A YA historical fantasy novel, set in Scotland in the fifteenth century, is the winner of this year’s Times/Chicken House Fiction Competition.
The Lion and the Unicorn, by unpublished writer Trudi Tweedie, is about a teenage girl who is whisked away from her remote island home to be a governess in a sinister house on the mainland.
The prize is for unpublished and unagented writers and the judges picked Tweedie’s tale because of her “classic storytelling and mesmerizing build of tension”.
Publisher Barry Cunningham said: “After considering everything from giant post-apocalyptic jellyfish to robots and witches, the clear winner of the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition is a haunting and deeply emotional tale of a young governess’s journey from remote St Kilda into a maelstrom of malice and strangeness on the Scottish mainland. This story is truly stunning and original.”
Tweedie wins a publishing contract with Chicken House, with a £10,000 advance, and her book is scheduled for release in 2020.
The prize was also judged by former children’s laureate Chris Riddell, Waterstones’ children’s buyer Florentyna Martin and Times arts editor Alex O’Connell.