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3.78  ·  Rating details ·  757 ratings  ·  165 reviews
Acclaimed author Priya Sharma transports readers back in time with Ormeshadow, a coming-of-age story as dark and rich as good soil.

Burning with resentment and intrigue, this fantastical family drama invites readers to dig up the secrets of the Belman family, and wonder whether myths and legends are real enough to answer for a history of sin.

Uprooted from Bath by his father
Paperback, 176 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Tordotcom
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  757 ratings  ·  165 reviews

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Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it

This book is for people who liked Wuthering Heights--who love books about horrible people brooding on moors and everything being awful. But in a beautiful way. I love dark and achy, but bleak isn't my thing, and Ormeshadow has bleak down to an art.

The prose is absolutely gorgeous, graceful and flowing from one chapter--vignette?--to the next with a lyrical darkness I've rarely experienced outside of b
Update 13 July 2020: Best Novella, Shirley Jackson Awards (2019)

This is another one of those incredible Tor Publishing novellas that not only introduced me to a wonderful writer, but which also took me completely by surprise. I went into this cold, and had no idea even that it was a version of high fantasy.

Publishers Weekly comments that it “reads like an old-fashioned idyll of rural life in Georgian England.” With so much contemporary fantasy, and SF as w
The Artisan Geek

You knew and you still left me with them.

I just finished reading Ormeshadow what a splendid, magical and heartbreaking tale. Set in a sea-side town, this coming-of-age story centres around Gideon Belman. As a young child and the son of a secretary his life in Bath gets uprooted by his father's failures. He and his parents eventually find themselves on Ormesleep Farm, where the land crests the Orme, an ancient dragon vast asleep, waiting to rise again. You as the reader get to read bet
K.J. Charles
Feb 21, 2020 added it
Shelves: novella
A very bleak Victorianish story in the style of Thomas Hardy at his most depressing. 1800s. Man returns to his family farm with his wife and son to live with his brother, wife and kids. Tragedy, cruelty, adultery, misery, and abuse follow, along with a story of the dragon that lives under the land.

It's a compelling read, but not an enjoyable one unless you like Hardy and Bronte gothic, in which case you will have a marvellous time. There's some fairly grim attitudes to women on display which ar
Edward Lorn
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If you never take another recommendation from me, let it be this one. An absolutely perfect experience.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not using Goodreads to the extent I once was but wanted to pop over and leave a review and rating for this fabulously bleak little Gothic novella.

I'm a bit biased at this point, as Sharma is one of my favorite active writers, but this flipped all my usual switches. If you're looking for something short and not-sweet, simmering with emotion and jealousy and atmospherically dismal moors, here's your thing!
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this review and hundreds more at

Priya Sharma’s Ormeshadow overflows with dark family secrets, generations of lore, and tragedy. Sharma has a knack for pitting characters against one another with beautifully selected words. Ormeshadow reads like a wood-carving: Sharma removes all the excess material and presents a pristine, sharp product that feels at once succinct and sprawling.

Gideon Belman’s life completely changes when his father, John, ushers the family to Ormeshadow
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read my fall 2019 interview with the author @, On her Fabulous Beasts, Ormeshadow, and writing.

With mention of gallows and dragons you feel the age in this tale, with the transportation to a village in ormeshadow England, Ormesleep farm, from townhouses of Bath,
in days of old, a family of three, with a young boy with aspirations, wonderment, enchantment and mystery, the searchings in a place where peace and solace may or may not be found.

Complexities of new terrain with new behavi
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A historical farming family drama with background notes of constructed mythology. A coming of age story in which a young man realises his family are shits and that he really is as naive as his horrible uncle says he is.

This is one of those reads it's hard for me to rate. I didn't enjoy it at all, but there's nothing wrong with it per se - it's just not quite what I expected, and not my cup of tea. It is a cup of tea, though, and some of you may enjoy drinking it.

That said, I specifically didn'
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
I'm so happy I took a chance on this novella. After seeing Tammy's praise for it and finding out it was a coming of age story with dragons, I had to have it.

The dragon elements are light in Ormeshadow, but they are so beautifully done. Ormeshadow is a dark, folklore kind of fantasy story, but also beautiful and heartbreaking. There was the perfect amount of darkness balanced by the perfect amount of imagination.

Priya Sharma is now an autobuy author for me. I must have more of her stories.
Ash | Wild Heart Reads
Ormeshadow is an atmospheric treat that you can devour in a single sitting. A story of dragons, legends & the shadows in families. This has whispers of fantasy but is grounded in the bleak Victorian England countryside. Gideon's tale isn't necessarily a happy one but Sharma weaves an engrossing tale that's hard to pull yourself away from. 

"The Orme slept for hundreds of years. Grass grew along her back. Most people forgot her. A village sprung up in her shadow and still she sleeps on."
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: A short but powerful tale of the dark emotional lives of a family, Ormeshadow is an exceptional novella with the promise of magic just around the corner.

I had no idea what to expect when I started Ormeshadow , but I have to say this was a surprise of the best kind. Priya Sharma has written a dark and dangerous family drama
Dark and atmospheric, Ormeshadow is an gothic family drama simmering with emotions.

Set in the early 1800s, the story revolves around Gideon Belman as he moves with his parents to live in his uncle's house in Ormeshadow, a village named after a sleeping dragon.

Priya Sharma's writing is beautiful, and excels at creating the bleak atmosphere that permeates this novella. The chapters are titled rather than numbered, and each functions almost as a short story; impactful and seemingly unimportant mome
Oct 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, 2019-read
Oh nooo.

I thought we were past this, as a literary nation. I thought that we had (mostly) put the old sexist tropes to bed and moved on to better things. Apparently not.

Ormeshadow is about a nice and long-suffering boy who must put up with his mother, who is a slut who enjoys sex and wears pretty dresses even though she knows it attracts the attention of other men.

Yes, really. That’s the plot of this garbage book.

I read a lot of books. Some are good, some are bad. I’m not usually offended by the
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely, sad, wonderful book.
The writing is lovely but it was too sad and depressing for me I guess :(
Mandy Dimins
May 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Overall, probably a 3.5/5 for me. The writing was beautiful, and it's the sort of book that would probably stick around in your mind for a long time. Recommended for fans of gothic bleakness a la Bronte sisters, where everything is horrible but in a weirdly lyrical and beautiful way.

Ten-year-old Gideon Belman is uprooted from Bath by his parents to live with his uncle and family in their hometown of Ormeshadow. His father, John Belman, tries to make the transition easier for him by telling him t
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Uprooted from Bath by his father's failures, Gideon Belman finds himself stranded on Ormeshadow farm, an ancient place of chalk and ash and shadow. The land crests the Orme, a buried, sleeping dragon that dreams resentment, jealousy, estrangement, death. Or so the folklore says (Orme is the Old English for worm or dragon). Growing up in a house that hates him, Gideon finds his only comforts in the land, where he will live or die in the shadow of the Orme, as all his family has.
This is a beautifu
Ross Jeffery
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well, here at STORGY we’ve been following the career of Priya Sharma with great attention and her collection All The Fabulous Beasts was a highlight of our recent reading – which let us just add went on to win the Shirley Jackson Award for singled-authored collection in 2018. So, when we heard that she’d upped the ante and gone and written a novella, we had to get ourselves a copy to review for you fine folks here.

Ormeshadow is quite different from All The Fabulous Beasts, and I mention this bec
Jul 03, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: novellas
I don't feel good about giving one-star reviews, but man, did this book make me mad. Like, physically angry. I want to stress that the prose is good. I had no problem with the writing. But the story itself? It's hard to express, without spoiling everything, how much I hated it, because I really didn't start to hate it until maybe halfway. It started out as a three star read, steadily dropped to a two, and then the 'climax' happened, at which point I figuratively threw up in my mouth a little bit ...more
LAPL Reads
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is often stated that “The meek will inherit the earth.” While that is a nice sentiment, it is not affirmed by history. More often than not, those who hold their tongues and think before speaking, as well as those who avoid confrontation and violence to resolve conflict are the ones overrun by their more vocal, physical, and aggressive counterparts. However, every now and again a story is told about someone who, while meek, succeeds against those who would threaten them. That is the person who ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: age-adult, fantasy, 2019
Gideon and his parents are returning to his father's hometown of Ormeshadow to live with his uncle's family. Gideon's father, a scholar, doesn't seem to fit in at Ormeshadow anymore, but he tells Gideon tales of the Orme (an ancient dragon) which fell asleep and how the hills grew over where the dragon lies. When Gideon's father dies suddenly, Gideon begins to wonder if the tales of the Orme are just tales or if they might be real.

I first heard of this book on a Book Riot booklist, but I had alr
Cate Gardner
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Any book by Priya Sharma is going to be a great book. And, I'm not saying that because she's my best-bestest-best friend (although she is). I'm not saying that because her alter-ego is Priya Poppins even though it is, or because she has a new nickname, one not as kind, Cruella.

This is a gentle (and yet brutal) journey from the richness of Bath to relative poverty in the shadow of the Great Orme, the hill above the welsh town of Llandudno. It is a story of grief, or hardship, of a brutal man and
Abi Walton
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novella so much and devoured it in one sitting. Ormeshadow is a fragile beautiful novel about magic and loss.
I went into Ormeshadow with no idea what this novel was about I hadn't even read the blurb I just loved the front cover. And I loved it!
Although this novel is classed as fantasy it is set in a bleak Victorian England, where life was turmoil and claustrophobic, where magic struggled to survive. The fantasy element of this novella are subtle and weaved into the tale bringing
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This novella was beautifully written and lyrical. For such a short piece the world it built was rich, morose, and complicated. The reason I'm not giving it more stars is because, for a piece that focused so much on feelings and the emotional fallout of things, the end left me a bit wanting. In fact, though the vast majority of the book relied on a single POV narrator (that of the protagonist), after the climax we never went back into his head, and had a series of scenes seen from multiple tertia ...more
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
A grim gothic novella that didn't quite work for me. There's far too much boring toxic masculinity and insecure pissing contests and staking their claim over their women, and not enough dragons. I have very little patience for bitter cruel english men in the 1800s straight from Wuthering Heights. The writing is sparse, maybe if it was a full length book I'd care more for the characters, but as it is they're all pretty unlikable, even Gideon the poor sad Oliver Twist-esque underdog. Thomas and Cl ...more
Sep 30, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novella, fantasy
“You must be sad to be here alone.” Gideon was about to say, But I’m not alone, but then he understood.

A headland jutting out into the Irish Sea. A tramway for tourists leading up and back down to Llandudno. Kashmiri goats roaming the headland and invading the town. Bronze Age copper mines worked for nigh on four millennia.

This is the Great Orme, named by the Vikings for the worm or sea serpent they imagined the promontory resembling. For the visitor a place of natural beauty, its breath th
I wasn't sure what to expect from this novella, since Goodreads has it tagged anywhere from straight Fantasy to Historical Fiction. What I ended up getting was delightfully unexpected -- my favorite kind of book.

To manage expectations early, this is not a straight Fantasy book. Set in probably 1800s pastoral England (I'm terribly bad with actual era names), I would call this maybe Historical Fantasy. There is a dragon mentioned, but only in the context of a family legend, and no actual serpentin
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Happy book birthday to this lovely little dark novella!

I had to do a little digging around for clarification about whether this was or was not a debut, and long and the short of it is, this is Priya Sharma's debut standalone novella, although it's certainly not her first book (her collection of short stories, All the Fabulous Beasts has received wide acclaim, as well as individual short pieces collected here and there by Ellen Datlow and others). To put it simply, Sharma's is a name you migh
Hmm. This book, as others have mentioned, is bleak. What I wasn't expecting was the scope of its bleakness - unrelenting, swamp-like. The writing itself is quality (apart from a few flubs that the editing should have caught) and the author is great at establishing mood and generating a cast who burst at the seams with resentment and unhappy life choices. But overall it left me wanting more. I find it interesting that other people compare this to Thomas Hardy or the Brontës, but while this book d ...more
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Priya Sharma’s fiction has appeared venues such as Interzone, Black Static, Nightmare, The Dark and Tor. “Fabulous Beasts” was a Shirley Jackson Award finalist and won a British Fantasy Award for Short Fiction. Priya is a Shirley Jackson Award and British Fantasy Award winner, and Locus Award finalist, for “All the Fabulous Beasts”, a collection of her some of her work, available from Undertow Pub ...more

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