The Chestnut Roaster


“Starting on All Fools Day, twelve years ago, I remember everything. EVERYTHING. That was a wet Tuesday, and that was the day I was born.”

12-year-old Piaf has the ability to (and burden of) remembering everything that has happened since the day she was born. When she discovers everyone in Paris has forgotten the entire last year, 1887, including the disappearance of several gifted children, Piaf and her twin brother Luc embark on a dangerous journey that brings them to the depths of Paris’s underground twin, the Catacombs, to capture the memory thief and find the lost children—but are the two connected? And who dare they trust?


From the acclaimed  author of   Elsetime, shortlisted for The Awesome Book Award, winner of the Wells Festival of Literature Award Children’s Book Award , a  historical fantasy thriller with a dazzling, but tiny heroine who will stop at nothing to catch a memory thief and restore some lost children to their parents. Set in Paris in 1888—both above and below ground! Follow Piaf and her brother into the depth of the catacombs, down tunnels  among  the dead and the living on a furious chase against time. Will they catch the memory thief.

Dazzling illustrations by Ewa Beniak-Haremska

A Guardian Observer Best Book of 2022

—An unforgettable Paris adventure. Memory and magic combine in this this belle époque mystery. Fantastique!‘ The Times, Book of the Week
— A pacy feast for the senses dizzyingly illustrated by Ewa Beniak-Haremska’ The Observer
—Richly imagine’ Irish Independent, Best Books of the Year
—McDonnell excels at creating fascinating, well-rounded protagonists with little details about their character you could spend days pouring over. Piaf is delightful; she is unique, curious, and brave, making her instantly lovable. She is one of the most interesting characters to be found in children’s fiction. Books Ireland
—A mesmerising blend of history and fantasy. Ewa Beniak Harenska’s stunning illustrations complete the magic.’ The Irish Examiner
—An immersive, sensory, exciting journey through Paris in the year 1888, and the city comes to vivid fictional life in its pages. An exciting, fast-paced, whirlwind of a story. Fans of McDonnell’s earlier novel Elsetime will appreciate a similar sense of history melding with fiction, as well as strong, inventive, resourceful, intelligent child protagonists who are brave and driven by love for their dear ones, as well as a principled sense of justice.  Sinéad O’Hart, author of The Eye of the North
—Like reading a poem: beautiful, mysterious and captivating. The writing is sublime.’  Kieran Larwood, author of The Five Realms Series
—Just phenomenal! I went overland and underland & every space in between through the city of light and dark, loving every step. A stunning book.’  Zillah Bethell, author of The Shark Caller
— Part psychological mystery, part middle grade adventure, this story will have you hooked within a couple of pages.’ Erin Hamilton My Shelves are Full
—Mesmerising. Atmospheric.’ Miss Cleveland
—An unforgettable, mesmerising historical fantasy – perfect for readers of 9+’ Book Craig
—The Chestnut Roaster is a uniquely captivating story – atmospheric Parisian history mixed with a healthy dose of fantasy runs through the mysterious catacombs of this engaging city. The villain is truly evil and the children who are determined to stop him are clever, creative and feisty.’ Kate Heap Scope for Imagination
—A refreshingly original mystery thriller set in 19th century Paris against the backdrop of preparations for the Exposition Mondiale (World Fair). With the action divided between the streets of the city and the labyrinth of tunnels hidden beneath, the atmosphere is tense, claustrophobic and utterly gripping. ‘ Book Trust
—This is a tremendous book on every level and would make an excellent class reader and a rich addition to library shelves.’ Books for Keeps

Book Details


198mm x 129mm






27/10/ 2022


Eve McDonnell