Title: The Night
Author: Amanda Kurka
Genre: YA Epic Fantasy
Word Count: 115,000
Fifteen-year-old Aerael lives an ordinary life, for a world ruled by magic and false gods.
But when the man forcing her into marriage threatens her life, a voice whispers into her mind, saying it can help her, if she'll let it in. With no choice but to allow it control, she opens her mind to it, and the voice chants in the language of magic, seizing upon a power deep within her to eliminate the danger. She runs, knowing that when her would-be suitor awakes, he'll have her executed for illegal magic, if his magicians, the dreaded Varloi, can catch her.
While leaving the city she's known all her life, Aerael runs into a strange being named Siri, who informs her that the power she possesses is something called maijic of the night. A pure, good power, and a gift, it is the opposite of magic, which requires the payment of a soul. Aerael tells Siri that she can take the powers and the controlling voice, as she'd rather have her old life back--but the maijic cannot be returned, and Siri says there should be no voice. Aerael is told to go to Siri's people, where she can learn to use her maijic, if she can get there.
The Varloi learn the peculiar nature of her powers, and are ordered to bring her to the capital for questioning. Assigned to the task is the prince, who terrifies most with his volatile power over fire and harbors a grave secret. So Aerael sets off, accompanied by friends and pursued by the law, and comes to know more about her maijic…and the catastrophic consequences attached. She will either overthrow the corrupt rule of the false gods, or tighten their hold forever.
The Good: I like the premise, and the opening scene that starts the action is compelling. In fact, I'd fold the first sentence in and start with the action to hook your readers:
When the man forcing fifteen-year-old Aerael into marriage threatens her life, a voice whispers into her mind. When she opens her mind to it...
Suggestions: I'd like more of a sense of Siri beyond "strange being." Avoid using sentence fragments like "A pure, good power..." and tighten or split up some of the longer sentences.
I'm a bit confused about the role of the would-be suitor. Is he the king? You say that the Varloi are "his" magicians, and you later mention a prince whom I'm assuming is someone different, but it would be nice to get a bit more of a sense of who's who. I'd also like to get more of a sense of the Aerael's emotions and motivations, as well as a bit of the narrative voice. She just wants to go home, but she keeps going. Why? Fear? Anger? Determination? Strong-will? To help others?
BOTTOM LINE: This has great potential, but I think the pitch needs tightening.