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Winner of the Tir na n-Og Award Shortlisted for the Young Quills Historical Fiction Award Longlisted for the Carnegie Medal 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 The Roman Empire has withdrawn from Britain, throwing it into the chaos of the Dark Ages.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?
By:   Elen Caldecott
Imprint:   Anderson Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 24mm
Weight:   318g
ISBN:   9781783449781
ISBN 10:   1783449780
Pages:   400
Publication Date:   03 March 2021
Recommended Age:   From 11 to 15 years
Audience:   Children/juvenile ,  English as a second language
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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.

Reviews for The Short Knife

A distinctive and engrossing tale -- David Almond 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 -- Alex O'Connell * The Times * Bright and real as the midsummer sunlight, and as powerfully drawn as a sharp, short knife -- Hilary McKay I just loved The 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 -- Tanya Landman 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 * Lovereading *


  • Long-listed for CILIP Carnegie Medal (UK).
  • Long-listed for UKLA Book Award (UK).
  • Nominated for CILIP Carnegie Medal (UK).
  • Short-listed for The Young Quills (UK).
  • Winner of Tir na n-Og Award 2021 (UK)

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