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A story of courage, survival, and taking charge of one's destiny

Inspired by true events, The Shadow Girl tells the story of an unnamed narrator who escapes the dangerous imploding world of her parents and wider family in order to survive.

The narrator never embraces the life of a street kid. She dreams of becoming a doctor, volunteering for Medecins Sans Frontieres and inventing a vaccine for the eye-eating African worm. She is driven to survive the streets and her gun-toting Uncle Creepo, and to make something of herself. And to do that she needs an education. A loner and voracious reader, she tricks her way into a tough, western suburbs school and later into a high school in the ivy belt where the girls wear pink dresses and want for nothing.

She is befriended by a street girl called Cinderella after she is threatened by some thugs on the train. Although Cinderella saves The Shadow Girl's life, she is unable to return the favour as Cinderella struggles with her own demons which involve sexual and drug abuse as she tries to escape the memories that put her on the streets.

Using a mixture of genres from literary thriller to comedy and incorporating aspects of post-modernism (with the author and protagonist meeting daily to discuss the story), John Larkin has pared back the humour in order to deliver his best and most important novel to date - and one with an intriguing twist.

The Shadow Girl is a tale that is sure to leave the reader breathless as the final confrontation with her uncle comes to its inevitable conclusion.


Tragic, comic and epic, The Shadow Girl is as devastating as it is inspiring.

Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief

The Shadow Girl is a white-knuckled thriller with a sassy main character and a terrifying villain, all bundled in with laugh-out-loud moments and savage examinations of what people believe.

James Roy, author of Hunting Elephants, Town and Anonymity Jones

A compelling tale of lost innocence, truth, lies and survival. John Larkin has created an unforgettable character who will take your breath away.

Jacqueline Harvey, author of the Alice-Miranda series

This is a brave story with dark subject matter but Larkin manages to keep the enthralling plot moving with honest writing and by providing hope as the girl struggles not only to survive but to make something of her against-the-odds existence.

Fiona Purden, Courier Mail

Winner, Prize for Writing for Young Adults

Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2012

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    October 3, 2011

    Woolshed Press

    416 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    September 28, 2011

    Random House Australia

    416 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by John Larkin

The Pause
Ghost Byte
Spaghetti Legs


Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One
365 Days of Wonder
The Getaway: Diary of a Wimpy Kid (BK12)
Love, Simon
Alice-Miranda At School 1
Undercover Princess
Midnight Jewel
Thirteen Reasons Why
George's Marvellous Medicine
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: A Play
Ghost Boy
Pippa's Island 3: Kira Dreaming
The Truth and Lies of Ella Black
Library Of Souls
Friday Barnes 6: Danger Ahead
A Semi-definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Ranger's Apprentice 4: Oakleaf Bearers