PW #364: Young Adult Fantasy: STARS AND REEDS

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Kip Wilson
Mentee Name: Sam Taylor
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 82,000


Falsely accused of killing a wealthy merchant, Jameelah faces life in bondage unless she clears her name with star magic, a power inaccessible to Marsh Dwellers like herself. Her only hope of acquiring magic is to escape prison and ally with her childhood enemy Rashida, a star magician—and the merchant’s real murderer.


Hazine finds me among the other sinners at the temple gates. She jostles through to my side and, with a wink, presses something smooth into my hand. “Want to try another spell tonight?”

“Quiet down! You piping coot.” I glance around, but the guards are busy herding more prisoners to the temple. Still, I put my back to them before studying the stone on my palm.

Hazine grins. “I’ve made new starstones.”

That she has. I curl my fingers around the white ball of clay, my heart racing while my stomach knots. Then a guard stomps too near and I stuff the rock down my sleeve.

“In line, Marsh Girl!” The man swings a staff toward my face. “The rites of penance are about to begin. Though I don’t know why the gods would care about a killer like you.”

Heat flares in my chest and I clench my hands into fists. That brute is more killer than I.

The remaining criminals emerge from squat work sheds; mud-brick huts squished together like segments of a wasp’s nest. Guards shove them into the crowd around the temple. I groan as someone elbows my back, aching from another day hunched over a loom.

“Jameelah. Shall we try a spell or not?” Hazine nudges the stone in my sleeve. Her brown fingers are spotted with clay from an afternoon spent making pots. “Isn’t it magnificent? I have a dozen of them. I think we can summon some real magic tonight.”

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