Shadows of Sylvaheim

“Mental health problems among the youth are on the rise INTERNATIONALLY. Clearly, our present methods of delivering mental health information to young people are insufficient or ineffective. I propose we do something different” –                Dr Toula Gordillo.

As part of her doctoral studies, Toula wrote a Young Adult (YA) fantasy novel, Shadows of Sylvaheim. It is a coming-of-age story that describes two siblings’ heroic journey to confront (and integrate) their own shadows in a mythical universe called Sylvaheim. 


Story synopsis

Following a family trauma and the discovery of a huge family secret, sixteen-year-old Jack and his sister Emily (14) are catapulted into a world of pain, and fantasy. In a symbolic exploration of the character’s unconscious mind, Jack battles an ogre, converses with a riddle-talking tree, falls in love with a sea nymph and visits Faerieland. His ultimate battle is to defeat Lord Batu Glass… a potential drug addiction ‘chasing’ Jack.

The nine worlds of Norse mythology, extended to include realm Sylvaheim

Separated from her brother by a huge hedge of silver, Jack’s sister, Emily, is simultaneously stuck in an Estonian bog whilst pursued by the new trickster goddess, Morgana. Emily’s character also gets her shadow ‘cut’ in a symbolic acknowledgement of confronting and integrating our own shadow, and she escapes from a cave of magic with a Valkyrie from Norse mythology.

While the reader is absorbed in the story, they are exposed to Jungian psychology, Stoic philosophy, literary prose and historical characters such as King Henry VIII and Marcus Aurelius. Upon reflection, they can also learn about effective ways of coping with trauma, grief and loss, poverty and how to overcome alcohol and drug addictions. Thus, the novel provides a window and mirror, with a Jungian lens, for the young adult reader.



Shadows of Sylvaheim has been endorsed by International best-selling YA fantasy author of The Guardians of Time series, Ms Marianne Curley. She states: “I really believe you have a winning book there, and with your expertise, one that will help young people. You can’t get better than that!  Best wishes, Marianne”.

The best selling Guardians of Time series aimed at highlighting the importance of preserving history.
Ms Marianne Curley – International bestselling YA fantasy author