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Zahra Shahryn

Zahra Shahryn

Zahra is a vivid reader of YA fantasy romance and she has been writing her own books for almost 2 years. She also has a tumblr for her work.

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About the author

As a reader, some of her favourite authors include Agatha Christie, Holly Black, Erin Hunter, Stephen King and Jane Austen. Her favourite genre's mainly being Romance, Fantasy, Crime and Horror.

Zahra's interest in writing evolved over the lockdown period and it is her way of expressing her emotions through words and one can't deny it can be quite fun to live vicariously through your own characters.
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Success! Winter's Curse has already sold 8 pre-orders , was pitched to 11 publishers , and is in discussions with publishers .

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Winter's Curse

A young woman, Thalia, is claimed by the High Fae King Gabriel until the first of Spring. During her time there, she discovers that he is cursed and promises to help him break it. However, things aren’t always what they seem and she finds out that, sometimes, your greatest friend could be your worst enemy. A potential series.

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YA Fiction
16,542 words
100% complete
3 publishers interested


When a mysterious stranger saves Thalia’s life from a wolf, he warns her away from the forest, telling her of the dangers that lurk within.

The stranger, who turns out to be the King of all Fae kind, takes her back to his palace and where she must stay until the first day of Spring: then she will finally be allowed to return to her village. During her time there, she discovers that he is in fact cursed and she vows that she will help him break it, for good.

Sales arguments

  • - As far as social media goes, I have a tik tok account where I talk about my writing as well as some other things. It has a following of 1,100+
  • - I am also in a teen writer's discord group which has roughly 2000 members which is a place people talk about an advertise their books
  • - The book has some aspects of women empowerment which I feel is very important now since it is still an issue in some parts of the world.
  • - The switching of clans shows that while power can be given it can also be taken which shows how you should never take things for granted.
  • - The aspects of betrayal in the end also show that while it is good to trust someone, opening up too easily can end up in being hurt.

Similar titles

  • ACOTAR, Sarah J. Maas, June 2, 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing - Similar to my book, it explores the world of fantasy creatures (Fae/Faeries) and is also a YA fantasy book.
  • Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer, Atom; 1st edition (3 July 2008) - Similar genre and audience although my book delves deeper into the workings of the fantasy world of the Fae.
  • This Woven Kingdom, Tahereh Mafi, Electric Monkey (3 Feb. 2022) - Similar genre and similarities in romance trope.


I'm aiming for readers aged 13-18 so Young Adults, slight female bias.

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Chapter 1: A Saviour

A light crunch of twigs snapping broke  Thalia out of her trance, her gaze wandering to the source of the sound. Her eyes locked onto a thrashing, squirming figure of what looked to be a wolf but upon looking at it further, she noticed a bluish glow to its eyes and the stripes which adorned its fur almost seemed to sparkle. She frowned, tilting her head as she stood, cautiously making her way towards the animal which was sprawled in a clearing a little ways from the edge of the woods, where she had been resting only a couple minutes earlier. Her eyes softened as she took in a snare which had entrapped the poor creature’s hind leg. 
“Oh you poor thing…” She whispered. The furious snarl which left the animal’s throat made her flinch as it eyed her warily as she crouched down, her hand reaching out towards the snare. She jerked her hand back as a clawed paw lashed out towards her and she swallowed nervously as the animal hissed and spat at her. Despite this, she was undeterred and crouched down once more. “I promise I'll be quick about this.” The animal fell silent, as if considering her words. Then, as fast as she could, she untangled the snare, gently removing the trap and shoving it away. “There we go. Much better.” She stood and slowly backed away from the wolf-creature as it hesitantly got to its paws, testing out its leg. Seemingly satisfied, it flicked its tail before turning towards her, its lip curled as it stalked towards her. Anxiety sharpened her thoughts as she stumbled back. “Oh come on, really?” The protest died in her throat as the wolf snarled, baring its fangs at her. She pressed her lips into a thin line as the wolf crouched, presumingly about to lunge at her. She closed her eyes, bracing herself for a blow.
A blow that never came.
Thalia opened her eyes after a moment, frowning as her earlier anticipation of a nasty attack was replaced by confusion and surprise. In front of her stood a hooded figure. A rather tall man. His face was turned away from her as he looked towards the wolf.
“Leave.” His voice was low and if Thalia hadn’t been straining to hear, she would have missed him saying anything at all. The word, which had been directed at the wolf, shook with a commanding tone. The wolf seemed to hesitate before the stranger stepped towards it and it spun around, fleeing the clearing, yelping as it ran, its tail tucked between its legs. 
“What–” Thalia released the breath that she had been holding as the man turned towards her. His eyes were dark, similar in colouring to a crow's feathers and could even be compared to a dark night sky. His eyebrows were thin and narrow. He carried a hawkish nose and his angular cheekbones carved down towards a flinty jaw. Long black hair framed his face and one his brows was raised as he stared at Thalia and when he spoke, his voice, although soft, was deep and husky.
“I do not know whether to call you brave or stupid. I think the latter suits best. What exactly did you think you would achieve by freeing the wolf? I certainly hope your reason was not something so foolish as wanting to make friends with it.” Anger flared within her at his words along with a hint of shame.
“I couldn’t just leave it there to die!” The cry tore past her lips and his gaze hardened.
“Yes, you could. The woods are dangerous, especially for a,” he trailed off, seeming to search for a word. “For someone like you.” He finished, his jaw clenched.
“Someone like–” Her defiant cry was cut short as he spoke.
“However, you did help that wolf. I suppose you aren’t going to take orders from some stranger you meet in the woods and you definitely aren’t going to keep out of trouble so… here.” He handed her a small object with a sigh. Upon further examination she realised it was a bracelet with a singular charm hanging from it in the form of a diamond.
“Uh, thanks?” At her visible confusion he let out exasperated huff.
“If you find yourself in danger all you need to do is press on the charm, firmly, and help will come. You have two uses then it will disappear.” At this, Thalia could not help the laugh that bubbled from her lips.
“Like magic?” The brightness faded from her eyes as the stranger's gaze did not change but instead remained serious and unamused. “This is real isn't it? Is it truly magic?” At her question he gave a curt nod.
“Now, you best head back to your home. Who knows what other dangers lurk in these woods after dark.” His eyes glinted dangerously and his tone showed no room for argument. She couldn’t help but feel the need to obey him as she nodded slowly, turning to gather her things from where she’d been sitting earlier. A few minutes had passed before she spun around, her mouth opened, a question ready to spill from her lips before she realised he was gone. He’d vanished and she scanned the clearing, clutching her things close to her chest.
“Dang it… I never even got to ask his name.” She stared wistfully at the trees which led deeper into the woods before turning and heading home, back to her little village which was situated a little ways from the edge of the woods. All the way home, she couldn’t get the image of the man in the woods out of her head. He had been quite attractive with his sharp features and his luscious long hair but he’d also been rude and rather blunt. What was more important, she felt, was what exactly had he been doing in the woods and why did he protect her?

Chapter 2: The Clans

A few days later…

It was an understatement to say the stranger’s words had shaken her. The past few days Thalia had withdrawn from the community, choosing to spend her days inside her own little house, entertaining herself with reading and writing. However, as always, her fear waned and she eventually found herself back in the woods, except this time, she was prepared for any danger she should encounter. A dagger tucked into the belt at her hip was her source of protection and she wore tight-fitting pants with a long sleeve top. A necklace, a gift from her mother before she’d passed, adorned her neck, the necklace’s charm resting at the base of her neck, a beautiful jewel embedded within it. The stranger’s protection charm was chained around her wrist. As she passed the outer treeline into the woods, she heard what almost sounded like a whisper of her name. 
“Hello?” Her voice came out sounding small and she silently cursed herself for it. There was no reply but by this time, her curiosity was piqued and she moved in the direction of where she thought she’d heard the voice. After a while of searching, she was just about to give up when cheers and laughter reached her ears and she frowned, tilting her head slowly. It was almost as if someone were having a party but that would be near to impossible. None of the villagers would ever dare venture this far into the woods to throw a gathering of any sort. Still, she carried on towards the sound and what she found surprised her. In a clearing, people were dancing around a large fire. Some were sitting by the side of the clearing, chatting and laughing. One of them spotted her and made their way over. She shrunk back into the trees as the person approached, a grin on their face. Whether it was a friendly grin or not, she didn’t know. They stopped in front of her and she managed to get a good look at the figure who was a man with short, ginger-blonde hair and striking fiery orange eyes. Now that he was closer, she saw his ears were pointed and his smile, she couldn’t help noticing the two fanged canines that stood out. 
“Hello there little human.” She stared at the man, gaping before gasping.
“You’re, you’re a fae!” At her words, his smile stretched wider.
“Indeed I am. My name is King Raybeam of the Spring Clan.” At his words, Thalia’s cheeks reddened at the title and she dropped into a quick curtsy, stopping when she felt his hands grip her shoulders, preventing her from completing the curtsy. “There is no need for such actions. What is your name?” Kindness warmed his tone as he smiled at her.
“Thalia, my lord.” 
“Please, call me Raybeam.” Raybeam placed a hand on her lower back as he guided her towards the festivities, catching the attention of a few of the other fae gathered there.
“Okay, Raybeam.” She tested his name and was surprised at how easily it rolled from her lips. He beamed at this, showing his teeth in a smile.
“Ooh, a human!” The chirpy voice came from a young fae woman who had snow white hair and striking green eyes. 
“Shrike, calm yourself. We would not want to overwhelm our guest with our…ways.” A warning is in Raybeam’s tone as he raises a brow at the woman who’d spoken. 
“My apologies, I do hope I have not frightened you!” Shrike smiled brightly, showing a bit more fang than Thalia was expecting and she managed a weak smile in return.
“It’s… okay.” At her voice, another man stood, his eyes a bright blue and his red hair braided in a single plait. His eyes narrowed with concern.
“Are you quite alright, human?” Thalia nodded whilst Raybeam narrowed his eyes at the man’s tone. 
“Her name is Thalia, you would do well to be kind to her, Kemar.” Kemar’s eyes flashed to Raybeam, surprise glittering in the depths of his gaze.
“I meant no disrespect, your grace. I was simply asking whether she was alright. She looks shocked and I would not be surprised if she were to collapse.” Kemar’s words seemed to satisfy Raybeam who gave him a curt nod before turning to Shrike who seemed to be bursting with anticipation. Shrike, glanced at Raybeam who merely gave the smallest of nods before she fired questions at Thalia.
“You have such lovely hair Thalia! Not unlike a fae’s.” Shrike reached out, surprising Thalia by running her fingers through the sleek ash-blonde hair which framed Thalia’s face.
“Your eyes are quite lovely,” Kemar commented before locking gazes with Thalia. “They remind me of leaves in the fall, your eyes are amber in colour, quite a rarity amongst fae kind.” At the look of confusion that passed over Thalia’s face, he elaborated, “eye colour stems from birth, genetics. You will find that only the Spring Clan or at least, the royal family of the Spring Clan, has a similar eye colour to your own. That is due to genetics dating back to our reign during Springtime which I shall not go into for history can be a bit of a bore.” A snort came from Raybeam and he shook his head at Kemar. 
“History can be fun!” The protest left his lips but while his tone was frustrated, his eyes were light with amusement.
“Whatever you say, my King.” The teasing tone slipped easily from Kemar’s lips and Thalia smiled at the easy nature of the fae. 
“Thalia, why don’t you join us in our festivities? I’m sure we’d all love for you to join in!” Thalia looked startled at the invitation from Raybeam and she looked at him to find him grinning at her.
“I would love to but–” She elongated the word as she hesitated, “I should probably head back. It will be dark soon and I don’t know what dangers are in the woods when it gets late.” A sad look took over Raybeam’s handsome features and he seemed to think before speaking again, his eyes lighting up.
“What if you came and lived at my palace? You wouldn’t need to worry about protection and as long as I had you under my wing you’d be able to spend as much time as you’d like partying and hanging with us!” 
“That’s a generous offer but–” A hush suddenly went over the clearing and Raybeam’s eyes focused on a figure behind her. Confused, Thalia turned around and a gasp escaped her lips. Standing there, just a few metres away from her was the man who had saved her only a couple days prior. He wore different attire now, no longer in a hood so she could see his whole face more clearly. 
“High King Gabriel, what brings you here?” Raybeam’s jaw was clenched as he addressed the man, his expression much different to the one he’d had a few minutes prior. 
“The girl, what do you plan on doing with her?” The question seemed to surprise Raybeam and he fell silent for a moment before replying. 
“I was going to take her back to my palace, I was planning on making her a member of Light Clan and–” 
“No.” The single word seemed to shock Raybeam and in a split second, that shock turned into anger.
“You cannot just refuse that! You may be the High King of Fae now but when Spring hits it is I who will rule. Besides, I met her first, you have no claim to her.” The sneer that left Raybeam’s lips was full of rage and his beautiful features crumpled into a furious glare. 
“Actually, I do have a claim to the mortal. I met her a few days ago, and saved her life from a shadow wolf. She owes me her life so by law, that is higher than any claim you would like to make. And by law once more, that makes her mine until Spring hits.” A growl rose in Raybeam’s throat but Gabriel answered with a guttural snarl of his own, his eyes flashing with anger. “Unless you want to duel for her?” Raybeam seemed to consider this before shaking his head with a scoff.
“Never mind. It’s not worth it.” At Raybeam’s reply, Gabriel stepped towards Thalia, his eyes flashing down to the charm of her necklace which lay resting at the base of her neck and his eyes glittered with an almost hunger-like emotion before it vanished from his eyes, being replaced by the usual coldness and his eyes narrowed. Before Thalia could dwell on it further, he clasped a new charm to the bracelet he’d given her in their first meeting. She opened her mouth to question his actions but her head spun and she felt her legs buckle beneath her. Strong arms caught her firmly before her vision faded to black.

Chapter 3: Claim & Debt

The first thing Thalia noticed when she awoke was the feel of the soft mattress beneath her and the silky feel of the covers that had been drawn over her body. Her outfit was different and was instead replaced by a white one-piece silk nightgown with two small straps which secured it on her shoulders and the length of the gown stopped above her knees. She shivered slightly as she sat up in the bed, the coldness of the room making itself known and her bare shoulders took the brunt of the chilly air. The sound of a door opening startled her and she looked up to see High King Gabriel standing in the doorway.
“Good, you’re awake.” He said. His eyes flickered over her shivering form and his eyes narrowed as he stalked over to the open window, shutting it before turning back to her. “Better?” He raised a brow at her and she nodded slowly.
“Thank you,” she whispered before looking up at him, her gaze meeting his. “Where am I? What are you going to do to me?” His eyes almost seemed to soften at her fearful tone and he came closer, sitting on the bed, facing her before speaking levelly. 
“You are in my palace, the palace of the Winter Clan. As for what I am going to do with you,” he paused, an uncomfortable look coming over his handsome features. “You will come to no harm under my care, Thalia. The Spring Clan isn’t as cheery as it may seem. I did you a favour by claiming you before King Raybeam did. You see, there are four clans of Fae. Spring Clan, Autumn Clan, Summer Clan, and finally, my clan, Winter Clan. During each of the clan’s respective seasons, the leader of that clan becomes High King or superior in leadership to all Fae. Since it is Winter, I am High King to all Fae. You owe me your life which is how I was able to undermine any claim Raybeam put on you.” He watched her carefully as his words began to sink in and Thalia’s eyes widened with surprise.
“You can’t just claim me! I am not your pet–” His hand came to rest over hers on top of the covers and he spoke, cutting across her words with a kind tone of his own.
“I did not say you were my pet. Besides, this claim is only until the start of Spring then you may return to your village. I am afraid you will not be permitted outside palace grounds, unfortunately. It is simply a matter of safety but you are free to roam the palace itself.” His eyes shone with sympathy and he offered her a weak smile. “Please understand I only took my claim on you for your safety. Spring Clan doesn’t exactly have the best reputation in returning their human guests… alive.” At his words, she swallowed uneasily before nodding.
“So I suppose a thanks is in order?” She sighed. He chuckled at that, shaking his head.
“You needn’t thank me. I wouldn’t have saved just any human so you have your actions towards the wolf to thank.” With that said, he stood. “I will leave you now, it is best you get dressed then you may come downstairs and join me in the dining hall for breakfast.” He said. He then turned, leaving the room and shutting the door behind himself.  She stared after him for a few minutes before getting out of bed, making her way towards the closet where she pulled out a simple blue dress with white stars lacing the bottom of the skirt. 
“This’ll do.” She sighed. It took her a few moments to slip into the dress before leaving the room and heading down the staircase to hopefully find the dining room. It took her a while but she eventually found the dining room and High King Gabriel looked up as she entered, his expression unreadable but a flash of shock came over his features as he took in her form but it vanished as quickly as it came.
“You look… good.” He said, curtly. She dipped into a curtsy as he gestured for her to sit in the empty chair next to where he was sitting at the head of the table.
“Is it just us having breakfast, my lord?” She glanced around the room as she sat, looking for any of his subjects. At her words, he waved a hand dismissively.
“Please, call me Gabriel. Everyone else has eaten, it is my duty as King to supervise any guests and to eat with them.” Her cheeks reddened as he spoke and she ducked her head.
“I’m sorry to have kept you waiting then… Gabriel.” He smiled kindly at the use of his name.
“It’s quite alright, I do not mind having to eat later, especially with someone like you.” As the words left his mouth his eyes widened. “Apologies, I merely meant we don’t get many mortal guests. Us fae have been out of touch with the mortal world for quite a long time.” They fell silent as they began to eat until Thalia spoke up, breaking the silence.
“So, what exactly will I be doing as a guest here?” Gabriel’s eyes flickered to hers before he replied.
“You are free to roam the grounds but I ask that you do not venture into the woods before consulting me first. There are many dangers, especially as my palace is rather deep into the woodland. Should you wish to explore the woods however, please ask me and I will see if a guard can escort you or whether I myself am able to. Perhaps, you could even take up some duties in the kitchen, something to help you pass the time until Spring comes.” Her eyes brightened at the mention of duties and she nodded eagerly.
“I do like having things to do!” He chuckled at her enthusiasm before pushing his finished plate to the side. 
“That’s good. Now, if you’ve finished, perhaps I can get one of my guards to take you on a tour of the gardens?” He paused as he stood, “…Unless, you would like me to escort you around the grounds?” His offer took her by surprise.
“I would like that but are you sure you don’t have more important matters than showing around a mortal?” His eyes narrowed at her words.
“You are a guest here, Thalia. Mortal or not, it is my top priority to show you the utmost hospitality and you would honestly be doing me a favour by helping me out of boring duties and allowing me time in the garden to clear my head.” She smiled as he extended his hand towards her. “Shall we?” She accepted his hand, returning the smile as he led her into the gardens, letting out a soft laugh as she gasped at her new surroundings.
“It’s, it’s beautiful!” Her eyes widened as she crouched down to peer closer at a bed of roses. 
“Ah, that rose bed is named ‘Courtilinas’, named for the fact that if us fae ever wish to court anyone, all they need to do is present them with a rose and if the intended person accepts it, they start courting.” A smile touched his lips and a flash of boldness came over Thalia.
“Have you ever presented anyone with a rose?” Gabriel didn’t seem offended and he simply shook his head.
“No, I have never had any kind of wish to court anyone.” His eyes sparkled with curiosity as he asked, “… What about you? I’m sure things are different with mortals but have you ever courted someone or been courted?” Thalia let out a laugh, shaking her head.
“No, I haven’t the courage neither do I believe anyone fancies me.” She murmured, wistfully.
“Do not give up, the best things come to those who least expect it.” She opened her mouth to reply when a cheerful voice chimed in.
“Wise words, Gabriel. Who’s this?” A young man appeared, his short ruffled hair white as snow, his eyes a piercing grey.
“Cassius, this is Thalia, our… guest.” A glance at Gabriel showed Thalia that his jaw was clenched and his eyes narrowed as he looked at Cassius.
“Loosen up, I’m not going to hurt her. I would be stupid to hurt anyone you’ve put a claim on.” With that said, Cassius turned his gaze to her, a grin on his face. “You must be the human Gabriel claimed as a—” Gabriel cut Cassius off with a snarl, a warning edge to his voice as he spoke.
Cassius’ gaze suddenly looked uneasy, his eyes flickered to Gabriel before going back to Thalia. 
“Apologies, I was going to say that you must be the human Gabriel saved from the wolf the other day.” He gave Thalia a curt nod. “I should go but if you ever require a companion then you can usually find me in the sparring hall.” He smiled, baring his teeth before turning and leaving the garden as Thalia stared after him.
“Sorry about that, Thalia. Cassius is one of my closest friends but when it comes to humans, his social skills are,” Gabriel paused, looking for the right word. “… Lacking.” Thalia smiled and shrugged.
“That’s okay, he seemed nice.” Gabriel’s eyes darkened for a moment before he straightened his posture. 
“Now, would you like to continue our tour or would you prefer to do something else? I expect you’re tired, the presence of Fae can tire even the most strong-willed humans.” Thalia stifled a yawn just in time and looked at Gabriel sheepishly.
“If you don’t mind, I would actually like to retire to my room.” Gabriel’s eyes filled with understanding and he nodded.
“Would you like me to carry you there? It would certainly be quicker due to fae’s having… a little more speed than most creatures.” Thalia raised her brows before nodding slowly.
“Um, sure but— WOAH!” She’d hardly the time to form a proper sentence when Gabriel lifted her into his arms, holding her against her chest before taking off running towards her room, his legs stretching with each step and Thalia felt wind whip past her ears as he pelted through the corridors of the castle. After what seemed like only a couple minutes, he stopped outside the door of her room and pushed it open with his shoulder before shutting it with his foot, making his way over to the bed and slowly setting her down on top of the covers. Then, he took a seat in the chair beside the bed. Upon seeing her frown, he spoke.
“Usually I wouldn’t sit and watch over any of our guests but you are, excuse my wording, the most fragile person in the palace and as my claimed guest, I cannot let any harm come to you. I do not… necessarily trust many people in the palace when it comes to a mortal under my care.” His eyes darkened towards the end of his sentence before he glanced back at her, his eyes back to their calm expression. “You should go change, I expect that dress will not be the most comfortable if you are to take a nap.” Thalia’s cheeks flushed as she stood, grabbing a nightgown from the closet and heading to the bathroom to change. After a couple minutes she reemerged from the bathroom, fully changed before making her way back to the bed. She didn’t miss the way Gabriel’s gaze lingered on her nor the way his eyes lit up when she came out from the bathroom but she brushed it off, thinking nothing of it. “Get some rest, Thalia. You will need all your strength, especially around fae. I will watch over you.” She mumbled a small thank you at his words before slipping under the covers and allowed herself to give in to the pressing exhaustion that clouded her mind, falling into a deep sleep.

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  • Riyana Razalee
    on March 11, 2023, 1:12 p.m.

    So excited to read this book! Sounds like it’s going to be a really great read 😊

  • Marcy Duvert
    on March 11, 2023, 3:34 p.m.

    Keep dreaming big and sharing your gift with the world!

  • Zenith Khan
    on March 12, 2023, 8:49 a.m.

    So excited to read your stories! It’s so impt for young Muslimahs to make their voice known. May Allah bless you and give you barakah in your career!