The Synopsis Skirmish 2023—1st Place
Congrats to RM Zubairi for winning first place in the Synopsis Skirmish 2023! Here's what our judge (Michelle Barker) had to say:
The synopsis for THE GATEKEEPERS hooked me immediately, not only with the excellent voice but also with the unusual premise of the novel. The story feels cohesive, the plot points are causal, there are some important reversals, and the ending makes sense. In other words, the author shows us they have control over their story and they understand structure. That's what you want from a synopsis.
Ajax and Athena Frost haven’t had the most normal childhood. While other kids study math and spelling, they instead learn how to distract the hellhound of the underworld by tossing three sticks, one for each of his heads. Their parents, Cornelius and Hilde Frost, raise them to assume the family legacy of protecting Earth from the villains who seek to destroy it.
Everyone thinks they’re nuts. Nobody talks to them and they have no friends.
One day, they receive news that their grandfather has died. Cornelius and Hilde immediately move the family across the country to live in his decrepit old house. Athena and Ajax will go to school for the first time. They might even make a friend.
It doesn’t go well. While Cornelius and Hilde disappear into the hall bathroom wearing battle armor, Athena fights with her science teacher about dragons imprisoned inside volcanoes. The other kids avoid them.
Their parents don’t return. And now there’s a horse in the bathroom.
The horse takes them through the bathroom mirror into a strange place they’ve never seen before. Then they’re nearly eaten by Shere Khan, captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham, and nearly eaten again by the Big Bad Wolf.
Ajax and Athena eventually realize that they have crossed into a realm called Promethia, where generations of Frosts have exiled every legendary villain in Earth’s history.
But now, Cornelius and Hilde have themselves been captured by a shadowy mastermind who calls himself Big Moe. As ransom, Big Moe wants the location of the Earth portal so he and his minions can conquer the world.
Ajax and Athena resolve to fulfill their destiny by saving their parents and Earth. They discover that Big Moe is Professor James Moriarty, the most cunning and ruthless criminal in Earth’s history. To rescue their parents, the twins must make it through the villain-infested realms of Promethia and defeat Moriarty.
During their quest, however, the twins start to question the very idea of Promethia. Ajax’s personal hero, Robin Hood, has been imprisoned for theft. Athena falls in love with Colin, a heroic young pirate on Blackbeard’s ship. Colin reveals that he is Moriarty’s son, condemned to Promethia by virtue of his birth. Both she and Ajax begin to see fewer differences between the villains they’re supposed to defeat and the heroes they believe themselves to be.
In a final battle, Moriarty and his minions are defeated, not by the Frosts, but by the villains Ajax and Athena meet along the way. The twins convince their parents that they have approached the idea of heroism all wrong. The real fight isn’t against evil, but for justice.
Moriarty and the other villains are freed to rebuild their lives for good. Moriarty goes back to London to use his genius to help people who need it the most. The Frosts accept their new role and lay down a new legacy for all future heroes.
RM Zubairi writes science-fiction and fantasy for middle-grade and young adult audiences. His debut novel, Two Infinite Things, was awarded second place in the Fall 2022 Bookfest Awards. The sequel, One Minute Before Infinity, is due to be released in September 2023. When he’s not writing, he is either running, biking, or performing heart surgery on children. He was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. region and now makes his home with his wife and children in