Books > The Chestnut Roaster

The Chestnut Roaster

Eve McDonnell, illustrated by Ewa Beniak-Haremska


27 October 2022









From the acclaimed author of Elsetime, 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.

“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?

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?


Guardian Best Book of the Year 2022

The Times Book of the Week 2022

Shortlisted for the Week Junior Children's Book Award 2023

Shortlisted for Redhill Academy Trust Book Awards 2024

Nominated for the Carnegie 2024

Long listed for the the Spark Book Awards 2024

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 imaginative

– 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

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Eve McDonnell

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