Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#29 January Secret Agent

TITLE: Chronicles of a Demonsbane
GENRE: YA Fantasy

My boy Val,

By now it should be obvious that I'm dead, seeing as the only copy of this letter is attached to my will. I was too old to keep living, so rest assured I died happily. When I was deciding what your share of my possessions would be, I thought long and hard. I've never had money or shirts with popped collars (or whatever it is people think is hip these days), but I had the glory of Achilles (with the lifespan of Odysseus) and, Baby Boy, that is the highest honor a man can have. And so, since you've always been my favorite son (don't tell your brothers!) I have left you my prized possession: my title as Protector of the Flatland clan, my mother's clan (and you thought you were all city boy!) I know you'll make me proud.

Currently in the flesh (though hopefully not for long--my bones hurt!)

Your Dad

Simon Valgona read the letter over again and again, just as he did the day he first received it in its crisp, white envelope; that day the sun stood still and his mother no longer had the desire to bake deliciously adorned cakes and his brothers finally had nothing sarcastic or philosophical to say.

Val chuckled briefly. At only seventeen-years-old he was in charge of the entire clan, from the Forbidden Sea that wrapped around the land, all the way west, a sixteen day journey leading to the Corsica desert. The Flatlands, formally known as Siberia II.


  1. I chuckled. Love the humor in the letter. I hope the MC has some of his dad's wit and humor.

    Great job!

  2. I really liked this. I would read it.


    I am told that a MC who's 17 is too young for a YA audience. 18 is okay.

    Nice one.

  3. Parsley - YA usually ranges between the ages of 16-18 for MCs. I've even heard some agents say that 15 is okay. Anything over 18 would probably be considered too old.

  4. Ohh I'm intrigued. The letter was a great start and I really liked the subtle humor throughout the story. I would love to continue to read Val's story and see what he does, and how his brothers react to the news of his inheritance.

  5. I liked everything about this. I have no suggestions. It's written well, the humor is funny without being over the top. You've gotten in a bit of family issues. We have a location and a hook. Nicely done!

  6. Tough to start a book with a (wise-ass) will from a dead father.

    The next paragraph is strong.

    Then in the last paragraph you give him a nickname we didn't expect, and an info dump about geography and the clan he's in charge of.

    I'd look at the next page, but this is a rough start.

  7. The writing shows humor, but I don't think it's fluid enough (for example, the semi-colon in the second-to-last paragraph really breaks the flow, and the descriptions of what happened that day are somewhat forced).

    Really, it's Siberia II that catches my attention and would keep me reading on for at least a few pages. I'm not sure if it would be enough, but that tie to the real world is the main draw for me.

  8. I think this is a really intriguing premise, and I liked the letter. It's a different way to start, but, for me, it was successful.

    You lost me a little in the last two paragraphs. At first I thought Val was rereading the letter out of shock that his father died. The rest of the paragraph implies shock, although I'm not clear on whether the letter impacted the desire of his mother to make cakes just that day or forever (and if it's forever - why?). Then I got thrown again because Val chuckled. Between the shock and sarcastic chuckle, i can't figure out how he's feeling. I would read on, but I'd like to get deeper inside Val's head.

  9. I'm gonna disagree with everyone a little and say I'm not hooked. The combination of modern terminology with Greek mythology and a seemingly made-up world was too distracting for me. That could definitely just be a personal preference, though (as all the positive comments seem to suggest).

    A couple of small things: The first sentence in the penultimate paragraph should be, "Simon Valgona read the letter over again and again, just as he HAD the day HE'D first received it in its crisp, white envelope," since you're writing in past tense and this is something that happened before the present narrative. Also, the last half of that paragraph felt a little overwritten, especially the phrase "deliciously adorned cakes." And I'm pretty sure "seventeen years old" isn't hyphenated, since it's not an adjective.

    Good luck with this. Looks like a lot of people like it. I hope the Secret Agent likes it, too.

  10. Hey, Secret Agent here! I don’t quite know what to make of this. The talk of Flatlands and clans has a fantasy ring to it, while the mention of popped collars has a very modern, casual tone and seems to come from the early 2000s and pop culture. I don’t know if I’d start with the letter. I’d probably zoom in on Val reading it. Also, “his mother no longer had the desire to bake deliciously adorned cakes” really threw me. First, it’s a really roundabout way of saying that his mother is grieving. Second, do we really need to know that she’s not baking cakes, as in, she usually does bake cakes, at this moment? That detail strikes me as very random and maybe not a fit here.

  11. The humor in the letter is fun and like Patricia A. Timms said, I hope the MC has some his Dad's sense of humor. I agree with Secret Agent that it might be better if you start with the character and zoom in on his reading the letter. I'd also like to know how he feels about all of this. You sort of give us the rest of the family's reaction. Val chuckling threw me off. I'm assuming he's chuckling because he gets to be ruler of the clan instead of his older brothers,

    Also, like others said, I'm confused as to what type of story this will be. There are a lot of mixed terminology and cultural references. And the last paragraph was too much of an geography info dump, pretty much stopping my reading. I want to know more about Val and how he feels about this turn of events.

    I would read on for a bit more, but mostly because I love fantasy and there are possibilities here I would like to see if they pan out.

  12. I agree, it was very difficult for me to orient myself with this snippet. The tone of the letter implies a modern, casual atmosphere with lighthearted humor, but the rest of it smacks of something trying to take itself very seriously. So I'm left wondering: Are we looking at urban fantasy? Contemporary? High fantasy? There's just a lot of random stuff thrown in here, I'm not sure what to make of it.

    Good luck

  13. In addition to what others have mentioned, I'd like more of a feel for what the plot is. What problems is Val going to face (since he doesn't seem too bothered by the loss of his father)?