When seven-year-old Jamie falls down a very long hill, he finds himself trapped in a world of strange creatures, harsh landscapes, and near-perpetual darkness. Lost and confused, Jamie is desperate to get home. The nightmares, fears, and all manner of what-ifs that inhabit this shadow world are unfamiliar to him–all except one: the Lairdbalor, Jamie’s personal nightmare, once relegated to his dreams. In this fantastical land, however, the Lairdbalor and all the fears and nightmares of children are very real.

But Jamie’s nightmare is different. It is the sum total of the anger and anxiety that imprisoned him in his former life, and it threatens to consume and rule the nightmare realm, a place where time passes differently. With each slumber, Jamie finds himself inexorably changed. The farther he travels through this terrifying world, the better he understands the one he left behind.


Crossing genres of folklore, horror, fantasy, and magical realism, The Lairdbalor is about a child, but it’s not meant for children. It’s a story for anyone who lives with anxiety and fear and has ever wondered “what if” and a darkly imaginative meditation on life, death, fear, and the nature of reality.

“I am the stuff of your nightmares . . . you have been writing my name on the walls of your fear your entire life.”


"A unique, deftly crafted, impressively engaging read from cover to cover, THE LAIRDBALOR showcases author Kathleen Kauman's extraordinary flair for imaginative and entertaining storytelling. Unreservedly recommended."

The Midwest Book Review

"Mythic, haunting, and imaginative, THE LAIRDBALOR is a beautifully-written nightmare where the tumultuous anxieties and emotions of childhood are given life and then skinned raw."

Jake Marley, Winner of the 2017 Golden Pen Award

“Sweeping, lyrical, and darkly philosophical, THE LAIRDBALOR succeeds in mapping not only a new world, but also a new voice ready to confront and explore our deepest, darkest fears.”

Bill Bridges, author of The Song of Unmaking

“A powerful story of myth, legend, and lore this lyrical nightmare come true is chilling and unsettling, but not without hope and heart.”

Richard Thomas, author of the Thriller Award-nominated Breaker

"With THE LAIRDBALOR, Kathleen Kaufman has written a novel that re-imagines the traditions of Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis for the twenty-first century. In its pages, Kaufman takes us on a journey with Jamie, her young hero, cast from our world into another, fantastic one. There, he must traverse strange landscapes and treat with weird creatures, all in the shadow of the figure he fears the most, the Lairdbalor. Kathleen Kaufman has produced a fine debut, one whose roots in the literature of the fantastic rise into bizarre, memorable fruit."

John Langan, author of The Fisherman

"Kathleen Kaufman's debut is a dark, twisted fairytale of the best kind. THE LAIRDBALOR is haunting, evocative, page-turning. Couldn't read it fast enough! The ending will stay with you long after you've put it down."

Jennifer Brody, award-winning author of The 13th Continuum

“Kaufman conjures terrifying scenarios, from the creepily unsettling to the graphically horrific, with crisp, elegant prose.”

Kirkus Reviews

The Babadook meets The Hobbit in this nightmare-riddled fantasy. Kaufman’s subtle horror will pull readers along with a creeping sense of unease, though the Lairdbalor’s scenes are genuinely chilling.”


The Lairdbalor is a mythic, disturbing tale, full of folklore and nightmares, and with it Kathleen Kaufman has proved herself as an author to watch.”

Jake Marley, This is Horror

Kathleen Kaufman

Kathleen Kaufman is a native Coloradan and long-time resident of Los Angeles.   Her prose has been praised by Kirkus Reviews as “crisp, elegant” and “genuinely chilling” by Booklist.   She is the author of The Tree Museum, The Lairdbalor, soon to be a feature film with Echo Lake Studios and director Nicholas Verso, and her most recent, Hag, due out in October 2018.   Kathleen is a monster enthusiast, Olympic-level insomniac and aficionado of all things unsettling.   When not writing, she can be found teaching literature and composition at Santa Monica College or hanging out with a good book.   She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, terrier and a pack of cats.