A short novel set in sixth-century Britain: like Hild, but with magic—not only the wild magic of the landscape, and of love and the human heart, but also the sword-swinging, monster-killing magic of myth and demigods. Instead of the Conversion Age, though, this is the Matter of Britain, but Arturus does not live in castle, Myrddyn is not a Good Guy, Nimuë is most definitely not a femme fatale, Gwenhwyfar is steely rather than an ingenue, and Peretur… Well, Peretur is definitely not the Peretur we think we know—not even the Peretur Peretur knows. Think of Spear as Hild let off the leash, unbound by those pesky historical constraints—and set a hundred years earlier, in Wales rather than England. The setting is throughly Celtic-flavoured, and so is the language: I aimed for prose that’s rhythmic and rippling and periphrastic. Arturus’s Companions (Fighters Previously Know As Knights of the Round Table) are much more various than the myth, the grail is very much not what it seems, and Caer Leon/Camelot is queered six ways from Sunday. In many ways, though, all that is peripheral. What takes centre stage is the journey of Peretur, a girl and then young woman who leaves home to find out who she is. Climate change and other real-world events are there as underpinnings—you won’t notice unless you’re looking—but essentially this is a Hero’s Journey, or, more accurately, a
Heroine’s Real Hero’s Journey. All Heroes set out to win, and Peretur is no exception, but winning for her is not just about the slaying of monsters—which she most definitely does (human and otherwise), and with great élan—but about connecting: finding her people and a place to belong.
In many ways this book is a kind of homecoming—not just for Peretur but for me: a coming-together of two parts of my career. So I’m thrilled it will be published in an unusual editorial collaboration between two of Macmillan’s imprints: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (publisher of Hild and my other non-SF novels), and Tor.com (publisher of science fiction, fantasy, and horror). Excitingly, there may also be budget for interior illustrations; more on that when I have it—but I think this could be a beautiful, gift-worthy item.
It will be published in world English in hardcover, ebook, and audio in April 2022.