MENTOR: Stephanie Funk
MENTEE: Ryan Dalton
TITLE: THE YEAR OF LIGHTNING
CATEGORY/GENRE: MG Mystery
WORD COUNT: 78,000
When twins Malcolm and Valentine Gilbert encounter a house with no doors, they discover it hides a machine that does far more than create deadly lightning storms. And if they can’t stop it, their entire town will disappear. Monster House meets Back To The Future.
Malcolm never noticed the old house until it was struck by lightning. Now he couldn’t take his eyes off it. He stood transfixed at his bedroom window, staring through the thunderstorm that raged against the night sky.
The towering house sat across the street. Faded whitewash covered its three wooden stories and tall brown grass curled around its worn wrought-iron fence. Despite enduring a barrage of lightning bolts, the house seemed strangely untouched by the storm. Thunder boomed and Malcolm’s window rattled. He rubbed his arms, feeling chilled.
“Check,” Valentine said.
Malcolm watched his twin sister’s reflection in the window as she moved her queen. “We’ve lived here for two months, and it’s right across from us. How come we never noticed it until tonight?”
Valentine’s eyes stayed on the chess board. “Noticed what?”
“That.” He tapped the glass. “Aren’t you listening?”
“I’m playing the game.” Valentine smirked. “Which is why you’re in check.”
With effort, Malcolm tore himself away from the window. He grimaced at his remaining pieces.
“I thought we agreed to slow-play this one.”
“I had a good move.”
Malcolm blocked with his knight. “You always have a good move. Science geeks shouldn’t beat history geeks at chess. It’s not natural.”
Valentine grinned. “Well, maybe we should trade hobbies. I know some history.”
“Really. Which empire first settled the British Isles?”
She fell silent and examined the board.
“Can’t answer, can you?”
“No, but I can do this.” She advanced a rook, removing his last bishop. “Check. Again.”