Category/Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Word count: 68,000
My main character is most uncomfortable with:
As a cutter, Ember finds solace in long-sleeved shirts. The fabric sticks to her healing wounds, but she can deal with that as long as her secrets are hidden. What she can’t deal with? Questions. Ember always prefers snow to sun. If everyone is bundled up, she doesn’t draw attention to herself – and with all the eyes that are on her already, she will take anonymity when she can get it.
Ember Monroe finds that if she tears at her skin, she can tear down the world. She’s a cutter – the freak that has a standing appointment with the school counselor to have her arms checked. But high school just got a lot worse, because her blood doesn’t just stain her sleeves anymore. Something changed the day her mother disappeared, and now she’s more than a self-harmer.
She’s a Bloodburner.
The addiction that gave her an inch-thick psych file now gives her the power to travel through the closed border between this world and the Realm—a place full of shimmer and darkness that once enticed Mortals to visit in exchange for a day of life. As entire lives were lost to the Realm, a bloody war broke out that ended in an uneasy truce and the sealing of the border between the worlds. Ember’s ability to cut across this border is a power that vengeful Mortals and Realmers alike would kill for – a power that could reignite the war. For Ember, it’s the key to finding out what happened to her mom.
Ignoring every lesson she’s ever learned in her mandatory “Mortal and Realm Relations” class and knowing full well that slicing into the Realm could land her a one-way ticket to Bridgeview Rehabilitation Center, Ember carves her way to answers about her mother.
When she meets a Realmer who promises to return her mom’s life in exchange for her help, Ember must decide if she can trust a world she was taught to fear. As both sides vie for the magic in her veins, and old fury smolders along the edge of her world, Ember realizes the line between right and wrong is not as stark as the lines on her wrists.
First 250 words:
I didn’t mean to start it like this, all blood and ribbons, sliced down to the thick-threaded muscle that holds me together. I look like I’m being unraveled, and frankly, I’m a mess. But I guess there’s no pretty way to start a story when you do what I do.
I stand in the bathroom stall, breathing slowly through my nose. The air smells like lemon scented cleaning solution mixed with remnants of cheap, cotton candy perfume someone sprayed too much of during the passing period. The bell rang fifteen minutes ago, and I know I should be in class. AP History. The ironic thing is the fact that it’s AP makes it easier to leave. Mr. O’Malley assumes we’re all serious students, go-getters, not-like-the-rest-of-them-ers. No teacher ever questions me.
I pull a bobby pin out of my long, red hair. She wouldn’t want me to do this. That’s the thought I keep pushing back as it floats to the surface of my mind. She hated it when I did this.
I look at the bobby pin. It doesn’t look threatening. I could put it back and go to class. Take notes – learn about the French Revolution. You know, contribute. No hydrogen peroxide, no long-sleeved shirts.
With one swift movement, I bite plastic off the tip of the bobby pin and spit it somewhere behind the toilet. I spin the brittle metal deftly in my fingers, set the newly sharpened point against my milky skin, and pull.