When eighteen-year-old Rose Morton and nine of her friends arrive in a castle nestled in the French countryside, Should it be "arrive at"? Maybe I'm being nitpicky, but it sounds like they drove a castle here or something. far away from their NYC penthouses, they each get a welcome note on their respective beds: With "welcome note," it feels like "welcome" is an adjective, suggesting they were grateful to receive the notes. "They each get" feels weak. Perhaps something like "they receive notes". "Respective" feels unnecessary and slows things down. "Welcome to France, where all your secrets follow you. Whose will come out first?"
If the threat turns viable, Rose is confident she can turn this minor wrench in plans to her advantage. She's determined to prove that having secrets out in the open will only solidify the group's friendships for life. It’s the ideal plan What is it that Rose wants, exactly? I'm having trouble feeling a strong sense of tension here. What drives her? Why does she feel the need to be so devious and plotting? What is her specific plan? Does she really just want to be good friends with everyone? What is her deep, strong, compelling desire here?—until each progressive secret reveals just how little the group know about each other. Despite this, the ten have no choice but to trust one another. Trust that the secrets will stay within the walls of the castle; if they don't, all ten stand to lose something, from their reputation, to their future or freedom, or all three in one pretty little package.
Panic and suspicion reach an all-time high when the notes reveal that the recent drowning of their classmate was no accident—and that the ten know the murderer. The group is hysterical and desperate as the clock ticks down the final hours until their flight, I feel this demonstrates the biggest overarching issue I see with the query. It's that old adage, "show, don't tell." You're telling us they're panicked, suspicious, hysterical and desperate, but I'm not feeling it. Without concrete details and concise, thrilling prose, I'm failing to connect with the characters and understand the stakes here. all while the notes keep coming, one by one, ensuring that in the span of one week, the damage to their friendships is irreparable. And the closer the group gets to the reveal of the last secret, the more obvious it becomes that the biggest threat isn't even contained in the notes. But with all love lost and trust nonexistent, the threat may be too much to overcome—and the notes will have served their purpose.
I feel trying to convey the feelings of such large group is the wrong way to go for such a small space. Personally, I'd try to focus more sharply on Rose's feelings alone. What does she want? How do these events affect her? What are her stakes in all of this? We need an individual to connect with and feel for, not general feelings of a group. Also, why can they not just leave the castle?
What secrets? What friendships? It's hard to feel invested without having seen the depth of their relationships beforehand. Again, I'd focus on Rose. Does she have a best friend in the group she can't bear to lose? What's her secret that she's terrified of having revealed? What do these people really mean to her? How did she feel about the dead friend, and the prospect of finding her killer?
THORN IN THE ROSE, complete at 58,000 words, is a YA psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator. It’s Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None meets TV’s Gossip Girl. It would appeal to fans of Karen M. McManus’ One of Us is Lying who wanted something a bit darker. Thank you for your consideration.
I feel you're too focused on the "general" in trying to encompass the feelings for the full group of friends, and need to focus on the "specific" with Rose's feelings and motivations. The repeated use of the word "secrets" without delving into what kinds of secrets, or specific examples, or why Rose or her friends would be devastated by their reveal ... It seems like a big problem to me.
I also think you need to work on being more concise. Eliminate unnecessary words, and find powerful action verbs, focusing on making everything as tense and exciting as possible. "Rose is confident she can turn this minor wrench in plans to her advantage." -> "Rose fights to twist it to her advantage ..." for example.
I hope this criticism hits you well. I'm afraid I may have lost some sense of tact over the years. I hope that some of it is helpful, and you're free to disregard anything that isn't.