PW #311: Young Adult Historical Fantasy: THE BRIGHTEST SHADE OF FLAME

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Heather Cashman
Mentee: Andrea Kjaer
Category/Genre: Young Adult Historical Fantasy
Word Count: 90,000


When a Norseman possessed by a treasure-hungry djinni steals Anje’s mythical hammer, she chases him into the treacherous world of seafaring raiders. Attraction sparks when the two must ally against the brutal Viking conqueror who would enslave them and claim the hammer’s power for himself.



Papa told me and my brother a riddle. Standing in the center of the great hall, he threw his arms out wide. “Everything on these walls is true, but one of these walls lies.”

The smoke-blackened tapestries, engraved runes, and chiseled pictures covering the spruce boards of our longhouse beckoned me to untangle the half-told tales of our ancestors and gods. Their stories were so intertwined it seemed that if one of the walls lied, our whole lives might be undone.

Tyrson and I ventured a few smart guesses about the lie. When we ran out of walls, Mama laughed, flinging aside the tapestry next to her bedchamber. She slipped her finger underneath a discolored wood knot and answered the riddle with a sly smile. “Everything on these walls is true, but one of these walls is false.”


How little I’d known of life’s undoing then.

In the dimness of the late afternoon, I stood where Mama had that day. I read the words carved into our longhouse’s history not long after.

In the year the strangers came, young Tyrson felled two raiders, saving his mother and sister. His blood still stains this hearth, may the stones ever honor his memory.

It wasn’t wrong to borrow his hammer now, but the embroidered wolf on the tapestry seemed to disagree. He scowled within his woad-threaded seascape, as if warning me to leave his curtain and the hidden compartment behind it alone. I swept aside his blue-beaded glare and opened the secret cupboard.


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