Random House Editor Mini-Reviews What the Mouths of Shadows Say
I found this to be a fascinating piece of writing that really kept me intrigued through a range of emotions. There’s some very accomplished writing and a lovely atmosphere in here – congratulations.
I’d love to do more to boost Lenora’s character from the outset. She’s clearly a fascinating woman, very 3D and yet we don’t get her voice and personality ringing out of every page in the way we might. We could see this from the off, for example, when we first see her reaction to the strange man’s advances. She has a moment of panic but then seems to relax into the very out-of-the-ordinary situation. She’s clearly a woman who knows her own mind so would she not initially have more to say to the stranger’s advances, even if she then grows to enjoy them?
Making Lenora’s character and voice even more present throughout would also make her feel even more distinct to Clair and to Helen. Their voices don’t yet feel as distinct from each other as they might and yet they’re all clearly vivid people in your head – let’s get them all clearly jumping off the page.
I wondered how you would position the novel, and what readership you would say it was for. Obviously it’s difficult for me to suggest something here having only read these sample chapters but I think it is worth thinking about this now as it seems to cross genres. Boys, Boobs and If-onlys
This is a very timely piece of fiction. Since the very successful Louise Rennison titles there hasn’t been anything that has broken out in quite the same way so there is a space in the market. The teen fiction that does break through all share a real authenticity of voice. You absolutely have flashes of this throughout the sample I have read – congratulations. Do just check to make sure Emmie’s voice rings out in a very real teen girl way throughout.
I wondered if it might work well to spend some more time on the break-up of Emmie’s parents. It’s such a crucial scene that then impacts the whole book, and affects the whole of Emmie’s character arc. Having much more emotion and confusion and drama around what is happening would really add some drama to the early chapters of the book, and it would also give us additional insight into the characters of Emmie and her parents.
Being let into the confusion and emotion Emmie feels about what is happening might also soften her a little, making her even more likeable. She’s really quite cold to her mother immediately after the break-up, and we don’t really understand why. I wonder if seeing her interacting more with Vicky or other friends would allow her to explain how she’s feeling. In the scene in the school bathrooms, where she’s acting to defend her friend she too comes across as quite cold. Letting us in more to how she’s thinking and feeling so we understand her a little better would really smooth off her harsher teenage edges, making your readers feel even more empathy with her.
I was wondering when the novel was set. The Nokia and Snake-playing places it in a specific time in the past – would it not work set in the current day, maybe? The Chrysalis Covenant
I was really hooked from the outset of this sample. I absolutely loved the intense and eerie opening scene between father and son – it really is wonderful.
As we progress through the set up, we meet quite a lot of people quite quickly. We have to digest a fair bit of crucial information which we’re given through dialogue. It’s key that we don’t miss any of this and so I wonder whether to help with this, the voices could be even more distinct from each other at points. I think this might help us to digest the highs and lows and detail in an even more accessible way.
I’m fascinated by the reasons for George’s choice of men to be part of the covenant. Would we feel even more invested in this key scene where they agree to the plan and shoot their ‘donors’ if we know them a little first? I wondered whether you might want to slow us down getting to this scene so we’ve met all the men already and therefore feel even more invested in them and their quandary?
I like the grandeur that comes with the title you’ve chosen for the book and it fits with the formality of George, and his ego – but I do wonder if it positions the novel as well as it might. It doesn’t quite seem worthy enough of such an innovative plot to me. Ruth, Editor, Random House
This post was last edited by ProfessionalCritique, 24 Sep 2017, 23:12