Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 20063
date submitted 29.03.2010
date updated 21.08.2013
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Young...
classification: universal
complete

The Secrets of the Forest - 'The Time Zone'

Neville Kent

A Ten-year-old boy, crippled since birth, is cured after meeting a strange old lady and her cat.
‘However—there is a price to pay’.
ISBN: 9781782997955

 

Ten-year-old Tommy, unable to walk without supports since birth, lives with his gran on the edge of a large forest.
His life changes after coming across the cottage of an old lady living on the far side. Her companion, a big, black cat.
Shunned by the locals as a witch, she creates a potion that enables Tommy to walk.
However, there is a price to pay.

They are soon on a journey of discovery deep within the forest.
The cat is able to change its usual form as they enter a ‘Time Zone’ on their way to meet the Keeper of the Forest.
Tommy learns how time is twenty times slower within the zone.

Awe- inspiring surprises abound as they traverse a trail unknown to normal people.
A meal with Mr Keeper in a magnificent dining room awaits them after they navigate a perilous waterfall and enter a secret door.

The trio travel on an 'Underground System’ to assist in a rescue mission.
They visit the weird ‘Statue Room’ with its own tale to tell.
Tommy takes an unusual gift back for his gran, but will she agree to him visiting again to learn more of—‘The Secrets of the Forest’?


 
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1930's, 8 yrs onward, adventure, childrens fiction, compelling, complete, easy reading, fantasy, intrigue, magic, mystery, natural healing, scifi, ser...

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HarperCollins Wrote

The Secrets of the Forest opens by introducing Esmeralda, an old woman who lives in a cottage on the outskirts of a forest and has been shunned by society for being ‘different’. One day, Tommy Wilkes, a young boy disabled from birth and shunned by his classmates, arrives at her cottage. Esmeralda cures Tommy’s legs with a natural remedy and invites him back to visit her the next day. The following day, Esmeralda and Tommy, along with Esmeralda’s shape-shifting cat, set off to meet Mr Keeper, the guardian of the forest. Whilst visiting with him, they become involved in the rescue of two reindeer trapped in the forest. They return to Mr Keeper’s home for tea and Mr Keeper tells Tommy the story of ‘The Time Zone’ – time runs 20 times slower in the forest than in the real world. Tommy takes his grandmother fruit from the forest as evidence of his adventure and the novel closes on Esmeralda, at home reading her book of remedies.

I am on the fence about the publishing potential of this novel. The concept is undoubtedly a good one. However, I do think the manuscript would need quite a heavy edit if it is to be marketable. The reading experience was difficult for several reasons. The first struggle is trying to work out the age group it would be pitched to. The book is of a length suitable for a very young reader, and Tommy’s age, at 11 years old, fits with this. However, his narrative voice and his perceptions of certain situations throughout the book often seem like that of someone older (‘it’s been something of a magical day for me and I have learned many things’). The formatting adds to this confusion. The narrative is often divided into many paragraphs/chapters when one or two would flow more naturally; for example, chapters 13 and 14, detailing the return from the forest, seem like they should run into each other but instead are divided into two – is this to try and make the text less dense for a younger reader? Does the author have integrated illustrations in mind?

Secondly, for a fantasy story, the name ‘The Time Zone’ is a little unimaginative. I also struggled with the notion of the Time Zone itself – it may have been confusion on my part but when Tommy and Esmeralda visit Mr Keeper and are called away to rescue the reindeer, Tommy notices that the clock has only moved on five minutes when they return to The Keeper’s house. However, Esmeralda then refers to the whole forest being within The Time Zone which made me question why the clock would be running at a different time. The concept of ‘The Time Zone’ is not clear and, as this is the crux of the series, this needs to be clarified.

Thirdly, and perhaps most crucially, it feels like there is quite a bit of ‘filler’ in this novel – certain events and discussions are given lots of space and those that have the potential to be the most interesting are often summed up in a brief sentence. For example, we are told that Esmeralda has ‘lived in the cottage for over 150 years’ and that she tells Tommy ‘of the wonderful things that Damatrisa had taught her as a child, and of the secrets of the forest which were ‘not known to everyday folk,’ as she put it’ . . . and that’s all! There is huge opportunity in these two sentences to communicate more about Esmeralda and the forest, but it doesn’t come. Yet, there is a whole chapter dedicated to Tommy’s grandmother recalling the family history, including a ‘cast’ list (unnecessary really, seeing as the characters are only mentioned in this chapter), when most of what is relevant to the story could be summed up in a short paragraph. Perhaps some could be held back and revealed slowly over the series?

At the moment, given the market and the number of books coming into it, I don’t feel we are in a position to take on this title. In its current condition, I think it would be difficult to get the retail and marketing support that is so needed to launch children’s books. This is not to say there aren’t good things about this title. The relationship between Tommy and Esmeralda – two social outcasts forging an unlikely friendship – is endearing and definitely has the potential to grow and develop. The concept of ‘The Time Zone’ is also an interesting idea, with the scope for many more adventures, in turn leading to the development of Tommy’s character as he starts to become more immersed in the world of the forest. With a bit of work ironing out some of the issues I’ve raised here, you may well find an editor who can champion your story.

Diane60 wrote 591 days ago

Neville,
just got round to reading your amazing book! sorry i couldn't be part of the boost to the desk but my oh my what a wonderful book you have. Many congratulations on reaching the desk and i'm sure this will be picked up and published. your characters outlined here make the groundwork for what promises to a great series!
:)
diane

mscynthia wrote 592 days ago

Hi Neville,

This is a beautifully written book. The images are vivid and the characters alive with unique personalities. It makes one want to sit by the fire and read it all the way through!!! Tommy's handicap gave him painful memories of not having had the opportunity to play with the other kids and Esmerelda's sympathetic leanings towards his plight, have converged in Esmerelda using her magic, along with the secrets of the forest to do away with Tommy's handicap. However, as you said there will be a price, in that he can not reveal to anyone (except to his
Gran) how he was cured... This may be a harder price to pay than anything, but I still have to read on! I just wanted to give you my two cents on it and tell you how much I enjoyed the first chapter. Thanks for this wonderful read!!!

Cynthia
Sharing Short Stories/ Alecner

Patty Apostolides wrote 619 days ago

This was a wonderful children's story!! It was filled with magical moments, like when Esmeralda healed Tommy's legs and he could walk, also, the cat that turned into a tiger, and time changing in the forest. Esmeralda was very kind, and so was the Keeper of the Forest. Tommy was an endearing boy, sensitive enough to cry when he witnessed Saber's mother's statue and Saber kneeling in front of it. I liked the idea of Keeper choosing the vegetarian food vs eating meat, and of helping the reindeer in the forest. The story of Saber's mother saving the animals in the circus, and how Saber survived was also memorable.

The story was a pleasure to read, and one that I could see becoming a classic for children. Very good work! I gave you 6 stars and will back it! Good luck and I hope you make it to the top!!

Best,
Patty Apostolides
"The Greek Maiden and the English Lord."
www.pattyapostolides.com

Kaychristina wrote 619 days ago

A re-backing for this magical tale that's utterly compelling to read for children and adults alike. I have never forgotten Tommy, Esmeralda, or that Cat...

In fact, I do believe that if author Neville Kent's work had been around in my own childhood, neither Enid Blyton nor J.K. Rowling would have stood a chance.

This is storytelling at its utmost finest.

From Kay with love
(*The Ragged Yellow Ribbon*)

John Life wrote 628 days ago

this well written story grabs the reader's attention, and holds it, a sign of a great book and this books deserves to be published by a big player in the market.
the future is only success for this novel.
I am too old now and have not read a children's in yonks but this lift-me-up heart-warming story is one i will keep to read to my grandchildren...
this book should be on sale in airport bookshops...
well, well done...
kindest regards
John Life

Dawn Wessel wrote 148 days ago

I thoroughly enjoyed reading these chapters as it's reminiscent of some of the books I used to read as a child...I give it six stars and when I have Grandchildren I will read it to them.

Megan Slyvain wrote 161 days ago

I read this entire book in one sitting! What an engaging, delightful story! It reminds me of old fairy tales and classics such as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" that can be enjoyed by any generation of reader. What I liked most about this story was its sense of innocence and wonder, which makes it an enjoyable story for a younger or older child. I felt like Tommy himself was writing the story, perhaps thinking back on it a year or so later.

I have a suggestion for you in regards to the first chapter. It was hard to tell from the beginning which age group this story was suited for (is this a children's story or an adult fable?) Seeing as Tommy is a young child at age 10, I assume it's suited for an older child who has not reached the teen years yet. If so, then I would suggest that you use less description and more action in your first chapter. The first page (or chapter) of a story is either going to pull a child in or make him close the book, so if the first part doesn't enthrall a child then it doesn't matter how good the rest of the story is. Perhaps put a short scene at the beginning about Tommy that includes a lot of action and suspense? He can meet Esmeralda later, once the reader is interested in Tommy and what he's doing. Even adult readers enjoy a bit of suspense in the beginning of a story :)

Overall I would recommend this story to readers of all ages who enjoy a good classic story with magic, wonder, and adventure. Well done!

Norman Forrest wrote 301 days ago

Hey Nev
Interesting take you have here.
As a herbalist of thirty years I would never attempt the above, but obviously there IS magic afoot or the effect wouldn't disappear if you bragged about it.
This will be a fun read, glad you received the gold medal!
Forrest

Andrewallen82 wrote 413 days ago

I am a new author and would greatly appreciate a quick read it is only 5 chapters and think it a an a decent story so far and will return all reads will give me a chance. I am looking more for pointers than anything else if you love great, but if not please tell me all the same I WILL return the read and back it if I like it. Thanks David It is called Forsaken a not so human man who banished himself to the shadows for 60 years until now. Please consider I am new here and anything would be appreciated

rsmth624 wrote 468 days ago

Absolutely great story. I read it in one sitting. Six stars easy.

Nik.Vukoja wrote 538 days ago

I read the first 3 chapters and really enjoyed it. I had to get my mind-set around the age-group in the beginning, but once I did it, I found it enjoyable.

The main thing I was say (and I’m not sure if his 11th birthday is significant), is that I think Tommy needs to be younger, maybe 8 or 9? I have nieces and nephews in the 11-13 year old age-group and I think this is too young for them, whereas my nephew who is 8 would love it.

Scott Butcher wrote 555 days ago

Hi Neville,
I see the Harpers Collins comments below and I hope you are still working on this book. I see the second in the series is posted so it seems so. I can see why the book got a medal. You've pitched the language to your audience much better than myself. Much to learn. I thought that Tommy was maybe a bit quick to take off his braces at the bidding of a stranger and that a bit of coaxing maybe should have happened at that point. I'll have to take a look at the second book too.

Regards Scott Butcher

Jaclyn Aurore wrote 562 days ago

From the first page and the vivid imagining of the characters, The Secrets of the Forest offers something all classic children's books should - magic and a "what next" narrative.

The eagerness of a child is conveyed well, as is the "don't tell anyone or else" message that you just know is going to be difficult for Tommy, as a young child still, will find hard to keep.

Love the concept and the timeless setting - this is one author I would love to see more of.

Eva H wrote 589 days ago

Neville, what a beautifully written story. You've got the balance between dialogue and description spot on. Very strong characterisation. And so much to intrigue and hook the reader. Good luck with this.

Diane60 wrote 591 days ago

Neville,
just got round to reading your amazing book! sorry i couldn't be part of the boost to the desk but my oh my what a wonderful book you have. Many congratulations on reaching the desk and i'm sure this will be picked up and published. your characters outlined here make the groundwork for what promises to a great series!
:)
diane

mscynthia wrote 592 days ago

Hi Neville,

This is a beautifully written book. The images are vivid and the characters alive with unique personalities. It makes one want to sit by the fire and read it all the way through!!! Tommy's handicap gave him painful memories of not having had the opportunity to play with the other kids and Esmerelda's sympathetic leanings towards his plight, have converged in Esmerelda using her magic, along with the secrets of the forest to do away with Tommy's handicap. However, as you said there will be a price, in that he can not reveal to anyone (except to his
Gran) how he was cured... This may be a harder price to pay than anything, but I still have to read on! I just wanted to give you my two cents on it and tell you how much I enjoyed the first chapter. Thanks for this wonderful read!!!

Cynthia
Sharing Short Stories/ Alecner

sherillfox wrote 595 days ago

This was a wonderful read. I found myself unable to stop and excited to see what happened next. You have a wonderful and unique ability to allow a reader to see everything the characters are in their surroundings. I wish you much luck, will but you book on my shelf and give it a 6 star rating!! I'm certain this will hit the desk in no time!

- Sheri-Scooter Goes North

Little Gypsy wrote 596 days ago

Congratulations!

Brigitte_2 wrote 596 days ago

Hi Neville, I just noticed that your book is on the ED and will get a medal in about three hours. congratulations.
I would love to read your book a little later as it doesn't make any difference to you anymore, I guess, or does it? If it does, I shall get on with it. Just let me know.
Brigitte

Jane Mauret wrote 597 days ago

Hello, Neville
This is a lovely story for children who have learned to read quite proficiently. The characters and events are painted well and the flow is just right so nobody gets lost. I think all children love the idea of witches while at the same time being scared of them.
Good luck with this.
Jane Mauret
UGLY IN PARADISE

Sabina Frost wrote 598 days ago

This is a delightful children's story, full of magic and mystery. The pace is fine and we are left wondering what the forest has to offer.
I did found a few technical errors, though only minor ones, so no worries!
E.g. 'Can I really be trusting a stranger? He thought' where 'He' shouldn't start with a capital.
I also saw a few places where you should re-check your punctuation, but these things are nothing you can't easily fix with a read-through.

Another thing I thought about was that the haste with which Tommy trusts Esmeralda startled me; he enters a stranger's house, who is also rumored to be a witch, without a second thought. Only later, when she tries to fix his legs, does he have doubts. I think he should doubt her earlier.

Also, I think Esmeralda should tell him about the repercussions of the remedy before she gives it to him, so that he knows what he's getting himself into, or it could be seen as trickery on her part should he not agree to it. You don't have to take my word for it, of course; I'm only here to give honest personal opinions.

You use a unique voice in this story that I particularly liked, a storyteller's voice that is very suited to the target audience, but sometimes the dialogue, at least when it comes to Tommy, felt a bit too 'adult', a bit stilted, for a young boy. Again, you can take it or leave it. The story works just fine as it is.

Overall, this is a lovely story and I wish you all the best!
Sabina

Debbie Coope wrote 600 days ago

The Secrets of the Forest - The Time Zone is a wonderful story for your target age group. The story is written very well and with ease, with Tommy as a very endearing character. I don't think you'll have any problems remaining in the top five.

Well done.

Debbie.

A.Maisey wrote 600 days ago

This is such a sweet story, and you can really feel Tommy's excitement as sensation return to his legs. Well done, I hope to read more and I am backing it.

Would love your thoughts on The Word According To Dog. I am currently doing an 'edit' and will probably upload updated version over the next day or so, but I am hoping to Createspace publish alongside Kindle ebook, so all comments are very helpful to me right now while I am in editing mode! Thanks.

Anya
The Word According To Dog

mick hanson wrote 601 days ago

A very well told story of magical enchantment that leads you delicately into a forest of thought. Fully supported in the hope that this book will continue its journey and be read by a wider audience - Mick "It Was a Kind of Cold, Grey Morning."

mick hanson wrote 601 days ago

A very well told story of magical enchantment that leads you delicately into a forest of thought. Fully supported in the hope that this book will continue its journey and be read by a wider audience - Mick "It Was a Kind of Cold, Grey Morning."

Benjamin__0 wrote 601 days ago

Consider removing a lot of unnessary words from sentences and this will increase the piece's readability. Also I would suggest being careful of using too many adjectives as this can sometimes make the sentences come across as clumsy. But other than that, the book seems very well written. I'd also be catious of using too much detail. For instance you mention holding the jug of water with 'both hands'. Perhaps this would come across better if you simply said holding the jug of water. But it's just a suggestion. Also I would suggest 'some of it dripping down his chin onto his jumper' as being turned into its own sentence. But this story certainly has merit and is well done, its just the little edits which need to be carried out so that the reader is not distracted by adjectives which stick out or awkward sentences.

I wish you the best with your writing career,

Benjamin

SallyXB wrote 601 days ago

I adore the opening of your book! It just drew me straight in. A wonderful premise and fantastically well written. The language is pitched just right and there is a sense of mystery that comes through strongly. Starred and backed!
Sally

Pam B wrote 601 days ago

Whilst the story is captivating and intriguing, I'm afraid the actual telling needs to be worked on.

For instance, do we need to be told what the time setting is at the beginning, couldn't this come out in the naturally in the narrative?

I also noted several times where the same word was used several times in quick succession; this can be avoided with just a little bit of forethought, as illustrated several times in this sentence; this habit can be very off putting for a reader.

I think with a little bit of hard work, this can be made into a very good story for children of all ages.

All the best
Pam Balsdon
The King's Blessing

Lozzy84 wrote 601 days ago

Oh my, this is such a wonderful story, So beautifully well written I was in awe. I have been reading it to my 6 year-old, who loves magical stories such as yours. We both agree, it needs to a book on our shelf at home.

You have my backing and high stars, I know you will go far with this.

All the best,

Laura

bellatrix wrote 602 days ago

A very compelling read, vivid and imaginative characters and a story line which could be told and re-told without fear of exhaustion , well done Neville and keep them coming,

A R King

"it's all in the wrist action"

M D Eyler wrote 602 days ago

I'm backing your book again after a couple of years. It still stands out in my mind. The best to you :-)

wordworker wrote 602 days ago

Nice opening line. Attractive.
Ch. 1 Second para: is it the peeling paint that has the moss growing on it or the house itself?
Para beginning, "A shawl covered..." the phrase "failing to dim with the passing years ..." seems a little awkward to me ... consider: "undimmed by the passing years ..."
I love your descriptives! Very visual. Makes me beg for more.
Para starting, "Anyone out and about ..." Don't understand the need for the phrase "a usual sight" ... don't think it's necessary. Try full stop after either "fuel for her fire" or "wood on her shoulders". I like after "fuel for her fire". Then add a "she would" ... ie: "...wood on her shoulders. She would appear out of the morning mist, startling ..."
Para starting: "Many people thought she was ..." your phrase, "watching the odd passersby" ... do you mean the passersby were odd or are you using "odd" as a synonym for "rare" or "occassional"? If your intent is the second, "passersby" should be singular rather than plural. (passerby).
Para starting, "Timmy continued answering ..." you say "three mile" being American, I'm not familiar with common Brit usage but in U.S. "three" would be designated "miles".
[Side question: he was lost before he entered the cottage ... now he's telling her where he lives in relation to her ... maybe you need a transitional sentence or two?]
Para starting: "Electricity was only just ..." you use the word "odd" again. Consider: "...lit by candles and the occasional oil lamp" or "lit by candles and a few oil lamps".
Para starting: "They have to be correct ..." typo: "natures" (needs an apostrophe)
Overall a very attractive beginning. I'm wondering whether, in this day of caution and "weirdos", publishers would hesitate to take on a story that suggests it's okay for children to enter a stranger's home ... It might be politic to add a para explaining that this story happens in a different time. Maybe something like: "In a long-ago time, in a long-ago place, children could feel safe wherever they roamed because loving and protective grown-ups watched over them and strangers were just friends one hadn't met."
Other than that small caution I've no doubt this book would find an eager audience among pre-adolescents. It has a great hook, wonderful descriptives and in interesting plot. Very nice.

Karen Eisenbrey wrote 602 days ago

Neville,

Congratulations on reaching the top 5! I read the first three chapters of The Secrets of the Forest and hope you find my comments helpful.

Your choice of setting is interesting: a time and place in the real world not that far removed from where we are now, yet as different from the average modern child's experience as any invented, magical world. Esmeralda and Tommy would seem to be as different as can be, but they have a similar experience of being outcast and making the best of being alone. They have good potential for cross-generational friendship and as partners in adventure. And I always love a prominent position for the cat!

Your target audience may find the pace of the opening chapters to be too slow. (I have this same problem and keep whittling away at it). For instance, chapter 3 -- Tommy's Family History -- is kind of interesting for me, an adult reader, and critical for you, the author, to know. But is it necessary for the young reader? They might want to know briefly what happened to his parents, but beyond that, they probably won't care unless his family history is crucial to the plot. They're going to want to spend the bulk of their reading time with the young hero as he encounters the secrets of the forest.

This might sound like it's in conflict with my previous advice, but I'd kind of like to know more about Tommy's experience before his legs are healed. Maybe do more of chapter 1 from his point of view: he's walking in the forest, he's farther from home than he's ever been. What's he thinking about? Is he afraid because he's lost, or proud of himself for going so far, in spite of his legs? You could drop in a little about how he's always left out of games and so on, and then he spies Esmeralda's cottage. You could still use the same description, but it would be through his eyes. He'd be relieved because he can ask for directions and water. How does he feel when he first sees this strange old woman? But he's polite and she's nice, and it all works out great! It would be kind of nice to see Gran's reaction when he comes walking in the door without supports, rather than hearing about it afterward, but that's a quibble.

The handful of nitpicks I noticed are extremely picky, but you might find them helpful:

Ch 1
Do you really need "somewhat" in "somewhat run-down"?

"on many occasions" and "a usual sight" don't add much and detract from the scene of Esmeralda gathering wood. I think you could cut them without losing anything.

Natures recipes needs an apostrophe: Nature's

Ch 3
If it's the '30s, Gran would not refer to World War One, but to The Great War, or just the war. They didn't know yet that there would another one.

Thanks for inviting me to read this. Good luck with the Ed Desk!

Karen Eisenbrey
CRANE'S WAY
ENDURANCE
TIME SQUARED

Frank Talaber wrote 604 days ago

HI Neville
I"ll put it on my bookshelf and give it a read, hope you do the same to one of mine.
Frank

Ulysses Q wrote 605 days ago

Neville,

You have created a magical universe that any child would be eager to inhabit! I have put your novel on my shelf and have my fingers crossed that you hold on for the edit desk. That said, I personally would have liked to have seen more upfront of Tommy and his life before he finds Esmerelda - it just seemed to begin too abruptly. You obviously know what you are doing as a storyteller so take that suggestion for what it is worth - absolutely nothing. Best of luck with this, hope to see it down at the local book seller very soon.

Q

sticksandstones wrote 605 days ago

CHIRG Review:

Hi Neville, it's hard to know what to write about a book which is on almost 300 shelves and has over 700 comments. If I was being objective (which seems like the only way to go about this), I'd say something like 'your long pitch doesn't really grab me.' There's no clue given as to what kind of fantasy this might be.

I think you have a nice voice-over style opening paragraph. One which quickly sets up the theme (and tone) of your novel. Your descriptive prose is enticing and you tell the reader just enough to leave them guessing. Esmerelda does indeed sound more than a little witch-like. Fine description of her unkempt appearance.

The first sentence of the fourth paragraph is very awkward. It reads as though it should be split into two, especially when you write 'appearing out of the morning mist would startle the bravest of souls.' It seems out of context in relation to the previous part of that sentence. I'd also write - But not many saw her - instead of 'But not many did see her.'

Your initial description of Tommy is touching in a Benjamin Button sort of way. I think if he were a real person he wouldn't want (or ask for) anyone's sympathy. I love how you explain that his leg irons get tangled up with the large ferns around the cottage. You have a real knack for dialogue and it shows in their initial conversation.

Scary woman, plus a cat, leaves young boy alone in her cottage miles from anywhere? I suspect Tommy's innocence and unworldliness may land him in trouble. To repeat Patty's comment, it's a magical moment when Esmerelda concocts her potion to heal Tommy's legs. It's a good metaphor for escapism in relation to books.

Neville, this seems like a wonderful story. It's certainly unusual, very different, and not quite like anything else I've read. It would be easy to say things don't move along quickly enough; but you're a skilled story-teller. You've taken time to set up (and introduce) your main characters, without resorting to an overindulgence of back story.

I wouldn't call it an instant classic, and neither would I compare your writing with the likes of C.S Lewis. You've clearly found your own voice, and it's one which is quite enchanting!

Ben - Franky Frog's Worlwide Travelogue

John Philip wrote 607 days ago

I must try and read the complete book, if ever I can find the time. It is a story which should appeal to a great many 'children' of all ages. Beautifully and imaginatively written at just the right pace for the audience it is aimed at. Well deserving of its place near the top of the list.

Very well done. John Philip

NA Randall wrote 608 days ago

Neville

I'm no expert on fantasy/children's fiction, but I think you capture the classic fairytale tone of such stories really well here, one which harkens back to 'Red Riding Hood' and 'Snow White' but which retains a distinct freshness. Moreover, there's a magical quality to your writing, in the description of Esmerelda's cottage, to her conversation with Tommy (both of whose characters really shine through in the dialogue.)

In short, you've set things up very nicely here. The only thing that jumped out at me is your longer pitch. I might be tempted, for purposes of punch and really grabbing the attention, to end it at 'However there was a price to pay.'

On a technical front, this is a very polished piece of work, one I'm happy to give my backing to.

Best of luck with it

NA 'The Holy Drinker'

venger80 wrote 608 days ago

I really like the child-like innocence it conveys. Reminiscent of C.S Lewis. Lovely.

ShannonGibson wrote 608 days ago

After ch. 1--Certainly an entrancing tale, full of magic and wonder. I would definitely give it to younger siblings to read, if I had any. Perhaps my little niece, when this is in print. Because I'm sure it will be. :) There is just one small thing that I could hold against it--the characters are just a little cliche; I think this could be even better if you gave the characters just a little bit of their own, unique personalities. Just my thoughts.

Shannon
'Made to Be Broken'

amygrace wrote 609 days ago

This took me back to my chiidhood and I love that feeling. I could imagine my (future) children reading it.

Sandsword wrote 610 days ago

The Secrets of the Forest seems like a very pleasant children's story, and I would definately reccomend it to the younger audience. Good story and easy to read.
One point, though it's just a personal one: I thought it begun very abrupt, with Esmeralda and Tommy meeting within the first page, basically. I would have liked some more build-up, I think. But as I said, just a personal note.

Backed - good luck

ScottDevon wrote 612 days ago

I like this opening chapter, very short story set-up, then straight into our inciting incident. Nice mix of real world, leg braces, electricity, and the magical world. I can imagine this would be a compeling story for children. However, I am not sure that telling Tommy the price of his cure after he has been cured really works for me. I would prefer to see her warn him beforehand and then he make the choice in full knowledge that it might cost dearly if he breaks the rules. Feels more dramatic that way, but that's just my opinion of course. Also, I'd like a slightly longer set-up just so we can get to know Esmeralda and her cottage slightly more before Tommy arrives. That way you wouldn't need to re-describe it to us during the action section.


yours,

Scott Devon.
'When Both Sides Surrender'

ScottDevon wrote 612 days ago

I like this opening chapter, very short story set-up, then straight into our inciting incident. Nice mix of real world, leg braces, electricity, and the magical world. I can imagine this would be a compeling story for children. However, I am not sure that telling Tommy the price of his cure after he has been cured really works for me. I would prefer to see her warn him beforehand and then he make the choice in full knowledge that it might cost dearly if he breaks the rules. Feels more dramatic that way, but that's just my opinion of course. Also, I'd like a slightly longer set-up just so we can get to know Esmeralda and her cottage slightly more before Tommy arrives. That way you wouldn't need to re-describe it to us during the action section.


yours,

Scott Devon.
'When Both Sides Surrender'

margaret c wrote 612 days ago

Hi Neville, This is a lovely children's story and I enjoyed it very much. There's lots of magical things happening and I found Esmeralda, Tommy, and the Keeper of the forest, very endearing characters. It has a sense of mystery where I keep expecting something to happen and it does...Good luck with it and thanks for your support with mine. Margaret.

Aba Bairéid wrote 612 days ago

Neville,

I like the premise. i find your style of writing very pleasing - flowing and easy to follow. I think this work has a lot of promise. interesting characters. Plenty happening. I wish you the best of luck with this.

Aba.

Aba Bairéid wrote 612 days ago

Neville,

I like the premise. Your writing style is very pleasing - flowing and easy to follow. I've only ready a few chapters, but I plan to come back to this at a later date. The very best of luck.

Aba.

Veronike56 wrote 612 days ago

Makes you want to be a child again, just to read treasures such as The Secrets of the Forest. Brilliantly written and compelling, a true gem.
On my shelf with six stars
Veron

Kathryn Ferrier wrote 613 days ago

Hi Neville,
What a wonderful tale told with sage of wisdom and a youthful heart. I enjoyed the mystery and magic and the unfolding tale. And I have to say as a cat lover that Saber is very special. This is the kind of adventure that is made for reading to children and for sharing thoughts and ideas.
All the Best!
Kathi
‘Taylor Made’

Kim Padgett-Clarke wrote 614 days ago

This is the kind of story that I would have loved to read when I was a child. It is still good to read as an adult so that says a lot about your writing skills. I should imagine with all those grandchildren you would have plenty of practice regarding children's stories. Characters such as Esmerelda have been done before but you put a nice new twist to it by adding a boy who is disabled. I am sure every reader will feel the sense of exhileration Tommy feels when he realises he can walk properly for the first time. Well done with this and I wish you luck.

Kim (Pain)

Kestrelraptorial wrote 614 days ago

This is a cool children's story. Very easy to read, and a great fast-paced adventure. I wonder . . . considering Saber's name, does she transform into a saber-toothed tiger cat? That'd be fun. I have a big, very muscular black cat named Blackberry who has teeny little saber-teeth that stick out from his upper jaw. It's cute, and I kind of imagined Saber's black cat form like that.

One thing that bothered me just a little: It was said in an early chapter that Tommy had accepted a life of being crippled. Well, I was often weak and sick as a little boy and I can tell you I never accepted living a whole life like that. I eventually got stronger but complete acceptance I think isn't very realistic. He is healed very soon after that is said but there's no way he was expecting that.

Your pitch mentions about the story, "Shunned by the locals as a witch, she creates a potion that enables Tommy to walk. However, there is a price to pay." Well, I've seen nor price or drawback yet. Maybe it'll be revealed soon, but it'd be helpful to have seen a hint of it. I don't see her much shunned either - just living alone and detracted from society, but it's not quite the same thing. Although, yes, many people who lived like that would be shunned.

I know a lot of little kids who would love to have an adventure in a mystical forest, so this story will be very appealing for that audience. A lot of fun to read.

Ekattri wrote 617 days ago

Gorgeous story, lovely imagery. Easy to read, and captivating.
Left me with a inner, childish smile. A breath of fresh air, really! Very enjoyable and somewhat relaxing to read.

Great book. Highly starred & thank you for your support, also!

Kate M
"Glossed"

faith rose wrote 619 days ago

Congrats on that green arrow and a fabulous #5!! I'm pulling for you, Neville! :)

Patty Apostolides wrote 619 days ago

This was a wonderful children's story!! It was filled with magical moments, like when Esmeralda healed Tommy's legs and he could walk, also, the cat that turned into a tiger, and time changing in the forest. Esmeralda was very kind, and so was the Keeper of the Forest. Tommy was an endearing boy, sensitive enough to cry when he witnessed Saber's mother's statue and Saber kneeling in front of it. I liked the idea of Keeper choosing the vegetarian food vs eating meat, and of helping the reindeer in the forest. The story of Saber's mother saving the animals in the circus, and how Saber survived was also memorable.

The story was a pleasure to read, and one that I could see becoming a classic for children. Very good work! I gave you 6 stars and will back it! Good luck and I hope you make it to the top!!

Best,
Patty Apostolides
"The Greek Maiden and the English Lord."
www.pattyapostolides.com

Kaychristina wrote 619 days ago

A re-backing for this magical tale that's utterly compelling to read for children and adults alike. I have never forgotten Tommy, Esmeralda, or that Cat...

In fact, I do believe that if author Neville Kent's work had been around in my own childhood, neither Enid Blyton nor J.K. Rowling would have stood a chance.

This is storytelling at its utmost finest.

From Kay with love
(*The Ragged Yellow Ribbon*)