Title: WHERE THERE IS DARK
Genre: YA fantasy
Word Count: 62,000
Sixteen-year-old Jazzlyn may live among the damned but she isn’t exactly one of them. In a city where light is deadly, many covet what Jazzlyn has—immunity from the Star’s deadly rays—and she trains to become the next liaison between Creperi, her darkness-ravaged homeland, and Lumen, the mountain city above the clouds.
On the eve of her first trip, the city’s outcasts take her boyfriend hostage. The exiles have found a way to unlock their own defense against the light but their plan requires an artifact found only in Lumen. Jazzlyn’s the perfect candidate for the heist and if she complies, they’ll return their captive in one piece. If she fails, they’ll return him to her in pieces.
But when the black clouds protecting Creperi threaten to break, Jazzlyn discovers that someone doesn’t want her people freed from the dark and everyone, boyfriend included, has something to hide. The light won’t hurt Jazzlyn, but if she can’t figuring out who’s controlling the Forever Night before the sky opens up, her city, along with everyone she loves, will burn.
Mushrooms thrive in the dark, so they’re the only food that isn’t rationed, and the pungent stink wafting through the house is a sure sign we’re having them for breakfast.
I blow out an exasperated breath and plod downstairs.
Mother stirs a pot of fungi ragoût that boils over the hearth’s open flames. Firelight brings out the red in her hair, which she wears twisted into a braid over one thin shoulder, and she looks up as I pause beneath the stone archway that divides the common room from the kitchen.
“Jazzlyn,” she says. “What took you so long?”
“I was just...” putting off the inevitable.
“Never mind. You’ll have to eat when we get back,” she says. When my face scrunches up, she sets the spoon on the counter and plants a hand on her hip. “What?”
We’re attending another birth this morning, that’s what. Regardless of what the Shadow Council thinks, forcing this world upon anyone is hardly fair, not that Mother will listen. “Nothing.” I grab a lantern off the table. “Are you ready to go?”
She nods and we slip out the front door and into the ebony morning, where endless black clouds pulse overhead like a living, breathing thing, blocking the light out, or perhaps, sealing the darkness in. The swaying lantern casts a pale glow over rows of mortar and stone houses and their barren plots of dirt. I scan the spaces between shadows, uncertain of what I expect to find.