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02/27/2023- Reading Excuses- The Traveler's Magic- sub 5, Chapter's 7 & 8- 4424 words

Cathy Lim

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Hello Everybody,

The reason chapter 6 ended so abruptly is because we are having a change of POV. Since Z and T are facing opposite directions, R can see both. As I read through these two chapters I am already anticipating what you’re going to say, but have at it. I wish I had more time to revise this nicely for you, but I’m completely rewriting book one so it’s not possible. (I’m cringing at some of it) As always I need to know what’s working and what’s not working so I can decide what to keep and what to revise or change in the next draft.

Thank you! I truly appreciate the work you all are doing here!

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Decided to review this one first this week since I don’t think I have before

Overall: I have a lot of LBL comments but overall I was more engaged here than I was early on in the story which is a good sign. And while I mentioned not getting a great feel for the characters last sub, this time To does stick out very clearly in my mind, and is the character I feel like I have the best grip on. I do have lots of questions, but that’s because there’s more to engage with and ask questions about here than there was early on. My main constructive comment about the story as a whole at this point is that it feels like the main cast is too reactive rather than proactive. R gets attacked twice in two days but they don’t seem to have a plan to stop the attacks from happening besides some guy getting a cold guarding her door and To going off to fight everyone at once. Basically, it feels like the characters aren’t making any progress towards stopping the antagonists or even figuring out what their deal is unless the antagonists intentionally let something slip.

As I go:

Pg 1. Should I remember H/J or are they from the first book? I will say I have an awful memory for names so it might not be the story’s fault

-Another note is that someone personally sending thugs after presumably R is less jarring than me assuming she got ambushed by some randos. Maybe the reveal that J sent them would be more impactful to end the previous chapter on?

Pg 2. What are the others doing while Z and To are fighting?

-I thought we were in Z’s PoV but it seems to switch to R’s. Who are we following for this scene?

Pg 3-4. It seems like some of the kids are a lot more prepared for fighting than the others and it could be helpful to know more about why

Pg 5. What’s R feeling bad about specifically? Not helping in the fight? Letting the fear get to her emotionally?

-Okay we do get more insight further down the page. I’d suggest moving that line up and getting a bit more context

Pg 6-7. Are they uh not worried about To given that J has a bunch of thugs at his command? Surely To alone cannot fight them all off

Pg 8. Again with the dream thing it’s hard to be engaged when I know it’s not actually happening, even if it’s just supposed to explore her fears

Pg 9. If the library has a guard couldn’t they have a rotating shift of people guarding R’s room?

Pg 11. What do we want to bet that R gets attacked again at the dinner?

Pg 13. Knowing that the library should be sealed against pests is a pretty critical detail we should know during the scene where the mouse breaks through (unless I just missed it there)

Pg 15. I think it’s important to know if Th is overreacting here. To me it seems like he is but I don’t know the rules of this fantasy world. Also in our world I’d expect double shifts and half pay to cause everyone to quit.

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I know I'm still new to this story, but I don't understand the purpose of this chapter. What was the narrative arc, and whose arc was it? How did it advance the A, B, and C plots? I think there is something in there about needing to move library items, but did all the stuff before it need to come? The battle at the front in particular seems superfluous. I'd also again recommend one POV per chapter, with a clear arc for that POV in each chapter. It will help with reader buy in.

As always, the library sections are the most engaging to me. I want more library hijinks, please.


As I go

- this may be because I've not read the rest of the book but there are a ton of names, none of which I'm invested in, and I have no idea what is going on

- pg 4: Still not sure what the purpose of the fight was. It doesn't seem to have any consequences. Could it be deleted and our characters still be in the same place as if you just wrote So and so decided to stand guard outside the library to protect the girls?

- pg 6: the reason for the fight would be good before the fight. Otherwise there is no investment for the reader and the fight is meaningless

- the constant POV popping is disorienting. They need to have more distinct voices as I can't tell them apart even with the dialogue tags. Generally too, you want to try to keep to one POV per chapter. Let that POV go through their arc, then have another POV do another arc. Popping like this is distracting and doesn't let the reader get invested in any POV

- it's page 11 and I don't know yet what the purpose of this chapter is. Thus far the only real purpose anyone has had is to pick up a dress

- pg 15: the obsession over the mouse is now downright comical. Docking pay and a trial over a mouse??

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I don't have a ton of general comments this time around, other than that I agree with kais that the library parts at the end are the most interesting to me. At this point, it seems like there are two different plots (the one with the attackers and the one with the library) and not a ton of overlap between the two. 

I actually liked how they doubled down on the mouse problem though. To me, it really emphasized how the library is focused on perfection to outrageous extremes, which I liked, even if its pretty horrible for the characters. 


“countered with a stream of water” a little confused here. How exactly did he counter? Does he have water magic or did he just knock the barrel over?

“bringing water magic” Okay, so it was magical

“soaked from the waist down” Oh no! Now everyone will think he wet himself haha

“running at Z” did it grow legs or is it just wobbling really fast? Because honestly either one is awesome but I would like a better mental picture


“and his own two attachers” attackers?

Wait, why do they have to run? They were clearly the victims here and acting in self defense


I remember you saying that the POV was changing for this chapter but honestly up until the dorm room scene, the POV could have been anyone. It felt more like a 3rd person omniscient for this section, which isn’t really bad or good, just what I noticed

Oh, forgot that A was a cat for a second haha


So I’m guessing that the library is a safe place? Is it just the guards or is there another reason that they don’t try to kidnap her while she’s asleep? Hmmm


Oh no, poor F!

I don’t think an explanation of what freezing rain is is necessary here.


I’m surprise that she’s not more worried about going herb hunting in the woods when she was attacked the last time she went out there

“you want to lock me in my room?” that does address the problem I see


I like the description of the robes. I can imagine them very easily

I like the call and answer too


The politics of a new library is interesting! It being brought up here seems a little like a non sequitur however. I’m not sure how it’s related to having their pay docked. Side note: they need to unionize! That’s just horrible treatment from their boss smh

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As I go:

P.1. “attacker” should be “attackers”

Does everyone in this town know” – it is a fun line, but it undermines the feeling of danger for me.

P.2. “attachers” should be “attackers”

Wow, it gets rather brutal here (like with drinking before, there is a dissonance between their age and knives in the guts)

Thax knelt and pulled a knife” – only now?! When T and Z were already fighting for a while?

into view” – add comma after

P.3.“by four of Dent’s losers” – I was under impression they were J’s gang?

P.4. first paragraph after the “*****” has a lot of similarly structured sentences

P.6. “whistle started high” – nice, though I am not sure a whistle can be slow… long, yes, but slow?

We” shouldn’t be capitalized

P.7. “your dress is ready” – I somewhat think T and Th should have brought the dress with them to the bar to save R a trip. If put into a bag instead of a box, it should not be bulky?

P.8. “closed her eyes”, “managed to sleep” – add commas after

P.11. “I just kept him company” – did more happen between them than we are told?

P.13. “When he saw her” – add comma after

P.14. “She hoped he broke” – a bit rough

P.14/15. – the call-response thing felt strange a little

P.16. “you owe her” – didn’t get this

Not good” – nice


I always enjoy reading this story, but there were a few things that did not work very well for me here.

First, I did not feel like the fight is truly dangerous for any of the characters. It happened and ended quickly too, allowing me no time to get worried.

Second, the protection that R’s friends are organizing for her seem very last-minute. Is there a reason they have not turned to the city-guard? Also, R knows an intruder has been to her rooms before, and yet the three girls sleep without taking turns to watch while not knowing F is outside. That seems unwise.

Third, I can't help thinking that the mouse may not be the pest to start with. Perhaps, if they found termites eating through books in several places, I would relate a little more.

I loved the running barrel and the apple-eating-skewing thing - it was fun!

Thanks for the submission!

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On 3/2/2023 at 10:11 AM, ginger_reckoning said:

Wait, why do they have to run? They were clearly the victims here and acting in self defense

Yeah, this is one of the things I realized when reviewing this to submit. I really wish I had time to rewrite this right now so it wouldn't be quite so embarrassing. 

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On 3/2/2023 at 11:20 AM, Yuliya said:

Third, I can't help thinking that the mouse may not be the pest to start with. Perhaps, if they found termites eating through books in several places, I would relate a little more.

I agree. Thanks! 

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  • 3 weeks later...

As I read: At first I thought the chapter was from R’s POV, but a few paragraphs down describing Z’s fire magic, I wasn’t sure if the chapter is from his POV instead?

What is everyone else doing while this fight is happening? I’m thinking mostly of R and the rest of the karaoke group, but also wondering if the commotion attracts any onlookers.

 I was also not sure why the protagonists were running from the city guard. I would have assumed the guard would be on their side since they were the ones who were attacked in the street.

I think this may be a “haven’t read book 1” problem, so grain of salt, but the fact that people keep attacking our protagonist seems to come a little bit out of nowhere. I’m also having trouble tracking who D and J are.

P7 “your dress is ready” this felt like a very abrupt transition.

“T made a strangled noise.” Not sure what is upsetting T here.

P10 “…which R took to mean he would do it again if he wanted to.” Lol

I thought the dress making R feel like she was more ready to face the world and her new job was a nice detail.

P13 “Mice should never happen…” Starting to get that the seals are supposed to stop this, but I still don’t understand why the mouse thing is a big deal. I think it’s supposed to be hinting that bigger things are wrong (which I like!), but I don’t have enough world-building context to understand the other reasons why this might be ominous, so right now it just seems like people are weirdly overreacting to a mouse.

P16: Who/what is house V? Why is this not good? Maybe a brief reminder (for those who have read the first book) since I think this is the first time they’ve come up.

Overall: I’m intrigued by the politics that are hinted at in this chapter, but I’m thinking that some of it might be a bit too subtle. It’s not until the very end of the chapter that we get a hint that the mouse thing may have been engineered by someone trying to use it as some sort of political excuse to go after the library, and by then we’ve had two chapters of people bizarrely overreacting to a mouse in the library. Not to get overly prescriptive, but I think you don’t need to be afraid of hanging a lantern fairly explicitly on the mouse thing when it first happens: “if the Library’s pest seals were failing, what other horrible thing could be failing right now?” And/or make it one person’s bizarre overreaction, so that when that happens, readers understand from the get-go that it’s weird. This might help better prepare us for the mouse thing to be leading into something else.

On 3/2/2023 at 11:20 AM, Yuliya said:

Third, I can't help thinking that the mouse may not be the pest to start with. Perhaps, if they found termites eating through books in several places, I would relate a little more.

This is an option too. Or if the mouse did more damage as suggested here, like if it was building a nest in a rare illuminated manuscript or something. That would go a way towards smoothing over the "why is everyone freaking out about this" for me. 

I'd also agree that the library sections are the most engaging! 

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