Monday, January 24, 2011

Query 55

The City in the Bottle

Sometimes, Jacob Cohen's wishes come true. After an impetuous wish, Jacob has to live with the guilt that he caused the fatal accident that made him an orphan. A month later, he has moved in with his grandfather and has to learn how to build a new life at fourteen.

Samantha Steinbach lives next door to Jacob's new home and she was crippled six years ago by a Rottweiler. Her right hand is a frozen claw that she can barely move. At home, her father terrorizes her and her mother and Samantha constantly wishes for some way to escape.

When she meets Jacob on the path behind her house, her wish comes true. The price, however, is more than either of them is willing to pay. When Jacob tries to use his power to help Sam he unleashes a demon that turns his grandfather to stone.

Jacob and Sam flee from the demon and become trapped inside a magic bottle. Now, they must find a way to stop the demon, get out of the bottle, and turn Jacob's grandfather back.

The City In The Bottle is a completed YA fantasy of 74,000 words about two young people who travel to a magical world and discover who they are and what they can become.

Thank you for your consideration.

Comments

This has a nice, easy style. That kind of works for the first 2-3 paragraphs, but then the query doesn't really seem to blink about the reverse-genie that's pulled. Considering the title talks about a city in a bottle, I really feel we need something more about what it means to be imprisoned in the bottle and what's in there besides Jacob and Sam.

Wishes and magic bottles lead me to speculate that Jacob in a jinn. Except that maybe the demon is a jinn. Is anyone a jinn?

Sometimes, Jacob Cohen's wishes come true. After an impetuous wish, Jacob has to live with the guilt that he caused the fatal accident that made him an orphan.

I'm assuming Jacob throws out a "I wish you were dead" comment right before the accident. But is that the first wish that's come true? Does he throw out that reckless wish knowing his wishes sometimes come true? Since most everyone has a wish or two that comes true, does Jacob's wishing have a better track record than most?

A month later, he has moved in with his grandfather and has to learn how to build a new life at fourteen.

Samantha Steinbach lives next door to Jacob's new home and she was crippled six years ago by a Rottweiler. Her right hand is a frozen claw that she can barely move.

I think these sentences can be streamlined a bit more. If you say she lives next door, that it's next to Jacob's new home is implied. The detail of the Rottweiler is good for the book, but I don't think it's necessary here. And unless her crippled hand figures some way into the plot, I don't think it's needed here either. That she's being terrorized/abused seems to be the important bit.

At home, her father terrorizes her and her mother and Samantha constantly wishes for some way to escape.

Wouldn't Sam wish for her mom to escape, too?

When she meets Jacob on the path behind her house, her wish comes true. The price, however, is more than either of them is willing to pay. When Jacob tries to use his power to help Sam he unleashes a demon that turns his grandfather to stone.

If Jacob is wracked with guilt thinking he wished his parents dead, why does he agree to try to help Sam fulfill her wish? A little insight into his motivation will round him out here a bit better.

Turning Jacob's grandfather to stone seems rather random, even for a demon. Does the grandfather do something to draw the demon's attention? Or is the demon targeting things Jacob loves? Even villains need motivation.

Jacob and Sam flee from the demon and become trapped inside a magic bottle. Now, they must find a way to stop the demon, get out of the bottle, and turn Jacob's grandfather back.

This is where I think we need a little more about what's inside the bottle and some indication that Jacob and Sam CAN escape. I'm assuming it's not as simple as Jacob simply wishing his way out. Is being in the bottle the only danger, or are there other dangers in that world?

I get demon = bad, but I also think we need to know what the demon is planning. Is he going around turning more random people to stone? What do J & S need to stop the demon from doing?

The City In The Bottle is a completed YA fantasy of 74,000 words about two young people who travel to a magical world and discover who they are and what they can become.

Cap the title.

If you set this sentence up by having let the reader know earlier that the world within the bottle and not just the bottle itself are magical and to ground us more in how these kids have to draw upon inner resources that have been bruised and battered to overcome their circumstances, then this close can work. As it is, though, it seems to be a bit of a non sequitur.

My Version

When Jacob Cohen's parents die in a fatal car crash, he's sure he caused it. After all, the last words he flung at them when he stormed out of the house were, "I wish you were dead!" Now, a month later, he's living with his grandfather and having to build a new life at fourteen.

His next-door neighbor, Samantha Steinbach, has a crippled hand, which would be a big deal if the way her father abused her and her mother didn't overshadow just about everything else in her life. Her mother refuses to leave, but Sam wishes for nothing more than to escape.

Jacob is terrified about using his wishing power to help her, but he's heard her crying in the night. Without knowing quite how he does it, he wishes them away -- only to find he and Sam have been thrust into a magical bottle with no way to escape. Worse, it seems he's summoned a demon intent on turning people into stone. The magical world inside the bottle is full of dangers as well, monsters enough to match the imaginary ones that have been haunting Jacob's dreams and the human one that's been terrorizing Sam. If Jacob and Sam can't find a way to get out of the bottle, without wishing themselves into even worse danger, they may well find themselves running from their demons forever.

THE CITY IN THE BOTTLE, complete at 74,000 words, is a YA fantasy about two teens with fragile, tortured souls who travel to a magical world and discover who they are and what they can become.

Thank you for your consideration.

3 comments:

vkw said...

So where did he live for the month between parents dying and going to live with grandmother and grandfather?

I would suggest you drop the "rebuilding his life". He's fourteen, even at fourteen most kids don't have a life to rebuild.

so we have, He moves in with grandparents in a new town or new state or new bottle and next door to a sad girl named Sam. Her hand, mauled by a dog, is mishapen and unuseable. (actually do we need to know about the hand because it pales to the terrorizing father and just seems odd.)

Susan L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeb said...

I like the concept, but the rewrite is stronger than the original by far. Whether or not what's inside the bottle actually reflects what's in the story, it reads smoothly and shows rising stakes for the characters.