Deep Is the Fen

Lili Wilkinson

Deep Is the Fen
A&U Children's
16 April 2024

Deep Is the Fen

Lili Wilkinson

Merriwether Morgan doesn't need a happily-ever-after. Her life in the idyllic town of Candlecott is fine just as it is: simple, happy, and with absolutely no magic. Magic only ever leads to trouble.

But Merry's best friend, Teddy, is joining the Toadmen - a secret society upholding backward thinking and suspiciously supernatural traditions - and she is determined to stop him. Even if it means teaming up with her academic arch-nemesis, Caraway Boswell, an ice-cold snob who hides his true face behind a glamour.

An ancient Toad ritual is being held in the nightmarish Deeping Fen, and if Merry doesn't rescue Teddy, she'll lose him forever. But the further she travels into Deeping Fen's foul waters, the more Merry wonders if she can possibly save her friend - or if she's walking straight into a trap.

Because there's nothing the Toadmen love more than a damsel in distress . . .


Lili Wilkinson’s stories are always a delight and her foray into fantasy has been particularly successful, with her most recent novel, A Hunger of Thorns, winning the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Writing for Young Adults in 2024. This latest novel is set in the same magical world, which is highly sophisticated and rich in potential stories, but featuring an entirely new cast of characters.

Merry, Sol and Teddy are 17 and have known one another forever. Now, on the cusp of adulthood and potentially going their separate ways, Merry is hoping for one last summer of fun together. But they are swept along by a much more dastardly plot instead.

Merry’s dad is part of a men-only secret society, the Toadmen, that has meetings and some unusual rituals, which Merry thought were harmless until Teddy decided to join them. Merry sneaks into their secret meeting and discovers that they are using forbidden magic and taking each initiate’s life force in exchange for their membership. Merry is desperate to stop her friend joining and is offered help by her aloof school rival, Caraway Boswell, if she comes as his date to a secret Toad wedding. These two arch-enemies must travel into the swampy forest of Deeping Fen, where all sorts of mysteries and power plays unfold.

This is a world where magic is controlled by corporations and powerful men think they can manipulate the populace without consequence. The story features witches, despicable Toads, a queer romance and an enemies-to-lovers plotline that is wonderfully snarky and fun. It’s a brilliant read that will be devoured by feminists and/or fantasy lovers aged 13+.

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