Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August Secret Agent #23

TITLE: Oliver and the Underlings
GENRE: MG Fantasy

Oliver Bradshaw stared out the window of the rental car as his mother pulled into a parking lot next to a faded red Colonial house. The top floor overshot the bottom floor in the front, making the building look like it had an overbite. A sign reading "Fred's Variety" dangled like a loose tooth from the overhang.

"Why are we here?" Oliver asked.

"To see about an apartment."

Oliver looked up at the second floor again.

"I was afraid you were going to say that."

"Fully furnished apartments are hard to comeby."

His mother had a point. They really didn't have any furniture. How could they when they'd moved three times in the last five years?

The landlord, a tall, wiry man with silver hair growing in a half circle around the back of his head, met them under the sign. He handed Oliver's mother a stack of papers. The name on the top page was "Joseph Shoute". In his head, Oliver called him "Mr. Shout", but the man said, "My name is Mr. Shoute," pronouncing it "shoot" instead. "I'm the landlord."

"Excuse me Mr. Shout," Oliver said, "I mean, Shoute, but the sign says Fred's Variety. Where's Fred?"

Mr. Shoute's blue eyes narrowed. Oliver noticed they were the same murky color as the ocean water he and his mother had passed as they drove up the coast of Connecticut and into Rhode Island. "Fred's dead. If there are no more questions, I can show you the apartment upstairs."


  1. Interesting, very intriguing. A boy with a curious past and a strange old man. The sign hanging like a loose tooth was a nice image. I would like to turn the page.

  2. Okay, I love this. :D "Fred's dead." I laughed! Would definitely read on.

  3. I liked the images of an overbite and a loose tooth. I also think the story could become very intriguing with a mysterious old man and a boy who seems to have to adapt a lot.

    I didn't realize he was a boy at first because they were talking apartment hunting, but then you cleared that up when he said, "His mom had a point."

  4. Great description of the house and the landlord! I like Oliver and his voice! He feels like a fun kid who uses his sense of humor to deal with whatever hardships he has had. The part about the landlord's name got a little wordy. Also, "Oliver noticed they were the same murky color as the ocean water he and his mother had passed as they drove up the coast of Connecticut and into Rhode Island" seemed too forced.

  5. This has some great imagery and plenty of potential for magic and mystery. It has good MG appeal, and I'd love to read more.

    There are a couple of typos (comeby), and a couple of places you could streamline for polish. For example, Oliver doesn't have to tell us they don't have furniture; we can infer that by them needing a furnished apartment. And there's no need to call out Mr. Shoute as the landlord when he introduces himself as such at the end of that paragraph.

    I don't have much to complain about. Nice job.

  6. I liked this. We have a likeable MC stuck in the middle of a situation he has no control over, and I just know there's going to be more to come. I could even picture that store in my head.

    I did think it odd that he didn't know why they were there. I'd assume his mother would have told him sometime before they left. WHy would she keep it a secret? Maybe he could say something like, this can't be it, or something.

    You could cut parg 7, and the eyes the color of the ocean sentence could be shortened - They were the same murky color as the ATlantic ocean of the coast of RI.

    I'd read more.

  7. This is intriguing! I loved the description of the landlord and his comment 'Fred's dead.'is priceless. You have a great middle-grade voice and I'd definitely read more.