Title: THE KING OF INK AND SHADOWS
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 50,000
When a ritual backfires and a vortex sucks fifteen-year-old Lily's family through their dining room floor, she's left with a house surrounded by ink monsters, a dwindling food supply, and half of Grandma -- though at least it's the talking half.
Lily's always been the useless, non-magician in her family, but as her parents' rivals close in to take the territory, she discovers she can cast forbidden malasangre magic. That's seriously bad news since it consumes you from the inside and sends you crazy (not rocking-in-a-corner-quietly crazy, more the eating people/ world destruction sort).
With the magic, Lily can follow her parents into the vortex, into the middle of a recurring story of death and betrayal, peopled by golden-lipped fish, nightmare guards and malevolent tree roots. Lily's got a pack of cereal bars, 10 ballpoint pens and a torch to navigate the treacherous land, find her family, and escape with them before the magic eats her from the inside out.
The ballpoint is sharp against my skin. It makes me feel safe, like I'm in control.
I've drawn all over my palms (it took practice but now the pattern on my right hand's pretty much the same as the left) and I'm outlining the bones on my wrist. Above them, there's a wide band of black with jagged peaks facing inwards.
At the front of the room, Mr Cobley's droning on about simultaneous equations. His pen squeaks on the whiteboard but hardly anyone's looking. It's last period and they're bored, staring out the window at the playing fields, which are darkening as the sun sets. Shona Brown's biting off her split-ends while Paul Kaufmann watches from the other side of the room, his expression mingled fascination and disgust. No one's looking at me, though, so I put my head down and concentrate on drawing the letters right up to my thumbnail -- better to have them spaced properly. When I raise my head again, Mr Cobley's back at his desk and everyone's packing their bags.
The class clatters out of the door, laughing and pushing. I slip the pen into my pocket and tug my sleeves down so no one'll see what I've done. I'm not supposed to draw the patterns. I'm not really supposed to have pens -- the teachers got sick of sending me to wash the ink off -- but I lifted a boxful from Mrs Carnie's office this morning. I'm well stocked. That's another reason I'm feeling safe.