TITLE: The City of Lost and Forgotten Things
AGE CATEGORY: Young Adult
WORD COUNT: 87,000
Hirsute Penny dodges gargoyles and true love as she searches for a living city that can rewrite her poor choices. Storybook carnival intends to get there first and rewrite Penny. PAN’S LABYRINTH meets DR WHO.
A bonfire lit the strangers like spirits risen from the dead and the carnival was beautiful. Beautiful like the swirling colours of storm clouds or my necklace of whittled mouse bones. With its brightly painted caravans and aroma of cooking spices, the fair reminded me of something plucked straight from a child’s storybook. Which, in a way, I suppose it was.
‘One day the carnival will come looking for you.’ It was the last thing my storyteller father had ever said to me. ‘And when they do, run.’
I might have been more inclined to listen if he’d told me why.
So, instead of running, I was spying on the strangers from behind a tree. Ivy caught in the lost-and-found trinkets tied up with ribbons in my nest of tangled hair. Belongings that other people had dropped or misplaced, then forgotten. Scratched and dented rings, muddy charms from silver bracelets, the tooth of a long-dead cat.
In my own life, my father was the only thing I had ever lost that I couldn’t find again. Ten years, wondering where he’d disappeared to, not knowing if he was alive or dead. I’d almost given up on finding out what had happened to him. And then the Carnival of Curiosities and Curses had blown through town, just as he’d promised they would.
Their caravans had paused in Nettlebed only long enough to take in the slammed doors and twitching curtains. Then, instead of stopping for the night, they’d urged on their weathered ponies and disappeared back into the Forbidden Forest.