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The Tzar’s Curious Runaways


‘A truly enchanting and exceptional début with all the callings of a contemporary classic. Word perfect, it reads like Rundell, Ibbotson & Pullman in harmony with each other. It held my heart in its pages. Storytelling magic.’

– Scott Evans, The Reader Teacher

A mystical tale set in eighteenth century Russia in the reign of Peter the Great. A time when real people believed in the unreal and you were never far away from a world of witches, wolves and magic.

St Petersburg Russia 1725. The Tzar is dead. Everything that Katinka Dashkova knows is changing. Katinka, a dazzling ballerina with a hunched back, and her friends Alexei the Giant and Nikolai the Dwarf are different. That’s why they’re part of the Tzar’s Circus of Curiosities. Peter the Great was an avid collector of the extraordinary, both people and objects. But the Tzar is dead and they must flee the Winter Palace. Guided by a special map, drawn for them by the Tzar’s mysterious librarian, they set out across Russia in search of a place they can call home.

Set in a time and place not that far removed from the world of the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen, this is a poignantly written debut with a blend of real and imagined, and with an atmosphere and tone that belongs to folk and fairy tales where brutality and beauty meet.

For fans of Katherine Rundell, Emma Carroll and Sophie Anderson and reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, Rodman Philbrick’s Freak the Mighty and the film, The Greatest Showman.


•Published October 17th 2019
•Paperback, B format
•304 pages
•Age 9-12
•ISBN 978-1-911427-13-1

Robin Scott-Elliot is a former sports journalist with The Independent , and has also worked for the BBC and ITV. During his career as a journalist he reported on more than 25 different sports. His most memorable moment was covering the Paralympics for The Independent, which he called ‘a life-affirming experience’.