Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #39

TITLE: Seven Rivers
GENRE: YA thriller/suspense

Daylight faded. Watching through the windshield of her car, the woman gripped the steering wheel as the sun sank behind the western bluffs, limning the sandstone rock in a blood orange laser beam of light. The river below radiated like a fever. Shadows dissolved the woods in front of her to a mass of shivering black. The sky held violet.

Now in late April, spring pushed through the last scabbed crust of winter, shooting up stalks and tendrils and blades. Riotous shades of green appeared overnight. Thin stems of wood swelled after a soaking rain, stippling the landscape with misted blobs of chartreuse and lime. Morning sunlight was acid bright, thick gold in the afternoon.

In the damp pines overhead, a fox sparrow whistled three-note trills. High up on the thermals, a hawk turned a slow arc in the gloaming.

The woman in the car watched, unseeing, thinking only of death. She pictured other people’s demise, the ways and means. Heart attack. Car accident. An unfortunate fall down a flight of stairs.

Accidental drowning. Electrocution. Food poisoning. She thought of immediate family members and distant relatives. Random pedestrians on the sidewalk, walking dogs and pushing strollers. It happened often these days, at strange and tedious times. Standing in line at the checkout, she’d examine the cashier, the middle-aged housewife in front of her plopping bags of apples and pears, cans of tuna on the conveyor belt.


  1. This is labelled YA yet the first character is a woman. The description is great but I think there's to much of it. Even the list of what the woman thinks is too long. You lost me. Sorry.

  2. I agree with Alice. The first parg of description creates a bit of mood, but after that, it's just words on a page. It doesn't add anything. Especially when you go on to tell us the woman watched unseeing. If she isn't seeing it, why is it being described? Pethaps cut it all and just jump into where she is and why she is there. My feeling is she's about to die since she isn't a teen. It seems this is judt setup, almost a prologue, to the real story. Maybe it's not the place to start.

  3. Wow, I loved this! It's vivid and memorable and you leave me wanting to know more. While I'm confused about the adult being present in YA, too, I'm interested enough with the descriptions & the unique and disturbing (in a good way!) list of the ways she imagines people dying. I definitely would want to read more.

  4. I agree with A and B above. Too much description. Pull us in quicker, please. Who is the protag? What is her plight? Why do we care/feel for her? Just jump into it quicker, and you'll be fine. :)

  5. Your descriptions are evocative, but there's far too much of it. As others mentioned, I wonder how this woman fits into a YA novel and who the protagonist is. You've done a good job of immersing us in this woman's thoughts, yet I don't feel completely engaged because we're in an adult POV.

    If she plays a major role in the novel, great. Just, as Betsy said, pull us in quicker.

  6. I love pretty writing, but it has to be purposeful, as well. The first paragraph here seems like pretty writing for the sake of pretty writing. I'd love for you to marry the blood orange river radiating like a fever into the acidic sunlight and then get us moving toward the plot a bit more clearly. I am interested in why the woman is suddenly so focused on death, too, but with this not being magical realism, I would imagine she'd have some knowledge as to why already. Maybe not, though. I would keep reading to find out if the vivid descriptions smoothed out and balanced with the storyline as this progresses. I'm hoping we exit the reflective stage quickly, though, and I'd like our woman to be named and defined, as neither reflections nor description of the protagonist is making feel like this is a young adult.

    Also, would you classify this as leaning more toward thriller or suspense. For me, a thriller is when you look under your bed, see the monster, and then spend the book trying to survive it's reality; a suspense is where you look under your bed, expect a monster, but then get stuck too afraid to look up in case it's on the bed above you now (the monster and bed being figurative for whatever antagonist and situation it is). That's not a huge deal, but I personally I just like to see one or the other listed, so I thought I'd mention it. :)