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The Legend of Greyhallow



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About The Book

“[F]ans of The Lord of the Rings and portal fantasies will find much to enjoy” (Kirkus Reviews) in this fantastical middle grade adventure about two siblings who must close the door to a magical realm that inspired a popular movie franchise before their own world is conquered by emerging foes.

Twelve-year-old Ainsley Galloway and her ten-year-old brother, Tobin, have just moved to the small, picturesque mountain town of Lowry. The town is famously the setting for the blockbuster Legend of Greyhallow trilogy and there are traces of the films wherever they go. Ainsley’s parents even bought the film director’s former home, which they dream of turning into an inn that caters to fans eager to check out the local Greyhallow Movie Festival.

But when Ainsley and Tobin are fooling around in the attic of their new home, Ainsley unleashes something. Something she doesn’t quite understand. And suddenly, purple mist is flooding the town and she’s receiving cryptic messages from strangers in medieval garb. Oddest of all, the enigmatic director of the Greyhallow movies, who’s been missing for years, has a message for them.

Ainsley and Tobin have opened a passage between the very real magical world of the movies and their own. In a swirl of shifting loyalties, capricious creatures, and movie trivia, Ainsley and Tobin have to figure out what to do—and who to trust—in order to save them all.


The streets of downtown Lowry bustled with elves, sorcerers, and even a purple pony with strapped-on Pegasus wings. Ainsley breathed in the smell of hot sugar and corn dog batter. She’d heard about the Greyhallow Movie Festival all her life, and now she was finally here.

Ainsley zigzagged from booth to booth, taking everything in––life-size cutouts of The Legend of Greyhallow characters, glimmering swords, carnival games, and an assortment of fried food. Until she found out they were moving to Lowry, Ainsley had never seen the trilogy of movies––too much goblin violence, Mom had said. But at the start of the summer, her parents gave Ainsley and her younger brother, Tobin, the green light. As they’d streamed all ten hours, she envisioned herself as one of Greyhallow’s valiant heroes––charging into battle and slaying wicked monsters. When the final credits rolled, Ainsley decided she’d officially become the trilogy’s biggest fan.

She bounded toward a tent with miniature catapults, tiny pirate ships, and suits of armor. A slightly scrawny ten-year-old boy with wire-frame glasses and neatly combed hair hovered over a placard––Ainsley’s little brother would spend their entire first visit reading labels if she let him.

“Hurry, Tobin. There’s lots to see!”

Tobin scooted along after her. “Did you know the trebuchet was invented in France in the twelfth century? But the ones they used in the Greyhallow trilogy were different than the real ones because––”

“Check it out!” Ainsley pointed to a flaming stick flying over their heads.

A woman with bright orange hair and a wispy skirt caught the stick between her teeth, then gave a bow. Ainsley bounced on her toes, mentally adding “professional flame thrower” to her list of future career options.

Ainsley turned to Tobin. “What should we do first? Ride a Pegasus? Visit the mermaid pool? Watch a goblin jousting tournament?”

“What about the movie sets? I read there’s some interesting inventions in the gnome village.”

Ainsley glanced toward the gnome cottages. Beyond that was Shadowmire, the fortress of Greyhallow’s evil sorcerer, Lord Mourdro. Smoke twisted around its sharp spires, and stone gargoyles perched along its soaring ledges. She’d race toward the fortress right now if the line to get into the sets didn’t weave halfway around town square.

“Let’s not spend our very first visit stuck in line. How about a little ax-throwing instead?” Ainsley wriggled her brows at a nearby booth.

“Sounds painful.”

“We won’t throw them at each other, just the targets. Plus, there are prizes.”

Tobin frowned. “I’m not good at throwing stuff.”

“That’s not true. You just don’t like doing it,” Ainsley said, remembering their neighborhood baseball games back home. Tobin was a great pitcher when Ainsley could get his nose out of a book.

A bald man, painted a swarthy shade of green and wearing large rubbery ogre ears, waved them closer. He wore a thin white tank top stretched tight over an ample belly. In one hand, he held out a shiny booklet. “Hit three targets in a row and you’ll win a whole summer’s worth of fun.”

The booklet was thick with festival coupons. Over five hundred dollars’ worth, according to the large golden letters on the front cover. It would be the perfect way to kick off their life in a new town.

“What do you say, lass?” the ogre asked in an exaggerated Irish accent that Ainsley guessed was part of his act.

The game was ten dollars, but she only had five. She turned toward Tobin, both hands pressed together. “I can win. I know I can.”

Tobin straightened his glasses. “Dad says most carnival games are rigged. Besides, it’ll waste all our funnel cake money.”

“We won’t need the money once we win the coupons. Let’s just do it!”

“That’s your answer for everything,” Tobin said.

Ainsley grunted. Her dad had said more than once that she rushed into things. But that really wasn’t fair. It was only that everybody else moved so slow.

“The festival runs all summer long. Think of all the tasty morsels you could feast upon.” The ogre grinned, showing large, square teeth tinged with yellow.

“See, Tobin. This ogre’s a good guy.” As Greyhallow’s newest and most passionate admirer, scoring that coupon booklet was surely Ainsley’s destiny.

“How many funnel cake coupons are in there?” Tobin asked.

The man handed Ainsley the booklet.

She flipped it open and counted. “Eight.”

Her brother licked his lips, and she knew he could practically taste the sweet powdered-sugar goodness. With a slight frown, Tobin handed her the money. “Don’t miss.”

“I won’t.” Ainsley slapped their money on the counter. “I’ll take the ax with the star on the handle, please.”

“Excellent choice,” the ogre replied.

The ax was cool and surprisingly light. She swung; it soared through the air, hitting the target with a satisfying smack. Ainsley pumped her fist. “Yes!”

“I knew you had the look of a winner,” the ogre crooned.

Ainsley threw the ax toward the second target. It hit the mark like a dream. She imagined strolling through downtown Lowry, handing out freebies to tourists and making friends with everyone she met. She’d be the Robin Hood of corn dogs and funnel cakes.

“Just one last target to go,” the ogre said.

Even Tobin was smiling now.

The ogre grabbed a spiky silver star from the display rack.

“I thought I was going to throw the ax again,” Ainsley said.

“Not for the final challenge. You’ve got to use a new weapon. It says so right there in the rules.” The ogre pointed to a stained piece of paper taped to the counter. The type was tiny and went all the way to the bottom of the page.

It was too late to give up now. Ainsley pinched the star with her thumb and forefinger, then spun it toward the target. It whirled forward and hit the bull’s-eye, but instead of lodging into the center, it slipped down, then clacked to the dirt.

“Ah, sorry, lass. You just missed it.” The ogre grinned contentedly.

“But it hit the target,” Ainsley argued.

The man pointed to the tattered rules again. “It has to stay there for a full ten seconds. But you could always pay for another shot.”

Tobin’s shoulders slumped. “Can’t. We’re out of money.”

“Guess you’d better run along, then.” The ogre waved at a group of teenagers behind them. “Throw the ax! Win a prize!”

Ainsley kicked a clod of dirt, then yelped when her toe hit a buried rock.

Silently, Tobin stalked back into the crowd.

“Wait for me!” Ainsley jogged after Tobin, catching up to him in front of a booth jam-packed with little glass jars of colored sand, glittering rocks, and bundles of dried herbs.

Tobin adjusted his glasses. “I told you the games were rigged, but you wouldn’t listen. You always do whatever you want.”

“That’s not true.” Ainsley’s cheeks felt hot. It was the same sort of thing her best friend, Charlotte, had said just before they moved. “I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”

“Be careful what you vow. Oaths shouldn’t be taken lightly.” An old woman with stringy gray hair and a tattered black cloak emerged from a curtain of gray-blue scarves.

Ainsley jumped, then laughed. “I didn’t see you there. Great costume!”

“Only those who search will truly see.”

“Uh-huh, totally.” Ainsley’s eyes darted away from the old woman’s probing glare. She reminded Ainsley of a mix of a storybook witch and her old school bus driver who was always testy even when they were all on their best behavior.

“I’ve not seen you at my booth before. What’s your business? Are you passersby or townsfolk?” As she spoke, a fuzzy black spider dashed across the counter. Ainsley waited for the old woman to swat it away. Instead, she stretched out her hand and let it crawl along her billowy sleeve.

Tobin shot Ainsley a look of horror and hissed, “We should go.”

The woman was creepy but intriguing, like a Halloween fun house decked out with cobwebs and plastic bats. “We’re new in town. I’m Ainsley, and this is my brother, Tobin. We just moved into Ripley’s old place.”

“Then it has come to pass at last.” The scarves caught the wind and whipped around the woman.

Ainsley shuddered in spite of herself.

“I’ve long wondered when someone would move into that old ruin.”

“It’s really not that bad,” Ainsley said, feeling defensive on behalf of her new home. “My parents say some fresh paint and a deep clean will do it wonders. They’re going to turn the house into a movie-themed inn. They grew up in Lowry and always wanted to come back.”

“In that case, I have something for you.” She turned around and plunged her hands into a large wooden chest behind her.

Tobin elbowed Ainsley in the ribs. “You’re not supposed to tell strangers where you live.”

Ainsley shrugged. “She asked.”

The woman tossed a clay pot, wicker baskets, and scraggly feathers onto the ground.

“Did you know Director Ripley back when he used to live here?” Ainsley asked.

“I know him,” she muttered, and pitched a jar of shiny scales and a black velvet satchel over her shoulder.

Ainsley exchanged a look with Tobin. Ambrose Ripley had disappeared twenty years earlier, and his house had sat empty while bankers and lawyers tried to figure out what to do with it. Finally, when it was clear he wasn’t coming back, they’d put the run-down mansion up for sale.

“A little something to welcome you to your new home.” The old woman handed Ainsley a small wooden box. Carved into the top was an archer firing an arrow at a fleeing gargoyle.

“Oh, cool!” Ainsley loved gifts, especially unexpected ones.

The box was heavy for being so small. She tried to open it, but after several attempts, she couldn’t find a lid or a drawer or anything to pull on. “Is this some kind of puzzle?”

“You strike me as the sort of girl who can figure that out on your own.”

Ainsley flipped the box over again and shook it lightly. It gave a curious rattle. A strange box from an even stranger woman. This was more exciting than a bunch of coupons from an ogre. “Thank you!”

“Decide later if you wish to thank me.” The woman sniffed, then disappeared behind her curtain of scarves.

About The Author

Photograph by Bryan Cole

Summer Rachel Short lives in north Texas with her husband, three kids, and their Maine Coon cat, Emme. She’s the author of the Maggie and Nate Mystery series and The Legend of Greyhallow. Before spinning tales about mutant mushrooms, she worked as a science reporter for her university’s newspaper, where she wrote on topics including nanotech tweezers, poultry farm pollution, and the nighttime habits of spiders and snakes. Summer can often be found exploring new places with her family and dreaming up ideas for her next book. Learn more at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (July 18, 2023)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781665918879
  • Grades: 5 and up
  • Ages: 10 - 99
  • Fountas & Pinnell™ X These books have been officially leveled by using the F&P Text Level Gradient™ Leveling System

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Raves and Reviews

"An action-filled tale brimming with real-world and fantastical tensions...[t]his fun read artfully combines our reality with Greyhallow’s, allowing readers to explore Ainsley’s realistic relationship struggles with Charlotte, her best friend back home, and cheer her on as she spars with gargoyles and other magical creatures. Watching the siblings gain confidence as they solve puzzles both real and cinematic is satisfying, and fans of The Lord of the Rings and portal fantasies will find much to enjoy...[a] delightful, engaging otherworldly adventure sure to charm."

Kirkus Reviews

"In this exuberant adventure, Short (Attack of the Killer Komodos) blends ordinary interpersonal issues between Ainsley and her best friend Charlotte with classic portal fantasy tropes and properties to flesh out a wish-fulfilling jaunt couched in the theme of a metafictional desire to visit a beloved fandom’s world."

– Publishers Weekly

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