Title: The Merciful Crow
Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 89,000
Pitch: Sixteen-year-old Fie despises royalty for ignoring widespread violence against her caste of undertakers. Then a supremacist coup d’etat puts the pampered crown prince’s life in her hands – and ruthless killers on her family’s trail.
First 250 words of manuscript:
Pa was taking too long to cut the boys’ throats.
Near ten minutes had run dry since he’d vanished into the quarantine hut, and Fie had spent the last seven of them glaring at its gilded door and trying not to pick at a stray thread on her ragged black robe. Taking one minute meant the Sinner’s Plague had finished off the boys inside already. Taking three meant Pa had a merciful end to deliver.
Taking ten was taking too long. Ten meant something was fouled up. And from the whispers sweeping the tiles of the courtyard, their throngs of onlookers were catching on.
Fie gritted her teeth until the queasy pinch in her gut retreated. As the only caste that could survive handling plague bodies, the Merciful Crows were duty-bound to answer any summons. And as Pa’s chief-in-training, she didn’t have the luxury of a faint heart.
Pa knew what he was doing. These were no different from the hundreds of bodies they’d burned in her sixteen years. No matter that only a few dozen had ever been from the capitol. No matter that far fewer had been this high-caste.
No matter that Crows hadn’t been summoned here, to the royal palace, for nigh five hundred years.
But soldiers and aristocrats packed the walls of the quarantine court around them, and every glimmer of Hawk steel or Peacock silk said the plague mattered to the higher castes tonight.
Pa knew what he was doing, Fie told herself.
And Pa was taking too long.