Wednesday, July 14, 2010

July Secret Agent #14

TITLE: The Magic Diary
GENRE: MG Fantasy

Emily walked up the cobblestone path and peered at the tall Scottish mansion. Ravencourt Manor was still as creepy as she remembered it: big and gloomy with a draft in every corner. Taking in the old, murky walls with their peeling plaster and dark-green honeysuckle, she shivered. The vine stretching from the ground to the turrets and windows on the first floor looked like a hand sucking the life out of the red brick. And maybe it did, for the house seemed dead as a cemetery with its iron-wrought gates, stone-mullioned sills and weeds raking out of every crevice.

"I wish Mum and Sammy were here, too," Emily whispered.

Dark clouds gathered in the distance. A black crow swooped over her head and perched on the cast iron roof. The scent of damp earth hung heavy in the chilly December air. She squeezed her father's hand when a crack of thunder made her jump.

"You know that's not possible." He opened the large wooden doors. "Now come along."

The shutters on the first floor buckled in the wind. With slow steps she entered the wide hallway and followed her father to the kitchen. Her brother Sammy had often joked that drafts were ghosts creeping slowly toward one. Emily knew it wasn't true because Grandma had called it nonsense. But now, standing in the large kitchen with a cold breeze blowing from beyond the closed door, the memory of Sammy's words made her legs all wobbly.


  1. Hooked.
    Beautiful, descriptive writing here.
    Where you've put 'made her legs all wobbly' could perhaps be cut to - 'made her legs wobble.'
    But a great piece. I would read more.

    Good luck!

  2. I'm hooked too.

    Kids will eat this up. Love the part about the shutters buckling in the wind. It gives a creepy feel.

    I can just sence how scared the little girl is. I would be too. Love the black crow.

    Good luck!

  3. Cute. I really like this. The descriptions are great and you get a good sense of the character's personality and what she is feeling. I want to read more!

  4. I like that your descriptive writing makes the house feel like a character. Nice job evoking a "creepy" feeling. I wonder if you'd consider switching the third and fourth paragraphs, so the father's comment comes right behind Emily's? I was surprised to learn he was there with her; I'd been envisioning her by herself.

    The line about the drafts being ghosts was a bit awkward to me, but overall, very nice!

  5. Can't find anything wrong with this one. The writing is smooth, the pacing is precise and your descriptions are oh so evocative.

    Hooked, lined and scared!

  6. This is lovely! I love the idea and the execution. Atmosphere is creepy. My only suggestion is to use a more vivid/uncommon verb for the first line to replace 'walked up'
    Great job!

  7. I liked the way you blended the characters' and dialogue into the discription.

    Nicely done. I'd keep reading.

  8. Nice set up! You did a great job of making the manor feel creepy, and I'm wondering why it's impossible for Mom and Sammy to be there. I would also like to have known why her and Dad are there, but I'm willing to wait a bit to find out.

    A few things - Perhaps say she walked up hand in hand with her father. It reads as if she's alone, and then Dad comes as a surprise.

    You have peeling plaster walls, and then a bit further down, they're red brick. Perhaps go with the brick

    When she wished Mum and Sammy could be there, have dad reply before the descriptive parg.
    that way it's clear what he's replying to.

    And have the thunder runmble first, then have her squeeze dad's hand and jump. Right now, she jumping before the thunder.

  9. This one is a lot of fun. Creepy house, potential ghosts, a girl who misses her Mum and brother. What's not to like? I'd definitely read more here.

  10. Hooked!

    I like the writing and descriptions. It has perfect tone for MG.

    Good luck.

  11. I loved the beautiful descriptions and the chill it gave me up my spine. The heroine has instant appeal and I can't wait to know more about her. The style is creative, interesting, and gives me that errie feeling that completely hooks me and makes me want to read more! Good luck.

  12. I really like the set-up here and would keep reading. You evoke a scene with lots of questions and that's good in my book.

    A couple of nits, and a kid probably wouldn't notice, but I read a lot of kid books, and it's often the little things that jump out at me.

    I'm a bit concerned about a cast-iron roof. For some reason, that seems way too heavy for a roof, and I never heard of one, so I'm wondering if that's the way to go.

    The other little thing was the dark green honeysuckle growing in December. Usually the honeysuckle is all brown vines by the time the cool December air comes around.

    But aside from that, I like it.