Jump to content

2015/04/27 - Mystic's Haven Ch. 1 - Mr. Wednesday - 3637 words

Mr. Wednesday

Recommended Posts

This review will contain spoilers and excerpts from Ch. 1, so be forewarned if you have yet to read it!

Rather than listing my positive feedback first and following up with my critiques, I'll be listing them in order as I encounter them. This is all my own humble opinion and perspective.


  • I felt like I hard a hard time immediately connecting with the characters--maybe a prologue is in order? The final night with her parents could work if you're vague enough to allow for her explanation to Christopher to fill in the gaps for the reader as well. Maybe her final night with Dr. Foster? Maybe a prologue is unnecessary after all, but I do feel like it took a bit for me to get into the swing of things.
  • "They lived in Quincy, a relatively quiet suburban town south of Boston, along the shore." This seems a little out of place, and stands out like a neon sign in its paragraph because of how it breaks the flow. Maybe find another way to phrase it, something like this: "They drove along the coast toward their home in the quiet, suburban town of Quincy, situated just south of Boston."
  • Early on in the story, I felt like the abundance of minor details and similies was a bit distracting. Perhaps try to find the ones you really believe in, and then see if the rest can't be rephrased. You seemed to hit a better stride with details, in my opinion, toward the second half of the chapter.
  • The dialogue between Christopher and Julia is really good. It felt like a real conversation, and flowed quite nicely. A pleasure to read!
  • "Or perhaps she was waiting back in Dr. Foster’s office alongside his ghost, the two forever locked in a metaphysical chess game while Julia had made a new home for herself in the world of the living." This is an awesome image. I love this, it just works so well.
  • The half-finished drawing from her nightmare is very compelling. That really invests me in the story, because now I'm eager to learn more about that, and what role the imposing figure plays in the narrative. Judging by the name of the story, I'm excited at the prospects.

So there you have it! I'm looking forward to reading more, Mr. Wednesday. Well done!

Edited by supersoup
Link to comment
Share on other sites

- I agree with supersoup - I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. It could also be because so much of the story is in the past that it seems distant for Julia. This might make it difficult for the readers to engage with. 


- Your descriptions are really vivid and effective. Still, I would watch out for unnecessary words. Some of the sentence feel a little bit long or overly complex. 


- I like the way you compared the direction of the Doctor's life, as seen at the funeral, to tree branches.   


- I liked the interplay between Julia and Christopher, but I did feel Julia telling story felt a little like an info-dump. Just a suggestion, but maybe a flashback would make the events seem more personal and imminent to the user?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks guys! You really zeroed in on some of the concerns I had with this first chapter. Julia's info dump has always seemed a little dubious to me, but I wasn't sure exactly how to go about establishing the necessary details. I seriously considered doing it as a flashback, but I decided against it for two reasons. Mainly it was because I wanted to establish the fact that the novel takes place largely in the present day, so I wanted to begin with Julia and Christopher's relationship and their life in the suburbs. The other reason is that the second half of the novel actually opens with a flashback to the night of the murders and I reveal details that I've intentionally withheld up until that point. Still, I agree that the conversation is a little...exposition-y. I'll see what I can do to thin it out a little.


The Quincy line tripped me up as well. I'll rephrase.


So, in the spirit of the podcast we all know and love, my question to all of you is this: What promises do you feel are being made to the reader in this first chapter?


Thanks again for the great feedback!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have some similar concerns to those above, maybe stated in a slightly different manner:


First off, I enjoyed reading this.  Your style flows well and is easy to read.


Half of the first chapter is a description of a funeral.  It's a very good description.  But I was almost starting to skim by the time I got through it.


pg 6: "“Dr. Foster is the main reason you and I are married.”"

--to me, this is the hook that draws the reader in, but it's 6 pages into the story.


pg 8: "The police never made it in time"

--This sounds strange.  Maybe "didn't make it" instead of "never made it?"


pg 9: "He was clearly experiencing that bitter cocktail of emotions that arises when one finds out that they did not in fact know everything there is to know about the person they love."

--this might be stretching the word "clearly."  It's a pretty specific statement for Julia to guess about her husband.


Overall, this was really well written, and carried me along just on the strength of your prose.  I'm interested in Julia more than Christopher.


Obviously this is an emotional time for the character, but it was almost too emotional, to the point of melodrama.  Everything was very touching and sweet, but after half the chapter I was ready to go on to something new.  Maybe this is similar to what rdpulfer and supersoup are saying?



I wrote this before I read the comments, but I think it addresses your question about promises:


It's an interesting choice to start with a funeral.  There's almost a sense of closure in the first chapter, rather than an opening.  I could see this being a short story and stopping at the end of first chapter--Julia came to terms with her old self, and finally shared it with her husband.  I didn't get much sense of Things Coming to Pass, except for a nudge about the nightmare drawing.  So in some sense, I'm still

waiting for the book to start.


So you can maybe scatter some more promises in there?  You never say if Rothschild was caught, so I don't know whether to expect him to pop up again or not.  I presume her old life will come back to haunt here, but there's not a lot of indication of that here.



That said, this was still very good and I'm interested to read the next chapter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, in the spirit of the podcast we all know and love, my question to all of you is this: What promises do you feel are being made to the reader in this first chapter?


I feel as though the story promises we will learn more about Julia's dreams, and how those affect her drawings. Perhaps more nightmares, and then more about the person in the half-finished drawing! 

Edited by supersoup
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@mandamon  I found your comment about it feeling like a short story to be very interesting, particularly the part about how you felt like you were still waiting for the book to begin. I think the opening chapter does have something of an extended prologue feel, which is sort of my intention (the next chapter actually jumps ahead 4 years) but I'm the first to admit that it may not work in the scheme of things. You definitely hit the nail on the head. I'm anxious to see how you all feel it fits as the story progresses! Thanks again for the great feedback. It sheds a lot of light on things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Detailed comments below as I read, but to summarise, I enjoyed this first chapter, it’s well written (I have some comments below) and easy to read. The start was perhaps a bit slow, lacking something remarkable until quite far in (her previous name, unknown to him).  Things pick up when the journal comes out, which is good.


By the end of the chapter, I'm ready to keep reading, but I would not say that I'm gripped especially. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed reading it, and Julia has some promise of being an interesting character (Chris is a bit cardboard cut-out, so far, for me) – I'm just not sure what the story is about.


Hope that’s useful, I'm certainly still interested to read more!


[Comments made before reading the forum, apologies if there is any duplication]


It’s an intriguing opening, but I would not say that I'm gripped straight away, which is fine. I don’t feel the need to be riding a rollercoaster from page 1. There are some nice images, but I would say there are quite a lot in the first paragraph and it seems a little unfocused. I think it could be tighter as an opening.


I especially like the comparison of the aspects of the old man’s life with a tree – “numerous but irrefutably measurable” – great line.


Some of your paragraphs, and indeed sentences, are pretty long. I think it would help the reader to break those up. There are certainly places to do so. Also, I’ve been learning recently about run-on sentences (You know who you are, you pesky critiquers!), of which I see a few. I find your style engaging and largely comfortable to read, but those are aspects that slow me down a bit.


I enjoyed “brashness and irreverence with which life insisted on going on.”


 You mention him taking two mugs down from the cupboard, but shortly after she hands him a teacup – different things. I did enjoy this minor tea ritual, us Brits do love a cuppa after all.


Hmm, I think maybe Earl Grey should be capitalised?


I don’t know how you feel about split infinitives – I don’t care for them myself! Some people are not bothered by such things, but ever since someone highlighted possibly the most prominent example in modern fiction (To boldly go where no man has gone... before!), I’ve been on a bit of a quest to rid the world of this grammatical scourge. This said, there was a good article in the Times putting forward the opposite view. Sorry for prattling on, what I'm getting to is that “to seriously play the cello” set me off a bit.


“They had been married for years” is a bit vague. That could be 5 or 15. It left me wondering.


I enjoyed the description of the effect of the circus on her. “Authentic” is a nice way of putting it. In a world of virtual / online entertainment where so little is real, it’s a nice point to make.


The police never made it in time” suggests a number of different instances, as if the moment is being replayed. Probably ‘didn’t make’ is more appropriate?


Some of her account around the death of her parents comes across a bit maid-and-butler. She’s repeating things here that he already knows which therefore come across as being said just for the reader’s benefit, i.e. making parts of the conversation sound less genuine.


The ‘revelation’ about Molly Hayes is the first eyebrow-raising moment in the story, for me. As I said, I don’t need to be dropped into the middle of a space battler, but the start has been pretty gradual. I'm hoping this is the start of some strangeness, or at least intrigue.


“bitter cocktail of emotions” came over a bit melodramatic for me. It seemed a bit at odds with tone, I thought.


I also don’t quite get the “metaphysical chess game” reference. Is it relating to the doctor’s attempts to address her psychological issues? If so, I wonder if ‘metaphysical’ is the right word, compared to psychological.

“to which he turned” – missing word


The description of the tattooed face seems to slip out of her POV into his, because of words like “seemed”, “clearly” and “appeared”. The image is known to her, so her POV would be “was incomplete”, surely.


“slam” in relation to the door suggests to me a quite violent action.


“illegible handwritten notes” tripped me up. Surely, they are legible to her – I'm assuming she wrote them, since it’s her composition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Promises to the reader? Here's what I thought, although actually, I'm pretty sure some of these are not promises but my hopes!


- The tattooed man is going to be the antagonist (or an antagonist);

- There will be some sort of supernatural element to the story - perhaps centered around the circus;

- I wonder if we have not seen the last of the doctor, due to the references to his ghost;

- Chris gets interesting or Mark comes back in and is more interesting than Chris, leading to romantic tension;


Yeah, I think maybe on the first two are promises.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...