Wednesday, October 26, 2022

October 2022 Pass or Pages Entry #3

It's time for the Pass or Pages feedback reveal!  We're so thankful for our awesome agents Michelle Hauck and Ernie Chiara for taking the time to critique these entries.  And a shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week.  You are awesome!


Genre:  Adult Fantasy


THE MERMAID OF TALCASTER HALL[MH1] is an 88,000-word Contemporary Fantasy novel with elements of Women’s Fiction[MH2]. It combines the dry humour and magical elements of Ink & Sigil, with the witty dialogue and mother/daughter relationship of Again, Rachel alongside the eerie vibes and mermaid-human connection in The Shape of Water. It will appeal to fans of Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted Inc. series who enjoy women undertaking fantasy adventures in the real world.[EC1]

A cocktail waitress inherits more than a crumbling mansion when she discovers her great-uncle ‘created’ mermaids[EC2] to sell on the dark web[MH3], with one still waiting in the cellar to be sold… or saved.

Stubborn and sassy, Lucinda intends to stay in her apathic life, avoid being the responsible adult her family expects, and enjoy a whisky along the way[MH4]. That changes when her overbearing mother calls[MH5], asking Lucinda to assist her with clearing out the mansion bequeathed by her scientist great-uncle. Lucinda agrees but strapped for cash, caveats her[EC3] help by demanding the pick of the treasure in the house—a notion quickly squashed when the family’s inheritance turns out to be more Hell Hall than Pemberley.

When Lucinda finds a secret lab with an intelligent mermaid imprisoned, she befriends the mermaid and communicates with her via sign language. Wanting to help the mermaid, Lucinda teams up with her great-uncle’s gorgeous assistant and her genius, estranged sister, to discover the mermaid is up for sale to the highest bidder[MH6]. With the clock ticking on her great-uncle’s terrible plan, and with the only way to stop the auction carried with him to his grave, Lucinda must decide if her family and new life are worth fighting for, and prove she isn’t the black sheep she’s always tried to be—or else the mermaid’s freedom will be lost.[MH7]

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Michelle's comments:
[MH1] Note upfront that I recognize this entry from my query slush and I have just requested pages but haven’t read the full.
[MH2] Not something I normally request. I’m not normally a WF reader, but mashed up with fantasy and I’m interested.
[MH3] I sat up at this line. Crumbling mansion gives atmosphere and created mermaids is unique.
[MH4] We see her personality flaw or arc.
[MH5] Who doesn’t love the conflict implied in this.
[MH6] Very cool!
[MH7] Nice character arc mixed with plot stakes.

Ernie's comments:
[EC1]I like how they describe the way each comp title is relevant to theirs. Titles should be in all caps, though.
[EC2] I'm not the best agent for mermaids in a contemporary setting, so I'd pass here.
[EC3] This sentence is a bit awkward for me, and it's missing punctuation.

First 250 Words

The notion of being reunited with her mother sat as sour as lemons on Lucinda’s tongue[MH8]. She took a sip of musty tea from the polystyrene cup and shuddered at the lukewarm liquid. Bleurgh. What she’d give for an Americano right now—or even better, a glass of whisky[EC4]. Preferably Glenmorangie[MH9].

The railway station mixed ancient with a shot of mundane. The wrought iron bench outside looked as inviting as her mother’s sofa, but at least the flowers in the hanging basket overpowered the insipid scent of tea. Reaching for her bag and rifling under the unopened credit card bills, she pulled out her phone and bit her lip at the missing bars on the screen.

No coffee. No signal. No mother. Crossing her legs—the shorts and flip-flops as unhelpful as the tea in warding off the slight chill in the air—Lucinda balanced her cup on the bench and sighed, her eyes on the empty street in front of her, willing her mother to magically appear in the empty street.[MH10]


Loneliness crept over her alongside the cool air, touching her cheeks. Lucinda rubbed her face. She might not be living her best life, but how was she going to manage goodness knows how long with only her mother for company, and in the country for crying out loud. Screw it. She should go inside, catch the next train back to London and forget all about finding any treasure to sell to cover her current debts.[MH11]


Michelle's comments:
[MH8] Great to see opinions from the MC.
[MH9] Personality.
[MH10] Scene is set immediately.
[MH11] Makes me curious which is a big thing toward getting me to request pages. Overall, mood and personality are set. I feel like this is a bitter character, but that she still loves her mother so not too pessimistic for my taste. It sounds fun! And that’s why I requested pages.
Ernie's comments:
[EC4] I'm not a fan of the writing here, so even if the premise was my cup of tea, I'd stop at this point.

[If you receive a "Pages!", click on the agent's name at the top of this post for submission instructions.]

Michelle -Pages!
Ernie - Pass

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