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 and forced the whole town to relocate a mile away to New Martin.
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:
The fence isolating the dead town of Martinsville hid in the dark. I had to get to it. Under it. Out of here.
No good light anywhere. No lit-up house windows, no cars. Just grainy glow from nighttime sky. Shadowy mounds lumped up the road underfoot, like iron moles had ripped tunnels through the asphalt.
Gray wisps had looked like mist at first. Then the click—like Jason says in science, Zeb. That brain’s been in there for twelve years, time to switch it on. Not mist; smoke. I’d sleepwalked up into Martinsville.
Took another dozen stumbling paces downhill, cold air clawing my pajamas. Still no fence.
Something moved in the gritty dimness. Four-legged, whitish. Hairy mop of a tail tucked and hid. Wolf? Coyote? Couldn’t be, too big, too tall. It dipped out of the woods, stepped into the ruined street, and went still. Looked at me.
I didn’t breathe.