Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Mathew IredalePersephone’s MapSophie KirtleyMGFantasy Adventure53000

I am seeking representation for my middle grade fantasy novel, PERSEPHONE’S MAP, complete at 53,000 words.

Twelve-year-old Persephone Dashwood lives in a large, ramshackle old house with her parents. When her father mysteriously disappears one night, and her mother seemingly abroad, she discovers a secret room at the top of the house with a huge enchanted map on one wall. Persephone’s search for her parents takes her to an alternative England steeped in witchcraft, superstition and folklore, where history has taken a very different course and danger is never far away…

I am a fundraiser for the charity Shelter and this is my first novel, although I’ve previously written a philosophy book (published by Routledge) and two fundraising books.  

My novel has been shortlisted in the Wells Festival of Literature Book for Children Competition and chosen by David Fickling Books as one of the Top 5 Runners-up in their Master of the Inkpot Competition. 

Thank you very much for taking the time to consider it.

Yours sincerely,

Mathew Iredale

PERSEPHONE’S MAP

It began with a nightmare, a nightmare so real, so vivid, that the next morning Persephone had to check it was just a dream. That was when she discovered her father was missing. 

Persephone felt a strange tingling in her hands and feet. She was standing on the landing outside her bedroom. The air thickened, as if time were slowing. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up on end. Then everything blurred, just for a moment. 

Her father screamed her name, making her jump.

“Dad!” She took a step towards her parents’ bedroom, then another, but the door seemed just as far away. She took several more steps but against all reason she was still standing in the middle of the landing. She tried to call out, but her throat was dry and her voice hoarse. A deep, throbbing hum arose within the house and as it did so, giant sparks crackled up the walls and across the ceiling like huge fingers of electricity probing the corners of the room. The edges of the walls and doors glowed with an eerie white light and – strangely, even in a dream of peculiarities – there was an aroma of damp leaves in the air.

Her father shouted again, but this time he sounded far away. The humming was now unbearably loud, making the floor vibrate horribly. The walls twisted and buckled, as if the house was trying to turn itself inside out. Persephone fell to her knees. The noise became one horrifying wall of ear-splitting thunder as the house shook and she was thrown around the floor like mouse being tossed by a cat. 

There was a blinding flash and Persephone awoke. She was lying on her bedroom floor, her heart pounding. The early morning light filtered through the curtain. It was just a dream. And yet she had the overwhelming feeling that her father was missing. She leapt up and ran into her parents’ bedroom to give him the biggest morning hug she could and banish the nightmare from her mind.

Empty.

OK, he must be downstairs, in the kitchen. 

But the kitchen was also empty. And the back door was locked, so he couldn’t be in the garden. She went and checked the front door. Bolted, so he hadn’t gone out that way. Which meant he was still in the house somewhere. She was about to start looking for him when two letters dropped through the letter box and there was a knock on the door. There was something reassuringly routine about the arrival of the postman, so Persephone quickly opened the front door…

…and gasped.

The postman wasn’t there. But nor were her parents’ cars or even the gravel drive! There were just lots and lots of trees, as if someone had picked up the house and plonked it down in the middle of a forest.