Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The First Book of Calamity Leek

The First Book of Calamity Leek

A Novel

Paula Lichtarowicz

Flatiron Books




A beguiling, irresistibly immersive debut novel about sixteen sisters in a walled garden, and what happens to their carefully constructed world when one girl starts asking questions about life outside.

Fourteen-year-old Calamity Leek and her sisters spend their days tending white roses and memorizing the lessons in Aunty’s Appendix, a multi-volume compendium of show tunes, beauty regimens, and twisted creation myths. Calamity knows the Appendix front to back, and she is Aunty’s favorite, destined for particular greatness. But when her restless sister Truly Polperro gets too curious about life beyond their Wall of Safekeeping, she cracks Calamity’s world wide open. Calamity needs a new book. And she will have to write it herself.

With formidable imagination and brilliant strangeness, Paula Lichtarowicz's The First Book of Calamity Leek draws on fairytales and doublespeak to tell a story both classic and keenly modern. Calamity, fearless and wrenching, leads us to question the stories we ourselves live by.

Praise for The First Book of Calamity Leek

"Wonderfully strange." --Mark Haddon, New York Times bestselling author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

"A mash-up of Margaret Atwood and Roald Dahl." --Lady Magazine (UK)

"Hypnotic...As much a hymn to reading as a gripping story." --Elle

“Richly imagined…Rewards [readers] with the idiosyncratic voice and character of Calamity. Fans of the offbeat will dote on this sui generis story.” --Booklist


Reviews from Goodreads

Paula Lichtarowicz

Paula Lichtarowicz was born in Cheshire and studied English literature at Durham University and psychology at the University of London. When not writing, she makes television documentaries. She lives in Yorkshire. The First Book of Calamity Leek is her debut.

image of Paula Lichtarowiczo
Paul Stuart

Paula Lichtarowicz