Book Jacket

 

rank 310
word count 38447
date submitted 21.04.2012
date updated 23.11.2013
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Horror, Crime
classification: adult
incomplete

The Carrion Collective

Maria Brookes

How much of your life can you disassemble before you realise you have taken the wrong path?

 

A mistake. One of many for Rachel who has spent all of her young life mixing with the wrong people. Now her enemies search for her, interrogating anyone connected to her and butchering them with or without the answers.

As their violence escalates, so does the attention of the underworld who send their own people out to deal with the problem. In turn they spark their own killing spree.

What starts out as a hit, botched to the level of sabotage becomes a convergence of the worst society has to offer. The hitmen, following the orders of London's most notorious criminals, a self deluded thug looking to advance from robbing small time dealers, and the Pale People, the reputed death squad of London's mysterious overlord, Black Stan.

Embroiled in all of this is Rachel who tries in vain to flee her former life and Steve Lewis, a victim of circumstance, guilty of nothing but falling for the wrong woman.

 
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tags

gangsters, lad lit, violence

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84 comments

 

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Maria44 wrote 684 days ago

Brian

Thank you for your feedback, very useful to have the story tested this way. There is an answer to each question you asked. The beginning was changed quite a lot as I searched for the elusive opening. Funnily enough the start was previously half way down the page in an earlier draft but I was influenced by what I was reading at the time. Your observation with her being more concerned about her safety than the mission is correct. The weapons are a mixture. I used her clutching her bag as her own reassurance rather than use the knife earlier. I mentioned later fight or flight (cliched I admit) but I treated her more as a cornered animal who would only fight as a last resort.

Once again a great critique and thank you very much for backing.

Maria

This is an exciting adventure. It reads like dealing with the undead, although your teaser made it sound like a regular mob. Clearly, it's something beyond paranormal.

I would delete the first four paragraphs of chapter one, and lead with the fifth paragraph. That’s where the action begins and it’s less confusing.

What does the man eying her in the bar look like? What about his appearance is threatening? I don’t understand why her reaction is so dramatic, unless she is given to fits of paranoia. Does she recognize him?

It picks up nicely when the bad guy crawls out of the sewer.

At first, you are having her hope that someone in a car rescues her, but you reveal later she is luring him into a trap. If she was rescued, the bad guy would get away, so that isn’t consistent with her mission. Perhaps your message is that she’s more concerned for her safety than for the mission.

When you talking about weapons, you mean guns, right? Try to be more specific.

The part where the bad guy keeps getting up from being killed is really cool.

Why didn’t she think about the knife as a failsafe when she was being chased?

Are you trying to say that they are fighting more than just the guy from the bar? I’m confused as to where those people came from and who she believes that are supposed to be.

You're off to a great start. I'll back it.

Brian Bandell
Mute

Maria44 wrote 681 days ago

This is an exciting adventure. It reads like dealing with the undead, although your teaser made it sound like a regular mob. Clearly, it's something beyond paranormal.

I would delete the first four paragraphs of chapter one, and lead with the fifth paragraph. That’s where the action begins and it’s less confusing.

What does the man eying her in the bar look like? What about his appearance is threatening? I don’t understand why her reaction is so dramatic, unless she is given to fits of paranoia. Does she recognize him?

It picks up nicely when the bad guy crawls out of the sewer.

At first, you are having her hope that someone in a car rescues her, but you reveal later she is luring him into a trap. If she was rescued, the bad guy would get away, so that isn’t consistent with her mission. Perhaps your message is that she’s more concerned for her safety than for the mission.

When you talking about weapons, you mean guns, right? Try to be more specific.

The part where the bad guy keeps getting up from being killed is really cool.

Why didn’t she think about the knife as a failsafe when she was being chased?

Are you trying to say that they are fighting more than just the guy from the bar? I’m confused as to where those people came from and who she believes that are supposed to be.

You're off to a great start. I'll back it.

Brian Bandell
Mute

J C Michael wrote 722 days ago

So I read the three chapters as agreed and what do I think? How does excellent grab you? Before you think "here we go, another positive review hoping for the same in return" check out my other reviews, I believe in honesty, even if sugar coated at times, so when I say excellent I mean it.
Chapter 1 is highly atmospheric, so much so I'd say you must be drawing on experience in some parts of it. Chapter 2 is frenetic at times but you hold the action together well. There's a couple of points where it gets just a touch confusing but in a sense that adds to the piece as it would be a confusing period once the attack was launched. The pace then slows for chapter 3 but by this time we are ready for it, and it also gives us chance to become more acquainted with Rachel.
If it wasn't so late I would read on, and it's a shame I have so many owed reads that returning to this can't be a priority. You should do well and quickly move up the rankings and you are making me give serious thought to rearranging my shelf.
So to summarise then the writing is crisp and effective. You handle suspense and terror with a deft touch. The elements of horror and thriller combine seamlessly. And you cover a lot yet hold back so much more, with enough glimpses of mystery, who is the old man? or the man from the bar? or his friends? to get us hooked.
Only one thing didn't seem right: the way Zeek and the Pole handled Rachel in the house. It seemed out of place that she didn't kick off more or demand an explanation of why they manhandled her and poured water over her. So they were checking for injuries but it seemed an excessive way to go about it. Just a small thing but the rest was so well crafted it stood out.
Best wishes,
James

PS Am I right in thinking Clare shot Sandy in the back in error or was it a betrayal? This wasnt clear but in the absence of much reaction I'm guessing it was accidental.

OperaPhantom wrote 31 days ago

Maria, Wow what an opening chapter, you held that tension like someone holding their breath under water. I love your descriptive use of language and generated fear translates to the page brilliantly. Then you fool the reader into thinking ' Yeah, she gets wasted, seen that read that before.' But no, a great ending with a page turning conclusion. Given this high stars and will be back for more.

Best wishes Dennis

Poppygb1415 wrote 40 days ago

Hi Maria,

Your pitch is well written, as is what I've read of your first chapter so far. I think I might agree with the comment below, however, that your first few paragraphs, albeit eloquent, the sort of writing that makes me go, 'Yes, that is so IT!' - might do better further on, when you're not in the process of trying to kick start the old tension machine. I also wonder if sometimes your search for the perfect expression (do I detect a determination to avoid cliche? Me too...) doesn't get in the way of that same tension building project. At a writing class I went to for a while, one of the tutors once advised me, 'Write a simple sentence'. Because I was so busy getting carried away with the writing, that I kinda forgot about carrying the reader with me. And the reader wants an easy ride. Which is not to say I don't admire the writing. I DO. But I think your desire to phrase everything in an original and lyrical style is in conflict with your First-Chapter need to sink your hooks into the reader, and drive that tension sky-high.

I also wanted to bicker about what part of the Thames this is meant to be... Cause I know it pretty well - used to run along it in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn... And unless we're talking Wapping or something, it's mostly pretty well gentrified these days.

A couple of things I noted, in what I've read so far...

'another whispered laugh that she strived' - should be strove

'impersonal, none threatening' - suspect an attack of the spell check - should be non-threatening

'as if she'd bit into an apple' - bitten!

All that said, the pull of your pitch, and your mode of expression will surely have me coming back for more!

Poppygb

scribe123 wrote 70 days ago
scribe123 wrote 70 days ago

Read the first three chapters.

You fit literary fiction with horror. Reading it was like reading Moby Dick with a vampire thrown in, although you don't say the victim was a vampire but there was something not of this world about him.

Your description is excellent, I looked up 'gibbous moon' so I learned a new term and you overdose on the similes but I enjoyed them. It's nice to read something non conformist. also had the urge to continue reading which I will likely do.

You know how to write well, perhaps too well and your book has done well here. High starred.

Joe

Jim Darcy wrote 74 days ago

There is plenty here to make a really good TV series.

OperaPhantom wrote 316 days ago

Hi Maria, finally found some free time to read your opening chapter and wow what an opening. You maintain the tension very well and use a wealth of vision invoking language. 'White spider fingers...' I especially like and the murder of crows adds to the whole image. best of all as the clincher to draw the reader on to the next chapter, that being the last line; very enigmatic.

I shall return again for more. Dennis :)

Magdalena Dufour wrote 323 days ago

This. Is. Brilliant. I love the detailed description, the tension and the action from the very beginning which engages the reader completely. The second chapter is pretty much the definition of tense. I can tell already that this is going to be an amazing book! the characters are well introduced and I look forward to reading the rest. Highly starred and backed!
Magdalena

The Ambitious Fox wrote 326 days ago

With the potent aura of intrigue, mystery and intensity that makes for a grand tale, this is very well thought through. Your characters feel unique and believable, not to mention that the situation that you have placed them in seems like something that could happen. It is your writing style above all else that gives the story such darkness, and, as a byproduct, gives the story a bleak atmosphere that pervades all the action.

Your language style has it's downfall however. Sometimes it can feel too wordy so that the action stagnates. This is perhaps the expense of describing things in such elaborate and, I hasten to add, exquisite fashion as you have, but at the same time, the story might flow better if you try to find a balance of the two. Also, it might help elaborate the story itself if you include a backstory to the main protagonist. That being said, I acknowledge that throwing the reader in 'the deep end' is an effective technique that some prefer whilst others do not. The chapters are too long as well. I have no idea why, but it seems that shorter chapters, even if the former chapters themselves are split into subset portions with no change to the content at all, are easier to digest.

Reflecting on the chapters that I have read as a whole, the positives outweigh the negatives however. The imagery that you use is of particular merit, especially with the colourful and imaginative metaphors that you use. Beautifully written and beautifully structured, it is a strong plot that is sewn visibly within the former chapters. To summarise in one sentence: you have a way with words.

Ambitious Fox :)

Woodburn Mall wrote 387 days ago

Well, I literally stopped what I was doing to focus on reading this, and I'm glad I did. Right away it grabbed me and drew me into some scary part of London. I personally like the description of her actions and the scenery, which lured me into the character's position.

I look forward to reading the remaining chapters. So far, this is a book I can picture myself actually buying.

Cheers,
Anethea

Graham Jon Don Lench wrote 469 days ago

Hi Maria
Read chapter 1 and was pulled in right away. Made me feel quite inferior about my own writing as yours flows so naturally. I have placed on my bookshelf and starred and if you get chance to have a look at mine (just uploaded my rewrite) any comments, good or bad are greatly appreciated.
best of luck with this
Graham Lench
The Eighth Day

Cathy Hardy wrote 480 days ago

I love this book and am putting it on my watch list. It is well written and very original. Tp stars

Cathy

Charlotte12 wrote 505 days ago

Hi,
Sorry to take so long to get to this chapter, but here I am at last.

I scanned some of the past reviews, just to get a sense of them, and for the most part, I agree that the focus on language and imagery tends to bog down the flow of the chapter. A lot of what is presented is good, but I think you might have a much more powerful and easy to read narrative if you picked your moments. That way your MS reads smoother and easier and when you do hit the reader with a perfectly timed image, it's effect is maximised not lessened. That said, I really liked the ending of chapter one, as it was unexpected and left me wondering what in the world was going on and curious about what was to come.

Best,
Dyane,
Wolf's Bane
The Purple Morrow
The Eagle's Gift

K E Shaw wrote 515 days ago

Hi Maria,
Here for my return read at last, and apologies for the delay. Normally I jot down notes as I read, but from your opening sentence I felt I really had to concentrate, so completed the chapter before commenting at all. The opening two paragraphs are brimming with meaning and a sentiment to which we can all relate - but in all honesty the construction of the sentences caused me to have to re-read them carefully to be sure I had understood the meaning.
Reading on - in terms of your use of language you have admirable skill for description, metaphor and simile - very admirable! However, by a thrid of the way through this chapter I felt I was being rather bogged down by them - just a suggestion, but I really felt that the narrative would be improved rather than diminished by a little judicious trimming of the comparisons of "this" to "that". You have some absolute gems in here, but they are getting lost in the volume.

By mid-chapter, the tension of the plot is beginning to build nicely, but yet again, it is diluted by the weight of the highly descriptive language. Perhaps it is just me, but I began to find it a little frustrating - the author's voice getting in the way of the character's. I wanted to get stuck in to the story now, follow your character through the dark streets, discover who was stalking her, and why on earth she would be doing such a thing in the first place. It was great to discover the twist - that the entire scenario was a set-up, a trap, of which not only was the MC (?) aware, but also her pursuer.

I'm referring to the MC all the time, because I don't recall seeing a name mentioned - which brings me to the fact that I felt distanced from this character - no name to hang a hook on. Looking back at it again, I think the distance comes from the fact that while drawing an excellent picture of the surroundings, and telling us what the MC is doing, you don't give us access to her internal world, allowing her to show us what she is feeling. We are told that she looks around frenziedly, and that she struggles to breathe aat one point, but I'd really like to see this more from her point of view. As it is, I felt I was experiencing event from the outside, from the outside pov of the author.

I am terribly sorry if all that sounds a little harsh - but I tend to have more to say on books that I really think have something going for them, and I believe this does. Your ability to write is beyond question - you have great command of language, and the ability to weave a tale of tension and surprise. I think if you would allow the character more of a presence in the writing, it will be truly fantastic.
all the best,
Kim

Sharda D wrote 518 days ago

Return read for your comment on ‘Outsiders’ thanks again for that!

I really liked the atmosphere of your first chapter. The writing is very good and you build the intrigue well. I usually don't go into much detail in my reviews, depends on my mood, but I felt that the writing was so good it deserved a closer read. So take the niggles as a back-handed compliment!

My notes:
Lovely quote, never heard it before, brilliant. And wonderful first line too.

The writing is beautiful, but a little dense at times. I had to re-read the second and third paragraphs to make sure I understood them. Lovely sentiments though.

Always feel the use of a female character’s hair colour (‘brunette’ in the fourth paragraph) sounds a bit ‘chick lit’. Also if she’s in the dark, it ruins the POV a little, as most of this seems to be told from her POV and would that be something she would observe about herself? Actually you do that in the next paragraph nicely with “with nothing but the rhythm of her breathing and footsteps for company”

‘tracing paper’ is nice, though ‘tracing paper cloak’ is rather mixing your metaphors a bit. What about just ‘tracing paper mist’?

You have two consecutive sentences both starting with ‘even’... “Even the gibbous moon...” and “Even in daylight...” feels a little repetitive.

6 paragraphs in, although generally I am really enjoying the writing, I am starting to find it slightly too descriptive. You could do with having a bit of an adjective cull. E.g. in the sentence “The only signs of life were restricted to the faded lights behind the closed curtains, blinds or bare dirty windows of the squalid flats”. Feels like you are always putting adjectives in front of your nouns, let some nouns go without adjectives and the flow will improve.

“watched each foot robotically”, robotically feels slightly out of place with the mood you are creating here. This all feels darkly beautiful and gritty, but robotically sticks out a little.

A little confused with POV in places. Some bits feel as though they are told from her POV “She vowed to continue walking...” and “She rubbed some of the cold from her face gently so as not to take away any of the meticulously applied foundation.” But the descriptive elements feel more from an omniscient narrator e.g. “An occasional breeze taunted her with abusive giggles as it brushed lightly by to harass its next victim”, would that really be how she would feel or describe the breeze? A deep POV should use the language of the character and describe everything through her eyes. It’ll help the writing to feel truly from the character’s POV.

These niggles are really very small, and I happily read to the end of the chapter. I like the action element of the chase etc and the mystery about the man. You leave room for your readers to ask questions and that always helps to maintain interest. But nothing is too impenetrable that a reader would switch off! That's a difficult balancing act to achieve, but you managed it well.

All the best with this,
5 stars from me,
Sharda.

S. A. Hunt wrote 520 days ago

I'm glad I came to check this out. Your intricate, dreamlike prose told me how much of a fan of the classics you are without me even having to look at your favorite books. Backed.

Mike Lee wrote 534 days ago

Maria, I stopped by to have a look at your work (after finding your comment on mine, it's only polite.) I don't know how I missed this previously; the pitch puts it exactly in the catagory of things I would check out.
So, before I start, I don't know if you've looked at the kinds of reviews I write. My goal is never to encourage or pat backs. My goal is to say things that, if we are lucky, might give you something to think about, and if we are VERY lucky, might improve the work. But it's all just my opinion, how it strikes me as a reader, so feel free to disregard anything or EVERYthing I say here.

I noted immediatly that you have good chops for metaphore and simily, descriptive stuff that, frankly, most of the writers on this site eat up. As soon as I saw that, I checked your stats, and noted also that your book is doing quite well. I think it deserves to be doing quite well. But if you err, I would say you err in the direction of too much of the descriptive comparisons, "the wind gusted like (this or that)," and "the moons shone down like (something else)." You do a great job with it, but after a while, it's easy to stop noticing the really good ones, because they are buried among so many more. I was kind of suprised by that, because of the two main skills of writing (those being, in my mind, wordsmithing and story construction) you clearly have a stength in wordsmithing... but your story construction is fine, so far as I got (though I have opinions on one or two things that I might prefer. Which I will get to in a moment.) Anyway, my point it, somone who has trouble with story construction might lean too much on their wordsmithing, but my impression is that you just LIKE coming up with all those "This was like that" comparisons. It seemed to me you could use a few commas, here and there, but nothing egregious. My own tendency is too many commas, so I may be off on that.

Your action scenes seemed to be very well choreographed, by which I mean they seem to work well in the mechanics of the real world (avoiding mistakes like putting a character too far away, and then immediatly having a "crushing blow to the chin," or sending an assassin behind a building right before he "snaps off a telling shot" or something. There were a couple of occasions when I had to re-read, because the placement of characters wasn't entirely clear, but I wouldn't have if I wasn't reading for a crit, so I don't think it's an issue. For my taste, I might make the action a little less consitently detailed, and a slightly more brief in terms of how long it takes to get through a scene... but that's taste. Otherwise, your action works very well (an area I struggle with, so I'm sensitive to writers who slack in that department.)

Now, there are a couple of very interesting things that you choose to do, which I think are risky, and I would counsel you to give careful thought to, for what that's worth. Keep in mind that I did NOT re-read to see if I have this stuff right. I read it last night, on my phone, and I don't type crits on a phone pad with my thumbs, so I'm writing from memory, but both of these things struck me as I read.

First, your set up with the MC walking thorugh dark streets, nervous and twitchy... only to find out that she knew very well what she was doing, she was leading a villian into a trap. This is a bold writing strategy that some readers will love, and others will... not. Because you take it further than usual, and give us things in the MC's head that aren't true. Like "Hide, it's my only chance." Well, no... her only chance is the small army she is depending on to save her, once the creep steps into the trap. She doens't even WANT to REALLY hide, because she needs him to follow her into the trap. I would suggest you are on safer gorund as a writer if you tell us, "She dashed into the shadows, and crouched AS IF she felt hiding were her only chance." Many readers won't pick up on the difference, and catch on that she might be leading the creep into a trap. That will work as well for your dramtic reveal that it's deliberate, and she is- more or less- safe, after all. But readers like me won't forgive you for misleading us so directly as to use the third-person, limited-omniscient narrator to give us false information. You can have characters lie to us in dialogue, as they mislead other characters, or you can mislead us by showing us her actions, and letting us come to our own conclusions, even if they are incorrect conclusions... but if the narrator lies to me directly, that's a bit too much for me, personally. The unreliable narrator, in my opinion, only works when the story is told from the perspective of someone who is insane, or posessed, or for some other reason may not know, themselves, how they are misleading spectators to their "life."

The other thing you chose to do, which I found VERY interesting (though I didn't go back to re-read and make sure I had it right, so feel free to disregard this if I missed something) is when you had the MC suddenly second guess the similies you used in the narration, to reveal that she was, in fact, in a threatening situation. If I recall, you had a gust of wind tickle her, and more wind, later on, that was like laughter (something like that, anyway) and then the moment comes when she realizes that the wind isn't blowing... it IS laughter! Now, don't misunderstand me, what you did there was artfully done. But it breaks conventions, nonetheless, unless I misunderstood the passage (always a possability.) So it may be that the early references to wind and laughter are separate from her inner comparison of wind to laughter... but if that's true, I missed it. And if I read it correctly, the result is akin to when actors on stage stop interacting with each other, and address the audience directly, "breaking the fourth wall."
You can do that, but it's almost always done in comedy. Like when a time-traveler can't take weapons or techonogy back in time with him, but he can show up fully dressed. A character might say, "If you can't carry inanimate objects back in time, why do you arrive fully dressed?" and he might get the answer, "Because this movie is rated 'G'!" It's great in a Mel Books spoof, or "Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but not typically used anywhere near serious drama. So... my point is, it's really risky, to do it the way I understood it, as I read it. Because when an author writes, "The snow fell like a white blanket across the land," it's not actually the character thinking that, unless the author writes, "She thought the snow was like a blanket across the land." It's there to make us, the audience, appreciate the completness of the "blanket" of snow, simply to give us an impression of what the character sees, not what the character is thinking.

Well, of the two, the first one bothered me as a reader. The second one caught my attention, but didn't bother me so much as it made me think back, to see if I had it right... but not enought to make me stop reading and go back to look. Anything that pulls us out of the story is, perhaps, not ideal, most of the time... but as I say, you did use it so well... that one was kind of a tossup for me, as to whether it added or detracted. But here's the bottom line: If I had it wrong, and what I described is NOT what you did, you might double check that it's clear in the text, because that's how it struck me. It may just be a coincidence of similar descriptions that I kind of speed-read through, because, as I mentioned earlier, your prose is so chock-full of such descriptive stuff.

There are a few cliched phrases here and there (for example, I would never refer to a "murder of crows" in a serious scene, just because the recent book with that title got so much play and attention, but again... taste.) I really liked the first lines, in the opening. I think it takes more author to start with the general in the opening and work down to what the character is doing in the specific, than the reverse. So I LIKE stories that start with a general principle, like an observation about walking alone, in the dark, and then show us a character doing that, much more than I like the opposite style, with a specific character walking alone in the dark, and then telling us how it impacts them.

I was not able to read far enough to develop a sense of your character work, but the early character work appears promising.

Overall, I think you have great chops. I have watchlisted this one, because I want to read further for my own enjoyment, and that's as high a compliment as I can give, on this site, when my shelf is full. Nice work.

I hope you find something in this comment helpful.

Best regards,
Mike Lee

Abby Vandiver wrote 539 days ago

Your second paragraph is one sentence. It's very long. I dont know if you used a Thesaurus to find words but certainly the average reader will have to use a dictionary. You shouldn't write in a way that cause difficulty for tge reader or dustracts from the flow. I had tovread the first three paragraphs a couple of times and was still confused. But scrolling down subsequent paragraphs were more comprehensible. You're missing a comma after "however."

Abby

NA Randall wrote 542 days ago

Maria,

I've just read your opening chapter. Here are my thoughts:

You write with steely clarity, which suits the thriller/crime genre perfectly. And you do a great job of setting the scene, especially in the paragraph that starts 'As she strode...' There's some great imagery throughout, where you ratchet up the tension. As I read on, I thought you may've, not so much overwritten this opening chapter, but made it too long and detailed, presuming the woman would be killed and the novel proper would start from her grisly murder. But you turn the whole thing on it's head, this intense, gripping "chase" scene - man following woman in the deserted night - it's all a trap. Very cleverly done. A solid hook, something sure to make the reader want to read on (and if I had more time, I certainly would've been straight into Chapter 2 to find out what happens next - the sign of effective and engaging writing.)

On a technical front. Not much jumped out of me. In your short pitch, I wasn't sure about the wor 'disassemble' - it reads a little clunky for me. Two minor points: 'tell-tale' needs a hypen, and later in the extract, 'none threatening' might be better as 'non-threatening.' That aside, this is a really exciting, polished piece of writing.

Happy to give you a run on my shelf

Regards

Neil 'The Butterfly and the Wheel'

EliConstant wrote 545 days ago

Ah...another twist as the capture goes wickedly south and Rachel is caught in the rumble.You really keep the reader on his/her toes. I'm still liking the imagery, although you do give this second chapter more grit. At first I was a tad surprised that she thinks of Martin as 'the man that saved my life twice' when she sees him fall under the swarm of attackers...if it were my signifcant other, my first thought would not be so gratefully apathetic, it would be heart-shakingly lost and broke. Then again, Rachel is in a run for her life and the trauma alone may make her mind removed from the blatant tragedy. Later, you do mention tears...her thinking of what had happened to all, to Martin. so you get the humaneness to come out. And this may be better...and more realistic. Each person reacts differently and once the shock wears off, reactions change and intensify according to personality. Then she regresses back to shock and re-living the events- to possibly stave off the pain? All the action was impressive, confusing- but that made the fighting feel more erratic and quick-move camera motion. I think I tend to try and connect with the MCs as a way of living in the story so I pay closer attention to character development. Unfortunately this means I sometimes miss plot-elements. I'm going to re-read to make sure I've understood/absorbed everything and then on to chapter 3.

EliC

EliConstant wrote 546 days ago

Beautiful and lyrical so far. A frightful situation made poetic. I LOVE the twist at the end of Chapter 1. She wasn't the scared, helpless victim after all- instead she was the willful, focused bait. The last two sentences left me hanging and excited to move to Chapter 2. So...here I go! ;-)

Also...I want to agree with JC Michael below: please don't take this as a begging for support on my side. If my work is good enough, it will be earned. I have truly enjoyed your writing style and set up and will be honest in future comments.

Mark Cain wrote 559 days ago

The prose is beautiful in this work, like a highly polished gem. It's also highly effective, building the suspense and sense of danger in the first chapter and leading seamlessly into the mayhem of the second one.

Maria Brookes is an exceptionally talented writer who cares deeply about the language. It shows in almost every word she uses. I would recommend this book to anyone as an example of what is possible.

You know, too often we are focused on writing for the market, writing to sell. It's refreshing to find an author on authonomy who just wants to write beautifully. If you are a fan of great prose, you MUST take a look at this book.

High stars!

Michael Matula wrote 561 days ago

Terrific story! Tense and thrilling, with intelligent writing and elegant descriptions. You do a fantastic job setting the mood and steadily build up the suspense. Some very nice details, as well, like the shadow “warping his countenance into something murderous.”
I probably won't get the vision of the man rising out of the sewer out of my head for a while, and the chase that followed was excellent as well.
I did see a small number of sentences that looked like they may have wandered slightly off course, and might benefit from being split into separate thoughts. In particular, I found myself getting a bit lost within the second paragraph in chapter one.
That small issue aside, though, I thought it was excellent. Very high stars.

Mike
Arrival of the Ageless

Vlad_Vaslyn wrote 568 days ago

Maria, I really liked this chapter. It's evocative, your prose is eloquent, and you really capture its paranormal aspects - LOVE the man coming out of the sewer. Well done! I have two comments however. I think there's a little too much description at times, which bogged my reading down here and there. I also wanted to see some punctuation at some points, specifically commas, because I felt like some of the sentences ran together as I was reading. That said, I'll definitely read more! Keep up the good work!

Elizabeth Buhmann wrote 571 days ago

hi, Maria. What a tense and nerve-jangling opener you've got here! Half the time I wasn't sure if the man pursuing her was even human. The personification of the wind and mist gave the whole narrative a spooky, almost paranormal atmosphere. it was a huge relief when it turned out at the end of the first chapter that it was the man chasing her who was being caught. but the relief didn't last long, and the action picks up again immediately. You've got some very vivid descriptions and a lot of fast-paced action - a thriller for sure. great job!

pka wrote 573 days ago

Hello Maria:

Patricia (pka) here. I picked your book at random, just because I liked the category and you tag lines. I hope you don't mind me jumping in. I have just started on Authonomy because I find that reading other people's work and trying to find constructive suggestions helps me improve my own writing and self-editing. Thanks for the opportunity.

I have only read the 1st chapter, but I am intrigued. My heart was racing when he came up out of the sewer, and I was cheering for her as she hid under the arch, and terrified when he knew exactly where to find her. You definitely know how to drag someone in o a story.

There are, however, some items that confuse me. They may, or may not, be intentionally written. She seems to go from fearful and anxious to bold and courageous and back again several times during this chapter. She must be trained or have done this kind of thing before, as she indicates at the end that the "trap worked." I understand that even those trained to serve and protect, and criminals in general, must have moments of fear and anxiety, but she seems to sway back and forth too much. It does not seem authentic. It is quite possible I will find out that is just how she is as I read on.

Also, there are some longer, descriptive sentences that really bog down the flow of the chapter, especially in the first three/five paragraphs. Read it out loud to yourself - I think you will be able to hear what needs to be edited, but don't throw it away. Save it in an edits file. You write cinematically - like you are describing the scene, and it is great. I just find it to be too much for the pacing this scene needs. So far, it would certainly make a great movie. You might need those edits to help write the screen play.

Please let me know if my feedback is helpful. I will read a couple more chapters and comment again.

My best to you on your journey,

Patricia
(pka)

music_from_mars wrote 576 days ago

Maria,
This is very intelligent writing, but I wonder if the first line isn't a little lost in abstraction. It seems that since the "unimaginable" refers to playground fights that might have been won, loves that might not have been lost, the solitude is in fact magnifying the precise opposite: it is magnifying what is unreal, what is ONLY imaginable. So that solitude delivers or frees the imagination, while darkness contorts it.

This is just a thought from a first glance. Your heroine had me at "fuck off" and I will be reading more as my free time permits.
Gabe

John Philip wrote 580 days ago

This is good stuff and, I am sure, will turn out to be a very good thriller. The only slight - very slight - criticism I have is that occasionally you overdo some of the description - ie the adjectives - which has the effect of slowing down what is otherwise a high octane and pacey crime novel.
Best wishes John Philip

StrikeAMatch wrote 590 days ago

This review is for: Maria Brookes' The Carrion Collective
Date: 09.06.2012
Review By: Elizabeth Raine
Chapters: 1(Chapter 7)
Short Pitch – What a catchy short pitch/tag line.
Long Pitch – Very detailed, doesn't wear on the brain when reading, pulls people in.

Why I chose Chapter 7:
I'd rather review a chapter that isn't Chapter One due to the fact that most reviews are for chapter one or two.

Chapter 7:
I believe this is a very well done chapter. Your writing structure as well as storytelling is very well crafted. Each sentence has a beginning and end, meaning they do not run on and on. I did find some rather long sentences but none as bad as to comment on them. The character in this chapter, Claude(as well as Malcolm), is very well written out. The scenery surrounding him has been well described as well as the officers who came to visit. Such a wonderful line to end a chapter with. I applaud your work, very well done.

Notes for Chapter:
"Neither officer rested back, frightened of creasing the immaculately presented char." I don't think 'char' belongs here. Were you meaning 'Chair?' I searched for 'char' and only found this "
1. Partially burn (an object) so as to blacken its surface.
2. Work as a charwoman." So, I was thinking it wasn't 'char' maybe 'chair' or something else.

"The older policeman face was not.." The older policeman's face?

"Other than malicious gossip no." I think there should possibly be a comma in there. "Other than malicious gossip, no."

"When he or she said hey saw.." *they saw..

"Malcolm laughed the laugh of a polite guest told a weak joke." This sentence throws me off. Maybe "Malcolm laughed as he would if a guest told a weak joke." Or something along those lines. It just doesn't sound right, is all.

"Police is desperate." Is this for emphasis on some sort of accent or his substance abuse or possibly just a small overlooked typo? It doesn't sound correct if it isn't for the character.

6/6 stars. And added it to the watch list.

~ Elizabeth.
Like Father, Like Daughter

Alley Brock wrote 596 days ago

Maria,
I loved this chapter.I was reading for editing but I honestly couldn't find a single one. I even read way slower than I normally do.
In general, your writting is very good. It's very clean, story line is perfect. You are one of the few writters I truly enjoy who use highly descriptive language well. I've honestly never seen it done in horror/thriller/action. It's so refreshing!
Go for gold, girl ;)
Alley

Jane Mauret wrote 600 days ago

Hello, Maria
All I can say is that the book seems very well-written, fast-moving and intriguing. The language is vibrant and original, eg,
“pointless runs like those fleeing an erupting … “
“silent music-box”
“like pigeons, the group scattered”

I feel a bit silly pointing out minor grammar points such as joining words that are compound and a few commas before addressing people, which is the same as using a name:
Tell tale = tell-tale
Passers by = passers-by
Half hearted = half-hearted
“… friends, you little whore?”
“… that ever, you fucker.”

I especially like the title.
I read the whole 2 chapters through in one go and the time went very quickly. Often I really struggle to get through work that is outside of my experience.
I imagine you must have written something before this, or have studied CW to a high level perhaps.
Look forward to seeing it rise and what the ED make of it!
All the best.
Jane Mauret
UGLY IN PARADISE

Jane Mauret wrote 600 days ago

Hello, Maria
All I can say is that the book seems very well-written, fast-moving and intriguing. The language is vibrant and original, eg,
“pointless runs like those fleeing an erupting … “
“silent music-box”
“like pigeons, the group scattered”

I feel a bit silly pointing out minor grammar points such as joining words that are compound and a few commas before addressing people, which is the same as using a name:
Tell tale = tell-tale
Passers by = passers-by
Half hearted = half-hearted
“… friends, you little whore?”
“… that ever, you fucker.”

I especially like the title.
I read the whole 2 chapters through in one go and the time went very quickly. Often I really struggle to get through work that is outside of my experience.
I imagine you must have written something before this, or have studied CW to a high level perhaps.
Look forward to seeing it rise and what the ED make of it!
All the best.
Jane Mauret
UGLY IN PARADISE

jack hudson wrote 605 days ago

Maria: Your writing harkens back to earlier classics, Shakespear perhaps? Moby Dick? I'm glad someone is honoring our writing forbears. It certainly must be difficult to write as you do. A comment is not a book report , so I will stop here except to rate your work with six stars and an honored place on my wl, awaiting an opening on my shelf. jack hudson

Alley Brock wrote 605 days ago

I liked the footsteps "like a fast dripping tap" - Gold.

Alley Brock wrote 605 days ago

In the metal to metal paragraph, I think you only need "retreated" not "back into the underground". What do you think?

Alley Brock wrote 605 days ago

I don't agree with anyone who says its not clear why your character would be scared of that man. I think its abuntantly clear. In fact, I've been in that type of situation and I'm sure most other women have as well.
Well done.

Alley Brock wrote 605 days ago

murder of crows would a guarded field
Nice :)

N J wrote 606 days ago

My first Authonomy read and if they're all like this then I've come to the right place.

Excellent read.

Newt

Alley Brock wrote 607 days ago

You are such a phenomenal writer. Everytime I look at one of your sentances it's like an unpolished stone. I can see the staggering potential underneath. there's just a few too many words.
"Something about solitude magnifies the unimaginable."

Alley Brock wrote 607 days ago

Try taking out "that" - I used to use it a lot where I didn't need it to be. Your work is clean of "that" dirty word compared to my old stuff. Take out the few you have in the first chapter and it'll be golden.

Alley Brock wrote 608 days ago

Excellent. Very solid. Just a little house keeping is needed. Personally, I like sitting down with a hard copy and butchering with a pen, crossing out all the unneccessary words and repositioning stuff.
The Paragraph starting with "She accelerated left....." that whole paragraph is solid, clean and perfect. That is some good writing.

Alley Brock wrote 608 days ago

Excellent. Very solid. Just a little house keeping is needed. Personally, I like sitting down with a hard copy and butchering with a pen, crossing out all the unneccessary words and repositioning stuff.
The Paragraph starting with "She accelerated left....." that whole paragraph is solid, clean and perfect. That is some good writing.

Alley Brock wrote 608 days ago

Excellent. Very solid. Just a little house keeping is needed. Personally, I like sitting down with a hard copy and butchering with a pen, crossing out all the unneccessary words and repositioning stuff.
The Paragraph starting with "She accelerated left....." that whole paragraph is solid, clean and perfect. That is some good writing.

RMAWriteNow wrote 613 days ago

Hi Maria;
I read somewhere that an Editor looks as much for style in a piece of writing as they do content. You have both. The three chapters I have read reek of darkness and mystery. There is on occasion a little over description but it is your strength, and better over than under. Rachel's flight in chapter one is well done. But two and three were easier to read and I thought Zeek a very good character with lots of potential.
Others have mentioned some of your really good lines, so I won't, but you could pick half a dozen from each chapter with ease.
I also really liked the quotes at the beginning of two of the chapters I read. A very nice touch. I don't know if they continue at the top of other chapters but I thought they broke it up nicely.
Well done and has to have high stars.
RMA
The Snow Lily

olga wrote 614 days ago

Hi
Club Agatha Crit chapter 2
You paint a grim picture of the fix the MC is in. The reader feels what she feels and sees what she sees. Even though in some ways this is more literary than most of the stories here, it's compelling and well executed. Great characterisations. I wonder if the first and second chapters should be one as it is a continuation of the same scene. I know the resulting chapter would be long but maybe you could break the first chapter sooner, perhaps when the villian craws from the sewer. Just a suggestion.

All the best with this. Backed. Olga

BeaconCityTourist wrote 615 days ago

Maria,
Just wrote a long review and my internet failed!! Always the way. So here is my second (shorter) attempt.
Really enjoyed the opening chapter. Think you have real potential. I would suggest a serious edit though. You cannot afford to have mistakes in you opening pages.
Examples:
‘tried to think positive, distant from the latest… ‘
‘concealed in a shadowy corner of as his..’
Would review these two sentences as they do not seem correct.
Also suggest using adjectives sparingly. Example: I would lose the ‘robotically’ in the sentence ‘robotically appeared and disappeared.’
For now it’s five stars from me. If you do edit then let me know and I will give you some shelf time.
Would be delighted if you took a look at my book ‘Broken Up, Breaking Down.’
Eddie

Julie_Undead wrote 616 days ago

Hi Maria,
Beautiful, evocative writing. A very unique writing style paired with a very unique storyline. Phrases like "...barefoot in a room of mousetraps, a series of misfortunes visited her," make this truly individual. The language you use, applied to even the description of a bar scene, make this more than pop lit.
The first real descriptive to pull me in was of the man in the bar. It seems to relax past formal language into a smooth flow, and grabs the reader with the ending of the paragraph, "...he always seemed to be inching closer, as a murder of hungry crows would a guarded field." This works perfectly. Word choice becomes less complex as the chapters go on, and it seems more polished as the chapters move on, as well. Even the choice of quotes becomes more readable to me. I love the quote at the beginning of chapter 3 as opposed to the one at the beginning of chapter 1. Once you hit dialogue, the book is off and running to me.
This is writing that will be recognizable as yours; it will not be able to be imitated. Highly starred.

Michael Jones wrote 622 days ago

Final comment: The Carrion Collective:

Just finished all of your upload, Maria. Really enjoyed it. I like the way you lead the reader through the chapters, hinting at the menace behind the words and then in C9 we're rewarded with some information as to what these things are... nicely done. I thought C10 was exceptional - loved the reciting of the Lord's Prayer but felt the reference to it lost some of the impact you were trying to create – imho.

I think Rachel is a well-defined MC ... typical woman in that she enjoys male company and expects them to pay for hers! :p She's tough but feminine and encourages thoughts of ‘protection’ from this male reader :)

Zeek is an exemplary protector for Rachel ... I was sorry he left her but knew he would. I guessed about the child but it didn't detract from the overall scene in C10, which I thought was exceptional.

In C8 I enjoyed the witty banter in the pub and especially with the landlord - reminded me of a night at my local :D

There are quite a few typos. I've mentioned just a couple, which threw me out of the narrative:

C6: Half way down Zeek says: ‘do they know where Mark lives?’ Paraphrasing badly here but did you mean ‘Martin’?


C9: Might want to check 2nd paragraph – didn’t read right towards the end: ‘… a mixed grill and now he was I the process of nearly destroyed his final course’.

‘At first, Rachel could see only a tan coloured overcoat when the woman approached from behind…’ – this needs rewording, either that or Rachel has eyes in the back of her head! :p

Liked this, Maria, a lot.

High stars and I've earmarked a spot on my shelf when James (Discoredia) makes the desk!

Mick x

Michael Jones wrote 627 days ago

Maria,

I've read six chapter so far. Authonomy is sooo slow, I kind of lost the will to live last night! Enjoying it though, like the action and the Rachel's internal dialogue. You like to keep your readers guessing, don't you? I'm dying to know who these 'creeps' are ...

I'm thick into work for the rest of the week but I'll defo be back at the weekend to finish up. Looking forward to it.

Mick x

Iggle Piggle's Blanket wrote 627 days ago

Very atmospheric and compelling, I felt like I was trying to get away from the sewer guy myself in the first chapter. The battle was frantic but well written.

Slowing things down in the chapters after this was good; it let my little heart slow down! I did not spot any obvious mistakes in the writing or in the plot.

This is very good and deserving of the place it has on my bookshelf and the 6 stars I gave it.

Iggle

Wanttobeawriter wrote 628 days ago

CARRION COLLECTIVE
This is an intriguing story. I like the way you begin with Rachael hearing footsteps then trying to outrun them. Lets your reader get well acquainted with Rachael before the action begins (the idea of the bitten off worm in the apple is very descriptive). The way you’re able to infuse an overall ominous tone into this -the deserted streets, her internal thoughts, the feeling of danger is also very well done. I’m starring this and adding it to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

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