|Reviews for Loreley Island|
| Virtuella chapter 13 . 11h
Either Stella is an extremely skilful liar, or she is genuine. But Clay commenting that she looked ”so human” seems to suggest that she’s not, because Clay’s judgement isn’t one I’d rely on. I love the way you described the effect of the wine. They appear in each other’s dreams, to what extent are they actually present in each other’s dreams? Always an interesting concept. And yes, that car still at the bottom of the sea – a gruesome and yet strangely touching idea of Stella’s to dive down to see her father.
So, I can’t blame Hildy for having fallen into the trap I fell into myself. But 1966 all over again? There will probably be some connection between the old woman and the current set of people. But I can understand that Hildy is worried for his sanity. Clouds looking like tumours, urgh!
“I hate having only one guy to flirt with.” And here we go, Gwen is being insufferable again. And getting at Clay via Stella via Anthony is a really twisted idea.
| Virtuella chapter 12 . 4/23
OMG, what a turn of events! Obviously I thought of Gwen being abducted, imprisoned or possibly killed, but THIS? That really took me by surprise. Now we know for sure that something really bad is going on.
Meanwhile, Stella and Clay share a meal that is almost ritual. The synchronised tossing of the oyster shells could easily be a wedding custom. And so the wine is of the year in which her father died and comes from her grandfather’s estate. Everything is interconnected.
| Virtuella chapter 11 . 4/23
I love it when she says, "It will be soft sand soon." Beautiful alliteration, and I can hear it said in a French accent. So here you are taking care to have Stella very human, concerned, caring. Which could be a ruse, or could be an indicator that the reader is way too suspicious and most of the weird stuff in merely going on in Clay’s head. You show her all human, but at the same time remind us of her beyond-human qualities by having Clay point out her unnaturally flawless skin.
“silver saucière of supplemental raspberry sauce in the center” That is another delightful alliteration. Both on the s sound, hm, I wonder whether that is significant. Hildy’s reflections on Ben and Courtney seem very realistic. He is young and it seems plausible that his main ick-factor in a relationship with such an age difference would revolve round the idea of sex – rather than the issue of power imbalance or the problematic future prospects of such a relationship.
“Gwen monogramed the lining of her coats, her driving gloves, her socks and all her electronic devices.” I like this. It’s a neat way to characterise her as being possessive and controlling.
"We would drown." This is an excellent moment. All the way up to now you have built up the idea of Stella being this very dangerous, Siren-like creature, a kind of sexual predator. But suddenly that image is burst and she appears practical and sensible, making Clay look silly at the same time.
I wonder what the photo would have shown if the camera hadn’t malfunctioned. Clearly it is possible to photograph a Wydeville woman, as the older photo proves. Perhaps one needs an analogue camera.
"Well, you'll just have to remember this." I liked this sentence a lot. We live in an age where so many people feel they haven’t really experienced something unless they’ve photographed it and posted the photo on facebook. Stella’s comment represents a different attitude to life, a more real one. It fits in with her “no electricity” lifestyle, though in that respect she probably has no choice.
| lookingwest chapter 8 . 4/23
Ohhhhh, witch. Another suspicious label on the table. The plot thickens in regards to her backstory. This chapter was a lot of telling, but I didn't mind it so much. To me it feels like it builds the world we're in and I think you can do this kind of thing especially when you have very interesting characters. The suspense of this actual date night with Clay and seeing Stella again is building really well.
I'm wondering if that will be the climax of the novel or not - I noticed in this chapter specifically that time feels like it's moving very slow in this story, but that's not an issue or anything, just an observation. Just makes me feel like anything and everything could happen on this day before Clay sits down to dinner with Stella on their date. Or on his boat the Mercy Sands - which, interesting background moment in regards to the founding settlers of the island and their families - that name being one of them.
I find these moments with Hildy, when he's home or even when he's with Gwen talking to Gwen's aunt (?) been awhile since I've read, an almost slice-of-life kind of thing. Hildy's mom especially felt like a real person, which is great. I find it sometimes hard to write adults or parents having not been a parent yet. Writing adults is getting easier, heh, but I used to really struggle with them and I admire that I think Hildy's mom was done well in this chapter. Her tension with seeming concerned that Hildy be present at this lunch with Ben was motherly, I think - or at least, showed a good mother/son relationship. The contrast here between Hildy's family and Clay's was a nice touch too.
From Hildy's perspective and now from his mothers, Stella is really shaping up to be almost an antagonist of this story. I think I'm so used to the vampire/witch troupe where they end up not being as bad as the reputation they've got that I like this plays with that. At this point I totally suspect and almost even expect to see that Clay is in huge trouble and in way over his head. The obsession thing just doesn't come across as healthy and if it's a spell, maybe she could undo it, but she clearly didn't with Peter and the fact that her every-20-year-cycles always end in disaster is also not a good sign!
As far as writing goes, I thought perhaps the coffee bit in the opening was a little flowery just when you use the words "brown liquid" - like I feel like you could just say coffee instead of dressing it up like that or reword since I think that sentence has coffee in it already and it might sound repetitive, BUT, that was my only instance of feeling tension with the prose and is very minor. Beyond that, another smooth chap and the conversation was believable. It did kind of peek into a Q&A session a little bit - and it was very convenient I think, that Hildy's mother was willing to give up all this info with very little resistance (until the last bit with the witch line, which I liked seeing her hesitance there). But on the other hand, she is his mother and I'm guessing there's a bit of fun in indulging in old gossip like that from her perspective too. The technique of it serving the plot felt laid bear, but I don't think I minded due to how it does thicken the plot :)
| lookingwest chapter 7 . 4/22
Nice to be back with this story. This was really easy for me to get back into - you do a good job reminding the reader of things that have happened just before, which is great I think, especially if this were to get published because it's a good technique for any reader who would put down the book for a few days and then come back to it. Anyway.
You're excellent with creating this obsession of Clay's with Stella. It was so convincing in this chapter and I thought you did such a good job having him continuously come back to her in his thoughts every few paragraphs - if not every one. It's so clear to me as a reader that something really supernatural is happening here, and the mystery of Stella being a vampire or a Siren or whatever has really got me with this story. I thought, starting on Ch. 1, that I'd know by Ch. 5 what she was, but the fact you keep it a mystery is very enticing. It's also very interesting because (I think I've said this before, sorry) I don't think Stella herself is actually in this story very much so far, haha.
Enjoyed the description of the aura that Clay keeps feeling. The word "ionized" was in there somewhere and I thought that was a nice touch, when he's in the shower. It also makes me feel like Clay isn't completely trustworthy with his senses either - maybe she actually did materialize and then disappear again, who knows! But again, the mystery is great. The scene with the car was eerie. It's been awhile since I've read though - but he went back to...her house to get his car? Is that what happened in the opening here? Must be. It was a good opportunity to work a bit of setting description with The Castle back into the scene as well. The "ghost station" scene was well rounded in that way.
Loved the atmosphere with the jazz singing and the old photos. The ghost station bit was very creepy, in a good way. I remember earlier there was a similar story of someone attached with Stella's family that died in a car accident right? Or something of the sort? That felt like it was being echoed here in a scary way with Clay and his speeding. Close call too - that would've really really shaken me up!
The last bit I think was a dream sequence which had more balanced imagery in it I enjoyed, especially the bit with the "sea foam" - it actually reminded me of the first Little Mermaid fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson when at the end the LM is turned into sea foam...after, of course, murdering Prince Eric and his new bride in their marriage bed, lol. So fun sinister kind of allusion there for me personally as a reader! Thanks for this, hope to read more soon!
| Virtuella chapter 10 . 4/22
Gahhh. I am claustrophobic, so the thought of being in a tunnel where you can’t turn around is bad enough, but underwater, too! This is really giving me the creeps!
I liked how Stella was blending in with the wind and how that idea was later echoed by Clay melding into the ocean. It suggest elemental spirits.
So this is the first chapter where we hear Stella talk to any significant extent. Most of the time, she sounds quite normal, but it was rather sinister when she said, "All you need is a dark night and bad weather.” So, the implication is this is just sarcasm and she’s trying to get Clay to admit that on a bright day there could be no danger, or this is some kind of Freudian slip revealing other intentions…
Lovely imagery about the osprey! It is suggestive but not overly so. Poignant that the nest should be built of human litter.
“But I know she's hot for me.” It makes me a little sad to think that young people should be talking/thinking like that. It is an ugly phrase that reduces another person to a sex object. Appropriate for Clay to use, since he hasn’t yet given much thought to who Stella is as a person.
| pumadelic chapter 1 . 4/21
Opening: effective use of Clay's jaded point of view with succinct evocation of the setting - I like the waves churning a a hundred feet below as it sort of suggests something physical that matches the rather elite social group we're in.
Characterisation: Clay's voice is well achieved. I don't find him either sympathetic or unsympathetic. He is sensitive enough to know he should avoid being too unkind to Gwen but she does come across as quite bitchy and irritating, while also being extremely human and real in her dialogue - a lot more so than Stella. Clay is clearly an apha-ish male who is constantly jostling for position with other alpha males...he knows a lot of women are interested in him. Stella, however, is a challenge. We are seeing her through his eyes but perhaps she is rather too stereotyped. The bit about her being surprisingly pretty doesn't entirely work because we only find out in the next paragraph that she hides her face under her hair and wears gothic, unflattering (from the boy's POV) clothing. It is interesting that she comes from a powerful influential family. I wondered if you could push her stereotyped beauty even further ..so that it seems unearthly, a bit off..The blue green eyes are sea colours, appropriate for a Siren which is what she will turn out to be - Loreley as in Lorelei. Her possible involvement with the French teacher..a matter of language or of lust is intriguing. Easily the best idea here is the the classroom lights flickering when Clay holds Stella's stare..wasn't sure if that was actually happening or was Clay's perception. Then you have the bulb burning hotter later so you seem to be indicating she has special powers.
Writing - There are some lovely original touches here - like the 'furled in a frown' and Clay resenting the buttons on his shirt. Gwen's dialogue is also excellent. In my view the phrase 'perfect breasts' only belongs in a cosmetic surgery pamphlet but as I said, you could push her 'dream girl' aspect much further and make it sinister without making it too sinister. the line 'his senior year' needs 'in' in front of it-perhaps it's American thing but it sounds too truncated to me. Didn't like their heads 'popped up'...too light and breezy for the context.
Plot - I think it is really clever that you have suggested that something might have happened to Madame Garnier but not quite what Gwen believes . Clay is seeking a distraction and he certainly has one. Going by your summary, quite a lot of his 'friends' are anything but - the only dangerous person in this chapter seems to be Stella.
Ending - I like his whirring choral cascades but on the whole it is a tad predictable..which didn't stop me immediately looking at the next chapter to see what happened next.
Interested to see where you will take the myth in this kind of social setting
| Virtuella chapter 9 . 4/21
I really like Hildy in this chapter. Especially that he just left Clay and went on to find Gwen. Because it is indeed worrying that we’ve not seen Gwen for ages and nobody knows where she is, and it was that Anthony Wydeville who saw her last, but perhaps that’s just Stella in a different shape? How can we be sure of anything in this story?
The paragraph that compares Stella and Alix is interesting. Different and yet alike – perhaps she takes on whatever persona fits into the current social context?
And Gwen – why exactly is she so universally hated? So, okay, she’s a spoiled brat, but so is pretty much everyone else around her. And how does that connect Gwen to the much-hated Wydeville women? The ones that might “hate us back?” All very intriguing.
“If Stella really did want to suck his life-force, he had plenty to spare.“ Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Such hubris cannot lead to anything good.
“The stench of the vomit alone” - Way to go to give a snapshot image!
The first two sentences both have “as he” in them.
| Virtuella chapter 8 . 4/21
Hildy really is one decadent dude if he thinks 10 a.m is early!
Hildy’s mother rocks. I loved her sarcastic comment on the Settler’s Rock ceremony, only to add that she was going anyway.
Lots of new and interesting developments! All the old drama from twenty years ago is clearly still casting its shadow on the present. That car is still sitting on the ocean floor, just crying out for someone to dive down and check it out. What accident happened at sea with the grandmother? Or perhaps “grandmother” would be the appropriate thing to say. Was it on the same boat? Aramornis is some type of bird? I was wondering about the name “Mercy Sands” as well, fascinating now to find that there is a person called that. And Hildy’s great-grandmother was into Voodoo, I take it?
Very enjoyable chapter! I like how there are so many balls in the air.
| Shampoo Suicide chapter 13 . 4/20
"Scalloped clouds covering the dome of the sky deepened from pink to magenta; the spires of Widow's Peak pierced the horizon, and far away the South East Lighthouse on Loreley Island darkened, becoming a shadowy pencil stub."
I wanted to highlight this as a fine example of the type of description I love in your writing. It's lush and beautiful worded but still careful enough to evoke a clear picture and not just sound pretty, if you know what I mean. I really mean it when I say I'm envious of this type of thing!
I like the relation between the wine and a magic potion. I like these references Clay has made throughout to magic and feeling under some influence/spell, and it's especially powerful here with the mixture between intoxicating wine and Stella's intoxicating power. Very nicely done.
Mentioned I'd skipped ahead to find this out in my last review but I loved the brilliant bait and switch with the old lady and Gwen here. Like that it felt so believable is really awesome, and it was frustrating and also still intruguing to see it wasn't all solved in this way, the mystery of Stella's power. I thought that was a fantastic move.
Excited to move on and see what happens with Gwen in this next bit! This was an excellently paced chapter and full of fun details that make you want to keep reading and stay immersed, so I'll probably read the next very soon. I apologize if this review was rambly and less than informative but I've already gotten into my wine tonight, heh. But I did enjoy the read!
| Virtuella chapter 7 . 4/20
Aaaaand all bets are off again. Is Hildy not at all the faithful friend, but a controlling manipulator? This is a really good rollercoaster ride.
Stella’s ghostly presence, or whatever Clay imagines as such, by the car, is really creepy. Given what we know about the past, and then that near-accident – it makes it appear as if she was in some way indeed on the passenger seat as he wished.
The radio with its interference seems to link to Gwen’s mobile phone melt-down in the previous chapter. Combined with all this talk about electricity and the literal sparks between Stella and Clay, it makes me wonder how all of this is connected.
“Light streamed from millions of pinholes, perforating every stretch of darkness” Great description of a starry sky!
“Then Stella materialized.” Excellent sentence! For one thing, I love how short and punchy and dead-pan it is. And them how it fits in again with the whole pseudo-science vocabulary. And then it turns out not to be real after all, or perhaps…?
“I'm going to do what I want. Not what Hildy wants, not what Gwen wants, or my dad or my mom or anybody else… What I want. “
Ahhh, this does not bode well. Nothing good can come to a young man with an attitude like that. No, that’s wrong, it’s not the attitude as such, it is the snooty way he words it. It would be different if he’d said something like, “I can’t let myself be pushed about by others, I have to make my own decisions.”
| Virtuella chapter 6 . 4/20
Okay, so in this chapter the Gothic motifs really start crowding in on us, and then you pull the rug away under the reader’s feet by having Hildy say everything we might have conjectured but making it sound really silly. You are sticking your tongue out at us – I like that. Serves us right for having such common minds.
But you are also introducing a new mysterious theme, the pagan/Beltane fire/Horned God theme. So now I am left wondering if that will be red herring or not. And maybe the vampire idea wasn’t a red herring after all. All very fascinating.
The decadence of these young people’s lifestyle comes across very well. They don’t mean any harm, but they are really all of them spoiled brats with their limos and suites and yachts.
There were lovely amusing moments, especially when the first and foremost modern commodity Gwen thinks she cannot live without is a blowdryer. She’s clearly never had to do any laundry in her life.
This sentence is awkward: “He had everyone playing a crazy drinking game the moment they got into the room that only he knew the rules to.” I’d change that to “The moment they got into the room he had everyone playing a crazy drinking game that only he knew the rules to.”
| Cheddar and Graham chapter 14 . 4/19
RG EF review
I found the little asides in italics (at the beginning) a little distracting because I was paying attention to them to see the connection but I couldn’t see a pattern so I don’t know if there’s a good reason for them. Among my speculations were: Gwen being snarky because she was nervous, Gwen knowing something about Anthony that makes her disrespect (and thus badmouth) him... but none of those seem to be it. The cliffhanger was in the middle of the chapter for a change, but a cliffhanger it definitely was. I rather liked that – it keeps the story interesting in terms of it not becoming formulaic. Also, there’s yet another cliffhanger of sorts at the end of the chapter anyway.
Language: Is ‘what his hull’ a deliberate shortening or a missing ‘is’?
| YasuRan chapter 14 . 4/19
Ah, good to see this!
It's nice to see what Gwen's up to in this chapter. Seems like she's set up an interesting rapport with Anthony. Neither of them appear to trust the other, which makes me wonder just what the latter's true motives are. Nevertheless, I also hope Gwen knows what she's in for and can rise above being a pawn in the possible game that's being set up that involves the inhabitants of Loreley Island (particularly Clay, I'm guessing?).
Speaking of poor love-struck Clay, looks like he's in for a rough night with Stella. Given the aura of the supernatural the girl exudes, I'm wondering if this freak storm has anything to do with her or Anthony's doing. And if Anthony isn't her uncle, AND a married man, what does that really speak of his relationship with Stella/Alix? Hmm, so many theories running through my head and yet the chapter ends on a cliff-hanger. Of course
And, of course, it's always nice to see Hildy in action. Come to think of it, I'm kinda hoping he runs into Gwen and Anthony soon, just to see his take on the situation.
Well done again. I'll be taking your advice and placing this on alert so I don't miss out on the next update. Keep up the good work!
| Virtuella chapter 5 . 4/18
Lovely setting yet again. I really enjoyed the olfactory elements of the opening. Also, I can easily imagine the estblishment usually shunned by the younger generation.
Very intersting how Clay is thinking in terms of pseudo-science, trying to explain Stella's mysterious levitation act with energies and molecules. It also links in well with the electric energy between them you described in earlier chapters, and the contrasts well with the castle being off the grid.
I liked how Clay is having this "It's a whole new world" feeling, saying he is looking at teh sky porperly for the first time. Obviously, since his "star" is there. ;-)
Poor Hildy, he is so obviously a true and faithful friend trying his best, but in the current circumstances he can but fail. Quite a u-turn from Clay, though, that he decides to consult Gwen!
I also liked how Clay is getting different "perspectives" of the castle (and its "strange light," hehehe) and yet this affords him no particular insight.
The boat is "ship-shape," hahaha, very cute.