Walker Books has signed a "pacy and compelling" YA fantasy romance from debut author Shade Lapite in a two-book deal.
World English rights were acquired jointly at auction by Annalie Grainger, senior commissioning editor at Walker Books UK, and Susan Van Metre, executive editorial eirector of Walker Books US, from Joanna Moult at Skylark Literary Agency.
The first book, Goddess Crown, will publish in spring 2023. It centres on Kalothia, a young girl who grows up hidden away in a forest with only a teacher, a nurse and a bodyguard for company.
"It’s a quiet, cloistered life but for the regular visits of a young soldier, tasked with training her to fight," the synopsis states. "No one has ever explained why this training is necessary, but when a gang of assassins comes hunting for her, Kalothia needs her fighting skills to survive. Determined to find out who she really is, Kalothia embarks on a perilous journey that leads her to the king’s court, a beautiful but lethal nest of poison and perfection. Can Kalothia navigate the intrigues of court to find her own role and her one true love?"
Lapite is British-Nigerian and has drawn on her heritage to create the world of her novel. Her blog, Coffee Bookshelves, celebrates writing and promotes titles by authors of colour. Commenting on her debut, she said: “Kalothia is this wonderful blend of so many traits I love to see in heroines. She is bold, brave, quick-witted and compassionate. She is also armed and dangerous. If you mess with her, she will bring the fight to your door—as the royal court discovers. I can’t wait for the world to meet her.”
Grainger said: “Goddess Crown is everything we could wish for in a YA fantasy: secret identities, warrior princesses and gorgeous dukes. This book is the escapist read the world needs right now.”
Van Metre added: “Thrilling, romantic and deliciously detailed, Goddess Crown is the best sort of princess story, one that acknowledges the courage, smarts and daring it takes to navigate life at court and its dynastic power struggles. These beautiful ball gowns have daggers in the folds!”