Each mirror Emery enters feeds her addiction to alt realities. To save her sister, she must conquer more than her own demons #PitProm #YA #SF
Seventeen-year-old Emery Glass is a Mirror Maker. She can create a mirror and walk through the reflection into an alternate reality. To return, she simply breaks the mirror, and the reflection world ceases to exist.
Then classmates start disappearing. Including Emery’s sister. To find her, Emery will do anything: break the rules, create her own mirrors, even fail the Trials and get exiled from the Academy.
After her first broken mirror, Emery is instantly addicted to the thrill of leaving reality.
After the second broken mirror, she finds her sister’s journal and learns the truth behind her disappearance.
Mirror number three generates a reflection Emery plans to use to rescue her sister. Perfect camouflage.
The fourth broken mirror puts Emery face-to-face with her sister’s abductor.
But when the fifth mirror shatters, Emery finds herself on the wrong side, trapped in a maze of mirrors. With the abductor after her, Emery must break the bonds of her addiction, or she’ll lose herself and her sister, forever.
MIRROR BREAKER is a 70,000-word YA science fiction novel, appealing to fans of Marie Lu and Leigh Bardugo.
I am a stay-at-home mom and own my own business. I’ve interned for three small, independent publishers and four literary agents. I got my start writing professionally as a ghostwriter for a celebrity who writes children’s books.
First Ten Pages:
My little brother, Gates, lied about me dying.
Of course, it’s best everyone thinks I’m dead. He’s smart enough to know that. What he doesn’t know is tonight, a thousand mirrors will shatter. The real me lost in the glistening shards, swirling like snowflakes during a winter storm.
I stare into the compact, fingers curled around its jagged edges. My face bleeds across the mirror, fracturing at the broken slice of glass. I study the cracked line, barely the size of a hair strand. It glows the color of the ocean before a storm, black and gray rolling across the icy blue water to conceal its beauty, its mysteries, its dangers. I slide my finger along the splintered glass, challenging the weak spot. It branches out like a drunken spider web, accelerating until it reaches the edge. When there’s no place left to run, the veins blacken and seep over the edge of the glass.
The mirror requires magic to manipulate images. I try to imagine what I’ll see once the magic works properly. I have yet to make it work the way it’s supposed to, but when I master the technique, I know it’ll be a deceptively ordinary reality. I press my finger through the crevice, feeling for the line of symmetry on the other side of the reflection. It’s there, if you have the ability to find it, projecting a carbon copy of everything in line with the mirror. I imagine myself casting back, dragging the fibers of this world into the reflection.
Like every time before, instead of the syrupy sensation I’m supposed to encounter, I get a sting. When I pull my finger from the breach, it’s sliced along the tip. I wipe the blood on my leg and swallow the thrill of the magic working inside me.
Broken glass, broken mirror: I am both.
I clasp the compact and trace the crease where it closes, twirling it between my thumb and forefinger, as I try to separate the interior fog clouding my thoughts.
Every day, the First City airs my story on WatchBank. I didn’t cause the fire that killed Princess Chevon. They still charged me with treason. The entire story is ludicrous. I’ve never been to the First City where she lives. They forced me into hiding until I can clear my name.
Sometimes the wanted poster flashes four or five times a day on the com-screens distributed around The Shadows. Many of the sector’s worst criminals live there. I suppose they think I’m famous amongst the villains.
In the nicer areas of the ward, such as Glass Hill, it’s broadcast only once a day on the cyber kiosks. It looks out of place mixed in with the stories that spotlight first-class citizens. Or the celebrity webcasts. The telecast that features my made-up criminal story doesn’t belong in the glitz and glam of the iridescent-blooded nobles.
Other than high society gossip, the kiosks run government propaganda. Hype pieces about magic and the evil it brings. Abolition. Revolution. Segregation. Anti-succession. With elections coming soon, the political ads can drive even the kindest people over the edge.
Now that I’m a fugitive, I have to work on a new disguise. I hope I can come out of hiding soon and live life again. Being the most-hated girl in what feels like the entire universe isn’t easy.
The sun glistens off the river. Early morning is my favorite time of day. This part of the ward, named The Shadows, is packed with street urchins, criminals, and homeless, their clothes tattered and faces unwashed. But this early in the day, most are still sleeping off the late night rumblings. Gates will be here with whatever food he’d scavenged from the table without notice. Sometimes I’m able to stretch the bread and cheese over several days. Sometimes I share it with an orphan girl who camps out in the empty warehouse across from the culvert I call home. Temporary home.
Footsteps approach and I crouch behind a rusted drain pipe. The sun has already heated the metal. It scorches my fingers and I jerk away, tumbling backward. The mirror compact in my pocket rattles. By the alchemy spirits, if it cracked more, it may be destroyed.
“Emery? It’s me,” Gates whispers. “You okay?”
I kiss my burn and rub my bad ankle, and then check my mirror. There’s no further damage so I stuff it back into my pocket and pull Gates around the drain pipe and into the hidden safety of my culvert. We’re invisible, but I can see a straight path to the broken and useless gates that are supposed to shut the entrance off from the main road.
“I’m hungry. What’d you bring me?” I shield my eyes from the glare. Gates cast a shadow over my body. “Did you to stay away from open places? It’s important no one finds me.”
He kicks the crumbling wall. “I couldn’t find you. Why’d ya move out here? I liked the warehouse better.”
“It got too crowded in there. You sure no one followed you?” I scan the area for soldiers. I can’t risk getting caught. Not before I change my appearance.
“I’m not five years old.” He fidgets with the knot on the bundle of food he brought me.
“I know. Sorry I’m jumpy.”
A helmet conceals his face. He seems on edge. As he pulls the helmet from his head, his gaze is fixed on the ground. Gates is the only person I can trust. I feel the muscles in my shoulders tighten, my heartbeat quickens.
“It’s okay. But everything’s not good at home,” he says.
I don’t know what to say, if I should soothe him, or panic. I hug him, because I know how sensitive he can be. Since our father has been sick, he’s been the man of the house. Such a huge responsibility for an eleven-year-old boy. But I can tell he’s worried about something. I watch over him as much as I can, without making him feel insecure or babied, but I’m useless while hiding. The grief I feel when he’s hurting, or afraid, threatens my very being.
I forget about my rumbling stomach and throbbing ankle. “Just tell me. No need to sugarcoat it. I’ll fix whatever the problem is.” I keep my words calm and my pitch level. Swallowing hard, I steel myself for whatever he’s about to tell me.
Gates takes both my hands and draws in a deep breath. “It’s Finley. She’s gone missing.”
It’s so quiet, you can hear a pin drop on a cotton pillow. My stomach rolls, nauseous.
I’m desperately hoping I heard him wrong, that he’s mistaken or been misinformed. When our mother was chosen to serve Master Colbalt, Finley was furious. She’d talk to her friends at school about the dangers of Ward segregation and magic being used for good. She mocked and publicly criticized the Chief Masters of the First City. Saying such things could lead to an arrest.
They chose Mother to serve in the First City because of her alabaster skin and hair. That way, she doesn’t blend in with the multi-colored hair and skin tones of the nobles. When they took her, Finley got really vocal. Stop the segregation. Remove the ban on magic. Abolish the Defenders. Then one day, my father fell ill. Friends of Finley started disappearing. Stopped coming to school. The doors on their houses barricaded with quarantine signs posted in their front yards.
As I step closer to Gates, I glance at his eyes, still smoldering underneath his forced and mature expression. His push into adulthood hurts me. He should be playing in the woods, catching tadpoles and building tree forts, not trying to manage a house and take care of Father.
“Are you sure?” I’m trying to convince myself he understands the difference between missing and away from home. Of course he does, I’m positive. I rephrase my question before he can go on the defense. “What happened?”
His face is masked, expressionless. But his eyes are brimming with tears. “She never came home last night after classes. Her Trial results were bad.”
It’s not unusual for Finley to stay out all night. But getting low Trail rates? Her score always ranks high, sometimes even higher than mine. Even when competing with classmates who can afford to buy good grades, or fake their Trial results with blackmarket magic, Finley has always done well.
Students who fail the Trials are exiled. As if the testing wasn’t stressful enough, family and peers are allowed to watch. The top finalists are thrown into in a fierce battle of wits. The winning Ward is showered with gifts. The losers banished to places like The Shadows, a mark engraved on their body. If you have a mark, you are exiled from everything and everyone you love.
Maybe Gates is thinking the same thing I am because his eyes darken, replacing the tears that threaten to fall. He turns away, looking over his shoulder. I want to tell him everything is going to be okay, but in the distance, I hear marching footsteps and the drum beat of the Defenders.
They found me.
They must have followed Gates, and he led them straight to my hiding place. He turns to me and I see him pale, as the blood drains from his face, his neck, even his arms. His helmet falls to the ground, hands clenched into fists, body stiff.
“I’m sorry, Emery! I didn’t mean to. Please forgive me,” he whimpers.
A smothered cry escapes my throat. “No, this can’t happen. Not like this. Not now. Gates, run! Get out of here,” I say through clamped teeth, hoping the Defenders are far enough away they’ll never catch him.
But it’s too late. Soldiers surround the culvert. One drags me though the opening, binding my wrists and forcing me to my knees. Gates is crying hysterically. He’s on his knees in front of me, his arms around my neck like an unbreakable lock.
“Stop it, Gates. This isn’t your fault,” I say forcefully, because it’s killing me inside to see him in such agony. I will not let my little brother see me cry. His last vision of me must be strong. It’ll be him and father left to muddle through the Trials, alone. It’s hard enough to watch a family member who attends the Academy go through their yearly trial when you have the support of other family with you. I have to set a good example of courage.
One of the soldiers pulls him to his feet. His helmet rolls away and stops against my knee. Inside, I see words sketched in wobbly handwriting. They read, “To Gates. There is no escape without courage.”
A gift from Finley. Why had she written that? Did she know this day would come when she gave it to him for his birthday last year?
The Lead Defender, in his bold purple sash and plume of feathers atop his helmet, reads me the Punishment According to Betrayal treaty and motions for me to start walking toward Glass Hill. Defender Two drags Gates in front of me. I’m forced to watch him stumble and trip as his skinny legs and short stature can’t keep up with the soldier’s rigorous pace.
As soon as we reach the Glass Tower, in the center of the Ward, they march me into the Retribution Room and Gates is taken to the Rehabilitation Building. Maybe he won’t have to watch my Trial, but it’s usual for family members to sit in the front row. They call it the family box, but it’s not really a box. It’s an extra-long cushioned couch with high armrests on each end. They’re so tall, your arms can’t reach them, but you can lean your shoulders against them.
The room is empty and I stand in the waiting area until I receive further instructions. I thought they would arrest me. I don’t know why they brought me to the Academy. I walk toward the window and glass crunches under my shoes like a million shards are underfoot. When I look down, nothing is there. The floor is clean, shiny. I see my reflection staring back at me, as if daring me to do anything to change what is about to happen.
I rest my forehead on the window and stare at the glass garden. The colored orbs and crystal stalks do their best to add a cheery countenance to the day. The sound of ripping glass swishes in my ears. There’s a tiny split in the glass window. I trace the line with my finger.
An army of footsteps echoes in the hallway. Friends I’ve known my whole life will now be my jury. If I fail, I’ll soon be nothing but a memory to them. My heart sinks. It’s time.
I push away from the window and wipe the foggy ring left by own breath. I’m standing in the foyer of the glass tower. The tallest building on this side of campus, it cuts through the skyline like a jagged glass sword. Designed as a bulwark of protection, there’s no stopping what is to come.
My friends and classmates enter the foyer, chattering around me like I’m not even there. It grates against my brain like sandpaper on concrete. To them, I’m invisible, their peer on trial. Rules are you’re not allowed to talk to a person on Trial. But one day, I’ll leave a mark they can never erase.
Then something unexpected happens. We take the window-box elevator to the top floor. The world outside blurs past. The shiny, metallic panels around each building hang in rigid rows like tin soldiers lined up for war.
The elevator stops and we step into the most-hated place on campus. The Watching Room. A glass partition separates this area from the Numbing Room.
I don’t know why they bring me here instead of court. It’s mandatory that every student at the Academy watch a student who has failed the Trails get their Turning. When you are turned, you have your magic, your talent, your gift, and sometimes your intelligence taken from you. Then you are sent away, never allowed into the Ward again, unless by some miracle you get another Trial and pass it with a perfect score.
For a brief moment, I feel a tiny flicker of hope that this has all be a mistake and I’m simply being forced to watch some poor schlep have his dignity taken from him before he’s exiled.
When I look through the one-way mirror, the other side of the room is empty. My fingers press against the glass, trying to block the glare, but I see only sterile, white walls and sterling silver machines. I cup my hands around my eyes. There’s enough luminosity in the other room I can read the flashes on the flatscreen of the machine closest to me, but no name is displayed yet.
I prop my foot against the floor guard and slip my hand inside my jacket pocket. The glass beads of my bracelet jingle, a cheerful sound out of place. The glass beards were made from the most exquisite ebony, painstakingly crafted and colored by the Master Artesian himself. A gift from my father on my sixteenth birthday last year, right before he fell ill.
I stand in front of the one-way mirror of the watching room as close to the loudspeaker as possible. The only sound I hear is shuffling feet as a nurse enters the room, her patient following behind her, though a tad bit groggily. I press my forehead against the glass and squint for a better view of who it is, led by two Defenders toward the numbing device.
My stomach is churning again and my palms are sweaty and shaking. I’m hoping, pleading with the alchemy spirits that it’s not Gates, that it’s not Finley.
The nurse shuffles over to the machine and presses several buttons. The Defenders finally move from in front of the person strapped to the chair.
I try and process the cruelty of the Trials, but there’s not time to catch my breath. The loud speaker crackles and the voice of Mayor Ronan Silverwater across the airwaves. His picture lights up the WatchBank.
“Hello citizens of Glass Hill, students of the Academy, and welcome today, to even the poor class of The Shadows. The Trial of Emery Glass has begun. As you see, the Trials from this day forward will be aired live for all to see. We encourage all students to work diligently to avoid the humiliation to your family and friends. Even the world, as we all watch.
“In an effort to abolish lies and deceit and as a measure to find the hidden magic still slipping into our beautiful wards and cities, the rules for our Trials have changed as well. What are the rules? Let the Trial begin, and you shall see.”
This can’t be real. Why is my Trial the first one to air over WatchBank? New rules and hidden magic? I swallow hard and tighten my shoulders. I can’t show weakness. For all I know, the WatchBank has me displayed live right now.
The loudspeaker in the corner crackles again, this time coming from the other side of the two-way mirror. “Will this hurt a lot?” Her voice squeaks, but she clears her throat and tries again. “I mean, how long will it take?”
Someone behind me snickers. “Seriously? She already knows the answer. Why would she ask that?”
Another kid laughs. “How many of these has Finley attended? What a wimp.”
My throat stings and my eyes burn. I want to say something, but I’m angry and I don’t want to cry. I won’t give them the satisfaction. I will not stand Trial with blotchy eyes and a snotty, red nose. Tears are not an option.
Another voice behind me pipes up. “I bet five ebonies she breaks down in tears. Who’s in?”
People file into the glass box on the other side of the watching room. More students file in and it’s so crowded I can’t breathe. I don’t know what they expect from me during my supposed Trial. Are they watching how I’ll react to seeing my sister turned? Is that my test? Do they plan to bring Gates here, too? He’s not old enough for Trials yet, but with the secretive new rules, I don’t know what to expect.
From behind me, I can hear ebonies getting tossed in the betting bowl. Sounds like falling rain on a tin roof. Every student in the room must be placing bets, guessing if she’ll try and run, break out in tears, or go willing. I know Finley. She’ll stay put. And then she’ll find a way to beat the Trial in no time. She takes after mother, that’s for sure.
The nurse takes a large syringe from a tray and stick it into an IV hooked to Finley’s arm.
“What are they giving her?” I blurt out. I clamp my hand over my mouth. Finley thrashes in the chair and her painful cries blare through the partition.
The loud speaker comes to life again, with Mayor Ronan’s voice. “You will know soon enough, Miss Glass. There’s going to be a competition. A competition of magic between you and your sister. You both enjoy spreading propaganda on the good in magic. Prove its worth. The winner will be given extraordinary gifts. The loser will be put to death. May the best sister win.”
Welcome to the final round of pitches!
Agents and Publishers,