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Manilla Press acquires Anya Bergman’s ‘epic’ The Witches of Vardø

Manilla Press, the literary imprint of Bonnier Books UK, has acquired The Witches of Vardø by Anya Bergman in a two-book deal.

Margaret Stead, publisher, acquired world English language and translation rights from Marianne Gunn O’Connor at the MGOC Agency.

A lead title for Manilla Press publishing in January 2023, The Witches of Vardø is set in Vardø on the Varanger Peninsula in Norway during the witch trials of the seventeenth century and is based on true events.

At the heart of the story is a group of women – mothers and daughters – accused of witchcraft and brutalised by the men in power. This is a propulsive, epic, feminist book about women, motherhood, female power, brutality and salvation.

Margaret Stead, publisher said: ‘The Witches of Vardø is a fierce, feminist look at male power and misogyny at the time of the witch trials of the seventeenth century. Anya’s novel gripped us all: The Witches of Vardø is a story of danger, intrigue and female empowerment with a clever and surprising twist in its tail. We’re all very excited to be working with Anya on this compelling novel, and a second to come the following year.’

Anya Bergman said: ‘I am thrilled to have found the perfect home for The Witches of Vardø at Manilla Press with Kate (Parkin), Margaret (Stead), and Justine (Taylor). The team is incredibly talented and dedicated and I know they will do a fantastic job bringing my story to life. I am so grateful to my agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor for believing in me, and my passion project about the witch trials of Norway, and for bringing my work to readers all over the world.’

Marianne Gunn O’Connor, Marianne Gunn O’Connor Agency said: ‘Bergman’s brilliant novel The Witches of Vardø totally captivated me as it tells the story of deep-rooted fear: of women’s power, of things that couldn’t be understood by science and logic, themes that will resonate with women world-wide today. I am beyond thrilled that the wonderful Margaret Stead and Kate Parkin and all the fabulous team at Bonnier are shepherding Anya Bergman and these witches out into the world.’

Anya Bergman became interested in the Witch Trials of Vardø and the vivid folk tales of the North while living in Norway. She became fascinated by the trials and the women murdered there on a visit to the Steilneset memorial, in which Louise Bourgeois and Peter Zumthor commemorated the persecution of women accused of witchcraft. Now resident in Edinburgh, Anya graduated with distinction from the Creative Writing programme at Edinburgh Napier University.

THE WITCHES OF VARDØ by Anya Berman will publish in the UK in January 2023 in hardback, eBook, and audio.