MENTOR: Sean McConnell
MENTEE: Jak Szabo
CATEGORY/GENRE: YA Historical
WORD COUNT: 75,000
In exchange for her birth name, liar extraordinaire “Soledad” must con the Inquisition on orders from her guardian, a mysterious masked man rumored to be the Devil himself. V for Vendetta meets Les Misérables, with flamenco.
Today my name is Martirio, as in martyr.
Whenever my partner speaks it, he holds each letter on his tongue, stacking syllables one at a time as though building fagots into a pyre. His voice blends with the guttural strum of a flamenco guitar that comes from somewhere within the labyrinth of whitewashed streets. It’s tragic, desperate, and if I close my eyes, I imagine myself melting into the melody; my ashes swept up and scattered over the earth.
César’s grip yanks me back to reality. “Don’t be stubborn, love. We’re a team, remember? How can I do my part if you refuse to do yours?”
I try to twist away, but my slippers slide on the wet straw that litters the corral. I stumble into his chest. “César, please. Let me go.”
He twirls the fringe of my shawl around his finger. “Don’t tell me you’re worried about tainting your soul.”
“My soul is none of your business.”
“Maybe not, but the Lie is—and it’s yours, too. If I were you, I’d do everything in my power to make absolutely sure it doesn’t fail.” He tilts my chin so I’m forced to look at him. His grin suffocates and strangles; it’s a hood over my head, a garrote around my throat. “You wouldn’t want to disappoint His Majesty, would you?”