Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Back cover summaries —

So, here’s my first attempt at back cover copy for The Dark Turn of Winter. Or Winter Dragon, or whatever the book eventually turns out to be called. Anyway, what do you think?

In a world where the Immanent Powers that dwell in the land can alter the course of a kingdom’s succession . . . in a land where the whims of distant, uncaring Gods may bring luck or ill-luck to any town or province or kingdom . . . in a land where many-headed dragons ride midwinter storms across the land during the dark turn of the year . . . in such a land, the ambitions of power-mad kings seldom present the greatest threat to peace and prosperity.

Even so, power-mad kings don’t make comfortable neighbors.

When Kehera, princess of the peaceful land of Harivir, finds her country threatened by the ambition of the Mad King of Emmer to the north, she reluctantly resolves to make any sacrifice necessary to protect her people. But she never expected to find herself a pawn in a power struggle between enemies she hadn’t even known existed.

Innisth, infamous Wolf Duke of the grim country of Pohorir, has long wished to break from his king and forge a new independent kingdom of his own. When Kehera unexpected falls into his hands, he believes he may see a way to force her into an alliance that will finally allow him to achieve his ambition. Yet he never expected to care for her, and even as triumph seems within his grasp, he finds it less sweet than he had hoped.

As midwinter rushes down upon the world, Kehera and Innisth must find a way to work together or they may both lose everything to a common enemy that is more dangerous than either of them had ever suspected.

Does this give too much away? Or is it too confusing for someone who isn’t familiar with it? It can be hard to tell, especially with a big, complicated story like this one.

I bet you can guess the romance in this one is more than a faint subplot, yes? Or is that not obvious from this description?

Comments, thoughts?

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14 Comments Back cover summaries —

  1. Hanneke

    I like it, it’s intriguing and I’d want to read it. It does indicate there will be a romance involved, but also that there will be lots of exciting things happening, so not “just” a romance. Truth in advertising, I like that.

    One sentence I didn’t like as much is “she reluctantly resolves to make any sacrifice necessary to protect her people.” It makes her sound like a sacrificial maiden, which I don’t like – I prefer women with agency, who do stuff. I’d like something like “she resolves to do everything necessary to protect her people.” better, even if the doing comes down to her making a sacrifice.

    And my mental tongue stumbled over the -th at the end of the name Innisth – I’ll be reading that as Innisht, but that’s not a large enough stumble that I can’t quickly get used to it.

  2. Estara Swanberg

    If there is’ a power struggle between enemies’ I’d sort of want to get them named? Especially if Innisth is one of them?

    And I think this duology of
    ‘princess of the peaceful land of Harivir’
    and
    ‘Wolf Duke of the grim country of Pohorir’ is a bit twee?

    I hope Andrea Höst weighs in on this. She’s got some cracking back cover summaries for her books ^^.
    I’m really not enough of a writer to pinpoint it down any further.

  3. Adam D. Jones

    I like it, and I’m already looking forward to the release, but I think it’s wordy. The first paragraph is cumbersome. Consider:

    Even in a war-torn world of many-headed dragons and indifferent deities, power-mad kings don’t make comfortable neighbors.

    Faced with the mad ambitions of the King of Emmer, Kehera, princess of the peaceful land of Harivir, resolves to make any sacrifice necessary to protect her people. Kehera unknowingly enters a struggle that is larger than she realized, and finds herself in the ironclad grip of Innisth, infamous Wolf Duke of Pohorir.

    Innisth sees in Kehera an opportunity to free his land from the mad king by forcing the princess into an alliance, even though this alliance would be perilous for her people. However, Innisth’s plans never included developing feelings for Kehera, and as his long-awaited victory approaches, Innisth finds himself torn between his grim ambition and his newfound love.

    As midwinter descends upon their world, Kehera and Innisth must find a way to work together or lose everything to a common enemy that is turning out to be more dangerous than either of them suspected.

    (There’s a couple of crummy sentences in my version, but you get the idea.)

  4. Elaine T

    I’ve run it by The Teen as well, and our take is that the first two paragraphs are good, then it goes flat. The opening promises originality, and the rest reads like bog standard stuff.

    That line Hanneke zeroed in on. .”. reluctantly resolves…” I wonder if specifying what sort of thing she has in mind would help? I somehow doubt she was planning to offer herself in marriage to the Mad King, but that’s usually the meaning. And if that IS what she has in mind, just say it.

  5. Rachel

    Thank you all! I like the “resolved to” rephrasing, and although I like my first paragraph, Adam’s point is a good one. Though we have several variously evil kings, not just one.

    Crummy sentences are par for the course in early drafts of this kind. Unfortunately. Summaries are just hard to write well!

    Estara, twee, really? Hmm. And I *could* name more people, but I fear too many names in the summary just make for confusion.

    Flat toward the end, eh? Well, let me take another stab at it and we’ll see.

  6. Sandstone

    If I’m being honest, I have to say that the first paragraph didn’t work very well for me- the descriptions sound a little generic except for the cool part about the many-headed dragons, and the repetition of in a world/in a land felt a bit like padding. As a reader, I like for a blurb to have a little taste of the world and then dig into the characters and their stakes.

    I agree with comments above that I’d like to see Kehera given a little more agency, know more about and how exactly the struggle between enemies she didn’t know existed relates to the bit with Innisth. I would like more details on how she struggles against being a pawn or why she accepts it, and how exactly she falls into Innisth’s hands- eg does she go to his king seeking alliance, is she kidnapped and abducted?

    Here’s my attempt at condensing and rephrasing it a bit:

    In land of fickle gods and Immanent Powers, where many-headed dragons ride midwinter storms across the land during the dark turn of the year, the ambitions of power-mad kings seldom present the greatest threat to peace and prosperity.

    Even so, they don’t make comfortable neighbors.

    Kehera, princess of the peaceful land of Harivir, resolves to make any sacrifice necessary to protect her people against the ambition of the Mad King of Emmer to the north. However, she falls into the hands of an infamous duke in the war-torn country of Pohorir (how?) and finds herself a pawn in a power struggle between enemies she hadn’t even known existed.

    Innisth, Wolf Duke of Pohorir, has long wished to break from his king and forge a new independent kingdom of his own. He believes forcing Kehera into an alliance will finally allow him to achieve his ambition, but he never expected to care for her, and even as triumph seems within his grasp, he finds it less sweet than he had hoped.

  7. Sandstone

    Whoops, I would leave your last paragraph on there too about them working together! I liked that but it got cut out of my copied and pasted version :)

  8. Adam D. Jones

    Summaries are a nightmare to write. I’ve re-written a certain query letter a bajillion times, and I’ve worn out the number of ways I can cram one more clause into a sentence before it collapses.

    This sounds like a fun book. I normally loathe romance, but even I can enjoy a romantic tale when woven well.

  9. Rachel

    Sandstone, your comments made me laugh — believe me, padding is the very last thing you want in a 250-word summary! If words can be cut, great.

    Adam, although the romance is important in this book, the story’s not going to hit all the romance tropes on the way. Among other things, I don’t believe the two principals even meet until halfway through the book.

  10. Stephanie Burgis

    Ooh, this sounds so much fun! I can’t wait to read it.

    I do think “he believes he may see a way” could be condensed to “he sees a way”, but that’s a small nitpick.

  11. Estara Swanberg

    I may be using the word ‘twee’ wrongly, although I did look up the definition at Free Dicitonary.com to check if I remembered the meaning correctly – or it might just be too aggressively worded? I wanted to go in the direction of ‘purple prose’-ish? for just that one comparison, not the rest of the text.
    But I really ought to know better than to give feedback on actual English wordplay – I’m fairly good finding grammar mistakes because I have to correct them so often for my ESL classes, but that’s as far as my real expertise goes, heh. I will definitely get the book, because the set-up itself sounds great and you’re a trusted author ^^. Please accept my apologies for my own word use there.

  12. Rachel

    Estara, I think of “twee” as “overly cute” or “overly sentimental”. I figured that you probably meant more like “Overly structured” or “Trying too hard,” which was probably correct.

    Mary, I think that rule is brilliant and I’m going to be quoting it forever.

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