Eldritch Midwifery: Announcing A Season of Monstrous Conceptions by Lina Rather

Tordotcom is thrilled to announce that Christie Yant has acquired a standalone historical fantasy novella from Golden Crown Literary Award-winning author Lina Rather titled A Season of Monstrous Conceptions, in which an apprentice midwife confronts a rising number of infants born with strange, otherworldly features.

The deal for World English rights was brokered by Hannah Bowman at Liza Dawson Associates.

In 17th-century London, unnatural babies are being born: some with eyes made for the dark, others with webbed fingers and toes better suited to the sea.

Sarah Davis is intimately familiar with such strangeness—she herself was born marked by uncanniness. Having hidden her nature all her life and fled to London under suspicious circumstances, Sarah starts over as a midwife’s apprentice, hoping to carve out for herself an independent life. As a member of the illegal Worshipful Company of Midwives, Sarah learns to reach across the thinning boundary between her world and another, drawing on its power to heal and protect the women she serves.

When the wealthy Lady Wren hires her to see her through her pregnancy, Sarah quickly becomes a favorite of her husband, the famous architect Lord Christopher Wren, whose interest in the uncanny borders on obsession. Sarah soon finds herself caught in a web of magic and intrigue created by those who would use the magic of the Other World to gain power for themselves, and whose pursuits threaten to unmake the earth itself.

Said author Lina Rather:

A Season of Monstrous Conceptions first began when I was in college, writing my thesis on early modern midwifery manuals. Many of the illustrations in these books are haunting–disembodied hands delivering babies, cadavers with their skin peeled back and pinned, imagined monsters lurking on just the wrong side of medicine. I started thinking about the kind of young woman reading these books, trying to learn her profession and also desperate to understand the darkness within herself. But it wasn’t until the current pandemic that this story crystallized into the story of a woman with her back against the wall, isolated in a world terrified by a mysterious plague, and holding back a power that could save her city–or end it. I’m so happy that this story found a home and thrilled to be working once more with Christie Yant and the rest of the Tordotcom team.

Said editor Christie Yant:

Like a cabinet of curiosities, I couldn’t look away from the monstrous, mysterious, and magical contents of Lina Rather’s new dark fantasy. Readers will be entranced as they follow Sarah, a young midwife-in-training, as she finds herself at the center of a collision of classes and worlds in the dark streets of 17th century London. It is always a great pleasure to get to work with Lina and follow wherever her nimble mind may go.

A Season of Monstrous Conceptions will arrive from Tordotcom Publishing in 2023.


Lina Rather is a speculative fiction author from Michigan living in Washington, D.C. Her short fiction has appeared in venues including Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, and Shimmer. Her books include Sisters of the Vast Black (winner of the Golden Crown Literary Society Goldie Award and shortlisted for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award) and Sisters of the Forsaken Stars. When Lina isn’t writing, she likes to cook overly elaborate recipes, read history, and collect cool rocks. Find out more at her website or on Twitter @LinaRather.


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