The Grimoire of Kensington Market

The Grimoire of Kensington Market

Lauren B. Davis
  • $22.00

324 pages | ISBN 978-1-928088-70-7

The downtown core of Toronto is being consumed by elysium, a drug that allows its users to slip through the permeable edges of this world into the next before consuming them utterly. Peddled by the icy Srebrenka, few have managed to escape the drug and its dealer. But Maggie has.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," and woven through with northern folk tales, The Grimoire of Kensington Market is the story of Maggie, proprietor of the Grimoire bookstore, the cosmic nexus of all the world's tales. Years after beating her addiction, Maggie is dismayed by the reappearance of Srebrenka in her life. Although she resists temptation, she quickly learns that her brother, Kyle, has been ensnared by Srebrenka's drug-laced beguiling.

Driven by guilt and love, Maggie sets off on a quest to rescue Kyle from the Silver World, where robbers stalk the woods, where tavern keepers weave clouds to hide mountains and where caribou race along the northern lights. There, she must discover what hidden strengths still lie within her.

Advance Praise | Reviews | Interviews | Articles | Excerpt | Videos | About the Author

Advance Praise

"Davis confidently paints a magical world rich in detail where human trials unfold against a fairy-tale tapestry. Weaving a fresh legend from a mosaic of ancient stories, she creates a bold new world where wit equals witchery and kindness is as valued as courage."
– John C. Foster, author of Mister White


Lauren B. Davis' The Grimoire of Kensington Market (Marcie McCauley, The Temz Review, 09/11/2018)
"Here is a bookstore that grows and shrinks as books arrive and depart, that welcomes readers who understand this kind of shape-shifting [...] Yet, the bookshop is rooted in reality, in Toronto’s Kensington Market [...] Specific references to an urban landscape are useful for readers who are uncomfortable with reading fantasy. The Necropolis, the Canada Malting Silos, the Rogers Centre, Allan Gardens, even the cow statues in the financial district: today’s Toronto is in clear evidence. This specificity is used to disorient rather than root, however, which readers realize when the Regent Park neighbourhood is referred to as The Forest. Maggie knows this area from an earlier time in her life, a time both integrally connected to her daily life and far from her current reality as proprietor of the Grimoire."

Alchemy of magic, a fairytale and the opioid crisis in powerful new book (Trevor Corkum, The Toronto Star, 26/10/2018)
"Davis does a fine job balancing these fraught moments of tension with lighter, magical scenes, such as her various luxurious sleepovers at mystical hotels and loving monologues with her canine sidekick Badger. [...] Beneath the fairytale lies a probing exploration of the current opioid crisis. Davis highlights how the collapse of social supports and the marginalization of addicts creates the perfect storm, hollowing out inner-city Toronto and leaving wounded orphans and ruined lives in its wake. When Maggie reaches her final destination to confront Srebrenka, the author spins the kinds of pyrotechnics appropriate to the climax of such a dramatic quest."


How Lauren B. Davis explores addiction with novel The Grimoire of Kensington Market (CBC Radio, 03/12/2018)
"With The Snow Queen and with finding that metaphor, I was able — within the structure of the fairytale — to create not only a story about addiction, but also a narrative."

Lauren B. Davis on The Grimoire of Kensington Market (Shelagh Rogers, The Next Chapter, 03/12/2018)
Lauren B. Davis on her new book The Grimoire of Kensington Market.

Staying in with Lauren B. Davis (Linda Hill, Linda's Book Bag, 10/11/2018)

"It’s a journey not only into the heart of magic and winter, but also into the heart of a woman as she discovers her courage and the wild, undeniable power of love."


The Globe 100: Our favourite books of 2018 (The Globe and Mail, 30/11/2018)
Lauren's book makes the Globe's top 100 books of 2018.

Cold Comfort (Dory Cerny, Quill & Quire, November 2018)
"'I tried to write about it as memoir, and I could not do it. And then I tried to write about it as realistic fiction, and I could not do it,' she says, 'But it still felt like something I needed to talk about, a story that needed to be told.'"

13 scary good Canadian books for Halloween (CBC Books, 31/10/2018)
Lauren's book picked as a scary good Canadian book for Halloween

Princeton author debuts her latest novel (Ken Downey Jr, Central Jersey, 26/10/2018)
"Davis' eighth piece of fiction was inspired by her interest with fairy and folk tales, but it also deals with the struggle of addiction and drug abuse. Davis uses the power of fiction to speak on such a pressing issue in our society today in a way that is attention-grabbing for the reader."

24 works of Canadian fiction to watch for this fall (CBC Books, 11/09/2018)
"Toronto is in the grips of a drug called Elysium, which sends its users past the edges of the world. Recovering addict Maggie is the proprietor of a magical bookstore called The Grimoire and one day begins to receive notes that say simply "follow me." Maggie comes to realize that the notes are from her brother Kyle, whose Elysium addiction has taken him deep into the Silver World."

The Syllabus: Back-to-School Books for Grownups (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 01/09/2018)
Lauren's book makes the list of "campus novels, literary homages and historical imaginings." Reading these recommended books will make you feel like a student again.

25 books that are going to make a splash this fall (Deborah Dundas, The Toronto Star, 31/08/2018)
"In this book, Hans Christian Andersen's tale "The Snow Queen," inspired Davis' modern fairytale/fable about Toronto being consumed by elysium, a drug that allows users to enter another world. Plus it’s got caribou racing along the Northern Lights."

Most Anticipated: Our 2018 Fall Fiction Preview (Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf, 09/07/2018)

"Lauren B. Davis’s The Grimoire of Kensington Market is a fairy tale for our time, where addiction meets magic, with all the dark lessons and startling characters of age-old folk tale and myth."

Fiction: Novel Effects (Steven W. Beattie, Quill & Quire, July 2018) 
"A Toronto bookstore proprietor goes on a mystical adventure in a novel that uses fairy-tale devices as a metaphor for addiction. As a new designer drug, Elysium spreads throughout the downtown core, the novel's protagonist must follow a series of mysterious messages from her brother, who passed over beyond the edge of the known world into a shadowland of flying caribou and magical tavern owners."


Read an excerpt of The Grimoire of Kensington Market.


Lauren reads from her novel during the Wolsak and Wynn Fall 2018 Launch at the Staircase Cafe in Hamilton.


About the Author

Lauren B. Davis is the author of Against a Darkening Sky; The Empty Room, one of the National Post's "Best Books of the Year"; and Our Daily Bread, longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and a Globe & Mail "Best Books of the Year". Her other books include the bestselling and critically acclaimed novels The Radiant City, a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and The Stubborn Season, as well as two short story collections, An Unrehearsed Desire and Rat Medicine & Other Unlikely Curatives. Lauren was born in Montreal and now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. For more information, please visit her website at

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