled a large cardboard box... TALL TALES FROM PITCH END was Nigel's first novel, followed up by THE BLACK NORTH.

THE HOUSE OF MOUNTFATHOM was Nigel's final novel, before his death in early 2016 at the age of thirty-four.


Oona stopped, asking of the frigid air, her breath making cold shapes: 'What's happened?' The jackdaw landed beside her on a branch that bobbed as though it might break. 'The North magic,' said the bird. 'I told you - they've brought it with them. Doing like they did up North when they ruinedand made it Black. They -' Oona had time for no more - the land might've been so changed but still she recognised it, knew that home wasn't far. She ran and didn't stop until the Kavanagh cottage came to sight, but nothing showed her a greater change than home - the place was leaning, thatch rotten and sagging, door open like a desperate mouth with a gasp. Oona ran on - over the threshold with knife in hand and calling, 'Granny!' The hearth was cold and there was no light from anywhere, not even at the shrine for the Sorrowful Lady. The same smell existed inside as out - sweet, like the rot of things left long alone. Oona stepped forward and many softnesses touched her face. Her fingers moved fast and fumbling to remove them - a web had been woven wild across the one room of the cottage. Briar and creeper and vine had ensnared the family table, claimed dresser and sideboard and encircled the hearth at the centre of the room. Weed and nettle and dock were as high as her knee. 'No,' said Oona, softly. Then again, feeble protest: 'No. Can't be like this. Can't.' Her home was no longer her own. Oona couldn't discern her memories of the place past the thicket of transformation - no more the comfortable space her mother had tended, nor the busy place that her father and grandfather had worked hard to keep and improve. Not the happy place she'd grown alongside Morris. And if her brother reappeared just then, would he even know that he'd come home?