Books > Welcome to Dead Town Raven McKay

Welcome to Dead Town Raven McKay

Eibhlís Carcione


1 June 2023









A stunning, lyrical tale of loss that’s also a gripping thriller and ghost story.

Join Raven McKay in Dead Town — a place where pooka horses, ghosts and ghouls and ordinary people live side by side. Who can you trust?

When her parents disappear, 12 -year-old Raven McKay is put into foster care with Kitty Stromsoe in the town of Grave’s Pass. It’s not an ordinary town. It’s a town where the living and the dead live side by side, but few wear their identity on their sleeves.

All her parents have left Raven is a battered beige suitcase with a faded black butterfly sticker and a note saying not to open the suitcase until the right time. But can she resist? And who among the living and the dead are her friends?

Grave’s Pass has two mayors: one for the living and one for the dead — an arrangement that implies that the two know how to live comfortably side by side.

But beneath the surface lurk dark desires, old mistrusts and vivid jealousies.

Deliciously dark and gorgeously gothic!

– Kieran Larwood, author of the Five Realms Series

Brilliant and magical. A serious grappling with the meaning of life and death wrapped up in the most original and quirkily delicious of tales.

– Zillah Bethell, author of The Shark Caller

In this startlingly original gothic ghost story, debut children’s author Eibhlís Carcione pairs thrills and chills with empathy and emotion with such poetic precision and bold simplicity that I devoured this book in one memorable sitting. Not to mention the book is magnificently illustrated by Ewa Beniak-Haremska, whose intoxicating artwork adds an entire new level of enchantment and curiosity. Simply exceptional.

– Blue Bird Reviews

Adult readers will appreciate Eibhlís Carcione’s singular gift for language, but this is a book for 10- to 12-year-olds who can expect to be whisked into the heart of a thrilling ghost story.  The pacy action is helped along by Ewa Beniak-Haremska’s deliciously gothic illustrations. Prepare to be thrilled, spooked and enthralled. 


– Irish Examiner

In her middlegrade debut Eibhlís Carcione infuses  the Gothic  setting of Grave’s Pass with a lyricism and humour that recalls Neil Gaiman’s work for young readers. However it is the immediacy of the action that keeps the pages turning in this crackerjack fantasy adventure. 

– Irish times

An original gothic tale about 12-year-old Raven, who arrives at her third foster home in a town populated by the living and the dead, including banshees and zombies. Displaying a talent for the grotesque, the compelling story is pacey and the prose precise. With illustrations like a modern-day Mervyn Peake.

– Times Best Summer reads 2023

There are ghosts everywhere in Grave’s Pass, the setting for poet Eibhlís Carcione’s startlingly good debut novel, Welcome to Dead Town Raven McKay.

Carcione conjures up a sinister atmosphere, whether Raven is shopping for new clothes or entering the darker parts of town in order to find out what happened to her parents. She encounters terrifying goblins, the friendly ghost of a sea captain and sundry supernatural beings. Readers aged eleven and up will be enchanted.

– Philip Womack Literary Review

Gripping, fast-paced and gruesome, this macabre tale is enhanced by stunningly-detailed, atmospheric gothic illustrations. A chilling read, not for the faint-hearted.

– Book Trust Book of the Month


A children’s version of Franz-Kafka-meets-Salvador-Dali-meets-Susan-Hill. The unnatural events of this world are not so much ‘magic’ as symptoms of the completely alternate reality. It is all weirdly wonderful, engaging and spine-tinglingly thrilling.

– Gordon Askew Magic Fiction

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