Stefan Bachmann

About Cinders and Sparrows

When a scarecrow climbs over the garden wall, delivering twelve-year-old orphan Zita Brydgeborn a letter saying she has inherited a distant castle, she jumps at the chance of adventure. But little does she know that she is about to be thrust into a centuries-old battle between good and evil. Blackbird Castle was once home to a powerful dynasty of witches, all of them now dead under mysterious circumstances. Zita is the last of her line. And Zita, unfortunately, doesn’t know the first thing about being a witch.

As she begins her lessons in charms and spells with her guardian, Mrs. Cantanker, Zita makes new allies—a crow, a talking marble head, two castle servants just her age named Bram and Minnifer, and the silent ghost of a green-eyed girl. But who is friend and who is foe? Zita must race to untangle her past and find the magic to save the home she’s always hoped for. Because whatever claimed the souls of her family is now after her.

In bookstores now!




Discover the secrets of Blackbird Castle, wander its dangerous halls, poke your head into doorways. But beware, for not all of them will allow you to poke your head out again and you may be forced to part with it.


FOR Cinders and Sparrows

  • A Vermont Book Award Finalist
  • One of A Mighty Girl‘s Books of the Year for 2020
  • A Junior Library Guild Selection
  • An Indie Next Pick

“Bachmann’s worldbuilding is delightful. The castle is rich with enough ghosts and enchanted staircases to satisfy any fantasy lover, and the cast of characters . . . is well developed and engaging, especially intrepid narrator Zita. A suspenseful romp through an entertainingly witchy world.”

— Kirkus (Starred review)


“A wondrous enchantment . . . beautifully written . . . Bachmann is a master of fantasy.”

Buffalo News


“A spellbinding coming-of-age story. The halls of Blackbird Castle may be darkand haunted, but the characters that frequent it are warm and lively. Readers will fly through the pages.”

Soman Chainani, New York Times-bestselling author of The School for Good and Evil


“Through enticing details, Bachmann creates a singular, gothic world in which a long-declining class of psychopompic witches defend against the restless dead . . . intricately laid (and mislaid) trails, dreadful creatures, an absorbing atmosphere of escalating tension and paranoia, and moments of delightful magic all make for a memorable adventure.”

— Publishers Weekly


“Bachmann incorporates magic and atmosphere in this appealing tale of persistence, from the shifting staircases and passageways of Blackbird Castle, to the irresistable feasts Zita devours with Bram and Minnifer. The author also engineers a particularly deft reversal mid-plot that will leave readers at first bewildered and then delighted.”

The Horn Book Magazine


“A significant and foreboding mystery . . . Bachmann balances horror, magic, and a coming-of-age story with aplomb.”

The Bulletin


Cinders & Sparrows is so perfectly atmospheric and spooky! I loved rooting for Zita as she came into her powers and her self-confidence, all while unpuzzling the many mysteries of her new home.”

The Southern Bookseller Review

“Suspenseful and magical, with a vibrant and witchy world, this compelling novel is perfect for fans of Katherine Arden’s Small Spaces and Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle.”
A Mighty Girl

Cinders and Sparrows is an ideal introduction to the sort of classic gothic stories that can be challenging even for adults, nevermind young readers . . . A fun and fast-paced story with plenty of interesting twists and turns. Classic haunted house elements are used in clever ways and sinister characters lurk in every shadow.”