The Short Knife

Binding: Hardcover

Imprint: Andersen Press

1 Other Related Editions

Age 12+

Historical Fiction History & The Past: General Interest Social Issues: War & Conflict Issues

Young Mai and her sister, Haf, are suspicious of the Saxon soldiers arriving in their village. Proved rightly so by a brutal attack on their family home, the sisters must seek a new place to belong, encountering betrayal, love, and everything in between in the process. A celebration of difference and finding your own way, when even speaking your mother tongue can be dangerous.


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 Award.


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

Beautifully written, lyrical and powerful – it’s a fascinating insight into dark and desperate times which I found utterly absorbing. Grim and gritty but ultimately uplifting – it’s a beautiful tribute to the courage and ingenuity of sisters

A strong immersive historical novel that explores themes that still resonate – loyalty, belonging, difference, self, family, dispossession

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