Empress & Aniya, South London’s answer to ‘Freaky Friday’ is the upcoming YA novel from bestselling author of Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams, coming to bookshelves this autumn.

Candice Carty-Williams
Empress & Aniya author: Candice Carty-Williams

This is Carty-Williams’s first YA (young adult) novel and is aimed at readers aged 13+. The story follows two teenage girls from different backgrounds who accidentally cast a body swap spell on their 16th birthday. Empress is from a single parent household and lives on an estate that she’s learned to love, while Aniya’s parents are in high-profile jobs and have given her a life that she can often take for granted. South London’s answer to ‘Freaky Friday’, Empress & Aniya is a moving portrayal of the importance of real friendship and the ups and downs of being a teenager.

Empress & Aniya is the long-awaited follow-up to Carty-Williams’ Queenie, which in addition to being a Sunday Times bestseller, also won Book of the Year and Debut of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2020. A pivotal novel for Black British women, its impact continues to be wide-reaching.

“…as soon as I started writing Empress & Aniya, their lives were already so fully drawn to me.”

Carty-Williams has a talent for developing well-rounded characters and we look forward to being introduced to her latest heroines.

Speaking about her latest characters, Candice Carty-Williams said: “Once I started to see the impact of Queenie, I quickly gathered that it was sort of vital to speak to young adult readers too. Knights Of was the perfect way to do this, and as soon as I started writing Empress & Aniya, their lives were already so fully drawn to me. Empress in particular, an intelligent and inquisitive girl who has always been held back by the world she’s been born into. But also, Aniya, the naïve but supportive friend who hasn’t yet learned what life is like when you don’t have something as simple to her as money. Their friendship, and the need for them to step into the other’s shoes, speaks to what happens when we start to grow up and eventually begin to understand the world around us.”

“We are so excited for readers, especially teenage girls, to get their hands on it.”

Knights Of is the inclusive publisher bringing Empress & Aniya to the world. Aimée Felone, co-founder of Knights Of, said: “As a South London based publisher, Candice’s characters are incredibly familiar to us, both in terms of place and people. Candice is a phenomenal writer, and her craft at pulling on the heartstrings of her readers has been beautifully brought to the YA space. Working with her on this, and co-editing together, has been a dream! We are so excited for readers, especially teenage girls, to get their hands on it.”


Empress & Aniya will be published by Knights Of on 7 October 2021.

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