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A Novel

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Forced to move every twelve days, what would happen to your life?

It’s 1927. Rembrandt is the only child in the tiny community of Three Farms and his two aunts grow desperate for babies of their own. Hope and Hell arrive in a mysterious black bottle, and on a moonless night a dark spell is cast. Soon after, a man wearing black top-coat, and a ‘glad-ta-meet-ya’ smile comes to visit. The devil seeks payment, and a dangerous wager is made. Until they can defeat him, Rembrandt, Pa, and Uncle Thompson must embark on the journey of their lives, for if they stay in one place for more than twelve days terrible things happen. But where and when will they find a champion capable of defeating the Black Bottle Man?

Time ticks.
Lives change.
Every twelve days.

Download the Black Bottle Man Reader’s Guide.

  • WINNER – Gold Medal,  2011 Moonbeam Awards
  • FINALIST Aurora Awards
  • FINALIST McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award
  • FINALIST Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book
  • A 2011 On the Same Page selection
  • A CCBC Best Books for Kids and Teens selection

“An extraordinary book. I was completely captivated. You can read it as an adult and be quite moved by a story of profound love, of commitment to family, of humility, of grace under pressure; so rich with metaphor and allegory, depth, complexity. It’s really one of those books you read as a teenager and love it, and then pick it up again thirty years later and have a completely different, equally rewarding reading experience.” — Nikki Tate, CBC All Points West

“One part travel narrative, one part spiritual fable, one part historical fiction, and one part adventure story—this tragic tale pulls readers in with its strong voice, richly depicted setting, and chilling confrontations with a shape-shifting Satan. Russell weaves magic into the narrative.” —Meghan Radomske, CM Magazine.

“Russell has told his fable…and it is done beautifully.”  —Alison Edwards, Resource Links

“Read it.  Because it’s not likely you’re ever going to find anything like the Black Bottle Man again.” — Stephanie Yip, What If? Magazine

“…this fable will intrigue teens who like historical fiction and the satisfying thrill of rooting for a persistent, humble hero.”  — Joan Marshall, Bookseller

“A truly unique story. The author tackles his “fable” with imagination and great turns of phrase.”  — Jury comments, Manitoba Book Awards

“Scenes alternate effectively between an urban present and the various times and places of Rembrandt’s travels, with a particularly moving evocation of the Dirty Thirties.”  — Jury comments, Manitoba Book Awards