PW #340: Young Adult Central Asian Historical Fantasy: THE MAGICAL CONSTANT OF RICE

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Rhiannon Hart

Mentee Name: Lorraine Goddard


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Central Asian Historical Fantasy

Word Count: 87,000



Sixteen-year-old Stana could be one of the greatest magicians on the medieval Silk Road if only she could tame her own magic. When an accidental sandstorm lands her in the lair of a centuries-old djinni, Stana must apply all her talent and cunning to rescue the cruel djinni’s victims and find her way back home.


When Stana was six years old, Madame Qi bought her at the great marketplace in Samarkand for five silver coins.

“I will either make you into a powerful sorceress or an excellent maid,” Stana’s new mistress said, examining her purchase. “I like the look of you, even if you are as skinny as a needle. You may call me ‘Madame.’”

Stana flinched back against the outside of the camel-hair tent. “Yes, Madame.” She could hardly force the whisper through her dry throat.

The old lady spoke Stana’s language, but her tongue twisted familiar words into strange shapes. Golden birds and scarlet dragons swirled across her silk robe. After two owners, Stana had seen enough of the world to know what the lady was: rich, Chinese—and a magician. Behind her back, Stana tried to make a sign against evil magic, as the older caravan girls had taught her, but her fingers were shaking too hard to form the right shape.

Madame pulled a dagger from her embroidered sleeve.

Stana slid sideways, away from the glinting knife, but the slave-trader stood in the door of the tent, eyes watchful, rough hands ready to compel obedience. The lady grasped Stana’s chin with smooth fingers, and Stana’s whole body shuddered as the cool blade slid between her leather slave collar and her throat. She squeezed her eyes shut. A hot tear leaked out.

Hold still. Hold still.


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