Erewhon Books announces The Pomegranate Gate, a new historical fantasy by Ariel Kaplan
We are pleased to announce the acquisition of The Pomegranate Gate by Ariel Kaplan by Erewhon Books. The novel is an exquisite fantasy, in the vein of Naomi Novik or Katherine Arden, based on Jewish folklore and set in a mythical version of Spain during the time of the Inquisition. The Pomegranate Gate will be released in the winter of 2023.
Three things about Toba Peres are odd: she can talk but she can’t scream; she can walk but she cannot run; she can write faster than she can speak, in several languages, with both hands at the same time. Three things about Naftaly Cresques are strange: every time he dreams, he dreams of strangers with square pupils in a magical world; when he is awake he sometimes sees things that are not real; and his family passed him a book, apparently of nonsense words, which he knows is essential never to lose and never to read.
Toba and Naftaly have one thing in common: they are forced to leave their home in the town of Rimon after the Queen of Sefarad orders all Jews to leave the country or convert. Chased off the road by a bandit, Toba stumbles through a magic door in an out-of-season grove of pomegranate trees on the night of the full moon, and finds herself in the world of the Maziks: mythical square-pupil immortals. With nowhere to go, she follows a pair of Maziks – a taciturn scholar and an orange-eyed thief – to the ruined castle where they live alone, until a dangerous chance encounter reveals the cause of Toba’s strangeness: she is half Mazik. , the child of a mortal mother and a Mazik father. And, as such, her existence is forbidden by Mazik law and she is the target of La Cacería, the Mazik Inquisition, who are also on the hunt for an ancient lost book of mysterious power.
Naftaly, left at the door, leaves the pomegranate orchard to find himself fifty miles from his route, without money, without food, and only in the company of an old woman who has followed him into the woods. But Naftaly’s problems are just beginning: he learns that the Inquisition won’t allow books out of the country, and he seems to have a crush on the handsome, orange-eyed Mazik who haunts his dreams, a Mazik whose identity put everyone in danger. of La Caceria.
To survive, Toba and Naftaly will have to uncover secrets about magic, myth, and how Toba’s parentage and the Book of Nafaly are tied to an ancient conflict in Mazik’s history, the mythical lost city of Luz and the mysterious connection whereby events in the human world are reflected in the realm of the Maziks.
From the author, Ariel Kaplan:
I was given a copy of Howard Schwartz’s book Elijah’s Violin and Other Jewish Fairy Tales when I was very young, and since then, I devour Jewish folklore. Many of my favorite stories are about demons – not the disgusting, baby-eating variety, but the terrifying but civilized creatures living in a dark mirror of the human world. We see them described in different ways depending on where and when the story originated: they can be repulsive or beautiful, human or ghostly, good or terrible, but what remains constant is that they are, like humans, a people of laws and ethics. And their world is both separate from ours and inextricably linked to it, accessible to humans who roam or are drawn to it, through an invisible bond that holds the worlds together.
I wrote The Pomegranate Gate for about two years, pulling Jewish fairy tales that I loved as a child – about demons, good and bad, the mythical hidden city of Luz and the giant bird called the Ziz. I wove these elements with Sephardic history which I began to study seriously at university, where I majored in history and religious studies with a particular interest in medieval Spain, itself a link between learning and culture.
It’s a story featuring so many of my favorite things: smart outsiders, kind-hearted fools, angry old women, and magic that doesn’t always do what you want, while exploring themes of power and oppression and starting a family. I can’t wait to start working creatively with Sarah Guan and the rest of the Erewhon team on the show.
From Sarah Guan, Managing Editor at Erewhon:
I always wanted to believe that there were worlds just beyond our own, whether they were in closets, like Narnia, or in alternate universes, as predicted by quantum mechanics. Some of the best stories of cultural consciousness have involved the intersections of these worlds with our human world, and the incisive reflection of all of our greatest triumphs and darkest secrets through this fantastical lens. It’s no surprise that many cultures have developed their own myths around mirror worlds, and these folk tales have proven fruitful for novelists over the years.
When I first read The Pomegranate Gate, I was struck both by Ariel’s loving homage to this historical tradition and by the dazzling way in which it transformed the genre – historically adjacent portal fantasy – for a modern readership. It’s packed with all my favorite elements of fable and myth, but manages to convey new truths about how our world – and all worlds – work. I’m incredibly excited to bring this story to readers around the world.
Ariel Kaplan is the author of three highly regarded Knopf Children’s contemporary young adult novels. This is her first foray into adult fantasy.