Transworld has pre-empted a "tense" debut, Bad Apple by Zoje Stage, which the publisher says takes domestic suspense "to a whole new level".
Bad Apple is described as having echoes of We Need to Talk About Kevin and Good Me, Bad Me and asks questions including whether a child can be born bad.
Francesca Best, editorial director at Transworld, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth rights from Kerry Nordling at St Martin’s Press in the US.
The novel centres on seven-year-old Hanna, a wilful and clever child who has chosen never to speak. When the decision is made to try home-schooling, Hanna’s mother Suzette begins to fear the time spent alone with her daughter.
The publisher's blurb for the book reads: "While her husband is sympathetic, he can’t see that his wife and daughter are engaged in a silent battle. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and her husband remains blind to what his daughter may be capable of, could Suzette be in danger from her own child?"
Best commented: "Bad Apple is an engrossingly tense debut novel that plays on every woman’s anxiety about being a good mother, while asking whether a child can be born bad. None of the team at Transworld could tear themselves away from the crumbling relationship between Suzette and Hanna – this book takes domestic suspense to a whole new level."
The book was pre-empted by Jennifer Weis in the US and will be a lead title for St Martin’s Press this summer under the title Baby Teeth. Australia and New Zealand rights have been acquired by Kimberley Atkins of PRH Australia.