The Monsters We Defy cover

The Monsters We Defy

Coming August 9, 2022

Washington D. C., 1925: Clara Johnson can talk to spirits—a gift that saved her during her darkest moments, now a curse that’s left her indebted to the cunning spirit world. So when a powerful spirit offers her an opportunity to gain her freedom, Clara seizes the chance, no questions asked. 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 the help of an unlikely team, from a handsome jazz musician able to hypnotize with a melody to an aging actor who can change his face, to pull off the impossible. But as they race along DC’s legendary Black Broadway, conflict in the spirit world begins to leak into the human one—an insidious mystery is unfolding, one that could cost Clara her life and change the fate of an entire city.

Penelope’s blend of fantasy and history is pitch perfect, with wit, romance, and a lovable found family thrown in for good measure. Readers will be wowed.”

Publishers Weekly

starred review

“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


“The 1920s have a great deal to say to the 2020s about justice and whose lives are seen as being worth more than others. Stolen destinies, dubious bargains, and unlikely groups of allies, all in a city whose history deserves more fame: this is a fresh and engaging take on historical fantasy!”

Marie Brennan

“An enchanting adventure that weaves a spell while spotlighting Black culture in the 1920s.”

Justina Ireland

New York Times bestselling author DREAD NATION

“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


“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, Leslye Penelope blends magic, mystery, and mayhem in this deliciously complex historical fantasy.”

Veronica Henry

author of BACCHANAL

“What a thrilling gem of a book! Clara is a heroine for the ages and her 1920s Black Washington society, both the glamour and the grit, is so compellingly evoked it's as though Penelope has given us a peek behind the veil to hear the tales of our ancestors. Highly recommended.”

Alaya Dawn Johnson

World Fantasy Award-winning author of TROUBLE THE SAINTS

The Monsters We Defy — Cover Reveal!

The Monsters We Defy — Cover Reveal!

I can't wait for you all to meet Clara and the crew in August! In the mean time, this cover gives you a little taste of what's to come... From Orbit: Feast your eyes on the gorgeous cover for THE MONSTERS WE DEFY by Leslye Penelope, out Aug 2022! In 1925 Washington D....

New book announcement!

New book announcement!

I'm so excited to reveal my next fantasy novel entitled, THE MONSTERS WE DEFY! It's my 1920s fantasy heist story and will be published in Summer 2022 by Orbit. Here's a bit from their announcement: Are you ready to discover the magical side of Washington D. C.? Orbit...