The Beta Club: Harbinger (YA Urban Fantasy) - Agree with my Critique?


It's Beta Club Tuesday!  YA Urban Fantasy on the agenda today.  Read on and let the author know what you think!  Remember, this will be the only Beta Club of the week, so give it all you got.  ;)

For newbies:  If you haven't been here on beta club day yet, don't be afraid to jump in with your comments.  All feedback is welcome as long as it's constructive.  And if anyone has an itch to be critiqued, the rules for submitting to the Beta Club are under the "Free Critiques" heading at the top of the page.


Alright, please read through the author's excerpt, then provide your feedback in the comments.  My detailed critique is below. 

Author: Dawn Hullender (go visit her here)
Title: Harbinger
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy


Cool, crisp night air sneaked in through the partially open window and cast a light veil of mist throughout the small bedroom. Karma shifted restlessly as the dream dancing through her mind pulled her deeper and deeper.
Sweat dampened her brow and the covers tangled around her failing limbs. In her mind she ran from four hooded figures on horses; each one carrying an identical sword as the next. Her flight through strange woods proved fruitless when everywhere she turned there they were, bearing down upon her.
Her bare feet were covered in scratches and the hooded ones seemed to smell her seeping wounds like bloodhounds on a trail. She grasped at the wispy ends of her cotton nightgown as they fluttered in breeze of her flight. Her breath came in ragged bursts and she was sure her lungs would explode at any moment.
“What do you want from me?” she screamed into the blackened night sky and cringed when one black horse approached her slowly. His breath came in soft tufts, lifting the ends of her hair. The rider remained seated, as did the others; however he did reach down for her to take his gloved hand.
“We want you Elemental, come with us or fail the world,” his voice rang hollow, his breath putrid upon the breeze. Karma backed away from the rider and horse. She lost her footing when she stumbled over a tree root and screamed as she fell down a black hole.
Karma eyed her grandmother’s front door with a mixture of suspicion and dread. Today was her eighteenth birthday and she knew; she just knew Nana had something up her sleeve. Remnants from last night’s dream still plagued her and the last thing she wanted was a noisy – unwelcome – birthday party.
Every year she begged for this day to pass unnoticed, but the universe never indulged her whim and neither did her grandmother.
Tired of dallying, she sighed and trudged up the steps, mentally preparing herself for the insane surprise waiting, but nothing could have prepared her for what she faced once through the blue door.
“Happy birthday dear,” Nana smiled and handed her a large, over-wrapped present. “I know how you dislike surprises, so this year I decided not to throw a party. Today it’s just you and me.”
Karma didn’t know whether to laugh or cry so she did the only thing she could think of and that was to hug the older woman, “Thank you so much.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” Nana patted her roughly on the back, “That present arrived for you today. It came from your parent’s attorney,” she narrowed her eyes and frowned. “I suppose they wanted you to have it today. There’s a letter on the table that came with it, I suspect you should read it first.”
With a small nod, Karma pushed past Nana and raced to the kitchen to find a long white envelope bearing her name resting amongst the napkin holder.
She sat the box on the table and ripped into the envelope. At first the letter didn’t make sense, so she closed her eyes – counted to ten – and read it again.
            If you’re reading this letter then it’s your eighteenth birthday
and we aren’t there for you. Who knew Anthropology was such a
dangerous field huh?”
Karma rolled her eyes at her mother’s attempt at humor. She always had some lame joke to tell and it never failed to make people laugh. She would never understand why.
“…Have you opened your gift yet? Well, what are you waiting for, open
 it now!”
Karma sat down the letter and ripped into the cartoon duck covered wrapping paper. She frowned when she opened a square box and her eyes settled on an old leather tome. It looked older than her 1807 first edition of Children’s and Household Tales, written in native German by the Brothers Grimm.
“Wow, I wonder what this is.” Karma muttered as she gingerly opened the front cover. Her heart flip-flopped when she realized it was no published book but a personal journal. Its handwritten pages were smudged here and there, but she had no way to determine just how old it was. Turning back to the letter, she sat the journal back in the box.


Below is my detailed critique.  Please select FULL SCREEN to view, then once the document is open RIGHT CLICK to ZOOM and view the comments.

Alright, so what do you think?  Are you hooked?  What did the author do well?  What things could  be improved?  Agree or disagree with my crit?

Thanks ahead of time to all of you who comment and thanks to the author for volunteering!

**Today's Theme Song**
"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These) -  Marilyn Manson version
(player in sidebar, take a listen)