An Unfound Door

The sacrificial princess Agnes spares the life of a demon from the blade of the hero who rescued her from certain demise, but was this the wisest decision? Upon returning to her decaying kingdom, she finds the beast waiting for her, now in the form of a man. He is determined to restore the ruins of his homeland to their former glory, but his ambition presages calamity. As Agnes follows her enemy through the shadows, she must shine light onto the mysteries of the past if she wishes to restore hope for the future.

This is my working description for An Unfound Door, the dark fantasy mystery novel that I’m currently writing. I borrowed the title from this passage in Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel, a coming-of-age story primarily set in an old and decrepit town: “Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the dark lane into heaven. A stone, a key, an unfound door. O lost and by the wind grieved ghost, come back again.”

The character illustrations are by Marianne Lalou, who is on Tumblr, on Twitter, and on Instagram. Lalou was able to take my amateur designs (that I posted here) and polish them into something magical. They’re one of my favorite fantasy illustrators and character designers, and it was an amazing experience to work with them!

Agnes and Zidan from An Unfound Door

An Unfound Door is a Gothic mystery set in a decaying castle. Agnes, the princess of Faloren, hopes to save her crumbling kingdom by recovering a long-lost relic, but she must find it before it’s discovered by Zidan, a foreign prince with mysterious motives. As their paths repeatedly cross in the twisting corridors and hidden passages, Agnes and Zidan realize that they must descend into the shadows of the past together if they hope to bring light to the future.

While I’ve been planning this story, I’ve also been working on character designs. This is what I’ve come up with…

Agnes is in her early twenties. Her palette is fairly monochromatic, making her look somewhat ghostly. She’s not used to interacting with people, and she’s aloof and serious to a fault. Her floral motif is the moonflower. I was aiming for something like a “dark academia” aesthetic.

Zidan is also in his early twenties. His palette is warm with accents in brighter colors. He’s charming and polite, but he’s too proud to conceal the sharp edges under his smooth exterior. His floral motif is the Chinese lantern flower. I was inspired by the work of the artist Emily Cheeseman in creating his design.