MENTOR: Laura Tims

MENTEE: Kerbie Addis


CATEGORY/GENRE: YA High Fantasy/Dark Fantasy

WORD COUNT: 85,000



Accused traitor Princess Scarolena must escape prison and clear her name with the help of a creature born from her shadow—before the real assassin succeeds in killing her mother, the Queen.



Each person in the library held their breath as the wail of a siren curled through the air like barbed wire. They waited for the sound to rise and fall into itself. If the siren’s pitch changed, it meant this was no longer a drill.

They were conditioned to fear that sound. Sirens meant Umbra. And Umbra meant death.

Princess Scarolena, however, was incredibly bored. Sirens didn’t hold the same importance to her. Any time an Umbra approached the palace, it was something the soldiers dealt with, outside. She was seated in a wingback chair across from her tutor, Sir Asio, drumming her fingers on the round table of polished rosewood separating them.

The chandelier’s crystallized tears above their table tinkled, affected not by the muffled siren, but vibration of a rumbling steamtrain. Soon the train would grind and puff to a halt, undoubtedly at a platform packed with crates and soldiers, eager for more military supplies.

As it shook slightly, this chandelier made a sadder sound than the others hanging in the library. The maids of the palace were afraid to dust this one. Scarolena had discovered a maid from decades past had stepped onto a table and jumped off beneath this chandelier, while her neck remained tethered to the black arms by her apron. The table was removed. The chandelier was not.

This table smelled new, so new it made the princess sadly wonder if another maid had done herself in. Tables and maids were disposable to the palace. Pretty chandeliers were not.

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