A Dark Fairytale

of survival and betrayal

From the vivid imagination of Heather O’Neill

Sofia Bottom lives in a small country that Europe has forgotten. But inside its borders, the old myths of trees that come alive and faeries who live among their roots have given way to an explosion of the arts and the consolations of philosophy. No one, from the clarinetists to the cabaret singers, is as revered in the arts as Sofia’s brilliant mother, the writer Clara Bottom. How can 14 year old Sofia, with a tin ear and an enduring love of the old myths, ever hope to win her mother’s love?

When the country’s greatest enemy invades, and the Capital is under threat, at last Clara turns to her daughter. Sofia must smuggle her new manuscript to safety on the last train evacuating children from the city. But the train draws to a suspicious halt in the middle of a forest, and Sofia must run for her life, losing her mother’s most prized possession. Now frightened and alone in a country at war, Sofia must find a way to reclaim what she has lost. On an epic journey through woods and razed towns, colliding with soldiers, survivors and other lost children, Sofia must make the choice between kindness and survival.

In a stunning dark fairytale of a novel, Heather O’Neill reveals once again that she is a master of language that is as delicious as cake and serious as a gunshot.


HEATHER O’NEILL is a novelist, short-story writer and essayist. Her most recent novel, When We Lost Our Heads was a #1 national bestseller and was a finalist for the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal. Her previous works include The Lonely Hearts Hotel, which won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction and CBC’s Canada Reads, as well as Lullabies for Little CriminalsThe Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Daydreams of Angels, which were shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize two years in a row. She has won CBC’s Canada Reads and the Danuta Gleed Award. Born and raised in Montreal, O’Neill lives there today.