Hodderscape has signed Lord of the Empty Isles, a debut science fiction novel by Jules Arbeaux. Publishing director Molly Powell bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Maddy Belton at auction in a two-book deal. The novel will be out in summer 2024.

Lord of the Empty Isles is a ‘stunning story of loss, power and privilege, set on a planet driven to extremes by climate change, with a queer-platonic love story and found family at its heart.’ When his own death curse backfires onto him, a grieving young man must work together with the outlaw who killed his brother to save his own life, and thousands more he inadvertently doomed with his curse. 

Powell said: “I’ve fallen wholeheartedly head-over-heels for Jules’ beautifully wrought, yet hugely action-packed novel. Soul-bonds, curses, a loveable band of space-faring misfits, a rebel with an incredible cause, and one of the most touching, heartfelt and accurate explorations of grief I’ve read – this book has it all. Jules is such a talented writer, and I’m so excited to be publishing this phenomenal book at Hodderscape.”

Belton said: “Lord of the Empty Isles is a powerful examination of grief and love that will break your heart and slowly stitch it back together, one word at a time, through Jules’ addictive prose. It’s packed with magic, but more importantly, it’s infused with the most incredible heart, and I know that it will speak to anyone who has loved and lost. I’m delighted to have found it such a passionate home with Hodderscape.”

Arbeaux, who was born in Sacramento, and raised in the Midwestern woods, said: “It’s a dream to be working with Molly and the Hodderscape team, and I’m so grateful to my agent Maddy for bringing us together! I wrote Lord of the Empty Isles during a difficult time and put all my hope and hunger for better things into this tale of soul bonds, stars, loss, and love of all shades. I can’t wait for it to find the readers who need it!”