Slavic-Inspired Fantasy From the Viewpoint of the Striga: Angry Robot Books Acquires Debut From Author Gabriela Houston

In episode 3 of The Witcher (which adapts Andrzej Sapkowski’s short story “The Witcher” from The Last Wish), Geralt must battle a striga, a female demon inspired by Polish folklore. Over the course of the story, our witcher discovers that the striga is actually the daughter of Princess Adda, transformed as the result of a curse and in dire need of a cure. Since the story is entirely from Geralt’s POV, we never get a look at the interiority of the girl, whose last memories date from before the curse. Does she remember being a monster? Does she consider herself a separate entity from her striga self? What about the rest of her de-cursed life?

Inquiring minds just might find these answers inside the debut novel of author Gabriela Houston, newly acquired by Angry Robot Books. Like Sapkowski, Houston is inspired by Slavic folklore and “the vast forests of her native Poland,” according to The Bookseller. Entitled The Second Bell, her book is written from the viewpoint of a girl branded as a striga, exiled to the forest.

photo of Author Gabriella Houston

Here’s the official synopsis, according to The Bookseller:

The Second Bell follows the story of 19-year-old Salka, who is born with two hearts. She is branded a “striga” and considered a demon who must live on the edge of the forest.

She and her mother must leave society and live in squalor, and the striga tribe they find share the human belief that to follow the impulses of their “other” heart is dangerous, and invites unspoken horrors and ruin onto them all. But Salka is a headstrong and independent young woman, and when she finds herself in a life-threatening situation, she is forced to explore the depths of her true nature and test the bonds between mother and child.

The Second Bell will be published March 2021.


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