Age Category: Young Adult
Word Count: 96,000
Pitch: A girl with ever-changing tattoos must navigate an enchanted forest to save her town from a force that’s reversed the clocks. If time stops, so will every heart in Weir.
First 250 Words:
Every town has a tradition. In Weir, they give us keys.
Crafted from iron, they are called watchkeys, and we don’t keep them on rings or buried in our pockets. No one ever loses a watchkey because they are strung on necklaces that are fused and clasp-less. The pendants only come off for the coffin.
Iron is important. It absorbs magic, which is forbidden, but the keys don’t protect us. Instead, they act as individual barometers that tell the key-checkers if a wearer has been in the presence of magic. I’ve worn a key for eighteen years and I used to like it back when I thought it was jewelry. Way back when I wore my hair in pigtails.
I don’t wear pigtails anymore.
Nerves flare as hot and unpleasant as vomit, but I’m used to them. For the last few years I’ve had to worry about every key check. Every person. Tension is part of who I am. Even my heart skips ahead of my footsteps as they make their way down the Hinterland Road. Hardly anyone travels this pitted mess. Roots have risen above the dirt and there are crowns of flat-topped boulders. The woods on either side are just beginning to sprout leaves. Soon they’ll grow big and shiny, and there will be enough of them to hide almost anything.
The road stretches, deserted and thin. It joins my house to Weir proper and I’m only on it for one reason. The sign nailed to that sawed-off oak.