The Ransom of Dond by Siobhan Dowd

The Ransom of Dond

Written by Siobhan Dowd
Illustrated by Pam Smy

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November 2013 Mega Book of the Month Suffused with all that is best in story-telling traditions, this poignant story with a pleasing twist in its telling is perfectly and briefly told by the late, award-winning Siobhan Dowd and perfectly complemented with illustrations by Pam Smy. To bring good luck and prosperity to the community, the thirteenth child born to any woman will be sacrificed to the Dond at the age of thirteen. As the younger of a pair of twins Darra has always known her fate. But as the day draws closer Darra uncovers a truth that will change her destiny forever. ~ Julia Eccleshare

A Piece of Passion from Pam Smy, Illustrator of the Ransom of Dond When I left the offices of David Fickling Books in April of 2011 clutching the typescript of The Ransom of Dond I had no idea of the delight the tale was going to give me. I had read and loved Siobhan Dowd's previous, powerful novels, but still I hadn't quite expected the sensation I would have on first reading it of being swept into a new landscape and straight into the heart of Darra, the main character. On those pages was a story that combined fear, hope, love and loss with the timeless magic of folktales. It was a story unlike any other I had read and I knew I had been given a very special text indeed. This feeling of excitement stayed with me as I worked on the illustrations for the book. I have tried to recreate in the illustrations that initial feeling of being carried along into another land and another time, and I hope that new readers of The Ransom of Dond feel this too.

A Piece of Passion from David Fickling, Publisher, David Fickling Books I asked the literary editor of a national newspaper a while back whether long or short books were more likely to get a review. He said, to my evident surprise, that, other things being equal, a short book would get the nod. I had thought he’d say it was nothing to do with the length, it was the content that counted. Instead here he was coming back with ‘Never mind the quality feel the width!’ And he continued with a slam for a winner, ‘nobody has any time nowadays.’ It will take you but a blissful half an hour to read through The Ransom of Dond, but then something miraculous will happen. You will be given a gift. You will want this old seeming story to be longer. The words of Siobhan Dowd will dazzle like clear water in sunlight. You will linger and stop dead, gazing at the astonishing illustrations of Pam Smy. See how Pam effortlessly establishes herself as one of the leading illustrators of the UK , of the world. That moment of recognition is happening now, here, before your very eyes.

But her pictures and Siobhan’s words are of then, in a place beyond. You will be transported. Back across the centuries. To a thirteen year old girl, a curse, and a dark god. And your gift? Time.


The Ransom of Dond by Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd gave us four extraordinary novels before she died in 2007. This is her last story, a final gift to those who know and love her work, and a glittering invitation to those who have yet to discover it. Siobhan draws us irresistibly into Darra's tiny emerald island world, lashed by white-tipped waves, at the mercy of the dark god, Dond. Only the truth and a mother's kiss can set them free.

This is a tale to be treasured, a haunting tale of love and fate and truth. Pam Smy's beautiful two-colour drawings announce her as a leading children's illustrator and the astonishing blend of words and pictures takes us all into that timeless world of story. The Ransom of Dond comes to us like a gift from the past.


Praise for Siobhan Dowd....

A Swift Pure Cry
‘A beautifully written, lyrical story’ - Tony Bradman, PEN

‘Heaves with memories of another lifetime, like a family album’ - Irish Independent

‘A fine and memorable achievement’ - Independent

The London Eye Mystery

‘Compulsive reading’ - Independent

‘A novel that works on every level, not least as a thoroughly gripping detective story’ - Sunday Telegraph

‘Packed with humour, insight and suspense . . . a first-rate read’ - Young Post

Bog Child
‘The work of an outstanding writer’ - The Sunday Times

‘Dowd’s lightness of touch allows humour and poignancy to shine through’ - Daily Telegraph

‘Her sentences sing, each note resonates with an urgent humanity’ - Meg Rosoff, Guardian

Solace of the Road
‘Unexpectedly life affirming, wise and mature’ - The Times

‘A finely constructed novel, beautifully written by a master storyteller’ - Inis

‘A born writer’ - Independent

About the Author

Siobhan Dowd

'The protagonists in my stories aren’t human rights heroes in the conventional sense. They are ordinary people living in England and Ireland who find extraordinary ways to overcome the difficulties in their lives and for me that’s the essence of any good story: it’s where the ordinary meets the extraordinary.' – Siobhan Dowd

'In 2007 Siobhan Dowd was voted one of the twenty-five British writers for the future (only three were children’s writers). Everybody should read her.' –David Fickling, the author's publisher

Siobhan Dowd was born in London to Irish parents. She spent much of her youth visiting the family cottage in Aglish, County Waterford, and later the family home in Wicklow Town and went on to study Classics at Oxford.

A Swift Pure Cry, Siobhan's first novel, was published by David Fickling Books, in March 2006. In May 2007 it won many children’s book awards including the prestigious Brandford Boase Award. Her second novel, The London Eye Mystery, was published by David Fickling Books on 7 June 2007. Two further novels were published posthumously in 2008 and 2009, Bog Child, appeared in February 2008, and her fourth novel, Solace of the Road, in February 2009. The former won the prestigious Carnegie Medal.

Tragically, Siobhan died at the age of 47, in August 2007; she had been receiving treatment for advanced breast cancer for three years. Her memory lives on in The Siobhan Dowd Trust, set up to help disadvantaged children in the UK and Ireland discover and experience the joy of reading. Although she was ill, Siobhan personally and energetically supervised its foundation; it was one of the very last things on her mind and clearly, for her, the most pressing cause in our society today.

Siobhan was a writing phenomenon: discovering that she was fatally ill, she put pen to paper and produced four of the most remarkable novels for children you could wish for. Her loss to the world of children’s writing is a tragedy. But it is utterly characteristic that Siobhan should, at the end, put her mind unerringly to the most deserving group of all: the young reader. Siobhan realized that our literary culture - critics, bookshops, agents, publishing, libraries, schools - depends ultimately on the reader. And, of readers, the young reader is the most vulnerable. And amongst young readers, the disadvantaged young reader is the most deprived of all. Siobhan, at the last, and with all her usual clarity, decided to help them. And you can help them too.

The aims of the Trust are simple and direct:

To take stories to our children without stories.

The Siobhan Dowd Trust Books
A Swift Pure Cry
The London Eye Mystery
Bog Child
Solace of the Road

The Trustees

Please log on to for more details about the Trust, about how to donate and about how to apply for support.

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Book Info


112 pages


Siobhan Dowd
More books by Siobhan Dowd

Author's Website



David Fickling Books an imprint of Random House Children's Publishers UK

Publication date

7th November 2013




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