The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow

Emily Ilett

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Quick Look

  • A poignant and emotionally intelligent middle-grade novel about the effect of depression on a loved one, and losing one's sense of self
  • Emily Ilett, winner of the 2017 Kelpies Prize, is an arresting, vital new voice in children's literature
  • A beautifully written, lyrical story which blends real-life issues with a hint of fantasy, making it perfect for readers aged 10 and up

On the morning of Gail's birthday, her shadow escapes. A lyrical, immersive and luminous tale of sisterhood, The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow tells of bravery, the effect of mental health issues and being strong enough to ask for help when we really need it.

198 x 130 mm
Floris Books
Age Range:
From 10 to 12 years
224 pages
Publication date:
26 Sep 2019


"Shadows were meant to stay stuck, like ears and promises."

On the morning of Gail's birthday, she watches her shadow slip under the kitchen door. She's not surprised it decided to leave. Her dad has gone for good. Her big sister Kay, once Gail's best friend, has disappeared into sadness -- and now her shadow has left too.

Determined to make things right, Gail chases after the shadows. But her adventures take her to unexpected places and she soon discovers that where there are shadows, there's darkness, and that she's not the only one looking for something missing...

In a world of light and shadow, despair and hope sit side by side. Can Gail recover what the sisters have lost?

A lyrical, immersive, and luminous tale of sisterhood, The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow tells of bravery, the power of friendship, and being strong enough to ask for help when we really need it. Emily Ilett, winner of the 2017 Kelpies Prize, is an arresting, vital new voice in children's literature.


'Gail is a great heroine [and] a Scottish island is the perfect setting for a mysterious story of love, loss and courage.'
-- Youth Services Book Review, 4.5 stars

'Even though it is a fantasy with magical creatures, it is really about family relationships and dealing with depression. It is a moving and exciting read.'
-- Teen Titles

'This story is a delight, a quest that focuses on character while expertly handling multiple plot threads and providing a strong sense of place...
Ilett's debut is full of feeling: the comfort of a folktale, the dazzle of the magical, and the trials and triumphs of life. Gail is a true heroine, and the world of children's literature is lucky to have her.'
-- School Library Journal, Starred Review

'There's a pleasing lyricism to this Scottish import, its quietly lovely prose and magical realist elements supporting Gail’s emotional journey as she rediscovers and honors the bond between sisters... The characters' love and care for the precious natural world around them highlights the synergy between environmental and familial ecologies, making this a good choice for fans of Hawkins' Journey’s End.'
-- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (Illinois)

'Fluent and sophisticated storytelling combine with precise sensory detail and a tangible sense of place; characters both human and non- are real, multidimensional, and sympathetic. Even the shadows of petrels and the rocks themselves come to life. Ilett blends magic and reality so deftly that one can be mistaken for the other; both have a sharp, briny tang of the sea. Gail's ultimate triumph feels real and hard-earned... Fantastic in both senses of the word.'
-- Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

'Emily Illet's debut engages the reader with adventure, riddles, an array of outlandish characters and a real heroine. A lyrical, heart-warming adventure.'
-- Joan Lennon

'It is a unique and original story, striking a delicate balance between addressing real-life issues, from poaching to mental health, and creating a beguiling magical world... Like taking a swim in the Atlantic, you’ll find depth, darkness -- and plenty of sparkle.'
-- Roaring Reads

'Combining fantasy and realism, this is a beautifully written, gripping tale full of danger, loss, hope, friendship and the strength of sisterhood.'
-- Children's Books Ireland Recommended Reads

'An entertaining and original novel showcasing the power of courage and friendship.'
-- Midwest Book Review

'[A] very good story about love, life, loss and family. The characters will reach our youth with their search for self.'
-- NetGalley Librarian

'I enjoyed this book. It has a very strong vibe to it and artfully uses magical realism in a middle grade story setting. It's wistful, sometimes sad, but also full of meaning, and it doesn't dawdle in its pace.'
-- NetGalley Reviewer

'A lovely book that covers a sensitive issue'
-- NetGalley Reviewer

'A touching story'
-- NetGalley Educator


Emily Ilett studied at Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow and now works at the Glasgow Women's Library. She was awarded the Mairi Hedderwick Writing for Children Bursary from Moniack Mhor in 2015, and was Children's Writer in Residence at Wigtown Book Festival the same year. The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow, her first novel, won the Kelpies Prize in 2017.

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