Book Release

The Importance of Strong Settings in Writing: Author Shelley Wilson Discusses Medieval Castles and Cities Featured in Her New Release THE PHANTOM’S CURSE

What better setting for castles, magic, and curses than a historical medieval castle!

Award-winning author Shelley Wilson discusses the importance of strong settings and the inspiration for the city of Obanac in her new adventure/fantasy novel The Phantom’s Curse.


About The Phantom’s Curse: An old evil threatens to rise from the depths of the warded city…

Sixteen-year-old Marianne lives a simple life as a healer in the Link, looking after her younger brother since their parents’ exile. Little does she know how everything will change after attending the blessing in the city of Obanac. After her brother is wrongfully imprisoned, Marianne seeks his release from Crawford Reign, the Lord of Obanac. But she’s faced with an impossible choice—the lord wants her in exchange. To save her brother she turns to the daring outlaw Robbie and his friends for help. Along with the help of Theo, the holy man’s son, a daring rescue soon uncovers rumors of an old sorcerer who may still live and whispers of the phantom’s curse—an evil that requires a host and seeks to destroy the world—threatening to resurface.

With the threat of an old evil rising in Obanac and the attacks of the Black Riders throughout the realm, nowhere seems safe. To save the people of the land and everyone she cares about, Marianne must unlock the secret to who she really is and embrace the mage magic that stirs within her.

The idea for The Phantom’s Curse (TPC) came to me as I sat in the grounds of Kenilworth Castle, a beautiful English Heritage site close to where I live, watching a group of young school children charge across the grass waving pretend swords in the air.

There’s something special about historical buildings, and the stories trapped within the walls fascinate me. On that particular day, I was drawn to how I could turn the ruins of such a mystical place into a thriving city protected by magical wards.

In TPC, Obanac is a prospering city within a dying land. The residents are affluent and spoilt. They are protected from everything beyond the gleaming walls and the magical fortifications. Sitting within the outer walls of Kenilworth Castle, I often feel like the world has stopped turning. Traffic sounds are drowned out by the birdsong and soft conversation of visitors. I imagined Obanac as a tranquil place for the inhabitants.

Castle Keep

The Castle Keep at Kenilworth Castle. Photo Credit: Shelley Wilson

On the outskirts of the gleaming walls of Obanac is the Link, a village built in the dust and dirt by hardworking people who have to toil to be able to feed their families. The differences between the fortunate and the oppressed are the stories we read about in our daily newspaper—a tale as old as time.

To the residents of the Link, Obanac is foreign to them. They are cut off from the luxuries and feel abandoned by the leaders. I wanted Obanac to appear impenetrable, alien even, a complete contrast to their humble homes.

“Ahead of the fancy ironwork lay a long track furrowed by cartwheels. On either side of the road deep craters packed with jagged rocks and choking vines stretched as far as the eye could see, wrapping themselves around the city like a waterless moat.”

I must stress that jagged rocks and choking vines don’t surround Kenilworth Castle! To access the castle grounds, you follow a footpath that would have been the original approach in the 13th century. I walked this stretch over and over as I was writing TPC picturing how Maz and Newt would feel upon reaching the gatehouse. The Castle Keep became the Lord of Obanac’s home, and the Stables Tearoom the courthouse. When Maz flees the city in one scene, she leaves via a secret door which was inspired by a Gothic arched gateway that once served as a water gate for boats.

“I’d never seen anything so beautiful in my life. To the left, a grassy embankment rose up to meet the castle which towered above us on the crest of the hill. On our right, a small orchard with abundant apple trees stretched all the way up to a long, single-story building with the lord’s crest hanging above the entrance.”

World-building is fun, but it’s even better when you’ve got such a strong setting to use as your inspiration.

Read an Excerpt of The Phantom’s Curse:

Praise for The Phantom’s Curse:

“A fast-paced, engaging first-person narrative that moves skillfully between sympathy-evoking personal experience and broad-ranging, sometimes violent action. [This] medieval-inflected fantasy…will appeal to female action-hero aficionados.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Shelley Wilson creates dynamic and intricate characters that have complex backgrounds and as their plot lines unfold you can’t help but relating to them.…a well written and thought out novel…for YA lovers.” — Serena Bourke, Librarian

“…a short, fun adventure about the power of friendship and family in a world where darkness is trying to destroy everything.” — The Bookish Raven

“A well written and engaging YA book that fans of the fantasy genre will no doubt enjoy.” — Kathy Carberry, NetGalley Reviewer

“With a compelling story line and interesting characters this was a quick, entertaining read.” — For the Love of Reading

“Captivating from the very beginning… Wilson has succeeded in getting me invested in these characters.” — Rebecca Veight, The Bookclub Page

“This story was a lot of fun, extremely fast paced and a delight to read.” — Alyssa Valliere, Lys Reads on YouTube

“Excellent read, the story captures the readers attention and takes them along for a great adventure, as good and evil collide.” — Mark Erion, NetGalley Reviewer


Available Formats & Purchasing Information:

Hardcover: 978-1-64397-071-4
Softcover: 978-1-64397-091-2
Ebook: 978-1-64397-092-9
LCCN: 2020931374

Available at Barnes & NobleWaterstonesAmazon, and other fine retailers. Visit our website for more retailers and purchasing options.

Purchase direct from our online store at and help support your local independent bookstores!

Click here to purchase softcover

Click here to purchase hardcover

Booksellers, Librarians, and Retailers can purchase copies though Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bertrams, Overdrive, and Perma-Bound. BHC Press also offers attractive pricing and discounts to booksellers, libraries, and retailers. Visit our website to learn more about available retail/library partnership programs.

Author’s Website:

Visit Shelley Wilson’s website for information on her books, blog, and upcoming events!

About Shelley Wilson:


Shelley Wilson divides her writing time between motivational non-fiction for adults and the fantasy worlds of her middle grade and young adult fiction.

Her non-fiction books combine motivation and self-help with a healthy dose of humour, and her novels combine myth, legend and fairy tales with a side order of demonic chaos.

Shelley’s multi-award-winning motivational personal development blog has received several awards and has been named a Top 10 UK Personal Development Blog.

Shelley is an obsessive list maker who loves pizza, vampires, mythology, and history. She resides in Solihull, West Midlands, UK, where she lives with her three teenagers.


Visit our website to learn more about The Phantom’s Curse and other titles available from BHC Press.

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