James Nicol

Twitter: @JamesENicol

The Apprentice Witch (nominated for the Branford Boase Award 2017)

The Chicken House
Published July 2016
Kate Shaw, The Viney Agency
Mentored by Bella Pearson
In the Four Kingdoms, witches use a set of five magical symbols, called glyphs, to control the natural flow of magic in the world. But Arianwyn Gribble, a young apprentice witch, studying in the capital of Kingsport, has seen a sixth glyph for as long as she can remember, a glyph that has always heralded trouble and darkness, like the death of her mother.

Posted to the obscure town of Lill, Arianwyn meets Salle Bowen, a failed student of drama, and the two girls strike up a friendship. Arianwyn immediately sets about a long list of witchly duties, with her grandmother’s handbook forever at her side. Many of her spells go wrong, but things get worse when Gimma, her nemesis from Kingsport, comes to Lull. Gimma is the favourite niece of the Mayor and she sets about charming and winning over the town in a way Arianwyn could only dream of. However, it turns out that in spite of her charm, Gimma is a hopeless witch.

Meanwhile, something is very wrong in the Great Wood of Lull, and Gimma only makes matters worse by opening a rift. The wood is now rampant with spirits and wild pockets of magic and the dark spells grow uncontrollably – endangering the whole town… Will Arianwyn be able to face her fears and save Lull before it’s too late?
James lives in Cambridge where he works as a librarian. He grew up on authors such as Ursula le Guin and Roald Dahl who inspired his own magical fairy tale.