Orphan Jack “Nimble” Nottingham – is a wily, street-smart kid who has survived on his own for a very long time – well, aside from his dog Winnie. But when his accident-prone accomplice Mouse extinguishes an ancient candle in a blitzed out basement – Nimble quickly realizes that it wasn’t an ordinary candle, and it should have remained lit. For fans of Stranger Things, Serafina and the Black Cloak and The Goonies!

by Ryan James Black
Penguin, September 2025
(via Park & Fine Literary and Media)

Somewhere beneath London, a candle has burned for centuries.

It’s World War II, and Jack “Nimble” Nottingham sets out to scavenge the bombed-out ruins of Gravenhurst, a spooky estate rumored to be so haunted that not even the Dead End Kids dare go near it. Inside, Nim hopes to find unspoiled food, flea-free blankets, and maybe even a spot of oil for his lantern. Instead, he discovers a hidden alchemist’s laboratory, and a candle locked away in its vault, impossibly still lit. That is, until accident-prone Mouse, who Nim reluctantly allows to tag along, bumps into it, extinguishing the wick and releasing the Aether, a predatory shadow trapped in Gravenhurst’s basement for the past three hundred years.

Nim and Mouse narrowly escape the Aether, but the Aether escapes Gravenhurst, free now to hungrily hunt the London streets for souls…especially Nim’s own. As everyone around Nim, including his faithful dog Winnie, comes under attack, he seeks answers from the mysterious owner of Gravenhurst, Allister Evermoor—either Nim’s most formidable opponent, or his only chance at solving a mystery that reaches back across generations, to another dark chapter of the city’s history.

Now, Nim will have to decide who to trust as he works to defeat the Aether once and for all. One thing is for certain: even as brave nurses and soldiers marshal their resources against England’s enemies, the Blitz blackouts are aiding a threat much closer to home. A Shadow is closing in, and it’s going to take fire starters, pickpockets, vandals, and bullies coming together to stand against it. Because if Nim can’t find a way to vanquish the Aether, it won’t stop at London… it will darken the world.

Ryan James Black is an Author Mentor Match mentee who hails from Manitoba, Canada. He’s a husband, father, and self-described “Weirdo” and “Tamer of the Wilds,” who brings both heart and admirable work ethic to his creative vocation. This is his debut novel.

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