Rebecca Gibson – YA Dark Fantasy – THE PAIRING FIRE
Please find below the query for my YA LGBTQ+ fantasy novel, The Pairing Fire, complete at 84,000 words.
Told through the alternating perspectives of Eris and Trystan, The Pairing Fire is a Trystan and Isolde retelling with a queer twist. It can work as a standalone, but has series potential, and would appeal to audiences of The State of Sorrow and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.
Most girls dream of facing the Pairing Fire, but to Eris it’s just another way for the spoilt boy king to control his empire. So, when she’s paired with King Trystan, despite not being of noble birth, her hopes of freedom shatter.
As Eris struggles to come to terms with her new gilded cage, the castle descends into uproar. An uneducated girl from Black Valley cannot be the future queen. Haunted by her past and terrified of the future, Eris is desperate to escape.
Until an otherworldly voice urges her to stay.
But with Trystan entangled in a forbidden romance that could cost his crown, Eris and Trystan are left with one choice: they must seek answers from the voice only they can hear. A voice tying them together in unexpected ways.
After all, the Fire never lies.
Having grown up in Cornwall, and studied in Wales, Celtic myth has always interested me. I hold a BSc in Psychology, an MA in Creative Writing, and was longlisted for the 2017 Mslexia Novel Competition. This summer I worked on The Pairing Fire with 2019 debut Aisha Bushby as part of Write Mentor.
Attached, as requested, are the first 500 words and synopsis.
Thank you for taking the time to consider The Pairing Fire and I hope to hear from you soon.
With all best wishes,
Of all Hell’s realms, Trystan was sure meetings belonged to the lowest.
Inwardly he groaned as a rotund nobleman read out reams of statistics. Numbers were another of Hell’s realms. Trystan knew that for a fact.
Practice kept feigned interest on his face. He couldn’t remember the man’s name—Baron something.
“So, you see, raising taxes by another—”
Trystan’s eyebrows shot up.
“But aren’t they already struggling?”
“No, Your Majesty, the people are allowing themselves to struggle.” He spoke as if he were explaining something basic to an infant. “It’s proven, if you raise taxes consistently each year it instils a work ethic, and therefore makes them better off overall.”
“And this was proven by whom?”
The noble frowned in distaste and the one beside him, of significantly more finery, loosed a frustrated sigh. Trystan’s rose gold crown dug into the skin above his ears as the baron met his stare. It was an effort not to look away.
“With respect, Sire, you are young—”
“Don’t patronise me,” Trystan snapped, trying to look like he had authority. “Answer the question. Proven by whom?”
The baron’s eyes flashed. “I hardly think it’s relevant who proved it, the crux of the matter is—”
“Would an answer not matter if you were addressing my regent?”
“I live to serve my sovereign.”
“Yet you refuse to answer him? Will you still treat me thus when the Pairing Fire selects my partner and I am crowned? When I no longer have my mother governing for me?”
A jolt went through him as he thought of the Pairing Ceremony—an ancient ritual Trystan had been dreading since he’d first been made to sit through it at thirteen.
“What my nephew means,” the other noble began, the gold thread on his coat sparkling.
“The king,” Trystan retorted. “Means what he says, Godwin.”
“Prince Godwin,” the noble corrected like a stern governess. “If you don’t mind. I was almost regent of this empire.”
“Yes, almost,” Trystan muttered, feeling smug. There was a sting in that tail, though, as they all knew Trystan held no real power either. Godwin sniffed.
“Keeping our coffers low will leave us unable to pay our armies, which means Drucillion would remain unprotected if my spies are correct about—”
“Yes, yes, I understand, uncle.” And you could always raise your own taxes, he thought, but didn’t dare say aloud. Raising the noble’s taxes really would start a war.
“But you don’t understand,” Godwin said. “The Taranethis kings can no longer channel the Pairing Fire to use it as a weapon. To do so would cost your life. Only legend and fear has kept invaders away, but that won’t hold out much longer. When, not if, we are invaded our armies are our only defence. Without them our empire will fall.”
Tystan rubbed his eyes until his vision spotted. Well, at least he’d be remembered. Even if it would be as the most incompetent king in Drucillion’s history.