Author Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds series), whose recent Greek mythology-inspired YA fantasy Lore (Disney-Hyperion) is in its 16th week on the New York Times bestseller list, will publish a new YA fantasy duology with Random House Children’s Books. The first book, Silver in the Bone, is scheduled for release in 2023. Melanie Nolan, v-p and publisher at Knopf Books for Young Readers, landed North American rights to the book and its follow-up, as well as a third untitled YA novel, in a seven-house auction brokered by Merrilee Heifetz at Writers House. Nolan will also edit.
Though Knopf is a new publisher for Bracken’s work, Random House is a very familiar place to her—she worked in the children’s marketing department there a number of years ago. She noted that this latest development marks “a really unexpected—but delightful—full-circle moment.” While working at RHCB as a marketing assistant, Bracken recalled, “I felt so lucky to have that rare day job I loved as much as my evening and weekend gig, which at the time was writing The Darkest Minds series. In the years we overlapped, I got to witness firsthand what a fantastic and passionate editor Melanie is, but I never dared to dream I’d get to work with her as an author one day.”
Bracken had a bounty of factors to consider as she sought a good fit for her new book. “When it came time to choose a home for Silver, the most important thing to me was finding the right editor—someone who shared my vision for the story and loved the characters as much as I did,” she said. “As fate would have it, Melanie turned out to be exactly that editor. Reading her letter about the project made me cry in the best way. There was a real magic to that moment, which made a difficult decision easier.”
Nolan shared more about why she wanted to pursue the project. “I knew Alex from our time together at Random House, but I’d had a conversation with her years before that and knew that what she really wanted to do was write. So, when The Darkest Minds (Disney-Hyperion, 2012) came out, I was already primed to be a fan,” she said. “Fast-forward many years to Lore’s publication. It was January 2021 and I was craving a pick-me-up, something to pull me out of a real world that was feeling particularly heavy and strained. And Lore delivered on every level—high stakes, a character I fell in love with, an impossible conflict expertly crafted. It was an utterly transportive experience. When I learned that Alex had something new in the works, I was ready to jump in with both feet. Of course, so were many other passionate editors, and I can only say I feel incredibly fortunate that she ultimately chose me and Knopf.”
“The story centers on a cynical teen treasure hunter willing to do anything—including cross into legendary Otherlands—to find the one relic that can reverse her brother’s terrifying curse,” Bracken said of Silver in the Bone. “I’ve been pitching it as a kind of feminist, mystical Indiana Jones, only here they’re raiding the tombs and vaults of sorceresses. Like Lore, this isn’t a retelling of any one myth or legend, but it weaves in Arthurian and Welsh lore to craft a contemporary fantasy world and adventure.”
In Bracken’s view, “a well-worn cliché” provides an apt description of what it’s like rejoining the RHCB crew after time away. “I have to keep pinching myself!” she said. “It’s an honor and pleasure to be able to work with such a talented and special group again—albeit in a slightly different way—and to know my books are in such safe hands. Their enthusiasm and ideas for the project have already blown me away.”
Nolan noted that “the joy of helping an author we all love usher in the next part of her career with books that keep raising the bar” is just one of the things she loves about bringing Silver in the Bone, and Bracken, to the Knopf list. “To me, this is as much a family reunion as it is a book partnership, and after more than a year of being estranged from friends and family, a reunion feels especially sweet,” she said.