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THE RADICAL MAGE, Fantasy YA - Joy Renee McKinley

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Author: Joy Renee McKinley

Title: The Radical Mage Series Title: The Dark Resistance

Genre: Fantasy YA

Comps: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn and A Song Below Water: A Novel by Bethany C. Morrow

Hook Line: A teenage girl caught in the middle of Brooklyn’s civil unrest is forced to reckon with her newfound magical abilities and decide what her role in the underground magical uprising will be, or else all of New York City will be decimated.


16-year-old Nia is done with being the family peacemaker, caught as she is between her father’s duty and her brother’s fury. With Brooklyn consumed by civil unrest, all Nia wants is a quiet night without sirens.

While trying to drag her brother home from a BLM protest, things escalate. Quentin’s life is in danger. Threatened and panicked, Nia tries desperately to pull him to safety.

Suddenly, she finds herself magically teleported to the middle of Prospect Park with Quentin in tow.

She keeps quiet, scared of the consequences of what she’s done, but as details surface about disappearing students, Nia discovers a possible tie to her abilities.

While sneaking out to find answers, she’s abducted by STORM, a group of anti-magic paramilitary thugs. The van is intercepted by Luna and Adrian, members of a group of revolutionaries called the Radical Mages. They claim to understand the strange ability that has awakened within her.

Nia wakes in a secret underground compound where she soon learns the truth: magic is real and the government has been suppressing it in the population for years, tracking down magical dissidents and drugging the masses to keep them contained. The mages are determined to give the people back their magic - some by any means necessary.


Prose Sample:


I’ve seen this happen a few times before, dealers doing handoffs on the street. Usually, they walk in the same direction for a bit, then one peels off in the crowd once they got what they came for. It’s seamless and simple. The easiest way to go unnoticed in New York is to be one of the many rushing commuters shuffling from place to place.

This doesn’t go like that. The two meet in the middle, clasp hands as if to shake, nice to meet you, but both keep walking in opposite directions. In the barely visible space between their crossing bodies a bright light seems to glow, crystalline golden-white, like sunlight through amber. It grows in diameter, a flaring circle around their touching palms and then it fades as quickly as it began.

What…the hell?

I shoot quick glances side to side, trying to catch anyone else who might have seen what I saw, but no one is looking that way. When I turn back, one of the hooded strangers is still walking steadily toward the intersection next to me, but the other is nearly at the end of the block before he ducks into a rare alleyway between two storefronts.

Adrenaline is sharp and metallic on the back of my tongue and there’s no good reason, none at all, for me to get up and follow this guy, but something in my gut has me scrambling to my feet and running after him.

A quiet voice in the back of my mind that sounds suspiciously like my father says, Nia, what are you doing? He’s a strange man. It’s the middle of the night. You’re moving toward a dark alley alone.

But my feet carry me to him anyway. I see that same light softly glowing from the mouth of the alley and pick up my pace. What is that?

As I skid to a stop at the end I see him, but it’s not- He’s not- My mind struggles to wrap around what’s happening in front of me.

It’s not possible. It’s not. But the guy is…disappearing? One leg and half his torso is in the alley with me, but the other half of him is dissolving and reforming so quickly I can’t track it. The light - the light half his body is disintegrated into - dances in the air, shifting, here-then-gone, like moonlight on the surface of ocean waves.

More and more of him now, moving with it, into it; he’s got the toe of one boot on grimy alley trash, nearly all the way in, the light seeming to dim just a bit.

And I shout, instinctively, my heart kicking against my ribs. I don’t know why. Sound reasoning is not a thing right now. But, I can’t let him…what? Leave? Die?


He turns in the light, parts of his body falling apart and reshaping over and over, and his eyes, an unnatural green backlit by that fading light, meet mine and widen.

His foot lifts then and I’m running forward, not sure what my plan is. But the light is gone before I’ve taken two steps, a pulsing glow sucked into the inky blackness of the night air. It doesn’t make any sound.


Bio: I’m a recent graduate of the NYU School of Journalism with a penchant for traveling across the world to seek out new adventures and unique volunteer opportunities. I’m drawn to storytelling in any medium. Lately, I’ve been doing content creation and social writing for NGOs.

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