Reviews for Crow, Black Chicken
Solemn Coyote chapter 1 . 10/26/2007
Okay, here's the review as promised. It's numbered for convenience.

1)"“You’d have to go miles to see a real hill,” bragged the denizens of Blackmore, “If it wasn’t for our Black Hill.”" That's a real subtle lead-in to the story. I'm impressed. It reminds me vaguely of Lovecraft, but with words that I can understand. It doesn't really hook the reader (which is the favorite strategy on this site) but it does casually stir their interest.

2)"legends of star-crossed lovers who threw themselves of the top," 'off'

3)"He was a handsome devil, and knew it. His big blue eyes and winning smile brought out maternal instincts in every woman, including his sister." No objections to the character, but it strikes me as a little weird that 'his handsomeness brings out the maternal instincts in his sister.' I understand what you're going for, here, but it doesn't come out quite right. He's handsome, okay. Lots of women want to take care of him, also okay. His sister feels motherly towards him. Fine. However, mash them together and you get a sister feeling like a mother because her brother is attractive. That feels kinda weird, maybe.

4)"She did love her brother but god above," that might flow a little better as "she did love her brother...but, God above,"

5)"He was standing outside the store with a couple of other young people, including Mary Sue Laurence." That's maybe a little too overt a reference to Sueism...but I was still amused.

6)"batting her eyelashes and giggling in high C." excellent line

7) Maybe it's just me, but Thomas really doesn't seem like Lucie's brother in the context of the story. The bickering between Mary and Lucie make it seem more like they're both romantically interested in him. Also, the living together is a bit odd (I'm sure there's some backstory about that, but the story doesn't really explain it much.)

8)"She shook her head, not letting the rhymes perpetrate her calm exterior." 'penetrate'. 'perpetrate' means committing a crime.

9)"It reminded Lucie of the frogs that filled West pond with their droning songs." Another excellent line. In context for the character and the story, and a powerful image besides.

10) The scene in the kitchen has a really subtle horror to it. I half expected Agnes to pull an arm out of the cupboard.

11)"Lucie went about he r morning routine" 'her'

12) Well, I liked this story. I think.

The reason that I liked it is because it reminded me a lot of some of the old American fiction I've read. Washington Irving's stuff, in particular. It was pretty classy.

The reason I say 'I think' has a lot more to do with my personal tastes in fiction than it does with any real critique, so feel free to disregard it. While "Crow, Black Chicken" did a good job of setting up an atmosphere and following a plot, it didn't really get inside the heads of the characters very much. They didn't develop over the course of the story (which is okay, as this is a short story.) Moreover, there were a lot of unresolved patches during the course of the story. I like unresolved endings, because it puts the rest of the story in the reader's control, but it's important to give the reader some sort of hint as to what follows when you do that. I remember thinking 'well, what about Mary, or Agnes, or the truth of what happened to Thomas, or whether magic works, or what the world's like...' Lucie's story is pretty well resolved, tying everything up, but you don't suggest that there might be something more to what happened on Black Hill. The last couple lines feel like "and it was all a mystery. The end," and that's something of a disappointment after the excellent scene in Agnes' kitchen.

Anyways, that all has to do with my own opinions as an author. Please don't take it as an assessment of whether your story was good or not, because it was good. It just wasn't written in a style I'm a huge fan of.

Arlie Jenkins chapter 1 . 10/26/2007
Oh, how much fun! So wonderfully constructed, and the characters are each delightful in their individual ways. Were I wearing a hat I would tip it to you for this marvelous story.