It’s a beautiful day in Bendleton, and you are a horrible ingenue…
In advance of the release of C.L. Polk’s new book, The Midnight Bargain, the author and her team at Erewhon Books have put together a Choose Your Own Adventure minigame to introduce readers to the world of the novel! Read an introduction from C.L. Polk below, play the A Beautiful Day in Bendleton game, and then check the bottom of this post for a link to the first chapter!
You are Beatrice Clayborn. You are eighteen years old, and you love casting ritual magic. You can reach out to the spirit world, and disembodied entities will do what you want, so long as you ask for small things–and if you have an experience to give in exchange.
You have only let yourself call minor spirits. They are glad to tell you if it will rain, or if you will win a horse race, or if the prettiest girl in Mayhurst (not you) will decide among her three suitors in the next month, or if the investment your father has sunk his fortune into will reap the profits he expects when the ship returns, its hold stuffed full of orchid specimens.
But you are not supposed to call minor spirits. You’re not even supposed to know the few conjurations you have learned in secret. Your value is not in your ability to charm a cloud spirit into predicting the weather, or your ability to bargain the simplest costs from the spirits who flock around you when you call. You are a sorceress, and that makes you the most valuable wife a man can have.
After the collapse of the orchid market, you are the only valuable the Clayborns have to spare. So you have come to the fashionable, expensive sea-side town of Bendleton, where Chasland’s wealthy and powerful travel every spring to meet and make all kinds of negotiations, including the contract to secure a desirable bride. Your sorcerous might makes you appealing, even as a humble member of the landed class. The old gentry are looking for a bride like you.
You must make a good impression. You must fit in with the children of the moneyed and powerful families come to revel in Bargaining Season, hoping for the best match. You shall have fine gowns and shoes and entry to the choicest entertainments, all in the hopes of meeting an ideal husband.
But you, Beatrice Clayborn, have secret hopes of your own.