Book Jacket


rank  Editors Pick
word count 20937
date submitted 12.08.2011
date updated 10.12.2013
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Fantasy, Horror
classification: moderate

The Siren's Lyric (Formerly Deshay of the Woods)

Phil Partington

When a witch seduces Matthew by assuming the form of the girl he loves, Alexandra must fight for him—as well as her own survival.


Alexandra Brim is bitter, and who wouldn’t be? She lost her mother as an infant, grew up under persecution for being magi and has been living in solitude with only her father and pet raven as company. To make matters worse, Father is sending her back to Lott’s Vale eight years later to care for her insane uncle. Yet what she dreads most about going back is facing Matthew—the boy she left without even a goodbye. The boy she never stopped loving.

Life doesn’t get any better once she arrives. When Matthew rejects her advances, she finds release for her stress in the unhealthiest of ways: by casting mischievous spells about the town in secret.

Though childish, these pranks are mostly harmless. But something lurks beyond the town walls—a Siren has been seducing men to carry out her underhanded errands, and suddenly Alex’s harmless mischief is damning evidence against her. As she fends off suspicion from the townsfolk, the Siren claims Matthew as her latest victim and learns about his lingering feelings for Alex.

Now she wants the girl dead in the strangest of love triangles gone wrong.

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creature, demon, demonic, demons, gothic, love, lust, magic, medieval, monster, possession, shape shifter

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Andrewallen82 wrote 409 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

MC Storm wrote 410 days ago

Wow! This is excellent Phil. I must say it reads much better. There's just enough description to move the story along and grip the reader. I could actually feel the crunch! So very well done!

Ivan Amberlake wrote 413 days ago

Well done, Phil!

amor87 wrote 414 days ago

I saw your link on FB that you had updated. I have to say that the opening has come a long way from when I first read the chapter and offered up my advice. In general, I think the added details help paint a more vivid picture for the reader. I noticed that I was really clinging to each word, which doesn't happen a lot on autho. I end up jumping around and then back tracking. The only thing I would caution of is to be careful of becoming "flowery" or "overwriting." I think what you have is good, but any more description and it could really bog down the read. In general though, it's REALLY improved! Well done!


Philthy wrote 418 days ago

Thanks for all the support, folks! Based on the Harper Collins review (seen above), I have COMPLETELY rewritten the novel. Deshay was my first stab at novel writing, which is a very different animal than what I've been used to in non-literary article and report writing. The result is about 35K more words than before and a completely different (and hopefully much improved) story. I'm nearly finished, at which point I'll throw out some queries and see what happens. Thanks again.

made wrote 546 days ago

Wow awesome book

stearn37 wrote 564 days ago

The Harper Collins comments are good and i can see this going to print.
Well done getting to the editors desk, i will check your other offering soon.
Since you read Derilium it has been edited and extended, if you would be so kind as to take a few minutes to peruse the changes, i would be very grateful.
John Stearn
Author of Derilium

Abby Vandiver wrote 565 days ago

Congrats on your Editor Desk review. Compared to others I've seen this is very good. You writing is good (haha, I agree with HarperCollins, like my opinion counts). Bravo for you!


TyBean wrote 565 days ago

A nice review from Harper Collins, young man. Hopefully you are not too discouraged by the "first draft" comment. I think they're merely saying there is much more potential there. I see it too!

Ty Bean

stearn37 wrote 591 days ago

Well done getting to the editors desk :-)
John stearn
Author of Derilium

molten wrote 597 days ago

thats great read you've got there. hope to see it published soon

MDN wrote 600 days ago

Looking forward to the editor's review. Did I miss it?

Beasly wrote 610 days ago

good girl!

TyBean wrote 616 days ago

I just realized I have yet to congratulate you on a job well done in reaching the editor's desk. Hopefully you will now turn towards getting this published and hopefully a publisher is wise enough to see what kind of gem this is.

Good luck and congratulations. I look forward to seeing what Harper Collins thinks.

Ty Bean

Amy Smith wrote 623 days ago

Deshay of the Woods
YALF review (based on Prologue-chapter4)
I read this some time ago, and absolutely loved it then. Coming back to it now it is apparent that this is even more polished and gripping than my first read thanks to th author’s thorough editing and updating.
From my previous comments (so many months ago) it is clear that this is incredibly well crafted and here I will aim to provide more detailed feedback on the prologue to chapter 4 which have been recently updated.

The opening of the prologue is dramatic and gripping and detailed descriptions are given whilst the pace of the action taking place is excellently maintained. I particularly liked the description of the pendant which was simple, but detailed enough for the reader to invision it.
A few points:

1. The sentence ‘Self-loathing turned Dahlia’s stomach as she looked upon her daughter in the tree.’ Didn’t do Dahlia’s strong emotions enough justice for me and didn’t feel as believable as it could.
It could be reworded to read ‘Self-loathing clawed at Dahlia’s conscience as she looked upon her daughter in the tree.’ (just an example)

2. In the sentence ‘Her legs were stiff and weighed down with fear, and stalled despite her commands.’ (‘and is slightly overused here and the sentence doesn’t flow as well as it could) it could be changed to ‘Her legs were stiff and weighed down with fear, stalling despite her commands.’

Chapter 1
This is a very welcome addition to the manuscript and really develops Alexandra’s character. It is great for the reader to gain an insight into how she lives with her father after leaving Lott’s Vale. I was very surprised by how cold Thomas was. This isn’t a criticism: I actually liked this fact, it is nice when reader doesn’t get what they’re expecting and makes them more curious and thus read more of the novel. What effect does Thomas’ cold persona have on his daughter? Why does he behave in this way? The author has definitely created some potential for character development here.
Minor things I picked up here:

1. Alexandra snapped awake,’ (not sure if ‘snapped’ is the right word here, it just doesn’t feel right in this sentence).

2. “who doesn’t’t fear him” (minor typo)

Chapter 2
This chapter has a great opening which creates mystery straight away. Who is this witch? Is she real? The description of the tavern is very detailed, whilst I’m not sure whether this level of detail is necessary to the narrative, it enables the reader to have a good pcture of the scene where all the action is taking plce.
A couple of things I noticed:

1. ‘but Matthew saw the impatience hidden behind hit’ (typo-should this be it?)

2. ‘Once she has a hold of you,” he continued,’ (maybe the ‘he’ could be exchanged for ‘Gant’ to clarify who is speaking here?)

Chapter 3
This is a very gripping and haunting chapter that captivates the reader. The ending is particularly dramtic and the reader is left hanging, wondering what will happen next.
A few points I made as I read:

1. ‘metal coins’ (I’m not sure if you need the ‘metal’ here, it just seems too obvious)

2. ‘Though Matthew knew the way—he had walked that path in the dark many times—the story of the Witch had managed to unnerve him a little.’ (something about this sentence didn’t flow properly for me) it might read better if it were changed to ‘Though Mathew knew the way, having walked that path in the dark many times, the story of the witch had managed to unnerve him a little.’

3. ‘…an balm for everything bad.’ (should this be ‘a barm…’?)

4. ‘some deep regresses of the mind’ (should this be recesses?)

5. ‘Matthew broke himself of the slight, euphoric trance and darted behind a nearby tree, nearly tripping over a mossy log on the way.’ (is there a missing word at the beginning of this sentence as it doesn’t make sense as it is. Should it be ‘Mathew broke himself out of the slight, euphoric trance…’?)

6. ‘The last things he saw before losing consciousness were two large, yellow eyes approaching at great speed’ (I’m not sure about the word ‘things’ in relation to the eyes: the reader would typically think of a pair of eyes i.e. a thing, rather than regarding them as two separate things… so I’m not sure this works as it is?)

Chapter 4
The descriptions in this chapter are brilliant, allowing the reader to see the surroundings through Alexandra’s eyes. This is a very vividand ‘real’ chapter and the reader is made to feel that every detail is extremely important.
Some things I picked up on:

1. I found it difficult to differentiate between the description of the bridge and Alexandra’s thoughts and at times the two seemed to almost merge together. This passage might need some clarification to in order to make it less confusing.

2. ‘The festivities would have surely raised a stir, but that isn’t it.’ (I think there is some confusion between tenses here: should this be ‘but that wasn’t it.’?)

3. ‘When he did, he voice was softer,’ (typo: should be ‘his’)

Best of luck with your HC review
Amy :)

Philthy wrote 624 days ago


Thanks for the review. A few things:

1) Have you ever been in a forest at night? Believe me, she wouldn't know the rock wasn't a rock at first. The darkness plays tricks on you. I live amidst this kind of wilderness.

2) Hmmm, not sure the point about her father is relevant to the story, so that's curious that that's the question you thought of.

3) "the bird's feathery coat." I'm inclined to think this might be how you're reading this, as the word "coat" in the verb sense has many contexts other than just a coat or jacket. For instance, why didn't you think of a coat of paint?

Just a few quick points. Thanks so much for the read and feedback! Big help!


Kayla H wrote 624 days ago

The prologue is tense and atmospheric, a woman running from a demon, a baby hidden with a pendant. The ending is sudden and gruesome.
You’ve obviously edited this quite well, giving it a very professional feel.
The ending makes me want to read on because I want to find out if the baby survived or not. There is no doubt you have earned your spot on the desk.
A bit of minor nitpicking, though:
Some of the descriptions/word choices do strike me as a little odd. Most notably: “One side of the rock ascended like a fast-growing tumor, while the other side sank into itself.” This whole sequence read really oddly to me. The description of the motion is a little strange and Dahlia has to know, as soon as she sees the “rock” moving, that it isn’t a rock at all, and yet she continues to refer to it as such. Again, most of your descriptions are lovely, but this one just didn’t work for me.
Chapter one:
Alexandra is a likeable character and you leave just enough questions to keep me curious: how long it took her to be found, if she knows what happened to her mother, if her father is her real father or if he has adopted her.
I like the complexity of their relationship, his cold, lifeless reactions, and the diligence of her training.
Some nitpicking:
“The bird’s feathery coat” “coat” really makes me think of fur instead of feathers.
“who doesn’t’t fear him” a bit of a typo there
Chapter two:
Very interesting story about the witches and people’s reactions to magic.
While answering some questions about Alexandra you’ve introduced the question of: what will happen when Alexandra returns and she and Matthew meet again? Nicely done.
Some nitpicking:
To me something is missing from this sentence: “He shushed Jonah sitting across from him.” “He shushed Jonah, who was sitting across from him.”?
“hidden behind hit” should be “hidden behind it”
Other than that, this looked good.

Kate LaRue wrote 624 days ago


Coming back to this again after the addition of the new chapter one. I like meeting Alexandra. This chapter is a nice bridge between the prologue and the tavern scene with Matthew. The timeline may still be a little off, as in chapter one we read that Alexandra and her father left Lott's Vale when she was ten, but in chapter four she was seventeen when she left, and she reminisces about her teenage years and 'experimenting' with Matthew, though perhaps I have caught you between uploads of revisions.

I was a little confused when Alexandra is attempting to control her father with her mind. Did she actually succeed in making him do something? That sequence was a little unclear, as was the dialogue between his demonstration of the spell and her attempt. After he attributes her reluctance to approach him to fear left over from the spell, there are two paragraphs of her internal thoughts, then he says 'Good, now you try' which seemed out of place to me, almost like she should have said something first.

The ominous quality to Alexandra's feelings when she arrives in Lott's Vale on the cusp of the festival gives chapter four a forbidding tone, and I wonder how long it will take her to discover the 'witch'.

An atmospheric, mysterious fantasy that I'll gladly come back to.

kokako wrote 624 days ago


Hi Phil,

I’ve just read the new Ch 1 to 5. Here are a few quick comments. They mainly focus on Ch 2 (Authonomy) as this seems to be the new chapter.

Ch 1 (Your Prologue)

This chapter didn’t seem markedly different from the earlier version. Is that correct? I couldn’t find anything new to point out, but most of my earlier comments still apply here (though it’s up to you whether you use the suggestions, of course).

Ch 2

1) Could she have something from Matthew secreted away in her chest? If he’d mattered that much to her at the time she’d left, she would have a token hidden away to remember him by, but you don’t mention one. (Of course, in your new version he might not matter to her at all, in which case disregard this).

2) ‘A skinned fox carcasses was’
‘carcasses’ should be ‘carcass’

3) ‘eyeing the rotating foxes’
Okay, so maybe it needs to be ‘Skinned fox carcasses were’ above. Or this needs to be ‘eyeing the rotating fox’

4) ‘at him deep’
‘deep’ should be ‘deeply’

5) ‘the regresses of their psyche’
do you mean ‘recesses’?

6) ‘though her jaw still agape’
you could say either ‘though her jaw was still agape’ or ‘though her jaw gaped’

7) ‘though they were quieter than before’
You say ‘before’ again in the next sentence. maybe here you could say something like, ‘though with less volume’

8) ‘she be so ready to go as Scarab’
‘so’ should be ‘as’

I think this chapter is a positive addition to the story, Phil.

Ch 3 – 5

As these chapters haven’t changed substantially, my previous review probably still stands.

If, as I suspect you are, you’re pushed for time, I think the main thing you should focus on is getting Alexandra’s age and the timing of events correct. At the moment they are conflicting right throughout the story and this would seem to me to be the biggest thing to correct before Deshay of the Woods hits the ed’s desk tomorrow.

This is a book worthy of the desk in my opinion. You’ve done a great job.


S.C. McGillicuddy wrote 624 days ago

Very, very well written and I like your plotline. This'll do amazing in the Editor's Desk. You have a great beginning to your story as well. This book deserves its rank and so will the others from the series.
Brilliant work!
P.S. if you have time, could you check out either of my books "Whitechapel" or "Second Shadow"? I would appreciate it!

Debbie Coope wrote 624 days ago


I read all the uploaded chapters recently, and was pleased to return to read some of the revised work. The new chapter (one) really works well. It provides some of the backstory about Alex's return, and introduces the element of magic that banished her family. It flows better, as we have Alex brought forward early on into the story, which links the excellent prologue with the opening chapters.


JMF wrote 625 days ago

I have read the prologue, chapters one and two.
The added chapter at the start is a great improvement. It provides a continuity between the prologue and the rest of the story which was missing before, when we went straight into the tavern scene. I like the build up of tension between Alex and her father and the revelation that she is to return to Lott's Vale.
'Alex, who doesn't't fear him?' Remove 't.
The only thought I had about the tavern scene was that I wasn't sure why Matthew is so freaked out by the story of the witch. I think his thoughts on this should be made clearer.
Will try and return to give more tomorrow.

Philthy wrote 625 days ago

Thanks Lucy!

As I explained in the YALF group, you're reading a couple different versions of the early chapters, which is why the timeline doesn't work. Sorry about that. You caught me between edits.

Thanks for the feedback! I've taken the parts relevant to the new versions.


Lucy Middlemass wrote 625 days ago

This is a YALF review

Deshay of the Woods

I read this some months ago, and I’m pleased to return. I’ve focused on things that didn’t work for me because the book’s ranking suggests you must already know how good it is.


I think the third sentence might have a word missing, possibly “he” or “it” in the later part “but it was as a large beast that (it) pursued her now…”
In the sentence “The Black Wolf could cover ground faster than she ever could…” I don’t think “ever” is necessary. Unless, I guess, this is a chase that keeps happening.

Chapter One

Does the reader need to know so much about the tavern’s construction? If it isn’t important later then we probably don’t need it here.
“punctuating Matthew’s sentiments of the mention of Dahlia Brim.” I don’t understand this. Maybe if the first “of” was “at”?
Matthew is bothered that an eight-year old hasn’t said goodbye to him. Is that right?
The last sentence of this chapter lacks weight because although magic is mentioned, Matthew is only considering it as part of a story. If Matthew knew the fables sometimes contained whispers of truth (and therefore so to might this witch story) it’d be more of a hook.

Chapter Two

The year ten mention of Alexandra is confusing. She was a baby eight years ago. Matthew is preoccupied with a child who has made him something out of twine. Presumably he loved her mother, Dahlia?
“Barron branches..” I couldn’t find a meaning for “barron”. Perhaps it is supposed to be “barren”?
There’s various smiling without humour and smirking without mirth in this story so far. It’s kind of the same idea - I don’t know if people really do so much of it.

Chapter Three

Now Alexandra is somewhat older than seventeen - she hasn‘t been to Lott’s Vale since she was seventeen. This chapter must be set more than nine years after the preceding ones with Matthew walking home from the tavern. Matthew says eight years ago Dahlia was murdered by The Black Wolf. Alexandra was a baby then, so is eight years old when Matthew is in the tavern in Chapter One and Two.

I’ve found it very difficult to follow the timeline. I’ve been back and forth through the chapters trying to work out at which point Matthew and Alexandra could have grown up together, when Alexandra is still only eight when Matthew is getting drunk and has stubble.

I couldn’t find anything else to comment on in this third chapter. There are lots of great images so far, especially the characters in the tavern.


Kate LaRue wrote 626 days ago

YALF-prologue and chapter 1

I've read the beginning chapters of this before, and have to say I find the prologue and chapter 1 much improved from my first reading. Much more sense of atmosphere both in the chase through the woods and in the tavern scene. One thing I noticed, was that Matt says it was eight years ago that Dahlia was chased through the woods, but should it be more than that? Otherwise it is a little weird for Dahlia's daughter to have been Matt's love interest. I will be back to comment on the next few chapters for YALF.

kokako wrote 627 days ago


Ch 15

1) ‘There’s been an attack, now’
In one of the earlier chapters – I think the first one of Deshay, she mentions that she has made Gant kill for her before. Why didn’t that bring Bartley’s brothers?

2) ‘Witch of the woods’
Is ‘woods’ meant to have a capital ‘w’? I can’t remember.

3) ‘but a stronger part of him believed letting Gant go was a mistake’
I’m not quite sure how this relates to the first part of the sentence.

4) ‘resonated throughout the woods’
should this be ‘and resonated throughout the woods’?

5) ‘in silk, white fabric’
this might be better as, ‘in silky white fabric’

Great chapter ending. The plot is getting thicker and thicker.

Well done with this, Phil. I hope what I’ve given you here is of some help – and in time before Deshay of the Woods is snatched away to the ed’s desk. I hope all goes well for you.


kokako wrote 627 days ago


Ch 14

1) ‘Finnegan lurching there’
Is ‘lurching’ the verb you’re wanting here? That sounds like a seizure. Maybe try ‘twitching’

2) ‘It would take several minutes’
This might be better as, “It took several minutes’

3) ‘You’d better leave”
Isn’t she worried about Matthew? A witch has attacked him and bound him with magic. Doesn’t she care?

4) ‘But how could she be?’
I’d say ‘How could she be?’ as you’ve just said that he’d given up on the idea of her being a dream.

5) ‘a wood bench’
‘wood’ should be ‘wooden’

6) ‘had always gotten’
‘gotten’ should be ‘got’.

7) ‘shined’
should be ‘shone’ – unless it’s American?

8) ‘shape shifters’
hyphenate (You’ve hyphenated it two paragraphs later actually)

9) ‘imagine a world that exists only in two dimensions…’
More science! This is great. Well done. Beautiful shape-shifting and demon explanation.

10) ‘It’s a protective charm’
This was another concern I had earlier. Dahlia didn’t know what the amulet was except that it belonged to a demon and was magical. Yet she out it around her child’s neck. Wasn’t that dangerous? Wasn’t she worried it might affect her adversely?

Good chapter.


kokako wrote 627 days ago


Ch 13

1) ‘he had gotten a clearer’
‘gotten’ should really be ‘got’. Apparently ‘gotten’ was dropped from the English language about 200 years ago, which is illogical because we still have ‘forgotten’.

2) ‘The mare had been’
Earlier you say, ‘Snow had started neighing and nodding his head. Fin patted his mane’, so Snow can’t be a mare.

3) ‘and went to tidying the hut’
‘tidying’ should be ‘tidy’

Good chapter.


kokako wrote 627 days ago


Ch 12

1) ‘the drawn shutters causing Matthew to shiver’
comma after ‘shutters’ otherwise it can sound as though the shutters caused Matthew to shiver.

2) ‘rain clouds’
one word

3) ‘was the same from the night before’
this should be either ‘was the same as the night before’
or ‘was the one from the night before’

4) ‘the voice boomed again’
did it boom the first time? I hadn’t visualised that.

5) ‘we haven’t formally met’
do you mean ‘formally’ or ‘formerly’? (‘or at least that you can remember’ suggests the latter, but ‘for me to waste time with that’ suggests the former)

6) ‘an infatuation on’
I would say ‘an infatuation with’

7) ‘did not truly love her as they often said’
I’d remove ‘as they often said’. The sentence makes just as much sense without it and ‘as they often said’ can be read to mean that they often said that they didn’t truly love her.

8) ‘ Something had to be done and she knew Gant was the one to send’
Maybe say, ‘Something had to be done and she knew Gant was the one to do it’ as the second part of the sentence needs to apply to the first. You haven’t mentioned anyone going anywhere in the first part so ‘send’ doesn’t quite work.

Things get complex…


kokako wrote 627 days ago


Ch 11

1) ‘allowing his relaxed breaths tickle her ear’
should be ‘allowing his relaxed breaths to tickle her ear’

2) ‘After an hour or so passed’
should be ‘After an hour or so had passed’ as it’s the past of the past.

3) ‘She did not know how long she would have to stay there, as her father had always said change in circumstances would reveal when a task was completed, and she would not be able to stick things in such a bleak room.’
I couldn’t quite follow this. On first reading it sounds as though she’s saying that, because her father had always said change in circumstances would reveal when a task was completed, she did not know how long she would have to say. It’s my guess, though, that ‘as her father… completed’ is an aside. Maybe set it up a little differently, such as, ‘She did not know how long she would have to stay there – as her father had always said, change in circumstances would reveal when a task was completed – and she would not be able to stick things in such a bleak room.’

4) ‘a youth she held little memory of’
Why? She was here until she was seventeen (I’m guessing) and it sounds as though her childhood was very happy, especially her time with Matt. So why does she have little memory of it. Maybe just say ‘to recapture her youth by taking in the scenery’

5) ‘She supposed shared blood… but she knew better’
This seems contradictory. Maybe say, She wondered briefly if shared blood… but she knew better’

6) ‘The story he told’
should be ‘The story he had told’

7) ‘the sun was sunk’
should be, ‘the sun had sunk’

8) ‘was curt as usual’
commas after ‘curt’ and ‘usual’

9) ‘was a different person than before’
I’d remove ‘than before’. By saying ‘different person’ you imply this anyway

10) ‘whom Fin did not know as well’
maybe say ‘whom Fin did not know well’ or ‘whom Fin did not know very well’, otherwise this can be read as ‘whom Fin did not know also’

11) ‘His eyes sunk into deep’
should be either, ‘His eyes were sunk into deep’ or ‘His eyes sank into deep’

12) ‘it was near ready’
‘near’ should be ‘nearly’ technically, as ‘ready’ is a predicate adjective in this case, but I realise this could be Alexandra’s ‘voice’.

13) ‘Uncle Fin appeared as though he was going to snap at Alexandra again’
This sounds odd to me, which is strange because you could say, ‘It appeared as though he…’ and it would sound fine. But for some reason I want to say, ‘Uncle Fin appeared to be going to snap…’ whenever I read this. Maybe it’s a common usage thing, or maybe it’s just a kiwi thing.

14) ‘We need to get the medallion off his neck’
Yay! You’re going to answer my earlier question (about why Dahlia stole the necklace, and where she was when she took it).

15) ‘with a disdain’
remove ‘a’

16) ‘the one with the least needed skills’
hyphenate ‘least needed’

17) ‘he’ll have as much interest’
you could remove ‘as’ here

18) ‘that Fin almost forgot’
should be ‘that Fin had almost forgotten’

19) ‘like the wildlife grazing around his hut’
Would wildlife that grazed gnaw at a piece of roast?

Great chapter – again.


kokako wrote 627 days ago


Ch 10

1) ‘by these kinds of dreams that’
I think I’d change ‘these’ to ‘the’. It makes the sentence stronger.

2) ‘an heartening tune’
‘an’ should be ‘a’

3) ‘She shot back’
small ‘s’ for ‘She’

4) ‘with alarm to her question’
‘to’ should be ‘at’

5) ‘of what happened’
should be ‘of what had happened’

6) ‘shook itself to let his feathers breathe’
This really needs to be, ‘shook itself to let its feathers breathe’ or ‘shook himself to let his feathers breathe’ Given that he’s called ‘Donald’ and you refer to him as ‘he’ elsewhere in the story, I’d be inclined to go for the latter option.

7) ‘in mortification and, keeping her eyes to the ground, she caught sight of Donald’
This seems a little clunky. Maybe just say, ‘in mortification and suddenly caught sight of Donald’?

8) ‘jaw opened in a breathless yawn’
I can’t quite get what this is meant to convey.

9) ‘not taught how to face’
should be ‘not taught her how to face’

10) ‘and feared ever losing him’
should be ‘and she feared ever losing him’, just to reinforce the subject, as you digressed to Matthew’s eyes there for a second.


kokako wrote 627 days ago


Ch 9

1) ‘through the shudders’
‘shudders’ should be ‘shutters’

2) ‘why she left so suddenly’
should be ‘why she’d left so suddenly’

3) ‘The words emptied from his mouth like an exhaustive burp’
great imagery

4) ‘Father made me go… He didn’t give me time to say good-bye’
‘When King Raymond banned the use of magic, folks… looked at my father differently… We had to leave.’
‘Like him she was the victim of circumstances’
I had the impression that he’d known all this, which is probably why his anger didn’t really make sense to me. I think that might be because of your sentence in Ch 1, at the pub, where Matt says (thinks), ‘But when King Raymond banished magic in Seriyah, her father had taken her to live with him in the woods far to the north.’ This implies that Matt knows the reason for their hasty departure. Now I’m wondering if you need that sentence at all. Most of it, Alexandra tells us in Ch 4, and she could easily tell us all of it if we need to know that soon. Or the rest could just come out here in Ch 9, as it does anyway. Perhaps you could replace the sentence with something like, ‘Then one day she and her father had packed up and left.’ To be followed by your sentence, ‘And she left Matthew without a good-bye.’ That would make Matthew’s anger very understandable. (Even more so if he’d been just about to ask her to marry him, or something, which wouldn’t have been uncommon in their society at that age, I suspect. (I've worked out she must have been about seventeen when she left. Is that correct?))

5) ‘Her friends, and eventually her parents, started calling her Alex at some point’
Her mother died when she was a baby, so maybe say something like, ‘Her friends, and eventually her father (for her mother had died when she was just a babe), started calling her Alex at some point’

6) ‘When we returned, my father’s manner changed even before I could see our home.’
I got really confused here, but I think it might have been because I was focussing on her age – so I focussed on the fact that she ‘returned’ when she was twenty-five and couldn’t work out how her father had suddenly appeared in the story. I’m not sure that a casual reader would ever do what I did, but just in case, it might be an idea to say something like, ‘When we returned from our stroll, my father’s manner…’

7) ‘Matthew remembered hearing about the fire’
Surely he remembered the fire? If it raised their house wouldn’t he have been angry for them? Worried about them? Maybe that could have been part of his anger. Maybe he’d frantically searched for her for hours before someone had told him they’d seen her and her father walk out of the Vale with a pack slung on their back. That would have made him furious, I would have thought – the fact that she’d gone without even letting him know she was safely alive and safe.

8) ‘So is your father still…a mage?’
But earlier you said, ‘He pleaded with the council, arguing that…King Raymond hadn’t expatriated those who only formerly used magic’, so I’d assumed he wasn’t a (practising) mage even when they left. Maybe say he started up again, as he’d gained nothing by stopping?

9) ‘She smile, meeting his gaze’
‘smile’ should be ‘smiled’

10) ‘it shrunk and ultimately’
‘shrunk’ should be ‘shrank’ (‘shrunk’ is used with ‘had’ or ‘has’)

11) ‘The subject was not as interesting to him then’
should be ‘The subject had not been as interesting to him then’

12) ‘a person is nothing more than a system of energy…’
Brilliant. I love this. Why haven’t you classified your book Sci-fi? This is great. The science behind the magic.

13) ‘Brother Bartley.” Matthew said’
comma after ‘Bartley’. I can’t believe I found a punctuation mistake. Your manuscript is amazing, absolutely flawless (well, except for this) for punctuation around dialogue. I’m very impressed.

Good chapter ending.


kokako wrote 627 days ago


Hi again, Phil. I'm now looking at Chapter 3. Here, Alex mentions that she's been in the forest eight years, but that she was a teenager when she left. This would make her a minimum of twenty-one now (Actually, you say 'In their teen years' so I guess she must be at least 22). Which means her mother must have died more than eighteen years ago. I'm confused. How old is Alex now, and how old was she when she left? I had the impression she must be about fourteen when she left, but maybe that's wrong.


kokako wrote 627 days ago


I was just looking back through your chapters, trying to work out how old Alexandra is, because it seemed important (in relation to Matthew's anger, I think) and yet I couldn't remember seeing it. So I went right back to your Chapter One - the pub scene. At one point, someone calls Dahlia a witch. Then you have a sentence; 'Eight years ago, she had been murdered by the demon they call the Black Wolf'. This would make Alexandra eight-years-old at the time of the story. Should this be 'Eighteen'?


kokako wrote 628 days ago


Ch 8

1) ‘but that was not the killing’
should be ‘but it was not the killing’. ‘that’ makes it sound as though there’s another killing he minds more.

2) ‘song she sung’
should be ‘song she sang’

3) ‘It was if they had’
should be ‘It was as if they had’

4) ‘his cheeks folded to a frown’
I can’t quite picture this. When I think of a frown, I always visualise a forehead. Maybe say, ‘his cheeks folded in disapproval’ or ‘his cheeks folded in annoyance’. I think the last is better. I can actually visualise that.

5) ‘with a sketching’
‘sketching’ should be ‘sketch’

6) ‘the men of town’
should be ‘the men of the town’

7) ‘to Gant amongst the noise’
comma after ‘Gant’

8) ‘around the tome like greedy vultures picking at a meal’

9) ‘called upon him’
remove ‘upon’ or you could say 'summoned him'

10) ‘her hair not daring’
comma after ‘hair’

11) ‘she had lived far past the life span of a human being’
Aaah. And here was I thinking she was Josephine.

Excellent chapter. More tomorrow.


kokako wrote 628 days ago


Ch 7

1) ‘His left cheek facing the sky’
commas after ‘cheek’ and ‘sky’

2) ‘as he walked the path’
should be ‘as he walked up the path’

3) ‘While talks of diggers’
What are diggers? Are they the Teratalpa? If so, perhaps stick to the one name, or maybe mention the two names together a few more times, so the reader makes the connection now.

4) ‘Gibley’s collar like snaking weeds’
comma after ‘collar’

5) ‘overcame him, the voice in his head’
replace the comma with a semicolon

6) ‘unmarked festered wound’
should be ‘unmarked, festering wound’
Why is he so angry with her when she got dragged away, kicking and screaming, as it were, by her father? Her absence isn’t her fault and he knows it.

More coming.


kokako wrote 628 days ago


Ch 6

1) ‘modest cubes of oak wood shacks’
this says they are modest cubes made of oak wood shacks. Maybe remove ‘shacks’?

2) ‘She supposed deep down she had always wondered’
This sentence is a bit contradictory to the rest of the paragraph, so it might be better to say, ‘Yet she supposed deep down she had always wondered’

3) ‘wood basinet’
‘wood’ should be ‘wooden’ (wood is the noun, wooden the adjective)

4) ‘derived to the same conclusion’
remove ‘to’

5) ‘Dahlia for her task’
remove ‘for’

6) ‘Fin’s lips causing’
comma after ‘lips’

7) ‘had often pointed out in some way or another’
Maybe just say, ‘had pointed out incessantly’ It’s a bit tighter, but essentially says the same thing.

8) ‘He had always priding himself’
‘priding’ should be ‘prided’

9) ‘yet her eyes fixed on’
should be ‘yet her eyes were fixed on’

10) ‘The mages of town’
should be ‘The mages of the town’

11) ‘This came to no surprise’
‘to’ should be ‘as’

12) ‘he donned’
this means ‘he put on’ but he wouldn’t have put them on in the middle of the welcoming. Maybe say ‘he wore’

13) ‘and he was sad to see her pass’
should be ‘and he’d been sad to see her pass’

14) Very nice description of Chester’s display of magic.

Good chapter, Phil. Intriguing to slip back into the past. Liston. Hhmm… The King’s representative… The plot thickens.

More soon. I hope this is a help to you.


kokako wrote 628 days ago


Ch 5

1) ‘Although her prison spanned… she found little joy in her solitude’
I didn’t think prisons were meant to be joyful places. This suggests otherwise.
Maybe change it around a bit. For instance, ‘Her domain spanned all the way from the Whistling Stream that bordered Lott’s Vale to the southeast, to near the edge of the vast desert to the northeast, but she was a prisoner here and she found little joy in her…’

2) ‘held up by stone walls held in place’
repetition of ‘held’. Maybe say something like, ‘held up by stone walls kept in place’

3) ‘of her tumbled down’
comma after ‘her’, otherwise it can be read as though it’s going to say something like, ‘of her tumbled down house’

4) ‘but thought it still wise’
should be ‘still thought it wise’ as the adverb should be next to the verb it applies to. Hhmm. Actually, it could be either. ‘still thought’ is more commonly used, though, so it feels as though it flows better (this is just my opinion, of course), so I’d still be inclined to change it.

5) ‘at his war scars’
I’d remove ‘war’. It doesn’t really add anything and the sentence is tighter without it.

6) ‘I cast to it’
Do you mean ‘I cast on it’?

7) ‘You would be wise not to mention that you know anything about this’
Yet earlier you say, ‘Once the shrine is built, have the town Elder Council craft a Lenocinium candle, as instructed in this book’. This is contradictory.

8) ‘At its centre was an inscription, a demonic language’
should be ‘At its centre was an inscription, in a demonic language’ otherwise it means there was a demonic language at its centre.

9) ‘and vines wove their way’
should be ‘and vines had woven their way’

10) ‘She refused to do’
should be ‘She’d refused to do’ as you’re talking in the past of the past here.

11) ‘and found herself imprisoned’
should be ‘and had found herself imprisoned’

12) ‘him a choice at all’
I’d remove ‘at all’. It’s superfluous.

13) ‘A light spilled’
should be ‘A light had spilled’

14) ‘voices sang’
should be ‘voices had sung’

Nice to have Deshay’s voice. The story’s developing nicely, Phil.


kokako wrote 628 days ago


Ch 4

1) ‘she was not worried knowing’
comma after ‘worried’

2) ‘the sky burned a brilliant pink and orange, and she knew Lott’s vale was just around the corner’
This is saying that she knows Lott’s Vale is just around the corner because the sky burned a brilliant pink and orange. My guess is that you’re not meaning to convey that, so my suggestion would be to turn the whole sentence around and say, ‘The sky burned a brilliant pink and orange by the time she finally reached the stream. Lott’s vale was just around the corner.’

3) ‘a tied vine the ring’
this tripped me up for a second. Maybe say, ‘a tied vine for the ring’

4) ‘three days walk’
should be ‘three days’ walk’

5) ‘a stream Father had deemed a safe and suitable living space’
This sounds as though her Father’s suggesting they live in a stream. Put a comma after ‘stream’, I’d also say ‘that Father’ otherwise it’s a little hard to follow the flow of the sentence.

6) ‘but now a faded rose’
should be ‘but was now a faded rose’

7) ‘she once called her love’
I’d say ‘she had once called her love’ to keep it consistent with the rest of the sentence.

8) ‘Does he think on me?’
should be ‘Does he think of me?’

9) ‘as she edged the trail’
not sure what you’re meaning here. Do you mean, ‘as she edged along the trail’?

10) ‘something was off about the town’
She then goes on to describe decorations for a festivity – and it sounds as though she means these decorations are ‘off’. Is this the meaning you were intending to convey?

11) ‘The town is in shambles’
I would say, ‘The town is in a shambles’ but that may a kiwi thing.

12) ‘I walked all that way only to be done in by a wobbly, old bridge’
But she’s not done in by it. Maybe say, ‘It wouldn’t be fair if I’ve walked all that way only to…’

13) ‘sense she got about the town’
‘she’ should be ‘she’d’

14) ‘the wears of time and weather’
‘wears’ should be ‘wear’

15) ‘but never bothered’
should be ‘but had never bothered’

16) ‘sides, indicating magical qualities’
remove the comma. It causes the sentence to suggest that the old monk leaning against the staff indicates magical qualities. Removing it means that the intricate etchings indicate the magical qualities.

17) ‘She studied the rows…’
This is a really difficult sentence to follow and, to me, it seems incomplete, but that may be due to a few missing comments and the occasional word choice. Are you meaning,
‘She studied the rows of log huts leading inward to the town’s centre, thick bits of sod for their rooftops and flat boards, with intricate and unique etchings, making up the doors and guarding against insects and windows.’
Aah. Okay. It came together as I typed. Two commas and a slight change of words make a difference, I think. ‘as the’ was the biggest tumbling block. I read it in the context of ‘as the rooftops rose higher and higher’ sort of thing, so I read the whole sentence expecting to find a past tense verb that never eventuated. And without the commas, I had the etchings making up the doors, which also didn’t make sense.
Actually I also read it as ‘thick bits of sod for the rooftops and flatboards’, so if you wanted, you could probably improve the sentence still further by saying, ‘… rooftops, while flatboards, with intricate and unique etchings, made up the doors and guarded against insects at the windows.’

18) ‘returned his gaze to the path ahead’
does that mean they’re walking? I assumed they were still standing where they’d first met. I can’t find anything to suggest otherwise in the previous paragraphs. If they are standing still, then you might want to rethink this sentence, as it suggests they’re moving along the path. Otherwise you’ll need to put something in at the point where you visualise them starting to move, to let the reader know that this is what they’re doing.

19) ‘will return and never helpful’
This may be better as ‘will return and they’re never helpful’

20) ‘Chances of them showing’
As you have just been talking about the prophecies, I read ‘them’ to mean the prophecies (as these are the current subject). This needs to be ‘ Chances of the Teratalpa showing’

21) ‘he voice was softer’
‘he’ should be ‘his’

22) ‘Only that my mother was murdered trying to keep it from the demon’
That was one of my questions concerning the prologue that I forgot to ask (there’s another, but it came to me while I was busy making dinner and now I’ve forgotten. Hopefully I’ll remember it soon. It was about the demon. I remember that much). Anyway, my question was, why did she take something so precious to Biehl when she knew he would hunt her down for it? And why did she have her baby with her when she did something that stupid?

Okay, I’ve remembered my other question. In the first paragraph you say Biehl had been spotted across Seriyah in countless forms. I took that to mean he’d been spotted in lots of places in Seriyah while he was persuing Dahlia – which would mean she’d been running from him for a long time. Yet when he finally catches up with her she’s not far from home, and presumably safety. So does this mean she was just unlucky and he caught up with her at the last second? If so it would be good to put something about her almost making it to safety after so long on the run or something. But if everything happened locally, it might pay to change that earlier sentence to something like, ‘Biehl had been spotted across Seriyah in countless forms over the years, but it was as…’. Soemthing like this will stop readers making the assumption that he had been spotted across Seriyah during this chase (which, I’m afraid, is what I assumed).

23) ‘of apprehension as her father had taught her’
comma after ‘apprehension’

24) ‘She thought on another time’
Do you mean ‘She thought of another time’?

Good work. This has a lovely pace to it, good dialogue and a nice easy-to-read style.
More to come soon.


kokako wrote 628 days ago


Hi Phil,

Ch 3

1) ‘when she was year ten’
This is really minor, but in NZ, and I think in Oz as well (I have no idea if it applies to anywhere else, though), the school years are set out this way. So I instantly thought she was in her tenth year at school, but I’m presuming you really mean that she’s ten years old?

2) ‘Barron’
should be ‘Barren’

3) ‘the words rattling in his brain’
You’ve just said ‘rattle him a little’ two sentences before. Maybe say ‘echoing’ or ‘billowing’ or ‘thrumming’ or something instead of ‘rattling’ here.

4) ‘but soon picked up his strides’
this has to be either, ‘but he soon picked up his strides’ or ‘but soon picking up his strides’

5) ‘Have I been drugged’
Do they have drugs in his world?

6) ‘He then noticed the forest’
remove then. The sentence is stronger without it, and it’s not necessary.

7) ‘his eyes veer, unwillingly, and his’
I’d be inclined to say, ‘his head veer, unwillingly, towards the light, and his’ as you usually ‘veer’ in a certain direction. eg ‘He veered to the right’ or ‘He veered sideways’. Never just ‘He veered’

8) ‘Matthew broke himself of the slight, euphoric trance’
Maybe say, ‘Matthew broke from the slight, euphoric trance’ It’s tighter. Or you could say, ‘Matthew tore himself from…’ if you want it to convey the fact that he consciously caused it to happen.

9) ‘past her pearl-white shoulders, resting at her mid back’
This makes it sound as though her pearl-white shoulders are resting at her mid-back. Say, ‘to rest at her mid back’ instead.

10) ‘as abruptly as she appeared from’
‘she’ should be ‘she’d’

11) ‘as his sense of sobriety’
I thought he was feeling drugged – and that was the way Gant described it, too. Maybe you could say, ‘as the hazy sense of unreality gave way to inebriation’ or something. Or ‘his hazy, dreamlike state…’

This is great, Phil. Onto the next chapter…


kokako wrote 628 days ago


Hi Phil,

Here’s Ch 2

1) ‘the dimness casting shadows’
comma after ‘dimness’

2) ‘her mother’s name. He was grinning’
Close quotation marks after ‘name.’

3) ‘hidden behind hit’
‘hit’ should be ‘it’

4) ‘Dahlia was a powerful mage. The woman I’m talking about – I don’t know what she is, but I’m sure she has to something else entirely.’
Roddy’s not sounding as dumb as a board. This is a terrible thing to suggest at the eleventh hour, but can you make him sound a bit thicker?

5) ‘before the old man named could respond’
No old man has been named. Is Roddy supposed to be asking a specific person this question?

6) ‘you and the two half-wits’
I can understand that he calls Roddy a half-wit, but why does he call Gant one? He’s a former warrior of the King, so I would have thought he would be respected, and his words listened to. Other than the one reference, where Jonas mouths the word ‘fool’, everything else suggests that Gant has kudos within the community – and I just put that reference down to Jonas refusing to believe a word of what was being said. Maybe say, ‘you, a half-wit and a man who’s clearly had too much to drink’?

7) ‘Once she has a hold of you,” he continued’
The subject of the previous sentence was Matt, so at first I thought Matt said this. You’ll need to say, ‘Gant continued’

8) ‘knew this just as’
comma after ‘this’

Another great chapter. More soon.


kokako wrote 628 days ago


Hi Phil,

I think I’ll send you this chapter by chapter. That way you’ll get as much of it as quickly as possible.

Ch 1 (Authonomy chapters)

1) ‘it was as a large beast that pursued her’
either say ‘it was as a large beast that it pursued her’ or remove ‘as’. (I prefer the first option. The second is open to misinterpretation).

2) ‘incantation as Alexandra’
this sounds as though Alexandra was going to sleep anyway. I think I’d replace ‘as’ with ‘and’

3) ‘The rock swayed steadily with the ferns that were moved by the breeze’
I think this sentence would be tighter if you simply said, ‘The rock swayed steadily in the breeze’. After all, we don’t really need to know what the ferns are doing. And Dahlia’s focus is already on the rock.

4) ‘the other side sank’
remove ‘side’. It’s superfluous. You’ve mentioned ‘one side’, so if you just say ‘other’ the reader knows you’re referring to the other side.

5) ‘The other side sunk’
As above. This has the added benefit of removing a lot of repetition, as you had four ‘side’s in two sentences.
‘sunk’ should be ‘sank’

6) ‘A few seconds later, Dahlia’s stomach twisted in knots with recognition of what was happening.’
I think, if you just say, ‘Dahlia’s stomach twisted in knots.’ this bit will be a lot tighter – and you’ll see that the rest of it wasn’t necessary. The story flows really well without it.

7) ‘tearing through the bushes and thrashing trees’
Not sure what you’re meaning here. Are the trees thrashing and he’s tearing through them, or is he thrashing the trees? If it’s the latter (and I’m picking that it is), you might want to turn this all around and say, ‘thrashing trees and tearing through the bushes’. I’d also consider removing ‘the’, as it seems odd to have ‘the’ for the bushes, but not to have ‘the’ for the trees.

8) ‘the demon’s fiery red eyes that were fixed on its prey’
try ‘the demon’s fiery red eyes, fixed on its prey’. It makes a stronger sentence.

Phil, this chapter’s fantastic! Great work. You’ve done a brilliant job. More to come soon.


JTMcInnis wrote 628 days ago


Regarding what I said earlier about describing entrancing songs of women, here is that description of a woman's voice (she actually seems to be some strange shape-shifting cat-woman), from chp. 3 of The Mezentian Gate by E.R. Eddison:

"As though the unseasonable mildness of this calm, unclouded March midnight had breathed suddenly a frozen air about him, he shivered, and in the same instant there dropped into that pool of silence the marvel of a woman's voice singing, light and bodiless, with a wildness in its rhythms and with every syllable clean and sharp like the tinkle of broken icicles falling."

And then Eddison gives the words of her song. And then he finishes off his description of her voice with this:

"A lilting, scorning voice it was, with overtones in it of a tragical music as from muted strings, stone-moving but as out of a stone-cold heart: a voice to send tricklings down the spine as when the night raven calls, or the whistler shrill, whose call is a fore-tasting of doom."

The song of your witch in the woods has, no doubt, a different effect on Matt. I just give this as an example of how effectively he puts readers in a trance by letting us hear and feel the particular effects of the woman's voice. He doesn't have to tell us the woman's voice is entrancing or generally gloomy. He describes the voice in such a way that it entrances us, as it did the man in the story. He could have only told us that her song filled the man with "gloom" (as you say your witch fills Mat with "euphoria") and we would have had to trust him on this. But he goes further and lets us feel a particular kind of gloom, as the man in the story feels it when he hears her voice.

OK. Best of luck with this. I'd value whatever comments you might have time to make on parts of my book, if you get the time.


Jeff McInnis--Betwixt the Trees

Laura Markovitch wrote 629 days ago

I have read through chapter 3 so far, and have to say that you write extremely well. I could see the tavern and hear the men prattle back and forth. Your description of the woods and the owl were compelling. I would stick to the word "ale" versus any other reference to alcoholic beverages - it seems to fit the time period about which you are writing.
One area of confusion for me was the baby. I believe that Matt is in his twenties, yet Alexandra was born 8 years earlier? Do years not have the same meaning in the book? The way it reads is that Alexandra and Matt were at one point in love and now she's gone? You might need to clarify this in some way (or maybe I need to re-read the first couple of chapters). If the baby is Alexandra, and her mother left her in the tree 8 years prior, I'm not sure how she and Matt could have had a romantic relationship. Maybe I missed something.
Anyway, I believe that you are definitely on to something here. It is on my shelf (and has been for sometime). Good luck to you!
I hope that you could return the read and place The Waiting Room on your shelf should you feel compelled. It is a different genre than yours, but that's what makes authonomy so fun.
Laura Markovitch

JTMcInnis wrote 629 days ago

Hi Phil,

Here is the message on typos and such, the kind of stuff people always help me with.

Occasionally I see words that may detract from the medieval-rustic atmosphere you seem to want to give to your story. Words like "fixation" in dialogue, and a character speaking of having "issues" (the tavern keeper says this to Matt), perhaps even the word "alcohol"--these words don't seem natural to the medieval atmosphere that you seem to encourage elsewhere. I imagine modern people saying these words, not people in a far-away medieval kind of place. Elsewhere you do make efforts to make the people sound a bit medieval (or at least non-modern), as when the monk asks her, did your father "leave you coin?" (instead of the modern "did your father give you money?"), or "Do you think on her?" (instead of the modern "Do you think about her?"). For example, perhaps Matt could use the word "beer" or "ale" when speaking, or thinking, of being tipsy. Of course beer and alcohol are alcoholic, but I think Robin Hood or Sir Gawain would speak of having too much "ale", not too much "alcohol". That's what a modern person would say. My dictionary says "alcohol" wasn't commonly used before the late 17th century. "Beer" and "ale" go back to 13th century, and so if you want to give your story a medieval feel, perhaps avoid these more modern-sounding words. The same may actually be true of "Matty" as a kind of nickname. To me sounds more like my next door neighbour, not a person living in the realm of Seriyah. I know you're not writing a historical novel, but some words may sound too modern and break the spell you're attempting to cast.

--in chp. 2 you write "where criminals were driven to" . You don't really need the "to".

--You describe the air outside the tavern as both "crisp" and as containing a "brutal chill". You say it foretells the coming winter. But if the chill is "brutal", hasn't winter already arrived? "Crisp" suggests autumn to me. "Brutal chill" suggests winter. Actually, "brutal cold" might be better. "Chill" may be too moderate altogether to be "brutal". Anyhow, at the least, perhaps this brutal cold "announces" a winter that has just arrived, rather than "foretelling" a winter yet to come, for if the air is brutally cold, surely it is winter air already come.

--"barron branches" ---don't you mean "barren" (leafless)?

--You speak of Matt having always believed in the "truth" of the message of the tales, rather than of the "particulars" of tales. Do you mean that he had an allegorical or symbolic sensitivity to the tales his mother told him when he was a child, from the very beginning? This strikes me as unusual for a child. This is why adults usually have to spell out the message of a tale for children, if there is one. Kids are not usually looking for it, though they may often get the good of it without looking for it. I can see him growing to see "truth" clothed in the particulars of tales and fables, but most kids I know don't begin this way.

--There may be too much repetition of the word "euphoria" in that passage in chp. 2 after he hears the witch's singing. I think you use it three times in rapid succession, instead of describing the voice of the woman itself, or any particular things it evokes in him. I once read a sentence by C.S. Lewis that described a man in love, when listening to his beloved's voice for the first time, as "hearing a tune that he had been trying to remember for all of his life" (or words to that effect). I read a sentence this last week by E.R. Eddison that compared the effect of a woman's seductive singing to the effect of breaking icicles upon the ear. I can't remember his exact words, but the description was wonderfully precise and magical. In other words, why not describe the woman's voice and its effects on him more precisely, instead of just saying it caused a general euphoria. You do say that he felt as though he were drugged. But different drugs have different effects. What effect, exactly, does this have on him. It may be hard work describing this magic properly, but it may be worth the try. A repetition of "euphoria" here seems too abstract and general to me. Just as if you told the reader the witch was "scary" without describing exactly how the witch was scary.

--Also, later you say he is in a "slight" euphoric trance? But is it within the nature of euphoria, or trances, to be slight? Usually they are overwhelming, and you actually say he is "overwhelmed" when the euphoria first hits him. This seems like a contradiction.

--You describe Gant in the forest as a "stirring" figure. Not sure readers will know exactly what you mean here.

--You say Gant is "still kneeling" before the witch without ever having introduced his kneeling. Perhaps you can say at that same point Gant was "now kneeling".

-- "three days' walk" --just add apostrophe

--I've not got very far into the book, but wonder whether the names of places here sound a bit too much like real places on Earth. Cisserlei=Sicily, and Seriyah=Syria?

--your description of the odor near the demon statue. You first say it is a "faint" stink that partially dilutes the natural odors of the woods. But then you say it is far too "potent" to be skunk spray. I live in a place full of skunks, and I would not describe skunk spray as anything other than "potent". But if the smell near this statue is more potent than skunk spray, how can it also be described as a "faint" stink?

--If you've already said "monk of the Order of Adlard", immediately adding "clerical" and "sect" is unnecessary. Monks are always clerical and "order" says all you mean to communicate by the word "sect". An order is a group of religious people; so is a sect. And sect can often mean a group that deviates from the norm, or that opposes other sects in some way. Unless you mean that here, "sect" is just as redundant as "clerical".

OK. Better go. Remember, these are just suggestions. Use them as you see fit, or not at all. I notice myself doing the same kinds of things all the time!

all the best, and good luck

Jeff McInnis--Betwixt the Trees

JTMcInnis wrote 629 days ago


I've not read enough of this for it to displace something already occupying my bookshelf, but at the moment it looks like you don't need my help anyway. I have read the first three chapters and the prologue and can say that your tale is interesting so far. Your prologue is exciting, there are several good descriptions here, and the idea of the witch in the woods, and what she's up to, intrigues me. I particularly liked your description of Bartley as you introduce him, and your word choice when describing the woods is impressive. "Skeletal branches" is great. You get a double effect here. We know that the branches are without leaves, but the image of a "skeleton" in our brains, just by your use of the term, is perfect for a creepy forest. You get a good double-effect here, as Shakespeare does in one of his sonnets when he speaks of night as a kind of death, "sealing" up all in rest. You get the idea of something like a letter being sealed up, but also the sealing up of a tomb or coffin. All this just by good word choice, as you do with "skeletal branches" and then "dead leaves", in the same paragraph when you're speaking of his journey through the woods. Great preparation for when he sees the witch.

I wish you the best with this. I'll send you another message with more precise comments on typos and such.

All the best,

Jeff McInnis--Betwixt the Trees

Stark Silvercoin wrote 630 days ago

Deshay of the Woods is an edgy young adult fantasy tale expertly told to be just on the border of what is acceptable in the YA market in terms of lustfulness and gore. It goes right to the edge of the abyss without going over. As such, it should have no trouble standing out among what is an increasingly crowded field.

Author Phil Partington has a real talent for description. He lets readers see, hear, taste, feel and smell the environment. This is especially effective when things get scary or take a turn for the darker side. It draws in readers to share those moments with the characters whether they want to or not. This is easily the greatest aspect of the novel, as it serves to enhance everything else.

The story is also enthralling. It’s actually a little bit of a mystery as not everything is revealed at once, or even in the chapters posted on here so far. Plus the characters are realistic and the dialog is believable and flows in with the rest of the story.

I don’t say this too often, but if the second half of the book is as good as the first posted here, then Deshay of the Woods is ready to be published. And it would have little trouble finding an appreciative audience. I have little doubt that it’s bound for the store shelves.

John Breeden II
Old Number Seven

Catembi wrote 634 days ago

Shelved & backed. The most unusual thing that I think I've ever read.

Author DOMINO wrote 637 days ago

Shelved... :)

R P Woolton wrote 638 days ago

Magical and enthralling. Backed and starred.