The First Page Challenge 2022—3rd place

Congrats to Amalie Wad for winning third place in the First Page Challenge 2022! Here's what our judge (Michelle Barker) had to say:

In third place, a fantasy called Monsters and Maledicts. The author presents intrigue in the first sentence and creates an atmosphere to match. Strong imagery brings this world to life.

Monsters and Maledicts by Amalie Wad

Monsters and Maledicts

The syringe was in her purse, concealed beneath a clutter of crumpled sweets wrappers, wet wipes, and receipts. A side pocket hid the vial. She could hear the faint clinking as it bumped against the emblems meant to cover her travel expenses. Initially, her intention had been to take an autocarriage from the city centre. In the end, she decided to brave the ancient granite steps.

Lavendell Manor was situated at the top of a cliff overshadowing the city below. Beyond it, a plethora of vegetation slithered across rocky surfaces towards northeast. The Draugian Ocean clawed at the cliffside, frothy waves like the desperately grasping fingers of a drowning creature.

The principality had scarcely evolved in her two-year absence. Its capital Megrina still lay coiled at the foot of the cliff, a weatherworn crone whose twisted limbs no longer functioned. A malodour of seaweed and saltwater lingered in the narrow streets. The wind crept continuously in from the sea, chilling her to the marrow.

Nobody had met her eyes as she manoeuvred through the throng of the afternoon rush, but occasionally people would stop and stare or nod in her direction, as they whispered to one another. Indeed, both the city and its inhabitants, in countenance and behaviour, were just the same. She was the one who had changed; softened inwardly and swelled outwardly as the child grew within her.

She was forced to pause halfway up the stone stairs. The climb was a challenge at the best of times, but in her current circumstance it shortened her breathing to a wheeze. She should have hailed an autocarriage after all. The spiralling asphalt road might have caused her some nausea, but it would have been the safer route. She ought to have been more cautious. The last thing she wanted was to expedite the pregnancy.

Amalie Wad, author of Monsters and Maledicts

Amalie Trollhaugen Wad hails from Norway, where she lives with her scruffy-bearded partner and suspiciously affectionate cat, Tyrion. A woman on the autism spectrum, she finds comfort and accomplishment in the written word. Her master’s degree is in Literature and Translation of Fiction. Currently hoping to find agent representation in an English-speaking country, she hopes to publish her books in her favourite, though not native, language. She may be inspired by her sun-deprived country with its troll-infested mountains and mysterious forests, as she delights in writing dark fantasy. MONSTERS AND MALEDICTS is her first novel.

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