A rollicking steampunk sea adventure in which a boy who suffers stage-fright is suddenly centre stage: the only one who can right an ancient wrong and save the kingdom.

Dorrity is the only child in magic-free Owl Town. When she finds an enchanted book with dire predictions, she must face her enemies. And who is the strange boy who has appeared in the Beastly Dark? This stand-alone pre-teen adventure/fantasy novel is the third book in the “Tales of Fontania” series of novels, following The Travelling Restaurant and The Queen and the Nobody Boy. Filled with humour, action, adventure, and magic, this is a truly gripping read featuring a large and memorable cast of characters.


Barbara Else is one of New Zealand’s most successful writers, for adults and children. Her Tales of Fontania series—including The Travelling Restaurant—has been published around the world and her 2018 release Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic NZ Women is a bestseller. Else is a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature, and has worked as a university tutor, editor and freelance writer. She lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.


Else contrives a plot that leaves neither characters nor readers much chance to catch their breaths . An entertaining romp, more comical than scary and with a poignant but hopeful close.

Kirkus Reviews

An excellent tale of magic, adventure, invention, humour and silliness [and] snappy, witty dialogue between the characters.

Your Weekend Magazine

Another delightfully visual hardback, with charming illustrations this is Else’s third story from the magical land of Fontania … and possibly the best.

New Zealand Herald

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