Mentor Name: Elly Blake
Mentee Name: Hilary Harwell
Title: THE TRINKET GUARDIAN
Word Count: 49,000
When a mist sweeps into town and Grandfather vanishes, twelve-year-old Oliver Pennybottom must enter the land of Mim. There, he’ll have to unravel riddles and battle shape-shifting shadow-beasts in his quest for the powerful trinkets that can save both Grandfather and Mim from a merciless, magic-thirsty Crow Lord.
Grandfather placed the cool metal into Oliver’s hand and folded it closed. “The importance of a key can never be fully understood until it finds its lock.”
Locks went with keys like trinkets went with magic, nothing new there. But this wasn’t the beginning of one of Grandfather’s usual tales, so Oliver held his tongue. Grandfather was the only parent he’d ever had. The only one he could remember, anyway. Trusting him had always been easy.
“Keep it close, no matter what.” Grandfather cleared his throat and shifted his seat.
Oliver opened his hand, studying the key’s swirls and bends. “If it’s important, you should hide it somewhere safe. That’s what I always do with things I don’t want to lose.”
Grandfather chuckled and leaned into the wooden bench—one of many dotting the park near their house. Everything was old and tired in this part of Harwinton. The weed-ridden lanes, the crumbling stone walls, broken-windowed factories. They made Oliver long for something nicer, something clean and sparkling new.
Grandfather’s gaze drifted away from the key, over Oliver’s shoulder. His smile faded.
“What is it?” Oliver glanced past rambling brambles, up to the cobblestone bridge. A mist lingered at the bridge’s edge, then it shifted.
Grandfather’s body tensed, and his finger shot to his lips. Worry seized Oliver’s throat. He gripped the bench, straining to see.
A shadow passed through the gloom.
Grandfather jumped to his feet. “We must go.” Then, in a gravelly whisper, “I’d never forgive myself.”