In return for winning “Ruined Childhoods” contest 2016, VictoriaMoschou wins a critique of each of her entries.
I like the start – with a bang. Angry Lucinda, furious the holiday would be ruined, the frightened cook having to redo everything, Penelope being frustrated with Lucy being so unreasonable. It’s a quick way of getting the reader to know your characters early through their actions and interactions with each other.
As mentioned previously, I would suggest picking one person’s POV and sticking to it. In the first half of the story, you’ve jumped from the sisters to Claurice to the fortune-teller. For example, if you want us to feel the terror through the child in question, write everything from Claurice’s POV – how does she see her aunts? How does she feel about the mystery fortune-teller?
I would have liked more reference to the title. The fortune-teller states once that ‘Children should listen’ but to whom? To what? Why should they listen? Claurice didn’t go against that rule to get the punishment she got. There doesn’t seem to be much significance of the title.
The sudden twist was certainly unexpected. I think I would have liked a bit more foreshadowing. You’d already started it with Claurice feeling something wasn’t right with the fortune-teller, but then she disappeared for a while and I actually forgot she was about. Maybe there were hushed conversations between the sisters earlier talking about the gypsies’ downfall that gave the fortune-teller her motivation? Maybe the sisters didn’t want gypsies specifically because they didn’t want the trouble? It seems a bit odd they would purposefully invite a gypsy fortune-teller knowing there was this dark secret – or maybe they didn’t know! But why that day of all days? Why then?
And dang that last line was dramatic to the max 😛 well done!