|Reviews for Isobel's Shadow|
| drazer434 4/30/12 . chapter 1
I really like how the opening relates to the title "Isobel's Shadow", and then the creature (I'm still a little bit unsure about what it actually is, even after a couple of readings, but I guess that ambiguity was exactly what you meant to do) once the candle is turned on, thus allowing the creation of shadow. The interplay between the opening and the name of the piece really started to help me imagine who the narrator was without actually revealing any concrete information, which I think was cleverly done.
The thing I really like about this is the narrator's inability to understand basic human emotion, and how quickly it can change from one thing to another, and (dare I say it?) especially in women. I think that adds a very realistic dimension to the story. How would Isobel's Shadow be able to differentiate genuine fear or just a flash of remembered fear? Although the last sentence "I always do what Isobel wants" is rather disturbing as it counters the feeling I had all along, that Isobel was being misunderstood. It made me question is that really want Isobel wants? Would she rather be wrapped up and protected violently like that or is it just an incorrect interpretation of what she wants. Again, you use ambiguity as a good thing here to make me question rather than overusing it in a way that could become annoying, which was very well done.
The only problem I really have in this writing is the interplay between the shadow and Isobel. I think here, perhaps, you could be less sparse with the wording of things. For Example, this whole section [I replace her tattered feelings with my own...Resignation turns to acceptance and I settle down beside her.] seems to describe what could be a rather traumatic and important emotional conflict within Isobel, yet it seems to be resolved somehow rather quickly, and then the story moves on without a backwards glance, without really explaining or going into detail with what happened. It left me a little confused - are Isobel's feelings being manipulated, how are they being manipulated, does she know etc. - and I think you may have missed a trick in not really explaining what went on.
I hope this review made sense, I did really enjoy this story and congratulations on the win
| Stephanie M. Moore 4/29/12 . chapter 1
Oh. I didn't get a chance to read this during this month's WCC, but I see that it certainly deserved the win. Congratulations!
I like the use of first-person. It helps put the reader in the scene, the slow evolution of this strange power the narrator holds over Isobel's mind.
I like the use of the italics for the dream, but the mid-sentence transitions from the narrator's mind to the dream are a bit odd. It isn't a smooth transition. Of course, that may be intentional. It does seem as if the story comes apart near the end.
The last line has me quite confused, in fact. Because, throughout the whole piece, the narrator is manipulating Isobel. And now, the ending tells us that he does what Isobel wants. Are they actually separate entities? But I think the ambiguity serves the story.
I would like to have a better idea of the timing of events, particularly regarding the place of the dream compared to the present. It would help the reader get a better sense of whether or not it was a recent trauma or some long-past wrong.
I love the title. For some reason, I feel a very "Jekyll and Hyde" feeling from this piece, as if the entity is the reflection of Isobel's uncensored impulses. And this is supported by her regret for its actions later in the piece, too. And it goes back to the one/two entity question.
There's so much to talk about for this piece! The complexity is magnificent, and I haven't even begun to think how this ties in with the prompt. All in all, a magnificent piece. Congrats again for the win!
| Some Purple Ink 4/20/12 . chapter 1
Well, can't really think of anything "wrong" here. Very well done indeed. The only thing I would have liked would be some indication of the proximity of this scene and the one with the boy. Did it just happen? Happen yesterday? Years ago?
The dream/memory sequence was a bit confusing and felt blurred because of the mixing of reality. I guess that was on purpose though. Excellence.
I like how dark this is. Isobel is being manipulated and controlled and she doesn't even seem to realise it. The shade doesn't even seem to realise it either, unaware of how it's controlling her. It reminds me of the robot mind in I, Robot.
| Love-Missile F1-11 4/14/12 . chapter 1
I found this story both misterious and a bit perturbing.
It seemed at first a love story, although from the first line "Isobel lights a candle and I appear at her side", you can guess that something strange is there in the room (an angel?, a demon?). I think that first sentence is an elegant way to imply that that being was non-human, without saying it explicitly.
After those first tender scenes, I liked how the narrator voice becomes increasingly obssesed and deranged, how his thoughts become faster and start mixing with the real action, to the point that you can't tell anymore what's really happening, and what's just in his mind ("iShe bites her lip/i and her dread builds ias she remembers the first time a boy looked at her this way./i"). I love that ambiguity: is Isobel really afraid, or is it all his paranoia?
The way tension builds up, until exploding in a fit of violence, to return to the calm afterwards, is effective as well. One could say that the ending reflects the begining; with the difference that, after the murder, what started as innocent romance, has turned pretty dark.
I think the story is fine as it is, without more details, to keep the ambiguity and mistery: who was the first boy and what had he done?, was really guilty the second boy?, is Isobel the real murderer and has a split personality?
On the other hand, I found somewhat difficult to follow the writing and sense of some sentences, because of the strange punctuation and the stream of conciousness.
| PeaEnvy 4/14/12 . chapter 1
I had to read it twice to understand, not because I didn’t really understand it but it looks to me to be one of those stories/scenarios where on second glance you do get the bigger picture where the end justifies the story and upon second glance it is clear. I found it interesting, the relationship and the way in which the story seemed to open up, like it was timeless where as soon as the candle is lit the story is apart from the world and exists in that one moment – which I liked about it. :)
| A. Gray 4/9/12 . chapter 1
I had to admit I was rather confused through this whole story until I got to the end. When you say she summoned a guardian shade a lot of it made more since. I was still wondering what he had done to the second boy.
I still found it distastefull that he manipulated her feelings constantly even if she had summoned him to do just that.
This left me rather conflicted, but I liked it. A well done story. Good luck on the WCC!
| Findus 4/8/12 . chapter 1
Phew... Sure seems like you've found your muse, and becoming fast and easy friends by the look of it too.
I don't know what part was the experimenting part but I really liked that you are using present tense and first person, it makes the atmosphere so much more intimate and I feel with your narrator, it's hard not to when you're in his head like this.
I'm trying not to analyze this too deeply and go with the emotions of the piece instead. It sure gives off a waft of seriously dysfunctional relationship. I assume Isobel has had some trauma with a boy in the past and this 'being' who was called to protect her has now become a prison of sorts. I think that's what intrigued me the most, the emotional abuse of trying to limit someone's contact with the world by claiming to want to protect. How the narrator is all clammy and clingy, and seemingly unhealthily invested in Isobel. "I sulk. I allow it;" - I liked that you let the narrator be so petty and ugly. The conceit in these few words are just extraordinary.
I know the narrator is not a real person (purr? cat with supernatural powers:) ), but it doesn't matter, I've met people like this and I find the description of how controlling and manipulative he is to be creepily realistic. I really enjoyed this one, Nesasio. It's going on my favorites.
best of luck with the WCC!
| Michodell 4/8/12 . chapter 1
[the tear tracks on her face burn me, shame me] I love the imagery here as well as what it implies for the character's compassion towards Isobel.
What I like: I love your writing style. I love how poetic the words are and I get a great sense of his feelings for Isobel as well as her feelings for him.
What I don't like: I'm a bit confused by this. If there are other chapters, I'm sure you would fill in the blanks and the mystery here would draw me in. Since there is nothing else for me to read, I'm left feeling confused. And Isobel comes across as a little mentally unstable.
That may be what you're going for so don't look at it as a fault. This is just what I'm observing from this little bit.
Nice chapter overall, though!
| Dr. Self Destruct 4/8/12 . chapter 1
I like how you opened this, mostly because when you mention she lights a candle and the narrator appears, it makes me think of a shadow appearing due to the light. It makes me wonder if this is how the entity always appears, like it's suddenly there when a moment before it wasn't. It gives it this sort of omniscient quality that I think is really unique, like it knows when Isabel wants it to be there without her needing to say a word (or maybe it's always there inside her). And since this is called Isabel's Shadow, I wonder if you're personifying her very shadow or perhaps giving this voice to something more tangible. But I think it's cool that you never really come out and describe exactly who or what is talking to her, only that it's a part of her and is under her jurisdiction (unless, of course, the shadow decides it's doing what's best for her even if she tells it to stop).
This gives me that thought of an 'imaginary friend', though this one seems quite dangerous, haha. And I find it interesting how even though this creature killed that boy, Isabel still claims to love it. I'm guessing Isabel herself isn't that mentally stable... which also makes me wonder if this shadow is really an alternate personality of hers. There's so many different possibilities with this, haha.
I saw Sophie mentioned in her review something about building the setting up a bit to help the reader understand what time period this is taking place, and I agree that a little more solidifying of the setting might help a bit with the beginning and the ending. The middle itself was done really well with the italics, I absolutely loved how you meshed the two things together. But with the other parts, considering a person was murdered, perhaps you could even have Isabel talking to this shadow while in a jail cell or something, since I was really curious as what exactly happened after the boy was killed. Did anyone find the body? Is she being accused? Do people know the truth? Is she in a mental asylum after being deemed guilty of his murder? I think it would make the shadow's promise of "I'll protect you like this forever, no matter what." even more powerful if there's some hint that something might happen to her due to this murder.
Sorry, after reading this review things came out a little jumbled; I hope it all made sense. I'm a little high on caffeine right now, but I had to review this after reading it because I thought it was so well done. :)
Anyways, good luck in the WCC!
| sophiesix 4/8/12 . chapter 1
Lovely opening, especially so on second reading when you realise what he is! It sets the sort of magical tone to this nicely - be careful what you wish for :S! though i liked the mystery at the begining, i got a bit tangled up in the possibilities my imagination was throwing out. A few more clues as to what time period, setting, etc would be good so that the reader doesn't spend too much time wondering? a little is nice for that tension, but too much distracts from the overall story i think? on second reading you pick up the ebb and flow of the shade with the light - thats lovely! A nice realistic touch of characterisation. part of me thinks it would have been nice to have on first reading though? i like the juxtapositon between the shade doing something nice, ie taking away her bad feelings and memories and so forth, and that creepy powerplay that she doesn't get a choice what she keeps. especially with his jealousy - bad relationship, girlfriend! I also like that line you play between human and animal and ghost: some aspects are quite feline, with the draping and the purring, (reminded me of a pokemon occasionally X) ) some so human, and some shiveringly inhuman! the memory/dream sequence is well done too, i love that playing around with good/bad, in that she's getting a kick out of the unknown aspect of this new relationship, its part of what makes it exciting. its a neat way to illustrate the importance , the crucialnessness, of not playing it safe sometimes, and how sad life is if you could keep yourselves wraped in cottonwool all the time.
"...no matter what" oooh, that gives me shivers. no matter that she regrets her wish, no matter that she's strong enough to go about on her own... The last line also really neatly sums up that nasty dual nature of her predicament: she wanted it so, but forever...? Nice piece Lyra! a titch more clarity in teh begining would be the only thing i'd change, but that could be my fried brain wanting sppon feeding x) good luck in teh WCC!
| lookingwest 4/7/12 . chapter 1
Sooo I think I get this When I first started reading, having been aquainted with a lot of your previous work and your knack for animals, figured this was being narrated by a supernatural dog of some sort, haha, like one that could talk, etc. But once we got into the memories and everything, I figured maybe our narrator was a type of entity or personified part of a human emotion or inner self-and then I think the last paragraph pretty much confirmed to me that the narrator was an animal (the purr makes me want to say it's a cat) and that it's a spirit guardian of some sort, so maybe it just takes the form that Isobel wants it to take at whatever time. Especially in the beginning because the narrator does hint at having human extremities by stroking her cheek, etc. So maybe it isn't even an animal and is just a guardian spirit-i.e. over protective boyfriend/girlfriend in the form of a summoned entity, XD. Annnnd because the title is "Isobel's Shadow" I will go a step further and say it probably could literally be interpreted as a personified shadow too-or like her acting sub-conscious (kind of what I mess around with concerning magic). ANYWAY. Hoepfully that was close. But I don't really mind if I was super off because I REALLY enjoyed this piece 8D.
I thought you incorporated the prompt well-I mean to me the "shadow" narrator went against Isobel's orders, but went with her initial wishes and harmed a boy she had a crush on. My favorite part was the memories, and I totes understand why you were concerned about the formatting-I think you did an AMAZING job with that. Successful experiment is successful! Yay! Like I love how some of the words aren't italic and speak to the moment and the rest speak to the memory, it was awesome and well thought out.
So yeah, this is definitely one of my favorites this round and I wish you the very best of luck. I also read for typos and didn't find any during my reading :3 You are gonna rock it, whoop! Let me know if you have any specific questions about this that I didn't address