Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 90,000
STRAY is a YA Fantasy where magic is a curse that only women bear and society is dictated by a strict religious doctrine called The Path.
Princess Aislynn knows all about the curse. It's a part of her, like her awkward nose and thin fingers. It's something she can't control. And girls who can’t control their abilities have a tendency to disappear. So for her own protection, Aislynn is sworn into the order of Fairy Godmothers where she must spend the rest of her life chaste, and devoted to serving another
Tasked with tending to the sweet, but sheltered Princess Linnea, Aislynn also finds a reluctant friend in the palace gardener, Thackery, who makes no secret of his disdain for her former life. The more time they spend together, though, the more she begins to doubt the rules she has observed so obediently. As Aislynn’s feelings threaten to undo the sacred vows she has taken, she risks not only her own life but Linnea’s as well. With the princess engaged to a devoted follower of the Path, there are some who would do anything to keep Aislynn from straying.
A cross between WICKED and Roald Dahl's MATILDA with a dash of Grimm's fairy tales, STRAY is the first in a potential series.
Aislynn’s fingers were bleeding. The garden was dark and quiet and cold and she was standing alone, watching blood drip onto the tops of her slippers. It was a dream, but knowing that made it no less frightening. Deep within her chest came a familiar and horrible sensation. As if her heart was a copper pot, set atop a relentless fire, Aislynn could feel herself begin to simmer. Filled with wishes instead of water, magic was the fire that fed them.
She knew what was about to happen next but there was nothing she could do as her kettle heart cracked, releasing the magic she so struggled to keep contained. Her blood burned. In the darkness, Aislynn could barely see the first tendril emerge, but she could feel thorns scratching against her ribs. With a jerk, briars burst from her chest, slithering down her body, each sharp point drawing delicate red lines along her limbs. Beneath her skin they curled around each bone until she was made of only flesh and thorn. Vines tickled against her chin and as they wrapped themselves around her silent screaming throat, Aislynn could feel her heart stop.
She woke, tangled in sheets and nightmares. The linens were easily discarded; one powerful yank was enough to free her legs and torso, relocating the blankets to the foot of the bed. The dreams, however, were more persistent and lingered, the way the scent of bread hovered in the kitchen air.