Wednesday, September 5, 2012

September Secret Agent #32

TITLE: Of Fire and Shadow
GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy

My mother died a week ago because of me. Smoke inhalation, the coroner’s report said.

The problem: there was no fire.

The cause: the freakish mutation that's plagued me for three years. Not that I could admit it, unless I wanted to become a science experiment, or thrown in jail. As I leaned against the rough brick wall, something caught my eye.

The shadows across the road were oddly darker than the midday sun warranted, as if they had swallowed the very ground. Goosebumps prickled down my neck.

I stepped away from the wall, drawn by the shadows, which was a good move considering the wall had etched a pattern into my skin.

Something, or someone, stood in the shadows across the street. I squinted, trying to overcome the glare of sunlight, to make out what stood before the towering office buildings. The figure swayed like branches caught in a breeze. My eyebrows furrowed as I stepped into the gutter, ignoring the cars blurring past. The shadows writhed and crept towards the buildings, the figure moving in their safety.

“Talitha?” I spun and faced my grandma’s inquiring face. She’d finished inside the lawyer’s office—finished with the aftermath of my own design. I swallowed hard and glanced back at the shadowed trees and sidewalk. They were normal once more.

“Everything sorted?” I asked, and shook my head to clear it. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen the writhing shadows.

She squinted at me through her round glasses. “Yes.”


  1. Wow. I was hooked in that first line. Very nice!
    One thing that could make this even better is the transition between paragraphs, especially the third and fourth. It feels a little awkward to me.

  2. There is a lot going on here. Her mother's death, genetic mutations, creeping shadows, lawyers. They're all scary, but it's too much to take in all at once.

    What I'm not getting is emotion. Shouldn't she feel bad?

    Maybe you could have her go inside the lawyer's office and have the lawyer and her grandmother discuss the death. This would give you the chance to show some emotion and introduce her genetic mutation without an info dump. Then introduce the shadows when they leave the office.

    You've got some nice things going on here. I like your description of the shadows. I would read on, but I don't think it's quite ready yet.

  3. I agree with Janice; if your MC just caused her mother's death she should feel SOMETHING. And as good as your first few lines are, they seem tacked on just to grab interest; they don't have anything to do with the shadows that show up in paragraph 4. It's too abrupt a change.

  4. Ew! I love the scariness of this one. the darker shadows and how the figure swayed. Scary! :o) <3

  5. Very intriguing. The first line caught my attention. I think you should slow things down just a bit. There's a lot going on, and you rushed through things a little too fast. Slow it down, and you'll have an excellent start.

  6. My first thought after reading the first two paragraphs was that I've read this before. It threw me for a loop there for a second, but then I realized where I've read it before. :)

    I agree that slowing it down would be good, but I liked it a lot. Great job.

  7. The first line hooked me in, so did your second and third parag. The intro of the shadows left me wondering why your MC would go see what it was, instead of back away. But the premise kept me reading and I'd want to know where this was going.
    Good job!

  8. I like this a lot. I didn't have a problem with it going too fast. I'm sure we'll get to here more about her mother soon and the emotion and guilt associated with that. But the concept and the voice really caught my attention. Definitely hooked.

  9. The first two paragraphs really hooked me.

    I was intrigued by the mutation reference. In that third paragraph, I believe the line should read " experiment or get thrown in jail." It read a little awkwardly.

    The last sentence in the third paragraph was too abrupt and doens't have anything to do with the other part of that paragraph.

    I didn't like the shadows part at all. It seemed a little expected and cliche as compared to your wonderful opening. Maybe I didn't like it because it was not clearly described. It seemed vague and I know it's probably because you don't want your character to know what it is yet but perhaps you could build suspense as your characters sees something distinct across the street but doesn't know what it is. Does that make sense?

    I would probably keep reading just because hte premise and first few lines are so good.

  10. I like the possiblity of this book. I think there are a lot of interesting things going, eg. The cause of the mother's death, the mutation, the shadows.
    One thing, that stood out to me that others may not have a problem with is the "my eyebrows furrowed."
    I think that statement sounds forced. I don't know if a person would even realize their eyebrows were furrowing unless someone else pointed it out.

    I think with some minor adjustments this can be a strong story.
    I would keep reading.

  11. I thought the last line of the 3rd paragraph should be separated out into its own paragraph. Doesn't belong with the clinical recitation of her condition and the situation.

    In the fifth paragraph, I found it surprising that she'd been standing against the wall so long that it left patterns into her skin. And I found it surprising that she'd move towards the thing that's giving her goosebumps.

  12. Thanks SA.
    I guess I'm now left wondering if your surprise is a good thing, or bad.