Jason Kirk at Skyscape has acquired Victoria Lee‘s speculative fiction debut, The Fever King. Pitched as A Little Life meets The Magicians, the story is set in a politically charged sovereign North Carolina ravaged by outbreaks of a viral contagion that leaves the rare survivors infected with magic. The book follows a skilled hacker who has spent years undermining the corrupt government, but must accept help from its charismatic leader and his enigmatic son in order to master his newly acquired magic. Publication is scheduled for spring 2019; Holly Root and Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary represented the author in the two-book deal for world rights.

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“Outbreaks of magic started all kinds of ways.”

Sixteen-year-old hacker Noam Álvaro has spent years trying to take down the corrupt leaders of Carolinia, who deport refugees like his parents with deadly efficiency. But when a viral magic outbreak kills his father, destroys his home, and infects him with technopathy, Noam’s best chance of survival is to accept help from the charismatic Minister of Defense.

Minister Lehrer wants Noam to join his elite military unit. With his criminal record, Noam has no place in high command. But taking Lehrer’s offer would give Noam access to government servers—and the opportunity to leak the Carolinian Chancellor’s secrets. He could make a real difference, finally, for the refugee cause. So, he’ll let Lehrer teach him the science necessary to perform magic. He’ll become the powerful technopath Carolinia wants him to be. And then he’ll use that power to tear Lehrer’s government apart from the inside.

But when Noam learns Lehrer is planning his own coup to overthrow the Chancellor, he wants to trust him. Lehrer could be a powerful ally; and as the last survivor of a genocide against witchings, Lehrer understands what it’s like to be oppressed. Yet Lehrer’s own son—the boy Noam loves—insists Lehrer’s not as virtuous as he seems. As Lehrer’s plan unfurls and Noam realizes he may have to kill for the cause, he must decide how far he’s willing to go for the greater good.