Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Secret Agent #6

TITLE: The Stone Witch's Granddaughter
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy

Mom’s knuckles whitened around the steering wheel as the bitter taste of smoke filled the car. Even with the windows rolled up, the cloying smell seeped inside, heralding an end at last to the narrow gravel drive, and promising some truth to the story that had dragged us out here.

“I swore I’d never drive up this damn hill again.” Strands of dark hair hung limply around Mom’s face, having slipped free of an exhausted bun. Her jaw was rigid, her mouth a thin line. “I should have known she wouldn’t let us go that easily.”

The tires slid on loose stones as Mom gunned the car up the final incline. Our poor muffler growled several decibels louder than it had at the bottom of the hill, and didn’t quiet when we levelled out in a forbidding tunnel of Garry oaks and Douglas maples. The wind plucked dying autumn leaves from gnarled branches and flung them at the windshield like it was trying to fend us off.

“I want you to stay in the car,” Mom said.

“I can help--”

“No.” The word was unyielding, but when she looked at me, fear softened her eyes. They were earthy green, just like Nan’s, but I wasn’t dumb enough to point that out. “I don’t know what she’ll be like, Mae. If that woman was telling the truth…” Mom’s fingers wrung the steering wheel like she probably wanted to wring that woman’s neck. “Your grandmother might be…volatile.”


  1. This is a fantastic opening. I really love it, and I'm dying to know what's coming next. The only thing I'd say is that the beginning paragraph is a bit confusing. Why is there the smell of smoke? It's less mysterious than it is confusing--is it coming from the car? From somewhere else? Why does the smell of smoke abating signal that they're reaching the end of the driveway? A tiny bit of clarity would help so much so my mind didn't snag on it. But otherwise, I am so impressed and I am already dying to read the rest of this!

  2. This was great! You started the story with something happening instead of preparing us for the story. You've worked in some nice description, along with tone and mood. The dialogue hints at a problem and some intrigue. I can feel the urgency of the situation. You have everything you need here on the first page and I'd definitely keep reading. I feel like I'm about to get something really good. Great work!

    I did have the same issue with the smoke as Kate did above. Maybe that can be made a bit clearer. But other than that, this works really well.

    Good luck!

  3. I am not sure what the smoke was from or what happened to it after. I am also not sure what the mouth being a thin line is supposed to convey, though I have seen it often.

    The rest of it feels well written though, and I'd be intrigued enough to read more.

  4. I thought this was fantastic. My only quibble was observing the color of Mom’s eyes in a moment like this. It doesn’t feel seamless as written. We hear a lot about mom, but I’d love to hear just a tiny bit of how our protagonist is feeling as well. Has she never seen Mom like this before? Is watching her normally controlled/reserved/polished mother in this state sending waves of panic through our protagonist? Just one small idea. Great intro.

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