Bound by the Blood

Melanie Dellas

Book Cover

GENRE

HORROR

    Core Theme

    GOOD VS. EVIL

    TIME PERIOD

    Earlier 20th Century,1920s & '30s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    THE HOWLING; GINGER SNAPS; GANGS OF NEW YORK; BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE

    CHARACTER LIST

    CATERINA: 14-40S. LEAD. DETERMINED AND RUTHLESS, SHE’S A FIGHTER.

    ROSINA: 0-16. CATERINA’S YOUNGEST DAUGHTER WHO SHE SUSPECTS IS A WEREWOLF.

    ANTONIO: 17-40S. A SECRET WEREWOLF WHO IS UNREQUITEDLY IN LOVE WITH CATERINA, RAPES HER TO GET HER PREGNANT WITH ROSINA, LOOKS OUT FOR HER IN AMERICA.

    FRANCESCO: 17-30S. CATERINA’S HUSBAND WHO TRAPPED HER INTO MARRIAGE AND WHOM SHE MOVES TO NEW YORK TO BE WITH.

    PAOLO: 0-16. ANTONIO’S SON WHO’S ACTUALLY FRANCESCO’S BIOLOGICAL CHILD, ROSINA’S LOVE INTEREST.

    NUNZIA: 0-20S. ROSINA’S OLDEST DAUGHTER WHOSE HUSBAND HAS EYES FOR ROSINA AND IS ALSO A SECRET WEREWOLF.

    Logline

    Bound by the Blood is a gruesome supernatural tale of unrequited love and animalistic obsession that follows one woman and her daughters from Italy to turn-of-the-century New York.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Sicily, Italy, Ellis Island, New York

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: No

    Starting Description

    Bound by the Blood begins in Sicily in 1904, and follows a young woman’s life as she learns about the threat of werewolves, is forced to marry a man she despises, and then is raped by one of the beasts. Despite all of this, she perseveres and follows her husband to a new life in America.

    Ending Description

    After surviving the Spanish Flu, the beginnings of the Mafia, Prohibition and a loveless marriage, she becomes a successful businesswoman and finds love -- only to have it threatened by the werewolf blood that runs in her daughter's veins.

    Group Specific

    Italians, Sicilians, immigrants

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Extreme Violence,Nudity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist,Other

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Rags to Riches,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Tragedy,Other,Voyage and Return

    Main Character Details

    Name: CATERINA CUCINELLA

    Age: 14 at the beginning

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Badass,Charming,Confident,Honorable,Secretive,Skillful,Outspoken,Selfless

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Antonio Baldoni

    Age: 17 at the beginning

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Confident,Criminal,Decisive,Engaging,Heartthrob,Leader,Lone Wolf,Unapologetic,Manipulative,Seductive,Secretive,Visionary,Skillful,Outspoken,Power Hungry,Villainous,Masculine

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Francesco Magno

    Age: 17 at the beginning

    Gender: Male

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Aggressive,Desperate,Outspoken,Uneducated,Masculine,Underdog

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Rosina Magno

    Age: born in the story and grows to 16 by the end

    Gender: Female

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Complex,Confident,Decisive,Empathetic,Engaging,Faithful,Gracious,Heartthrob,Honorable,Lone Wolf,Secretive,Selfless,Obedient,Modest

    Development Pitch

    Audiences love the supernatural; the strange and unusual things that take them out of their world and into another for awhile. Throw in the chance that it all might be real, and you've created a loyal fan base. My entire life I have heard the tales from my great-grandmother: how her family desperately tried to get to America and how the threat of werewolves was a real thing. So I took those stories, wanting the world to see how hard it really was to get to America, wanting the world to see that the tales of the supernatural were very real and still haunt families. I wanted the world to see that there is an underlying truth to every myth. My novel, Bound by the Blood, is solidly grounded in historical fact with elements of lycanthropic mythology and the supernatural within the narrative, creating the premise for a hit movie or TV miniseries. This book weaves mythology into real life experiences: loveless marriages, motherhood, the perilous journey to Ellis Island, the Spanish Flu, death, murder, Prohibition, and the beginnings of the mafia. I would like to see a movie or a TV miniseries like this, one that spends more time on the smells, the sounds, the pain of each of these experiences as the characters experienced them. I also believe this story shows how the female characters are strong and resilient, and how they don't need to be a man in order to succeed in a man's world.

    Genre

    THRILLER, MATURE AUDIENCE, DRAMA

    Brief

    A young woman in early 20th century Italy is forced into marriage and has six daughters by both marital rape and sexual assault by a stranger. Convinced that her youngest is a werewolf due to believing the man who assaulted her to be one, she spends the next several years keeping her daughter at arm’s length and attempting to undo the curse. Sixteen years later in New York City, after her family has survived everything from the Spanish Flu to organized crime, her fears are realized when her daughter transforms on her 16th birthday.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes, the profile accurately represents the book.

    Draw of Story

    The werewolf mythology is stunning and so fascinating. Often werewolf books and movies do not delve this far into the real fear that people had of these creatures. The paranoia that Caterina has with potential suitors, for instance, feels real and sharp, as does her constant worry about Rosina turning sixteen. This is a fear that will never leave her alone, despite it being a fiction to those around her.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The book is incredibly dark, and nothing good happens to Caterina for a very long time. She’s forced into marriage and to leave the love of her life behind. She’s then raped by her new husband, and often. When it seems like she might get a reprieve when he goes to America, she’s raped by a werewolf. Until Francesco dies and she is able to take over the shop, there is no light in her life. Even that is dimmed by her fears for Rosina and Antonio’s seduction of her. It’s difficult to read a book where the protagonist is frequently sexually assaulted and has no hope for the future. This is doubly true when she forgives her rapist.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES HEAVILY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    Werewolves in this time period are largely unexplored, and early 1900s New York is a fascinating time period. There would be so many amazing set pieces in immigrant villages and Prohibition speakeasies alone. Caterina’s struggles as a woman and an immigrant in this time period deserve to be seen by a wider audience, as it’s so representative of what it means to be American.

    Fanbase Potential

    Supernatural creature media can have a large fanbase, the potential is definitely there. However this popularity usually comes from more of a young adult space. By contrast, this book features graphic, mature themes, and spans too many decades to achieve a window into the characters’ lives. By refocusing on Rosina’s story, as she’s a teenager, it could garner a bigger fanbase than the current narrative.

    Awards Potential

    The horror aspects largely precludes this from having awards potential outside genre-specific ones. That said, the fact that it’s a period piece makes it more likely to be taken seriously in a traditional awards space. Having a more cohesive and focused narrative would help this factor.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    THE HOWLING, GINGER SNAPS, GANGS OF NEW YORK, BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE

    What’s New About the Story

    The blend of supernatural creatures with historical fiction makes this a unique story. However, the supernatural element often doesn’t feel essential to the story. Instead it feels like an afterthought, or an additional evil to the more horrific acts of men and nature. Better incorporating the threat of werewolves would help this story to shine. As is, the threat disappears for long periods of time, and Caterina waffles in her conviction.

    Lead Characters

    Besides Rosina, the characters are difficult to connect with, and the story is scattered across both time and several characters. Though Caterina’s concerns over Rosina’s parentage are valid, she is a cruel mother because of them. Rosina makes for a more natural protagonist, as she is the victim of her mother’s fears and abuse. If the story could be centered around Rosina, and her own fears of turning into a monster, it would be much more powerful than Caterina’s secondhand worries. Rosina also has a successful romantic storyline with Paolo, at least up until her transformation, which is a nice emotional through line.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Though the combination of historical fiction with werewolves is unique, the surrounding story does not support the book being a rare gem. Focusing in more so that there is one central protagonist would help. Specifically having a tighter perspective would go a long way, as right now almost every named characters’ thoughts and feelings make an appearance on the page. This means that there is no mystery, and character motivations are spelled out.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Streaming, TV Series - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    This project is a work in progress because there’s not a clear audience for the story. The werewolf aspect is not well-integrated with the rest of the narrative, and the distressing period piece elements feel as though they’re at war with the supernatural horror themes. Supernatural horror can work very well to thematically represent real world horrors — such as sexual assault or women not having agency — but instead it’s all thrown together in the book. There’s also a great deal of real life horror occurring in these pages, so much so that the werewolf part seems tacked on. After all, is the risk of becoming a werewolf all that great in the midst of the Spanish Flu? The novel is unfocused, and it leans heavily into dark themes. Though many of these are historically accurate, there’s no silver lining or hope to the story. This could also work, if there was a greater message at play. However, Caterina is unsuccessful in her quest to cure Rosina, and evil wins from start to finish.

    Tips for Improvement

    Supernatural (and specifically creature) horror can be successful and popular, but that’s largely in the young adult space. The book is simply too dark and graphic to exist in that world. Narrowing the scope of the story and really focusing in on a specific time frame could help. For instance, Rosina could easily be the protagonist of an adaptation. She’s the most empathetic character in the book, and her struggles with her mother and school bullies are relatable. Pulling out her story line and expanding it could make for a great horror film where she fears becoming a werewolf at sixteen, while still coping with the factual problems she faces in early 1900s New York.

    Brief

    A woman forced into a loveless marriage in early 1900s Sicily has four daughters. She is then raped by what she suspects to be a werewolf which results in twins, though only one survives. Through her immigration to New York to join her husband and her attempt to raise her daughters well while becoming a respectable business owner, she cannot rid herself of the fear that her youngest will transform into a werewolf on her 16th birthday.

    What We Liked

    Weaving together elements inspired by true historical events with legendary creatures, this story is unique and manages to have something for everyone. Lovers of period pieces and supernatural horror alike can join together in enjoying this narrative, which exemplifies the real life horrors of being a woman and an immigrant in the early 1900s with our animal fears of the unexplained.

    Film: Inspired by true fears of supernatural myths that immigrants had, a film adaptation could delve into this terror and create a creeping atmosphere that serves a perfect backdrop to the story and blends in well with the real world horrors of the early 20th century. The pain that Caterina and her daughters experience is representative of the real life dangers women just like them faced, and still face today. The fact that it’s truly a story about women at its heart is powerful, and Caterina’s perseverance is inspiring.

    TV: This book makes so much as a TV series due to how much time it covers. Beginning in 1904 and ending in the 1930s, the world changes dramatically within Caterina’s lifetime and that could easily be expanded into several seasons. There’s also a wide range of characters who can be explored, and who already have their own subplots. Entire episodes could be spent on Caterina’s individual daughters, or on the members of Antonio’s pack/gang. There is no shortage of possibly storylines here.

    Key points: Setting and time period; Woman protagonist; Female-driven storyline; Historical details; Supernatural horror elements

    Synopsis

    In 1904 Sicily, CATERINA and her SISTERS often visit an OLD WOMAN who warns them to beware of werewolves. She claims they’re not just a folk story, but Caterina’s FATHER, who secretly hunts werewolves, doesn’t want them going over there anymore. Because Caterina knows what to look for, she tests PIETRO, the boy she loves, to ensure he’s not one. Once she’s engaged, other boys in the town are jealous, specifically ANTONIO and FRANCESCO. Antonio is a werewolf who feels possessive over her, and he encourages his FRIENDS to watch out for her. Francesco, who is human, kidnaps Caterina and keeps her in his house for days so she is forced to marry him to protect her and her sister’s reputations. He maritally rapes her often, and professes his love despite her not returning it. She bears four DAUGHTERS by him before he moves to New York in an attempt to make more money for their family.

    Before Caterina and the girls can follow him, Antonio corners her while transformed and rapes her. She’s impregnated with TWIN GIRLS, and she’s convinced at least one of them must be cursed. She doesn’t know the werewolf was Antonio, but she does suspect it was a real werewolf. Because werewolves don’t transform until they’re sixteen, Caterina spends the next several years trying to break the curse on her youngest daughters ROSINA and ANGELA MARIA. While the girls are still young, they attempt to travel to New York to join Francesco. However, Angela Maria falls ill and dies, despite another immigrant VIOLETTA attempting to help. This solidifies Caterina’s belief that only Rosina is a wolf. The boat sinks, but Caterina and her remaining five daughters escape. They finally join Francesco a year later.

    Meanwhile in New York, Francesco and Antonio have each made a home there despite having no love for one another due to Antonio still being in love with Caterina. Ironically, Francesco is having an affair with STEFANIA, who he does not know is Antonio’s wife. Antonio’s other children are werewolves, and he has his own pack in New York. Francesco has set up a successful grocery business with his UNCLE. Francesco tries to break things off with Stefania now that Caterina and his daughters are there, but Caterina catches them having sex outside of the store. This gives her the leverage she needs over him to force distance between them. They are largely estranged by the time the 1918 Spanish Flu hits. Caterina realizes Rosina is the only daughter who can’t get sick because of her true nature. Caterina doubles down and continues to try to break the curse on Rosina however she can. She keeps the girl at arm’s length and never tells her why she’s doing these same things.

    Rosina grows closer and closer to Paolo as they get older, and Antonio realizes that Rosina must be his own blood while Paolo is actually Francesco’s son. He catches Stefania with Francesco and transforms, murdering them both in a jealous rage. Finally free of her husband, Caterina expands the store and is extremely successful. Rosina finds her mother’s books and realizes Caterina thinks she’s a werewolf. She and Paolo do all the tests on herself, but she passes them. Caterina and Antonio grow closer and begin to fall in love. Someone from his GANG spills the beans that Antonio is the werewolf that raped her so many years before, but Caterina can’t help but still have feelings for him. She also puts it together that Rosina must be half-werewolf then, and she’s a danger to everyone as her sixteenth birthday is coming up. However, the teenagers aren’t aware of this and flee their controlling parents the day before Rosina’s birthday. They make love and hide out in a church, but at midnight she transforms and attacks Paolo, killing him. In an epilogue dating back to 1915 and the first ship they were on which sunk, it is shown that helpful Violetta drugged Angela Maria (Rosina’s twin) to make Caterina think she was dead. Angela Maria is also a werewolf, and Violetta takes the child with her to her own pack. This means both werewolf twins have survived.

    About The Author

    Author Melanie Dellas is the co-owner of Muse Curatorial Consulting Group, which does conservation and preservation work on artifacts for museums and private collectors. She is also co-host of a strange history podcast called Muse Stories: The Unusual History of Every Thing. Melanie has written three books in her Fantastic, Fabulous Creatures & Beasts series, as well as co-authored a book with her oldest son titled, Pat-A-Cake, Pat-A-Cake…We Made A Mistake!