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Edward Pontacoloni
The Rookery
THE ROOKERY SYNOPSIS In the enchanted Wild Forests of the Adirondacks, Melony Harte is held captive at the Northcountry Center for Ideological Cleansing. The mystical psychiatrist, Dr. Zorba Kildeere, founder of the pseudoscience of Bioanthropsychetry, seduced Melony away from college to his psychiatric institute where he keeps her addicted with nasal sprays of the hormone oxytocin that he siphons intravenously from enchattled dogs. Kildeere has taken away Melony’s identity and given her a new name. By renaming and intoxicating his patients, the mad Kildeere keeps and controls them while he pursues his plans for an oxytocin-fueled mastery of the world. Kildeere is aided in his schemes by phantoms of the Tarot occult. Reporter Edward Storie aids Melony in a temporary escape from Kildeere, but she flees from his protection upon learning that he has a talking dog. Concerned for her circumstances and otherwise drawn and enamored of her, Storie pursues the drug-addled Melony as she stumbles through the Wild Forest in her flight. In the lands of the Inactive Mines, Melony is accosted by the impish Tommyknocker, who purloins her bottle of oxytocin nasal spray. The next evening, on the shores of Penfield Pond, the rabid monster Hidebehind viciously attacks Melony. She is rescued by Beefeater the Sasquatch, who in the dark of night, deposits her unconscious, rabies-infected body at the parsonage in the Hamlet of Ironville. The next morning, she is recaptured by Kildeere. During his pursuit of Melony, Storie is joined by a team of Adirondack cryptids who are familiars of his talking dog. They include a changeling, Aponi the Azeban; Art the Agropelter who guards his territories with a quiver of cudgels; and Pete, a magical elf. They, too, have an encounter with the beastly Hidebehind, and later endure the destruction of an Adirondack Derecho. The caretaker of the Ironville parsonage is assailed by Kildeere’s henchmen. He contacts Sheriff Cross, who visits the caretaker and later visits Kildeere to investigate Melony’s circumstances. Kildeere denies Cross access to Melony, citing her medical condition. Cross leaves intent on returning. Learning of the mistreatment of Kildeere’s dogs from the escaped Ginger the Pug, the cryptids realize the threats posed by the mad psychiatrist. When Cross is prevented from going to Melony’s aid, the cryptids, now joined by Beefeater the Sasquatch, enthusiastically unite with the Storie and his dog to pursue Melony’s rescue and Kildeere’s defeat. In the final battle, Storie, his dog and the cryptids defeat the phantoms of the Tarot occult. Kildeere vainly attempts to escape across Lake Champlain on a jet ski. Enchantment triumphs in the end, as Storie and Harte hold hands on the shores of the lake at sunset.

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.50 out of 10


Plot: The Rookery is a wacky, semi-surreal adventure in the Adirondacks. Written in a style reminiscent of Vonnegut, the book is a nonstop romp full of bigfoots, talking dogs, and mad scientists. The book closes the plot arc, but remains open-ended, which is a bit of a letdown for invested readers.

Prose: The novel features a strong narrative voice and accomplished prose that can effectively move between exposition and asides without becoming distracted. The style is consistent and engaging, making for a delightful read.

Originality: The book is remarkably inventive, blending cryptozoological elements, science and metaphysics, and local lore with wry humor and a distinct style that feels both familiar and unique.

Character/Execution: The characters, not all human, are interesting and developed effectively, in a manner that works well for the tone of the book. The protagonist features a strong narrative voice, which is strengthened through consistent delivery as the book progresses.

Date Submitted: April 08, 2022