Phaedra Cooper and the Half Boy

Paul Drisgula

Book Cover

GENRE

YOUNG ADULT DETECTIVE CRIME FANTASY MYSTERY RELIGIOUS SUSPENSE/THRILLER FOLKTALE

    Core Theme

    CHRISTIANITY AND ITS DAMAGING EFFECTS; SEXUAL ABUSE

    TIME PERIOD

    1960s & '70s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    THE NAME OF THE ROSE (VERY FEW SIMILARITIES)

    CHARACTER LIST

    ALEXANDER GADESKI. 14 YEARS OLD. PROTAGONIST. FUNNY, SARCASTIC, SMART, VICTIM OF ABUSE.

    PHAEDRA COOPER. TEENAGER. SENECA GIRL. DRAWS XANDER INTO THE INVESTIGATION ABOUT HER FRIEND'S DEATH.

    PRETTY FLOWER. DECEASED TEENAGER. PHAEDRA & XANDER INVESTIGATE HER DEATH.

    STANLEY GADESKI, 'STARY'. XANDER'S DECEASED FATHER.

    KANDJARSKI AND MARCIONE; TEENAGERS; SEMINARIANS, PRETTY FLOWER'S ABUSERS.

    Logline

    A mystery that grapples with sin, evil and the supernatural. Xander Gadeski, a young seminarian, is pulled into an unlikely and dangerous alliance with Phaedra Cooper, a Seneca girl. The two amateur detectives search for truth and justice in the suspicious death of Phaedra's friend Pretty Flower.

    Target Audiences

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

    Target Gender: Universal,Female Leaning,Male Leaning,LGBT Leaning

    Setting

    A small village in Upstate New York; a Catholic minor seminary near an historic glen; a cemetery near the glen; a Seneca longhouse during a religious service; small city in Upstate, NY.

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    In a cemetery near his school Xander meets Phaedra holding vigil over a grave. She has promised to avenge her friends death, ruled a suicide by police. Phaedra believes the killers are students at Xander's school. She entices Xander by suggesting he has a mysterious connection to a Seneca hero.

    Ending Description

    Xander and Phaedra devise a dangerous plan climaxing in an outdoor trial on the glen bridge where death found Pretty Flower and where Xander must use his new found powers to avoid a similar fate.

    Group Specific

    Polish Catholics; Seneca tribal members; Upstate NY residents

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978-1-64544-237-0 (paperback) ; 978-1-64544-238-7 (digital)

    Mature Audience Themes

    Sexual Abuse

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Philosophical Questions,Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth,Quest,Tragedy

    Main Character Details

    Name: Alexander "Xander" Gadeski (his name is an anagram for a Seneca hero Skagedi)

    Age: 14

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Empathetic,Modest,Religious,Funny,Secretive,Underdog,Insecure,Honorable,Heroic,Faithful,Complex

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Phaedra Cooper

    Age: late teens

    Gender: Female

    Role: Tempter

    Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Complex,Decisive,Desperate,Faithful,Heroic,Honorable,Underdog,Blunt,Outspoken,Secretive,Manipulative,Unapologetic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Stanley Gadeski (Xander's father; nickname Stary)

    Age: 42

    Gender: Male

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Charming,Empathetic,Faithful,Modest,Religious

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Brother Rose

    Age: 50

    Gender: Lgbt

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Honorable,Modest,Religious,Selfless,Faithful,Empathetic,Decisive,Educated,Obedient

    Development Pitch

    Bullying, rape, murder and suicide permeate and charge this story while standing in stark contrast to the scenic backdrop of an Upstate New York seminary. Diverse sexual relationships are hidden in the open 60's style. The mystery of Pretty Flower's death lends a gothic intensity to the story while many of Xander's experiences and encounters, such as a disastrous sex education class and an excruciating public confession at a Seneca longhouse meeting, balance the darkness with humor. Does Xander possess the hidden Marvel/DC type powers to divide himself in half, see into the future and move through the air by thinking of a destination and chanting while he leaps? Phaedra believes he does and she has ancient Seneca stories to prove her point. Xander finds out whether she's right or not at a tense, other worldly trial of Pretty Flower's attacker. Their lives depend on the answer. The supernatural and natural worlds flow together like hot and cold from a tap as Xander and Phaedra forge their uneasy alliance to disprove the police finding that Pretty Flower's death was a suicide. Dramatic dream visitations from Pretty Flower and others move both of them toward resolution of their destinies. The two main characters Xander and Phaedra come from vastly different cultures, the rigidity of Polish Catholicism versus the fluidity of Seneca tribal culture, yet eventually find a way to overcome their differences as they search for Pretty Flower's murderer(s).

    Genre

    ACTION, SUSPENSE, THRILLER, LGBT, DRAMA, RELIGION, FANTASY

    Brief

    Phaedra Cooper is a seneca girl seeking the truth about the death of her friend, Pretty Flower. She meets an ally, Xander Gadeski, a young seminarian who is, until then, unaware of his special powers and together they are able to bring justice regarding rape and murder who led to Pretty Flower's death.

    Overall Rating

    EXCELLENT

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: EXCELLENT

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: GOOD

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Book Profile reflects book accurately.

    Draw of Story

    An alliance between a young seminarian and a Seneca girl is unusual and brings together two worlds of beliefs which seem at first completely opposite - this is enough to keep readers interested.

    Possible Drawbacks

    Nothing made me want to put the book down.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES HEAVILY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    I would definitely watch this movie considering that seneca people are not commonly brought in as characters of mystery narratives in the position Phaedra is.

    Fanbase Potential

    It could have a large fanbase if adapted because characters are interesting and come from different backgrounds which are both culturally rich.

    Awards Potential

    If adapted if could also have Awards potential because many special effects are required as spirituality is a key point of the story, and there is also the need of great casting and acting to keep this alliance credible. The vast cultural background of both characters is also interesting regarding figurines and art direction.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    THE WICKER MAN

    What’s New About the Story

    The most original thing about this story is the ability of the author to unite the beliefs of a seneca girl and a young seminarian with the same goal of uncovering the truth about the murder or Pretty Flower. The narrative is filled with spiritual passages which are related to both worlds and manage not to exclude one from the other.

    Lead Characters

    Phaedra Cooper and Xander Gadeski are both young and driven, and even though very different from each other, are both spiritually developed, powerful and connected to a greater power.

    Uniqueness of Story

    This is a rare gem as characters are unusual and so is their alliance.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, Film - Studio, TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Network, TV Series - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    RECOMMEND

    Justification

    I recommend it because the idea of bringing more insight into native cultures became even more interesting when the character is a young and powerful woman which takes on a crucial role in the narrative. Writing is also very well executed and dialogues and scenes are well written and sharp.

    Brief

    Xander Gadeski is still grieving his father's death when he leaves home for a minor seminary. There, he partners with Phaedra Cooper, a Seneca girl, in order to help her find justice for her dead friend Pretty Flower.

    What We Liked

    The logline of this story may sound a little too unusual, however this surprising narrative is amazingly written as it gathers themes such as grief, religious dogma, sexual abuse, with an improbable hint of humor.

    Film: This narrative would be a good adaptation for Film because it's original and well structured, even though the lives of Xander and Phaedra seem to be incompatible, they grow closer during the narrative as the truth of the crime begins to unfold.

    TV: It would be a great adaptation for TV especially regarding passages from Xander's journey and his thoughts on people and events of his life, which vary from extremely violent and dramatic to very funny.

    Key points: Original; Deep reflections on religiousness and guilt; Vulnerable and charismatic protagonist; tragic and funny.

    Synopsis

    The story begins when Xander, a young seminarian, meets Phaedra Cooper during a walk through a cemetery - where he shouldn't be in the first place since he could only be off campus in order to take care of his injured shoulder. Phaedra, a mysterious Seneca girl, reveals that she is seeking justice for the death of her friend Pretty Flower, who fell from Seneca bridge. She comes to believe Xander can and should help her as she believes Pretty Flower's killers are from the seminary.

    Xander notices that Pretty died the same day as his father and from this moment, Xander recalls his memories before this encounter, from his early days of innocence at elementary school to the moment his father, Stary, is diagnosed with cancer and dies a painful death. Xander also describes his path to the seminary after his father's death, as well as monstrous passages of the bullying, sexual abuse and physical and psychological torture he endured during his time on campus. As Xander slowly finds new clues, he grows closer to Phaedra and her mission. He eventually uncovers important clues that end up leading to Pretty Flower's seminarian abusers: the bullies Kandjarski and Marcione.

    As Pretty Flower's mom takes control of the situation, she elicits a confession that the two boys sexually assaulted Pretty Flower. However they don't confess to pushing her off Seneca bridge.

    Phaedra then confesses to Xander that Pretty may have killed herself, as in fact she talked to her over the phone after she was raped and they argued the night she ended up dead. After that, Kandjarski and Marcione meet their own tragic endings and Xander decides to leave the seminary to lead a life far from his dark experiences there.

    About The Author

    Paul Drisgula writes novels now after a thirty-five year career as President/CEO of a network of Planned Parenthood health centers spanning the Mohawk, Hudson, and Saint Lawrence Valleys of Upstate New York. Paul’s educational experiences with the Felician Sisters, Franciscans (at a minor seminary), Sisters of Saint Joseph, and Jesuits added flavor to his novel. His experiences with Planned Parenthood (you are free to savor the irony here) provide insight (though limited, he insists) into the intricate eddies of human sexual behavior and religious dogma. Paul resides in the village of Scotia, New York, with his wife, Mary.