Calling All Critiques: Entry#16 (Adult Dark Urban Fantasy)

Here’s another entry by a brave writer who would appreciate constructive feedback. Please read and comment appropriately. If you do, don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway. One lucky person will win a $10 Amazon gift card, an eCopy of It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy by Quanie Miller, and an eCopy of Guarding Angel by S. L. Saboviec.

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Please note that the excerpt contains strong language.

Entry #16

Name: S. L. Saboviec
Title: The Exorcist’s Assistant
Genre: Adult Dark Urban Fantasy

Scarlet was in her office, going over a project status report, when the skin on the back of her neck prickled.

IT was back.

For one stomach-clenching, head-twisting, freezing-sweat moment, she was no longer an almost-fifty vice president of technology in a large bank, she was an eight-year-old girl, huddled under the covers and shivering. Despite the glare of the overhead lights and the twilight glow coming through her window, midnight darkness blasted her skin with a chilly breeze.

“Aw, hell, no.” The words had no effect. She threw her pen across the office. It bounced against the closed door and landed in her trash can. Well, that did a lot of good.

She stood and peered out the small frosted window along the door frame and saw what she expected: Nothing. No human eyes checking if she was still at work at six o’clock in the evening. No janitorial staff passing by and whistling a tune. She turned and stared out her twenty-second floor window, but the tinted glass prevented UV rays and prying eyes from seeing

Scarlet bent down and pulled her pen from the waste basket. She threw it on her desk, ignoring the shivers that told her the creature that had menaced her as a child was back. Sleepless nights and crab-like terror crawling through her belly had been her constant companions for years.

“This is unacceptable,” she said in her best boardroom voice. “What do you want?”

Something moved behind her, and she whirled. The motivational poster on her wall was askance. She marched across the room and straightened it. “That’s it? You want to make a commentary on my art choices?”

She opened the door and stalked down the hall to the vending machine.

It followed her, of course. What else would it do? Just as it had stood over her bed, a black, formless shape that disappeared with the morning, she would never be able to see it in the light of day. But it was there.

Why was it back? The goddamned thing had done nothing more than stir stomach-clenching dread in her as a child, the same dread that was hovering around her, that she was now keeping at bay with sheer rage. For years, Scarlet hadn’t slept well. She’d anchored herself in her schoolwork and withdrawn into a shell, losing childhood friends. Yet it had done nothing but keep her awake and terrified.

Who did it think it was, anyway?

Fucking… thing.

Scarlet plunked money into the machine and pulled out a candy bar. And now it was forcing her to sugar and carbs. Didn’t that just figure. But she needed the calories to think of what to do. When was the last time she’d eaten? She’d been in meetings over lunch, and she may have forgotten to consume anything except coffee for breakfast.

Scarlet shoveled the candy bar into her mouth faster than was socially acceptable. If it was going to be rude, she was certainly not going to be polite either.

There’s more to critique!

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6 thoughts on “Calling All Critiques: Entry#16 (Adult Dark Urban Fantasy)

  1. I’m very interested in where this is going. Why would this creature appear suddenly when it hasn’t haunted her since childhood? What made it appear now? Great introduction to the rest of the book!

    I wasn’t sure whether the main character was not as worried as she was when she was a child after the first couple of paragraphs. She seems to be ignoring it well enough and is relatively light-hearted in her comments. I think the small elements of comedy also lend themselves to that effect. If that was what you were going for, you achieved it. But if she’s really scared the whole time and just being stoic, I’d like that to be more clear. More about her physical reactions which should contrast her vocal reactions.

    I like the choice of knocking a motivational poster askew. Whether you chose that intentionally or not, that was either great symbolism or great foreboding, depending on where the story goes from here. Little details like that are what really define great writing.

    I’d love to see where this goes! Well done!

  2. What an emotional ride! In terms of “hooking” the reader, you aced this, Samantha! The premise is fantastic and gives off a distinct horror vibe: a childhood terror re-emerging all of a sudden, bringing back the darkest of memories. Your torrent of poignant compounds add to that effect. I also like the fact that your heroine is a feisty one, not willing to succumb to nightmares of the past.

    The only thing I could point out is that I’m not clear as to the dominant emotion this piece intends to convey. It starts off as horror, I sort of expected an avalanche of terror swallowing the victim of childhood emotional abuse, but what I got from her was anger. And lines that strive for levity such as the heroine feeling upset that IT turned her to carbs and sugar, or trying to rationalize with IT by talking to IT made me think that she treated this nightmarish re-occurrence more as a nuisance rather than something that could jeopardize her sanity. I’m not going to suggest what you do; I just pointed out my reader’s point of view.

    Other than that, this opening is extremely readable and enticing, and it made me definitely want to read on!

  3. I agree with the previous comments about the flow of emotions from Scarlet as she realizes this childhood terror has suddenly returned. I see value in having her emotions swing around as she responds to this and tries to keep her cool about it. One idea is perhaps she initially dismisses it as stress, lack of sleep and low blood sugar — she tries to brush it off as her imagination and heads to the vending machine for that much needed snack, only to realize it ain’t going away, it’s not just her imagination … then the real terror sets in.

    1. Leo, thanks for taking the time to comment! I will agree with the climactic sequence of emotions you suggest.

  4. Thanks, guys, for your thoughts. Very good things for me to ponder. I’ve had this sitting on the shelf for a few months now, and I’m getting ready to come back to it soon-ish. So the overall point everyone made–How does Scarlet really feel about this thing?–is one I will need to make clear for this book.

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