It is the year 454AD. The Roman Empire has withdrawn from Britain, throwing it into the chaos of the Dark Ages. Mai has been kept safe by her father and her sister, Haf. But when Saxon warriors arrive at their farm, the family is forced to flee to the hills where British warlords lie in wait. Can Mai survive in a dangerous world where speaking her mother tongue might be deadly, and where even the people she loves the most can’t be trusted?


Elen Caldecott graduated with an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University and was highly commended in the PFD Prize for Most Promising Writer for Young People. Before becoming a writer, she was an archaeologist, a nurse, a theatre usher and a museum security guard. Elen's debut novel, How Kirsty Jenkins Stole the Elephant, was shortlisted for the Waterstone's Children's Prize and longlisted for the 2010 Carnegie Medal.


A distinctive and engrossing tale

It is full of thrills and kills … while not scrimping on plot and character. Caldecott writes with a breezy lyricism … The story of a divided Britain and the girls’ mission to rebuild their family and survive in a country they barely recognise feels relevant and important

The Times

Bright and real as the midsummer sunlight, and as powerfully drawn as a sharp, short knife

Set in the author’s native Wales during the dark days of the fifth century, Elen Caldecott’s The Short Knife is an energetic, edge-of-your-seat page-turner with present-day resonance… The cinematic scene-setting, first person narrative, and succinct, magnetically lyrical style make for a thrilling experience that will hook the most reluctant of readers


A gorgeously written tale with a sublime lyricism to it… the story resonates across the ages, holding a mirror up to contemporary Britain.

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