Hey Jon, how are you? First of all, I READ THE WHOLE THING!! Your story is good, I did enjoy it!! I understand why you brought it here for feedback, this is a BIG SCENE and if it were me I would want it perfect. I also love the fact there are going to be bigger scenes, this is just the beginning.
First things first, I loved the chapter ending. I was like, “Aww dang, it was all a drea— oh, oh the thing glowed!” 😂
Unfortunately nothing is perfect, and I actually typed this once a few hours ago but I got logged out before I could hit send, so i'm writing this a second time. Jon if this doesn't show I love you then I don't know what does 😂I'm going to be extra picky, for your sake 😂 but otherwise you've got something good.
I agree with Connie, there are some telling issues that need to be fixed. I personally feel the first paragraph needs to be shortened. But that could just be me— the adults might say it's okay. But sentences like
Her independence was too hard won and too uncertain to be so easily imperilled.
I feel that sentence is an unnecessary form of telling, especially when the previous sentence shows that she's uncomfortable with the whole Custos thing.
When everything starts, you wrote:
As if aware of her attention and almost in answer to her unspoken question, the orb trembled and shifted. Her eye widened. (Think it should be *eyes)
"What in the name of the gods..?"
I feel like you could do more than “her eye widened.” If it were me, I would've jumped. I know Membra is limbless, so you could try something like.
“A shock wave ran through her, numbing Membra to her chair.” Then that's when you do the what in the name...
Why I'm saying this? Your eyes widen when the kettle starts whistling, but this is a pivotal scene in your book— we need more than “eye widen” to convey how she feels. And no, not through dialogue. I don't know to explain it, but it needs to be before “what in the name of the gods...” because action then reaction. So when you tell me she shook before she spoke, it's logical compared to her speaking then shaking. And since this is a big scene, we do not need too much detail, we just need a little more than “eye widen” to separate it from other scenes or moments in your story. Even if this isn't the real thing, it feels real to the reader. Hope that makes sense.
Membra flinched and jerked herself backwards as arcs of radiant blue energy erupted from the orb and crawled across the table in front of her, crackling and striking sparks wherever they touched metal.
Now, I didn't understand this part until I saw your painting, and I didn't understand it because of three words that tripped me up.
Radiant. Erupted. And crawled.
You see when it said radiant energy, I was thinking of some explosion, then erupted confirmed that theory but then “crawled on the table” and I was quite confused. i couldn't picture it. However, seeing image, I'm likening it to Thor and his lightning. So you could say something like this
“Sparks flew everywhere. Blue arcs of energy erupted out of the orb and whizzed across the table.”
Reason why I mentioned sparks, because that suggests it's not a dragon ball Z energy blast. 😂
She jerked backwards, also threw me off a bit, mainly because I'd assumed a big blast, so I was imagining duck and cover. To help avoid confusion you could say
“She jerked backwards into her chair.” It gives a clearer picture.
Next, you kind of go off-topic when
“Puzzled, she reached up and the fingers of her left hand met soft skin, the coarse fuzz of an eyebrow and the complex geometry of bone and flesh around her eye.”
We have about two paragraphs of this before we go back to the blue light thing. Which just destroys the atmosphere. You can summarise all into a sentence or two, or even
“Membra pinched herself but she wasn't convinced it was real." I'd take one sentence of telling over 10 sentences of unnecessary showing, any day.
Now my last point is,
Dream or no dream, how did Membra forget about Custos during that entire thing?
Overall the book is good. I'm curious as to what kind of adventure the Noumenon is going to lead Membra into. The book's got potential, just needs some tightening.
General advice: Focus on what you want the moment to be. What you want the reader to feel from it. 🙏
Don't let this bring you down Jon, the story is good!