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Team Brenda #2 – MAD AS A HATTER

Thursday, 17 May 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake
Genre: YA Thriller
Word Count: 60,000
London, 1882. 

Seven years ago, Emil Aleric and his sister were kidnapped and taken to ‘Wonderland’ by a man claiming to come from the future. He called himself the Hatter. Emil survived the torture. His sister didn’t.

When Emil hears of a serial killer ravaging London and leaving notes quoting Alice in Wonderland, Emil knows his former abductor has returned. And when his guardian, Inspector Corwin James, is put in charge of the case, he thinks it must be fate.

At first, Corwin’s adamant that Emil have nothing to do with the case; after all, he’s only fourteen. However, as the two come closer to learning the truth of the murders, they find the most pivotal clues lie in Emil’s memories—suppressed for seven years, but now threatening to consume him. Now Emil must fight the Hatter again, but this time, if he fails, time itself could end.

From the warmth of his sitting room, Emil Aleric glared out the window. It was late afternoon, and the crisp wind had left the streets of Belgravia empty, save for a couple climbing out of a carriage, followed by a butler carrying a dozen gifts. Probably some last minute Christmas shopping.
Emil scowled. He hated happy families.
The fourteen-year-old future Viscount looked away from the window, took a gulp of Earl Grey, and winced. He’d always thought the tea was some disguised form of dishwater, but every adult he knew drank it, and his mother said it was an acquired taste. He forced himself to take another sip, and looked down at the table in front of him.
One, two, three newspapers lay strewn across the mahogany table. The first newspaper was flipped to the obituaries, where a small paragraph about a girl named Daphne Bell could be found. It was only a few lines, something about her family and “may He bless her immortal soul”, or some such rubbish.
She had been the first to die.
Three days after going missing, she’d apparently fallen from the top floor of the twentieth building on a wealthy street around Kensington Gardens. Her body was spread across the ground, bashed up and bloody, with glass protruding from her body at the oddest angles.
The funny thing was, all the windows on that street were perfectly intact.

Filed: Misc

  • Amber says:

    I’ve seen this one around before, I’m surprised it hasn’t already been snatched up by an agent. Great job and good luck!

  • Suzi says:

    This sounds great and I love the setting.

  • Kat Ellis says:

    GAH – I just love the concept, the voice, the writing… this is exactly the kind of book I’d pick up in a bookstore and find myself already reading while waiting in line for the checkout.

  • Sarah Ahiers says:

    Love the twist on Alice in Wonderland! So clever!

  • AllieS says:

    LOVE the concept!

  • TYHatch says:

    Such an interesting twist on Alice in Wonderland.

    Good luck!

  • You had me with the a twist on Alice in Wonderland! Love this!

  • Valerie says:

    I love the Alice in Wonderland twist!! I would love to read this one!

  • T.L. Bodine says:

    Twisted! Sounds awesome

  • Jamie Grey says:

    Absolutely LOVE this – one of my favorites in the contest. I would LOVE to read this one! Good luck!!

  • Excellent! Love this. Alice in Wonderland is my favorite fairy tale so I’m sold!!

  • Becca C. says:

    I can’t wait to get my hands on this in print someday – such a freaky, awesome, twisted premise.

  • April Wall says:

    Great twist on an old classic, good luck!

  • Leigh Ann says:

    HOLY amazing concept, Sherlock! (I know, I know. I’m mixing.)

    Incredible voice, too. So much in one four-word sentence – “He hated happy families.”

    I’ll be watching this one closely. So much luck to you!

  • Sarah Henson says:

    I’ve always loved this. Good luck!

  • I love this so much and I think the decision to switch to a single POV was a good move! If you ever want someone to read for you, hit me up! Great job with the rewrites!

  • Lisa K. says:

    Amazing concept and great writing. I’d read this!

  • Noelle Henry says:

    I love this concept! What a fresh take on Alice in Wonderland. Great writing too. Best of luck!

  • This sounds like a YA Chiller! It’s one that would keep me turning the pages, while reading with one eye closed – and I’m sure there would be gasps. GREAT job!!

  • Absolutely amazing concept! I love the Alice in Wonderland quote, the suspense, the character’s voice already! I can’t wait to see this one published so I can pick it up and read the whole thing! Good luck in the contest!

  • Oh, WOW!!! This is great!! Looooove the Alice in Wonderland/murder concept so much!!

    Good luck!!!

  • I vote for this one!

  • Louise Fury says:

    I vote for this one!

  • Tara Dairman says:



    I like this query! It’s concise, and give us all the plot information we need to get interested in the story. The one sentence that I might tweak is “However, as the two come closer to learning the truth of the murders, they find the most pivotal clues lie in Emil’s memories”—I’d substitute “truth about” for “truth of” and add a “that” after “they find.”

    First page:

    Ooh, you leave us on a creepy and intriguing note. That’s well done. And I love the line “He hated happy families.”

    A few other phrases, however, came across as overly info-dumpy to me. “The fourteen-year-old future Viscount” is one—I’d definitely prefer a “he” there and that information worked in later; it’s already pretty clear from the line before that he’s an adolescent. I’d also swap the locations of “tea” and “Earl Gray” in that paragraph; it feels awkward to have the beverage in his cup introduced specifically as Earl Gray first, but it would make sense if he thought that that particular flavor tasted terrible.

    In “may he bless…soul,” the comma goes inside the quotes.

    I found the description of her body as “spread across” the ground particularly off-putting, since it made it sound like she had been ground into peanut butter and spread out. Maybe you meant spread-eagled? Also, you don’t need to repeat “her body” twice in that sentence—“it” works fine the second time.

    I think it’s an interesting start that just needs a bit of polishing.

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