Monday, January 14, 2013

Bouncer Post #17

Genre: YA historical fantasy
Word Count: 67,000


If living in the slums of Paris during the Terror has taught seventeen-year-old Rose Estienne one thing, it’s how to keep her neck out from beneath the guillotine’s blade: never talk to strangers. Especially if those strangers are aristocrats, clergymen, or werewolves. Rose is well aware that werewolves are nothing but gypsy scum, magical aberrations that don’t align with the laws of reason, monsters that are sure to get her killed if they don’t finish the job themselves.

At least, she is well aware of it until she catches a werewolf trying to steal her mother’s washing.

When Rose comes face-to-face with Avar, she does not see a monster: she sees a boy not unlike herself, starving and alone and afraid. And when one of the city’s militant poor tries to kill Avar, she cannot help but stop the attack – an action that casts her as a traitor just like him.

Rose and Avar escape, but her family is arrested and thrown into prison, guilty by association.  She has neither money nor political connections; her only option is to break her family out before they pay for her decision with their lives. Rose turns to the one person she can trust not to betray her to the police: Avar. He’s reluctant to help – he has spent his whole life running away, and as they tackle the defenses of the Conciergerie prison, his courage falters. But Rose, who always spills coffee and tears clothes, is the only thing standing between her family and the guillotine, and she is determined that this time, she will do something right.

A TERROR OF DARKNESS is a YA historical fantasy complete at 67,000 words. I hope it will appeal to readers who like the combination of realism and the supernatural in Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races. I am a writing major at Ithaca College, with a minor in history. My publishing experience includes writing the jacket copy and chapter blurbs for a series of “step-by-step” cookbooks from Flame Tree Publishing in London, as well as two literary agency internships in 2012.

First 250:
When the werewolf howled, Rose stabbed her sewing needle into her thumb.  She ignored the blood that smeared onto the shirt she had been mending and instead jumped to her feet, rushing to put an arm around her younger sister’s shoulders. Amalie shrank away from the grimy window they had been sitting beside, hiding from the monstrous sound within her sister’s arms. But even though Rose clutched Amalie to her with just as much fear, even though every hair stood up on the back of her neck, she could not help but peer out the window, searching the shadowed streets for whatever creature had made that low, bloodcurdling howl.

The streets below were bathed in the burnt glow of sunset, which transformed the muddy cobblestones into dusky gold and caused the houses of Saint Marcel to look less like buildings that had been pressed together between the pages of a book and more like haunted ruins, but the strange light did not reveal the crooked shadow of a werewolf. It was odd that they could hear one at all. Werewolves had not come close to Paris in years, not since the winter of 1789, the winter when it had been possible to freeze to death simply by trying to walk across the city. The wolves had circled in then, just as cold and hungry as the humans but by far more bloodthirsty for it. Rose would not mistake a werewolf howl, not after she had lain awake listening that winter.


  1. I love stories about the French Revolution, and I am totally intrigued by the unique paranormal spin you've put on this one! Your query definitely grabbed me! The only recommendation I would make is to maybe trim a little off of your 4th paragraph. At this point you've already set up a great story. Instead of telling us what happens after Rose's family is imprisoned, maybe just lay out what is at stake for them and what Rose will have to choose between in order to save them.

    Good luck!

  2. Mr. Spock (Bouncer)January 14, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    You're in!

    However, you need to edit your query. It's too long and there's too much information. You need to cut it down to the bare essentials: who is your main character, what does she WANT, what is her conflict, what is at stake, and what choice(s) does she have to make?

    I love the part in your query where Rose sees Avar stealing her mother's washing. That is so vivid and it's wonderful writing. I *want* to know more about Avar. I'm interested - is she attracted to him at all? Or is it a slow-build during the book? I do like how your query progresses, it's just too long.

    I also want more specific information on werewolves and society. How do your werewolves differ from others? With all the werewolf books out there, yours needs to be very special to hook a reader's attention. I am interested to know why Rose lives in the slums and what she wants out of life. I do love the setting. This just needs something extra to really make it pop off the page.

    The bio section of your query is perfect.

    Good luck!

    1. Huzzah!! Thank you so much, I'm super excited! *does happy dance*

      Thanks for your feedback regarding the query as well, I'll start tweaking it!

  3. I just read this! I would have chosen this, too. Your concept is amazing.

  4. I do love your work. The only suggestion I can make it to be careful on the length of your sentences as the first sentence in your second paragraph of your First 250 is 60 words long.