Zee Zaman


YA Fantasy

Word Count:

78,000 words


I am submitting for your consideration ANATHEMA, a YA thriller with fantasy elements. It should appeal to readers of Caragh O’ Brien’s BIRTHMARKED trilogy or Kristi Helvig’s novels about spunky, female protagonists who know how to look after themselves. I was born in the United States and raised in my parent’s version of what it means to be a Pakistani and Muslim.

After sixteen-year old Khadija witnessed her parent’s gruesome murders, she becomes obsessed with catching their killer, an elusive criminal leader named Zander.

When Khadija’s emerging powers wreak havoc in her hometown, she discovers an invisible world— a world where Khadija’s spy parents double crossed the Capitol and assassinated its leader for Zander. Refusing to believe her parents are traitors, Khadija must forge alliances and discover a dark family secret to stop Zander and his telekinetically-controlled army once and for all.

First 300 words:

That clanging noise makes me wince. I imagine ripping the bells off the door. It isn’t raining outside but the newcomer is drenched. It’s also five minutes before closing time, but there she is stomping her feet on the entry rug. Her head turns to the side. She reads the neon pink restaurant hours on the front window, then swivels and marches to a window seat. Seriously?

“Keep frowning and your pretty face will stay that way,” Aunt Lucy says, bumping me with her bony hip behind the cashier station.

“We got a late comer,” I say.

Aunt Lucy glances over her shoulders. Her excitement transmits a warm rush in my chest. I rub it like I have heartburn. “Somebody new!”

“Somebody who can’t read. Can I tell her the kitchen’s closed?”

Aunt Lucy’s blue eyes cut to mine. “You know we never turn away a customer. Besides, she looks your age.”

“Good for her. She still can’t read.”

“Be friendly.”

“Fine,” I say, reaching for a laminated menu. “Her order better be simple.”

Water drips from the ends of her pigtail braids into two clear blobs on the table. She’s a soggy Wednesday Addams with her middle-parted black hair and mousy ears. Her angular eyes narrow below short, black brows. The girl is staring intensely at a photo on her palm-sized tablet, sleeker than an iPad. She ducks it under the table when I approach. Like I care who she’s looking at.

“Hi,” I say, sliding the menu across the table. The glossy paper reflects in the window chalked with December frost. It was the frigid sort of cold that penetrates clothes no matter how many layers you wear and she wasn’t wearing many: a long blue-ribbed sweater with slits on the sides and leggings tucked into tall boots. All soaked.


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