Where the Dark Stands Still

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Pub Date 29 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2024

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'Where the Dark Stands Still is a triumph; a deeply romantic debut with spiralling, atmospheric prose that swept me up and away to the enchanted forests of Polish folklore. You'll never want to leave this beautiful, magical world'. Sarah Underwood, NYT Bestselling Author of Lies We Sing to the Sea

A sweeping gothic fairytale romance for fans of Belladonna by Adalyn Grace and Gallant by V.E. Schwab.

Raised in a small village near the spirit-wood, Liska Radost knows that Magic is monstrous, and its practitioners, monsters.

After Liska unleashes her own powers with devastating consequences, she is caught by the demon warden of the wood - the Leszy - who offers her a bargain: one year of servitude in exchange for a wish.

Whisked away to his crumbling manor, Liska makes an unsettling discovery: she is not the first person to strike this bargain and all of her predecessors have mysteriously vanished. If Liska wants to survive the year and return home, she must unravel her host's spool of secrets and face the ghosts of his past.

Those who enter the wood do not always return . . .

‘Treading a tender line between unnerving and enchanting, Poranek’s writing is lyrical and atmospheric. With a beautiful grumpy/sunshine romance, Where The Dark Stands Still is a poignant and magical tale' Bea Fitzgerald, bestselling author of Girl, Goddess, Queen

'An enchanting spell of a read, woven through with petal-soft romance and roots-deep self-acceptance. The dark, gothic fairy tale of my dreams' Kika Hatzopoulou, author of the Sunday Times Bestseller Threads that Bind

'Folkloric and beautiful, Where The Dark Stands Still invites you to stray from the safe paths into a darkly whimsical fairytale forest, where secrets and bargains lead to tentative hope' Lyndall Clipstone, author of Unholy Terrors and the World at the Lake's Edge duology.

'Where the Dark Stands Still is a triumph; a deeply romantic debut with spiralling, atmospheric prose that swept me up and away to the enchanted forests of Polish folklore. You'll never want to leave...

A Note From the Publisher

A. B. PORANEK grew up in Canada but spent her summers in the Polish countryside, raiding her dziadek’s library and helping care for his chickens. Her love of animals led her to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine, though she never stopped writing along the way. Her first novel, Where the Dark Stands Still, is an ode to Poland’s wild woodlands, wilder folk tales, and the girls who were raised by them.

A. B. PORANEK grew up in Canada but spent her summers in the Polish countryside, raiding her dziadek’s library and helping care for his chickens. Her love of animals led her to pursue a degree in...

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ISBN 9780241622155
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 156 members

Featured Reviews

Undoubtedly enjoyed reading Where the Dark Stands Still. This story has Slavic folklore, magic, gothic themes, and darkly charming characters. I especially liked the cute nicknames given to Liska. Where the Dark Stands Still offers escapism into a world I wish existed.

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If you’re a fan of Adalyn Grace, Ava Reid, Allison Saft, and Margaret Rogerson, you are going to love Where The Dark Stands Still.

Prepare to be spellbound! This debut is such a beautifully crafted gothic romantic fantasy, and it’s one I’ll be remembering for a long time. A.B. Poranek is such a gifted writer, and I knew this would be a new favorite as soon as I read the first line.

Gothic fantasies are always my favorite so it’s honestly no surprise why I love this book so much. It delivers all the spooky vibes perfect for fall (but it comes out in February 🥲) I loved that this book was based on Polish folklore, as I’ve never really read something like this before.

🌱 polish folklore
🌱 gothic atmosphere
🌱 romantic fantasy
🌱 soft fmc
🌱 haunted forest
🌱 witches
🌱 beautiful writing & world

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This book reminded me a little of For The Wolf which I also enjoyed.

I was excited to read this one as the title and the cover grabbed me and going in I discovered it was Slavic mythology so I was more interested as I've not read much of it before but I was not disappointed.

I loved the plot of this book, I was hooked and absolutely flew through this one. I was intriged as to where it would go next and I adore the characters of this book especially Jaga our spirit cat!

Definitely recommend this book and looking forwards to seeing other books from this author!

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I am obsessed with this book…please tell me we will get more from Liska and Leszy because I am not okay and I am not ready for that to be the end…

I was thoroughly surprised by the Slavic folklore in this book (if anyone knows me, they will know that I LOVE Slavic folklore). The characters were loveable and bounced well off of each other.
My favourite character has to be Jaga closely followed by Maksio.

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This is such an immersive and addictive fantasy read, with lots of sinister monsters in the dark woods and dangerous demons to defeat. The writing truly transports you to the woods and the Leszy’s manor house and I was intrigued as more secrets were discovered by the curious and brave Liska. She isn’t put off by the cold and prickly demon trying to protect the secrets of his past and she won’t stop until she unravels the mystery of the Leszy. This a fantastic book and I loved the dark fantasy vibe and the quirky cast of characters that Liska encounters along the way. Throw in a doomed romance and it’s got everything you need to keep you hooked. I can’t wait to read more from this author!

I received a free copy of this book. All views are my own.

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I couldn’t put this book down, I read it in less than 24 hours and was immediately hooked from the first page. The dark cottagecore atmosphere was perfect and the writing was beautiful. It perfectly balanced elements of horror with cosy baking, gardening, wholesome found family moments and a sweet romance. The ending was stunning but heartbreaking and the epilogue has left me emotionally destroyed. I know I’m going to be thinking about this book a lot over the next few weeks.

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Wow! This utterly brilliant YA fantasy story captivated me from start to finish. It's steeped in folklore, magic and romance, with plenty of mysteries to uncover throughout. I loved it!

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Thank you to Penguin and NetGalley for letting me read an ARC of this title. An exquisitely written tale of dark magic and romance, this story is imbued with the wonder and self-discovery residing within all good fairytales and folklore.

With an addictive plot and pacing that keeps you gripped until the very end, I recommend this story to any fans of the fairytale genre. I definitely look forward to reading more of this author's work in the future.

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This book just reinforced my theory that I have a thing for stories with sentient forests.

WHERE THE DARK STANDS STILL is nothing short of a stunning tale of sacrifice and love in the most unexpected of places. I think that the Howl's Moving Castle inspiration really came through in WTDSS the further I got into it, and although the pacing in the beginning was a lot faster than I'm used to, I really loved the way Poranek just completely immersed the reader in Liska's world. Whilst I have absolutely no knowledge to speak to the accuracy of the Polish folklore, I absolutely adored being thrust into the clutches of the Driada, and learning about the Leszy and all of his twisted lore.

I was breath-taken and rattled chapter after chapter, struggling to put this book down, and it's perfectly bittersweet ending had me tearing up whilst I devoured it on the train to work. There is something to be said about the way that Poranek blends ghastly themes and beautiful prose together and there were so many quotable sections that just made my heart sing. I will definitely be grabbing a physical copy of WTDSS once it releases next month, and I highly recommend that anyone else who is intrigued by the synopsis does to! This is one of those stories that I really feel privileged to have received an arc of.

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for this arc!

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Where the dark stands still is my new favourite book. Slavic story with ghibli feeling. The very last sentence left the most peaceful feeling I’ve ever experienced.

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I have been so excited to read this book and I was not disappointed!
Where the Dark Stands Still has a magical forest, polish folklore and just felt like such a cosy magical read.
I found myself struggling to put this down because it felt so different to anything else I’ve read lately.
I really liked the characters and the pacing - it just felt spot on.
I feel like this was left open for a potential sequel so I am really hoping for more!

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The story
The character
The folklore

Everything was just perfect
Such a great debut

Was totally addicted to this book from page 1

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Ok so this was honestly my favourite book this year so far!

Much like a number of recent novels, this story centres around a dark and mysteriously dangerous woodland with a Manor House in its centre however this story is somewhat different than the rest.

Full of a dark and beautifully brooding atmosphere and heart achingly slow burning romance, this book delivers the perfect balance between dark fantasy and fairytale-like wonder. I devoured every carefully crafted word and immersed myself into the excellently built world of the Driada.

I was in awe of the beauty of the writing and the twists and turns kept me interested throughout. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes their fantasy novels with some romance and intrigue baked into the storyline. Perfect book for those who enjoyed One Dark Window, For The Wolf etc

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Where the Dark Stands Still is full of gorgeous writing and is a really immersive experience to read. The world building is brilliantly effective and I loved the way the story is revealed bit by bit - you can sort of predict what’s going to come out next but you’re never really sure. I enjoyed the feeling of being a little bit in the dark; it played into the story so well. The plot I thought was clever and twisty without being either too convoluted or too predictable. There were elements of horror and cautionary tales very much in keeping with the Polish folk tales it’s drawn from and I loved the inclusion of Polish words (I got a kick out of figuring out how to pronounce them correctly). It reminded me of Little Thieves by Margaret Owen and will likely appeal to fans of that series.

Liska is a great MC; she is likeable but realistically flawed and naive and I was rooting for her from the start. The author did a great job of making the Leszy vaguely terrifying to begin with and then more approachable and more of a real character the more we got to know him. The peripheral characters are great too; I especially loved Jaga - you can tell the author has a cat because it feels like she’s exactly written the thoughts of one!

Honestly, I absolutely loved it. I stayed up til midnight to finish it and it had me in tears. The ending was perfectly executed. It’s a triumph of a debut novel and an easy 5 star rating for me. A book I know I’ll go back to and read again and again.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy of this book!

4.5 stars

This romantasy based on Polish folklore was the most gorgeously written book I've read. It was so beautiful, the prose was so haunting, the imagery came right off the page. The half a star off five is due to the pacing; while it's a stunning book, it does get a little slow going into the middle, but overall it was a fantastic book and it was so great to read something with Polish setting. That was new to me and as a Fantasy Addict I adore seeing new settings and mythology steeped into the genre.

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