Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Word Count: 63,000
Pitch: Before she can become the greatest Empress in Russian history, Sophie--an impoverished princess from a rival country--will have to win the heart of a nation to make it to coronation day alive.
The sled is cramped, my legs and back ache in protest as we cut through the deep snow. I pull back the heavy damask curtain covering the small window. Outside the landscape is barren and desolate. Only stark white snow for miles, interrupted only by the occasional leafless tree. Though the horses race forward across the plain at great speed, the trek has been long and the snow deep. We’d had to abandon our more spacious carriage in Livonia and continue the rest of the way in this small sled. Across from me my mother carefully stitches on her small linen even as each bump threatens to destroy her colorful tapestry. She hasn’t spoken to me in two days, not since I’d finally grown weary of her constant chatter about how different and lavish life would be at a real court and reprimanded her harshly.
I sigh deeply. Perhaps the rolling hills of Anhault-Zerbst may not have been as grand as the palaces of Berlin, where she was raised, but it was my father’s estate and also mine and I ached to be there now. Never had I missed it more than I did on this journey, the dangerous trek through the depths of Russia in the coldest months of winter. I have acquired a constant shiver and my toes and fingers never seem to thaw. Still, it was only her callous remarks about my father that had provoked me to speak rudely to her. She makes me pay for it now, the already cold interior seems absolutely frigid with her indifference.
CLUE: Mr. Boddy is found in the library, slumped in a chair near a tea trolley with no apparent wounds. His face is flushed, an empty teacup caught on one finger, its hot contents soaking his front, and round sugar cubes scattered across his lap.