Once Was Willem


By M. R. Carey

Formats and Prices




$25.99 CAD

From the bestselling author M. R. Carey comes an utterly unique and enchantingly dark epic fantasy fable like no other.

This is the tale of Once Was Willem, who – eleven hundred and some years after the death of Christ, in the kingdom that had but recently begun to call itself England – rose from the dead to defeat a great evil facing the humble village of Cosham.

Pennick for all its beauty was ever a place with a dark reputation. The forests of the Chase were said to be home to nixies and boggarts, and there was a common belief, passed down through many generations, that the castle housed an unquiet ghost of terrible and malign power. These rumours I can attest were all true; indeed they fell short of the truth by a long way . . .

  • “In Once Was Willem, M. R. Carey’s gorgeous prose weaves a fable full of dread and wonder, a deeply intelligent and emotionally gripping story boasting one of the nastiest sorcerers you’ll ever meet, and a narrator as inwardly gentle as he is outwardly monstrous. A masterpiece of medieval dark fiction. I love this book. Highest recommendation.” 
    Christopher Buehlman, author of The Blacktongue Thief
  • “An immense achievement, an impeccably crafted book without a single word out of place.”
    The New York Times on Infinity Gate
  • "A wild fever dream of a novel – complicated, monstrous, and beautiful."
    Seanan McGuire, Hugo Award-winning author
  • "It's so absurdly fun and readable, you nearly miss the incredible use of language and lore. Lovable grotesques and ghastly villains populate a compelling folk-tale. Absolutely wonderful."
    Gareth Hanrahan, author of The Sword Unbound
  • "It's been a long time since a book has reached out and just entirely enveloped me in its world the way Once Was Willem did. Astounding, and I loved every moment of it – it had me absolutely rapt."
    RJ Barker, author of The Bone Ships
  • "An incredible masterwork of medieval fantasy-horror, dark and twisted and burning bright with humanity. Once Was Willem is packed with magic, folklore, superstitious fear, and horrors that bring hope.” 
    Cameron Johnston, author of the Maleficent Seven
  • "A master storyteller." 
    io9 on Infinity Gate
  • "M.R. Carey hefts astonishing storytelling power with plainspoken language, heartbreaking choices, and sincerity like an arrow to the heart." 
    Locus on The Book of Koli
  • "A thought-provoking and deeply engaging story ... profoundly and doggedly humane."
    C. A. Fletcher on The Book of Koli
  • "Heartfelt, remorseless and painfully human...as fresh as it is terrifying. A jewel."
    Joss Whedon on The Girl With All the Gifts
  • "This is a beautiful book. Gripping, engaging, and absolutely worth the time it takes to burrow yourself into its reality. I can't recommend it highly enough."
    Seanan McGuire on The Book of Koli
  • "M.R. Carey hefts astonishing storytelling power with plainspoken language, heartbreaking choices, and sincerity like an arrow to the heart." 
    Locus on The Book of Koli
  • "The cadence and pacing of [Koli's] voice adds a depth and richness to the strange and malevolent world."
    Booklist on The Book of Koli
  • "Carey writes with compassion and fire - strange and surprising and humane."
    Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls on The Boy on the Bridge
  • "A highly imaginative fable."
    Nerd Daily on the Book of Koli

On Sale
Mar 4, 2025
Page Count
496 pages

M. R. Carey

About the Author

M. R. Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts was a USA Today bestseller and is a major motion picture based on his BAFTA-nominated screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs on X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship superhero titles. His creator-owned books regularly appear in the New York Times bestseller list. He also has several previous novels, two radio plays, and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.

Learn more about this author