OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF AJ VANDERHORST
Writer. Husband. Dad. Escape Artist.
CASEY GRIMES AND THE SENTRY OAK
Coming 2020, from INtense Publications
Eleven-year-old Casey Grimes is stubbornly friendly, but he’s eternally the new kid at Vintage Woods Middle School. Students look right through him—and they’re not faking. Casey doesn’t know why he’s mostly-invisible, but when he scales a colossal oak, he discovers a fortress in its branches. The forgotten sentry tree marks the border between his safe, suburban life and a fierce frontier.
Casey and his little sister Gloria infiltrate Sylvan Woods, a secret forest society devoted to ancient, wild things. Sky-high footpaths. Survival sewing. Monster control. Shockingly, people here actually see Casey—but being seen isn’t enough. He wants to belong. Posing as a Sylvan girl’s cousins, he and Gloria enter Trickery School—an academy where classes have surprise endings, battles are as common as breakfast, and magic is so last century. For the first time in his life, Casey makes friends…but kids at Trickery have lost touch with the people they’re sworn to defend. If anyone finds out he’s an imposter, he’ll be blacklisted for life—or worse, thrown in the sewers with the tiger rats.
Keeping his identity hidden—while struggling to prove he fits—is hard enough, but butcher beasts have returned to Sylvan Woods after a hundred years. Trickery is under siege. As the monsters close in, and the fearsome Sylvan Watch hunts Casey down, he and his newfound friends must unearth abandoned magic, buried at the forest’s roots…or be devoured along with everyone else, Sylvans and civilians alike.
HELLO AND WELCOME!
I've had many jobs, including journalist, teacher, paramedic, and baby whisperer. One time in fifth grade, I built a traffic-stopping fort in a huge oak tree, using only branches and imagination, and slept there for a week.
Currently, my wife and I live in a woodsy house with our six proteges and a ridiculous number of pets, including a turtle with a taste for human toes. This makes me an expert on wild, dangerous things—invisibility spells, butcher beasts, hungry kids, you get the idea.
My debut middle grade fantasy novel, CASEY GRIMES AND THE SENTRY OAK, aka MOSTLY INVISIBLE BOY, will be published mid-2020 by INtense Publications.
"The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost."