As reported in The Bookseller, we are very excited that UK and Commonwealth rights to Phil Hickes‘s series of Middle Grade ghost stories have been bought by Rebecca Hill at Usborne in a “hotly-contested” auction.

Meanwhile, German rights have been sold to Arena and Spanish (Worldwide) to Planeta Mexico – and there are more deals on the horizon.

In The Haunting of Aveline Jones, the first novel in the series, Aveline sets out to solve a mysterious disappearance and soon finds herself haunted by the ghosts of the past.

Rebecca Hill said: “The whole team have been blown away by Phil’s vivid, child-centred, page-turning writing, laced with a tantalising number of chilling scares. We can already see how young readers everywhere will be happily haunted by Aveline’s supernatural adventures.”

Usborne will publish the first book in October 2020 – in time for Halloween – with a “bold, bewitching package”.

Aveline Jones isn’t happy about spending the winter holiday in the dreary coastal town of Malmouth.

And she’s certainly not happy about the prospect of having to stay with her Aunt Lilian, who’s as frosty as the weather.

Having bought a second-hand book to keep herself entertained, Aveline discovers that it previously belonged to a girl called Primrose Penberthy. She learns that Primrose mysteriously disappeared – and was never found. Aveline knows all is not well in Malmouth: creepy scarecrows start appearing all over town, there are odd noises in the house, and the dog barks at things that aren’t there.

As Aveline investigates Primrose’s disappearance, she finds herself drawn into the dark and mysterious heart of Malmouth’s past. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to danger. A restless spirit is stirring. And it has Aveline in its sights.

Born in the UK, Phil now lives with his wife in Portland, Oregon, where he works as an advertising copywriter. He has a passion for horror, ghosts, and all things that go bump in the night, which led him to do an online fiction writing course with the horror author, Jeremy C. Shipp. He turned his hand to writing middle grade as he wanted to create the same visceral thrill he remembers from reading Alan Garner, Clive King and Roald Dahl.