The Puppet Mistress
Seventeen-year-old Vaila Grayson is the reigning video game champion. Her celebrity brings her a video game prototype to review. With no saves, continues, or resets, walking away is not an option, as a strange magic imprisons her inside her room. The only way to escape terrible monsters and challenging riddles is to successfully complete the game or let her avatar die. Vaila might be able to focus, if Sir Cenric Alva, wasn’t a sexy, twenty-one year old knight, and so very real. Unaware he’s a pawn in her game, Cenric believes he has fallen victim to a puppet master, an evil magician who controls his movements. Renegade magic threatens to annihilate all magicians, including Cenric, and finding a Spanish princess is essential in destroying the darkness.
During a battle with a mystical beast, the princess is killed. Cenric is bitten, but it is Vaila who bleeds from a similar wound. Her soul is now tethered to Cenric’s and enduring each others pain and wild emotions seems minor compared to dealing with the love blooming between them.
Their new goal is to stay alive while searching for a way to slay the dark magic. With an unforeseen doom stalking along the periphery of their adventure, Vaila only has one chance to save them both.
“The Puppet Mistress” is a 70,000-word YA fantasy novel with romantic elements, told in alternating points of view.
I think you got caught up trying to answer everybody's questions and comments from the last version. Taking a step backward is, paradoxically, a natural step in the evolution of the query. While you've cleared up some issues readers were having, you've introduced a few more.
What's happening for me, mostly, is that I don't have a sense of real story arc. For some reason, this version to me sounds more like a gaming story line. There are monsters and riddles and renegade magic and a Spanish princess who seems to be key to all, but no sooner do we learn about her than she's dead and then there's another random monster, a new goal and some disembodied dark magic, which may or may not be the same as the renegade magic and/or the darkness and/or the stalking doom.
I think even the way Cenric is described here is subtly different: "and so very real" doesn't necessarily mean to me that he's a living, breathing human. I was also surprised to learn that he seems to be a magician as well as a knight? In this version, there's an awful lot of magic and evil magicians and it all feels kind of random. As written, too, it now seems that the tethering of Vaila's soul to Cenric's is a consequence of him being bitten.
Also as written, the "one chance to save them" bumps right against them needing to find a way to slay the dark magic, but at this point there's been multiple things they've needed to be saved from. I'm feeling the dark magic isn't the Big Bad here because it doesn't feel like it's manipulating the random beasts and riddles.
Plus, this is a game. They slay the dark magic and win and then what? Is the question of the "then what" part of the stakes? An obstacle? I think that not looking beyond the game itself is one aspect that makes this feel like a gaming story. It's a closed system, and this query isn't convincing me there IS anything beyond this game campaign for these two.
Coincidentally, I saw this yesterday about half of a 2-book, 6-figure deal being about gamers getting caught up in the game, so I think interest is out there. It just has to feel elevated from the campaign itself.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Query Revision 62: Redux
The Puppet Mistress