Head of Zeus will publish the first title in a Pompeii-set trilogy by Elodie Harper, The Wolf Den, in May 2021.
Madeleine O'Shea, editorial director, bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Juliet Mushens at Mushens Entertainment. The Wolf Den will be a lead title for Head of Zeus in the spring, and will be published in hardback, export trade paperback, e-book and audiobook.
The trilogy will follow the lives of a group of young women who work in a Pompeii brothel during the reigns of Vespasian and his son Titus. Their story will end with the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD, and the resulting destruction of Pompeii.
O’Shea said: "The initial idea for this series was to do for Pompeii and Vesuvius what Jane Austen did for the Napoleonic Wars: to write a truly immersive, character-driven story based in a specific time and place without ever directly addressing the power and politics for which the era is now known. We all know Pompeii was hit by a disastrous volcanic eruption, burying people's lives—their loves, hates, dreams and fears—within a matter of days. Elodie Harper's brilliantly vivid women will draw the reader into the everyday cut and thrust of a city completely unaware of the disaster awaiting it."
Harper added: "The eruption of Vesuvius didn't judge what was 'worth' preserving, which is how Pompeii's brothel survived, in all its haunting detail. It has been an incredible journey to reimagine the lives of its women, not only their suffering but also their humour and hope."