Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March Secret Agent #5

GENRE: YA - Fantasy

There were theories of what hid in the night. Whispers from another world. Monsters that plucked your heart from your chest. Every day, as the sun kissed the horizon, fires burned bright all across Solbourne. It was the only way to stop the shadows from moving.

A flint cracked in my palm, igniting a broken lantern hanging outside the shop entrance. I exhaled in relief and pulled the curtain closed, cutting us off from the buzzing marketplace pathway. Dull sunlight peeked through threadbare cotton, casting a golden hue onto the dirt floor.

“Cleo,” Mummy Fortuna called, ancient voice raspy and impatient. “Quick, finish lighting the fires. We mustn’t make him wait.

Loosening a knotted string, a row of dangling candles lowered so I could reach. The flint cracked again, burning hot in my hands. During eveswallow, the few hours each day where the sun dragged itself low, though never dipping down far enough to disappear, it was law to light fires. The sun always had a place in the sky, at least in our half of the world. It was those few hours when light dimmed that made any hint of darkness illegal.

“He said last time he's not coming. Remember, Mummy?” Rom was so quiet and sickly I hardly heard his voice. “Remember, Cleo?” I shook my head, blowing on my hand to soothe a fresh burn. “Doesn’t anyone remember?” he pleaded, coughing a little. “Fine,” he said when we didn’t respond, and continued dusting off the customer stool with a pointed needle broom.


  1. Overall I liked it. Reminded me of Peter V. Brett. The opening paragraph really draws me in. Loved it.

    I thought these lines could have been stronger:

    A flint cracked in my palm, igniting a broken lantern hanging outside the shop entrance.


    Loosening a knotted string, a row of dangling candles lowered so I could reach.

    I get what you are saying. I just had to think about it a little too hard and it pulled me out of the story.

  2. I'm a sucker for a good fantasy novel. I actually really liked this. Whilst reading, the characters grew on me, especially little Rom. I'm interested in the shadows and why they're so feared. Though we are only offered a snippet here, I can see your world building is pretty good.

  3. Overall I liked this. I think the first paragraph might be moved into the story a little, when we know who's talking. The second paragraph would work quite well as an opening, too.

  4. I love the first paragraph. Reading on though, I found myself reading over some of the descriptions to get a clear picture in my head of what was being described or what was happening. I wasn't grounded in the scene. I think if you make those descriptions more clear and concise, you'll keep the reader right there in the scene. Just a few things to tweak, I think. Good luck!

  5. I liked the first paragraph, but I think you should simplify the description of lighting the lantern in the second paragraph. I had to read it a couple of times to get the meaning, and it took me out of the urgency of your story. Overall it was good, and I would keep reading it.

  6. You sparked (no pun intended) my intrigue. I want to know more about this world and the shadows and i get the sense you've done some great world building. Nit picking here, don't forget to close your dialogue with end quotes.

    The one descriptive sentence "Loosening a knotted string, a row of dangling candles lowered so I could reach. " threw me out of the story for a moment, maybe consider rewriting if more than one reader is noticing the same thing. If you like you can add a sense of urgency that she better get those fires lit (since it is a law) but it's hard to tell with only 250 words. Otherwise, you got this!

  7. Thank you guys so much for taking the time to read & review! I've already begun tweaking those pesky sentences. And for some reason when I submitted, the formatting removed the end quote there, but I promise it does exist!

  8. This is a very impressive opening! I agree with the other commenters regarding two of your sentences, but that's a pretty nitpicky issue (especially since you're already tweaking them!).

    I'm most impressed by your world building, here. It's organic, and you provide just enough to be intriguing without being overbearing. You've also got a great voice, and you exhibit it well. I'd definitely continue reading if this were in my submissions pile :)

    Thanks for your entry!