Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bouncer Round 6 #15

Genre: Upper MG Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 65,000


Set in London in 1910, the story follows thirteen-year-old William Tucker, Tuck, as he is known by his friends, who is the youngest, and smallest member in his family’s long-line of creature catchers.  Run by his father and two, rather large, rather awe-inspiring older twin sisters, The Gryphon is now the most respected in all of London. Tuck longs to be assigned creatures larger and far more perilous than those he has been assigned to hunt so far, but his astonishing accidents, unbelievable incidents and incredible mistakes have not yet allowed that wish to come to pass. 

Finally, Tuck is given the contract to remove goblins that have entrenched themselves at the Spellbynder School of Practical Sorcery in the north end.  It is a task that allows him to gain confidence while at the same time meet Stella, a thirteen-year old know-it-all who’s sharp wit and unfathomable knowledge helps them follow the trail of the wisps of jet-black smoke and ravens that have been seen near every disaster throughout the city. 

Their quest for answers lead to several challenges in the form of far more perilous creatures that have taken to the streets of London.  During one battle, Tuck and Stella are separated from the others and find new allies in a group of orphans, children much like themselves who catch creatures Underground London in order to survive.

The trail leads them back to the school where a group of students are casting spells of arcane magic to tear away the fabric of reality. It is within these gaps that the Morrighan, goddess of battle and death is manifesting her power, building her strength and her armies for an assault on London.

 They soon realize they will need the entirety of Gryphon House as well as a faith in these new allies if they hope to stop Morrighan before she has reached her full power.

THE GRYPHON HOUSE OF THE FEARSOME, FRIGHTENING AND FORMIDABLE is my debut.  It is a 65,000-word Urban Fantasy MG novel that stands on it own, but I hope to develop it into a series.

First 250

The last remnants of the morning mist hugged the cobblestone streets tightly after blanketing all of London on a very uneventful night. As the first bit of sunlight pierced through the darkness the mist began to race, skimming the surface of the cobbles as it moved wildly through the streets, trying to avoid the touch that would ultimately dissipate it.

Moving farther and farther from the Thames, the mist twisted and turned, down back alleys and snickelways, eventually being caught as it turned on to Barrow Street and faced the slowly rising sun. The last bits of mist floated away, falling just short of the darkness within a snickelway that lead off the road.

Several stories up, thirteen-year-old William Tucker waited silently at the edge of an old, drafty, tumbledown brick building and stared down onto the street below. Five feet tall, with wispy blond hair, both uncut and unkempt, Tuck, as his friends called him, was slightly smaller for his age and occupation than he, and much of his family, had hoped. He wore a grey button down shirt with the word GRYPHON neatly printed on the single pocket (well, as neatly as could be managed by a thirteen-year-old hand in haste). At his feet there lay several items that were rather unusual for someone his age: an old canvas bag, a long length of rope, a whip, and a bright silver hammer. In his hand was a piece of blackthorn, pared clean of its bark and razor sharp thorns, hand rubbed to a smooth polished finish.


  1. I love your concept. Creature catchers sounds like a fun idea for a MG novel. I think your query could use a little bit of tightening. You have some additional details that weigh down some of your sentences and make them a tad on the long side. You may also want to break up some of your sentences into two shorter ones.

    In your first 250 you have a lot of great descriptions but I think it might be a tad too much for the opening of your story. In the last couple of sentences is where you really start getting to the meat of what your MC is all about. Unless there's a reason for the description of the mist, I might cut it and start with the weapons on the floor. That's by far the most interesting part, and entices me to want to read more.

    Good luck with your entry. :)
    Jamie #36

  2. Creature catching sounds like a fun concept. However, your query leans towards more a summary and I think divulges too much of your story (and it is a tad too long). You want to entice us and leave us wandering what happens next. Find a good cut-away point and work from there.

    As Jamie mentioned, your descriptions are fantastic but maybe a bit too much. The weapon collection is intriguing and I'd read on to see what he does with them, or what creature he was hunting.

    Good luck with it. :)

  3. I love the idea of creature catching. I also love the ideas of two rather large, awe-insopiring sisters. The first 250 was a very good read and I have to say I liked the mist very much for if you followed its run through the streets it ended just at the foot of the snickelway where Tuck is on the rooftop high above. Good beginning.

  4. I love the concept! And you do a great job painting the dark, damp old-London atmosphere. I agree that you could trim the fat from the query. I'd stick with your main plot arc only. In the first 250, I'd combine the 2 first paragraphs so we're meeting Tuck even sooner. Sounds like a clever and captivating read. Good luck!

    Monica #26

  5. You had me at "Set in London..." Love London as a setting, especially one where magic is involved. Your descriptions are so fitting for early 20th century England, but I'm going to agree suggest a little action woven in with the view of the setting and MC. Definitely hooked on your concept. Good luck!
    -Amy (#34)

  6. This is a great concept for MG! I agree with Mia that as is your query is too long and reading more like a synopsis than a pitch. Now that said, I was still totally sold on the concept alone!

    To chime in about the mist opener - I'm torn, because I actually really love it - the writing is lovely and feels very London/steampunky. However as someone noted it does mean it takes a little longer to get to Tuck and his weapons, which could be a problem in MG? (not sure) I think if it could be tightened/shortened slightly it would really shine. Even as is though, I think it's still near-perfect!

    Carissa -- #24

  7. Agreeing with previous commenters: for MG, I'd start with the paragraph about Tuck. Loved it!

    Larissa (#18)