Viking has acquired a literary historical thriller The Witchfinder’s Sister by debut author Beth Underdown.
World English rights to were secured in a pre-empt from Nelle Andrew at PFD.
The book is based on the life of Matthew Hopkins, often referred to as the Witchfinder General, who hunted and then helped to convict over a hundred women for witchcraft in the 1640s.
Underdown worked at Phaidon Press before doing a Creative Writing MA at the University of Manchester, and was inspired to research the period she writes about by her great uncle David Underdown, one of its foremost historians. She said: "It has been troubling but also fascinating to immerse myself in the most intensive witch-hunt in English history, and to tackle events which have so far been more or less neglected in fiction. I’m delighted to have been taken on by Viking; it’s a great imprint, and I’m excited to have found a home there."
Commissioning editor Katy Loftus said: "The Viking team are incredibly excited to be publishing this extraordinary novel. Beth Underdown’s take on this shocking slice of British history is so assured that none of us could believe it was a debut. Like Sarah Waters and Kate Mosse, Beth’s narrative reads like the most gripping of contemporary thrillers, with characters that leap off the page and a brooding atmosphere that haunts you for days. The Witchfinder’s Sister is a once-in-a-lifetime book and the team are thrilled to be launching what’s sure to be a stellar literary career."
Andrew added: "I am delighted to have a book with Viking and especially an editor as passionate and talented as Katy. I know this will be a fantastic home for my author."