Time for the Pass Or Pages feedback reveals! We're so thankful to our agent panel for taking the time to critique these entries. Shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week. You are awesome!
Entry #3: FOUNTAINS, WISHES, AND NEFARIOUS CREATURES
Sixteen-year-old Del is desperate to save her terminally ill sister, Addie. If her dead father’s stories are true, the answer lies in Eternum, home to an ancient fountain of healing. Unfortunately, one can’t simply waltz into Eternum, they must earn an invitation.
Del's been collecting unwilling human sacrifices [KP1] but doesn’t find success until a headless body with a phone number tattooed on it appears in her family's desolate Texas field. This is the body Del’s been searching for, the one her father told her about. It's an invitation to Eternum, but Del quickly discovers her father only knew part of the story. The untold secret of Eternum is a monstrous one [KP2].
For the past century, the townsfolk have been sacrificing children to the Neffers, beasts who give the healing fountain its power who only remain satiated by cancerous blood offerings. The town needs Del to fatally spill Addie’s cancer-ridden blood to complete a ritual. Doing so, breaks Del’s promise to save Addie [KP3]. Doing nothing means the townsfolk will be massacred by the Neffers and the monsters will move their bloodlust beyond the boundaries of Eternum. As the line between monster and human blurs, Del must decide how many lost lives the person she loves most is worth [KP4].
FOUNTAINS, WISHES, and NEFARIOUS CREATURES is a 83,000-word Young Adult Horror. Fans of NINE and SLICE OF CHERRY will enjoy this stand-alone novel [CR1].
[KP1] So she’s been dragging people into a field and murdering them? Who/what is she sacrificing them to?
[KP2] Not needed.
[KP3] I’m not quite sure how all of this connects to her finally finding the invitation to Eternum. Wouldn’t the rest of the story be trying to figure out how to get there? I assume that’s what she went through all that trouble for, so how is the invitation now connecting to her sister and the sacrifices/beasts? How do the sacrifices and beasts save her sister? I’m a bit confused how all of this relates.
[KP4] Super cool last line. I like the stakes in this, but want clearer details as to how this all relates and flows. I’d also like to know if there’s anything Eternum can actually do to save her sister, because right now, it doesn’t look like it.
[CR1] Love that we get the personal stakes here, and details about the story that make it stand out. Query needs polishing and some details feel like they need tweaking to make it super streamlined, but overall this is solid.
First 250 words:
The foot tattoo on the headless body read: IF FOUND, CALL (512)555-1212.
Del wiggled an hourglass from the corpse’s bloated fingers, an hourglass that would not honor mortal time if the stories were true. All the sand sat in the bottom of the two clouded bulbs. With a flip of her wrist, Del inverted the hourglass [KP1].
Not a single speck of sand fell.
Five minutes passed. Then ten. The sand clung to the top half of the timepiece as though glue held it in place. Del stared until the dryness of the air sapped the last moisture from her eyes. She worried if she blinked, she’d miss it.
A full hour after turning the hourglass, a single, sparkling piece of white sand released its grip on the others and slid to the bottom glass bulb.
“It’s the same!” Del shouted. Her dad gave her an hourglass like this one on the day her little sister Addie was born. And Addie tried to steal it from her every day since.
Del tucked the hourglass into the back pocket of her jean shorts and pulled out her phone.
Call the cops? Not on her life. Or his.
Talking her way out of one dead body seemed plausible, but the police would canvas the field. The putrid scent of its occupants would undoubtedly betray her.
A turkey vulture glided around the decapitated body. “Get the hell outta here! He’s mine!” [KP2] [CR1]
[KP1] I’d love to see just a LITTLE BIT MORE world building and character building on this one before she finds the dead body. I want to know that this dead body is important, and why the hourglass is important too. Because we have no back story, we don’t understand the significance.
[KP2] Rather interesting voice here! I’d probably take a second look and would be interested in reading more.
[CR1] This feels like it starts too late in the story. We don’t see the MC before she’s set on her journey to save her sister and get to this other world. However, I like the voice and liked the query—interested enough to want to see more and see if the rest of the story is solid.