Reviews for Ash & Blood
J. H. Freedman chapter 1 . 8/13/2013
This just needs revision. The story has potential, but is held back by simple mistakes:

-The most obvious is your A/N disclaimers. Are they really necessary? I would take them out; your work should be able to speak for itself.

-Another problem is how short your paragraphs are. Normally I wouldn't mind, but there are several instances in which two or three paragraphs can be combined. I would go back and revise your spacing and make the transitions smoother.

-Parentheses and ellipses should be avoided at all costs in creative writing. Convert ellipses into standard sentences, and remove the parentheses sections completely.

-Never describe your own work as clichéd or diminish your work as a whole. "laughed a clichéd mad scientist laugh" should be changed.

The voice that you're using doesn't fit as well, but that doesn't have an easy fix. I would suggest reading surreal books such as "A Scanner Darkly" or horror novels such as "It" to examine their styles of writing. With that said, the only way to develop your voice as a writer is to keep writing, keep making mistakes, and keep learning.

I hope this helped :)
lookingwest chapter 2 . 2/22/2013
I like the questions that this chapter raises towards the end. It makes me wonder if Alex is going to become an allegory and what kind of allegory he might become. It kind of seems like he's a bit indifferent of everything around him, though, so maybe it has something to do with that. At any rate, I like speculating about it! I think his indifference might be stemming from his confusion at the end too.

The opening had really cool imagery, it was dark and creepy, with the whole organ trees thing. I thought it was unique and we get a good gross-out moment with the phlegm and stuff. I had to kind of grimace that he licked it off, ew!

I like Elation but I would've liked to have spent more time with her and have a bit more description about the "high" that Alex feels when he's with her and the happiness and everything. I liked the whole concept but yeah, it would be cool to get more of that from her. I kind of liked the informality of her dialogue, her tone was fun, and she had pink hair right? that was fun too. It makes me wonder what kind of horrors might actually be in the Hotel and stuff.

So far I think I like Psychosis the most. There's something about him, maybe it's just because he's badass, haha. I like the devil/angle thing going on at the end, though, too. I'm kind of glad that Alex seems like he's leaning towards Psycho, but that probably isn't so great because Psycho does seem a little evil and all, haha. But yay, anti-heros! Enjoying it. I'm looking forward to seeing where this is going and what the Hotel might lead to.
lookingwest chapter 1 . 2/4/2013
I really enjoyed this unique take on the afterlife - and also, I love House of Wolves, that song kicks ass. Do you listen to Death From Above 1979? I feel like you would like their album, if you haven't heard it. Anyway - I liked the spiderweb imagery in the beginning and the line "the flatline didn't lie", it just sounded cool, haha. And then a little after that, I also liked the bit about the Egyptian afterlife and how Alex doesn't want his heart eaten - there was something really deep and striking about that imagery and it played with the beginnings of the afterlife concept that starts to unfold.

The City Upon The Hill - that's actually a really popular puritan sermon that kind of founded America - I'm pretty positive that entire description was just an accidental parallel that I'm making, but it's cool that there's this mountain and city and it seems to be the most defining thing that Alex first sees.

Loved the description of the people Alex meets with the wolves at their heels - I can see how this was inspired from Black Parade.

Alex decided to look at Heartbreak for a bit. [good line, i liked this]

Fun ending. The dialogue work was amusing and I loved the back-and-forth with Psychosis and Heartbreak. I think Heartbreak was my favorite in that, haha. The humor lightened the situation for Alex a bit and I think they matched their personifications well. Overall a fun start - I'm looking forward to reading more from this one!
SlackerNeopyhte chapter 2 . 12/31/2012
I enjoyed this chapter more than I did the first, as I began to sense some of the major themes that are coming to the surface in your prose. The second part of the chapter was hopping with action and story progression - and all I can see with Angel is Castiel from Supernatural and Elation is Effie Trinket.

The bad part is that if anything, I find Alex to be a MORE unlikeable character than I did in the first chapter, and I think he seems quite unrealistically reassured of himself, given the circumstances. He seems to take this death thing with the attitude of a teenage roughie being told that he's been suspended from school.

Psychosis and Angel are great characters, and I can't wait to see them claw each other's eyes out or perhaps kiss (please?). They - and especially Psychosis - really make me feel like I'm reading The Sandman. I wish I was reading from Psychosis' POV, I am really interested in what is going on in his demented mind.

I would like to see the traits that Alex has (the inner dialogue and attitude) to get taken down a notch, at least to the point where he seems human and not filled with ridiculous bravado.

I do like the dream quality of the whole thing, and it makes for an interesting read.
SlackerNeopyhte chapter 1 . 12/31/2012
I felt that I should review this chapter before I get to the next, so here goes -

First of all, the writing flowed well, especially during the meeting with Psychosis and Heartbreak, and I like that bit about Heartbreak's forever changing face. However, I was a little turned off by the idea that this was built around the My Chemical Romance album, and I feel as though some of it was warranted. For example, I think that if this story was built more organically around Alex as a character and less as a plot device, then we could feel for him a bit more as a character who feels like a person in his own right and not just a character in a story.

For example, his constant exclamations (short attention span and temper) and some of the out-of-nowhere bits and pieces are not fully expanding much of my knowledge of or interest in Alex as a person. As already noted in other reviews, his apparent lack of interest in the afterlife is uninteresting to read - I mean, even when Nny went to heaven in Jonny the Homicidal Maniac, he still treated it like a NOVEL experience.

I'm not fully certain at this point that I care about Alex as an individual, and he comes off a bit as a jerk.

On the plus side, as noted also before, your vision of the afterlife is fun, and comes off, to me, as a mix between Silent Hill in the movie version and as the music video for "Welcome to the Black Parade." I can easily envision what the landscape looks like, and it seems to be a great setting for the story.

I would have liked to get the same effect with the characters, but truthfully, with a little bit of the exception of Psychosis, I ave no idea what these people look like or what they're wearing. As I read, my attention kept floating away from the prose, and I think that you should read this aloud to hear the places where it worked and where it fell flat.

The story reminded me also of The Sandman, and I don't know if it was intentional or not, but kudos for that.
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 2 . 12/30/2012
[There's another question Alex has to ask. "How did you…become like you are?"]

You slip into present-tense here. Just change the "there's" to "there was" and "has" to "had."

This story is starting to remind me of something I read last semester in my 17th century literature class, a story called Pilgrim's Progress. Pretty much every character in that story is used as an allegory, and they're also named after certain attributes or named after whatever they're used to represent. I think it's cool how you take this concept and sort of modernize it, making it fresh and new and appealing to people from this time period. It's interesting how literary devices (like allegory) stand the tests of time and are used throughout different time periods. I also like how you personify each of these allegories, and I think you do a brilliant job with it. So far my favorite is still Psychosis.

While on a whole I'm enjoying the faster pace of this story, I think you might want to consider slowing down a bit and going a little more in depth with the effects Elation has on Alex. Before that when you get into the organ-trees (which is such a cool image, by the way - a combination of disgusting, creepy, and yet incredibly intriguing) you do a really good job slowing down and helping the reader picture them. I think slowing down with Alex's meeting with Elation might help, going more in depth with his other senses, too. Especially sight. He mentions a "high," but is this only of an emotional level, or is it psychological as well?

I really enjoy the type of good vs. evil vibe going on near the end, like Alex has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on his other shoulder. Also, I think you do a good job creating some questions with the dialogue, what with how Psychosis says they're all already dead. It makes me wonder: does this mean Alex is eventually going to adopt an allegorical role as well?
TequilaMockingbird19 chapter 2 . 12/30/2012
[ Heartbreak didn't scare him, there was honestly an uncomfortable familiarity between the two of them.] I think there should be a transition between 'him' and 'there was' maybe an although or something...
[ (because Jesus he wanted to get it off, it was giving him a fucking panic attack to feel organ-snot or whatever).] This made me laugh. I like how casually this was put. It sort of gave something to contrast the formal main narration

I liked the image you gave when you described the forest. It DID seem really gross and disturbing.
I also like how perky Elation is to the point of being a tad bit annoying.

[from what I hear. Kay,] I think 'kay' should be part of the previous statement and it should end with a question mark.

I find it a bit awkward that Psychosis calls Alex 'Sugar'. Sorry. I think it sounds a bit girly
I think there was a bit too much cursing here for my taste but on the other hand, I'm considering that it brings out the characters' personality. Though I hope it will be carefully monitored to avoid it crossing over to being sailor-y swearing.

Overall, I liked this chapter. Excited for the next one! I think this is developing to be a pretty good story.
Argentum Vir chapter 1 . 12/30/2012
Wow. Seriously, there is no other way to describe this chapter. I find the opening to be wonderful and engaging. Definitely a good hook. The ending was also wonderfully done. 'So far, being dead wasn't looking that great.' This sentence is deeply engaging to me. It's likely one of the best hooks I've read so far on Fiction Press.

The language you use is also really awesome. I'm not too big on complex words in most stories, and you seem to get that simple doesn't necessarily mean bad.

I'm looking forward to reading the next chapter. *Clicks follow Story/Author*
Recontre Destinee chapter 2 . 12/30/2012
Review game!

While the frequency of parentheticals decreased as the chapter went on, I have to admit they bugged me a little in the beginning of the chapter. Parentheticals really seem to disrupt the flow of writing, and they're a personal peeve of mine. If you really feel as though the information within the parenthetical is necessary to the story, then by all means, include it - but find a different way to include it within the text. If you are simply writing the parenthetical as a "quick and easy" way to catch up the audience or insert extra words, it's probably better to be left out.

That being said, I do appreciate how un-cluttered your writing is. Sentences are fairly straightforward, free of too many commas and the like. It's very easy to read, so the chapter is not very intensive reading. I'd absolutely consider this to be a strong point of your writing, so keep it up!
Vyscaria chapter 1 . 12/29/2012
Very interesting characters, heartbreak and psychosis. The point about heartbreak not being allowed to call Alex speaks a lot about why people /believe/ their hearts broken, I think.

Two things struck me as strange:
1. What was that about the Egyptian underworld, and eating hearts? I've never heard of that, but I do know of the heart being weighed against Ma'at's feather.

2. Ash is very thin and powdery, so I didn't think it logical that you could see it fall as if it were pieces.

Aside from that, I think you have a lot of great ideas. I just wish it were expanded a little more so that Alex's feelings and reactions to these events (and their correlation to his past life) could be examined. I'm not altogether convinced with how he is acting, and since he is dead I assumed there would be some passage where he deals with it. Either by accepting it and choosing to move on or by having some sort of breakdown. It seems unlikely to me that a character could be dropped into this world and just shrug it off, if that makes sense? The "Hi, I'm... umm... Alex?" was kind of awkward to read without that transition.

Overall, it is a solid start!
Cheers,
Vyscaria
Xephia chapter 1 . 12/28/2012
Hi! Interesting story c:

The first thing that stuck out at me as something to comment on was your writing... some of your sentence structures seem a little clumsy and some of your wording unnecessary. For example:

'The door seemed to be an average door, white and person-height with a silver knob'

The repetition of the word door really isn't needed, and if it's an 'average door', then nor is the explanation of the height.

'...for he knew full well that he was dead, that flatline didn't lie,'

This sentence is incorrect - there should either be a semicolon or period between the two sentences, not a comma.

Alex could live with that. (Or rather, die with that)

This needs a period at the end, and I would probably have made it all one sentence.

I really love how you described Alex getting out of bed, and how much effort it took him, with the slow pacing. I thought it really told us a lot about his character. I thought the pacing of his escape was pretty good too - not too slow or too fast. Although anywhere else in the story, it would have been nice to know more about the building he woke up in, it's good that here in the beginning you kept him moving. It keeps things interesting.

One thing that did bug me a little was the characterization of Alex... I found his lack of surprise or curiosity at anything unrealistic, even considering he knows he's dead. For example, he showed no expression when the woman's face showed him his former lovers. Normally, that would freak anyone out a little, even someone entirely cold-hearted.

I think his characterization bugs me because you don't show us anything about him. You tell us a little, but you don't show us his expressions or how he moves or how he feels. His dialogue is pretty standard and short, which doesn't tell us much about him either. So far there's nothing in Alex's character that I found interesting, because there isn't much in his character at all.

I think you could do with a better hook as an ending for this chapter? You raise a lot of questions for the reader, but seemingly none for Alex. This makes it feel as though we jumped into the story in the middle, not at the first chapter. It makes us feel as though Alex knows everything already, and this takes a lot of the fun out. What's a hero without a problem? So the next best method of hooking a reader, if you want to keep Alex cryptic and knowing more than us, is a big cliffhanger at the end. I found the chapter interesting, but the ending wasn't a page turner.

But it is an interesting world and I think, with a bit of work, it could be an excellent first chapter c:
Whirlymerle chapter 1 . 12/27/2012
I like the premise of this. I love the idea of Heartbreak and Psychosis in the afterlife, and especially how you choose to embody them. I thought the idea of Heartbreak taking on the faces of Alex's past girlfriends was a really clever idea and you get your point across without making it difficult to for the reader to wrap his/her head around it.

I wish that we didn't have to learn Alex's story straight off. I feel like the piece may be stronger, if you start with the ash/afterlife image, and then interweave the details about his loneliness, his (sort of) cheating girlfriend, etc, so that he emerges as a more dynamic character
TequilaMockingbird19 chapter 1 . 12/27/2012
First of all, I like the use of exact time. I dunno because to me it gives a sort of more ominous feel to the atmosphere.

[He had nothing much left to live for, ... and that they were the only two people that he loved.] While most of your other sentences are of okay length to me, I think that one was a bit too long and I think breaking it up a bit more would be good.

As for imagery and the mental picture you give me, great work. I mean, it wasn't just the scenes that I could picture out, I could actually feel the exhaustion and weakness that Alex had as he first tried to explore his surroundings.

Also, I like the fact that you stayed clear of the heaven-hell-purgatory thing and showed your own take on afterlife.

Although I think Heartbreak and Psychosis could use a little more detail, I think the story was great! Oh, and nice cliffhanger in the end.
Dr. Self Destruct chapter 1 . 12/27/2012
I really love the idea behind this, because I'm always fascinated to see other people's views or beliefs on what happens to us after we die. And I think this story is incredibly unique in both images and ideas. Some of my favorite lines were the ones about the vines growing out of the ground and up the walls, and later with the hand that came out and caught Alex as he was going to fall. That was such an awesome picture, and it made me laugh because (just like Alex) I really wasn't expecting it.

[Not that he knew shit about mountain classification.]

I also thought this line was hilarious, because it feels like we dip very close to Alex's thoughts due to how the narration is structured. I also thought the moment where Alex tries to taste the "snowflakes" and finds out they're ashes is particularly clever as well. Also, I enjoy the opening sentence because it does a great job drawing me in.

I have a few suggestions, though, some of them minor. A few of your sentences are bit more wordy than they need to be, and I think a good example is the second paragraph:

[He had nothing much left to live for, considering the fact that his girlfriend decided that his deathbed was a good time to say she was with another man (that she loved more than him), Alex's brother Liam decided he didn't particularly like living and offed himself, and that they were the only two people that he loved.]

Since the two sentences before it are rather short and snappy, you may want to shorten this. A lot of the information is already implied. Here is a suggestion, though you might want to fix it up a bit or rearrange some things:

[He had nothing left to live for, considering his girlfriend decided his deathbed was a good time to admit she was with another man. And Alex's brother, Liam, decided he didn't like living and offed himself, and they were the only two people he loved.]

One more suggestion I have it so go into a little more detail about what the faces of Heartbreak and Psychosis look like. I'm not able to get a very clear picture of their appearance in my head. Normally I don't really care for a lot of description, but I think that moment is a perfect moment to really play around with some images considering the strange nature of their existences.

Good job!
malachi3134 chapter 1 . 12/27/2012
This is awesome. I'm really intrigued by stories about the afterlife because you can make anything you want of it. Great writing so far. Keep us updated. Thanks.
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