Phaedra Cooper and the Half Boy

Book Cover


1960s & '70s

Paul Drisgula

TaleFlick Top Pick!

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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.


Young Adult,Detective,Crime,Fantasy,Mystery,Religious,Suspense/Thriller,Folktale

Short Summary

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.

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.


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


Plot - Premise

Internal Journey/Rebirth,Quest,Tragedy

Plot - Other Elements

Coming of Age,Meaningful Message,Philosophical Questions,Twist

Mature Audience Themes

Sexual Abuse

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).

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 prior writing experiences were limited to issue papers, strategic plans, staff memos, annual reports, and promotional materials in support of women’s reproductive health, though several board members can attest to the fact that his monthly reports often qualified as fiction. To his credit, the board only realized this years later, upon his retirement. 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. He is a lifelong Dodgers fan and a subscriber to MLB TV, in part so he can watch full recordings of West Coast Dodgers wins and East Coast Yankee losses. Paul resides in the village of Scotia, New York, with his wife, Mary.

Target Audiences

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

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

Group Specific

Polish Catholics; Seneca tribal members; Upstate NY residents

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: with a Publisher

Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.

Year Published: 2020

Hard Copy Available



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




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


Point of View


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


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


Similar Films/TV Series


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



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.