The Stranger's Guide to Talliston

By John Tarrow

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

Thursday, 1 March 2018


As we race to our halfway milestone, I thought it about time to start preparing you, gentle reader, for your eventual journey into the dark and dangerous labyrinth of the house & gardens. And where better to start than the pages of The Stranger's Guide itself. After all, this mysterious guidebook was written for this exact purpose.

For these updates, I want to look at the guidebook Joe finds within the labyrinth of the house. It's full title is: 

The Stranger’s Guide To The Dark House And Dangerous Gardens Of Talliston – Including The Key To Unlocking Its Immortal Labyrinth & The Secret That Lies Within

Click here to explore the labyrinth of the house and gardens.


I wrote this guide for those that would come after me…

This will not be a journal of how I discovered the throat of this immortal labyrinth or the years I spent discovering and collecting the information within. My story is not the matter here. What is of utmost import is that the interlocking worlds and the ways between them is set down, is explained and fully documented, so that should I fall into the shadows of this dark house or be waylaid while traversing its dangerous gardens, some account will remain. It is not complete, but by following these pages with care, your road shall be far shorter and mercifully less perilous than if you begin from a blank parchment...

For the past five years now I have explored Talliston’s halls, rooms and gardens, opened its mystical doors and stepped into the houses, temples and other places beyond them. Now I am ready to set down what I have discovered...

Yet time is against me...

This place, or at least the denizens who lurk within the walls of this ancient labyrinth, know of my travels; my feet ring like cymbals upon the marble, wood and carpeted floors of the house. I have been lucky thus far, but as I traverse deeper and deeper to find the last rooms, the dangers mount... As you journey, take care: do not get lost in its ever winding pathways, its root filled hollows. Take one too many steps from the path and you will be lost not just for hours or for days, but forevermore.

May this book, these words guide and travel with you. But more: I was warned about this house and now so are you...


This labyrinth is no eternal forest in which you must defend yourself from wolves or navigate by moss. It is far MORE DARK and eminently MORE DANGEROUS than any wilderness setting. Travelling here requires maximum care and rapt attention. There are no sign posts pointing the way to and from this place – and no directions back if you wander too far in the worlds within its rooms and gardens.

Click here to explore the labyrinth of the house and gardens.

A note of clarity: these images and text are not from the novel. They refer to the book within the book. In the story, thirteen-year-old Joe finds this leather-bound volume in The Old Rectory in 1852. While I was writing Joe's adventures, I was also creating the guidebook he carried. Maybe one day this companion will exist, but for now there is one copy, kept at Talliston. To this end, I will refer to real novel as The Stranger's Guide To Talliston and the fictitious guidebook as The Stranger's Guide. Confused? Think The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy... and you're there!

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