April 20, 2021

Welcome to The Howling Hag Mystery

It's official - my fourth novel will be published in the UK on July 1 2021. 

And here is the cover of my fourth published novel (yes, I can hardly believe it's the fourth).

It is called The Howling Hag Mystery. It’s all about the hunt for a mischievous witch who is cursing the school in the sleepy village of Twinhills. And the jacket looks like this:

A huge thank you to the brilliance of illustrator Héloïse Mab. Such an exciting jacket! A little darker than my first three books I think? Do let me know what you think. I'd love to know. 

I even had official cover reveal for the new look from the amazing team at Bounce, who get a lot of books from smaller publishers into independent bookshops:

So things could not be more exciting!

The Howling Hag Mystery is of course a magical investigation. Strange things are happening and a team of young detectives must puzzle out what is behind the events in the secretive world of sorcerers. Is someone magical misbehaving? And how can they find out who it is and get them to stop? Magical detection has never been more difficult.

Nightshade - Seth's constant companion from my first three books - is involved in this investigation and this time she's in charge. She uses the detective powers she has learned from the cases she has solved with Seth Seppi to train up this new team of magical detectives.

‘How do we even investigate a magical crime?’

‘It’s not so different from any other crime. We establish facts, look for motives, narrow the suspects,’ I said, settling down in the sunshine. ‘We pay attention to detail.’ They hadn’t quite yet seen the whole picture. I’d have to get to that.

Here’s a bit more about the story:

Life is a constant challenge for Raven Charming. She goes to school in an ordinary village, but must keep an extraordinary secret. Her mother works very long hours as a curse-breaker, Raven’s grandma Snapdragon suffered a very unfortunate magical accident, and her sister, Rookery, is very magical indeed. But so far, Raven is the sister who is showing no signs of being magical at all.

But it is up to Raven to investigate when the peaceful world of Twinhills is threatened by a malicious witch. There is danger of the whole secretive world of the Elysee Sorcerers being exposed, not to say some very bad and dangerous magic being used by someone who seems intent on bringing cruel tricks and unkindness to school. 

Can Raven team up with the annoying new boy who knows nothing about magic, and the strange cat who has turned up and knows an awful lot about magic – and find out who is cursing the school before their crimes get serious?

There are clues and suspects, there is a very nasty body in the school pond, and there are an awful lot of jam tarts and of course . . . magic.

As always, I try to write the sort of books that I think children are going to want to keep reading, so I do hope you will enjoy this one, which is a slightly new direction from my first three books. But I hope all very good fun.

It’s about magic (of course), about family, friendship and identity, and how sometimes the biggest mystery to solve is how to discover your own unique talents and how to fit in when you have a lot of secrets to keep.  

Huge thanks to my publisher, Chicken House, for supporting me in yet another publishing journey. They asked me to write a new story that explored the shadowy secretive world of the Elysee Sorcerers but from a different angle. I thought it would be fun to think about how a magical family might try to fit into a world where magic is very rare and most people no longer believe in sorcery, especially if someone close to them is mis-using magic.

It is published on July 1. If you'd like to pre-order a copy of The Howling Hag Mystery you can do so already through your local independent bookshop, or here on the wonderful new indie-supporting website Bookshop.org.

Or of course through WaterstonesBlackwells or Amazon.