Synopsis for YA dark fantasy novel Heart of Stone:
Seventeen-year-old ADRIAN KINCAID was never afraid of his closet, but perhaps he should have been. One moment he's reaching for his New Rocks, and the next he's sliding through a chute made of pure shadow. The trap, cleverly laid by VAME the Goblin Prince, lands Adrian in the Shadowsea: a huge network of enchanted caverns between the River Styx and Faerie.
Vame is a prime target for Heroes, since he runs a nation full of grotesque monsters that use the shadowpaths to steal everything from books to diamonds to tasty little lapdogs. He tells Adrian he needs a human bookmark, an idiot with no martial skills who couldn't really kill him, but will keep his reflexes sharp in case a real assassin shows up.
Adrian's not really choked up about murdering this jerk, because if he succeeds, he can go home. He was miserable there, but at least they had Internet. But while Adrian is trying to stab, poison, or otherwise kill Vame, trouble is brewing in the Shadowsea. A series of thefts, murders, and spellcastings result in a worrisome loss of goblin treasure, and there are several suspects.
It could be the Queen of Faerie, who despises Vame (perhaps because he calls it Overfaerie), referring to him as “The Usurper” (and she calls his realm Underfaerie). It could be a group of renegade goblins led by one of Vame's sneaky advisers. Or it could be the exiled faery Lord INX, who has an unnatural interest in finding the queen's long-lost son, because Prince ARKENSI is a water-sprite whose blood could be used in a ritual to dam the River Styx, thereby allowing a flood of demons to escape from Hell and turn the goblin realm into their magma-filled summer cottage. Once the demons controlled the shadowpaths, they could theoretically use them to steal souls instead of car keys or domestic pets. Theoretically.
Unaware that anyone would be that crazy, Vame suspects his own subjects, and Adrian is too busy trying to stay alive long enough to kill Vame to give it any thought... Until the two of them discover Prince Arkensi hiding in the Shadowsea. Vame decides to sell him to the highest bidder: the snotty faery queen, or Inx the psychotic necromancer. One of Vame's advisers helps Adrian “free” Arkensi.
The adviser is full of crap, however, and hands Arkensi over to Inx. The exiled lord saunters into Vame's court and explains that the thefts and murders were attempts to empty the Shadowsea of gold before the demons melt everything down to an Olympic-sized lava swimming pool. If Vame will cowboy up and help Inx remove all of the gold, they can split it 50/50.
Vame isn't having it.
Gritting his teeth, he goes to the faery queen for help—but she laughs him out of her court. Now Vame's only ally is the very human he kidnapped and instructed to kill him: Adrian, who might be a little smug about it (but come on, who wouldn't be?). They team up to rescue Arkensi before Inx can complete the ritual that dams the river. Perhaps if they bickered less, or fought the zombie guards more quickly, they wouldn't have gotten there too late.
Arkensi is dead.
But Adrian still has a protection charm granted to him—not Vame—by the faerie queen, and it revives Arkensi. They can't un-dam the river, but Arkensi creates a bubble for he and Vame to stand in while they sink to the bottom. Once Vame is close enough to the bedrock to use his power, he opens up a big hole and extinguishes Hell with several trillion tons of cold water. Bye-bye, demons!
When they return to the surface, Adrian is gone, kidnapped by a vengeful Inx. Vame surprises himself and everyone else by playing the part of the Hero. He storms Inx's refuge. Once Inx is dead and Adrian is safe, Vame releases him from his duties as a fake assassin.
Adrian volunteers to continue in exchange for goblin gold, on a part-time basis. After all, he still needs time for school—but pretending to kill your goblin best friend is better than working at McBurger.
1. It occurred to me that I should go back and make Arkensi female, because I have no women in this book who aren't distant authority figures or incestuously batshitcrazy, but Arkensi is kind of a passive character. Tell me I don't need a girl because Adrian has long hair and paints his nails. Then I can stop obsessing over it.
2. How is my characterization? After I posted it on AW, I tried inserting a little more characterization. Is Adrian more than just a name (and a pair of admittedly awesome boots)? Vame probably comes across all right, even though I wanted to keep his secret pet, a two-headed kitten. It just didn't fit.
3. I didn't mention Vame's power until the end, but so far no one else has cared. If you think I should mention it, WHERE? I can't find a place that won't interrupt the flow.
4. Do you want to read it now? Why or why not? And obviously (I hope), I'm not going to be offended, I'm going to fix it.