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PW #305: Young Adult Historical Urban Fantasy: THE HOUSE WITH TWO FACES

Thursday, 2 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Laurie Dennison

Mentee Name: Adelle Yeung


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy

Word Count: 86,000 words


In 1920s San Francisco, Paula Mendez performs street magic to support her foster sisters. When a severed witch’s head frames her for murder, Paula joins a magician’s crew to retrieve the still-warm body from their theater. If Paula fails, the witch will take her sisters’ heads—and Paula’s.


Polino specialized in bringing his headless dove back to life.

In the center of Union Square, the young magician raised his bird’s detached head for all to see. The small crowd gasped and cracked uncertain smiles. They huddled to ward off the chilly fog and soften the shock of decapitation. Polino grinned; he had everything under control.

“You see,” Polino called out, “anyone can harm a helpless animal. However! Only a magnificent magician can reverse such a butchering!”

Polino fluttered a silk handkerchief over Merlin’s head and the wooden box containing the rest of the ring-necked dove. His twiddling fingers illustrated life coursing back into Merlin’s body. He froze and put a finger to his lips, hushing the audience. A few gulped.

With one last dramatic flourish, Polino swept the handkerchief away to reveal the unharmed Merlin, his gray wings spread as if to say, “Ta-dah!

The onlookers erupted into applause. Women in cloche hats sighed in relief and delight. Men in fedoras and bowlers nodded at Polino as they dropped spare change in the magician’s newsboy cap. Polino beamed and bowed at the bystanders.

His smile faded at the sight of the dame in the periwinkle coat. She never tipped or clapped.

For the past week, she had watched Polino perform, her rose-kissed lips curled into a perpetually pleasant smile. It wasn’t condescending, nor was it overly amused. It was knowing.

After all, she was the only one in the audience who knew Polino’s greatest illusion: he was actually a girl.


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