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Hot Key Books returns to the bestselling world of Raybearer with new Jordan Ifueko fantasy

Hot Key Books is delighted to announce the acquisition of Jordan Ifueko’s The Maid and the Crocodile, a romantic fantasy novel set in the west-African inspired world of her Raybearer duology, which is soon to be adapted into a major Netflix series.

Emma Matthewson, executive publisher at Hot Key Books, acquired UK and Commonwealth English language rights from Abrams Books. Ifueko is represented by Kim-Mei Kirtland at Morhaim Literary.

In the magic-soaked city of Oluwan, Small Sade needs a job – preferably as a maid, with employers who don’t mind her unique appearance and unlucky foot. But before she can be hired, she accidentally binds herself to a powerful being known only as the Crocodile, a god rumoured to devour pretty girls. Small Sade entrances the Crocodile with her secret: she is a Curse Eater, gifted with the ability to alter people’s fates by cleaning their houses.

The handsome god warns that their fates are bound, and that he needs her help to reverse a curse on him, but Small Sade evades him, launching herself into a new career as the Curse Eater of a swanky inn. She is determined to impress the wealthy inhabitants and earn her place in Oluwan City, assuming her secret-filled past – and the revolutionary ambitions of the Crocodile – don’t catch up with her.

Jordan Ifueko says: ‘When I first assembled the story blocks of The Maid and the Crocodile – a girl who eats curses, a god who eats girls, a bustling city, a magical villa with portal doors – I set out to write a dreamy fantasy romance. But the story quickly blossomed into something more: a rallying cry for the dignity of workers, the maids and cooks and gardeners often tossed to the sidelines of our imaginations, both in fantasy and real life. The book asks, are manual workers less beautiful than fairies and empresses? Less magical? Less brimming with purpose? Do they need heroic ‘chosen ones’ to save them? Or can they save themselves together, better than a singular chosen one ever could? I am overjoyed to welcome readers back to the multicultural world of Aritsar, seen first through the Raybearer books, and hope they enjoy this new story every bit as much as I loved writing it!’

Emma Matthewson says: ‘I could not be more pleased to be welcoming Jordan Ifueko anew to the Hot Key list; Jordan’s novels have such immersive world-building and I am thrilled that The Maid and the Crocodile is set in the same world as Raybearer and Redemptor, which is sure to delight fans.’

Ella Whiddett, commissioning editor adds: ‘We are so excited to be publishing this beautiful new story from Jordan. It has all the lush detail and world-building you’d expect from her writing, and is brimming with power struggles and betrayals, curses and kisses, girls and crocodiles.’

Jordan Ifueko is the New York Times bestselling author of the Raybearer duology, which is currently in development with Netflix. She’s a finalist for the Nebula Award, Ignyte Award, Audie Award and Hugo Lodestar. She writes about magic Black girls who aren’t magic all the time, because honestly, they deserve a vacation. Ifueko lives in Atlanta with her husband and their tripawd dog. @jordanifueko

The Maid and the Crocodile will be publishing in paperback, audio and e-book in August 2024.

Photo credit: David Suh, 2021