Ill-Fated, despite its brief title, is a creatively-written first novel by Katherine M. Frey (aka Evelyn Ink) that succeeds on many levels—character interest, plot and vocabulary.
I particularly like Ink’s invented words, such as moonspell, deckstormer, wandrian, questling, et al, which are neatly defined in the “espistemological expicarium” (aka index).
I won’t summarize the story, but will say, after a questionable beginning, it turned out to be a well-crafted story driven by characters who are distinct and interesting. My problem with the beginning is that Ink injected too much world-building background on top of a scene that we’ve seen too often at the beginning of Y.A. stories–the heroine being ill-treated by her trainer.
The impact of this novel is diminished as well on two counts, both of which the author can fix. There are too many missing or misplaced commas in this story.
Here are some examples of missing or misplaced commas from just a few pages of one chapter:
- “Aunt Ehta to you muttonhead” (Needs a comma after you)
- “Well, in my defense he wasn’t always that fat.” (Needs a comma after defense)
- “Your mother Muriel sort of just fell apart after your father was murdered, she became obsessed with finding you…” (Needs a period, not a comma, after murdered)
- “In the first letter she told me she had made a friend, a Captain whose name she did not disclose.” (Needs commas after letter and after Captain)
- “This seemed odd to me, but at the time I simply thought his ulterior motive was perhaps Mother herself, she is still quite lovely for her age…” (Needs a period, not a comma, after herself)
Grammatical mistakes take the reader out of the story. Either they notice them and them start looking for more or the author’s intended sentence flow is disrupted, forcing the reader to re-read the sentence.
The second problem is Ink’s tendency to shift character viewpoint in the middle of a scene––in some cases jumping back and forth within a few paragraphs. This is problematic because the reader, who is following the story from one person’s viewpoint, can become confused when the author jumps to a second person mid-scene. I found this more at the beginning of the story, which suggests that the author became conscious of the issue. Too bad she didn’t go back and fix the earlier jumps.
Ink/Frey confesses to having edited Ill-Fated herself. That’s a no-no if she wants to make it to the big leagues, and I believe she has the writing chops to get there.
The ending of Ill-Fated promises a sequel. Please, Katherine/Evelyn, pay an editor–one with the guts to treat you like Leila was treated by her trainer at the beginning of your story.
I also recommend that you take more time choosing a title. Ill-Fated is too brief and too vague to do justice to your story.