Erewhon Books is thrilled to announce the acquisition of Kalyna the Soothsayer, a debut novel from Elijah Kinch Spector following a woman born without the Gift of future sight that has been her family’s legacy for generations. She must pretend to tell fortunes for a prince who holds her family hostage—and navigate the potential collapse of the kingdom. World rights were acquired by Sarah Guan at Erewhon Books from Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates. Kalyna the Soothsayer will be available in February 2022 from Erewhon Books.
From debut novelist Elijah Kinch Spector comes Kalyna the Soothsayer, a thrilling tale in the vein of Spinning Silver and The Traitor Baru Cormorant following a young, brash “clairvoyant” con artist who must prophesize her way out of peril.
Every member of Kalyna’s family has the Gift: the ability to see the future. For generations, they traveled the four kingdoms of the Tetrarchia selling their services as soothsayers. Every child of their family is born with this Gift—everyone except Kalyna.
For years, Kalyna has supported her father—whose grip on reality is straining under the weight of his confused visions of the future—and her cruel grandmother on the strength of her wits, using informants and trickery to falsify prophecies for coin, and scrounge together a living for them all. But it’s getting harder every year. And poverty turns to danger when, on the strength of her reputation for prophecy, Kalyna is pressed into service by Lenz, the spymaster to the prince of Rotfelsen.
Lenz orders Kalyna to use her “Gift,” to uncover threats against Rotfelsen’s king, and holds her family hostage against her good behavior. But Rotfelsenisch politics are devious, the king’s enemies abound, and Kalyna’s skills for investigation and deception are tested to the limit. Worse, the conspiracy she does begin to uncover points to a larger threat, not only to the King of Rotfelsen but to all four monarchs at their annual governing council—which falls on precisely the same day that Kalyna’s father has prophesied the catastrophic collapse of the whole Tetrarchia.
Kalyna is determined to protect her family and her newfound friends—and to save the Tetrarchia, too. But as she is drawn deeper into palace intrigue, she can no longer tell if her manipulations are helping prevent the Tetrarchia’s destruction—or if her lies will bring about its prophesised downfall.
Author Elijah Kinch Spector says:
Because I’m an “elderly millennial,” Kalyna the Soothsayer is, naturally, about imposter syndrome. (The title is a lie, you see.) It’s a book about squandered potential and letting your family down, and about seeing ugly ethno-nationalism swirl around you and wondering if you “pass” well enough to escape it, while knowing that you should be aiming for more than mere escape. It’s also a book about swordfights, spies, prophecies, court intrigue, countries that are just too dang big to function, and spooky things that slither out of sight.
So it’s wild when your book about how you feel like a big faker gets published—and by the most incredible new publisher that’s putting out the coolest, weirdest books around, no less. My editor, Sarah Guan, immediately got what I was trying to do with this story, probably more than I did, and I can’t think of a better home for this queer (in both senses) thing I made than Erewhon.
Sarah Guan, editor, added:
As someone who grew up on the staples of the fantasy genre, I’ve always had a soft spot for well-trodden tropes like witty protagonists bluffing their way into and out of trouble; political intrigue with copious backstabbing, literal and otherwise; and old magic passed down through difficult families. These elements are popular because they work—and just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes Kalyna to surprise us, as she does time and again in Elijah’s book.
What I found exciting about this particular story is that it speaks to today’s readers in achingly relevant metaphor, much as its predecessors did in generations past. Kalyna is quick-witted because a code-switching, ethnically-ambiguous outsider has to be, to survive the factional and increasingly xenophobic atmosphere of the government she unwillingly serves, and she is very much not the great fortuneteller who was promised—but she has to pretend to be, because her family’s lives are worth more than any ideal of truth or purity that her ancestors might have venerated. Kalyna is a protagonist for today, and Elijah is a brilliant author for our times. I’m simply thrilled that we get to bring this story to readers everywhere.