Mantle associate publisher Sam Humphreys has won a seven-way auction for a debut novel from short story writer Jane Healey.
Humphreys bought UK and Commonwealth rights to The Animals at Lockwood Manor, plus a second book, from Hayley Steed at the Madeleine Milburn Agency.
Set during WWII, The Animals at Lockwood Manor is said to be a gothic romance centred around Hetty Cartwright, director of an evacuated natural history museum, and Lucy Lockwood, daughter of the major who houses the museum on his estate during the Blitz.
Humphreys said: "I was smitten from the first page. A gloriously, gorgeously gothic love story, The Animals at Lockwood Manor has everything you'd hope for in such a book, and more besides: rumours of ghosts and curses; a dark and menacing manor house; a cruel and twisted major and his daughter, the haunted, beautiful Lucy, whose mother died in mysterious circumstances -- plus, of course, the stuffed exhibits from the natural history museum and their guardian, the unassuming but passionate Hetty. I loved it."
Healey has previously been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize 2013, the Costa Short Story Award 2014, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2016 and the Penguin Random House WriteNow mentoring programme 2017. The author said Humphreys’ vision for The Animals at Lockwood Manor was "a perfect fit”, adding: "It's been a joy mining my love of all things Gothic for this novel."
Pan Mac Mantle will publish in 2020.
Helen Atsma at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pre-empted US rights.