Today I am continuing to critique the first chapter of Angi Kelly's Adult Urban Fantasy, KISSES FROM YESTERDAY. I have included the last paragraph from yesterday for the sake of continuity.
She left the kitchen and decided to explore the main upstairs first, and save the two wings for another time. She paused on the staircase as a tickling sensation crept across the back of her neck. Her heart constricted and she took a deep breath. She turned around and looked back down into the foyer, expecting to see someone watching her, but there was no one. She looked back up to the top of the stairs, where old family portraits hung on the wall, and she laughed nervously.
“Well, that’s who’s watching you, silly. Everyone knows creepy old portraits always seem to watch you.”
She studied the faces of her ancestors, who looked back at her from their portraits as though judging her. Shivering slightly at those disapproving stares, she continued down the corridor and entered the first room she came to.
The room was another office. On her right was a large hearth with a painting of an older man hanging above the mantle. He held himself with the self-assurance of one who knew who and what he was, who had no doubt about his place in life. A small brass nameplate at the base of the portrait identified him as Thomas Carrington. She recognized the name as one Mark had mentioned as her ancestor and the last of the family to actually live in the house. She sighed, wishing his confidence had carried down through the generations to her. She was still trying to find her place in life.
“Well met, Thomas Carrington.”
Two large wing-back chairs sat in front of the fireplace, with a small, ornately-carved table between them. A brandy snifter sat on the table, evaporation marks indicating the glass had contained liquid when the family departed.
She pulled out one of the unmarked books in the bookcase, carefully turning the brittle pages. A ledger. As she put it back, a thick, leather-bound book caught her attention, and she pulled it out. It was a journal, written in the bold strokes of a man’s script.
This might be interesting to read. Maybe it can shed some light on why I never knew about our connection to this place.
She set it on the desk, and then sat in the chair. Opening the top drawer, she saw the general clutter she expected to find in a desk drawer. As she started to close the drawer, a red ribbon caught her attention. Frowning, she pulled it out and discovered the ribbon was looped through a small brass key.
“Well, now. I wonder what you unlock.”
In another drawer, she found an old scrapbook-type photo album, which she also set on the desk. A quick inspection of the other three drawers revealed nothing of importance. She tucked the key into her pocket, and grabbed the album and journal as she left the room. The next four rooms turned out to be a cloakroom, and guest bedrooms.
The door at the end of the corridor opened into a parlor. A domed skylight let in the waning light from outside. A piano sat in front of the windows, close to the hearth. A sideboard with linen napkins, china dishes and silver utensils arranged neatly sat against the wall to her left. She frowned.
Were the Carringtons preparing to entertain when they left so quickly? And why did they leave? She wondered if she would be able to find out what had happened to make the family abandon their home so quickly and leave almost everything behind.
A portrait hung over the mantle, a young woman seated at the piano in this very room. She was beautiful, with red hair swept up on top of her head, ringlets framing the edges of her face. Her expression hinted at an aristocratic haughtiness, and yet there was also much love and kindness in her expression. Innocence radiated from her. The gown the young woman was wearing was a rich hue of green, with a beautiful garnet brooch placed between her breasts. Something about the painting tugged at the edges of Alexis’s mind, teasing her, but she couldn’t quite place her finger on it. Her eyes were drawn back to the face of the young woman. It was somehow familiar to her. Once again, she regarded the green eyes, the heart-shaped face, and then she gasped. The young woman in the portrait was her!
My thoughts: "She studied the faces of her ancestors, who looked back at her from their portraits as though judging her. Shivering slightly at those disapproving stares, she continued down the corridor and entered the first room she came to." Why does she think they're judging her? Is it because of their expressions or because of how she feels? Either way, maybe the description of their disapproving faces should come before her thought that they're judging her.
I like how the impression of Carrington as knowing his place contrasts with Alexis' feeling of still trying to find hers, and the way she addresses him. I am also curious as to how the house has come to her. Have her parents died recently? Someone else in the family? I'll be interested to find out.
Finally: "The young woman in the portrait was her!" If I saw a portrait that looked exactly like me I think I'd recognize it immediately, unless there were obvious differences like eye color or hair color, then it might take me longer. Also, is the portrait her, or does it merely look like her? An important distinction though not one that needs to be revealed yet...
Readers, what did you think of this second bit of chapter one? Any thoughts or suggestions for Angi? I'll be back tomorrow with another installment :)