Atlantic Books imprint Corvus has acquired a debut upmarket mystery set in an elite Catholic boarding school for girls in the 1990s: The Temple House Girls by Rachel Donohue.
Donohue, who was the winner of 2017's Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award or her short story writing, secured a two-book deal with the publisher. Editorial director Sara O’Keeffe bought UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) plus audio rights from Ivan Mulcahy of MMB Creative.
The Temple House Girls, Donohue's first full work of fiction, is set to be a lead title for Corvus, publishing in early 2020. Set in the 1990s in a Catholic boarding school for girls, its plot explores "rumours of a scandal suppressed" when a 17-year-old and her charismatic 25-year-old male art teacher disappear without trace.
Pitched as "a dark and complex tale of sexual longing and jealousy, confused and all the more intense for being hidden", its editor likened the eerie and captivating novel to "a sort of twisted Malory Towers for grown-ups".
O’Keeffe commented: "It is a novel awash with dark colours, glorious images and dangerous emotion. And always, there is a sense of the nuns, those inky spectres, hovering just out of view but forever watchful.
"It has just a dash of The Secret History; but also echoes of Picnic at Hanging Rock. Perhaps the best comparison might be to say that it is a sort of twisted Malory Towers for grown-ups. But it remains very much its own creation. We are hugely excited to publish The Temple House Girls."