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Team Brenda #6 – PECULIAR DARK

Thursday, 17 May 2012  |  Posted by Brenda Drake
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 89,000

There are a few things Angela James never thought she’d do, like: 
     1.  Throw a birthday party for a supernatural creature.
     2.  Break into a police officer’s apartment.
     3.  Wield an axe.
     4.  Burn a house down.
     5.  Kill a monster. Scratch that – kill anything, period. 
Let’s just say, Angela’s sophomore year isn’t exactly panning out as she’d hoped. Just after moving to the town of Peculiar, a violent fever racks her body, and even after she recovers, she doesn’t feel right, suffering headaches, body aches and weird visions. And she’s not alone. Her classmate Zee and his sister have the exact same symptoms. Angela thinks they must still be sick, but the real answer is far less comforting. They have become vessels for magic – magic that their human bodies can barely contain – and there are creatures hunting them who would rip them to shreds to get at it.
Enter Wy, a beautiful blue-skinned, winged boy who literally drops from the sky with a sword and a bad attitude. He claims to be their protector, but he’s got his own agenda that doesn’t always seem to include their best interests. Wy the Blue Wonder – and the magic secrets that come with him – throws Angela’s whole life out of whack. She worries about her family, freaks out her cute new crush, breaks the law – and those aren’t even the worst parts. Because the creatures chasing them are shapeshifters, and they can look like anyone at any time, so you may not even know you’re in danger until it’s too late.
The wind woke Angela before the fever did.
It bowled over the plains like a brute and wrapped around the house, rooting out cracks and corners, howling and whistling.
Angela lay beneath her comforter, listening to the roof and walls shudder under gusty slaps. All of her skin ached, and the insides of her body felt molten with heat. Pain throbbed from her temples up to the crown of her skull and back down into her jaw. Her limbs were weak and heavy, and the backs of her eyes were boiling. She writhed around, getting her legs twisted up in the sheets. Flailing aggressively, she kicked herself free.
Without the blankets, she shook with violent tremors, curled on the bare mattress. Every time she blinked, she felt like the heat of her eyelids would scorch her irises off.
She had to get up.
Rolling off the edge of the bed, she steadied herself on weak legs, muscles threatening to collapse under her. One hand still on the mattress, Angela took a shaky step and then another.
Her bedroom dissolved into jumbled blocks, the floor and the walls whirling in a blur of shadows, ground melting to mush under her feet. Everything tilted around her.
She fell, and the spinning world went black.
Angela’s senses came back in beats.
Her mother’s face hovering over her. Voices whispering nearby. Fluorescent lighting and plastic chairs. The comforter brushing against her chin. The ceiling of her bedroom. The heat of her own scalding body cooking her insides.

Filed: Misc

  • Sarah Ahiers says:

    I totally LOVE the name of the city!!

  • Holly Cagney says:

    I love this entry! It’s very unique and hooking!

  • TYHatch says:

    Such a great description of her fever. Excited to see how you do!

    Good luck!

  • Valerie says:

    This query pulled me right in! “Scratch that- kill anything period!” made me smile. I would love for boys to drop down from the sky with a sword and a bad attitude!

  • May I say, that first line. And the description of the fever. Great job! Good luck!

  • T.L. Bodine says:

    This looks epic 😀 Good luck!

  • Jamie Grey says:

    Great query and awesome concept – hooked me right away! Good luck with this one!

  • Awesome. LOVE the list at the beginning. If she does even a few of those, I want to see it!! Great job!

  • April Wall says:

    Vivid imagery! Good luck!

  • Leigh Ann says:

    Oooh, sounds very cool! And I love the mythology behind how they get their magic that’s hinted in the query. Very nice job!

    Good luck!

  • Great job with your first page! I love the new flow – quick & almost jittery, like a fever. Good luck!

  • Lisa K. says:

    One of my favorite entries in the contest. Love the query (particularly the list, which just made me grin) and an excellent first page.

  • I love the opening to the query and want to know how she ends up doing those things. Great description in the first 250. Good luck!

  • MarcyKate says:

    Great concept, great writing – Good luck!

  • I love this story! I read it, as a crit partner, and it hooked me from the start. I was up far past my bedtime reading it, and as my other crit partners can attest, that isn’t something that happens with a whole lot of novels. Good luck!! *fingers crossed for you*

  • More please! I bet I would be like Leigh – up past my bedtime!

  • LOVE this premise! I want more!!

  • Dahlia says:

    Your 250 are so evocative, and that list from your query just cracks me up. Good luck!

  • Noelle Henry says:

    I really like how you start you query with a list! Really grabs my attention! Good luck!

  • Absolutely loved this in the preliminary round – still do!! The voice in your query is so strong….good luck to you!

  • Alex Hayman says:

    I remember this from the preliminary rounds, and I loved it. This is such a great premise, and the query is just fantastic. Good luck!

  • Such a cool concept!!!

    Good luck in the contest!!

  • Andrea Somberg says:

    I vote for you!

  • Louise Fury says:

    I vote for you! But I would want it to start with –> Angela’s senses came back in beats.

  • Tara Dairman says:



    I like the list—it made me smile and gave me a hint that your tone wasn’t going to be too heavy. The second sentence of the following paragraph is too long/crowded, though, I think. You can break it up pretty easily after “a violent fever racks her body.”

    In the next paragraph, I don’t think you need the aside “- and the magic secrets that come with him – ” because you’ve just established that he has his own agenda (which I assume means he has secrets). And I wasn’t sure who the “them” were that the creatures were chasing in the last sentence, since you haven’t mentioned Zee in a while; maybe just stick with “her” and keep the focus on Angela. Finally, I wouldn’t switch to addressing “you” at the end of that sentence; it’s Angela/”she” who doesn’t know she’s in danger, not the reader.

    First page:

    I really enjoyed all of your descriptions. The whipping wind across the plains put me in mind of Little House on the Prairie for a moment, but I like that this story seems like it’ll have a specific regional setting. You could probably pare the fever description by a sentence or two, just to get the action going faster, but I was able to clearly see (and almost feel) the situation.

    I also connected with the start of the second scene and feel like that could be a strong book opener, too. I’d keep reading!

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