PW #345: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy: THE BLOOD KEY

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Jamie Howard
Mentee Name: Kristen Clouthier
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 90,000


Charlotte’s life revolves around digging up and smuggling rare artifacts—until she uncovers a calling more treacherous than desecrating tombs. She’s the key to destroying a parasitic entity, but fighting its corrupting influence means she’ll have to sacrifice either the man who raised her or the boy who loves her. INDIANA JONES meets THE DARKEST MINDS.


The package Elijah overnighted sat on the bed like Christmas morning. Or Halloween. Some holiday where gifts came from someone six feet under and decades past their expiration date. Given I’d spent the last week sharing a pay-by-the-hour motel with a rat colony suffering from boundary issues, the payday waiting inside the box was better than anything Santa could’ve stuffed down a chimney.

I ripped open the flaps and dug around for the note.  On good days, I’d find used napkins; on average ones, I’d pull out a stack of fresh toilet seat covers. This time he’d turned the greasiest take-out menu I’d ever seen into his scratchpad— courtesy of Wait a Millet. Lines of red cracked along its creases and yellow splatters stretched from front to back, giving off the scent of chili peppers and onions. I held it like a dirty diaper and set it beside my half-eaten TV dinner and an empty bottle of hair dye.

The blue Sharpie Eli used to scribble out a series of cryptic numbers across the menu’s pages bled all the way through to the lunch specials. I choked down a spoonful of lumpy mashed potatoes and went to work on the code— no cipher needed. At least not yet. His first instruction never changed and I could’ve recited it frontwards, backwards, in Latin, or in Greek. The sequence: 12.23, 34.15, 7.18, 4.8.

Don’t take it off.

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