Between Monsters and Marvels

Monsters are still lurking on Barrow’s Bay.

Dare Coates is sure of it. No drifter or ruffian could have killed her father, the Captain of the Guard, while he was on patrol. But everyone insists that monsters have been gone for years now. Dare’s mother. Her classmates. Even the governor, who swiftly marries her mother just months after her father’s death. Dare’s suspicions grow even stronger when the governor suddenly ships her off to the mainland, away from any hope of uncovering the truth about her father’s death.

Or so she thinks.

But when Dare finds solid proof that monsters still exist she starts to question everything she’s always known. Was her father who she thought he was? Who can she trust? Where is the line between good and evil?

The truth hides behind danger and deception.

But with the help of an unlikely crew of cohorts and a stray beastie, nothing will stop Dare from finding out what happened to her father and exposing who the real monsters are.

Praise for Between Monsters and Marvels

2024 Golden Kite Finalist

Parts of the book are like an extended bestiary, others a coping manual for grief. The detailed quasi-Dickensian setting and memorable characters give Wishingrad’s complex world the guardrails it needs to succeed.”

School Library Journal, starred review

“Wishingrad dreams up a rich fantasy setting akin to a magical Victorian London. . . starkly divided by class, rife with crime, the filth of industrialization, and – whether people want to admit it or not – monsters.

Colorful characters and genuine friendships make the mystery’s darker themes easier to swallow as Dare confronts what actually makes something a monster. Hand to fans of Thomas Taylor’s Eerie-on-Sea series.”

ALA, Booklist

“Wishingrad tackles themes of exploitation, perception, reality, and trust in this high-stakes tale.

An engaging and optimistic exploration of how power and privilege can be wielded for both good and bad, as observed by one take-charge heroine who seeks to define her place in the world.”

Publisher’s Weekly

“A quirky examination of true monstrousness with a memorable protagonist.

Dare has an outwardly cantankerous nature that hides a desire for acceptance. This works to endear her to readers even as her thorny exterior provides entertainment. Dare’s true nature reveals itself piece by piece, like the clues dropped in every so often that help expand the worldbuilding as well as the moral conundrums Dare becomes embroiled in. Questions of what constitutes a monster and who decides what’s true add depth to an already feisty caper. “

Kirkus Reviews

“The prose is luminous, with a strange, flowing effect that carries a reader along as if sharing a night-time dream with the author.”

Historical Novel Society

“In a world abound with monsters, a spiky, independent girl named Dare dares to unearth the truth about her father’s death. At once a mystery, a fantasy, and a good, old-fashioned yarn, BETWEEN MONSTERS AND MARVELS will keep kids turning the pages until the last secret—and the most dangerous monsters of all—are revealed.”

— Laura Ruby, National Book Award Finalist and Author of the York Series

“A twisty, crafty, creepy tale with a wonderfully warm heart.”

— Jacqueline West, award-winning author of Long Lost

“Between Monsters And Marvels is a four-star book. Every twist and turn is crafted in that expert way. . . Each chapter is perfectly paced—just enough happens to keep you on the edge of your seat, without becoming crowded. Overall, Alysa Wishingrad is one to watch.”

— Casey Langton, The Indiependent, UK

Set in a Dickensian fantasy world, Between Monsters and Marvels is a book I would have read over and over again as a child, and then come to realize the scope of its depth as an adult.

Dare is a wonderful heroine, and the journey she takes toward realizing the importance of questioning what you’re told is both an internal process and one that drives this captivating story forward. With outstanding worldbuilding, this book makes real-world commentary about inequality, the destruction and exploitation that occurs when humans put themselves above everything else in the world, government corruption, even the importance of worker strikes: truly mirroring the current climate of today. Yet all of these important themes are dealt with in a completely accessible and engaging way for young readers.

Dare’s world is full of magic and theater and life and makes you feel like you’re walking right down the street with her and her wonderful companions. (Nell and Beastie are an absolute delight!) Between Monsters and Marvels is a truly exquisite MG fantasy and one of my favorite reads of the year. Another wonderful book from Alysa Wishingrad.

— Isi Hendrix, Author of Adia Kebara and the Circle of the Shamans

“BETWEEN MONSTERS AND MARVELS is the best kind of story, one that leaves you aching to be a better human. And nobody writes twists and turns better than Alysa Wishingrad, who takes readers on an unforgettable journey alongside Dare, a character who is as unique as she is clever. If you start this book, be prepared to have a lot of trouble putting it down!”
— George Jreije, Author of Shad Hadid and the Alchemists of Alexandria

“A pitch-perfect fantasy, a book to savor, with a new kind of tough girl hero. Dare is unafraid to be different, and uses her sharp edges to cut through the lies of history and power. She and the inventive creatures that fill this twisty, engaging narrative will make it a classroom favorite.”

— Diane Magras, author of Secret of the Shadow Beasts

“With fully-imagined, heart-drawn characters, transportive world building, and a captivating plot full of mischief and monsters—and much deeper truths—BETWEEN MONSTERS AND MARVELS is a must-read, must own, must share book!”

— Heather Kassner, author of The Bone Garden

“A stunningly original fantasy. A richly built world of intrigue and illusion.
Alysa Wishingrad’s brilliant Dare is an entirely unique protagonist who braves deceptions at every turn as she tries to distinguish the monstrous from the marvelous.”

— Kate Albus, award-winning author of A Place to Hang the Moon

“Enriched by incredible world-building and extraordinary creatures, this riveting book kept me turning pages way past my bedtime and resentful of anything that distracted from reading.”

— Megan E. Freeman, award-winning author of Alone

Between Monsters and Marvels is a high-stakes, rip-roaring, hold-your-breath fantasy adventure, and along with the superbly paced plot comes the most marvelous and memorable main character of middle-grade reads. From that killer opening: “Dare Coates was an awful girl…” to the dramatic and moving close, Dare utterly won my heart. This feisty, fearless, and sometimes furious main character is one readers will be rooting for, holding their breath for, cheering for, and longing to find the home she deserves.”

— Yvette Clark, author of The House Swap

“I do not usually read fantasy books, but I think Alysa Wishingrad may have changed my thinking on this after reading Between Monsters and Marvels! I completely loved this story!”

— Cindy Schwind, EDU and #BookPosse Member

I adored this fantastical tale of Dare, a girl whose drive and determination match her name. She struggles to uncover the truth of her beloved father’s life and death, the allegedly long-gone monsters, the definitely present marvels, and the frustrating, gray, and dangerous nuance in between.

Like her debut, The Verdigris Pawn, Wishingrad again takes us through a journey of friendship and trust, class and power, and the stakes of life or death. Layered action will keep readers turning the pages as Dare navigates the world in between while remaining true to herself.
— Nicole D. Collier, Author of The Many Fortunes of Maya and Just Right Jillian

This intriguing middle-grade novel is directed to mature middle-grade readers who are ambitious enough to immerse themselves in a narrative that is complex and filled with rich and descriptive vocabulary. The excellent writing in this book clearly depicts Dare’s community, from both the details of its landscape to the personalities of its people.

Readers will ride the waves of this narrative alongside Dare, from her treacherous journey to City-on-the-Pike to her attempts to settle into her new community (where) she seems to be surrounded by clues—pieces to a puzzle she never saw coming. . . And even though Dare thought she understood monsters on the island, she soon realizes that the truest monsters do not always look like she imagined, and they can often be hiding in plain sight. Intricate and thought-provoking, this is a gripping novel for advanced middle-grade readers.

— Mary Lanni, Librarian, Reviewer, and Youth Literacy Advocate

There are a lot of twists and turns that I don’t want to spoil, but Dare’s deep dive into the mysteries of City-on-the-Pike and it’s seedy industrial underbelly is an interesting adventure with surprisingly psychological depth. I love books like Delaney’s Revenge of the Witch where I’m not quite entirely sure who the good characters and bad characters are, and while Dare thinks she knows her way around the monsters of her culture, she has a lot to learn. There’s just enough history to give this an interesting flair, and lots of richly developed side characters to support Dare in her quest. Gil is an intriguing character with quite a secret. There’s plenty of danger and adventure to keep readers turning the pages to find out the answers to Dare’s many questions.

Ms. Yingling, Librarian

Between Monsters and Marvels is a thrilling adventure that explores the depths of loyalty and uncovers the hidden truths lurking in the shadows. It’s a must-read for middle-grade fantasy enthusiasts seeking a tale of bravery and perseverance in the face of formidable adversaries. Alysa Wishingrad has once again crafted a compelling story that will leave readers eagerly turning the pages.

Review Thick And Thin