In the cold of winter, Eri runs out in the dark, after a warning bell, seeking a beast even though it wants to eat her. There are a lot of commas, and a lot of different thoughts running around here. I like the words “cold” and “dark” and of course, “winter,” are all setting us up for where we’re at and giving us a visual. I also like the idea of a “warning bell” because that gives us a medieval / fantasy feel – BUT – what’s not working here is the flow. Read it out loud to yourself and give each comma a definite pause. You’ll see what I mean. She doesn’t care—no—she can’t help herself. I’d kill the warring ideas of not caring vs. not being able to help herself, go with one or the other and end off with the idea that it’s calling to her. The beast calls to her. Overall this is a decent hook in that you’re telling us your genre, giving us something of a setting, and also signifying somewhat how your character is special. However, the flow isn’t here. You need some reworking with these same ideas to really get a punch into this hook.
The calling belongs solely to the secret guardians watching over the village. No one knows the identities of the Protectors, but everyone knows they exist and hold this unparalleled qualification assuming this qualification is the simple fact that they are “called” in the first place? I’d make this more clear, if there’s something else involved, like a birthright. The “unparalleled qualification” makes me question that assumption. enabling them to fight the beasts lurking along the borders. Again – is the simple fact of being called what enables them? Most importantly, everyone knows Protectors are men. OK – honestly when first read that I was like, Yes! Awesome! That’s a neat idea! And then I was like wait… if no one knows who they are how does everyone know they are men?
Eri should not feel the pulsating hatred drawing her toward the beasts, but the link is growing within her, the connection beyond her control. Eri can’t hide the calling forever. This sinker leaves me flat – more to follow.
So what we’ve got here is a (high?) fantasy involving the beasts that endanger the village and the people who are enabled to protect, them all of whom are men. And now a girl is feeling that urge. OK – that’s great! Seriously, I love the idea – but way too many questions here.
I think the biggest one is this: if the identity of the Protectors is a secret, how would Eri (or anyone) know that they’re all men? How would Eri know that she should be hiding this new, secret part of herself? What’s the punishment if she outs herself as a Protector? Is the biggest problem here the beasts, or the idea that she’s a woman in a man’s world? And what’s involved in the calling? A simple answering of the call? Or do the called get special training of some sort once they step forward? Is Eri cheating herself of something by not claiming her calling? Because if they don’t get anything neat-o by being called, what’s the big deal? She can just run out whenever she feels the call, same as the other (male) secret Protectors, and then run back into the village after killing beasts, no big deal. What’s she sacrificing by not claiming her call?
Also, I know from your word count line (not included here) that this is a YA title, but that was my first indication. I know it might feel clunky, but include Eri’s age in the first line so that the agent knows right away they are looking at YA.