HH Com 282 (280)

What if what we think of as “magic” is real? Not the anything-is-possible sorcery of Harry Potter, but the control of a natural energy to cure illness . . . to “fly” . . . or to kill?

What does having that ability do to people? What happens if we discover them living in secret among us?

In FINDING MAGIC, Ailia, a healer, has that ability. So do the clans made up of her kin that hide from normal society, fearing persecution. And so does Gabriel River, a man who “sees” when people lie and has been isolated by his otherness since childhood.

Ailia is a woman who loves too much. Crushed by grief when her beloved husband is killed, she aims to end her life--but a pit bull of a Homeland Security agent discovers her “difference” and charges into pursuit.

Fleeing to protect her kin, Ailia draws Gabe into her escape. He learns that he and his five-year-old son share the lineage that gives Ailia her abilities, a gift that’s driving Gabe’s son into autism. Ailia’s heart goes out to the child, and her desire for life returns.

But then a clan leader, seeking revenge for the murder of his son by ordinary people, creates a plague to wipe out non-clan humankind. With Homeland Security closing fast, only Ailia, with Gabe’s help, can stop the plague. She’s forced to choose between living while others die and sacrificing her newfound life to save humanity from a gruesome death.

Too many people roaming around to make this easy to follow. Give us the main person. If she's got magical abilities why does she fear persecution? Surely she can just blister any enemies with a sneer? --oh wait..thats Miss Snark! I meant to say blister her enemies with a wave of her hand.

And you've got a lot of bad guys: homeland security, rival clan leader, a plague.

I'm not sure what "real magic" is exactly and this doesn't help me figure it out. ( I know poodles can fly; I've seen it. And if you think people can't fly you haven't seen Miss Snark on the rope line for the red carpet at: Oceans 11, Oceans 12, syriana, the good german,the perfect storm, good night and good luck..well, you get the idea.)

You said "what does having that ability do to people" but we don't see anything about what it's like.


cm allison said...

Way off the mark, but when I read "Ailia" and "Clan" what popped into my head was Jean Auel. "Ailia" aounded the same in my head as "Ayla". Doubt you wanted that connection, but then I might be the only one.

Rei said...

I'm left with quite a few issues.

* You complain about HP as "anything-is-possible" sorcery, yet your magic doesn't seem particularly constrained, going so far as to have the ability to make a genocidal plague. Nor does it seem unique enough to warrant two intro paragraphs as though this were a unique situation.

* The use of the words "clans" and "kin" make this sound like a historical or fantasy novel. But "Homeland Security" seems like present.

* Gabriel has been "isolated" since childhood, but has a son?

* What is up with that homeland security guy? That's out of the blue with no explanation. It also doesn't follow what preceeded it. One second she's trying to kill herself, and a minute later she's trying to escape.

* It's not until most of the way through the hook that we find out that Gabe doesn't even know that he has magic. For all we could tell, since they were introed in the same para, they both had the same background.

* What Miss Snark said.

Anonymous said...

Your use of language is odd; we seem to be in the modern day, but you're saying 'kin' rather than 'family', and using archaic words like 'clan'. What up?

Also, watch your metaphors: pit bulls don't charge, that's actual bulls.

Why would people be persecuted? How? Let's hear some specifics.

From the description, you make Ailia (how do you pronounce that?) being a 'woman who loves too much' sound like a virtue. That rings the Mary Sue bell in my ears. She does have some genuine, non-virtuous, non-sympathy-winning, unromantic faults, right? If not, she needs some.

The other problem with your description is that it's pretty normal to be shattered by the death of your husband, but the way you put it makes it sound like a personality trait. A tendency to retreat from life would be a personality trait; inablility to face her fears, unintentional self-centredness leading her to put her own distress above the urgent needs of others; those could account for her behaviour while also making sure she's not over-idealised. But honestly, it would only be an exceptional character trait if she *wasn't* distraught over her bereavement.

I'd avoid odious comparisons with Harry Potter. For one thing, it's a children's book and this sounds like an adult one; different market, and you'll sound like your tastes are immature if you don't seem to grasp the distinction. For another, hey, Harry Potter sells. And for still another, magic is always fictional in novels. Rowling does it one way, you do it another, but I don't see anything more realistic about your treatment of it than hers. It's all make-believe whoever does it.

I don't think anything can 'drive' someone into autism. Last I heard, you just get born that way. Falsely diagnosed as autistic because his behaviour is odd, conceivably. Driven into autism - not really. Especially as autism means no empathy, which doesn't lend itself to healing skills.

You sound like you're very invested in the story, which is good, but you need to put more into presenting it to get readers equally involved. I'd like to hear more about the relationships between the characters aside from their magical skills, because it's the characters that are going to drive the plot.

Writerious said...

I'm still trying to sort out how a "natural energy" that allows one to heal, fly, or kill, is any different from the "anything-is-possible sorcery" of Harry Potter. After all, even in HP one had to be born with the power, and then has to study hard in order to learn how to use it.

Virginia Miss said...

I suggest you lose the first two paragraphs, I don't think they're helping you convey your work effectively. You need to find a way to describe your setting, because words like "healer," "kin," "clans, imply one kind of setting, but Homeland Security pulls us into the here and now.

shannon said...

"Ailia" sounds like "ailing", as in sick, feeble, which made me see her as a weak character (especially as she starts out wanting to end her own life). Frankly, she sounds a bit depressing, and so the story sounds a bit like that too.