Penguin Michael Joseph has bought “chilling” ghost story The Whistling by debut author Rebecca Netley at auction.
Editorial director Clio Cornish acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Giles Milburn at the Madeleine Milburn Agency. It will be published in hardback, e-book and audio in October 2021.
The synopsis explains: “Set on a wild Scottish island, The Whistling follows Elspeth Swansome as she takes up the post of nanny to nine-year-old Mary – who hasn’t uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William. With her charge defiantly silent, Elspeth turns to the islanders – but no one will speak of what happened to William. Just as no one can explain the hypnotic lullabies heard in empty corridors. Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms. Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night… As winter draws in and passage to the mainland becomes impossible, Elspeth finds herself increasingly afraid. But is this island being haunted by the ghosts of the past? Or the secrets of the living?”
Netley said: “I’m so grateful to Giles for placing me with Penguin Michael Joseph and am absolutely thrilled to be working with Clio and with the fabulous team there. It was clear from the first call that Clio was going to be the perfect editor for The Whistling. Her enthusiasm and ideas for the book struck me immediately. It’s been an exciting journey and I cannot wait to see it on the shelves later this year.”
Cornish added: “I am a ghost story addict, but it’s so rare to discover one that successfully hits all the timeless tropes of gothic fiction while introducing some genuinely terrifying original ideas. Rebecca does both with style, and I’m so excited for readers to curl up with The Whistling this autumn – a book that frightened me to death and kept me guessing until the very last page.”
Milburn commented: “As a child, I grew up with Susan Hill’s 'Woman in Black' seared onto the backs of my eyelids as I went to sleep. As an adult, I have been searching for a ghost story that has the same impact, and so I was utterly thrilled and totally terrified when The Whistling landed on my desk. Rebecca has spun a chilling story which is as clever as it is entertaining, as moving as it is scary, and as classic as it is innovative. Clio is the ideal editor for this, and I cannot wait for readers to get their hands on it in October.”