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·      Name: Kayla Hardy

·      Title: RED WIDOW

·      Genre: Adult Fantasy

·      Comparables:

(TV/Cinematic)Marvel’s Black Panther meets Netflix’s Cursed

(Books) Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone meets Melissa Caruso’s The Tethered Mage.

·      Hook:  Set during a magical apartheid known as The Partitioning, where mages are divided into rigid social classes and sold off to the highest bidder, an African warrior princess must break the law and cross into foreign magical territory to hunt down a slave trader hellbent on stealing her tribe’s magic, even if it means she’ll be stranded behind enemy lines forever.

·      Pitch:

A decorated general and the Queen-Mother’s adopted daughter, Sabine of the Red Sand just wants what all Redali want: to prove herself to the Queen-Mother so that she may finally be picked as her successor as the next Blood Princess.

In a world where all magic is separated by a law known as The Partitioning and mages are illegally captured and sold to be used as weapons of war, the African country of Quinen has every reason to hide their most precious secret: the Redali, an immortal all-female warrior tribe just as renowned for their trademark blood-red hair as they are for their poisonous powers that can kill a man with a single kiss.

But, as the only Blood Princess not of full Redali blood, Sabine struggles to control her magic especially after she uncovers a dangerous plot: someone among the five tribes has sold fellow Quinari into slavery. The suspect? Her childhood friend and occasional rival, Zayne Abdalla, Prince of the Vermini snake tribe.

When Sabine uncovers Zayne’s betrayal is actually just a plan to root out an infamous slave trader hellbent on selling Quinen’s tribal magic to outsiders, the two strike an uneasy truce and romance. But when their partnership nearly ignites a civil war between the tribes, Sabine and Zayne have only one choice: get married.

Peace quickly unravels when Sabine inadvertently kills her husband on their wedding day with a poisonous kiss. She is given a new name by those that fear her: the Red Widow. Now, with the Redali and Vermini at war and the rest of the Quinari tribes quickly taking sides, the Red Widow must use the very magic that killed her husband to hunt Africa’s deadliest slave trader before all of Quinen’s magic is enslaved.

 

500 Word Sample:

CHAPTER ONE

We rode into the sun, dressed for war.

My sisters brought up the rear, bows and woven quivers strapped to their backs. The crushed petals of the Blood Tree marked our faces in slashes and curves, our tribe’s symbols wet and red like fresh blood from an enemy’s wound. The twine and plate of dark armor overlapped our shoulders, coiled around our bellies, banding our arms in tribal patterns. Our dressing was as subtle as a poacher wearing black spotted leopard furs to market, even I could admit that.

Though the Queen-Mother had seen us educated in the ancient traditions of Red Guard swordplay, archery, and defense, Redali were—regretfully—not trained in the art of subtlety; we wore our arrogance openly, a tradition that had seen our reputation sour in the eyes of the rest of Quinen. But it was just as well—Redali armor was made to endure an enemy’s jealous gaze as much as it was the blow of their sword.

I urged Esch faster down the village’s main road with a kick of my heel into her hind. The horse whinnied, excited at the chance for battle. That certainly made two of us.

“Sisters!” I cried. “Raise the gates!” Part of me thought my voice was lost in the wild ruckus of the Second Cavalry’s thunderous approach until the guard-sisters gave the opening whistle and the twist of vine and wood crawled away, each of the gate’s branches retreating into the ground.

“Fates keep you, General,” sister Kayin shouted with a firm salute. I nodded to her and pushed on through and into the openness of the Warm Plains. Twilight had just crested over the horizon, plunging even the greenest of the grasslands into the bloody hour.

Asha brought her horse up alongside mine. It was a bold move. Only First and Second Generals rode together. The rest fell behind like buzzards shadowing dying game in the formation I taught them in training, except this was no training exercise. With most of the First Cavalry gone and now the Second Cavalry called away, the village was unprotected. These were bold times, indeed.

“General, we’ve just received word from Talonda scouts. The Vermini haven’t delivered the rations to the border villages in a week. They’re starving.” Asha’s voice was like goldmeal, hard along the crust but wet mush on the inside. Nevertheless, she had some steel about her and had the sense to muster it. Her tribal-mother had at least taught her that.

I stifled a groan. Though Asha was nearly one year older than me—pushing close to twenty-six seasons—she was new to Second Cavalry, new to the way the Calvary shut off all of those colorful emotions. Still, there was time. The battlefield would bleed it out of her yet. 

I spared her a glance. Like all Redali her hair was dyed a deep red. I’d once heard that beyond Quinen’s borders, and far off in man’s world that they liked to trade drunken stories about our hair—that Redali stole the color from the blood of our enemies. It was a lie, in the way that all childhood fables were with only a sprinkle of truth.

“We have our orders.”

Asha twisted on her saddle. “But, we are responsible…”

I silenced her with a swift look. Enough talk. “We are Redali. Remember, sister, we are known for two things: second as women—” I slammed my heel into Esch and hastened out into the golden brim of the Sandskirts, kicking up a storm of stone and weeds in my wake. “—But first as warriors.”

 

 

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