Wednesday, September 9, 2009

35 Secret Agent

TITLE: Books of Bestowal: Destroyer's Hope
GENRE: YA Fantasy

I longed to walk through the looking glass like Alice had and escape from the storage room of Granny's cottage into a wonderland. As I reached toward the glass in the full length mirror, I hoped with all my heart that my hand would go through so I could step after it.

The storage room door creaked open. "If you mark up the glass with your fingerprints, you'll have to clean it, Raychel." Leigh Robert's leathery face folded like an accordian as she smiled. Her blue eyes met my gold-flecked brown ones in the mirror. I couldn't help but think how well the owner of Granny's Cottage fit in with the antiques she sold.

I let my hand drop to my side. "Sorry." I turned away from the mirror.

Leigh's arthritic fingers tucked a stray piece of silver hair back into the tight bun perched on top of her head. "Are you having a good time?"

I shot her a wry smile. "Of course I am. An antique store is where every girl wants to spend her fourteenth birthday."

"You had somewhere else to be?"

Her words cut me, though I don't think she meant them to. It wasn't her fault I didn't have any friends. I shrugged and looked at the floor. "I suppose not, but I'd rather be having fun." Though I wasn't sure it was possible. My birthday only reminded me that seven short days from now was the second anniversary of the day Dad pulled a Houdini and vanished.


  1. A lot of numbers in that last paragraph and it has a bit of a samey feel to me - wasn't there another entry with a 'birthday in the wrong place' storyline.

  2. I probably wouldn't read further, it's kind of depressing. Raychel is coming across as a bit whiny and pathetic, so it's hard to get on her side. I know we have to beat up our characters so they can rise above, but you have to give us some hint of a character trait we can admire, I think. Something that will have us rooting for her.

    Good luck.

  3. Oh, reading my comment, it seems kind of harsh, sorry. I wanted to add that I love antique shops as setting and I'm sure you have something interesting planned there.

  4. The first sentence drew me in. I'd defiantly read more, though I do like the MC to be a little older than just turning 14.

    I'm still hooked!

  5. I wasn't drawn in, although I like the potential of a birthday in an antique shop.

  6. On a scale of catching my attention, this was about a 6/10.

    I liked the first paragraph, but the character didn't appeal to me. Also, I second the wanting an older MC. I don't know why, but I just feel it brings more to the writing. For example, at fourteen you probably wouldn't do much for your birthday anyway. However, if she was sixteen, then I'd feel sorry for her. It's her sweet sixteenth and she's stuck in an antique store.

  7. Not sure 14 fits with YA. Maybe early YA? But it borders on MG.

    There's some nice writing in this, and I love the antique store setting. But for some reason, this doesn't grab me. I think it's little things: I'm having trouble picturing a smile resulting in an accordion-like folding. (Check your spelling on that, btw.) Smile stretch.

    And some of Raychel's first dialogue is being rude to Leigh, which makes her unsympathetic. Maybe they're close enough that Leigh doesn't take it badly, but I'm a newcomer and I don't know that.

  8. Granny's Cottage has different capitalization from the first instance to the second, is that on purpose?

    An antique shop as a setting has great potential. I think I understand the imagery you're going for with Leigh's smile but I agree with Jodi - maybe try description about the wrinkles/creases around her eyes. Also,leathery gives me the impression that she is tanned, is she?

    I'd like a hint of the tone of voice Leigh first uses with Raychel, is she warning her about having to clean the glass in a kindly way or a teasing sort of way?

    Even if Raychel is being short, since it's in her POV, a little more around how she feels as she's answering Leigh could help give more insight about the kind of person she is. I sort of want to like her, but since she's young, she's kind of coming across sulky or sarcastic.

    I wasn't hooked, but I think this could hook me if polished a bit more.

  9. I like the intro and would read more.

    the face being like an accordian threw me. I couldn't picture it without going to a world like alice in wonderland, and we're not there yet.

    I like "pulled a houdini"

  10. The writing is nice here, but I'm afraid it doesn't pull me in.

  11. I think this has potential, but isn't perhaps where it needs to be yet. It's nice, but it doesn't grab you.

    Her attitude didn't bother me. She's spending her birthday alone and she's reminded of her father's disappearance, so she has a right to be sulky, I think.

    Maybe let her voice why she wants to enter a wonderland. Does she think it'll make her problems go away? Does she think it'll bring her father back. Does she just want to escape the reality of her life?

    Maybe getting to know her motivation will help us understand her a bit more. When you understand people, you tend to empathize with them more.

  12. There's a couple of references to other works which seems a bit out of place at the beginning of your own work.

    It's an interesting concept, and readers will probably want to know she has no friends etc.

    The writing needs to be tighter, but I'm sure as you go along you'll become more sure of your protagonists voice and this will help it immensely.

  13. I like this. It makes me wonder if she really will step through the glass.

    I do think it needs a little editing or nudging. Like I'm not sure what relation Raychel is to Leigh.

  14. I have mixed feelings. This needs some fine-tuning (I would drop the accordion description that everybody has mentioned, plus I agree that she makes at least one rude comment to Leigh), but there's a lot to like -- the antique shop and the possibility that she might really put her hand through the mirror would keep me reading.

    You express yourself well, and I enjoyed your writing. Keep at it!

  15. It sounds like a sweet story, but it doesn't draw me in like a normal YA story would. It seems more MG.

  16. Not quite hooked, and not sure why. I think it might be Raychel's dialogue.

    I do like the setting, and I particularly like the Houdini phrase. Keep at it, this shows a lot of promise.

  17. Not bad, but so many details about leathery, gold-flecked, blue eyes, brown eyes, arthritic, silver hair, tight bun slow down the flow and pull the reader out of the story. We don't need to know all these things at this point.

    I also have trouble with a nearly 14-year-old apparently really hoping her hand will magically go through a mirror.

    And I'm thinking this is reading more MG than YA.

    Here I'm really nit-picking, and would be interesting if this troubles any other readers: Wasn't Harry Houdini famous for escaping chains and vaults, not for vanishing?

  18. Not hooked. The writing is all right, the dialogue is fine, and I actually didn't mind the descriptions. There's nothing here to offend, but there's also nothing to excite.

    And chalk another one up for someone who thinks this sounds more middle grade than young adult.

  19. Is the mirror going to pull her into another world? If so then the first 250 should really develop the mystery and the magic of the object. Really pull us in and make us focus on the mirror and why your main character wants to disappear. Then pull us away (kicking and screaming of course).

  20. This could be somethign that would grab me, but we're starting out a bit boringly. So I would not keep reading.