Welbeck Flame has inked a five-book deal for debut author Skye McKenna’s magical middle-grade series set in Hedgely, an English village next to a great forest that marks the boundary between humans and “the world of Faerie”.
Associate publisher Felicity Alexander bought UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) from Philippa Milnes-Smith at The Soho Agency. ILA has sold rights to the series in Brazil, the Czech Republic and Slovakia on the behalf of The Soho Agency.
The series—which Flame said would “appeal to the fans of Nevermoor, The Worst Witch and The Dark Is Rising”—kicks off with Hedgewitch, which centres around a coven of young witches which meets every Friday after school to learn the practical skills of their craft. Faced with “the cunning faery folk, they’ll need courage, wit and friendship to overcome the challenges that await them within the wood”.
Flame is the new kid’s imprint formed in December last year, headed up by Welbeck’s publisher for children’s books, Jane Harris. Alexander said: “Hedgewitch is exactly what we hoped we would find when we decided to launch Flame. It’s fresh yet classic, enchanting and intensely human, with the most satisfying (and surprising) five-book story arc. This is a world where you don’t have to be special to access magic—you just have to keep your eyes and mind open. We could not be happier to be working with Skye – and look forward to putting Hedgewitch on the map.”
McKenna was born and raised in the Australian outback town of Newman and moved to the UK as an adult. She now works for York Archaeological Trust where she curated a Magic & Mystery exhibition, introducing visitors to real and legendary wizards and alchemists and developing activities for school children and families visiting the exhibition.
Hedgewitch will launch in April 2022, with the follow-up, Woodwitch, due a year later.