First Page Feedback – House of Tears

Here’s a suitably atmospheric Shivers entry from @MaggiAndersen!

England, 1920
The wind built to a crescendo, and with a moan, whipped Amanda Sherringham’s hair into her face. She filled her lungs with pine-scented air she loved a storm. In the distance, lightning lit up the purple-tinged clouds. Such weather seemed fitting in the circumstances, considering how dramatic the changes coming to her life were. She hugged her knees and gazed out from her vantage point high on the roof of  her beloved Langley, tucked securely in a nook among the turrets and the green copper cupola.

Amanda’s gaze swept over the familiar deep valleys, leafy woods and the park, dotted with grazing deer. The view had changed little in hundreds of years. She loved Langley, but when her father died–despair tightened her rib cage at the thought–this house and its lands would no longer be hers. Unless, she gave in to her father’s plan for her to marry her cousin. Rich would agree to her father’s wishes, but she would not.

Ever practical, her father had pointed out that unlike her mother Amanda was not a beauty. More of a sprite, he said fondly, than a goddess. That she wasn’t beautiful had never particularly concerned her. Up until now, her life had been one of sports and horsey pursuits, and anyway, her best friend, Veronica Cartwright was quite the loveliest girl you could ever meet, sought by many eager suitors and that didn’t seem to make her happy.

For Amanda, happiness would be spending the rest of her life here at Langley.

She knew every inch of the house, which covered over two acres: its one hundred acres of woods and meadows and the river, like the back of her own hand. She was an expert on its long history, harking back to Elizabethan times. But because she was a girl child, she would lose the house to entail. Her cousin, Rich would inherit. That was the only good thing about it. Amanda pulled her dress over her brown knees as the first big spots of rain began to fall, splattering on the slate roof. Rich would be good for Langley. He had spent every summer of his childhood here and loved it almost as much as she did. She knew he would care for it, keeping it intact for his lifetime at least, which was a balm for the deep ache she felt for what was surely coming soon: a two-fold tragedy, the loss of her beloved father to cancer, and her home.

Forked lightning raced across the sky toward her. Reluctantly, Amanda climbed down inside the window to Grace’s pleas. Grace met her in the corridor, her face strained and flustered, a pencil projecting from the bun at her nape. “Lady Amanda? Ah, I thought you’d be up here. You’re wanted in the library. Its six o’clock and you have yet to change.”

Feedback from Denise Zaza

I think this reads more like a synopsis than actual text.  I like the set up and the setting, but feel like the author is running through a laundry list telling the reader what Amanda has to face in order to remain in her home.  I think it would help if she slowed the pace and deliberately lure the reader in to Langley so that she will come to love it as much as Amanda.  Then let the details of her position and family unfold with a carefully crafted gothic plot.

Thanks, Maggi and Denise for some insight into an intriguing story!