Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: E. Latimer

Mentee Name: Audra E. Atoche


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: 77,000 words


CORALINE meets the THIEF OF ALWAYS when Penelope, an orphan haunted by nightmares, discovers the Betwixt – a hallway between worlds inhabited by Fear himself. Armed with a magical storybook, Penelope must embark on a journey to uncover old family secrets hidden in the Betwixt’s gloomy corridors, or risk losing everything she loves. Again.


Dawn crept over the watery horizon, lighting the rocky cliffs with reds and gold, all the colors of autumn shining on the jagged crags, sparkling off the uneasy sea. Penelope was curled up tightly in a wicker chair, weather worn and rickety, wrapped in a dusky blue wool blanket that smelled like earth and her mother’s jasmine perfume. A ratty storybook rested unopened on her lap. As the morning light intensified, the biting chill melted to a crisp breeze, whisking her corkscrew curls up and away from her forehead.

Penelope had hardly slept. She’d been sitting outside in the dark garden of their rented cottage, waiting for sunrise, avoiding slumber and the dreams that waited on the other side of sleep. No, not dreams. Dreams belonged to other people.
Penelope had nightmares.

She imagined the darkness waiting behind her eyelids, filled with bony limbs and leathery wings, creatures climbing through the gloom, grasping for her with skeletal hands.

She glanced down at the worn book, and ran her fingers along the flaking cover. Her skin matched the sandalwood-colored cloth binding, whose title letters had long been worn off. This was her most prized possession, her weapon against the frightful things that stalked her at night.

There was just enough morning light to read now. She opened to a well-loved page, and read as she often did, lips moving, whispers of words unfurling, drifting out into the wide world on the warm current of her breath.

12 comments to PW #236: Middle Grade Fantasy: THE PECULIAR PREDICAMENT OF PENELOPE PENDRAGON

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