Currency $ USD
Still funding
24% funded
88 backers

A Young Adult fantasy adventure inspired by 'Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home', Talliston House & Gardens

If you’re the kind of person who has fallen in love with a Grimm’s fairy tale, delighted over Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, or dreamed of flying with Peter Pan to Neverland, you’ve arrived at the right doorway. Talliston is a place you’ve only ever seen in your dreams; a world of magic and imagination like nowhere else on earth. A house where Time never treads….


Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers The Stranger’s Guide, a cryptic book charting this immense no-man’s land and his only map through its dark and dangerous puzzle of doors and rooms. Hunted by sinister forces, Joe is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What lies at the labyrinth’s centre and will it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs?

Equal parts Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, His Dark Materials and The Lion, Witch And The Wardrobe, The Stranger’s Guide To Talliston is a classic tale of adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians lies the story of children discovering the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.


The setting for this novel is a real-life house that's been on quite an extraordinary journey itself. It began in 1990, with the UK’s most ordinary house: a three-bedroomed, semi-detached, ex-council house in Essex. Over the next 25 years, more than 130 volunteers, artists and artisans transformed it into Talliston House & Gardens. Now that Talliston is internationally famous and dubbed 'Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home' (The Sunday Times), it has inspired this amazing adventure.


Talliston is an exploration of the concept of the extraordinary within the ordinary. It’s about realising how we each have inside us the power to be whatever we want and to live any life we can imagine. Already the house is a thriving community of writers, artists and artisans – and appeals to anyone who yearns an escape from the mundane modern world into a life made magical.

John Tarrow is an English novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies. His extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. His collaboration with Talliston House & Gardens weaves together its 13 rooms into a rich narrative and introduces us to an ordinary boy who discovers the secret to achieving the extraordinary.

THE BOY LIVED ALL ALONE in an old abandoned school bus in the middle of a wooded roundabout. His father had once called it the magic roundabout, but the boy didn’t know why. He wanted to believe in magic, just like his mother. But if magic did exist, it certainly didn’t exist anywhere around here. The boy’s name was Joseph, but everyone called him Joe. By everyone, this meant his father and mother as Joe didn’t know anyone else. For as long as he could remember, Joe’s parents had been on the run. They never stayed anywhere for very long, and everywhere they did, they found a safe house like the bus where they could lie low in emergencies. The roundabout was large and densely packed with trees so tall that travellers to the motorway or the airport or the nearby villages and towns never knew the boy and the bus were there at all. Like the wood, the bus was there long before the overpass, the roads and the tarmac that surrounded it, and now both the trees and the vehicle were intertwined. His father said the bus was hiding in plain sight, and the boy knew everything there was to know about that. He spent every day hiding in plain sight.

On the night of the attack, his father’s last words to him were “Go, son, run! Go to the hideout and never look back. We’ll get there when we can.” Joe had done as he said, and he hadn’t seen them since. That was a very long time ago, but as he had no electricity to power anything, he didn’t know the date, and sometimes not even the day of the week. The boy could not be certain how long he had been living rough in the bus. All summer at least. Not that time actually mattered in his life. Now there was just the light and the dark. He got up when he woke and went to bed when it got too dark to see or do anything. Joe spent every night fearing his parents would ever come back for him.

And every day Joe spent following The Rules.

To keep him safe, his father had made his son memorise a whole heap of dos and don’ts. This wasn’t the usual things like ‘Always Eat At The Table’ and ‘Don’t Jump On The Sofas’. This was strange stuff like, ‘Formulate Contingency Escape Routes’ and ‘If It Howls, Feed It’. Over time, Joe had simplified that list and now it looked like this:






Then there was the most important rule of all. The One Rule To Ring Them All. The rule Joe must never break.


Joe had been born sick. He had a rare disease that had a very long name and meant that if the boy placed too much strain on his body, his heart would break and he would die. To treat this condition, Joe had a bottle of medication that he had to take every thirteen hours. No matter if it was midnight or breakfast or when Joe was in the bath or taking a dump. Joe wore a clockwork timer around his neck and when the countdown reached zero, wherever he was, whatever he was doing, he had to take his medication. It was another rule on top of all the other rules. The rules that governed every day of his stupid existence. Joe lived his life by these two truths: The Rules kept him safe and The Medicine kept him alive.

Which had been all well and good until today. Because this afternoon he had drained the last mouthful of the thick, white, foul-tasting liquid. Now the ribbed brown bottle was empty and he had to get some more. Automatically Joe had twisted the timer back to thirteen and it began its countdown, quietly ticking away his final hours.



Friday, 23 February 2018

Stories   pizza

Our two favourite things. In one fabulous evening.

On Saturday 10 March 2018 from 18:00 at Talliston, CM6 1DU, join your personal storyteller and other guests for a creative journey through the extraordianry house of the novel. In certain rooms, tales are told and when you get to the kitchen you eat delicious homemade pizza. Limited to 20 places. Half already booked. 




Thursday, 8 February 2018

Just hit 9%! Wonderful, as we really haven't even started to get this out there! Please share and help me make it to 10% by the end of our first week.

It would also help a lot to get people sharing the book link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, your own personal networks, and with anyone who you think might be interested in reading such a book – this really helps to spread the word.

Join in the conversation

Sign in to ask a question