Cranachan acquires children’s adventure about Robert Burns

Scottish indie Cranachan, is to publish Hag Storm by Victoria Williamson, a spooky, historical adventure based on the life of Robert Burns and one of his most famous and best-loved poems, Tam O’Shanter.

The children’s novel, acquired in a world all-language rights deal directly from the author, will be published in January 2022 to coincide with the Scottish bard’s birthday celebrations.

The synopsis reads: In 1771, Robert Burns, future national poet and folk hero of Scotland, has big problems. 12-year-old Rab spends all of his time doing backbreaking work on his family’s farm instead of attending school, but when he finds a hag stone in one of the fields, everything changes. Looking through its circular hole, he sees witches gathering in a coming storm, and they’ve set their sights on his family. It is up to Rab to save his sisters from the clutches of the witches’ coven before their Halloween ceremony in the old kirk.

Anne Glennie, publisher at Cranachan, said: “To have Robert Burns brought to life in this way is fantastic. In Hag Storm he is no longer a pale picture of an old man that children today can’t identify with. This gripping story, with a supernatural twist, is wonderfully evocative of the time period and is filled with mystery and magic. Currently, there is no published fictional account of Robert Burns’ childhood, and so this book will fit a unique gap in the market.”

Williamson added: “I have fond memories of the yearly Burns competition at primary school, when pupils would study the poetry of Robert Burns. Tam O’ Shanter captured my imagination, and ever since, the idea of a spooky children’s book based around the life of the young Robert Burns and an encounter with the witches on the Brig o’Doon has been bubbling away in my head. I can’t wait to share it with young readers.”

Williamson is also the author of the MG novels The Boy with the Butterfly Mind (Kelpies, 2019) and The Fox Girl and the White Gazelle (Kelpies, 2018).