Thursday, October 16, 2008

15 SECRET AGENT: Are You Hooked?

TITLE: Adan’s Gate
GENRE: YA/Fantasy

It was hard to ride a horse blindfolded.

Calen McFarland clutched a fistful of his mare’s mane and shifted with her movement as she stumbled, hooves pounding a muffled cadence against the dry soil. Briars snatched his legs and the spicy scent of fresh fallen leaves burned his nose with every breath. Even blind he could feel the night as it gathered around him.

He wasn’t afraid. Not much, anyway. Not yet.

It was only another part of his initiation at the College of Winfall. The last part. The important part. The final test—one he must pass if he hoped to stay beyond his novice year.

His stomach tightened at the thought.

It seemed to Calen as though he’d been riding forever. He’d watched in the courtyard while seniors bound his classmates’ hands, covered their eyes with strips of cloth and took their reins. Then his turn had come. With the twist of a few quick knots he’d been reduced to listening, scenting the air and grasping for the sensation of movement around him. A guessing game.

So far nothing had gone wrong, but he felt helpless, as though his fate no longer rested in his own hands.

Relax, Calen, you’re going to be fine.

The words echoed in his memory. According to his roommate and Guide, Hall St. Clair, this night was a tradition. It was fun, exciting—something Calen would enjoy.

Easy for Hall to say. He’d passed the test two years before.


  1. It's an interesting scene. I'm kind of curious about where this goes. But the action and conflict needs to go up or I'll put the book down. Riding a horse blindfolded is dangerous, but it isn't the whole book.

  2. Nice scene. Well written and clear. It's an unusual and intriguing situation but I understand what's going on. I don't think it's particularly dangerous since someone is leading the horse so I'll need things to get worse on the next page to keep me reading. Merliniana

  3. I'd keep reading to find out what happens next. I'm assuming he'll make it into the College of Winfall, and something will happen from there.

  4. Very nice. I like the tone and the style of the piece. We have a good read on the MC and the direction of the plot.

    I'd read on.

  5. This definitely drew me in, as I'm a horse lover.

    Was confused at first, though. I had the immediate impression that the horse was running - since its hooves were pounding on the ground and briars were snatching at the MC's legs. It wasn't until later that I realized the horse was being led.

  6. zOh, I REALLY liked this! Great set up of something unusal and out of the norm. Good voice for Calen, too. Definitely intrigued, and would absolutly read on!

    My only suggestion is to make the timing clearer. Is this set in the present, past, or alternate reality?

  7. I'm definitely hooked! I'd love to read more.

  8. I'm on the fence. I like the descriptions and setup at the beginning, but the background about the initiation feels too long. Do we need to know so much about it right at the start? I'd rather get drawn into the actual test than read all about the purpose and history of it. Based on the second half, not hooked.

  9. This has very good scenework, and I like how the author manages to keep us present in the moment but still give us some background to what's happening. I'm not 100% sold, but I would definitely look at this for a few more pages to see if I could get on board with the concept.

  10. Random question... how short was his horse if his legs were getting snatched by briars? Or how long were his legs? O.O

    But yes, I would read on to see what's going on.

  11. I wish I could say I'm hooked, but I found myself skipping through the paragraphs. Your second sentence is too long and a little misleading if the mare isn't running/galloping. What I'd really like is for you to get Calen closer to the end of the initiation where everything (presumably) falls apart. Try to do it within 250 words.

  12. I like the first line, and the situation is interesting, but I can't say I'm really hooked... I guess I just don't have enough to care about the MC yet and am not particularly engaged. I would like to know what happens if he fails--or rather, how he could fail. :P Heh, just me.

    I might read on a bit, but it'd depend (blurb, mood, etc).

    Good luck,


  13. I liked this; I could really feel Calen's rising fear as the initiation ceremony goes on. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop--or not. So yes. Hooked.

    I especially liked the last little bit when Calen is thinking about what his roommate has told him