Here we are back again with our second and final installment of First Impressions for this month. Today we have the first page of SILHOUETTE, from Shannon Cortazar, a YA Fantasy. You can also find her on Twitter @SLCortazar. Authors Dianne Salerni and Krystalyn Drown will aslo be critting this first page so hop on over to their places to see what their thoughts were. My thoughts will be at the end.
We were invaded the day we buried my brother. It was autumn, crisp and bright. “A good day for a burial” I heard someone say behind me. A tragic death, such a shame, the voices went on and on. Clucking their tongues as if rationalizing his death would make it okay. The coffin bore the mark of the Throne, a twisting tree within a circle and a three pointed crown above. That same mark was branded on his wrist when I took a peek at him lying still on white satin.
They’d sent a note thanking us for our cooperation in these “changing times”. It was signed by Elin Grayl, the new leader of our Nation.
The coffin was a token of their gratitude, to ease our financial burden, they said. I thought it was ironic, since they’re the ones who killed him.
A few hours later chaos broke out. From my bedroom I saw a quick purposeful momentum come from each of the hundred or so legion. They were herding everyone they could find. Before I knew it I was sitting between my parents tearing through town in my dad’s pickup truck, heading for the mountains flanking our crumbling community. And it’s here I sit, waiting for the next onslaught.
I’ve learned that counting calms me before a kill. One, focus on my target. Two, steady my breath. Three, account for the wind.
Four, don’t hesitate. Aim between the eyes.
I don’t worry about the snap of the bow, just the direction which the arrow will soar. If it were an animal, I’d quiet my release. But the human boy daring to enter our village is too dumb or too careless for me to bother. He’s just another threat, I tell myself. One I won’t think twice about killing.
I wait, watch him. He isn’t moving like someone who’s controlled. From this distance, at least a hundred yards, I can’t see the Thrones mark on his wrist.
But they’re clever, so I wait.
To my left I can see a lone magpie land on the thin branch of a birch tree. One for sorrow, I think it goes, the rhyme I learned years ago. It’s appropriate; since we live in a suffocating state of sadness. Tufts of snow fall to the frozen ground below him as he sits perched with his eyes darting around. Until they land on me. I refocus and clear my mind, ease the tremors in my arm.
“You have to kill him Noelle.” A voice behind me whispers.
My thoughts: Having read this through more than once, I really want to know more about the invasion in more detail and with more clarity. I'm also confused by this: "From my bedroom I saw a quick purposeful momentum come from each of the hundred or so legion" Who are the legion? I want to see them and the invaders, even if it's just a glimpse before our narrator flees. Give me a hint of what sort of invasion this is. Aliens? Outlanders? Foreigners?
Second thoughts: "I’ve learned that counting calms me before a kill." I love this transition to the now and what follows but, is this true: "One I won’t think twice about killing."? Just asking...I also love the subtle hints that this world is different than the one we know, like this: "The coffin bore the mark of the Throne, a twisting tree within a circle and a three pointed crown above. That same mark was branded on his wrist..." and this: "He isn’t moving like someone who’s controlled. From this distance, at least a hundred yards, I can’t see the Thrones mark on his wrist." Maybe he/she's (I get a sense it's she but could go either way and I'm ok not knowing - for now) right not to hesitate...And of course the last line, which begs the question, is she going to kill the boy? Should she? Plus a whole host of other questions, like what's going on here?!
Final thoughts: One idea would be to begin with the now, and then have the narrator recall the past and how they all got to where they are now. The other option would be to insert a little more back story into the beginning. I know a lot of people aren't big fans of back story but one advantage here would be to show who this character was at the time of the brother's death in comparison to who the character is now, however many months/years it is after the invasion. But, these are just my thoughts and Dianne and Krystalyn may have something completely different to say...
Bottom line: Would I turn the page? You betcha.
Readers, any thoughts?