Blood Magic, Sex Magic, House Magic: Introducing Freya Marske’s Debut Fantasy of Very Bad Manners Publishing is thrilled to announce that Ruoxi Chen has acquired North American rights to Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light, a queer historical fantasy that kicks off The Last Binding trilogy. Diana Fox at Fox Literary brokered the deal.

A historical fantasy in the tradition of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Witchmark, debut author Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light unfolds in an Edwardian England full of magic, contracts, and conspiracies.

“Unbusheling. A revelation of magic.”

Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.

Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.

Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.

Said author Freya Marske:

“I’m overjoyed to be working with Ruoxi and the Publishing team to bring my debut novel into the world! I can’t wait for readers to meet Robin and Edwin, and to see what happens when the author falls headlong into a pit of obsession with early modernist interior design and then stumbles out with William Morris wallpaper stuck to her cheek, overflowing with feelings about Tiffany glass.

A Marvellous Light is a historical fantasy wrapped tightly around a romance with some large dollops of deadly peril and curse-breaking, and I also wanted to give a fond nod to the grand English tradition of manor house murder mysteries. It’s about the scars left by our upbringings, falling in love where you don’t expect it, reframing powerlessness, and the deep responsibilities we owe to the places we claim as our homes.

It also contains some object lessons in why you don’t mess with swans or steely-eyed old ladies. And rather a lot of sex.”

Said editor Ruoxi Chen:

“Freya is the type of writer who knows how to twist the knife with a single exquisite description and whose take on the grumpy one loving the sunshine one had me up at 5am whispering ‘please kiss’ into the pages of her manuscript. I assure you, they very much kiss. A Marvellous Light contains the kind of subtle, confident worldbuilding that I like best, slowly drawing the curtain back on a hidden bureaucracy in a narrative utterly unafraid to challenge empire, ownership, and the contracts we don’t even realize we’ve made.”

Applicable AO3 (Archive Of Our Own) tags:

  • overthinking under-powered spiteful librarian/genial jock with surprising layers
  • UST (unresolved sexual tension)
  • VRST (very resolved sexual tension)
  • fantasy of very bad manners
  • hurt/comfort
  • Houses That Love You
  • bound by blood
  • bound by sexy magical restraints
  • gratuitous library porn
  • homicidal hedge maze
  • sleeves rolled up forearms
  • Messing About In Boats

Freya Marske lives in Australia, where she is yet to be killed by any form of wildlife. She writes stories full of magic, blood, and as much kissing as she can get away with, and she co-hosts the Hugo Award-nominated podcast Be the Serpent. Her hobbies include figure skating and discovering new art galleries, and she is on a quest to try all the gin in the world. Find her on Twitter at @freyamarske, or at her website.

A Marvellous Light will be available from Publishing in 2021.


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