Title: THE LAST MESMERIST
Genre: YA Gaslamp Fantasy + LGBTQ elements
Word Count: 84,000
Is Your Antagonist hot or cold:
Under usual circumstances I do not answer questions, I ask them. However, since this could benefit my author I shall acquiesce. My name is Doctor Rosalie Agnes Bray, and presently you do not owe me anything. Nonetheless, if you continue with this line of questioning...you may.
In the land of Caspara, mesmerists can summon one's truest desire for a brief time and a hefty price.
Sixteen-year-old Hilda Hollow dreams of being a dirigible pilot. Instead, she’s stuck singing illusions, giving people what they desire most, only to rip it away. But between her severe dyslexia and her mama’s illness, Hilda’s dreams are as impossible as the fantasies of her clients. So Hilda lives contract-to-contract as a mesmerist, until one performance, where a boy falls from the rafters and breaks the trance of Hilda’s audience. She catches him, but the concert is ruined, leaving Hilda unpaid. Now she won’t have enough coin to afford Mama’s medication.
With no savings, Hilda has no choice but to sign the next contract she’s offered: a hexed deal with a 20-year term, which takes her to a grand hotel far from home. Soon she learns the boy she saved is also employed there. Because of Mama, Hilda has always been afraid to let new people into her life, for fear of losing them; however, she finds herself befriending this boy. As days pass she realizes something peculiar. There’s only one guest at this hotel, but hundreds of mesmerists performing for him, keeping him engrossed in his illusion around the clock. Worse, she discovers the hotel’s doctor has a deadly agenda: the doctor’s running a machine that grinds mesmerists’ bones into a remedy called Mirage…the very remedy that could cure Mama. Hilda must use this knowledge to escape, but when her new friend puts himself—and her plan—in danger, she must choose between risking his life and saving every mesmerist in the hotel from becoming another bottle of Mirage.
THE LAST MESMERIST is the first in a planned series. It's what might happen if A Great and Terrible Beauty met Soylent Green.
Hilda stood behind the impossibly heavy red velvet curtain, waiting for it to open or, perhaps, fall from the coiled mechanism holding it up and crush her. She didn’t particularly want to be crushed, but at least it would be something different. An adventure of sorts. Something other than performing over and over without an end in sight. Well—she swallowed the too-painful thought away—there was an end, but not one she cared to think about.
“Miss Hollow, a moment!”
Hilda turned toward the unnecessarily loud voice, her silk ruffle overlay flapping against the smooth velvet of her skirt like a smothered scream.
One of the sound operators raced up to her. He held out a silver micro-trumpet then quickly pulled it back against his chest before she could remind him, again, that chanters of illusion didn’t need amplification.
She clenched her fists. This was only her fifteenth time singing here on her three-year tour of opera houses and grand hotels. However…he was merely trying to do his job. Besides, perhaps he was new. She took a moment to really look at him. Thoughtful eyes. Sweaty brow. Disheveled jacket collar. Yes, definitely new. She relaxed her hands but didn’t answer. He wouldn’t have heard her anyway, not with the silencers—large brass discs—over his ears. Tiny cranks in the center of the circles could be turned and tightened to stamp out sound. The opera house required all employees to wear them. The proprietors said it was because they didn’t want the workers to be drawn into an illusion.