Puffin has scooped The Ice Whisperers, a "haunting and magical" debut novel from Helenka Stachera, in a two-book deal.
Commissioning editor Emma Jones bought world rights from Jo Williamson at Antony Harwood. The Ice Whisperers, illustrated by Marco Guadalupi, will publish on 28th October 2021 with another standalone novel to follow.
The book follows two sisters born 40,000 years apart, moving from 1920s Poland to prehistoric Siberia, exploring family, friendship and what it really means to be human.
The synopsis explains: "When Bela's mother dies, she is summoned to deepest Siberia to stay with an uncle she's never met. Exploring his strange scientific workshop, she uncovers a secret she was never meant to find — a portal to an icy land, frozen in time and full of prehistoric legends brought to life. But this frozen land is in danger, and it's up to Bela to find a way to save it. To succeed, she must join forces with the impossible: Ren-ya, the long-lost sister she never knew she had, born 40,000 years ago.”
Stachera grew up in a yellow-brick house in the woods with her British mother and Polish father, which stoked her lifelong obsession with fairytales and legends. A Bath Spa graduate who now lives in Bristol with her husband, Helenka wrote her magical debut novel to explore themes of family and belonging that, as an adopted daughter, are very close to her heart.
The author explained: “The Ice Whisperers was inspired by the adventures and fairytales I read growing up. It is the story of Bela and Ren-ya, two sisters searching for identity in an ice-age spirit world and brings together my fascination for human ancestry, snowy forests and the lifelong wish that I had a sister. As soon as I got chatting with Emma, it was obvious we shared the same vision. My stories have found the perfect home with the brilliant Puffin team.”
Jones added: “The Ice Whisperers, has everything I love in a magical adventure. Helenka’s writing is stunningly atmospheric and the world she has built for these unlikely sisters is so rich and exciting. I can’t wait for readers to meet Bela and Ren-ya and join them on their breathtaking race against time!”