In a fierce 10-way auction, Gollancz won the bidding war for The Unmagical Life of Briar Jones, a dark academia and fantasy fusion by New York Times bestseller Lex Croucher in a six-figure deal for two standalones.

Editorial Director, Bethan Morgan acquired UK & Commonwealth rights, while the North American rights were sold to Vicki Lame at Wednesday Books. Translation rights have been pre-empted in Italy with international submission to come following the London Book Fair.

Planned for publication in autumn 2025 in hardback, eBook and audio, The Unmagical Life of Briar Jones follows a non-binary student, Briar Jones who aspires to be a magician, but fails to gain admission to the elite Temple School of Thaumaturgy, the UK’s only school of magic. When their best friend, Seb gets in, their relationship is shattered. Later Briar secures a summer job sorting old magical textbooks that are strictly forbidden from students who can read them, and finally gains entry to the notorious ivory tower to see what their closest friend has become, and find out who really controls the secrets of magical selection. The second standalone is set for publication in 2026.

Lex said they are “so excited to be making the jump to fantasy with Bethan and the incredible team at Gollancz. Bethan’s vision for this book blew me away, and I knew I’d found the perfect partner in crime to help me dismantle a magic school from the inside out.”

Our very own Director of Children’s & YA, Chloe Seager added that “Lex has an unparalleled ability to take any genre and make it entirely their own” with a “signature vibrant voice set to make its mark in fantasy.”

Bethan shared, “I can’t express the sports-crowd-esque scenes that ensued as I announced the news – no, I mean I quite literally hugged my MD like we’d just won the publishing world cup. […] This is for everyone who didn’t get that letter to magic school and instead decided to simply go forth and change the world themselves.”

We are elated at this news and looking forward to both publications! Read the full article here.