We are thrilled to announce that Penguin Random House / Michael Joseph will publish Rebecca Netley’s chilling ghost story debut, The Whistling.

Clio Cornish, Editorial director at Michael Joseph, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Giles Milburn at auction, with publication set for October 2021. Cornish said about this spine-tinging read, “I am a ghost story addict, but it’s so rare to discover one that successfully hits all the timeless tropes of gothic fiction while introducing some genuinely terrifying original ideas. Rebecca does both with style, and I’m so excited for readers to curl up with The Whistling this autumn – a book that frightened me to death and kept me guessing until the very last page.”


Set on a wild Scottish island, The Whistling follows Elspeth Swansome as she takes up the post of nanny to nine-year-old Mary – who hasn’t uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William.

With her charge defiantly silent, Elspeth turns to the islanders – but no one will speak of what happened to William. Just as no one can explain the hypnotic lullabies heard in empty corridors. Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms. Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night…

As winter draws in and passage to the mainland becomes impossible, Elspeth finds herself increasingly afraid. But is this island being haunted by the ghosts of the past? Or the secrets of the living?


Netley said, “I’m so grateful to Giles for placing me with Penguin Michael Joseph and am absolutely thrilled to be working with Clio and with the fabulous team there. It was clear from the first call that Clio was going to be the perfect editor for The Whistling. Her enthusiasm and ideas for the book struck me immediately. It’s been an exciting journey and I cannot wait to see it on the shelves later this year.”

Milburn added, “As a child, I grew up with Susan Hill’s ‘Woman in Black’ seared onto the backs of my eyelids as I went to sleep. As an adult, I have been searching for a ghost story that has the same impact, and so I was utterly thrilled and totally terrified when The Whistling landed on my desk. Rebecca has spun a chilling story which is as clever as it is entertaining, as moving as it is scary, and as classic as it is innovative. Clio is the ideal editor for this, and I cannot wait for readers to get their hands on it in October.”

Rebecca Netley grew up as part of an eccentric family in a house full of books and music. These fed her passions from an early age. Family is at the heart of Rebecca’s life and she loves being a mother to her own two boys. In 2018, The Whistling won the Exeter Novel Prize. The judges called it:

“Evocative, atmospheric and eerily compelling, reminiscent in tone to Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions and Su Bristow’s Sealskin. Haunting and intense, The Whistling is a powerful novel destined to send shivers down your spine. The island itself is beautifully portrayed and the individuals living there gradually get under your skin and become all too memorably real.  Powerful stuff.”