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Fiction Literary

On the Shores of Darkness, There Is Light

A Novel

by (author) Cordelia Strube

ECW Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2016
Literary, Coming of Age
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2016
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Dec 2016
    List Price

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From the acclaimed author of Lemon comes a clever and heartbreaking new novel of love and revelation

Harriet is 11 going on 30. Her mixed-media art is a source of wonder to her younger brother, Irwin, but an unmitigated horror to the panoply of insufficiently grown-up grown-ups who surround her. She plans to run away to Algonquin Park, hole up in a cabin like Tom Thomson and paint trees; and so, to fund her escape, she runs errands for the seniors who inhabit the Shangrila, the decrepit apartment building that houses her fractured family.

Determined, resourceful, and a little reckless, Harriet tries to navigate the clueless adults around her, dumpster dives for the flotsam and jetsam that fuels her art, and attempts to fathom her complicated feelings for Irwin, who suffers from hydrocephalus. On the other hand, Irwin’s love for Harriet is not conflicted at all. She’s his compass. But Irwin himself must untangle the web of the human heart.

Masterful and piercingly funny, Strube is at the top of her considerable form in this deliciously subversive story of love and revelation.


About the author

Born and raised in Montreal, Cordelia Strube trained as an actress, moving to Toronto in the ’80s. She turned to writing plays for radio and in 1987 won the CBC Literary Competition for her play Mortal. She has also won the Toronto Arts Foundation Protege Award and been shortlisted for the Prix Italia, the Books In Canada First Novel Award, the ReLit, and the Governor General’s Award. Her seven novels include Milton’s Elements, Dr. Kalbfleisch and the Chicken Restaurant and Planet Reese.

Cordelia Strube's profile page


  • Winner, Toronto Book Award

Editorial Reviews


“I fell in love with Harriet from the first chapter. She has the most unique way of looking at the world and the book is nearly laugh-out-loud funny at parts, but in the most morbid of ways. I was so moved by Harriet’s story and, even as my heart was breaking, I was so delighted to get to ‘meet’ her brother Irwin. This is a must read for me this year.” — Insomniac Bibliophile

"Fantastic." — The Lost Bookmark

“This is one of the BEST books I have read in a very long time. . . This is one of those rare books that works much humour and lightheartedness into some really heavy subject matter in a completely appropriate and realistic way. Bravo, Cordelia Strube!” — Lit. Wit. Wine & Dine.

“A masterful blend of comedy and tragedy . . . The tapestry of humanity that Strube presents is richly detailed and profoundly moving.” — Quill & Quire, starred review

“Strube captures a madcap sense of momentum and consequence that never falters or overwhelms. Each character is part of Strube’s deliberately constructed card tower, the building of which, as readers anticipate its eventual fall, provides the narrative with a tremendous amount of strength and personality.” — Publishers Weekly, starred


User Reviews

Depressing and Delightful

I did really enjoy this book. I enjoyed the first half more than the second, but I don't want to spoil.
I think the book is very very real, and honest and that it hurts.
It can be depressing, but life is.
I love the author's writing style and the way she spins words together.
I thought it was excellent overall and a captivating read.

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