Hodder & Stoughton has acquired an "atmospheric and suspenseful" historical novel, Beyond the Wild River, and a second untitled novel, by author Sarah Maine.
Commissioning editor Emily Kitchin acquired British Commonwealth rights excluding Canada from Jenny Brown at Jenny Brown Associates. North American rights have been acquired by Atria.
The book, set in the 1890s, is about Evelyn Ballantyre, the daughter of a wealthy Scottish landowner whose childhood was blighted by an unresolved murder committed on her father’s estate. A young woman now, she accompanies her father on a dangerous expedition to the turbulent Nipigon River in Canada and unexpectedly encounters the childhood friend who disappeared on the night of the murder. As the desolate landscape grows harsher and the constraints of polite society slip away, the secrets and lies surrounding that night finally come to light.
Kitchin said: "Sarah Maine is a stunning writer; her ability to capture the haunting, untamable beauty of landscape harks back to Daphne du Maurier, and her talent for weaving together a dark, compelling family mystery and a beautifully drawn love story makes Beyond the Wild River a truly breath-taking novel. Sarah is a major talent and we couldn’t be more excited to be her publisher."
Maine said: "Landscapes inspire my writing, especially wild landscapes where characters feel a little uneasy and vulnerable, where normal rules don’t apply and where the elements can take a hand. I spent my childhood in Northern Canada, not far from Nipigon, and remember how vast and endless the forests seemed even then, so it wasn’t hard to imagine how 19th-Century Evelyn would have felt as all the norms of social convention were swept away. As an archaeologist I love to explore how the past has shaped landscapes and consider how it might have formed the attitudes and behaviour of the characters."
Maine is a freelance archaeologist, which she balances with time spent writing. Her debut novel, The House Between Tides, published in paperback with Atria Books in August. Beyond the Wild River is her second novel. It will publish in trade paperback and e-book in April 2017.