Title: THE CANDLE DARK WICKED
Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 85,000
With her Grandma card counting in Vegas, sixteen-year-old Teagan returns from visiting her twin sister Ryanne in the hospital with a key she hopes will unlock a mystery surrounding Grandma’s study. Inside the forbidden room, moth eaten ventriloquist puppets with only half their faces still painted on teleport Teagan to the Island of Candleflora--where the not so dumb dummies come alive. Chased by puppet Trolls dressed in cheap fur coats, but expensive Donald Trump wigs, her rescue’s aided by Thomas, protector of the Candle Light Realm who recognizes Teagan as his sovereign princess. Teagan’s shocked because his Queen happens to be Grandma and she’s not playing blackjack, she’s on a torturer’s rack, courtesy of the Candle Dark Empire and their Princess--Ryanne, who nine years earlier Teagan found in Grandma’s study--comatose with a puppet on her hand.
The sibling’s armies go to war, wearing magical puppets called hand guides which allow them to transform into different animals, warriors and fantasy creatures. Ryanne steals Grandma’s secret hand guide depository of WMDs (Wickedly Massive Dragons), shifting the balance of power. The situation turns desperate when Teagan discovers their common enemy, the cannibalistic Bone Cutters, are planning to attack. Now to save Grandma from biting into an apple and being presented on good bone china, Teagan needs to unite Candleflora. She must either surrender her throne to Ryanne--or visit the sleeping beauty at her bedside for a lights out winner take all pillow fight.
The Good: This has a quality that reminds me of Terry Prachett's or Robert Lynn Asprin's books. There's a steady niche market for YA fantasy, and many of the publishers accept unagented submissions. I remember this pitch from the query contest, and this version gives a very different sense of the story--the narrative voice comes through much better in this one.
Suggestions: The pitch has a few rough spots: for example, the last sentence needs a bit more punctuation. I also don't like when someone TELLS me the character's reaction, like where this says "Teagan's shocked." SHOW me how she feels with a physical reaction (jaw-dropping, etc.), or leave it out entirely. I think the aspect of Ryanne being in the hospital (long-term care facility?) AND on the island confused me a bit, since Teagan "teleports." Is she there in spirit while her body is in our world? That's the assumption I made, given the situation with Ryanne and the pillow-smothering allusion, but it needs a touch of clarification.