I entered "A Little Company" in the 2009 Writers Digest Self-Published Book Awards. While I wasn't among the winners, I received a review from "Judge 1." I will share it and my thoughts here.


On a scale from 1 to 5, 5 being “excellent”….

Plot: 2

Grammar: 4

Character Development: 4

Cover Design: 3

 

What did you like about this book?

A Little Company is an interesting concept—a horror book set in the Great Depression. Pauline is a girl who is kept prisoner by her drunk, evil father. While we assume the father acts the way he does because of the difficulty of the Depression, it’s never confirmed that this is the reason or that there was a point when he started drinking. Pauline must combat rats and her fear of her father and her isolation. There are serious subjects like abuse that are part of the story. The author does a wonderful job setting the mood and atmosphere so that the reader can understand Pauline’s sense of being trapped.

 

How can the author improve this book?

The prologue is interesting, and the author may want to consider incorporating it with the first chapter, as the first sentence is certain to keep a reader glued to the book. There are many shifts in time, perhaps flashbacks, that give the story a more disjointed feel. Readers must reorient themselves to each chapter. Pauline talks about her mother and brother’s deaths, which make the ending a little suspect and confusing. While endings should be surprising, they should be surprisingly believable.


Now for my feedback...

"While we assume the father acts the way he does because of the difficulty of the Depression, it’s never confirmed that this is the reason or that there was a point when he started drinking."

I really never thought of giving Papa a reason to become an alcoholic like he was. In my mind, it probably wasn't the Depression, but a trait passed on from his own father. I agree that I could have made that clearer.

"The first sentence is certain to keep a reader glued to the book." Yes, I agree that "Pauline was ten when her father killed her mother." is indeed a great hook!

"There are many shifts in time, perhaps flashbacks, that give the story a more disjointed feel." That is on purpose. Pauline herself is feeling like her whole world is coming apart at the seams and she is trying to sort out nightmares from reality.

"Pauline talks about her mother and brother’s deaths, which make the ending a little suspect and confusing. While endings should be surprising, they should be surprisingly believable." If you don't "get" the ending, you are an idiot. NO, Pauline's mother & brother are NOT miraculously reincarnated at the end. Apparently, Judge 1 didn't read the Epilogue, which is a faux newspaper article covering the discovery of the bodies of the parties concerned.

Should I enter "Tricked" in this year's contest?????