Book Jacket


rank 468
word count 80866
date submitted 01.09.2011
date updated 22.07.2014
genres: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
classification: universal

Mandragora by Moonlight

Sue Gedge

A novel of love, witch-craft, shape-shifting and magic---and you'll never want to travel on the District Line again after reading this!


Jeanie Gowdie was a lonely young woman until she found a job in the Antioch Corey Memorial Library, fell in love with a shape-shifting magus and reinvented herself as a witch. Years before, her fanatically religious father had tried to oppress her but Jeanie had also been nurtured by her hedge-witch grand-mother, Nana Herrick, who told her she had a special destiny. But even Nana couldn't foresee that the man Jeanie loved would be turned into a cat and she'd have to do battle with Hopkins the witch-finder, the man who wanted to destroy every adept in London. How fortunate, then, that Jeanie wasn't easily intimidated.......

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love, shape-shifting, witch-craft

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Jim Heter wrote 15 days ago

Fell asleep on the District line!
I sense another "dream" coming.

Yes! And nicely done. The rationalization, the marks. And then the cat! Could this be the cat mentioned in the long pitch? It is good that Jeanie has the Elders on her side. At least, they seem to be.

It intrigues me that in Jeanie's reports of her "dreams" and "illusions" she is as fully aware and as lucid as when in her normal reality, not immediately aware of the difference and not particularly bothered when she realizes it.

Neuravinci wrote 21 days ago

Why, why, is this story so good?! I'm going to back it right now.

Neuravinci wrote 21 days ago

God, ok, I got to the end of the first chapter, and I'm like, no! I want more. and then I looked to see how many chapters you loaded and I see more than 25 and my heart sang out in joy. Great first chapter. I am going to read on right now even though I'm supposed to be doing work.


Jim Heter wrote 23 days ago

Sue, I read 24.
This is quite a development!
If you can call it that, since we seem to have shifted into the past.
By now we have many hints that Jeanie is (or was or will be) embroiled in all sorts of things she is still too innocent to understand, in spite of her protestations to the contrary. But her circumstances have armed and armored her with defenses we hope will be enough to see her through, as she continues to be turned this way and that by the whims of the destiny she so willfully desires and anticipates.

Nartana wrote 31 days ago

I'm really enjoying this, well done.

Jim Heter wrote 54 days ago

Good progress!
The roses have turned white. And the new handling of chapter 20 is a nice improvement.
Overall many nice improvements, I think.
I almost want to read it all again now, to catalog the high points I'm trying to recall.
But I'll wait til you complete this round of updates, then make a new Comment for you.

Eliza Moon wrote 61 days ago

Mandragora by Moonlight.

I very much enjoyed these two chapters, each quite different, but clearly linked. I liked the short choppy sentences in the first, 'I jerked my hand away. A bird shrieked above my head. The blood sang in my ears.' and I liked that she did not pray.

The beastie references were good, 'the blue-black carapace of a beetle' and the 'woodlouse-grey sky' - this tied in nicely with the descriptions of the extraordinary building in the next chapter. 'grotesque birds, reptiles, and sea-monsters, piled on top of each other in a profusion of teeth, claws and snarls above the door.'

The cleaners singing was effective when presented before her presence was explained, added to the weird ghostyness of the place. 'The Obeah man, he come and take you away'...

I really liked the letter of application written in green ink with the important points underlined in purple. 'I shouldn't have done it, should I?'

Now the first ref to Mandragora, I was intrigued to know what that was. 'magical properties, and that the roots resemble the human form.'

Clever stuff, cryptic comments, sizing each other up, 'picking up the crucial hyphen in what I'd said.' Wise-woman. Wise woman.

But oh no! She is two years too late! But she can't be... because that scrap of newspaper was meant to find her, or she, it...

Great stuff. Watchlisted, high stars.

I would appreciate it if you would like to take a look at my work in return. x

carol jefferies wrote 239 days ago

Hi Sue,

Mandragora by Moonlight

This is a return read.

I found your pitches really long which may put some readers off. The long pitch reads more like a synopsis. Sometimes it is better to hold back some of the information of what happens in the story.

The story has an excellent hook to open, with a great setting with good use of the senses. I felt really drawn in by such an original description. I felt sympathetic towards the little girl. This chapter is short with a very effective hook to close it.

Your writing is confident and strong which makes for effortless reading. I liked the description of the library.

Clemency Nantucket comes across as thinking highly of herself and I didn't warm to her. I liked the way you describe Psyche as having milky, half-blind eyes, and her strange habit of spitting on her hand before offering it to Jeanie.

I felt sorry for Jeanie as she seemed to be very lonely. I liked the mystery surrounding her lack of employment for five years. Chapter two had an unexpected ending.

Chapter three continues the mystery surrounding what Jeanie had done for her to be removed from life, and why was Mr Llewellyn so understanding. I especially admire the way you hold back with the backstory about Jeanie revealing only snippets to keep the reader interested.

I think it would perform better on this site if the story was faster paced. Readers tend to be impatient on here and like events to happen quickly. The first chapter is brilliant and sets the tone, but the description of the library slows the pace of the plot. I suggest you edit this chapter.

I wish you luck with it and award you with high stars.

Carol Jefferies
(The Witch of Fleet Street)
(Diary of a Bad Queen)

Geowonderland wrote 335 days ago

You have a very interesting story. Prologue is great. I love the character of Nana. She seemed to be a very wise woman. It made me laugh what she said to Jeanie about her father. No wonder she had a hard time containing herself. Highly starred.
Best wishes,

Jim Heter wrote 350 days ago

I just discovered your new Chapter 16 and read it. Charming, and well done as always. I have a couple of questions I will get back to you about if I can't puzzle them out for myself.

Crispy wrote 351 days ago


I have now read through 'til the end of chaper 3 and I am captivated.

This is a beautifully written, enthralling book. The language is wonderfully descriptive and often surprising. I was particularly taken with the phrase "the voice reminded me of the pleasure I get from stroking velvet".

The mechanism of Psyche's song before meeting Mr Llewelyn as a portent, was very clever indeed. The dialogue in the interview, dazzling!

Perhaps you would be so kind to review Marking Time? I would appeciate your opinion and thoughts.

All the best of luck

Sue G. wrote 369 days ago

Sue, I have just read your new chapter 14/15. Now I may have to go back and reread all the preceding, because once upon a time I already read a dialog between Jeanie and Dorian about the key, so now I am curious to get that aspect of your redevelopment straight. And of course I am also curious how Llewellyn will respond to the mug...

I'm just about to revise that chapter; it's a bit rushed, esp. with the discussion of the key.

Jim Heter wrote 369 days ago

Sue, I have just read your new chapter 14/15. Now I may have to go back and reread all the preceding, because once upon a time I already read a dialog between Jeanie and Dorian about the key, so now I am curious to get that aspect of your redevelopment straight. And of course I am also curious how Llewellyn will respond to the mug...

Jim Heter wrote 371 days ago

Another completely new chapter! What fun! Jim

I read it again this morning. Nice improvements.

And flawless as far as I can tell.

Flawless still, with new little teasers. Our mysterious Llewellyn Llewellyn has good reason to remember the year 1854? And of course we can't help but imagine that Clemency is related to Salutation and Purity, and wonder why Llewellyn does not mention her as one who might destroy the precious book....


Jim Heter wrote 412 days ago

I have read your new Chapter 9 (10) and like it . Moving forward a little more now...
I read it again today. (17th) Seems like you've been working it over, to good effect.

Sue G. wrote 445 days ago

I saw you had done an update so I read it again. Noticed a number of small but significant changes. Improvements. It keeps getting better. Look forward to the next update. Jim

Thanks Jim!

Jim Heter wrote 445 days ago

I saw you had done an update so I read it again. Noticed a number of small but significant changes. Improvements. It keeps getting better. Look forward to the next update. Jim

Jim Heter wrote 474 days ago

...and now a spiffy new cover!
I thought with the new title the cover had lost much of its significance, since (at least so far) the witch-stone incident, while telling, was a major thread.
I look forward to your next evolution.

Lyleth wrote 547 days ago

Having just read chapter one, I am enticed to read more. You have a nice, easy style that evokes place well and you have a good ear for dialogue. I plan to read more!

CARite wrote 635 days ago

The Witch Stone - I read through the first four chapters....interesting story kept me reading...I like how you gave a sense of place and brought out the personalities of the characters...well done... keep going ...will keeep you on watch...

CADreilling - The Line - Beginnings

Sue G. wrote 662 days ago

Hi Jim: I'm just doing a massive re-write, from the beginning!

I checked in and saw that you've re-posted up through 15, so I caught up with you again. I'm still very much intrigued with your story.

Jim Heter wrote 669 days ago

I checked in and saw that you've re-posted up through 15, so I caught up with you again. I'm still very much intrigued with your story.

Jim Heter wrote 754 days ago

In chapter 10, near the end, Bushy says, "How do I know I'm an outsider?"
There was something earlier, too, but you've said you are reviewing it all anyway.
Something else, though: there are frequent odd line breaks in places, which you might not see if you don't read it on Authonomy, but could be hard returns that the won't re-wrap properly. If that concerns you at all.
I like that your flashbacks have revealed more about the catastrophe. I will read on if you post more.

Jim Heter wrote 754 days ago

I noticed you've made some changes so I've been reading through from the beginning again. Something about this story draws me back to it. I suppose it is the earthy realism combined with the element of magic, a bit like what I'm trying to do in my story.
I've noted a few typo-level points here, in case you want to fix them.
Ch 3 "I held out my hand - I wasn't [sure?] whether..."
"Even really the valuable books?"
Ch 4 (first paragraph) "told more how more..."
"...didn't make [the] situation clearer..."
" well as cataloguing..."
"...perhaps she was the one [who] was naive..."
That's all for now. I'm reading on.

kshaw wrote 793 days ago

Hi Sue,
I'm really glad that I stumbled across your book. I love this type of story and your concept is fantastic. Here are my notes and please feel free to use or discard them as you see fit :)

The opening scene is powerful, but I think it needs some raw emotions in there. Its FP so describe how Jeanie is feeling. For pagans, a girl who is being punished by her Christian father for the sins of her female ancestors is very emotional and I was missing a bit of that. With that being said, it definitely made me want to read further.

The second chapter is well executed and had a nice pace. I think you revealed in the information, without giving it all away and worked on establishing a situation that the reader could empathize with.

However, be careful with dialog tags, especially when there are only a few characters in the scene. It gets distracting to read "I said" "she said" etc. after every piece of dialog.

Anyways, thats all my notes for now. I have you on my watchlist and as soon as I have room I'll put this on my shelf. Great job and keep up the great work!
Kayla Shaw

Jim Heter wrote 824 days ago

Sue, I just re-read your 8 chapters from the beginning. It reads a bit better now. You seem to have fixed up the first few chapters, and I think leaving by the fire exit and being shown the way by the pigeon was missing before. There is still the occasional omitted word later on, but I still like what you are doing. I'm going to keep it on my shelf for a while, but I will be reading your other book. I read the first few chapters of that and so far I like it too. Jim

rikasworld wrote 867 days ago

I thought this looked a really interesting book and it is! Instantly sympathetic narrator and a the writing is sweeping me along. So far it's a gripping story and I have put it on my watchlist to read more.

Atieno wrote 877 days ago

Excellent read. Great work.
Notime goes bye

Franklyn H Birbal wrote 896 days ago

Good Book its on my bookshelf, You have some good hooks, in the first chapter. I felt the i had an idea for the story, with enough mystery to want to know more. Will read more, i am up to chapter 4 so far. *Read the rest thought a threat should have been introduced a bit sooner, to create more drama and tension, time lock. Also Story through line or whatever they call it, Balance of action, more show. That being said i hope on day to have something like this to work with good luck.

Franklyn B

Carolyn Brown Heinz wrote 897 days ago

Hi Sue,
This is a wonderful read. Sorry I don't have any helpful criticism. I quite like it---the plot unfolds at just the right pace, the narrator is likable, and I'm wanting to know what happens next.

I'm putting it on my bookshelf.
Best of luck with it.
Carolyn Brown Heinz - Mage at Midnight

Oriax wrote 953 days ago

Hello Sue,
I was looking for something I would probably like to comment on and I hit upon your story, which I have enjoyed (first 5 chapters so far) very much. The story is well put together, and the writing runs smoothly without any words out of place. You leave a lot of questions unanswered in the first chapter which whets the appetite to continue.

Nan is a sympathetic character with her stories and the hint that she might have been the exact opposite of the awful old codger of a father. I like kelpies and the seal people too.

What a description of the guest house! Remind me never to go to Hexham.
Personally I like the detailed description, it creates an atmosphere, a bit like an old junk shop. Your portrayal of the Scottish coast is very evocative. I have to add that it’s refreshing to read description of Scots and Scotland by somebody who knows what she’s talking about!

The section in the library didn’t work quite so well for me though I’d be hard put to say why. I didn’t find Clemency very convincing, by which I mean I didn’t get a very strong picture of her. Maybe because there are very few hints as to what she might be thinking. When she boots Jeanie out it comes as rather a surprise. Also the strange cove on the bicycle is perhaps one wierdo too many.

By chapter five I was wanting something to happen. Or at least to be promised that something was imminent. I think I was also ready to meet somebody more ‘ordinary’ to offset the impression of otherworldliness of the other characters, and Dorian Pyewacket is certainly not going to be ordinary!

I’ll put this on my watchlist to come back to when I have time, because I like the character of Jeanie, her mac and her flat shoes, and I want something special to happen to her. I’m sorry her Nan died, I’d have liked to get to know her a bit better. In the meantime I’ll give it lots of stars because it’s a proper story, very well written it deserves it!
Best of luck with this very good story.

The Dark Citadel

sully wrote 967 days ago

Right Sue. Chap 3, 2nd para: It's chock full of description that makes the head spin. It's good, but there's too much of it. I would omit 'all teeth, claws, scales and snarls'. Most of the readers will know that carvings of mythical creatures have those features - you're stating the obvious. I don't think you need the 'pointed windows with tear-drop tracery' - very technical. And I don't think you need 'greeting a white settler beside a totem pole' either. It's all too flowery and too much to take in. Readers enjoy description but what they really hunger for is the story.
Para 4: I take on board your reasons for the description of Jeanies clothes, but there's still too much info. You have already said 'maturity, efficiency and seriousness' so to then go into minute detail is insulting the reader's intelligence. If you insist on keeping the description then you don't need 'maturity.. 'etc. Allow the reader to pick up on these things through poignant but brief description.
Para 6: Some great imaginative description but again there's bucket loads of it. I'm sure you could pare that down a bit.
Lastly, para 11 (or so): I was told by a harsh editor not to just throw in a lot description when introducing someone but to weave it in as the story progresses. I would write it this way: 'I turned and saw a woman who was smiling at me in an over-familiar way. But for some reason I found it reassuring. She looked cool in jeans and checked shirt but her face looked as though it had been scrubbed with carbolic.' Then a few lines later: 'Clemency Nantucket flicked her long auburn hair from her face and moved quietly in her sneakers as she led me.... etc. You have still mentioned her hair and sneakers, but now they are part of how she moved.
I hope you see where I'm coming from here. It's your baby and therefore so hard to cut things out that you have sweated over, but I'm handing down good professional advice.
Good luck, Sully

Sue G. wrote 968 days ago

Sully, your comments are interesting, but it would be helpful if you could be more specific---perhaps you could suggest which descriptive lines should be cut, in your opinion. I haven't described anyone's clothes 'right down to their underpants', although I have described Jeanie's clothes---but this is a plot device, as it indicates the staid, old-fashioned character she's projecting to the world, it's a disguise that later she's going to shed, when she bcomes a witch and starts dressing more flamboyantly.

sully wrote 968 days ago

Sue, I have just read chap 3. Your writing is technically very good and you have a vivid imagination, but it is this that gets in the way of the flow of your story. There is far too much description in this chapter. When one paints a scene, only a few clever brush strokes are needed. The rest should be left to the imagination of the reader. It becomes boring to be told what someone is wearing, right down to their underpants.
If you have ever painted, you will know that there is a time to leave a picture alone. If you keep adding to it you just end up muddying the water - it becomes a confusing mess.
'Less is more' was a valuable lesson I was taught by a harsh literary critic. Edit, edit and edit again is the advice given by Stephen King in his book 'On Writing'. Pare it down to the bare bones.
Good luck. Cheers, Sully.

J.V. Douglas wrote 970 days ago

A thoroughly enjoyable folk-tale. I was hooked from the beginning.

sully wrote 984 days ago

Hi Sue, Have just read the first two chapters of The Witch-Stone. I have only been on this site for a few weeks and have been fairly unmoved by most of what I have read so far. And, it appears, there are a lot of easily pleased hopefuls on Authonomy. But I have to say your writing is head and shoulders above the majority of 'contestants'. This is not my choice of reading at all, so it is a measure of your skill that I will lob you up onto my shelf and continue to dip my size nines into your story.
My profile will tell you more about me, but please Give Reasonable Force a crack (crime thriller). I am confident you will enjoy the story and, of course, we all need every bit of help to drag us up the charts. Good luck, will get back to you. Cheers, Sully.

Su Dan wrote 988 days ago

interesting theme, written with care and skill...using narrative and dialogue together making your book flow with ease and making your book enjoyable...
...and l shall back...
read SEASONS...

Cariad wrote 1003 days ago

Really enjoying this. Have read two chapters and shall be going to read the rest you've got up here. Have some stars - really drew me in. Shall comment again when I've read it all.

L_MC wrote 1004 days ago

Sue, I've read to the end of chapter six and thoroughly enjoying this story. Jeanie is an interesting character with an intriguing missing years story, the comparison of the strict presbyterian father to the grandmother soaked in folklore and the story of Jeanie's mother all work to create hooks.

I really liked the opening scene with the father at the witch stone, the introduction of Psyche when Jeanie first goes to the Library tells you immediately that this will be no ordinary library and the characters at the library are a nice touch of eccentricity.

This is well written, draws you in and keeps you interested. The writing and structure flow easily.

Tom Bye wrote 1026 days ago

Hello Sue
book- The Witch Stone--

read this very mysterious book of yours yesterday.
love the cover, find it to be perfect for the story to come,
intriguing pitch that made me want to read on, and into a bit
witch craft and other like happenings. helps the mind to escaper
the day to normalities.
Good and interesting opening chapter as Jeanie faces the witch- stone
and takes on board what she is requested to do.
really like chapter 3 or is it 4 when she goes for that interview in London;
for the job , i sensed a nice quite under line sense that something sinister is
going to develop here; nice approach her as you create this scene in the minds eye.
for readers who enjoy fantasy and romance; this is a must read.

good luck Sue.
tom bye
from hugs to kisses'
you will hopefully reading chapters 14, 16 AND 17 in mine, plenty of fantasy here.

A.Walker wrote 1029 days ago

I immensly enjoy your writing, both the style and the story. I'll back it when I have room on my shelf.
There is one thing, there are words missing every now and then. "He must care for you for (your) own sake." on page 7 is just am example, I noticed several other slips. And it is a sad read that the christian believer is so harsh and unkind. Though believers do have many faults, they are often too critically seen in view of a perfect God as role model. It is just sad as these times seem to overflow with the bashing of that faith. It won't change the God who is, but to vex a strong God by unkind words may not be a wise intention.

Thank you for sharing and many blessings to you

Vall wrote 1045 days ago

Intriguing - lively writing that promises a good read! Backed
Vall (Midwyf)

Sue G. wrote 1045 days ago

The second sentence in your long pitch is really long and hard to follow. The story itself is interesting, though.

Thanks, Kendad---I've just edited it on your recommendation!

Kendad wrote 1046 days ago

The second sentence in your long pitch is really long and hard to follow. The story itself is interesting, though.

Sue G. wrote 1047 days ago

Sue, this is a nice start. The descriptive detail is convincing, and the storytelling has a light , almost comic touch but not overly so. I will keep this on my shelf for a while in the hope that you will post more soon. Jim

Thanks, Jim!

Jim Heter wrote 1047 days ago

Sue, this is a nice start. The descriptive detail is convincing, and the storytelling has a light , almost comic touch but not overly so. I will keep this on my shelf for a while in the hope that you will post more soon. Jim

Ferret wrote 1060 days ago

Hey, I really really like this.

Sue G. wrote 1060 days ago

Hi, Noelle--I've just re-written my pitch--thanks for your comment. My book is a paranormal romance.

NoelleP wrote 1063 days ago

This has an interesting premise, but your pitch doesn't do it justice. The line from Nana is humorous, but doesn't really make sense in the context of the pitch. What is the story about? I'm definitely not getting romance, but it might be a love story, which is different than the romance genre. Hard to tell with Authonomy's distinctions.

The first chapter intrigued, but might work better if you just keep it in the moment, rather than say "I remember it like…"

By the second chapter, I felt like there was too much backstory, and I found myself skimming and wondering how much longer to the "good stuff." Probably not the reaction you want in your reader. You might consider starting it after Nana goes into the sea, and how that sends Jeanie into a new stage in her life.

The dialogue was a little odd, to me--try reading it out loud and you'll notice the number of times Nana uses Jeanie's name in dialogue. While I don't think you need to cull all of those, I rarely hear someone using the other's name in dialogue.

I stopped reading there, because it really didn't hook me enough to make me turn the page. However, I see potential in your writing and in the premise (what I got out of the pitch).

Good luck with this!

a.morrison712 wrote 1063 days ago

Your pitch drew me in. I love the idea. I am going to watch list it until I have the time to come back and give it the proper review it deserves. In the mean time, if you have a chance I would appreciate any feedback to my book Maddy Hatfield and the Magic Locket. Best of luck to you with your piece!