Owen Archer’s adventure began when he took his first breath and his mother took her last.
Twelve years later, death makes Owen very uncomfortable. The mere thought of it while sitting at his grandfather’s funeral makes him sweat. When he returns to his grandfather’s house, he avoids thinking about it.
But old houses have the bad habit of being haunted.
Owen is awakened by a voice coming from a dark closet he has always feared, and he is intrigued by how familiar the voice sounds. It pleads with him. It begs him to trust it, to come to the closet, and to find a key.
The key transports him to a place filled with regret. A dead girl named Annabel reveals to him an entire world just beyond that of the living. It is a limbo where spirits are tortured by the mistakes they made in life and tormented by a vengeful Queen who knows Owen all too well.
He is told that he will be a hero whether he likes it or not.
But how does a boy, plucked out of the land of the living go about becoming a hero? Especially when what seemed like a brief adventure turns deadly serious. Who is this ghostly girl who joins him and why hasn’t she moved on? Why does the Queen of Regrets have such an interest in him and, better yet, how can he get home?
The Traveler’s Key is my first novel. It is a modern-day dark fantasy for an upper middle grade audience. It is the first in a series, complete at 56,858 words, and available at your request. The first 250 words are included below.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.
It was too late. Owen had already looked.
“Don’t look, do not look. You do not want to see Grandpa Sam dead,” his thoughts screamed when they entered the church.
The interior was a sprawling example of classic New England Congregational, row upon row of oak pews, shining in the light that poured in through the tall windows. A dour gathering of folk from around Chatham, dressed in their simplest dark clothing, nodded politely as Owen and his father walked down the central aisle and took their seats in the front.
Owen shimmied himself down the pew until he brushed up against Mitch, his great uncle on his father’s side, who was busily dabbing his head with a handkerchief that he wrenched in his hands. The interior of the church was unseasonably hot and a sheen glistened off from Mitch’s forehead.
“Such a shame,” Mitch leaned in and whispered. He smelled of sweat and a heavy armor of Old Spice. The combination of his great uncle’s pungent aroma and the scent of Murphy’s Oil Soap produced a cloying smell that threatened to turn over Owen’s anxious stomach.
A burp rolled up out of his belly.
He raised his fist up to his lips, excused himself, and glanced sheepishly up at his father. Luckily, it had gone unnoticed.
He stared at his feet. He tried not to speak. He shuffled about awkwardly, brushing up first against Uncle Mitch’s rotund thighs, straining against his navy blue slacks, and then against his father.