Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Secret Agent #19

GENRE: YA Fantasy


Torturous pain erupts in every part of me, but the ones who watch have only pity in their eyes. Even Sabrina.

“Father, please, stop this.” I am not above begging with my final words.

“This is your own doing, Rhianna. It had to be you. Save us…” The rest becomes unintelligible screeches to my now-human ears. These new lungs burn for air as I claw my way to the surface. The pitiful human limbs are unable to propel me fast enough. The waves created by my family lift, push, vomit me onto the shore of the river into a world I cannot understand and do not want to.

I cough up the water that now means certain death to my shivering body. That is the only thing I know: humans can’t breathe water. I wish I could go back in time and not know it, because it is the reason I am here. That and the human boy.


This is it. The last time I’ll see the waterfall. Of course, I said that last week and the week before. So many delays. Machinery breaking down, mud slides, mysterious illnesses of the crew that the healers have never seen before. I’m not sure whether I’m glad about the delays or not.

That’s not true. I never wanted the dam.

It’s my fault they’re building it. My obsession. I’ll be eighteen in four short moons and the title of Lord will be hung in front of my name like a noose.


  1. Rhianna's part feels like a prologue, and if it is, I think it is a good prologue. If it's not, I feel like you are jumping straight into action without knowing enough about Rhianna to really be invested in her. I mean, I am curious as to why she is being turned into a human, but I would have liked a bit more of an introduction to her first. And explaining who Sabrina is, since you mentioned her specifically would be helpful. Best friend? Sister? I really wanted to know.
    Corwin's part felt very modern so the last line felt very out of place. It raises many questions, enough for me to keep reading to find out the answers to them.

  2. This is a very intriguing intro, set up well with "This is your own doing." However, knowing that humans can't breathe water seems like a strange reason to transform and exile someone.

    The jump to Corwin is very abrupt-- we've barely met Rhianna, know nothing about her (we can only guess at what she was before becoming human), and we're shifting sharply to a POV that sounds modern. Two words make it sound modern: machinery and dam. Which are perfectly reasonable things to have in a classic medieval fantasy setting, it's just that we aren't rooted in the setting yet. We have no sense of place, so we assume machinery means metal and oil, rather than wood and rope (for example).

    I'm curious about how Corwin's obsession has led to a dam he doesn't want, and why he can't stop them given that he will soon be a Lord. I LOVE the line "the title of Lord will be hung in front of my name like a noose." Gives a great sense of his character. I'd read on.

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  4. I really like the idea of whatever underwater creature Rhianna is getting legs and forced to live on Earth for whatever mysterious reason. Gives me flashbacks of the Little Mermaid and Ursula.

    But, Rhianna’s section sounds like a prologue. I’m not a fan of prologues.

    That being said, if this novel is being told in alternate POV, both in first person, and the first chapter is actually this short—I think the information provided about Rhianna’s transition to human and arrival on Earth would probably come across much more smoothly if revealed later in story.

    Perhaps after she meets Corwin. If her origin is a secret from him, then she can reveal this in internal dialogue. If it’s a secret from the reader, then I say hold this information until later. Otherwise all she really did was foreshadow that she’s going to meet a boy and then we’re introduced to the this boy. I think the story opens much better with Corwin’s POV.

  5. I'm kind of torn. I like reading two perspectives, and you did a good job separating their voices, but it came on rather quickly. I like the idea of making the first POV a prologue and beginning with Corwin.

  6. Where are we? Where does your main character feel the pain that she describes? Those are my first two questions. "The ones who watch" - who are they? I know it's hard to get that all into a first line, but I'm finding myself confused already.

    In the second paragraph: "to my now-human ears" - was she not human before? Has she only now just become human? By the end of the paragraph I am intrigued because it seems like she's being birthed/sent out of an ocean and that sounds interesting, but more context would help so that I'd now from the start that we are underwater, and exactly what kind of pain Rhianna is experiencing - make it more detailed and personal.

    Similarly in Corwin's section it's detail and context that I'm lacking. "Machinery breaking down" - what kind of machinery? "illnesses of the crew" - what crew? Healers - what healers? Where are we, who is he? By the second sentence I know we're talking about a dam, but it might be better to make that the first sentence, to start with: "I never wanted the dam." - then right away I know we're talking about water and a dam and that would explain the crew and the machinery. Just a thought.

    I do like the last sentence though! I'd read on to find out more because I see potential here, but try to think more about how you can provide more of a sense of place and context with concrete detail.

    Thanks for entering!