Bloomsbury has snapped up Suede bassist Mat Osman's fantastical Elizabethan adventure The Ghost Theatre, after securing the title in a 48-hour pre-empt.
Publishing director Emma Herdman bought UK and Commonwealth and audio rights from Victoria Hobbs at A M Heath. Bloomsbury will publish in 2023.
The publisher called it "dazzlingly imaginative, full of prophecy and anarchy, gutter-rats and bird-gods". Bloomsbury said: "It’s a romp over the rooftops of Elizabethan England, a meditation on double lives and fluid identities, fame and disgrace, with a bittersweet love affair at its heart."
Its blurb explains: "In Elizabethan London, two young people meet by chance: bird-worshipping Shay and enigmatic Nonesuch, an actor at the exclusive Blackfriars Theatre. Shay quickly falls in love with the performances, with the words, with Nonesuch himself, and together they create their own underground troupe called the Ghost Theatre. Put in front of an audience for the first time, Shay transforms into The Sparrow, quickly becoming London’s newest star. As her reputation grows, she attracts the attention of the Queen herself—but when she seeks an audience with the fortune-telling Sparrow, the reading unleashes unexpected and destabilising forces, not just for the Ghost Theatre, but across the country."
Osman is the bassist and founding member of British band Suede, alongside being a composer of music for TV and films. He also worked as a culture journalist during the 2000s and is the brother of TV presenter turned crime-writing phenomenon Richard Osman.
The author said: "The moment that I heard that Bloomsbury wanted The Ghost Theatre, I knew it had found its home. The book is a wild reimagining of Elizabethan London, featuring an androgynous, bird-worshipping fortune teller, kidnapped child actors more famous than royalty, golden cities and palaces in flames. In this imagined London, two child actors spin magical performances that bring the city to its knees. I knew that The Ghost Theatre needed an editor who would love this hallucinatory take on Elizabethan England as much as I loved creating it, and Emma's immediate passion for the story matched my own. I can't wait for the fabulous Bloomsbury team to help share it with readers the world over."
Herdman added: "Mat’s novel is gripping and magical, deftly crafted and filmic in its descriptions. I wanted to step into the book and rub shoulders with his vivid characters, to visit the fantastical theatre sets he has conjured, and experience the London of his imagination. It’s the best kind of book: a cracking story with writing that will give you chills. We can’t wait to share it with readers."
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