Today I want to thank Gwen Gardner for submitting the first page of her novella, SECOND DEATH, a YA Paranormal Cozy Mystery. It's the sequel to Givin' Up The Ghost, which is available to purchase here. You can find Gwen at her blog. My comments will be in purple and I hope you'll add your own and/or pay a visit to Dianne Salerni who is critiquing this same first page on her blog. If you would like your first page critiqued, just check out the instructions on my sidebar, top right.
“Are you sure this is the right address?” Badger scanned the tall buildings scowling down on us, and in particular the one we stood before. An old Victorian industrial covered with centuries of grime and soot, the rusted lock melded closed, the key long gone. Love this short description which instantly gives me a picture of the place in just a few words.
“Bloody hell,” Simon whispered. “You don’t expect us to go in there?” His voice cracked at the last.
I shone my flashlight down at the paper in my hand and nodded. “This is it all right. Can’t you feel it?”
Simon gaped. “I’ll tell you what I feel. I feel this is a bloody daft idea and any sane person would be at home in bed in the middle of the bloody night.” He jammed his hands into jeans pockets, his blond hair a fluffy cloud against the dark and mist. He shot me a mutinous glare through amber-brown eyes.
I had to agree. The gray fog-filled street looked a friendlier alternative to the dingy, decrepit building. But insane or not, we had to go in. Never mind that we were going to hell for breaking and entering, not to mention the possibility of jail time.
“Hey, can you lot keep it down a bit?” Badger hissed. “I don’t fancy going to jail tonight.” With a last covert glance over his shoulder, Badger pulled a pair of bolt cutters from under his jacket. One snip snapped the lock in two.
I held my breath at the resulting echo, announcing our indiscretion down the street like an old gossip. “Come on, let’s get inside before anyone sees us.” I struggled with the door handle before it came free. Another loud screech echoed down the cavernous street. We quickly stepped inside. The dark corridor was silent as a long neglected grave. The only sound, my heartbeat in my ears.
“I’ll go first,” said Badger. “Indigo will be with me.” He entwined his fingers with mine in a tight grasp. “You take the rear, Simon.”
“Shhhh. I can’t hear with you back there grumbling.” I sputtered and flailed both hands around my head trying to rid my lips and face of clinging cobwebs as we made our way down the corridor. This dialogue tag feels a little awkward to me, esp. the word sputtered, which I associate with someone who can't quite get the words out because they're too upset or defensive. Also there should be a comma after grumbling, not a period.
“I don’t look good in blood, all right?” he hissed back.
Okay, so not a whole lot to crit. There's a couple of spots I might reword but that's really just preference, or style. I like that I can hear the English accent so know that our setting is likely England. I do wonder if it's necessary to have read Givin' Up The Ghost in order to know who Badger and Indigo are. Does SECOND DEATH stand on its own or is the series meant to be read in order? The only thing that bothers me a little is that I don't know who these characters are except by what I read in the blurb at Amazon, so I wonder if a small explanation somewhere in here, telling the reader Who Indigo is and what she and her pals are planning. This might actually increase the tension if the reader knows that something even more awful than jail awaits them if they're caught. Of course, I also realize that all this might shortly be explained was I able to read on. Which I would have. In fact, having read the blurb I now want to read the first book first and then work my way through :)
Oh, and I just have to mention that James Garcia Jr.'s' book, Seeing Ghosts, releases today...