Reviews for A Tale of Krith: Tunnels
Lucie Saint-Lazare chapter 23 . 4/19/2007
I had the impression somehow that I'd reviewed the whole story, but I never read or commented about the ending. So I'll do that before I move on.

The explanation for the phenomenon in the cave was pretty much what I had gathered - that they were in the mind of some living creature and sharing its thoughts - although I assumed that Yuza, and not some unknown long-dead guy, was the "runebearer." The ending was pretty satisfying, and I like Yuza, even though you had very little time to develop him - he seems to be a cheerful, happy-go-lucky type of guy.

My only complaint would be that in the last chapter, we have a lot of information dumped on us all at once, and after the nonstop nailbiting action of the previous chapters, it feels very slow. That's to be expected of a denouement, but I think that if you managed to explain a couple of concepts (especially "runebearer") earlier on without being too infodumpy about it or outright giving away the ending, it would give you more time at the end to focus on the three main characters, how they feel, what happens to them afterwards (do Nirrti and Oouka hook up? I'm a girl, okay - that's the sort of thing I'm interested in) as opposed to devoting most time to the explanation of the phenomenon. However, in spite of that, I love the concept of "haunted sites" being really just lonely, suffering living creatures. And I like the closing paragraph, although the argument between Yuza, Nirrti and Oouka and the foreshadowing of Yuza's doom makes me think there might be a sequel - honestly, now, will there be?

Prose-wise, I don't have a whole lot of nitpicks. In Chapter 21:

"Time and neglect had grayed his skin, he was bald and scarred." is two sentences. Also, later on, you refer to "the monster" (The monster looked up at Oouka...) It's fairly clear that you're referring to the Warden from the context, but there are two monsters here (The Warden and the "Man-thing") and you might want to make it clearer. (By the way, I like the Man-thing's hook fetish - body art gone wrong.) In Chapter 22, it's just one typo, "eagr" as opposed to "eager," but I'm sure you could have spotted that yourself.

The carpet of bodies that they have to walk on to get out is creepy. That's what I like about this story, especially the later chapters - there's not all that much violence, but plenty of creatures and situations so bizarre they're scary. It's the "gentleman-in-a-bear-suit" school of horror.

Rock on!

Celebuial chapter 22 . 3/23/2007
I can't tell you how much I was hoping this story would have a "happy" ending! The way you described Oouka's unnatural attachment to the rune was very good.

One little thing I saw, just a typo, was "Gently she shook Oouka, looking suspiciously around her. “Nirrti? Wake up. We’re in trouble.”" I think the "she" and Oouka are the same person, and she can't really shake herself to wake Nirrti.

I'm so glad! This was a really good story, and while I don't understand a lot of what goes on because of my lack of knowledge about your world, it was still amazing!

Good Job!

Lucie Saint-Lazare chapter 13 . 3/16/2007

I thought I'd let you know that this is the story that convinced me to sign up for this website. I've been looking for someplace to obtain some general feedback online where the interface would be simple to use and the quality of the writing decent, and this particular story just WOWED me. It's one of my favourites, not just online (I just started browsing, so that wouldn't be saying much) but in real-life as well. Much as I hate saying that (since I want to know what happens next!) I don't think you should post the whole thing online; I think you should publish it in pieces or in private critiquing circles, because insofar as I'm concerned you stand a good chance of publishing.

That doesn't mean it couldn't be improved, though.

I think your first few chapters (up to, I'd say, about eight) are weaker than the later ones. Now I'm not sure how subjective I am about this, since it's a common fantasy thing to do, but the characterization in those early chapters seems to rely heavily on racial or cultural associations ("I'm Czeran; We're better than this; I'm a priestess of Loonul, I'm supposed to be beautiful; I'm Thorassian, giving up is alien to me.) That fleshes out the races in question, but in my opinion at the expense of the individual characters, who seem to become kind of "abstract ideal representatives of their particular cultures who happen to be thrown into this story just because someone needs to in order to make stuff happen." Later on the characters become a lot more individual in my mind because they begin to define themselves more by the way they interact with each other and their environment rather than by their social group. I was surprised by how affected I was when I thought Nirrti had died in Chapter 13, and how sucked up I've been in their developing friendship/romance in the later chapters. I love how Oouka's slightly vain and whiny exterior hides a really tough gal, as well as Nirrti's relentless optimism, his/her common sense, and how s/he affectionately indulges his/her partner's flaws. (I also love how their relationship seems to jump forward and become more explicit when Nirrti becomes female, which is counterintuitive in our culture but also very sexy, in my opinion.)

The first few chapters also suffered from a slightly repetitive structure; they almost felt like an obstacle course. The first incidents (the underwater tank, the guillotine blades and the box, the ghostly ladies) occurred in quick succession and were all solved in a similar way, through the characters' courage and quick thinking. I think they would have more impact if they were spread out more. From those first chapters I expected a very well-written, very exciting, but rather predictable story; it's only as the plot moved on and began to twist and turn that I became involved and realized that this was no ordinary action story.

The writing is generally smooth but it is sometimes a bit choppy, and there are occasional run-ons. (One that particularly struck me, in Chapter 12: "Then the eye turned, there was an audible liquid sound as it rolled up and to the side, the huge pupil drifted into view." There are a lot more; I may come back later to point them all out individually, but that one struck me because the sentence is otherwise so awesome.) I also hate saying this since I'm a generally pro-adverb type person, but I think you sometimes have overkill. Ie. in Chapter 5: "They moved onward, Oouka holding on to Nirrti’s unbroken ankle to follow him as he crawled painfully through the darkness. He needed to rest frequently, the pain from his wounds inevitably overwhelming him every few minutes." Three in two short sentences. It mostly gets a bit repetitive. There was also some occasional word repetition: in Chapter 12, the warden is referred to as "moving spasmodically" in one paragraph and "spasming" in the next. And, just a bit later, "pain" and "painfully." You just don't need that.

I love how incredibly deep and complex your world seems to be, but at the same time it occasionally gets in the way of my understanding. I have a fair idea of what a "Czeran" and a "Thorassian" are at this point, but I'm still not sure about edgewalkers, Empac, and runebearers. It would be a shame to break your smooth flow with an infodump, but if you can sneak a bit more data in there without getting too much in the way of the story, that would be really helpful.

About the horror factor: in my opinion, the creepiness increases when your story gets over the "obstacle course" bit and pumps up the mystery. Such as: why is that warden sitting all alone in the dark? Are the two characters locked within a living organism of some sort? Why does the phrase "Go back" keep recurring? What happened to Nirrti? Who is Yuza? That sort of thing.

I wouldn't want to put you down too much, though, so I'll say it again. This is a kick $$ story. I think you inadvertently provoked the opposite effect that you intended; instead of freaking me out, it thrills me and makes me feel alive, like putting on some really loud music or using the swings until I feel dizzy. Please finish it! I'm adding you to my favourite authors list.

Take care,

feeder chapter 20 . 3/11/2007
Good chapter, I did leave a review for chapter 19 too, but it only seems to appear if you actually go to the specific review page for 19.

Anyway, like I said in the earlier review, this isn't horrifying to read, it's still really good - it has a good plot and grammar and develops your world further. I mean, if this was a film then I think it would work well. But I think it would help if you concentrate on the fact that Oouka is effectively blind most of the time, and focus on what she can feel, hear and smell instead. Maybe that would help.

I do like the last line of this chapter though: “We’re not alone,” she said. “And they know we’re here.” Classic.

I've enjoyed reading this, but more just as general fantasy and not specifically horror.
feeder chapter 19 . 3/4/2007
This seems to have been criminally neglected compared to Twin Moons, so I'll write a review for you.

I have to say, it's not exactly horrifying, but it's still very well written, so I have a couple of suggestions.

1) I think another reviewer might already have mentioned this, but the fact that Oouka is blind for almost all of the time could be emphasised a bit more, maybe by focusing even more on the smell of blood and decay etc and the sound of dripping water or scurrying rats. That kind of thing.

2) The wardens are a good idea, I imagine them as a bit like Golem out of Lord of the Rings, so it might be good to feature the sadistic pleasure they seem to get out of watching them suffer more, maybe in the early chapters you could have the ceilings of the tunnels as gratings so the Wardens could be scampering around above them with their crazy eyes, following Oouka and Nirrti when she finds him.

Taken out of context of its genre, this is a good story and I've enjoyed reading it so far, but like I said, it's not all that horrifying (although I have to admit that I have never found a book horrifying, so maybe that isn't saying much). Anyway, it's good, and I hope you stick with it.
Celebuial chapter 14 . 2/10/2007
This is yet another good chapter :D

I have a hard time trying to understand what she is seeing. You might do a better job of describing it. I mean, I figure that it's not going to make sense to me as to why and what it means, but I can't quite grasp the visual aspect of what she sees. If it's supposed to be that way, then just ignore what I said _

Her senses also seem more numb than before by the less intense description of the insects. If that was on purpose, good job, but it kindof detracts from the "horror."

Too short!;) Post soon! :D
Celebuial chapter 13 . 2/6/2007
Man! I have a hard time reviewing your stuff cause it's so good! I have to say that I was not expecting Nirrti to get vaporized. You do a good job at keeping the suspense and making what happens next a total surprise. It gets a, I dunno,... predictable, at how unpredictable it is, if that makes any sense at all. I didn't realize how well you built the relationship between the two of them until suddenly Nirrti is gone.

Good Job! :D
John Michael Christopher chapter 8 . 1/10/2007
Yuck. What prevents the rat from sinking its teeth into the tongue or its claws into the cheeks? And how much blood and pus and chunks of flesh are caked over the fur of the rat which has been devouring corpses? Disgusting. I liked the interpretation of the warden's or thrall's or whatever-it-was' warning with the corpse's eye through the hole in the earlier chapter. I guess that makes it either incapable of speech or really sadistic. Either way works really well. It's good you pointed it out, too, or else it might have been lost on me. Good chapter.
Celebuial chapter 6 . 1/4/2007
Oh, man. I am so glad her hand didn't get cut off. Good job at keeping the suspense up, it really draws you in. I was a little confused at the last sentence, I just wasn't thinking that slaps could "fall," but when I look at it again, it makes sense, mostly.

Good Job! _
Celebuial chapter 5 . 12/17/2006
Well, I have been reading this story since you started posting it, but until now, nothing really struck me as "horror," if you want to call it that. The thing with the blades in the box is about as creepy as it gets. If I think about it too much it gives me the Jibblies. That means you have done your job well._

You do a pretty good job at bringing out Oouka's "beast" side, but you could probably do more. Maybe I just don't have the right background, not quite having time to read your other stories, but it might help readers like me who have only started reading and understanding your races.

Keep it up! :D

P.S. I really appreciate your reviews, especially on "The Angel Isle," and I totally agree that the name for the angels is slightly boring, and I promise to think about it. I'll try to review your stuff more too. Finals end this week and then I will be able to give your stories the time the deserve.

John Michael Christopher chapter 4 . 12/10/2006
Excellent work with the eyes, the laughter, the friend in the dark. I felt frightened...for two characters. Very creepy, especially the eyes. How close their capturer came before retreating in the dark,Oouka's bloodlust- atmospheric, chilling, extremely good.

On Nirrti Atsa- He's not acting like his leg was broken and he's been knifed. Where's the mind-numbing shock accompanying such madness? Not sure whether he's a faker, feels the pain less than humans, or is supposed to have spent enough time in the tunnels to come to terms with his situation. Not quite happy if the latter. He's cool, too, though. It's possible he's supposed to be creepy. I've been told I gravitate toward creepy characters. At any rate, he's a good match for Oouka. However, I'm not sure if their partnership is exactly equal...He knows she's exploring, but how does she know he's telling her everything that he's seen? Very interesting.
John Michael Christopher chapter 3 . 12/10/2006
Her drive forward is taking a toll, I see. Catching her fin was pretty good with the fish on a hook thing. I might've misread but if she actually crawled out unable to correct the situation beforehand, yeouch.

But yeah, I absolutely believe nonhuman characters are absolutely do-able. I didn't mean having her panic and kill herself is what you should've done. I'd have severely crippled her, true enough, but only to endear us to her story. As you say, her survival would not be likely.

I do believe another consideration might be introducing who she is so we feel the impact of what death is ripping away from her and what the stakes are besides I win & live or lose & die. Investment in the character really sells a horror story, and I still feel that as it stands, she's a really cool cat- I just don't see more pain, setbacks, or her death as defeating her character. It's kind of hard to put into words. Like, if she dies, so what? It was a good death.
John Michael Christopher chapter 2 . 12/10/2006
Awfully cruel to the Czeran. I liked it from an action oriented perspective. As a horror story, I'd suggest concetrating more on the sounds she heard than the pain she felt. I think her ability to rationalize her situation diminished the fear I had for her survival. Groping around in the dark didn't make me worry for her because she had already won a victory. Her pain and rage empowered her. If the story goes on, it becomes a game of mouse-trap, wiles, and athletic ability. What worked best in the context of horror story was her claustrophobia in the spike tank. Another theme right there for exploring is loss of her identity and that Czeran pride she values so highly. I would've degraded that control over her mind right along with the environment and her body. She wouldn't have escaped with the least injuries she was capable of managing. She would've exploded in fear at the overwhelming factors narrowing her chance at survival, becoming her own worst enemy and spearing herself when in fact she might've pulled off a much less painful escape. Her focus and determinaton makes her a good heroine for an action piece. As a horror story protagonist, her psyche provided the armor that made her invulnerable, limiting the effectiveness of the actual horror.