Quercus has pre-empted a "captivating and magical" novel set in 1930s Malaysia by Yangsze Choo.
The Night Tiger is a historical novel about a dancehall girl and an orphan boy who are brought together by a series of unexplained deaths and an old Chinese superstition about men who turn into tigers.
Quercus fiction publisher Cassie Browne acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) from Sarah Manning at the Bent Agency. World rights (excluding UK and Commonwealth) meanwhile went to Amy Einhorn and Caroline Bleeke at Flatiron Books at auction via Jenny Bent at the Bent Agency.
Browne said having read Choo’s YA debut The Ghost Bride (Hot Key) she knew instantly on reading The Night Tiger that Quercus would want to publish her adult novel.
"This is one of the most evocative and magical stories I have ever read," said Browne. "Yangsze’s imagination travels deep and wide into 1930s Malaysia, but at its heart are two very special characters, Ren and Ji Lin, whose stories will captivate you as they solve the mystery of these strange happenings."
Choo said the novel sprang from her fascination as a child in Malaysia with colonial houses, many of which now lie in ruins, which she described as "a sort of Downton Abbey of the tropics".
"With their high ceilings and gracious windows, they spoke of a life that has vanished - a sort of Downton Abbey of the tropics with its shadowed interplay between servants and masters," she said. "The Night Tiger came out of the secrets I imagined hidden in those houses together with many of my favorite obsessions: Chinese dancehall girls; twins; men who turn into tigers; a train that takes you to the world of the dead. And of course, a good old-fashioned murder mystery! I'm so delighted and thrilled that Quercus is publishing The Night Tiger, and I'm really looking forward to our partnership."
Quercus has commissioned artist and illustrator Petra Börner to design a bespoke cover for The Night Tiger.
A spokesperson for the publisher said: "Everyone was immediately convinced by Petra Börner’s work and knew that she would create an exceptionally beautiful and original cover for this very special novel."
Quercus will publish The Night Tiger in Spring 2019 in hardback, export trade paperback, e-book and audio.