Where the Dark Stands Still (Hardcover)

Where the Dark Stands Still By A. B. Poranek Cover Image
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“Based on Polish folklore, Where the Dark Stands Still warps and darkens at it unfolds. I’m fascinated with the underlying theme of religious oppression pressed up against this amazing world of demons, ghosts, and magic. A fiendishly fantastical read!”
— Stephanie Staton, CoffeeTree Books, Morehead, KY


A New York Times bestseller

A girl with dangerous magic makes a risky bargain with a demon to be free of her monstrous power in this young adult fantasy perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens and House of Salt and Sorrows.

Liska knows that magic is monstrous, and its practitioners are monsters. She has done everything possible to suppress her own magic, to disastrous consequences. Desperate to be free of it, Liska flees her small village and delves into the dangerous, demon-inhabited spirit-wood to steal a mythical fern flower. If she plucks it, she can use its one wish to banish her powers. Everyone who has sought the fern flower has fallen prey to unknown horrors, so when Liska is caught by the demon warden of the wood—called The Leszy—a bargain seems better than death: one year of servitude in exchange for the fern flower and its wish.

Whisked away to The Leszy’s crumbling manor, Liska soon makes an unsettling discovery: she is not the first person to strike this bargain, and all her predecessors have mysteriously vanished. If Liska wants to survive the year and return home, she must unravel her taciturn host’s spool of secrets and face the ghosts—figurative and literal—of his past. Because something wakes in the woods, something deadly and without mercy. It frightens even The Leszy…and cannot be defeated unless Liska embraces the monster she’s always feared becoming.

About the Author

A. B. Poranek grew up in Canada but spent her summers in the Polish countryside, reading under apple trees and helping care for her grandfather’s chickens. Her love of animals led her to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine, though she never stopped writing along the way. Her first novel, Where the Dark Stands Still, is an ode to Poland’s wild woodlands, wilder folktales, and the girls who were raised by them.  

Praise For…

"Dark, devastating, and gothic."
— Kirkus Reviews

"Fans of romantic Gothic fantasy mixed with Polish folklore will appreciate this novel."
— School Library Journal

"Interweaving harrowing scenes of demon hunting terror with quiet moments of domestic life simmering with romantic tension, Poranek employs lush prose to craft a Polish folklore and culture–influenced fantasy realm through which the debut author capably examines themes of trauma, repression, and the healing power of unconditional acceptance."
— Publishers Weekly

** "A beautifully written story of self-acceptance, sacrifice, and forgiveness. With echoes of Eastern European folklore, the fairy tale beats are immediately recognizable: a clever girl shunned from her community, a terrifying but possibly misunderstood monster, a bargain that brings them together in an enchanted wood. Poranek, like fantasy author Robin McKinley, elevates the familiar narrative through poetic symbolism, fully developed characters, and a skillful balance of darkness and whimsy."
BCCB, starred review

Product Details
ISBN: 9781665936477
ISBN-10: 1665936479
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: February 27th, 2024
Pages: 368
Language: English