Book Jacket


rank 414
word count 30757
date submitted 15.07.2011
date updated 01.11.2012
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
classification: universal

The Gypsy's Daughter

Michelle Basson

Gypsies, romance, magic and murder.


The Gypsy community of Myrrh is stalked by terror; a murderer is on the loose. Full moon brings with it grisly murders. The Market is the scene of the brutal slayings. Gypsy women are targeted, their throats slit left dying with two silver coins in their palms.

Lila le Fay, a sixteen-year-old herbalist and orphan, is thrust into danger with Willow, an old storyteller, as her sole protector. But what secrets are Willow hiding? Does she know who Lila’s birth mother was and what is the mysterious black mark on her neck?

When the murders become more frequent and even closer to Lila’s own life, she has to decide whether or not she’s ready to take action and confront the man believed to be the killer.

Will Willow be able to protect her from harm
or could Lila be next?

*The Gypsy's Daughter is complete at 53 000 words*

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The village of Myrrh was unusually busy, as it was the second of the three-day long Market that always culminated in the glowing beauty of the full moon. Many of her neighbours were up early, preparing for another Market day. Front doors were bolted shut, the wagons loaded, and children hastily ushered into caravans to head south, over the Everglade Bridge and into the Market clearing to find the best space to set up their stalls. Lila kindly greeted Holly, the klutzy seer who always managed to find something or someone to bump into; she was hailed by Rosa, the wizened leader and matriarch of the village and Lila responded respectfully. She turned left towards the northern expanse of Myrrh.

Simeon's family home was large and sturdy-looking and was built with long pine beams from the surrounding forest. Behind the house stood two tall posts that were roughly 10 meters apart, between which hung a slack rope that was tied securely to each post – the Flightfoots’ training rope.  To the left of the training rope was a clearing that was used as a sparring area.

She turned straight past the solid old house's intricately carved front door which depicted an array of birds flying towards the sun in the top-right corner, its rays stretching across the door, and tried to remember when last she had actually used it. She walked to the back of the house, as she usually did, where she was sure to find the Flightfoots training.

‘Hello? Uncle Dom?’ Lila called, because she did not want to surprise them. She heard voices from behind the house and pushed open the gate. No-one answered so she assumed they were in the midst of training – they almost always were.

‘Ah, too slow, old man!’ cried Dimitri, Simeon’s older brother.

‘Watch who you call old, son. I’ll best you yet,’ said Dominic.

Dimitri pulled off his tunic and ran his fingers through his long black hair. Lila crouched beside a large water-filled barrel that stood behind a dense rosebush, her eyes transfixed on Dimitri. She watched in awe at his brawny, toned body and at how his muscles rippled and flexed with every movement he made. Maybe she could hide here - just for a while.

Ever since Lila could remember, she had loved Dimitri Flightfoot. They had grown up together, he was the big brother she always wished she had, but somewhere along the line her feelings towards him changed from sisterly affection to something more. To her he was witty, strong and fearless and was a fine tightrope walker – and she could hardly even speak to him anymore.

She watched Dimitri spar with his father and winced and cowered every time Dominic’s sword came close to striking Dimitri – his long dark hair gleaming in the sun and his bronze skin shining from sweat. Lila watched Dimitri leap from bales of hay that marked the perimeter of the sparring ring. He spun, parried and side-stepped as he evaded his father’s well-placed blows; he looked like a warrior – a soldier in the King’s army.

Just as Lila thought Dimitri had outfought his father, Dom struck Dimitri with a well-placed blow to the thigh. Lila made an involuntary gasp and clasped her hands over her mouth, cursing herself for making a noise.

‘Hello?’ Dimitri called, ‘Is anyone there?’ He shrugged his shoulders and walked with his father to the other side of the house.

Lila shut her eyes, thanking the heavens that Dimitri didn’t see her crouched behind a barrel gawking at him. Then, just as she was getting up, she heard a twig snap behind her and spun around to see who it was.

‘Simeon, it’s you!’ said Lila, her face the colour of a ripe tomato.

‘What are you doing there?’ he asked. ‘It looks as though you’re skulking.’

‘Skulking? No! I-’ Lila surveyed her surroundings, hoping to find an explanation for her questionable position. ‘Oh, I was just…’ Her eyes fell upon a plant with small white petals and feathery leaves. ‘I saw this bride’s button here and crouched to pick some to give to you – for your faerie bump.’ She explained, scratching her head - her nervous tic.

‘I see.’ Simeon smiled, apparently fooled by Lila’s connivery, and extended his hand, helping her to her feet. Lila bent over and dusted her knees, feeling relieved at her ability to … well, lie.

‘So, how is your head?’ Lila asked, inspecting Simeon’s forehead. The lump the faerie had left was large but less bulbous, and had now turned a sickening tinge of green. ‘Oh, Simeon, that does not look good!’ Lila exclaimed and carefully touched it.

Simeon winced and pulled her hands away from his face, his ears turning red.‘Leave it, please,’ he moaned.

‘I don’t like the look of it.’

‘Neither do we,’ said Dimitri, as he descended the steps leading down from the kitchen. She felt a tingle run down her spine at the sound of his voice. ‘Come to watch my father and me fight, have you?’ he asked, touching her shoulder. He bent forward and plucked a yellow rose from a bush growing beside him. ‘For you,’ he snapped off the thorns and tucked the rose behind Lila’s ear.

Lila felt her knees tremble and said in a meek voice, ‘Th-, thank you.’ She tried very hard not to blush, but felt the heat flaring from her neck and face. ‘I’m here to see Uncle Dom. Simeon said that he had something for me?’

‘Humph. Best get back to our training then. Tomorrow’s our big day. Simeon - Danté. We still need to practice that new manoeuvre a few times.’ Dimitri strode off with his brothers trailing behind.

‘Hello, Lila! Nice to see you again.’ called Danté, the youngest Flightfoot son as he walked past.

Lila nodded. It had been a while since she’d visited. She’d wanted to give the family time to grieve.

Simeon walked past her and gave a little wave, looking strangely disappointed. Lila shrugged and turned her attention back to Dimitri.

‘And, Lila,’ said Dimitri as he turned back to face her.

‘Yes?’ she asked hopingly, foolishly believing he would declare his undying love.

‘My father’s in the kitchen, if you wanted him.’

Lila nodded, feeling silly, and walked up the steps and into the kitchen. The tall figure of Dominic was pouring four glasses of honey mead. ‘Oh, good,’ said Dom, ‘I thought I heard your voice out there.’ He was tall and had strong, broad shoulders, long dark hair and an unusually pointy goatee. ‘Best get another glass for you then,’ he said reaching for another glass. ‘I have always thought a sip of mead could put the marrow back in your bones.’

‘Oh, no thank you,’ said Lila, shaking her head. She added under her breath, ‘I don’t think I need it.’ She took the rose from her hair and twirled it between her fingers.

‘Very well. You must be curious as to why I called you, am I right?’ asked Dom. Lila nodded.  ‘I wanted to give you something.’ Dom walked to an old carved chest that stood next to a window overlooking the sparring area. Lila noticed a small table devoted to a shrine for Isabellain the corner of the room. On it stood a vase of fresh wildflowers surrounded by fat, squat candles and a few pieces of her jewellery: golden bangles and a string of black beads on a crimson ribbon.

Dominic noticed the direction of her gaze and noted, 'We were doing the rituals, tidying her things, lighting some candles. It still feels like yesterday…'

He opened the chest and retrieved a beautifully embroidered bag. ‘This,’ he said, placing the bag in Lila’s arms, ‘once belonged to Isabella. It was one of her most cherished possessions.’

Lila ran her fingers over the bag; it was raspberry red in colour and was embroidered with tiny flowers of blue, purple and orange. ‘I cannot accept such a gift, uncle Dom.’ Lila handed the bag back to Dominic.

‘Please, Lila. I insist. The best way for me to let Isabella’s memory live on is not to hide all her belongings in a dusty old chest, but to see remnants of her life living on, through others.’

Dom’s eleven-year-old son, Danté was standing in the doorway, his face beaded with sweat. ‘I just-’ he began. He looked from the bag to Lila and then at his father. His eyes began to fill with tears and he dashed upstairs to his room.

Danté !’ he called. They heard a door slam shut. ‘Dear, boy. He still misses his mother. He often cries at night. He has nightmares – terrible and vivid.’ Dom ran his long fingers over his face.The dark shadows under his eyes madeLila wonder whether he was talking about Danté or himself. ‘I don’t know what to do, Lila. The boys need their mother, I need my wife.’

‘I wish there was something I could do,’ she said.

‘Then, please. Take Isabella’s bag. You were like a daughter to her, to us. She would have wanted you to have it.’ Lila nodded and took the bag once more from Dominic.

‘Thank you, butenough sadness for one day, eh?Now, would you like to see what is in store for you at our performance tomorrow?’

'Will Simeon be able to perform? The bump ...'

Dimitri already went to Marietta’s. She gave him a concoction that he has to rub on it every few hours. She said it wasn’t going to be permanent and that it should be gone by morning.’

‘Oh, good, in that case I’d love to come and look… Marietta!’ yelled Lila, grabbing her head with both hands.

‘Where is she?’ asked Dom, confused.

‘NO, I mean . . . I should have been at Marietta’s, not here. She’s going to skin me alive!’

‘Oh, now we wouldn’t want that,’ said Dom, laughing. ‘Then run. Be gone!’ 

Lila waved at Dominic and ran outside to where Simeon and Dimitri were balancing on the tightrope. She waved at them as well, nearly tripping over a rock from staring at Dimitri, and made her way to Marietta’s barn. How could she have forgotten? Marietta had made such a fuss about her lessons not being postponed simply because of the Market; the lessons were supposed to start early, much earlier than this.

Lila ran through the village as though the very hounds of hell were at her heels, as she knew she would be in trouble for being late. Marietta might have been only a few years her senior, but she had an air of authority and power about her that Lila didn’t dare to test. Marietta was a gifted herbalist and potion-maker, renowned for her skills by many in far-off towns. People would bring their sick loved-ones from far and wide, hoping that she might be able to cure them. She lived on her father, Antony’s farm, in the old barn that stood beside a branch of the Everglade River.

When Lila finally reached the farm, she had to stop at the rusty front gate to catch her breath. She saw Antony emptying a pail of slop into the pigs’ trough. He raised his grimy hand and waved at Lila who returned the gesture. ‘A bit late, aren’t we?’

    ‘I know, I know! Is she-’ she said, pointing in the direction of the barn.

‘Has been all morning.’ Antony put the bail on his hip and grinned.

Lila smiled feebly and took a deep breath hoping that with it she might gain the courage she needed to face Marietta. She jogged to the barn’s front door, but before she could knock, the door swung open. Marietta was standing in the middle of the kitchen, her arms crossed in front of her. She walked across the room to a small circular table that stood next to a floral armchair and picked up a thick book Lila knew as 1001 Magical Herbs and Uses. Marietta placed the book in front of Lila on the kitchen table along with a quill, an inkwell and several blank pieces of parchment.

‘As punishment for your tardiness you will copy everything from absinthe to marigold, is that clear?’ asked Marietta, her grey eyes flashing.

‘But- but that’s half the book! What about all the-’

‘Illustrations? Oh, yes. How else will you be able to recognize them?’ She picked up an empty bucket and walked out of the barn leaving Lila alone.

Marietta bobbed in and out of the barn several times over the course of the afternoon. She was doing her chores: washing, cooking, and for the most part, gardening, casting a watchful glance over Lila’s shoulder every now and again. Lila’s hand was aching as she had been copying the pages for almost three hours. Each entry contained the herb with its different names, a description of the plant, its uses as well as an illustration.

‘Marietta, please! I’m sorry I was late. It will never happen again, I promise. Can I please stop? I can’t feel my fingers anymore!’

‘Oh, all right. You may stop, but have you learnt your lesson?’ she asked, placing her hands on her hips, rather reminiscent of Willow.

‘Yes, oh, yes!’ Lila jumped up and seized Marietta’s hands. ‘Thank you.’ Lila jogged to the barn door where Isabella’s red linen bag lay and swung it over her shoulder, ready to leave.

‘Where do you think you’re going?’ shouted Marietta. Lila turned back, reluctantly. ‘I have a bit of homework for you. First, I would like you to finish copying that book, as it will assist in your study of herbalism. Second, I want you to practice controlling your breathing, as we will be starting with spellcasting during our next lesson. Oh, and make sure you eat a hearty breakfast before you come here.’

Lila’s emerald eyes widened at the thought of doing magic. Although Willow had taught her a few basic spells, her knowledge of spellcasting was limited. ‘I can’t wait,’ said Lila, her curiosity piqued. ‘And don’t worry I won’t be late again.’

‘I should hope not.’ Marietta waved; Lila curtseyed playfully and skipped towards the stone cottage into the ruddy glow of the sun’s last beams of day.




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kshaw wrote 685 days ago

I am so happy that I decided to back your book and when I popped over for a read I wasn't disappointed :) Your style is very modern, descriptive and relaxed which makes it easy to read and get sucked into. Your concept is fantastic.
Here are my notes, and please feel free to ignore them :)
I love how you started the book with the end; very unique and interesting.
I wasn't sure if I was going to like the VP switching back and forth, but now that I've read it, I think it adds even more drama to an already tense situation. I really feel for Willow and Lila.
I think the last sentence "and she saw no one" can be dropped and just end with the glimmering light.
I also love the way you tell the back story through "story-time". Its a clever way to sneak it in there without it being too abrupt and you can tell it simply and straightforward, so nicely done.
Props for spelling faerie right and knowing the lore! Nothing gets under my skin more than people who write about them without knowing the lore or doing the proper research first.
The end of chapter 2 is great and makes me read more, which unfortunately I won't be able to do right now. But I will be back! Great start and keep up the good work!
Kayla Shaw
Philosophia: The Nine Worlds and the Great Mechanical Tree

Samantha Raak wrote 899 days ago

I've I've read everything you've got up here and can honestly say this is the best thing I've read on Authonomy so far. I was gripped by the story. You're writing style and story telling is professional. And as much as I hate to admit it, I couldn't find any constructive criticism to offer. It's ready to be submitted to a publisher. I feel it's so good I am moved to recommend it to others on this site because I want to see you get more backing. Great job!!!

SPW wrote 910 days ago


This is a wonderful read, and I agree with some of previous comments that ask why this isn't on more shelves. I was easily hooked and have, so far, read nine of the posted chapters. Well done! You got me!
Your writing style is easy on the eye but packed with vivid descriptions. I also love your character names, Lila le Fay is simply wonderful.

I am sure that this would fly off the shelves. Good luck with this. I will return to read more asap and will pop you back on my shelf very soon. For now, please accept a high amount of stars and praise for a damn fine read.

Yuko Zen Is Somewhere Else.

RJBrown wrote 179 days ago

Hi Michelle,

I was drawn in by your pitch and lovely cover... they say never judge a book by it's cover but when that cover promises great things you can't help but be a little intrigued!

Chapter one:
Let me say I love the way you start by describing the way the wall felt under her fingers, I immediately found myself in her shoes.
When you move on to say that 'she felt a tug in her heart' I enjoyed the bond you were creating between her and Willow, reall nice imagery.
When she sees Willow being led in to town shackled I can't help but feel you could make more of her inner despair, this is a woman who you later refer to as practically her mother, She seems to take it in her stride quite well. - Maybe this is just a personal feeling though so feel free to ignore.
The image conjoured in my mind when you describe the man pouring the oil over Willows head was extreme. IT was an excellent detail to add, really increasing the suspense and the terror that was creeping up on me! - Well done!
I enjoyed your description of the force Lila felt, reminding her of being in Willow's arms, like a cocoon. This was a really emotive phrase and brought me in to the loving relationship the two had shared.
'The was not yet over' - Very morbid, I liked it!
You do use the word 'saw' a lot in the last paragraph of chapter one, could do with a little tweaking.

Chapter two:
One year earlier - Nice caught me by surprise and I really like timelines that flow this way.
In the first paragraph you use the word 'shone' twice, could be re phrased.
'She always knew thier names' I am really starting to like Willow, she seems very caring (Sad that I know what becomes of her!)
Nice spelling of faerie - I like fantasy to feel like fantasy and this helps!

Overall I really enjoyed the first two chapters. I want to learn more about both Lila and Willow's magic powers and obviously what brings them to the scene in the first chapter. I think I will probably spend most of my reading hoping that somehow they mange to change Willow's fate, but obviously sometimes good writing does have to make you cry a little!

Nice premise and I'll keep reading, high stars!


nenno wrote 198 days ago

Ok now I am confused. The beginning is so horrific, then we have a genuine witch, complete with talking animals? This is good writing, loads of potential, but who is your intended audience? What age group.

hockgtjoa wrote 299 days ago

This is well written and imagined; I like the story and the characters. Perhaps it's because I enjoy the gypsies, faeries and magic. I believe you'll want to have another round of proof-reading --"you're" for your; I'm not so sure about the hyphen in "in so-doing" and so forth. Will back in July.

open mind wrote 327 days ago

Opening is interesting and intriguing. Why Lila is standing there and peering at the corner. She observes the situation and then keeps walking towards her destination. And where is she going? Why is she ignoring the low sound that she hears? The image that the opening paragraph creates is vivid.

Though this is the last chapter, characters are introduced nicely. I feel curious to know the structure as well.

“Willow was to be burnt at the stake.” The word ‘willow’ bears double meaning: the woman who is connected with her and the tree.
They are supposed to be burnt but why? Is Willow responsible for what has happened in Lila’s life?

The ending of this chapter clarifies why Willow is being burnt.
Pace and rhythm is nice. Clear-easy words are woven in vivid easy sentence pattern. I enjoyed the read.

Seringapatam wrote 400 days ago

Michelle, Wow. I wouldnt like to cross you.....A cracking story that had me hooked early in the book. I found it a very easy and uncomplicated book to read and that in itself helped me with the flow of it. You have a good voice here and a cool method of describing when you need to. I can see this doing so well as its a good readers book and will appeal to a lot of people. So well done.
Sean Connolly. British Army on the Rampage. (B.A.O.R) Please consider me for a read or watch list wont you?? Many thanks. Sean

Fontaine wrote 401 days ago

I've read three chapters of your book and have to say I really enjoyed it, even though it is a genre I seldom read. You have created a magical but believable world. Your writing flows, naturally and your dialogue is good. I could easily picture the cottage in which they live. I don't have time to read more so can't comment on the overall structure, I think it is courageous of you to start the story where you do. However, it is a terrific albeit sad beginning which made me want to read on. Thanks for a lovely read and I'll place it on my WL. Fontaine..

Duncan Watt wrote 460 days ago

Hi Michelle ...

Though not my usual choice of reading material, I think you have a very unusual story. The characters are strong and the plot flows well. Dialogue could do with a little tightening in places but for the most it reads well. I would suggest a good proof read as there are some repeated words and mis spellings (such as Simeon and Simian). Apart from that a good solid story. Backed and rated. Regards ... Duncan.

Andrea Taylor wrote 488 days ago

Gosh, what an amazing start! I was reading with my breath held. Its really hard to write about death, especially a burning. You did it so well. I have only read the first chapter right now but I had to comment because I can hardly wait to read on.
The de Amerley Affair

David Best wrote 529 days ago

Hi Michelle

This is not my usual genre - but so what - it is great

Your characters are so well drawn and your descriptive writing is first rate

A great story - well done


Warrick Mayes wrote 529 days ago


After a slightly awkward start the first chapter came to life. The descriptions became wonderful and the drama and tension was thick as Lila fought against her better judgement and finally against the will of Willow.
The witch, though short lived in the first chapter was superb, a tragic ending to what turned ot to be a wonderful opening chapter. But it feels conclusive, does it do enough to keep the reader engaged?

The problems I had at ths start were two-fold. Lila acts as though she is trying to remain hidden -- why. When she reaches the town square full of people she walked out bold as brass - what changed?
The the sentence about it being Sunday - what was the relevance? "The next day was Sunday when the good wives of Riverbend would not work." This is never explained - how does it impact the story?

Am I being overly fussy? Possibly!

Best wishes
"Sleeping With God"

Shelby Z. wrote 557 days ago

The Gypsy's Daughter by Michelle Basson
What a unique idea of using gypsy life style.
Not into the witchcraft. However I like the research that went into make the gypsy life style become real and interesting to the reader.
The opener is very good because it has an air of mystery to it on 'what's going on' questions. Lila is a special sort of character who wants to see the outside world without looking like a gypsy at times. She steals to survive and knows her job.
Good work.

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

P.S. Please read my pirate adventure Driving Winds.

revteapot wrote 668 days ago

There is a certain satisfying ominousness to starting with, 'The End'. To begin with the terrible outcome and then move us on to the happy beginning (within which being the tragedy of the gypsy girl) gives the beginning of this novel a bitter-sweet quality which is well played out.
In paragraph 1 you say the town is deserted, then next paragraph you tell me there is a crowd in the town centre. Did you mean that quarter of the town, or that the streets (beyond the centre) were quiet? 
Notes for chapter 2: "We know Willow" - missing comma.
"She was well loved, but still; when she came..." - not a semi-colon you want here, but a simple comma.
"They did not attract attention onto themselves." - do you need this sentence?
"By Midsummer Night's Eve, a year later Sienna ..." - missing comma.

Well done.

A Priest's Tale

kshaw wrote 685 days ago

I am so happy that I decided to back your book and when I popped over for a read I wasn't disappointed :) Your style is very modern, descriptive and relaxed which makes it easy to read and get sucked into. Your concept is fantastic.
Here are my notes, and please feel free to ignore them :)
I love how you started the book with the end; very unique and interesting.
I wasn't sure if I was going to like the VP switching back and forth, but now that I've read it, I think it adds even more drama to an already tense situation. I really feel for Willow and Lila.
I think the last sentence "and she saw no one" can be dropped and just end with the glimmering light.
I also love the way you tell the back story through "story-time". Its a clever way to sneak it in there without it being too abrupt and you can tell it simply and straightforward, so nicely done.
Props for spelling faerie right and knowing the lore! Nothing gets under my skin more than people who write about them without knowing the lore or doing the proper research first.
The end of chapter 2 is great and makes me read more, which unfortunately I won't be able to do right now. But I will be back! Great start and keep up the good work!
Kayla Shaw
Philosophia: The Nine Worlds and the Great Mechanical Tree

rikasworld wrote 689 days ago

What a horrific first scene. Very gripping. I think your writing is professional. and the plot gripping.You create a very believable background of white witchcraft, wise women and their powers. Very convincing herb lore and attractive characters and great descriptions. I like Thing the cat and the half blind goose. It's an exciting read and pitched just right for the young adult market, horror but not too horrific horror -if you see what I mean.
The only thing that jarred a bit with me was the word codswallop - sounds Victorian but somehow not the right kind of old word. However that's just my reaction so please ignore it if you want.
Six stars from me and thanks for an enjoyable read. Staying on my watchlist.

Sharda D wrote 690 days ago

A return read for your read of Mr Unusually's Circus of Dreams.

Chp1 was a stonking start to what promises to be a fantastic story. Didn't mind the POV changes, it worked well here to build tension and create a sense of the togetherness of the two characters, Lila and Willow. Till the end I was still holding out hope that Willow would get saved at the last minute by Lila swinging in on a rope, Peter Pan style, but never mind! That's the Disney version! But the fact that I cared about whether she died or not was testament to your marvellous writing.

Chp2, the pace drops off a bit. But that is understandable. There is a lot of Willow telling a story, but just wondered whether the pace/variety would be assisted by having the children (or Willow or both) do something while they listen. Maybe they are all helping Willow make something, spin wool or bake something? Then you could break up the story tellling with bits of action/sensory description and the pace would benefit. Just a thought.

You write beautifully and the story is clearly capitvating and well thought out. It was a pleasure to read.
6 stars from me.

Kate LaRue wrote 707 days ago

Michelle, here for our swap, having read through chapter six. You definitely set up a lot of mystery throughout the first few chapters, as well as introducing us to Lila's world. She is a likeable character, with faults just like any other teenager. Here are just a few of my thoughts as I was reading.

In the first chapter, there are some switches between Lila and Willow's POV. I wasn't necessarily bothered by these, which I sometimes am if they aren't done well, but I noticed that a few times, though you are in Willow's POV, you refer to her as 'the woman' as if you have stepped out of her POV for a sentence or two to give us the perspective of the crowd. Be careful of this, as it was a little confusing.

Watch out for passive verb tense, such as was standing, was wearing, etc. Also watch the use of 'was' in you descriptions. Instead of telling that a character's hair was brown, show the specks of gray showing through his cropped brown hair. Just a suggestion.

I liked the chapter with Lila picking herbs from her garden to make more of her potions etc. for the market, but I was a little confused when she didn't end up going to the market that day. Hiding behind the bush to watch Dimitri was a good way to show her attraction for him, and being late to her lesson with Marrietta is something that every teen girl can relate to.

The scene at the market with the perfume man was a good set up for how the townspeople feel about the gypsies, but I didn't get a strong feel for Lika's emotions at being snubbed because of being different. Her comment to the cat about hating being different didn't do it for me. I guess I wanted a little more internal thoughts/emotions at that part. Her friendship with Harriet is interesting and I have to wonder where it will go, if the girls will get in trouble for becoming friends. Nice little mystery with the fortune teller as well, makes me wonder who Harriet is.

I noticed when Lila finds Dimitri and Marrietta together in the barn, you used 'tendrils of jealousy' three or four times in the span of a few paragraphs. I'm guilty of overusing descriptions too, just something to watch out for when you edit.

Overall, a very engaging read that pulls the reader right along. Highly starred.

Tod Schneider wrote 708 days ago

Greetings! I think this is a wonderful tale, and your opening chapter was stellar! Don't know what happened with Mayhem but too bad, you would have placed well no doubt. I really like your writing style and your main character is quite likable. High ratings in my book!
I couldn't find anything serious to criticize at all, but I did find some petty little errata you might want to fix:
chapter 1/ you wrote crowed, but meant crowd.
2/ dissolved away (seems redundant. I'd just say dissolved)
4/ no matter how much you love them (delete period, insert comma)
13/ its claws sratching on the wooden floor boards as he ran (delete its, insert his)
13/ but a(insert "n") oval shaped scorch mark
That's all I can pick on. I very much enjoyed the book, thanks and best of luck with it!

Wavy3 wrote 708 days ago

Great opening. Not only are we immediately introduced to the MC, but drawn too into her world. The imagery and details, like about the stray dog, add believability. Other details, such as her hunger, the background noise, bring the story to life. The way you portray the friendship between Lila and Willow is well done - best part being that you show us instead of just telling us. The writing, too, is smooth, the plot unique and compelling. Gypsies! Again, love the way you include all the senses, touch, smell, etc.

Some of the best writing I've read in a long while. Awesome.


WiSpY wrote 711 days ago

I just realized this is the third time this book has captured my attention!

Fabulous visual style in the opening.

I am on to chapter two - with luck the enigmatic Willow will explain herself...

Valentina wrote 713 days ago


This is clearly a polished piece, you don't need any patronising comments on your use of grammar etc! I'm young but I've studied Literature and Creative Writing for three years, I was Editor-in-Chief of my Uni's newspaper and I'm doing work experience at a publishers, so here's my personal opinions and observations, for you to take or dismiss as you please!!

I read your first 2 chapters and did enjoy them, I really like your writing style, and I think that's the most important thing because that's the hardest thing to improve!

‘The town was deserted, so all her care to remain unnoticed hadn’t been necessary.’ - this sentence bothered me, I can't say what exactly it should be but I feel like you're over-explaining yourself. It could maybe be shorter and less explanatory. Maybe show her being really careful, and then say that the town is deserted, the reader will realise themselves that her care was unnecessary, without you having to spell it out.

I feel that Lila's realisation that Willow is going to be burnt on the stake is a bit sudden, where did the realisation really come from? I thought that it would be more effective if you described Willow’s appearance first, Lila spotting her with her with her hair hacked off etc. and then realising that she was being burned at the stake.

Chapter 2 – my instant reaction was whose POV have you switched to now? You've so far swapped 3 times, from 2 first person POVs to a 3rd Person POV, which kind of disjoints it a bit. I’m not going to sit and say to you, a publisher won’t like that, because I hate it when people say that. I think publishers are people who get drawn in by work like any of us. But in this instance it did bother me personally a bit.

'Sienna used her dancer’s muscles' – I imagined a very odd sort of contortionist move which didn’t really go along with a pregnant woman!

Don’t think you need to say baby-to-be, sounds odd, I’d just say baby

I think I noticed a couple of simple typos:

‘A story you say?’...‘but which one to Choose?’ – I’m fairly sure the But should be capitolised? Because you ended her last sentence with a question mark.

Ox’s – capitalise

Finally, the tone throughout the first 2 chapters is very descriptive and I feel like the saying 'Show not Tell' is perhaps appropriate here. If you could incorporate some more 'show' i think it would improve it.

Hope you find this helpful, good luck!

Oriax wrote 716 days ago

In the pitch you set out some of the key points of the story, and in the course of the first chapters you introduce these elements so already there is a definite story line taking shape.
Everybody seems agreed that the burning scene is a great dramatic opening. I’d beef up the nastiness of it a bit, make Willow suffer!
‘Among the hordes of people Willow searched for only one in particular’ – At this point I think you need a bigger break as it changes POV to Willow.
I’d have thought there would have been a big witch trial for Willow. The population are gunning for the gypsies anyway. The mayor could make a final spiel after the trial as Willow is being dragged out, but I don’t think it should replace a triaI even if we don’t have to see it.

You start off calling the Thirsty Thief a tavern, which sounds right, then a pub, which sounds anachronistic.
I like the idea of Thing and his love/hate relationship with Lila (good name, by the way, short, sweet and memorable). In his conversation with Willow about the ruby jar you could maybe reword some of it since they are telling one another things they already know just for the benefit of the reader. Makes the plot clunk a bit.
Perhaps lighten up Willow’s speech a little, she sometimes sounds rather Victorian school marmish.

‘She strolled through the herb garden, tenderly snipping the herbs she needed with her sharp, narrow knife.’ Snipping is more for scissors than knives.

I like the way you juxtapose the chocolate box garden with its flowers, fairies and Simeon, with the hints at savage killings in the neighbourhood. It might be an idea to give some details of what had been happening and expand upon Lila’s fears.

The beginning of chapter five – if it’s a three day market it can’t be held on the eve of the full moon. For the three days before, or three days around the full moon.

If Lila called out before she went round the back of the house so as not to surprise the Flightfoots, why did she then hide to watch them? She expected to find them training after all.
I like the way you describe her infatuation with Dimitri. Again, I really like your choice of names, memorable rather than fanciful and unpronounceable.

Paragraph beginning ‘Skulking?’ ends with: ‘She explained, scratching his head – her nervous tic.’ Should that be ‘her head’?

This is a good story with a lovely atmosphere to it. Difficult to put my finger on exactly what it is, but you have created a real story with a good plot and appealing characters. It still needs polishing – show me the book on this site that doesn’t – but you have something special here.
Good luck with this. I’d already given it top stars so can’t give any more. On my watch list anyway because I hope to find the time to read more.

Kim Padgett-Clarke wrote 718 days ago

I wasn't sure whether to check out your book as the genre is not really my thing but the pitch drew me in and I am glad I did. I like the way you start chapter 1 with what in effect is the end of the story. A great ploy to make sure that the reader wants to carry on to find out how Willow got to be burned at the stake. Chapter 2 was quite different. You build up the character of Willow by giving us insight into what she is all about on the spiritual level. The descriptions of the children and their awe at her storytelling skills is very well done and not too over flowery. Great hook at the end with the tent disappearing. I found this easy and entertaining to read and your writing style is good, it flows very well. Good luck with this.

Kim (Pain)

Adeel wrote 732 days ago

An amusing, descriptive and well written book. Your writing style is very impressive, dialogue are realistic with vivid charachters and narrative is at great pace. Highly rated.

Kenneth Edward Lim wrote 732 days ago

Starting off with a witch burning as a grabber, "The Gypsy's Daughter" does not falter in its steady pace, each scene as captivating as the last, drawing the reader on. Lila is a sympathetic character, her dreams and aspirations typical of any young girl even if her vocation is not. Your narrative is detailed and picturesque, your dialogue exuding passion. Thank you so much for the haunting tale.

Kenneth Edward Lim
The North Korean

tinacox wrote 741 days ago

Hi Michelle, having just read the first four chapters of ' The Gypsy's Daughter' I wanted to write and tell you how much I enjoyed them. The subject matter is intriguing and the characters so well drawn that you immediately care about them. I want to read more when I have the time and will put it on my shelf when I have room - until then I will put it on my watchlist. Good Luck with it - Tina Cox P.S. would you take a look at my book 'Sanctuary' as all comments and support is welcome.

alison woodward wrote 748 days ago

Wow this is great, ive read all 14 chapters, so where is the rest, i have to know what happens,this is on my shelf for sure, it needs a bit of editing but thats it.
6 stars for sure

Kayla H wrote 788 days ago

I just finished reading the last chapters you have posted and they’re really great.
I love Willow’s faulty knitting—that’s a great detail. I also like the new plot thread of why Mariette would have been looking for Nightshade. Very mysterious!
I am curious, though, as to why Lila thinks Willow knows more about her mother than she’s saying. From what I understand Willow does know more—as is seen in the passages from her viewpoint. But as far as Lila knows, Willow found her abandoned on her doorstep with no more information than Lila’s name written on a piece of paper. Has Willow dropped hints to Lila that she knows more? If so, maybe you could clarify that a little—give Lila some reason to doubt that Willow is telling her the truth.
Also, Lila’s decision to use the dark spell book to get information out of Willow seems a little rushed. It doesn’t seem in line with Lila’s personality. And there doesn’t seem enough reason for her to do so now instead of at an earlier or later point. What drives her to use the spell book now especially when you show her dreading having to do so? Maybe you could introduce the book earlier in the story and show Lila being more and more tempted to use the book as she becomes more and more convinced that Willow is lying about not knowing anything about Lila’s mother. And then have some dramatic incident that makes Lila feel justified in using one of the dark spells. Just a thought, but I think there would be more suspense that way and feel more natural to the plot.
I do like how Lila changes her mind at the last moment and tries to stop the demon. It does make me wonder, though, how important this event is to the story. If this is where it ends or if there will be greater repercussions later on, like if she tries to use the book later for some other purpose and actually goes through with it.
Very much a cliffhanger ending! I like how you’re tying the different plot threads together: like her meeting with Harriet is now important, as is the fact that she told Simeon about the mayor. I guess, I’m hoping you do the same with the book of dark spells instead of just leaving it dangling.
Good luck with the novel—I can definitely see it being published (and I hope it is).

Dianna Lanser wrote 789 days ago

A YARG review based on chapters one through four.


You are telling a wonderfully intriguing story that will entertain not only the young adult, but the grown-up as well.

A tense, moving first chapter. There’s an obvious love between Lila and Willow and the sacrifice that Lila must witness is heartbreaking. Willow’s unrepentant heart leads the reader to wonder what the murdered man did to deserve his fate. I had to turn the page.

The smoothness of the prose is a standout as Willow weaves a mysterious tale before her captive audience. Lovely words are used to describe the beauty of Gypsy Rose. And her sad story is complete with faerie dust and a sprite-like image. One can only wonder what happened to the beautiful girl, her lover, and their daughter. Could Lila be the product of their forbidden love? Hmmm… Again, I have read on.

Although Lila seems very sweet and you cause your audience to love her right away she also sounds like a normal teenager (which is good) who’s stifled by the well-meaning love of her care-taker. A black, talking cat takes the place of pestering siblings and a young gypsy boy serves as her confidant. Like any maturing youth, Lila seems ready to break free from all that’s familiar.

Chapter three and four, you develop a lot of mystery: the growing, black spot, the hidden red bottle, and the periodic killings and I wonder how it is all going to shake down for Lila and her friends. This has the makings of a really good book! Highly starred!

Dianna Lanser
Nothing But The Blood

Kayla H wrote 790 days ago

Wow. Chapters nine through eleven are great. Very dramatic. The backstory in chapter eleven was quite good. I think you chose the perfect place to put that in.
Two little things in chapter eleven, though:
I don’t think this is a complete sentence: “The memory of the day she found Lila rushing over her.” Maybe “The memory of the day she found Lila rushed over her.”? Or combine it with the sentence before it? “Willow sat down next to Lila at the foot of her bed, the memory of the day she found Lila rushing over her.”
I wasn’t sure about this line from Willow: “I have never even seen a baby.” Really?
Anyway, great job! I’ve really enjoyed reading this so far.

Kayla H wrote 795 days ago

This is a very enjoyable book—it’s intriguing enough that I keep wanting to read more.
In chapter seven, there seems to be a slight jump in time in the middle of a paragraph. There’s no reference to Lila and Marietta leaving the barn, but abruptly they are toasting bread on a fire. Maybe give some clue that they have changed location? Unless there is a fireplace in the barn?
I really like your magic is energy and energy comes from the sun theory. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it described in quite that way before. I also really liked how the rose appeared in her pocket because she did not tell it where to grow. Very original!
In chapter eight I love Lila’s question: And why would I want a stone to explode? I really like the fact that Lila seems to have just a bit of an attitude :)

JKass wrote 798 days ago

I like how the book begins with the ending. Like a Momento-eque structure. I'm wondering like others why this isn't on more shelves, its great.

Kayla H wrote 799 days ago

I just finished reading chapter five and I really enjoyed it. I think you did a great job of showing the relationship between Lila and Simeon and Lila and Dmitri.
One section confused me a little bit: Lila is hiding behind a barrel watching Dominic and Dmitri practice. You wrote that she’s behind it, but bracing her back against it, so wouldn’t she also have her back to Dominic and Dmitri? How could she be watching them? She gasps and they hear her, causing Dmitri to ask who’s there. It made me wonder how close she was that they could hear her—a gasp is usually not terribly loud. Then Simeon finds her, and she hastily makes up a story about what she was doing. Her embarrassment seemed quite realistic, by the way. Dmitri comes over to talk to them and Lila says she came to see Dominic. Dmitri says he’s in the kitchen. But wasn’t he just there practicing with Dmitri? Maybe Dmitri could say that he’s gone into the kitchen, or something. And then when Lila goes into the kitchen to talk with him, he seems surprised to see her, as though he didn’t see her stand up and start talking to Simeon. It made me wonder at what point he went into the kitchen and at what point he and Dmitri stopped practicing. As soon as they heard the gasp? When she stands up? I thought this scene could use a few more details about who’s doing what when and where.
Other than that, it looked good.

JMF wrote 800 days ago

I haven't had the chance to read much but I have really enjoyed the first chapter. Gripping start, which isn't really the start! It is incredibly well-written, your power of description is brilliant. Questions have been raised in this first chapter which makes the reader want to continue, for example what are "happy reds"? What is the relationship between Lila and Willow? You show great imagination and I'm looking forward to reading more. Best of luck with your writing.
Shadow Jumper

AuroraNemesis wrote 800 days ago

Lila peered around the corner of a tall house, the stone walls damp and coarse under her fingers. To her relief the street was empty. All she could see was an abandoned fish cart with flies buzzing lazily around it and a stray mutt scratching for scraps of food in a heap of rubbish in an alley.
An excellent start that really draws me in. The description is fluent and I like the attack on your senses. The way they humiliated willow by cutting her hair, the clink of metal. I like the character Lila and the Le Fey is an excellent choice as being descended from the fey or fairies add magic to the text.
Your writing is dynamic and you lead well into each chapter, with tempting little hooks and questions, that need to be answered. I feel this would be a good read for all ages, and I have to confess sometimes the books are better.
The voice in this book is strong and the whole language is sharp.
Really enjoyed. Well done. Yarg review

Kayla H wrote 800 days ago

Overall I was quite impressed by this book, especially if it’s your first novel. My first novel was absolutely awful LOL.
Here are some of my thoughts:
In chapter two, the story of the Gypsy Rose was very well told—a clever way of getting backstory across in a natural-seeming way.
In chapter three I did have a slight problem with the conversation between Willow and Lila (I love both their names, by the way) as they are riding in their wagon. Lila says that everything is boring. Willow follows this by saying that Lila seems to be bored. Lila returns with “Bored?” I think you could add a little more detail about how Lila says this. My first thought was that she was confused by Willow’s assessment of the situation and is questioning her in surprise—as in “bored? How can I be bored?” even though she used the term first and must know that she’s bored. This didn’t make sense to me. My second thought, when rereading it, was that maybe she was meant to sound a bit ironic, as in—“Bored? Of course I’m bored!” This would make a little more sense. I might be the only one getting confused, but I think you could expand a little on Lila’s comment, perhaps tell us what she’s thinking or show us what tone she says it in. Just a thought.
The same thing with Willow’s next comment and Lila’s reaction. Willow says, “Well, if it’s excitement you’re after you could always help me finish this jumper.” To me, it’s quite clear she’s teasing Lila. But Lila wonders why she always says such confusing and annoying things. It might annoy Lila—it makes their relationship more realistic that they don’t get alone perfectly and that Willow sometimes annoys Lila. But I don’t see how it could confuse Lila or why she would think it such an odd thing to say.
I really liked Petunia, the watch goose—that was a clever and original touch.
Thing says, “I was afraid of the little miss.” Should that be, “I was afraid for the little miss.” Thing does not seem to fear Lila very much.
I did like how Willow says she can feel Thing’s magic itching inside her bones. That’s a great way of describing it!
This is definitely a book to watch. Best of luck with it.

nenno wrote 803 days ago

God! How depressing that you write so fluently and this is YA. Good trick to start with The End. Clever. Disinclined to read more, not my bag but I daresay you will do well with this. All the best.

Kayla H wrote 805 days ago

I’ve read your first chapter and am looking forward to reading more. You’ve started right in the middle of the action which really enticed me to keep reading.
I did notice a little typo:
You’ve got: “The square was Willow would surely be” I think you need: “The square was where Willow would surely be.”
I really like how you describe the sound of the dragging chains as “a low metallic slur.” Very good imagery.
You do seem to use a lot of exclamation marks outside of the dialogue; maybe it’s just me but, at least to me, it gives a sense that you’re trying to compensate for a lack in the writing—relying on the punctuation to get a point across instead of relying on the words to convey the urgency of something.
Anyway, this looks good and I’m planning on reading more.

vamullen wrote 810 days ago

I'm sorry that it took me so long to get to giving a review! But so far I have very much enjoyed the story. After reading through it, I don't have as much to give advice on as some others have. There are times in the first chapter that the persepctive is a little confusing, but afterwards I find that I didn't have that problem. You've created a rich world that seems to blend in well with the ordinary world of the Riverbend townsfolk. Lila's believable, and I keep finding myself wanting to tell her to stop being so stupid at times, in a way I would tell my own younger sisters. I want to see more of Harriet and am thrilled that I will here in the next few chapters. You've made me care very much about the characters, and I severely hope that soon the find the killer. I'm worried about things becoming bad between the gypsy folk and the Riverbenders.

I'll be looking forward to reading more of it!

Mr. Nom de Plume wrote 813 days ago

Well done. Backed and highly recommended.

K.R.Slifer wrote 816 days ago

YARG Review:

I've read the first three chapters and this story seems interesting. You've created a world that is magical and full of rich culture.

A few thoughts that I had were why did Willow inherit a familiar instead of gaining her own? I found that a little odd. Also, why does Lila have red hair? Usual Gyspies are olive skinned and dark haired. Is there significance to it? Is Lila the daughter of the Gyspy Rose and she got her red hair from her father? I don't remember him having red hair... maybe it isn't important.

A few typoes:
Chapter 1
The square was Willow = missing a where
greying and the temples= at the temples
Chapter 2
you use dainty twice in one paragraph when talking about the faerie dust
chapter 3:
same old people doing the same old thing= that read a little too modern for me. it felt out of place
I was confused when talking about the lullaby if Willow sang it to Lila as a child or if Willow had someone sing it to her as a child.

Overall, this is very an interesting premise. I think the first chapter is a great hook. The story in chapter 2 was interesting, but I couldnt figure out if it was significant or not. It sort of slowed things down for me despite the wonderful prose of the story. I love that you named Willow's cat, Thing. That gives Thing a level of mystery.

The Darkness of Gold

Julio Guzman wrote 820 days ago

Hi Michelle!
This is definitely one of the best YA novels I've read on this site. Your imagery is amazing and the dialogue fits. The first chapter is flawless and you succeed in getting the emotions across. I love how you end the chapter, really sad but it keeps the reader wanting to turn to the next page.

Six stars for sure!
Best of luck:)

Maria Constantine wrote 824 days ago

Michelle, there are many things that stand out for me as I read your opening chapters; I like the switch of point of view in the first chapter. The opening scene is so important and you allow the reader to experience it from Lila and Willow's perspectives. As a reader I was able to engage in the experience more fully and on a deeper level. Your talent as a writer is exhibited in the vivid descriptions, flowing dialogue and engaging characters you create. I found myself just as captivated as the children in chapter 2 listening to the story of Gypysy Rose.
I have rated your book highly and wish you much success. Maria :)

Maria Constantine wrote 824 days ago

Michelle, there are many things that stand out for me as I read your opening chapters; I like the switch of point of view in the first chapter. The opening scene is so important and you allow the reader to experience it from Lila and Willow's perspectives. As a reader I was able to engage in the experience more fully and on a deeper level. Your talent as a writer is exhibited in the vivid descriptions, flowing dialogue and engaging characters you create. I found myself just as captivated as the children in chapter 2 listening to the story of Gypysy Rose.
I have rated your book highly and wish you much success. Maria :)

iandsmith wrote 825 days ago

The opening of The Gypsy's Daughter is full of movement and mystery.

The name Willow reminded me of the wonderful character that appears in every episode of Buffy.

“Hearing a noise” and “rumbling stomach” are so close I was intrigued and I connected them, so that when it turned out to be the crowd I was pleasantly surprised.

And “the happy reds” I found mysterious and interesting. I will read on.

coloratura wrote 829 days ago

Hi Michelle, finally got to The Gypsy's Daughter and although it is not my genre (my being neither YA or much interested in fantasy) I really enjoyed it. I read the first four chapters and you have a fabulous imagination, clear voice and are a confident storyteller. The graphic first scene drew me in and set the scene for the whole story very well. I love that gypsy mothers worry about their daughters falling of broomsticks! Hilarious. The only suggestion I have is that for me there was a bit of an adjustment in the first chapter when you switched voice to Willow - I expect that is Authonomy forcing your layout so it is not a huge paragraph break, you might want to use something like * * * to mark the change, just my opinion. Well starred and on my w/l - Coloratura :)

RK Summers wrote 833 days ago

Hi Michelle :)

Just reached the end of chapter 3, and really enjoying what I've read so far! You've obviously put a lot of research into this, and your hard work shines through your writing. A couple of typos can easily be fixed, but you've crafted a wonderful, magical world here. Very impressive writing!

I think there's a bit of a jump in chapter one where we suddenly go from Lila's head into Willow's. Some publishers don't like that as it jerks the reader out of comfort. It's only personal preference though, (I know I'm guilty of it too), so keep what you're comfortable with :)

High stars from me :)


Lainie wrote 835 days ago

Hi Michelle,
I've just read your book and really enjoyed it. From the first chapter I was intrigued and just had to keep on reading.

Willow, Thing and Lila work perfectly together and although there are minor errors which is only to be expected, I think it's an excellent book and look forward to reading the concluding chapters. Well done !!

Lainie :)

GCleare wrote 836 days ago

This is really good. A few funky sentences here and there but your writing is excellent, smooth and so vivid we can see these scenes in our minds. Exciting and fun to read. High stars! ~Gail

ps-love the cover, too!

Amy Smith wrote 840 days ago

I've just read chapters 13 and 14 and they're brilliant! I think the scenes with the dream snatching demon were compelling and very polished. Chapter 14 ended dramatically and left me hanging. Also the Willow's fall and the subsequent dialogue between Willow and Thing is much clearer.
Great job. :)

Amy Smith wrote 842 days ago

Michelle i found your book completely by chance and i have to say, it's one of the best books i've read on here in a long time! It's the first time i've read a book on authonomy and haven't been able to stop thinking about it since i finished reading it!

I was captured as soon as i read the pitch and i just knew i was going to love it.
Your opening chapter is extremely dramatic and leaves the reader with lots of questions. Lila intrigued me from the very beginning and i could feel her emotions quite clearly when Willow was being executed something which is very unusual when this was the first time i'd been introduced to either of the characters. You captured Willow's story telling ability perfectly and i was drawn into the tale just as much as the children in the book!
I think thing is brilliant and the fact he annoys Lila so much but he the one who keeps such a close eye on er and keeps her safe.

Firstly there were times when Willow's conversations with Thing grew a bit confusing and it was difficult to work out who was saying what. Secondly there were a couple of spelling/grammar issues i found, but this is only to be expected and easily fixed.

The only other thing i have to say is i wish there was more posted here! You left me completely hanging at the end of chapter 12 and i just want to know what happens next! If you ever decide to post more on here let me know and i'll deffinately be back and leave more feedback.

Michelle this is a stunning piece of writing, which is polished and unique and i wish you every success with it.
What a gem!
Starred and backed until it reaches its deserved spot on the desk!
Amy :)