Title: THE HOLLOW WOODS
Genre: Upper MG Dark Historical Fantasy
Word Count: 48,000
My MC and MA (main antagonist) are dressed as:
Henry would dress to match his father at a Halloween party. Not the side of him draped in tattered clothes that reek of manual labor from working their apple orchard. To him, work’s more important than a silly party, anyway. Rather, Henry would emulate the father he escapes to see every night, beyond the woods he’s not supposed to venture into after dark. The one dressed in a suit with tails, matching top hat, and a cane with a frog atop. If only Henry could complete the ensemble by making his skin glimmer the silvery-white of the moon as well.
Thirteen-year-old Henry didn’t realize the key to connecting with his father was to disobey him. Don’t venture into the Hollow Woods after dark.
Every night when Henry’s father locks himself in the cellar, Henry and his twelve-year-old sister, Lia, are drawn to the woods, where they pass into a nightly world controlled by a strange version of their father. His skin glows against the moon’s rays and he encourages the darker side of Henry’s imagination.
Terrified by a side of her father she’s never seen, Lia attempts to escape back through the trails. Except the consequence for leaving this twisted reality before sunrise is to become its prisoner—never to fully wake again. Come morning, Henry finds Lia in a coma.
Henry is ordered to manage their family’s orchard by himself while his work-obsessed father cares for Lia. Tired to the bone by day, Henry enjoys bonding with the peculiar version of his father at night—that is, until townspeople start to disappear, and Henry’s day father drags him to the cellar. There, Henry discovers a woman who not only shares Lia’s affliction, she also resembles the pictures of the mother Henry thought died during childbirth.
After his father refuses to tell him the truth about what’s going on, Henry flees back to the woods. But when birds from the depths of the forest swarm together and materialize into the pale skinned woman from the cellar, warning Henry that his father cannot be trusted, he questions what he wants to believe. He must decide how nefarious he’ll become in a nightly world he doesn’t fully understand, or if he’ll defy the side of his father he feels closer to and face a wrath fouler than anything he’s ever seen in order to save Lia.
Dusk couldn’t descend fast enough.
Henry rolled his shoulders back and stretched his arms before he carried another pile of leaves to the compost. The crisp autumn air clung to the hairs in his nose–the same as every day since he was born. But nothing could dull the deep-rooted aches of an apple season that hadn’t passed in over thirteen years, and a father who made sure Henry never neglected a single chore.
“Henry,” yelled his father. The harshness echoed throughout the rows of their family’s orchard. “Get over here, now!”
Henry wished the day would end as easily as the leaves drifted from the branches to the trunks of the trees. But he knew that not to be the case. The rake remained firmly grasped in his palm as he coursed the orchard till coming upon his father.
“What have you been doing out here all day?” His father seized a handful of leaves from the ground and threw them in Henry’s face.
Henry clamped his mouth shut. He kept his chest high and held the rake by his side, knowing there weren’t any words that would appease his father. Anything he said would only have the opposite effect.
“Can’t you do anything, right?” His father pointed up the rows of trees, whose leaves stained the earth various shades of red.