The Monsters We Defy


By Leslye Penelope

Read by Shayna Small

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  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged) $27.99
  2. ebook $6.99 $8.99 CAD
  3. Trade Paperback $18.99 $24.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around August 9, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A woman able to communicate with spirits must assemble a ragtag crew to pull off a daring heist to save her community in this timely and dazzling historical fantasy that weaves together African American folk magic, history, and romance.

Washington D. C., 1925

Clara Johnson talks to spirits, a gift that saved her during her darkest moments in a Washington D. C. jail. Now a curse that’s left her indebted to the cunning spirit world. So, when the Empress, the powerful spirit who holds her debt, offers her an opportunity to gain her freedom, a desperate Clara seizes the chance. The task: steal a magical ring from the wealthiest woman in the District.

Clara can’t pull off this daring heist alone. She’ll need help from an unlikely team, from a jazz musician capable of hypnotizing with a melody to an aging vaudeville actor who can change his face, to pull off the impossible. But as they encounter increasingly difficult obstacles, a dangerous spirit interferes at every turn. Conflict in the spirit world is leaking into the human one and along D.C’.s legendary Black Broadway, a mystery unfolds—one that not only has repercussions for Clara but all of the city’s residents. 


  • "Leslye Penelope has created a rich and immersive world, set in an enchanting 1920s Washington DC full of jazz musicians, elite Black social organizations, fairy balls, bootleggers, lady gangster bosses, and mesmerizing magic! It's a story that weaves together threads of real history with bits of the utterly fantastic. The Monsters We Defy will keep you turning the pages and wanting more!” 
    P. Djèli Clark, author of A Master of Djinn
  • "A gritty heroine and crew that commune with trickster spirits. A heist that pits them against a powerful member of the city's elite. In The Monsters We Defy, Leslie Penelope blends magic, mystery, and mayhem in this deliciously complex historical fantasy."
    Veronica Henry, author of Bacchanal
  • "Masterfully crafted, with gorgeous prose, colourful characters, and a compelling plot. This smart and entertaining, magical heist novel hits all the right notes and leaves the reader wanting more."
    T. L. Huchu, author of The Library of the Dead
  • "In this dazzling fantasy set in 1920s Washington, DC, narrator Shayna Small imbues her voice with the power of spirits and the determination of a Black woman with the power to talk to them...Small pulls off a feat herself, shape-shifting through the many colorful characters in Clara’s crew. Each one comes alive with a unique voice — from the smooth, charming lilt of a talented man who can hypnotize people with music to the sharp, no-nonsense staccato of a woman who was raised in the circus. Small’s emotional delivery will draw listeners into Clara’s world of African American folklore and magic."

On Sale
Aug 9, 2022
Hachette Audio

Leslye Penelope

Leslye Penelope

About the Author

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of fantasy and paranormal romance. Equally left and right-brained, she studied filmmaking and computer science at Howard University and sometimes dreams in HTML. She hosts the My Imaginary Friends podcast and lives in Maryland with her husband and furry dependents.

Learn more about this author