One hot August day, a fractious young lady named Hazel escapes from her governess, raids an apple orchard, kisses a boy, and smashes a witch's window. The witch curses Hazel into servitude until she speaks her one True Name.
Hazel, afraid of what the witch has planned for her and abandoned by her distant but beloved father, undertakes her new role most unwillingly. As she struggles to live and work with her captor, she slowly discovers that she and the witch are more alike than she had ever suspected. But when Hazel discovers her father is dying and the witch does not immediately let her go to him, Hazel runs away to Faerie, desperate to learn the witch’s Name. Instead, she falls into the clutches of the Fairy Queen Morgana – the witch’s vengeful half-sister.My comments (and obviously I do know quite a bit about YA, since it's what I write, though not fantasy.)
This does not feel like YA, Possibly there's some irony going on in the pitch, and if so, good, because teenagers often love that. But we need to know it's irony, because teenagers also need deep meaning if they are to deal with something as "young" as witches. Thus, the story feels too young. So, either the pitch is wrong or the book is wrong. Either the pitch needs to sound more YA or the book needs to be written for younger children. You might want to consider Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan - an extraordinary dark, deep, rich, adult-YA fantasy with witches and talking bears, but the darkness is so strong and apparent that it becomes instantly identifiable as for teenagers, not children.
Also, One hot August day is not a great start! Reminded me of It was a dark and stormy night...
And the name Morgana worries me, as it's very much a cliché, making me worry that there might be other clichés in the story?
It also feels incomplete. I want to know what happens then.
So, it feels not meaty and "big" enough - and this is either a problem with the pitch or the book itself. But I do like the sparky writing and I would love to know how this translates to the actual book. Erin, what do you think?