Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Agent's Inbox #27

Dear Agent,

In an alternate Victorian England where social prestige stems from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, sixteen-year old Anna Arden is barred from the society she yearns for by a defect of blood. She is Barren, lacking even the most rudimentary magic. Anna believes she can overcome her defect by marrying the lord she loves, but after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spells, Anna finds herself suitorless, censured by the local Circle of Magic--and worst of all, exiled with her aging grandmother to her grandmother’s native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

But in Hungary, Anna finds that nothing about her world is quite as it seems. Fissures in the Binding that holds her world’s magic are expanding, and the ancient creatures bound by that spell beg Anna to release them. And as rebellion sweeps across Hungary, Anna’s unique ability to break spells becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and gypsies, Anna has a choice: cling to the life she’s always wanted, or risk everything to set the creatures free, win a revolution, and change the face of magic itself.

THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION is a YA historical fantasy, complete at 90,000 words. The novel can stand alone, but it has series potential. The style and setting would appeal to fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy and Danielle Jensen's STOLEN SONGBIRD.



London, April 1847

I did not set out to ruin my sister’s debut.

Indeed, there were any number of things I deliberately did not do that day.

I did not pray for rain, as I knelt in the small chapel of our London townhome that morning, the cold of the floor seeping into my bones. Instead, I listened to Mama’s petition for successful spells and sunshine. Peeking through my lashes at Elizabeth’s placid face, I yearned to ask for disquiet, disorder, and torrential downpours--calamitous words that might have eased, a little, the restless crawling in my heart. But I swallowed the words unsaid. Even should God heed such a treacherous prayer, my father would not. And though Papa’s weather magic would cost him a headache, my sister would dance under clear skies.

I did not argue with Elizabeth, when she banned me from the ballroom where she and Mama were laying the final grounding for her illusions. “You’ll break my concentration,” she said, “and spoil my spells.”

But then I did not go to the schoolroom, where I was expected to improve my sketching while James studied his Latin. Instead, I lingered (Mama would say loitered) in the lower hall, watching the servants scurry back and forth with their brooms and buckets and cleaning cloths, in feverish preparation for the ball. I did not rest, as Elizabeth did.

And because of those omissions, I was in the hallway when Lord Frederick Markson Worthing came calling.


Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I love how the query sets up the story in a way that we get a sense of your character's voice. Beautifully done. The story itself comes across as unique, with epically huge stakes, and personal stakes that hint at an emotionally gripping tale. My only quibble is the last line, which reads quite long. I wonder if it would be possible to pare that down or break it up?

The excerpt itself is fabulous. You organically introduce us to the oddities of the world you've created. No info-dumping. No, Hey Reader! You need to know THIS! I want to keep reading to find out how the debut goes, why your character would wish her sister ill like that, and why being there when Lord Frederick arrives is worthy of remark. You leave me with just the right amount, and the right TYPE of questions. Well done!

Angie Azur said...

I was hooked from the start. The story unravels in an easy, full of voice, way that I can tell the writer is capable of all promised in the query.

I actually love the last line - so there you go - already two opposing thoughts from readers. :-)

And I love the first line too - great set up. I am excited to know just how ruined her debut is….

Way to go!

Cristin Bruggeman said...

I love this. Your query is clear and engaging. I think I've seen your pages in another contest, yes? Maybe on MSFV? Anyway, no critique from me. Great job, and good luck!

Kendra said...

I wish I could offer critique but I can only offer a few words of praise. I love the elements of world building and hope to be able to pick this up in a book store one day! Well done.

TJ said...

I really like your except. Starting off with what she DIDN'T do on the day of her sister's debut really pulled me in. I liked the voice and the world building and would 100% keep reading if I had this book in my hand (in fact, I kind of wish I did).

I was a tiny bit confused about her yearning to ask for disquiet, disorder etc. She says it's to ease the "restless crawling in her heart" (a phrase I liked, by the way), but makes her sound like she begrudges Elizabeth her big debut. It's if she does, but maybe the crawling in her heart should be "jealous" or "envious" or something a little darker than "restless."

TJ said...

Oops, I meant to say **It's okay if she does...**

Unknown said...

All I have to say is: What happens next??? I love it very clear, easy to follow, and the voice is amazing. You really get a sense of who the character is.

Becca said...

I am very intrigued by the originality of someone who doesn't create spells, but breaks them. Such a nice contrast of "Successful spells and sunshine" with "disquiet, disorder, and torrential downpours."

The query is strong. I love the first line, especially the trifecta. Well done.

Bird said...

Wow. This was a pleasure to read. Nice nice work. I only have a tiny suggestion-- the word townhome stopped me--it has a modern condominium feel. I believe the historic word would be townhouse but you might want to just use home or house to keep it feeling Victorian--

Great job!

KRwriter said...

Your query sparkles! It gives us the basic story elements without sounding boring or confusing. Good job!

The MC's voice is alive on the page, and I definitely felt like I could spend a lot more time in this world. My only critique is the first page the MC is very passive; she's observing things happening, but she's not DOING anything.

Best of luck!

SA said...

Ooh, I love this! Your query makes sense-- it's simple but it isn't boring. One thing I'd say is maybe read the first line out loud and shorten it, slightly? Either way, great query. I love the last line.

Your pages are even better: The first line is fresh, and I wanted to read on even before Lord Frederick appeared on the scene, but that just sealed the deal-- so many questions in my mind.

Secret Agent said...

I love your set up here. The tension is great, as is the description of Anna’s world.

I would ask to see just a little bit of her connection with the “creatures”. Do they become her only friends in Hungary? Has she always bristled at injustice? If her relationship with the “creatures’” will drive her to rebellion, it’d like to see a little bit of why.

Your comps are perfect. And, like good comps, they make we want to read your work.


I really like your opening sample, though I would like a little clarification on why she’s secretly wishing her sister’s debut was ruined.