MIRROR OF SAND AND FLAME
Upper middle grade adventure with fantasy elements
Twelve-year-old Zeb Reardon just watched his cousin Bryce disappear down a mineshaft in the smoky, abandoned town of Martinsville, PA, but nobody believes him—and that’s no surprise to Zeb. Folks quit trusting Zeb six years back, when he failed to report in time the underground coal fire that demolished Martinsville. The whole town had to relocate a mile away to New Martin, and everyone still knows Zeb as the kid who didn’t save Martinsville when he had the chance.
Since no one believes Zeb about Bryce’s fall, Zeb goes after Bryce himself…and discovers that the old coal mine tunnels around Martinsville lead to the eerie setting of his father’s fantasy novel CandleLand. In this burnt-up world of yellow sand and poison flame geysers, cruel Empress Avella threatens to destroy Bryce and all of New Martin. Zeb’s no hero—he’s proven that before. But this time he’s holding the secrets that might save everyone, right there in the pages of his father’s book. Now he just has to find the nerve to trust himself, and walk through fire.
First 150 Words:
I snapped awake standing in the dark.
Pressure. On my chest, in my lungs. Fear clawed me all over. When you wake up in your pajamas, you expect a cocoon of blankets and bedroom walls. Not the hollow hush of outside.
No good light anywhere. No lit-up house windows, no cars. Just a grainy glow from the nighttime sky. Shadowy mounds lumped up the road underfoot, like iron moles had ripped tunnels through the asphalt.
Sleepwalking again, but where—
Something moved in the gritty dimness up ahead. Four-legged, whitish. It dipped out of the woods, stepped into the ruined street, and went still. Looked right at me. A growl crawled out. Ears went flat. Hairy mop of a tail tucked and hid. Wolf? Coyote? Couldn’t be; too big, too tall. It cocked its broad head, probably able to hear my heart clattering along like a rusty pick-up.
I didn’t breathe.