In one of his last major deals for Hatchette UK imprint Hodder before stepping down as CEO of Hodder & Stoughton, Jamie Hodder-Williams has acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for Stephen King’s new novel Fairy Tale which will be published worldwide on 6 September.

The deal was concluded with the Darhansoff & Verrill agency in New York where Chris Lotts looks after translation.  The novel will be published in the US by Scribner, part of Simon & Schuster.

Hodder says: “Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a 17-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher for their world or ours. Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was 10, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself and his dad.

“Then, when Charlie is 17, he meets a dog named Radar and his aging master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it. Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world. King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars.”

Hodder describes the novel, which is King’s 65th, as“a magnificent and terrifying tale about another world than ours, in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy and his dog must lead the battle”.

King himself recalls wondering in the early days of the pandemic what he could write that would make him happy.   “As if my imagination had been waiting for the question to be asked, I saw a vast deserted city – deserted but alive. I saw the empty streets, the haunted buildings, a gargoyle head lying overturned in the street. I saw smashed statues, of what I didn’t know, but I eventually found out. I saw a huge, sprawling palace with glass towers so high their tips pierced the clouds. Those images released the story I wanted to tell.”

Philippa Pride, Stephen King’s long-time UK editor at Hodder, said: “Following the number one bestselling thriller Billy Summers, master storyteller Stephen King now turns his amazing imagination to the world of the fairytale. If you grew up reading the Brothers Grimm and came of age watching ‘Stranger Things’, you will relish this fabulous new novel which reminds us of both the richness of fairytales and the darker side of the ‘happily ever after’. Charlie’s quest to save his dog by entering a magical yet decaying land will certainly pull at your heartstrings, and we can’t wait to share this very special book with King’s legions of fans this summer.”

Hodder-Williams will leave Hodder this spring after more than 30 years in the company.  His role has now been taken by Katie Espiner, currently MD of Orion.   Espiner is now CEO of Hodder and Orion.

Hodder-Williams plans to develop other publishing projects.  He said: “I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities that this exhilarating industry presents. At Hodder, I’ve had the privilege of working with an incredible roster of authors of every genre, from all over the world, many of whom have sold millions of books. The extraordinary range of voices we work with has been fun and inspirational. I am incredibly grateful for all the support we have received from the wider trade —  from agents, booksellers, the media and partners all over the world. The team at Hodder and the wider Hachette group are driven by their passion for great stories and I know that they will go on to even greater success in future.”