There’s something wrong about that bunny, and it isn’t its leg.
I think it is pretty difficult to judge a potential novel by such a short snippet, as we’re only getting to see the very opening moments of the larger narrative unfurling. That being said, I think you have a solid two chapters here, and what I think will be an interesting and unnerving premise. The two characters have very distinct and established voices. It is interesting as the reader gets to follow the same tragedy through very different view points.
I like Emma’s POV, I think you capture the thought patterns of a young child pretty well, while still allowing us to form a coherent understanding of the actual stakes at play. Kayla almost comes off like the stereotypical brooding teenager, but I like how she often softens for a moment with her father, before pulling away. I felt for the poor guy. Her musings on her mother all give her depth, giving us a way to empathize despite her standoffish behavior.
I do wonder about how starting the story off with Emma will impact the ability to grab the reader off the bat. Like I said above, its tough to judge, as you don’t need to pull a reader in as fast as you would in a short story. But her thoughts tend to drift, which is useful in building her characterization, but could be detrimental to your initial pacing.
Finally, the bunny. Maybe I’m biased and wouldn’t have picked up on this if you weren’t posting this on the Dread Machine, but the bunny was such a good way to build tension. Giving it every attribute that would draw a child in (the floppy ears, the sad injury) made my gut tighten. It felt planted, like something nefarious was tempting Emma away. Not sure if there will end up being a supernatural element, but either way, enjoyed the way you built the tension in those two final paragraphs of chapter 1. That made me want to keep reading to find out what happens.
Strong character voices, great use of suspicious bunny.
Does Emma's distinct voice hurt the pacing?