By Arthur Slate
“Are you afraid of the dead?” her grandfather asked.
Sarah Asmundson will discover the answer to that question. She is prepared for her grandfather’s scary stories, but is anything but prepared when events from the story about a draugr–a man who comes back from the dead–begin to happen around her. A tale to frighten and entertain the young and the young at heart. The first book in the Northern Frights series.
For a YA book, this whole idea of a bloody monster evolving from an Icelandic myth is very interesting and compelling. I like the fast pace the author puts forth in the book; he’s trying to imitate the effects of time. While I have jumped from one chapter to another, I have managed to get through nearly 50% of the book the first time around and that’s not easy to pull. This really does have a lot of potential in the book.
The fact that you got four kids involved with a spooky story told by their grandfather was good enough premise as it is, especially when you would never think any of the stories put forth by him would not be believable. My favorite character out of the book at this point is Sarah and it’s because of the comments she makes of the other people she talks about throughout the course of the book. I like how she attempts to lead the three others into chasing an Icelandic Zombie and tries to stop it. I really love the covers of the books and it tells me that you have made tremendous effort to grab an author’s attention for your story line. C’est vraiment excellent!
The Really Good:
Unlike most of the books I have examined, I think this book has done an excellent job in introducing the main characters gradually, not all at once. I love the formatting style the author has put forth because this tells me that he’s serious in his needs to make his name come out there. Not to mention that he has chosen for himself an excellent most hellish creature once can imagine. After researching the name of the creature, I can now imagine what powers lie within this ghastly beast and his innate abilities to control everything. He seems to be the best type of monster than can give anyone the chills and give them nightmares for weeks! I definitely want to say that I love it, Love it, Love it!
You will not grab anyone’s interests beyond the 50 pages of your book (or perhaps 10 for that matter) if you are not going to evenly pace the book between the dialogue and plot. There were some chapters I could say are well written (e.g. 1, 4-6) because the every couple of pieces of conversational exchanges, I think there needs to be a time to explain to the reader about the surrounding the atmosphere and in the examples I provided, you have done well. Other times throughout the novel, most of the writing contains nothing but dialogue and lots of it. This is not going to be something anyone wants to read whenever they approach a book.
Another thing you might want to look at is the openings and endings. Readers love cliffhangers, but not lots of them. I think nearly 80% of your chapters contain these endings that don’t provide as much closure as the reader likes. I know cliffhangers are for effectual purposes (i.e. to get the reader to keep on reading), but doing so one chapter after another will exhaust the reader and will prevent either him or her from reading onward.
The last thing I would recommend that you do is inform us more about Draugr. I looked up the beast via Wikipedia and I have to say that you picked out a really good monster, I mean it. He’s almost like Dracula, Godzilla, and the Hulk combined all into one but your story is not pulling me into knowing him better than anticipated and partially it’s because I think you’re overuse of dialogue might be turning me off. However, if you get more information about this creature and take me up on the other suggestions I made, I really think this could pass as a thriller for both YA and Adults alike.
Parker’s Overall Grade: