Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January Secret Agent #32

GENRE: YA Historical Fantasy

Every Mede knew the desert lark heralded misfortune. As Artunis reclined across two silk cushions, her lips curled with amusement at the mournful song drifting through her windows. She knew she shouldn't laugh at God, but a desert lark on her fifteenth name day? Honestly? It fit that her womanhood would begin with a curse, for Artunis's rotten fortune was nothing if not steadfast.

The brass latch slid out of its lock on the far side of Artunis's cedar doors, and she sat up to see who'd entered. Though Artunis had tried not to mock God, the Great Mazda certainly intended to have a laugh at her expense. Upon the scale of ill omens, the lark lost all significance when compared to Raika, Artunis's stepmother, who swept into the suite with a flurry of maids at her heels.

While her servants opened curtains and carried in platters of food, Raika lowered herself onto a cushion across the table from Artunis. Raika's silk gown gave all appearance of modesty while still revealing every curve as it settled about her frame—just the way she liked it.

"Good morning, Artunis." She even attempted a smile, but in fifteen years Raika had never managed to speak Artunis's name without her lip rising in contempt.

Artunis greeted her as she always did—warily. Reaching across the table, Raika patted Artunis's arm and gave that honeyed smile that brought a sparkle to her amber eyes and disarmed everyone but Artunis.

"I've brought you a gift," she said.


  1. This is a really good start. I am hooked immediately. You do a good job of revealing your main character's thoughts and situation naturally. I don't have much in the way of critique. One small thing is the Great Mazda. You may have used the actual name (I don't know much about Medes) but it makes me think of a car. Also, that last sentence in the second paragraph was really long and didn't read naturally for me. Overall though, this is really good. I'd read more.

  2. I admit I don't read much fantasy, but I was very lost. I started to feel connected in the third para. so I suggest re-working to start there. There were a lot of names and world-specific mentions in your initial para's and I feel like the reader hasn't been introduced to this world yet. I could be way off here, but I'd like to be guided a little more. Give me something I can connect with first, then introduce me to your world. Good luck!

  3. You paint a colorful, textured scene. Beautifully done. Must say your first sentence was difficult for me. Right off the bat, reading about Mede and desert larks makes for a confusing start, and I had to read it a couple times. Perhaps you could roll in the Medes (which after reading your page, I assume is the nationality of Artunis) a little later in the story. Would definitely keep reading to find out about "the gift".
    Good luck!

  4. Irony in your first line, a song bird as a bad omen, hooked me. You captured concise world building and beautiful rhythm. The use of Mazda is brilliant, but I confess, I had to Google it. I liked how you established Artunis's relationship with stepmother. I'm amazed how much you covered in 250 words, especially being fantasy, and looking forward to reading more.
    All the Best

  5. Beautiful writing, nice worldbuilding, and great demonstration of her relationship with her mother. I especially love the last line!

    I have to admit that I chuckled a little at Mazda because I thought of the car. I realize it surely has other significance, but the car brand is a little hard to get past for me. Otherwise, great first page! Best of luck with this.

  6. Your first sentence drew me in. I liked it a lot. Vivid description grounds this scene well.

    Two things- Mazda. I also immediately latched onto the modern car which bumped me out of the fantasy. And this is a pet peeve of mine, so take it with a grain of salt, but poor little rich girl characters usually don't land for me. (Lounging on silk cushions and being brought breakfast in bed)

    The final sentence was strong enough to keep me reading. Well done.

  7. This looks very interesting! My curiosity is piqued by right off by “Every Mede” and “misfortune.” My curiosity is sustained by wanting to know about “her fifteenth name day” and again “rotten fortune. Rich, intriguing world and characters.

    Two little questions:
    The word “suite” sounds like a luxurious hotel room. By the sounds of cushions and servants and silk gowns, I pictured a palace. A little confusing.

    Also, Artunis is a beautiful name. I think the possessive is Artunis’ — which, when read aloud seems a little awkward. I wonder if you could get around using it so often.

    All the best to you, my friend!

  8. It’s good that you’re establishing that this is a different time and place right from the first page. Your first line and paragraph could be a bit smoother and more gripping though, compared to the rest of the sample. You might also want to consider renaming their god, since Mazda makes me think of an automotive god zooming around (unless this is from actual history/mythology and needs to stay that way for accuracy).