The Flower Girl

The "flower girl" was labeled a slow student in high school. Though she can only handle simple tasks, Camilla is happy with her job in a garden store. Her boss is kind and Camilla loves flowers. When Camilla discovers men's bodies buried in a back plot, she is puzzled. She doesn't tell her boss, Mrs. Martin, because she doesn't want to upset her.
Though Camilla lives alone in the family home, her two cousins often drop by to visit. They are furious when they find out that a customer made fun of Camilla and that Mrs.. Martin's husband tried to seduce her. When each man becomes a murder victim, Camilla is suspected in the crimes. However, there is no evidence to connect her to either of them.
When other murders follow, the young detective assigned to the cases is suspicious of Camilla until she gets to know her better and realizes someone more clever is behind the slayings. As the crimes escalate, Marie and her team strive to find clues that lead to the killer. When they do, the identity is a surprise to everyone in the investigation.


Psychological Suspense

Critic Evaluation

Cover Design Score: 5

The cover looked like it had low resolution.  It’s grainy and pixilated.  I think if you put a higher resolution picture it would look better on a digital device.  The purple contrasts with the green, and it’s a little jarring on the eyes.  Maybe if the entire cover was green to match the leaves in the picture, or if the purple was used to banner the title, it might stand out more as something I would walk by in a bookstore and want to pick up.

Book Blurb Score: 6

It gives a good idea as to what the book is about, but it could be shortened to include information that’s just relevant to the main plot without giving away subplot details.  Instead of revealing Camilla’s cousins identities and the conflict between Mr. Martin and Camilla, focus on Camilla finding the dead bodies and Marie trying to solve the case.  I think if I picked up the book and read the blurb, I would be more inclined to want to read more if I didn’t know that the identity of the killer was the shocking twist.  That being said, it definitely did draw my attention and make me want to read it.  I just feel that with a few little tweaks it could be that much better.

Formatting Score: 3

There were several formatting errors that can be fixed with some editing.  Several quotations are either missing or randomly added where they don’t need to be (typo styled).  The paragraphs are occasionally broken up between sentences, or a new person will talk and it’s in the same paragraph as another person’s dialogue.  Other times there would be no spacing between paragraphs to indicate that the reader is switching from Camilla to Maria.  While most times I could decipher what was meant, at times I would have to stop and reread a few times to understand who was saying what and what was being done.  There is also issue with the chapter index at the beginning of the book.  It lists some chapters out of order, and some are ALL CAPS while others Are Like This.  Again, a lot of it is simple mistakes that can be fixed with some editing.

Grammar & Spelling Score: 9

Overall, there were very little spelling or grammar mistakes.  The few I found were the missing or extra quotations marks, as I mentioned in Formatting.  Good job!

Plot & Structure Score: 7

There is a lot going on in the story, which is awesome.  I really liked that Camilla was so concerned with keeping her boss safe when she suspects she was burying bodies in the back.  A question I had throughout the book, however, was wouldn’t the bodies start to smell after a few days?  From reading, it didn’t seem like the bodies were buried deep.  Perhaps this is something that could be addressed at the beginning when she digs one of them up?  I would think that it would start to smell even faster between all the heat and rain the area gets.  Conflict-wise, it’s clear that it’s Camilla against the world, and I really enjoy that.  It’s not just trying to find who the killer is, but it’s conflict in her everyday life between people and situations.  The story isn’t just beginning middle and end, but little subplots that makes Camilla just that much more endearing.  Other areas of the novel, however, felt a little choppy.  When Marie’s husband is kidnapped, for instance, the whole thing happens so fast that the reader doesn’t see the effects.  The same thing goes for Tamara’s several kills.  I think if the story focused on one or two of the kills, it would be sufficient.  Violence works a little like jump scares in movies: a few can make an impact, but too much makes it lose its effectiveness.

Character Development Score: 8

There are several characters in The Flower Girl who are briefly mentioned or serve their short purpose and leave, so I am focusing on the two main characters, Camilla and Marie.  Originally, I was going to add Evie and Tamara to the list, but knowing now what I do, I’ll add them to Camilla.

Camilla had so much to offer as a character, and she was by far my favorite in the story.  I felt that her words and actions were relatable and really spoke to me as a reader.  The scene where she orders food for the first time by herself was anxiety-inducing all on its own.  I think a lot of people have been in that exact situation where you recite what you want over and over in your head so you don’t mess up, and what happened to her is one of my fears.  That was the first instance where I really fell in love with her, and there were several more after that, but that stood out for me.

Up until the very end where the big reveal of Camilla’s true identity, I didn’t much care for Evie and Tamara.  Before, I thought them static and rather boring.  I felt like the way they thought was honestly a little insulting to their cousin, like how they both were so concerned with her appearance and essentially how stupid they thought she was.  But when it comes out that they are just a part of Camilla, it all came together.  It all made sense then why they were written the way they were written, and I think you did a phenomenal job with them.  I’m still blown away by the ending.

Marie, I felt, didn’t have much to offer to the story.  She seemed bland compared to Camilla.  Her relationship with her husband was a bit too white-picket-fence for my taste.  For the entirety of the story, I didn’t care for her or whether or not she solved the case.  I think if she had something added to her character, like a bad habit or a mean demeanor to criminals or a bad marriage (just ideas), I would love her just as much as I love Camilla.  All characters, and all people for that matter, need that little bit of bad to make them interesting.  She’s written like she’s perfection, so instead of rooting for her to catch the murderer, I’m rooting for the murderer to get to her.  Marie needs some dirt dug up on her, and I think then she’ll be a well-rounded character.

Originality Score: 9

The overall story felt very original!  My only issue was the cop vs FBI conflict.  It seems like a lot of books focuses on the subplot where cops want the case but the FBI are getting in the way of the investigation.  But other than that small detail, I loved it!

Pacing Score: 4

A lot of the dialogue I felt did nothing to forward the plot.  There were also several sections that I feel could have been summarized in a few sentences instead of several paragraphs or pages.  I would be fully into the book, then it would talk about what was eaten for dinner, and I’d have to force myself to continue.  Other sections didn’t flow well and felt more like filler than anything else.  A good rule of thumb is that if a section doesn’t move the plot forward, nix it.  Other sections that I would have like to see developed further were rather short, mainly when Rick is kidnapped.  It needs some work on building some of the subplot tension.

Use of Language Score: 6

The book was very dialogue heavy.  While in some places this worked well, in others, I felt it was unnecessary.  For instance, whenever Marie would talk to Rick about food, it tended to drag.  Readers don’t necessarily need to know every word that was said or every little action that takes place.  That being said, the descriptions of the sky are always amazing.  Every time it’s almost poetic, and I would stop, read the description again, stop, and envision it in front of me.  Each sky description, whether night or day, was beautiful.

Overall Readability Score: 6

All in all, I liked the book.  Although it needs some polishing here and there, I think it was a good look into the mind of a girl with some bigger issues than what meets the eye.  I would recommend this book to others after it gets a little bit of editing work (mainly formatting and pacing).  Seeing what you did with The Flower Girl, I would definitely enjoy looking at further works by you.  As for whether or not it belongs on Storyteller Alley, I am truly torn.  I think you have a good thing going here, but it does need some work to make it truly exceptional.  This is not to comment on your ability as a storyteller at all, but rather issues with formatting that made it difficult to read.  I would love to see it after you give it another read through and another round of editing.  Really pay attention to what is needed and what is just filler.  It can be hard to look at something you made and changing any part of it, but sometimes cutting out entire sections can really add to the quality of the story and the likelihood that you’ll get readers to keep coming back.  Again, I do hope you give this another round of editing and resubmit.  A little bit of polishing can do wonders.  Thank you for giving me the chance to read your work!

This book received a critic's score of 63 out of 100 possible points.

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