Title: The Unmaking of Them
Genre: Adult Fantasy Romance
Word Count: 113,000 words
Book Comps: House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune meets Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Howl’s Moving Castle meets The Shape of Water
For the antagonist, think the Borg (but magical) meets World War Z
Twenty-five-year-old Artemis Sanchez has plans: thrive in her dream job in London and care for what’s left of her family. But her carefully-constructed life is threatened when she comes face-to-face with Sevan, an alluring, magical being who, from the shadows, has been absorbing entire communities into their ever-expanding hive mind.
Ignorant of the magical world beyond her own, Artemis is pulled into the creature’s thrall and nearly consumed by their consciousness––when a monster of shadow and darkness comes to her aid.
He is a horror crafted from nightmares; he is the thing children fear is under their bed. His name is Verick, and as Artemis learns of a centuries-long struggle between these creatures, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn to his intellect and kindness.
But when Verick is struck by a curse that renders him comatose, Artemis is unable to leave the safety of his shielded home and becomes cut off from the outside world. To wake Verick and ensure the safety of her loved ones, she will have to teach herself magic.
Yet as she uncovers more about Verick––and as Sevan grows in power––she begins to wonder, not if you can love a monster, but if you should.
An eerie stillness clutched the museum at night, but Artemis had grown used to it. The hollow gaze from suits of armor, the too-pale women stretched across the chaise in their oil paintings. They weren’t the warmest companions, but she preferred the quiet of them to their counterparts. During the day, the space was filled with shouting school groups and awkward couples on first dates, weaving through history as they feigned interest in what hung on the walls.
While the museum floor may have finally been emptying out, Art would remain. There was too much paperwork to sort through before the next exhibit opened and yet another grant to be written. And, as always, right as the work piled up, her boss had something urgent come up last minute.
As Priya’s familiar frame filled the doorway, Art already knew she’d come bearing gifts of apology. “Thank you again for staying late. I really can’t miss this fundraiser.” And Artemis admitted, she probably couldn’t. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
She actually wasn’t sure what Priya would do without her. Art had come on as a contract employee, but after just two months on the job, the head curator––Priya’s old boss––ran off to Austria with his assistant. Art hadn’t even had time to feel bad for the family he’d abandoned, because two staff members had just left gaping vacancies. They’d also left an ungodly amount of unfinished work.
Priya needed someone and Art had been present, already learning the ropes. That was enough of a qualification to turn her contract into a full-time job with overtime. Now, after a long day of training tour guides, preparing for a wedding in the conservatory, and redoing their invoice system, Art’s day still wasn’t over.
“I’ll order pho on the card. Your usual.” Then Priya retreated from her office––though “office” was too generous a word for it. It was essentially a storage closet with a desk. Art’s entire first week on the job had been spent organizing every shelf, printing tiny labels for each bin. Now it felt less like a closet, but she wasn’t sure if it felt more like anything else.
Art called out her “thank you” as her boss clicked her way back down the hall and toward all the festivities her evening held. At least Priya’s food bribes gave her a break from her usual meals of instant coffee, ramen, and dry sandwiches. It was all she could afford after sending money home. It had been a hard choice to leave her family in Atlanta. Boarding the plane and quelling her anxiety during the multiple flights it took to get here was a miracle on its own, but she would make enough to start paying down her debt and support her family.
She wasn’t going to blow this. Artemis had never had luck before, and now that she’d gotten a few strokes of it, she couldn’t help but wait for it to falter, for whatever well she’d tossed a wish into to run dry.