3 min read

The River Has Roots: Excerpt and Cover Reveal

The River Kelvin in Glasgow seen from a bridge above it, flanked with dark green trees.

Dear Friends,

I'm so excited to get to share with you the cover of my next book! It's called The River Has Roots, and it's about sisters, ballads, and grammar as magic. It comes out in March 2025, and you can pre-order it here, or from wherever you get your books!

Cover for The River Has Roots on a dark green background. On a pale cover, a squiggly graphic line moving from the top left corner of the book down to the bottom right corner is a portal into a soft, romantic landscape of rivers and hills; bursting out between the squiggle’s curves are bright bold dahlias in warm hues. At the top of the image are the words “The River” and at the bottom are the words “Has Roots”; below those are “New York Times Bestselling Author Amal El-Mohtar.”

UK readers, you can also pre-order it! It'll be out from Quercus there, the same fine folks who published This Is How You Lose the Time War.

Here's a synopsis:

In the small town of Thistleford, on the edge of Faerie, dwells the mysterious Hawthorn family.

There, they tend and harvest the enchanted willows and honour an ancient compact to sing to them in thanks for their magic. None more devotedly than the family’s latest daughters, Esther and Ysabel, who cherish each other as much as they cherish the ancient trees.

But when Esther rejects a forceful suitor in favor of a lover from the land of Faerie, not only the sisters’ bond but also their lives will be at risk…

I wrote a bit about this book's genesis here, all the way back in March, when I said

It's a short book. It clocks in at 20000 words. But it's longer than my half of This Is How You Lose the Time War, and it's the longest thing I've written to date. It will take up physical space on a bookshelf. You'll be able to hold it in your hands.

All those things feel a little more true now that there's a cover, and a format (hardback!) and the promise of interior illustrations (!) and an audiobook (!!) – and an excerpt that you can read right now, in – well – a place I truly never expected to get to see my work.

(I asked two separate friends to try and guess where it would appear on the basis of how startling it would be to encounter my fiction there. One said The New England Journal of Medicine; the other said Cosmopolitan. One of them was right.)

If you've spent any time on the internet in the company of authors, you've probably heard them talk about the importance of pre-orders to a book's life cycle. I'm going to repeat it here, with some caveats. Pre-orders (of any format) are probably the single most effective thing a casual book-buyer can do to help a book launch well. But by my lights, the most important thing you can do to support a book you're excited about is to act on that excitement in whatever way fits into your life!

This could mean requesting it into your local library (truly a huge deal, and, in Canada, one that comes with money attached), and talking about it in your circles, as well as pre-ordering it in whatever format best suits you.

(People often ask what format gives the author a bigger cut; it's a kind question, but the answer sort of necessarily reframes it into, the best thing for the author is you reading it in a way that maximizes your enjoyment of it! If you never listen to audiobooks then there's really no point in buying the audiobook on the basis of it giving the author a few more cents on the dollar, and so on. Chase your joy, and the author will likely benefit thereby.)

All to say – I truly can't wait to share Esther and Ysabel with you, and I'm so glad to give you this small glimpse into their story!

I'm in between bouts of travel, which is both a wild and a still place to be. A week ago I emerged from an utterly enchanting time in Italy – my first visit there! – which I'll tell you about later, and tomorrow I embark on a journey across the US border, which is a fraught and terrible thing I haven't attempted in 3 years. We'll see what comes of it. In the meantime, it's raining, and I dream of travelling like water: drawn up in one place and set down in another, subject to no authority but the air's.

Perhaps I'll see some of you at Readercon! You can find my schedule here if you're interested – I'll be reading from The River Has Roots on Saturday at 12:30.

Wishing you all an easeful summertime,


Sunswept Italian selfie, in which I'm smiling close-mouthed at the camera with my dark hair up in a bun, while wearing a fluttery black button-down shirt, Parrish Relics talisman necklace featuring an image of a hummingbird under glass, and flat pearl earrings in a gold hoop from Glee jewelry. Behind me is a sunlit glimpse of the labyrinthine Renaissance gardens of Castella Ruspoli and the terracotta-tiled roofs of the houses beyond.