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Rebecca L. Fearnley

The Shadow and the Scream: Book one of The Nowhere Chronicles

The Shadow and the Scream: Book one of The Nowhere Chronicles

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A woman with a deadly past. A child, begging for help. can she catch a monster without becoming one, herself?

Terrified of unleashing her dark power on others, Annie has been a fugitive for five years. Hiding in the strange haven called Nowhere, a world between worlds, she struggles to stop her terrible magic from controlling her. But Annie's quiet sanctuary shatters when someone else stumbles through the portal into her world.

Covered in blood, her clothes in shreds, the newcomer claims she saw a monster kill a man and beg for Annie's help before the beast slaughters again.

When Annie is pulled through the portal to hunt the rampaging creature, she expects blood and mayhem. What she doesn't expect is her growing feelings for the town's dark-eyed priest. But Annie has monsters of her own to battle and the truths she uncovers in this new world may bring far more brutal creatures out of the shadows.

Can Annie hold off her own darkness long enough to uncover the truth about the monster, or will she become something far worse than the terror she's fighting?

The Shadow and the Scream is the deliciously dark first book in the portal fantasy series, The Nowhere Chronicles. If you love reluctant heroines, monstrous shifters, and a deadly mystery, you'll love Rebecca L. Fearnley's dark fantasy story.

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Read the First Chapter!

Trigger Warning

This book contains references to domestic violence right from the beginning. If this causes you undue stress, please stop reading and seek help immediately.

You matter, and your recovery matters.


Two Murderers

Of all the ridiculous animals that live in Nowhere, owl-squirrels are the worst. I’ve dealt with giant lightning-snakes, ridden howler horses, even returned a frightened gremlin to its shadow. I escaped a town of vengeful drunks in my home world, and I killed to get away from my old life.

But I ain’t ever dealt with a beastie as painful as this owl-squirrel.

Bartok is eight inches high when he’s really trying, purple and blue with little ear tufts that stand to attention on top of his round head. His cream belly fur quivers with rage and he thumps his rabbit feet, lashing his mottled grey-brown wings. His squirrel tail flicks with agitation, and he turns those tawny eyes on me. Glaring.

Clamped in his sharp beak is a tiny, six-legged lizard. Still alive. It struggles but Bartok won’t let it go. Every time I reach for his beak, he lets out a hellish screech that makes the scarlet-leafed trees above me quiver. Through the multi-colored canopy of the forest, the red-and-indigo sky roils with poisonous green clouds. A storm’s coming. I ain’t having a lizard running around our cavern home while Bartok chases it about. I grit my teeth, reaching for the lizard again. Bartok growls.

“Let. It. Go,” I say. Bartok flicks his tail and does no such thing.

Beside me, Sheb wrings his hands like an anxious old woman. “He’s not going to release it, Annie,” he fusses. “He’ll eat it. Oh, I can’t watch!”

He smacks his hands over his eyes. I sigh.

“Sheb, I kinda need your help, here.”

Gently, I pull his hands down and look into those grey eyes. Eyes that have saved me from my own darkness enough times. We’re a team, Sheb and me. We’d both been through several hells before we even met, and then we went through more hells together. It’s been five years since I left my home world in an explosion of rage and violence, passing through a portal at the end of my dead Daddy’s garden. On the other side was Nowhere, a world between worlds. A place of bleeding mushrooms and thunderous birds and trees that eat you. Here, I found Sheb.

It’s weird to think how we were just kids when we met. I was seventeen, blood-soaked, lonely and furious. Sheb was a year older. Gangly and awkward, grubby as anything. You could barely see his pale skin beneath the grime, and his dark hair hung in tangles. But that was five years ago. He’s become a man, now. Still grubby. Not like there are many places to bathe in Nowhere. But when he smiles, his whole face lights up. His eyes sparkle. And, though he’s got monsters in his past, same as me, he can’t bear to see anything suffer.

Not like me. I’m more like my father than I care to think about, both inside and out. Scorch-black hair hanging in shoulder length curls around a face I know is always scowling. Skin that stays deathly white even after months in the sun. Eyes the color of ash that carry too many memories.

But when I see myself reflected in Sheb’s eyes, I know he sees me differently. I’m safe with him, safe in Nowhere. Away from people who could hurt me. Away from people I might hurt, if I’m not careful.

Sheb gulps and casts a nervous glance towards the lizard in Bartok’s beak.

“But it’s so small,” he protests. “What if I hurt it?”

I raise an eyebrow at him. “What you reckon’s gonna happen if you don’t get it outta his mouth?” I drawl.

Sheb opens his mouth, closes it again, and nods.

“Fair point.”

He reaches towards the thrashing lizard. Bartok’s eyes narrow. Sheb pulls his hands back, throwing them up in frustration.

“It’s no use!”

Holy Oak, give me strength! I close my eyes for a moment, feel a flare of that familiar anger in my core. Somewhere—I don’t know where—I feel an answering flare. A greedy thrill. It’s me, but not me. A pull from my center to something dark and dangerous, something lurking in the forest. Something just waiting for me to lose control.

Yes, Annie, it says. Anger. Rage. Destroy—

I cut it off, forcing myself to relax. I won’t give in. Won’t submit to the violent thing that feeds off it. Not now. Not ever. I resist the urge to suggest we just let Bartok eat the damn lizard. It’s natural for him to hunt small critters, ain’t it? But I know what Sheb’ll say. How Bartok gets fed enough at home. How he doesn’t need to hurt innocent creatures and oh! How Sheb can’t bear to watch the poor thing suffer. I ain’t having that argument again.

“Ok,” I say, calm as you like. “Here’s what we do. You hold Bartok. He trusts you best. Hold him nice and steady. Try covering his eyes. I’ll get the lizard.”

Sheb blinks, swallows, then nods. “Right,” he says. “Let’s try again.”

Bartok looks from Sheb to me and back again, eyes full of suspicion. He lets out a questioning hoot. Sheb, as always, tries appealing to his better nature.

“Come on, Bartok,” he says. “Let it go. You’ll hurt it.”

But, as I’ve long suspected, Bartok doesn’t have a better nature. He screeches and flares his wings, making a break for the canopy where we can’t reach him. He almost makes it, too, only I’m fast. I grab one of his rabbit feet as he flaps overhead. He shrieks, beak opening wide, and the lizard drops into my lap. I cover it with one hand and let go of Bartok’s leg.

He clicks his beak, yelling at the top of his lungs. He swoops at my head and I duck, huddling over the lizard. Bartok screams as he heads towards the nearest tree branch. He fluffs his fur and fixes me with those big, accusing eyes. I sigh. He’ll be in a sulk with me until the end of next week. By then, I’ll probably have wrestled at least six more lizards from his greedy beak.

I open my hands to look at the lizard I’ve just rescued. It’s sat perfectly still on my palm. Relieved, probably. Amazed it’s still alive. It flicks out a lurid, green tongue then fixes me with strange, orange eyes.

“You’re welcome,” I say.

The lizard streaks off into the leaf litter, disappearing before I can blink. I dust myself off, realizing I’ve got brown and grey feathers stuck in my hair. Sheb helps me untangle them.

“That was marvelous, Annie,” he says. I never did get why Sheb talks so posh. He escaped to Nowhere three years before I arrived and, even after all that time, and though he’s grubby as anything, he could pass for royalty with that accent. Weird.

I shrug. “It’s nothing,” I grumble. “Anyway, Bartok gets fed enough of our leftovers. He don’t need to eat lizards.”

Sheb pulls the last feather from my hair. “That’s what I mean,” he says, beaming. “You’re a natural at this.”

I raise an eyebrow. “At what?”

“Helping people.”

Oh, here we go. We’ve been having this argument for years and Sheb won’t let it go, not since the lightning-struck tree at the top of the bank turned out to be a portal into other worlds. Not since my mother—who I lost, then found—lost herself again by disappearing through the portal without saying goodbye. He forgets why we both ended up here, the terrible things we did to escape our pasts. He forgets that I brought something with me through the portal. A monster that fed off my rage, pulled at my hatred, and almost killed us both. But that’s ages ago now. That’s under control.

Sort of.

I roll my eyes and say nothing, hoping he’ll change the subject. He doesn’t.

“I heard more voices from the other side of the portal, this morning.”

“Hmm,” I grumble, glaring at him. Sheb is undeterred.

“Some of them sounded really frightened, Annie. Really desperate.”

“Good for them.” I brush the last feathers out of my hair. Sheb’s eyes soften.

“You don’t mean that,” he says. “We could help them, Annie. We could go through the portal and—”


I ain’t having this. Not again. We have this argument at least once a week and every time, it leaves me shaken and afraid. I don’t know what Sheb reckons we’ll be able to achieve out there, in the worlds beyond Nowhere. The real worlds, where the seasons don’t change in time to our emotions, where the mushrooms don’t weep when I do, when the trees don’t sparkle with laughter when I’m overwhelmed with joy. I’ve long reckoned Nowhere isn’t a complete world. It's an in-between place. A crossroads, where other worlds meet. And it’s the safest place for me and Sheb. Like we’d bring any good to the worlds beyond, anyway.

Like we—a pair of outcast murderers—could make any difference that anyone might like. So, I keep saying no. No, Sheb, we’re safer here. And other people are safer if we’re here, too.

But he keeps asking. It’s like the echo of human pain makes him hurt, too.

I clench my fists, so hard my nails bite into my palms.

I can’t leave Nowhere. Not when the memories of how I fought to get here still haunt me. Like Sheb, I come from a world beyond Nowhere, a world that would have killed me if I’d stayed. I still hear the townsfolk yelling for my blood. The mayor, half-delirious with drink, ordering them to kill me. I smell the burning as they set the house on fire. I see my father’s eyes bulging in their sockets, his blood vessels straining against his temples, the froth at his lips as he realized he was dying. And he looked at me and knew exactly who to blame.


I snap back to myself, realizing I’ve been muttering under my breath. Sweat prickles on my forehead. I fight to control my breathing. Pain sears across my back, along the mottled scar that stretches from one shoulder all the way down to the opposite hip. A scar I’ve had since I was a kid. Sheb touches my wrist.

“Tell me something you see,” he says gently. It’s a thing we have. A ritual.

I blink, look around. Look up. “Leaves,” I croak. My throat’s dry. “Red leaves on the trees.”

“Something you hear,” Sheb says.

“Water,” I say, calming. “The stream at the bottom of the bank …”

We go through things one by one. What I smell, what I feel. Gradually, the memories of that day fade, and I’m here again. Safe. Home.

Sheb stands and helps me to my feet. He watches me carefully.

“You ok?”

I wrench my hand free of his. I love Sheb dearly but he does ask some stupid questions sometimes. I am obviously not ok.

“’Course,” I growl. “But I know what you’re gonna ask and the answer is no.”

Sheb sighs. “Annie—”

I round on him. I can’t help it. “Back off!” I snarl. I bare my teeth like an animal. My anger flares and I feel the pulse of that dark power. That thing connected to it.

Sheb steps back, but his face remains impassive. Above us, Bartok yells a warning. There’s a flutter of feathers and he’s on Sheb’s shoulder, those tawny eyes fixed on me.

Immediately, the anger is gone and that deep, familiar guilt settles in me. This ain’t Sheb’s fault. He’s my friend. My family. It’s just he’s the only one here and when my anger takes hold like that, he gets the force of it.

“I’m sorry,” I mutter, glaring at my feet. “It’s just I can’t—”

“You can, Annie,” Sheb says gently. “You’re just scared—”

“’Course I’m scared!” I yell. Tears sting my eyes and I feel stupid. Childish. He’s supposed to get it. He’s meant to understand.

“We ain’t leaving Nowhere, Sheb,” I say. “It’s dangerous.”

Sheb reaches for me. “We’ll protect each other, Annie,” he says. “I’ll have your back and—”

I push him away. “I don’t mean it’s dangerous for us,” I say. “I mean for them. The things we’ve done, Sheb. You and me. We killed people. We’re murderers. What use are two murderers gonna be to anyone needing help?”

Sheb says nothing, but I see pain shining in his eyes. I hate that I’ve hurt him. I clamp my mouth shut and look away.

“We did what we had to, Annie,” Sheb says quietly.

I don’t reply. Not straight away. I can’t. The fury builds in me again. Not rage at Sheb, but at the universe. At what it dealt us. At how my Dad’s rage got beat into me. At how no-one ever helped until it was too late. At how I did what I had to and what I had to do was terrible. It ain’t fair. That darkness tugs at me again.

That’s it, Annie, it says. I feel it grinning. Feel it’s greed. In my mind comes the image of a little black snake, hiding in the grass. A green tongue flickers from its mouth. Vestigial wings—blood red—flex on its back. Scarlet lightning flashes in its eyes.

Let go, it says. Give in.

But I won’t.

“I’m gonna look for Wriggler,” I mutter. Sheb’s face falls.


“I need to find him,” I insist. “I can’t—I dunno what he’s up to. I’ll see you back at home.”

I march into the forest before Sheb can say another word. Bartok screeches after me but I don’t look back. My vision blurs and I wipe away angry tears. Feeling a coward. A fool.

The trees bend to me as I pass, snaking vines reach for my face. Years ago, I’d have slapped them away. Now, I know they’re not aggressive. They brush my cheeks, my shoulders, my hands. They’re reminding me I belong here. They’re wrong. Truth is, I don’t belong anywhere. Nowhere.

Overhead, there’s a buzz-and-rumble of strange thunder. The red-and-indigo sky thickens with poisonous green clouds. A storm’s coming, probably caused by my stupid outburst. Bizarre creatures skitter through the undergrowth, seeking shelter. Even the mushrooms—oozing viscous red fluid—shuffle tighter into the shadows.

It starts to rain. I wince as scarlet droplets sting my face. Sheb’ll be heading home. Back to the cave beneath the Soother Tree, where we spent five years building a life.

But I can’t go back yet. The anger pulls me. When I close my eyes, in the darkness behind my eyelids, I see a monstrous mouth open, spreading into a white-fanged smile.

Annie …

I thought I had it under control. But I don’t. If I go through the portal, Wriggler will come with me. And I know what that means. I know what he can become. What I can become.

And I don’t want to kill anyone else.

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Customer Reviews

Based on 12 reviews
Emma Young
A clever, carefully crafted adventure

I was initially introduced to the world of 'Nowhere' through Fearnley's prequel novella, 'The Doorway to Nowhere,’ and just loved the world building and sharp, keenly-observed characters, so it was a pleasure to return to 'Nowhere' in The Shadow and the Scream.

When a woman arrives through the portal tree, desperate for help, Annie and friends find themselves sucked into a dangerous fight on a world that isn’t their own. Along the way, Annie has to confront her rage and reconsider who she believes herself to be. A beautifully written, carefully crafted and immersive story. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Flight of the Bone Crow.

An enchanting adventure of battling demons

This was a stunning tale with lots of twists and turns, and the main characters are fun, lively, strong and stubborn. This was a wonderful paranormal/supernatural dark fantasy, with elements of mystery and romance. The story kept me hooked and the characters will make you feel anger, despair, empathy and love as well as much more throughout.
There's still so much to discover, secrets to be revealed, world's to see, and truths to be told (Sheb's backstory, Annie's mother...).
Looking forward to the characters next journey in 'flight of the bone crow', and seeing more of Wriggler, Annie, Sheb and their crew.

Louise Cook
Beautifully written, immersive and unputdownable

I was first introduced to Annie, Sheb and Bartok in Rebecca Fearnley's Doorway to Nowhere, a novella prequel to The Shadow and the Scream that I totally adored. So of course I snapped up The Shadow and the Scream when it arrived, looking forward to revisiting the world of Nowhere and see how the characters were getting on.

This is a brilliant standalone novel and the start of an exciting new series. It follows Annie, Sheb, Bartok and new character Wriggler as an unexpected visitor to Nowhere drags them out of that world and into a new one full of new challenges, as well as some grappling with older wounds.

Some of my highlights were the exploration of rage and control, Bartok, and Wriggler, and the romance subplot which is quite subtle, but something I'll definitely be rooting to see continue further in the series. The characters are well crafted, the world immersive and the pace doesn't let up.

Loved it.

Intriguing premise for a fantasy series

I was provided with an ARC for free by the author, however this review is my own opinion and not influenced by this.

The Shadow and Scream is the first novel in a series about Annie, a girl whose rage has manifested into another creature that has the tendency to take control of situations. The story is an intriguing premise exploring how our emotions can be all consuming and how trauma can create self protection mechanisms. Annie lives in Nowhere, a world in between portals to other worlds. This was a little confusing to begin with but it sets the scene for further books in the series. For me, it was a little slow to start but by the end, I enjoyed it.

Rachel W
An excellent start to what is sure to be an amazing series!

Thank you Rebecca Fearnley for an ARC copy of The Shadow and the Scream!

Rating 4.5/5

We meet our FMC, Annie, grappling with her overwhelming rage (and the monstrous creature that has attached to it) while taking refuge in Nowhere; a dangerous world a portal away from the cruel home she left behind 5 years prior. When a girl falls through the portal begging for help saving her friend, Annie and her best friend, Sheb, find themselves forced to leave their strange haven to take on an impossible task.

I'm obsessed! The world, the creatures, the mystery-literally perfect. I loved the deep dive into dealing with the aftermath of abuse and how rage can quite literally become a monster of its own, along with the guilt that comes with lashing out at those that care about you. I thought it was fun and unique that Annie and Sheb have noticeable accents in the narration and found it easy to relate to them and the sweet friendship they have. My only "issue" was the middle of the book dragged a bit, but it was also full of important world building information.

Overall an amazing beginning to a fantasy series. I will definitely continue on to see where the world takes Annie and her friends next!