Ever since Beatrice’s grandmother, and sole guardian, became gravely ill, the ten-year-old has felt the sting of her own dark shadow, ever present, never fading, there even when not seen. Living in a little house on the edge of the woods, she is afraid of what will become of her if her guardian doesn’t recover, and Beatrice yearns to ask Elijah to spare her grandmother’s life.
When Beatrice is lured into the woods by her dog, Barley, she discovers a different world, one where animals can speak, objects are not always what they seem, and time slows. Here, there is an urgent problem that the animals believe only Beatrice can resolve. Using her dark shadow, Beatrice must restore the Light to Mount Rundle before the destructive, violent shadows destroy Fenland. But when Barley and other creatures are snatched by the shadows, Beatrice knows she must first journey to the Netherworld to rescue them before she can recover the Light.
As she journeys through Fenland, she meets a boy, Walley, and animals such as Oliver the river otter, George the ground squirrel, and Viola the vole. Together, Oliver, Walley and Beatrice search for the Old Hermit, who they believe can help recover the Light, travel to the Netherworld, and negotiate with Elijah. Along the way, they witness the shadows’ trail of destruction, the darkening landscape, and the displacement of animals in a changing climate.
Will Beatrice be able to restore the Light to Mount Rundle before it’s too late? Will the Old Hermit help recover loved ones from the Netherworld? And most importantly, will she secure her chance to barter for her grandmother’s life?
A hauntingly beautiful and tender book, The Struggle for Fenland: Quietly We Fall explores the universality of faith, grief, kindness, and compassion for young readers. It is Part One of Beatrice’s journey.