Title: THE DARKNESS WITHIN US
Category/Genre: YA Fantasy
Word Count: 99,000
My Main Character would use snow to battle her biggest obstacle:
Esther’s used to the pain the sun brings her. In the sun, she’s weak and loses full range of her abilities. But the cold? She’s not accustomed to snow, but it’d be easy to win a fight. With the flick of her wrist, she can tug their soul free from their body. With snow, she could be creative. She could curl snow around ribbons of darkness, hurling it at her enemy with whip-like speed. She just needs to stand to fight. She’s too often a coward. She believes it’s impossible for her to protect when all she does is kill.
Seventeen-year-old Esther doesn’t fear death. As the Keeper of the Night, it’s her duty to collect the souls of the dead. She releases them from their human bodies so they can live as stars for eternity. Despite the pain of reliving their memories and emotions, she hasn’t failed her duties yet.
But when a human risks his life to warn of her of an unseen danger, he disintegrates before her eyes. And for the first time, Esther fails. His soul’s ripped from her hands by a wicked force, damning him for eternity. But the belt buckle left in his ashes comes from his captor, and it heaves Esther into a vision. She uncovers Sansfirit, a powerful immortal obsessed with enslaving the earth. He hungers for souls to raise his army, and Esther is the perfect tool to collect them.
Forced into a war to save humankind, Esther unites with caring but grieving Nicolai, her fellow Keeper of the Night. Together, they search for Sansfirit’s weakness. But fighting his army means killing thousands of souls she’s always protected. It means becoming what she fears most: a monster. But no one, especially Esther, is prepared for what true monsters Sansfirit’s created within the darkness.
THE DARKNESS WITHIN US is a YA fantasy novel complete at 99,000 words that will appeal to fans of Laini Taylor.
First 250 words:
The soul hummed softly in its grave. The sound was almost like breathing, but I knew it wasn’t that. Souls waiting for me didn’t breathe. Neither did their dead bodies. Souls sighed their histories when they knew someone was listening.
The graveyard was a tiny one, undisturbed by busy roads and people. I hopped over puddles, trying my best to keep my tattered dress and cloak from dragging in the mud. Besides the crickets and frogs, the only noises came from the gravel crunching beneath my sandals. I had one last soul to collect before I could return to the Chantneed Forest.
“Do you hear me?” I followed the soul’s whisper, hastening my steps.
Its headstone was the last in its row, closest to the woods. It shimmered like glass, the others worn and crumbling. Already, vines and weeds crept towards it, time seeking to wear down the human’s memorial.
“There you are,” I said, tracing my fingertips in the grooves of each letter. The stone was smooth and cold, my fingertips leaving imprints on its reflection.
The soul pounded excitedly against the corpse’s chest at my presence, caged and ready to be freed. This was the part I loved most about being the Keeper of the Night.
But that familiar iciness crept from within my body, numbing my every limb. I gritted my teeth and held my hand over the freshly dug dirt, wincing as my veins turned from faint blue to black beneath my skin.