Wildfire has snapped up Down by the Water, a psychological thriller by Elle Connel, set over the course of a weekend at a hen party in a remote castle in the Scottish Borders.
The book, praised for its "richly atmospheric" setting, was acquired by publisher Jack Butler. World rights, including film and TV, were secured in a deal negotiated by Daisy Parente at Lutyens & Rubinstein.
Slated for July 2021, and said to have been partially inspired by a true story, Down by the Water follows seven friends as they gather at a remote castle in the Scottish Borders for a hen party.
The synopsis reads: "Situated near a beautiful sea-loch, it seems like the perfect place to get away from the outside world. But the weekend is terrifyingly derailed when the girls spot the figure of a boy in one of their group photos by the water. They thought they knew each other's darkest moments, but one of them has been hiding a devastating secret. And amid the drunken revelries of the weekend, she will find the perfect moment to wreak her revenge..."
Butler called it an "unputdownable" read, complete with "heart-stopping reveals". It is the author's first title using the name Elle Connel, having written historical thrillers as Lucy Ribchester including The Hourglass Factory and The Amber Shadows.
Butler remarked: "Elle Connel uses her secluded and richly atmospheric setting to plunge readers into a perfectly chilling environment where danger – both from the natural world, and from the people you thought you could trust – lurks around every corner. Combined with the tight timeframe of one weekend, a dynamic cast of characters, and some heart-stopping reveals, this makes for a truly unputdownable read."
Connel, who is based in Edinburgh, said: "I have been burning to write a contemporary thriller for some time now, and the kernel of this idea just jumped out at me. It is a dream to be published by Wildfire. Their ideas and support have been phenomenal so far, and I can’t wait to share this book with readers."
Wildfire will publish in July 2021 in hardback, export trade paperback, e-book and audio.