You’ve Got Five Pages, #LittleRedHouse by #LivAndersson, to Tell Me You’re Good. #FirstChapter #BookReview #Podcast

We take a darker turn today, fellow creatives.

As writers, we hear all the time that we’ve got to hook readers in just the first few pages or else. We’ve got to hook agents in the first few pages or else.

Whether you’re looking to get published or just hoping to hook your reader, first impressions are vital. Compelling opening scenes are the key to catching an agent or editor’s attention, and are crucial for keeping your reader engaged.


Well then, let’s study those first few pages in other people’s stories, shall we?

Today I snagged from the New Release shelf:

Little Red House by Liv Andersson

Liv Andersson’s thriller Little Red House gave me a delightful surprise. Not through it’s subject matter, for the record–it’s a dark thriller that starts with the perspective of a rape and torture victim held captive in a man’s basement. If you do not want to read about rape, just avoid this book. I’m sure Andersson will understand.

If you do not see the audio player above, you can access the podcast here.

No, the surprise for me came as a writer. Andersson avoids prologues, yet her first chapter reads like a prologue we so often see here: it’s short, first-person, and a vivid telling of a dangerous scene. Listening to the victim describe what she hears when her tormentor approaches, hearing her focus on details of her environment for she’s determined not only to escape but kill her tormentor in the process–it is, in short, a compelling opener. I feared that Andersson had given us a stark first chapter to offset what we often see in this podcast: a really slow “second” opener to the book.

Yet that is not the case here! While Chapter 2 does “start over” with another character in first person, we see that this new character is related to the first, which immediately gets us wondering how well the two may know or know of each other. The voice of the new character is similar, but not to the point where I have to check what their names are to keep them straight. Her chapter is also pure active movement with just the teensiest bits of background, so the momentum started with Chapter 1 continues onward. Even though we’ve left one protagonist in a prison, this new character also seems to be in a prison of her own making. Even though she has a key to escape (metaphorically speaking), she refuses to use it. Why?

Again, for those who do not wish to read of sexual trauma, please wait for next week’s installment. But for those who read thrillers into the darker turns of human nature, you’ll not be disappointed with Andersson’s protagonists here. As a writer, too, I find her balance between present action, voice, and “telling between the lines” to be most instructive.

No matter what the season brings, keep reading!

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!