Published by Authors 4 Authors Publishing in December of 2021.
The three kingdoms in the river valley, a fantastical realm inspired by ancient Mesopotamia, are on the verge of collapse with unending drought and rising violence. Emory, the princess of the most powerful kingdom, receives an unexpected guest who claims a curse has gripped the land, causing dark spirits to rise. Feeding off hate, they possess the minds of men, causing senseless murders, and of beasts, causing them to emerge from seclusion and feed on human flesh at the outskirts of the cities.
Emory travels with her new acquaintance, who claims to be from the immortal realm, to an enemy kingdom, where the one who cast the curse was last seen. But before they can defeat him, her friend is killed.
Abandoned in enemy lands, where her mere identity imperils her and one misstep would mean death, Emory is captured by the enemy king and enslaved, beaten and starved to the brink of death. Then, the one who cast the curse appears before her, offering his aid in exchange for a favor. She agrees, but he then possesses her. Emory must rely on her knowledge of the curse, and newfound strength, to free herself of possession, and save the place she has always called home.
*Earlier versions of this, prior to feedback from NYC Pitch Conference:
In a time of drought and bloodshed, a diver returns from sea with a tale of dark shapes lurking in its depths. His claims are mocked by all except Emory, the princess of Tryn, who is driven to find an explanation. When an unexpected guest arrives in Tryn claiming a curse has gripped the land, only Emory believes him, and joins him on a mission to enemy lands. But when he is mysteriously killed, she alone must face the curse and stop impending war. Abandoned in desperate lands, where her mere identity imperils her and one misstep would mean death, she concocts a drastic plan for peace. But before she can complete it, she is ensnared by a darkness greater than she ever imagined, and is forced to partake in a menacing plot to destroy her world. Her knowledge of the curse, and bonds with new friends, may be the only thing to save her, and the place she has always called home.
**I included another earlier version below. I wanted the query to sound more urgent, with heightened stakes, and I changed the language to be more active than passive.
Emory, a princess living in the lavish palace of Tryn, yearns to see the world beyond her home. Her father warns her of growing tensions between neighboring kingdoms, so she resorts to old books to quench her curiosity. There, she reads of an ancient mystery about her kingdom. She worries she may never find answers to the questions it presents, until an unexpected guest arrives in Tryn. He offers her the explanations she seeks, and claims a curse is to blame for impending wars between kingdoms. His claims are widely dismissed, but Emory believes him; in hopes of ending the curse, she runs away from her home to follow him. But when he is mysteriously killed, Emory finds herself alone in desperate lands, more dangerous than she ever imagined. Before she can decide her next step, she encounters a sinister power and is ensnared in a menacing plot to destroy her world. She must rely on her faith in new-found friends and her knowledge of the ancient mystery to prevent war and make it home alive.
5 thoughts on “Where Ashes Reign”
You can send the beta copy to me at firstname.lastname@example.org — I will gladly comment on it.
The story is very unique, but draws on a few cliches that can make it seem like another Wizard of Oz. Try imagining reading the narrative as someone unconvinced by stories and elements of stories that are well known, and try to surprise this reader.
Thank you for your input. I’m currently working on edits but can send you the first three chapters when finished, if you’re still interested.
Yes, sure. I can read and annotate comments.
PS. Congrats on getting your short story published. Let it be the first of many.
Re: Moth and Rust (comments only work here)
The title sounds disturbing when coupling those images. Also Eve becoming a physician in one of America’s last colleges is really just a confusing element. And doesn’t the competition she’s in make the story like The Hunger Games?
Otherwise the story is dark, twisted, and interesting. I would just try to have the ideas and energy balanced. And by that I mean change or carve out a better narrative so things make sense, but still draw a reader in by sparking their curiosity.
Thanks for your feedback. I agree with you, and actually wrote this novel before the Hunger Games came out. When I read the Hunger Games I remember thinking, “Oh no, this is too similar!” I still think it stands apart, because this is for an adult audience, and in the competition here, they aren’t directly facing each other.