Monday, January 28, 2013

Bouncer Post #98

Genre: Gothic Suspense
Word Count 80,000


THE MAD PRINCE is a Gothic retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet told through the viewpoint of Ophelia.

Deception reigns at Drakestorm Castle where the residents wear facades to hide their sins and the castle itself is riddled with secret passages. As a child, Ophelia Reinhart, daughter of the high counselor, ran wild through these hidden tunnels. Now at age seventeen, she is expected to behave like a well-bred lady.

When Prince Mads returns from Dusenberg University for his mother’s remarriage, Ophelia ignores propriety and meets with the prince alone. Mads lures her back into the tunnels with the promise of intrigue and adventure. Using the hidden passages to visit each other, Ophelia and Mads enter into a forbidden relationship.

While exploring a newly-found passageway, the lovers discover that Mads’s father was murdered by his uncle/step-father, King Feng. Furious, Mads swears vengeance against his father’s killer and feigns madness to cover his schemes. A terrified Ophelia endures Mads’s lunacy and  struggles to protect him, even when his conduct turns cruel.

When Ophelia discovers an intruder entering the prince’s room through a secret doorway, she warns Mads, who immediately stabs the man. To her horror, Ophelia discovers that the intruder was her father. Mads is imprisoned in the castle tower as Feng decides his fate.

Drowning with guilt over her father’s death, Ophelia agonizes as everyone close to her are either imprisoned or killed. Seizing on a rash and desperate plan, she gambles her life to save Mads and the other prisoners. But in a cursed place like Drakestorm Castle, even the best-devised strategies crumble to dust. As her hopes collapse around her, Ophelia must abandon her original plan and scramble just to stay alive.

First 250:

A ghostly figure, draped in the tattered remains of a wedding dress, slipped to the fireplace and pressed down the cherub’s head on the mantelpiece. Somewhere behind the hearth, something clicked. The fireplace groaned and rotated, revealing a gap in the stone wall.

Revenge, cruel as the first frost, coiled through the young woman’s veins. She stalked towards the crevice, stripped of fear. That sensation had died with her other, more-vulnerable, emotions. Only rage survived within her searing chest. Grasping an oil lamp in one hand, and a bone-handled dagger in the other, she ducked into the passage.

As she crossed the threshold into the tunnel, her reflection flashed in the parlor mirror. She stared at the blood-smeared gown and the single violet still clinging to her dark curls. In that moment she resembled an avenging angel, intent on delivering divine retribution.

The girl averted her gaze. She wasn't an angel; her innocence was as stained as the remnants of the wedding dress she wore. She was a mere human with faults and imperfections. But the intensity of her conviction made her a daunting force. She pressed forward, determined to slay the man who had taken away everything.

She knew she could kill him. Even a king—with all of his power and influence—was still only a mortal.


  1. This is my favourite in this round so far! I love the concept of a Shakespearian retelling, perhaps I am a tad biased (BP#100) when it comes to a retelling though... I love that it's done through Ophelia's POV, she is such compelling character. Your Query is very engaging and chock full of voice.
    My only suggestion would be it's a little on the long side, you could probably say what you have in fewer words with a little restructuring. I loved your 250, was sad when I reached the end :)
    Best of luck :)

  2. I love the concept and the first 250. The query, however, feels like a synopsis to me. That's good, in that a good synopsis is essential, but your query is the first taste I get of your writing voice, and I want to love it so much I can't wait to read the first 250, where you hook me. Especially with that last line - that's a fantastic way to leave off. I think that I agree with Amber - with a more succinct query, hinting at what Ophelia wants and what she stands to lose, done in the same voice would be amazing.

  3. I really like the sound of this, and I'd love to read the rest! I agree that there's so much info in the query, you could get away with a shorter query that leaves us wanting more. Love the concept, and I wish you the best of luck!

  4. This sounds absolutely intriguing. Well written, lots of voice, and great descriptions. I would love to read this. And I am a Shakespeare fan, and Hamlet it one of my favorites. Well done:)

    1. I'm so glad you feel that way as a Shakespeare fan. Hamlet was my first literary crush. I wanted to do him justice ;)

  5. Very nice 250. Really pulled me in. REALLY like paragraph one. Just a couple suggestions: Toward the end, it took me a sec to realize it was her OWN reflection. Can you say "her own blood-smeared gown"? That would help clarify just so we aren't bumped out for a second. You say "averted her gaze" which we usually use to mean we're avoiding looking at someone else, not ourselves, so although this is clever, it does add a bit to being confusing because suddenly I'm thinking maybe it's someone else in the mirror!

    The line: She pressed forward, determined to slay the man who had taken away everything. might be a tad bit of overwriting, at least for the first page? Since we don't know this character yet it seems maybe just a bit dramatic. We haven't had a chance to see how that might be true or not yet, so it makes us a bit skeptical. (Or just me! ha! just take this with a grain of salt, of course. Agree or disagree as you wish. :)).

    Thanks and this is a great entry! Good luck!
    Tracy #84

  6. Thanks everyone, your advice was so helpful. I'll work on tightening that query. Queries are definitely Laurie's bane!