PW #335: Young Adult LGBT Dark Fantasy: DEVIL’S CARAVAN

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Jessie Devine
Mentee: J.K. Smejkal
Category: Young Adult
Genre: LGBT Dark Fantasy
Word Count: 88,000


When Celia escapes the service of a false deity named Diavala, she must use her forbidden ability to ink magical tattoos to protect the roving theater troupe she calls family or watch Diavala destroy them. GRISHA at the MOULIN ROUGE.


Another question mark bloomed on Celia’s forearm, bigger and bolder than the others. The ink unfurled in an oily black, stretched-out tentacle, wrist to elbow, the dot on the bottom a furious splatter. An hour ago she’d still been trying to cover Anya’s messages by tugging her shirtsleeve down until the marks had faded. An hour ago she’d still cared that she was in a packed shisha lounge surrounded by people who might ask their own questions.

But lovely absinthe made cares like that disappear even quicker than her friend’s angry writing on her skin.

Celia pressed her finger to the angry splotch on the bottom. I’d tell you where I am, she thought, if only I knew. Huzzah, absinthe!

She sat alone at a table, surrounded by clusters of pretty people doing flirty things: chatting and sighing, enjoying their drinks and smoke, unwinding after a busy day of whatever normal people did. Vibrant fabrics hung in plump folds from the ceiling, matching the cushions around low tables. Everything fluttered: colorful sleeves, loose pants, long hair, light from a hundred candles, jingly jewelry hanging from ears and wrists and necks.

Celia didn’t belong there, judging by the lounge owner’s fluency in scowls. With her black everything — short hair, suspenders, tie, top hat — she stuck out like a monochrome stain amid all the color and life. Not bothering to right her awkward sprawl, she smiled as he approached. Or maybe it wasn’t a smile, but a frown. Whichever way was up. Whichever way was down.

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