Shadow in the Dark

The Harwood Mysteries: Book 1

4  Reviews
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ISBN: 978-0-8294-4810-8

An attack by bandits in the middle of the night leaves a young boy with no memory of who he is or where he is from. Nursed back to health by the devoted monks in a Benedictine abbey, he takes the name Alexander, or Xan for short. Aided by the kindly Brother Andrew, Xan commits himself to finding out who he really is.

Does he have a family? Are they still alive? And who—or what—is the shadowy figure creeping around the abbey in the dead of night?

Embark on an adventure while reading Shadow in the Dark as young Alexander tries to recover his memory and, with his new friends, uncover the mystery of the shadowy figure in the dark.

Reading Level: U

Visit the Harwood Mysteries website for free curriculum companions.


“An engaging medieval adventure with appeal that transcends its denominational press.” (School Library Journal, June 2020)

“You’ll rarely hear me say that a book would make a terrific movie, but I’d say that about Shadow in the Dark…Tweens and teens who enjoy a medieval setting, plenty of action, and a good scare won’t be able to put this book down.” (Catholic Mom, July 2020)

Author Bio

Antony Barone Kolenc

Antony Barone Kolenc retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps after 21 years of military service. He is a law professor who teaches courses on constitutional and military law and has been published in numerous journals and magazines, and he speaks at legal, writing, and home education events.

2021 Independent Publisher Book Awards, Bronze, Religious Fiction

2021 Association of Catholic Publishers Excellence in Publishing Awards, Third Place, Children’s Books: Young Readers

2021 Catholic Media Association Book Awards, Third Place, Catholic Novels – Escapism

2021 International Book Awards, Finalist, Fiction: Young Adult

2021 International Book Awards, Winner, Fiction: Religious

2021 Illumination Book Awards, Gold Medal: Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction2020 Moonbeam

Children's Book Awards, Gold: YA Fiction - Horror/Mystery/Suspense

Ratings & Reviews

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06/04/2020 1:09 pm

Medieval English Adventure and Mystery for Younger Readers

by Will

I got to read this one early and wow is it fun! There is high adventure, mystery and suspense. It's an old fashioned story, told with a modern flourish. There are memorable characters, atmospheric scenes, and crackling dialogue. This is middle reader literature with a strong moral compass. It's book one of a trilogy and I can't wait for the adventure to continue.

08/04/2020 5:37 pm

A Clever Mystery!

by Carolyn A

Shadow in the Dark is a clever historical novel for tweens and teens. Xan turns up at a medieval monastery, unable to remember anything about himself. With the help of the monks and Lucy, who resides in the neighboring convent, he must navigate the resident bully, discover what's become of his family and whether that mysterious dark shadow roaming the abbey grounds is a wandering monk or something more sinister. The mystery aspect is well done and will keep readers flipping pages. The setting is well-suited to the story, immersing kids in medieval European life. I look forward to reading more books in the series and sharing them with my kids!

09/15/2020 1:09 pm

Medieval adventure with rich historical detail

by Susie P.

Written for teens and preteens, this exciting mystery set in Medieval England is a perfect supplement for any history course, or simply to read for fun. It has wonderful historical detail and just enough suspense and spookiness to keep you reading deep into the night, but without being too scary for sensitive readers. The main character, Xan, while always remaining relatable, is a wonderful example of bravery and compassion for Catholic boys. The book starts tragically, with him losing both his home and memory at the hands of evil bandits. At first I wondered if it would be a cliched plot, as many stories I've read have a similar initial set-up. But such was not the case. The author did an admirable job of keeping the plot fresh and unpredictable. Lucy, the heroine, is likewise a well-crafted character and one that girls will love. The twists and turns of the plot genuinely surprised me and kept me flipping the pages to find out how everything would turn out.

04/07/2022 1:35 pm

Great Book!

by Matt

Amazing Book! Really enjoyed reading it.
If you like medieval themed books you will like this book.