Genre: YA fantasy
Word Count: 81,000
My Main Character would use sun or snow to battle their biggest obstacle:
The eternal summer has lasted beyond memory. Isobel doesn’t know spring, winter, or fall, so she’s never encountered cold, much less snow. Neither of those forces would do much good against her enemy, the immortal Alder King, but she admits she finds the idea of hurling a snowball at his face delightful.
Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and barter their most glamorous and treacherous enchantments for Isobel's work. She prides herself on resisting every temptation. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she paints mortal sorrow in his eyes. Devastated by the humanity she has inflicted upon him, he spirits her away to the autumn lands to stand trial for her crime.
Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into love, violating the fair folks’ ruthless Good Law. To save both their lives, Isobel must commit an act she promised herself she would never consider. She must drink from the Green Well, whose water will transform her into a fair one—at the cost of her Craft, for immortality is as stagnant as it is timeless.
As the Alder King rouses from his slumber to hunt them down, Isobel faces a choice. She can sacrifice her talent for a guaranteed future, or arm herself with paint and canvas against the ancient power of the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their stale, unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.
First 250 words:
My parlor smelled of linseed oil and spike lavender, and a dab of lead tin yellow glistened on my canvas. I had nearly perfected the color of Gadfly’s silk jacket.
The trick with Gadfly was persuading him to wear the same clothes for every session. Oil paint needs days to dry between layers, and he had trouble understanding I couldn’t just swap his entire outfit for another he liked better. He was astonishingly vain even by fair folk standards, which is like saying a pond is unusually wet, or a bear surprisingly hairy. All in all, it was a disarming quality for a creature who could murder me without rescheduling his tea.
“I might have some silver embroidery done about the wrists,” he said. “What do you think? You could add that, couldn’t you?”
“And if I chose a different cravat...”
Inwardly, I rolled my eyes. Outwardly, my face ached with the polite smile I’d maintained for the past two and a half hours. Rudeness was not an affordable mistake. “I could alter your cravat, as long as it’s more or less the same size, but I’d need another session to finish it.”
“You truly are a wonder. Much better than the previous portrait artist—that fellow we had the other day. What was his name? Sebastian Manywarts? Oh, I didn’t like him, he always smelled a bit strange.”
It took me a moment to realize Gadfly was referring to Silas Merryweather, a master of the Craft who died over three hundred years ago.