I've been waiting for this and as always i'm just blown away by your writing ability.
This is definitely an interesting beginning. It adds a lot of mystery, tension, and intrigue in which is always a good mix for beginning chapters. There is a lot I don't understand at this point but this is a great way to draw your readers in and get them hooked on your plot. I like how it begins in the 1400's, it seems so far removed from the story your summary suggests however it acts as a really good backdrop to bring the story of Eileen and Tobias in.
The strongest characterization you have here is Ursula. We don't get much of a feel for Penelope other than she looks to be a single mother. Which obviously wasn't popular in that time period so it makes me wonder how she got to that point and if it had something to do with the curse. She has a desperate feel about her though throughout. I'm not sure if it was how you wrote the setting or just how she ran into someone's house screaming he's coming, but whatever the case she seems almost haunted and at the end of her rope. Sort of like Eileen may be later.
You've done Ursula quite well. I like that she's sympathetic and kind. She's really well rounded because she isn't a massive saint either. She does think that she'd rather the mother stay alive so she won't have to look after the baby and you get this feeling that she has no other choice but to look after it. It makes her feel real because i definitely can see a person thinking that through this situation.
I think your strongest point is description and imagery. That is really what is pulling this first chapter through. You do a really brilliant job at setting the scene and really making everything seem vivid. We already know that things are in store for this family simply because of the rain, the storm, the screams, and the blood. We have a feeling of a cursed life and it's chilling in a way. The way you write though and the words you choose really draw the reader into the scene. That's what is going to make people continue reading this. And although your characterization is good, i do feel detached simply because I'm not sure how much the story has to do with these people here. So i feel emotionally unattached so far simply because they aren't your main characters. This isn't a bad thing because you have the second chapter to flesh things out and what you have here is great already. I'm interested to see though how you structure this story though as it makes me wonder if you're doing a linear story or jumping around in time.
The only critique that I have is that the ending bit is quite quick. You spend so much time describing and exploring the birth and the couple days after that the sentence or two that you took to go through his growing up and getting the letter seemed to halt things. It would flow better for me if there was more connecting the moment he was a babe to the moment he got his letter. I realize that it may not be important to your plot at all those years in between but even if it just mentioned his growth from boy to man, his changing features, changing thoughts. Or even if you showed the changing of the seasons to show more the passing of time.
But anyway, it's such a small thing because the rest of the prologue is fantastic. It really pulls the reader in and sets the stage brilliantly for what's to come. I have so many questions and it does end on an intriguing note because it gives no answers to anything. I just have more questions to where the curse came from, why is it continuing, and what will it men for Reynold and mostly for Eileen and Tobias!? So many questions and the way he reacted to the letter made me think if the Prince family was known and that's why he had such a strong reaction to it or simply because of the few cryptic words mentioned there.
Really great start Shelby!! This is fabulous and thanks so much for requesting!! -zayne :)
Author's Response: Hello Zayne, darling! You are such a gem, you are!
It is a very different beginning, isn't it? There are going to be two different storylines/timelines in this novel - I really wanted to set the groundwork and lay a good, solid foundation - thus, the prologue!
Yes, Ursula's character is very strong and the most prominent here. You guys are going to become much more acquainted with Penelope in the future, and you will see Ursula again (eventually). I really thought it would be a good idea to get the chapter mostly from Ursula's POV.
It's always my description and imagery, isn't it? Haha, that seems to be something that I just do really well. I'm just so stoked you liked all of them. I take so much time and purposefully write each description, so I like it when readers like my hard work! And yes, you guys are a bit detached from the characters - I could honestly think of no way to make it otherwise. It should get better once they appear again :)
You're right, darling. The ending is so very quick. I did that very intentionally, but I feel like a few people don't like it so much. I'm going to fill in those fourteen years a bit in the future - hmmm, maybe I should extend it another paragraph or so? I personally like the shock factor, but I also appreciate and value your opinion. I'm going to see what I can come up with!
I can't tell you what the letter means, but I can tell you that it's going to be awesome! Think of the two storylines like a puzzle. I'll give you guys the pieces and once you put it together, it will be pretty amazing (I hope!).
Thank you so much, Zayne! I always love your reviews and really appreciate your feedback and CC. I can't wait for you to keep reading! Thanks! ♥