A LEADING publisher has been left spellbound by a contemporary fantasy series that draws inspiration from the woods and myths of the writer’s Wye Valley childhood.

Cari Thomas, who grew up in Devauden and attended Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools where her mother was a teacher, has signed a four-book deal with HarperCollins.

The series is rooted in “traditional witchcraft” and the talented writer, who is a trained magazine journalist, has revealed that her first story at school was about a witch who took over her school.

Cari’s debut novel, Threadneedle, is her first book in The Language of Magic series, and is told through spells created with knots and threads.

Cari, who previously ran teen magazine Sugar’s book club, wrote the novel while living in London, wandering the city and weaving it with all the magic she wished it contained.

Set in the contemporary city, the “innovative” novel will be published in hardback on May 27, 2021.

The former Monmouth School for Girls’ pupil said: “My first story, at seven years old, was about a witch who took over my school.

“The teacher who inspired me when I did English at the girls’ school was Mrs Read and I got my first headmistress’ distinction from Dr Brenda Despontin in Year 8 for a poem about autumn apples.

“Apples, in fact, feature quite prominently in my novel and I can’t wait to bring the magical world, that has lived for so long in my head, to life.”

Cari added: “I am absolutely thrilled to be working with Natasha Bardon and her team at HarperVoyager. Their passion for my book series and their creativity was an instant attraction.”

After joining in Year 7 and taking her A levels at Monmouth School for Girls, Cari achieved a first-class degree in English Literature and Creative Writing at Warwick University.

She then gained a distinction in magazine journalism at the Cardiff School of Journalism.

Cari, whose mum Liz Thomas was headteacher of Monmouth Schools Pre-Prep and Nursery (then Agincourt School and Nursery) for 11 years, worked in consumer publishing and as a digital strategist at a creative agency, spending her spare time researching magic and accumulating an unusual collection of occult books.

The talented writer currently lives in Bristol with her husband James Williams and their young son Taliesin.

Publishing director at HarperVoyager, Natasha Bardon, said: “I’ve always loved books that hide magic within the modern day. Not only are Cari’s characters brilliantly formed and full, but her world within Threadneedle is one you’re aching to explore.

“I fell in love with the world of Anna, one of the characters. From her aunt’s knot magic, to the hidden magical library hidden beneath our own British Library, Cari’s book weaved its spell over me. I cannot wait to see where the series leads us.”

A taster for the book says: “Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

“It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound.

“She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

“Nothing - and no one - could change her mind before then. Could it?”