Yumi and the Nightmare Painter

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The Coppermind has spoilers for all of Brandon's published works, now including The Lost Metal. Information about books that have not yet been released, like the secret novels releasing in 2023 and Stormlight 5, is allowed only on meta-pages for the books themselves. For more details, see our spoiler policy. To view an earlier version of the wiki without spoilers for a book, go to the Time Machine!

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter
Setting Cosmere
Released July 2023[1]
Publisher Dragonsteel Entertainment
This page or section contains details from the unpublished work Secret Project Three!
This information has the potential to ruin plot elements of both published works and upcoming book releases for the reader. It should also be considered uncanonical and could completely change in the future.

Yumi and the Nightmare Painter is the title of the third of the secret projects that are being released in 2023. It will be released in July 2023 as part of a Kickstarter Campaign.[1] It is a cosmere novel set on two new worlds,[2] located near where a Shard named Virtuosity splintered herself.[3]

On March 17, 2022, Brandon released the first seven chapters, along with some brief commentary, which can be read on his website and listened to on his YouTube channel. He also did a full spoiler Q&A about these preview chapters, which can be listened to on his YouTube channel.


Yumi comes from a land of gardens, meditation, and spirits, while Painter lives in a world of darkness, technology, and nightmares. When their lives suddenly become intertwined in strange ways, can they put aside their differences and work together to uncover the mysteries of their situation and save each other’s communities from certain disaster?

—Tor blurb [4]


The story is set in two vastly disparate locations -- the city of Kilahito, in a world covered by a perpetual shroud of darkness, and the land of Torio, where the ground is extremely hot and humanity can only survive around geysers. In Kilahito, Nikaro, or Painter, works a thankless job as a nightmare painter, capturing nightmares that slink out of the shroud into the city to feed on the fear of its people. In Torio, Yumi is a travelling yoki-hijo, a rare priestess able to summon and command spirits that serve various necessary functions for Torio's inhabitants. Painter is beginning to feel ennui, and slowly realizing he needs to improve himself; Yumi feels trapped between her yearning to be free and her sense of responsibility as a yoki-hijo.[3]

One day, Yumi is contacted by a spirit from deep below, who asks her to help free them. She agrees and collapses. Around the same time, Painter tracks down and scares away a particularly powerful nightmare before feeling extremely tired and falling asleep.[3] When the two wake up, they realize they are now bound together. In Torio, Painter appears to others as though he was Yumi, while she herself is a disembodied spirit visible only to him; in Kilahito, their situation is reversed. They now must work together to learn each other's jobs and figure out what happened to tie them like this -- and how to stop it.[5]


I’ve always wanted to dive into doing a story with some kind of fantastical job, or maybe two. Something cool (yet somehow still mundane) involving the sorts of work one could only do in a fantasy world.


Yumi and the Nightmare Painter was written as one of the secret projects that Brandon worked on during the Covid-19 pandemic.[1] Alongside Secret Project One, it is an experiment in writing Hoid narration in anticipation of Dragonsteel. While Secret Project One is set to have more of a fairytale vibe, Yumi is supposed to be a more dramatic voice.[5]

While the setting is a mix of Japanese and Korean influences, it was inspired mostly by Japanese media. The initial concept came from Hikaru no Go, which Brandon became familiar with through Peter Ahlstrom's fan-translation. In it, a young boy finds a Go board haunted by an old master who offers to teach him the game -- hence a ghostly Painter teaching Yumi his craft, while ghostly Yumi teaches Painter hers. Additional inspiration came from Your Name, as well as Final Fantasy X. Yumi's name specifically is derived from Yuna, one of the protagonists of FFX.[5]


  • The book will be illustrated by Aliya Chen.[6]
  • The book introduces a new shard, Virtuosity. They are one of the original sixteen.[7]


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