written and narrated by Kate StoryAround over to the farther side of the house my spirit was towed. Through the kitchen window I saw a crowd of tiny figures, beings of dancing light. No, not light. They were dressed all in grey, I saw then, with red caps on their heads: male or female I could not tell. I could look at them, and thought I was seeing them, but I could not describe their faces. Those kept shifting away, indescribable; my mind could not grasp what I was seeing. They danced in the corners of my eyes, flickering in the periphery, jigging and jagging across the flagstones. They say Dorthea’s family is cursed. The house built by Great-Great-Grandfather on the Southside Road has never been at peace. Old people say it lies on a fairy path—a gateway to the world of the Little Strangers.
All Newfoundland is enthralled when Marconi arrives with a wireless telegraphy team. Dor takes on a new identity as newspaper errand boy Jack, and joins the famous experimenter on Signal Hill. Becoming Jack is a profound personal awakening. But Jack also discovers that Marconi has a secret mission: receiving the first wireless transatlantic radio signal. And this new technology is wreaking havoc on the Little Strangers.
Then Dor’s mother disappears. Has she been kidnapped in revenge? Will Jack be forced to sabotage Marconi’s experiments to save her?
Dancing between the hidden realm of fairylore and the dynamic world of early 20th-century scientific innovation, Urchin is an exuberant story of self-discovery.
From the author of Blasted and YA fantasy duo Antilia.
This book was recorded by Ryan Kerr at the Theatre on King, Peterborough, Ontario, and produced by Chris Brookes of Battery Radio, in St. John's, Newfoundland.
What folks are saying about the print version
- Finalist, Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature – Text (2022)
- Finalist, NL Reads 2023
- Starred listing, Best Books for Kids & Teens (Spring 2022)
- ACP Top Grade selection (Winter 2022)
- The Globe & Mail Books Holiday Gift Guide 2021
Kate Story’s Urchin is electric with magic, glittering language, and high-wire tension. Story’s protagonist, non-binary Dor, is a brave spy and adventurer who soars off the page, out the window, through the gloom to the wonderfully terrifying kingdom of the fairies, on a wild quest to save her mother who has been led astray by the little people. This masterful coming-of-age tale is alive with energy and insight, charged with passion and wit. Here’s a queer, ultra-modern, historic St. John’s, where scientific advancement smacks up against potent magic and ancient lore. Sparks fly. Prepare to be zapped with high voltage suspense and megawatts of fun. Prepare to be spellbound. ~ Lisa Moore, author of Flannery, Caught, and February
Witty, tender, heartrending, Urchin is the compelling coming of age story of Dor, who must grapple with curses, sabotage, and their very own identity. Urchin beautifully blends history and fantasy, bringing both early 20th-century Newfoundland and its rich fairy lore vividly to life. Protagonist Dor is perhaps the greatest treat of all; a clever, endearing underdog who you root for from start to finish. Kate Story handles Dor’s struggles with gender and sexuality with honesty and grace. A truly valuable novel and a must-read! ~ Caighlan Smith, author of Children of Icarus
A sprawling, lyrical historical fantasy. ~ Kirkus Reviews (read the full review)
With every breath of the story you feel the high winds, you see the crashing waves, you stumble on rocks, and you hear the Newfoundland voice [...] And, through it all, is the personal whisper: “Who am I? What am I? Am I even ok? ~Deborah Furchtgott, The Children's Bookroom (read the full review)
Highly recommended. ~ Chris Laurie, CM: Canadian review of Materials (read the full review)
The result is constantly disconcerting—in a good way. It’s as though time has swallowed its own tail, turning St. John’s into a sci-fi setting for a gender-bending tale of adventure that reads like a cross between Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf. All of the characters come fully alive, from the plucky Dor/Jack, through her/his family and friends, the people of St. John’s, all the way down to Marconi himself, a dour man with not much penchant for the foibles and foolishness of the young. This is a compelling work, wonderful in its execution. ~Jeffrey Round, PinkPlayMags (read the full review)