This week it’s Hilary’s turn for About My Query!
All Rini McIllroy wants is to apprentice as a healer in her werewolf pack. But as the American Civil War encroaches upon her remote Tennessee village, it becomes clear that wolfkind cannot escape the wars of humankind. In an attempt to save a young girl from an attack by a deserting soldier, Rini’s rage unknowingly looses an ancient curse upon herself and her Pack.
Now Rini is hunted through her dreams by a shadow with a voice like the drums of war. The curse upon her makes her lust for blood and power, even while she is learning to heal what is broken. With the return of one of her Pack from the battlefield, his body and soul mangled by violence, Rini is tested to her limit: will she give in to the curse and the lust for blood? She must draw strength from her friends to confront the ancient terror if she is going to save her Pack and herself, or lose herself to the beast within.
THE GIRL OF BLOOD AND SONG is a Young Adult Historical Fantasy complete at 78,000 words. It will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix, and Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This project can standalone, and is the first in a planned series.
I have poetry published in Lilliput Review, and have an essay included in Time And Relative Dimensions in Faith: Theology and Doctor Who. By day I am a chaplain at Santa Clara University in California, by night I am an active booktuber. This is my first novel.
Thank you for all your time and consideration.
First of all, thanks so much for sharing your work with us – not an easy thing to do! I’m intrigued by the idea of Civil War era werewolves, so great job a piquing my interest.
The second sentence in your first paragraph, ‘cannot escape the wars of humankind,’ is a bit vague. I’d like to understand a bit more about what’s driving this and why it presents a problem for the werewolf pack. This is a place where you could highlight stakes nicely, too. I do like that we’re given a glimpse of the catalyst for the ancient curse coming to bear.
The second paragraph feels a bit jumbled. Rini is hunted in her dreams by a shadow – what effect might this have in the waking world? Then we’re given evidence that werewolves have possibly been fighting in the war itself. Up until this moment, the query led me to believe the werewolves have been separate from humans, so perhaps a little more clarity on their relationship might help.
I think overall I’d like a clearer sense of the mechanisms of the curse since it seems to be the main focus of the story and what Rini will ultimately have to overcome. You have some interesting elements here, but a dose of clarity about how the story actually unfolds and about what it all means to Rini and her pack will make the most important elements of this query really stand out.
The title has a nice ring to it, but does sound a bit similar to other YA fantasy on the shelves so that’s something to be wary of, though it probably won’t come into play until later on if your book is picked up by a publisher. Your comps weren’t immediately familiar to me so I looked them up. I was left feeling as though they didn’t really capture the historical aspects of your story as well as they could’ve, so it may be worthwhile to choose at least one that does so a little more accurately. I’d suggest keeping Uprooted as it seems to capture the plot similarities well, and the Garth Nix books are a bit dated. Ideally you want books that have been published in the past couple of years.
Thanks again for sharing your query and project with us. I hope my feedback is helpful!