Updated synopsis in post #4.
I need a one-page synopsis. Right now this is ~650 words, so there's zero room to add but plenty of room (I hope) to tighten. Please help me do this!
I have also tried to inject theme and character arc into this synopsis. Any and all feedback would be so helpful!
Sixteen-year-old PIPPA is an impulsive Viking girl who’s clever with daggers and enjoys gambling in mead halls. She dreams to be reunited with her father who vanished—whisked away by a malevolent cloud. Fearing the howling wind, Pippa hides her longing from her brother, who thinks it’s foolish to hope their father is alive. When the cloud returns and pursues Pippa, her brother sacrifices himself and is seized in her place.
Pippa’s uncle, a Celtic Bard who works elemental magic, surprises her with a runic message from her father. The message instructs Pippa, her aunt, and cousin to move to Caithe, a faraway Bard refuge in the Scottish Hebrides. Faulting herself for her brother’s capture, she commits to his rescue and leaves her childhood home.
A mysterious girl named MARGRET ingratiates herself into Pippa’s family and explains the cloud is a mythical Night Mare—a menacing horse while on land, a raging storm in the sky. Already disliking Margret's secretive nature, Pippa suspects a connection between Margret and the Night Mare. Her distrust magnifies when Margret reveals she is a Norse sorceress.
In Caithe, the Bards can call mist and travel great distances using ancient standing stones, but aren’t motivated to help Pippa. She guilts her adventurous cousin to steal a longship to search for information in the Hebrides. Margret and a Bard Apprentice named RHOBERT joins them. Before they leave, Pippa learns about a Norse witch—KOLRUNA—who blames their family for the death of her lover. The witch persecutes them in revenge.
They cross the sea to visit a Norse King, who threatens and wounds Pippa’s cousin when they seek his help. Pippa acknowledges that she walks a narrow line between the desire to sacrifice anything to rescue her brother and the inevitable dangers her course invites. After a narrow escape, she recommits to her cause but is unwilling to further endanger her friends.
With misgivings, Pippa helps Margret perform ancient blood magic called seiðr, using the power of blood and runes to locate her brother. To keep her friends safe, Pippa sneaks away, guided by the runes. Two magical ogres coerce her to temporarily trade her voice for a spell to defeat the Night Mare. She makes the sacrifice for a chance to find her brother. But when she returns to her friends, Pippa realizes the ogre committed a deceitful ruse—her voice may never return. She is overcome by their trickery, and endless longing for her father and brother crushes her spirit, but she refuses to abandon what little hope she has left.
Using fresh runes inked in blood, the group hunts the Night Mare. Pippa is astonished to discover she can communicate with the beast by thought-sharing—though the process is painful. She pities the Night Mare because Kolruna forces it to hunt Pippa’s family. They decide to help one another: The Night Mare creates a distraction while Pippa rescues her brother.
Rhobert betrays them during their escape and alerts Kolruna. He and his father help the witch, in exchange for enhanced powers, and use salmon to magically carry messages up the rivers and waterways. Pippa’s brother attacks him for his cruel deception, and they leave Rhobert bloody by the river.
Pippa and her friends use a Bard’s magic gateway to return to Caithe. In the final moments of their escape, Pippa outwits Kolruna, allowing the Night Mare to safely pass through the gateway and join her on the island.
To her great relief, Pippa’s voice returns to her as the sun sets on the last day of summer. Having subdued the storm that terrorized her family, Pippa no longer fears the gusting wind. She retains her ability to communicate with the Night Mare, who is content to live as a horse on Caithe. Without regretting the risks they took and acknowledging their mutual sacrifices, Pippa and her brother have renewed hope to find and save their father.