Reviews for Loreley Island
Chiscribe chapter 13 . 5/15
Even though it's been a while it's good to see that this story isn't letting up one bit! Despite all the commotion from the last chapter I liked the soft opening of this, with Clay and Stella just chilling, dipping whine and just enjoying each other. Even without the strange magical qualities of Stella you do a great job of setting a special, intimate atmosphere between the two of them that feels natural and tender. Speaking of her magical qualities, there's such a rich and subtle way with your words in describing how Clay "feels" when he's around her that really gives this story almost a fantasy edge to go along with the drama of Lorelay Island.

Epic bait and switch with the old woman NOT being Gwen! I guess it's more telling from Hildy's point of view that he made the mistake or perhaps he too is being "corrupted" by some unnatural force? Speaking of Gwen, her characterization was just as devious as ever and she makes for a fine villainous (is that even a word? lol) because of her duality with Stella. Very cool chapter!
lookingwest chapter 14 . 5/11
Finally caught up :)

Setting - Really enjoyed the setting this time around. This especially came through with Clay's opening when the storm hits. I thought we left them having sex, actually, so at first I thought he was describing the sex but then it turned out to be the storm, haha. Or maybe it really was a bit of both. At any rate - I really liked how those two things came together. Both forces of nature. There's also this really cool thinking going on between control and not having control - I sense that between Clay and Gwen's situations. For some reason Anthony feels much more calculative than Stella. Very "up to something" at least, and the bit with his watch gave him that cool sense like he wasn't going to end up in some desperate weather situation like Clay. Nice foresight, at least, plus wonderful contrast.

Character - I liked the bit with Anthony about how old he is and I thought his responses during his conversation with Gwen characterized him nicely. His surprise that Gwen assumes he's older is fascinating to me too, because it really makes me wonder what he thought people's perception of his was before that point. I felt, at any rate, that it might've shifted, talking with Gwen. But that last line in their scene was also very telling and made his characterization feel almost spooky - when he was like "I'll tell you when we're better friends" - eep. He's totally immortal or something, haha. Which points to Stella being the same...thing, whatever they are. I was thinking mermaids, now who the heck knows, ha! Still no idea. Anyway, the description that Gwen felt the "sparks" from him was a nice touch since it also hints that whatever they are, they're the same (Stella and Anthony).

Dialogue - This is more geared towards "conversation" actually. I liked Hildy's scene here at the end when he has the conversation with the Coast Guard. His unprepared-ness felt realistic to his character, as did the Coast Guard response to not being able to be much of a help. It's good he at least reported it, but I enjoyed seeing that he didn't have everything together as far as helping Clay out. It's ironic, considering Hildy did have a "pat on the back" moment in regards to "Oh well, at least Clay has ME." haha, but then that doesn't really pan out at all because Hildy can't do much. Looking forward to finding out what will happen to Clay - especially now that we have the other background story about the William Flaxson dude who drowned in a similar fashion. Gosh, was that with Stella again?

Other - The mention of a stranger coming to shore who did not want to be identified was interesting, though, perhaps my only crit is that the obituary felt a little more like a straight up news report - I read a lot of obits in my floral job, and this one didn't read like traditional others. It did in the opening, but not when it started going in-depth about the accident and the way he died. In that sense, it ended up feeling a little too transparent in favor of the reader's benefit, if that makes sense, BUT the information was needed. Perhaps just adjust it so it isn't an obit, but the report on what happened after the storm and his death? I'm sure there would've been a separate explicit article about that event he would've stumbled upon with the rest of the clippings!

Anyway - I think my favorite scene was the one with Clay and Stella, it was very exciting and climatic and also really scary! You did an excellent job with your descriptions and the realism of them being on a ship with the whole getting-tied-down thing. They both felt authentically having grown up around water and yachts and sailing, so their language and panic worked out in a way that I really got into as a reader. Loved it. Looking forward to more - and oh boy! Can't wait to see if Stella actually saves Clay, or if she leaves him to the sea like she probably did to William Flaxson. Plus, the plot thickens with Anthony needing Gwen for a secret mission, heh. Wonder what that's about!

So much mystery, per usual! Update soon! :)
C. V. Atwood chapter 14 . 5/11
I like that you are thorough, but not overwhelming with your setting. “The sinking sun speared the purple clouds” was a lot more interesting than “the sun was setting.” Also when describing the way Gwen’s dress coiled around her legs and puffed with the wind you used very strong visuals. So I guess the strength is description more so than not overwhelming your setting.

I also love your dialogue. Everything sounds natural between Anthony and Gwen, and it really builds chemistry. Actually, it isn't just your dialogue; their movements and reactions feel natural too. Hildy wiping down his face and phone really sold how bad the storm was. It is something we all do, but is so mundane most people would ignore it.
faerie-gumdrops chapter 14 . 5/3
This is the first thing I’m reading on fp after being absent for aaaaaages (I had a contest thing that stole me life) and I’m very excited to get back into things with Gwen et al. I think that was my favourite scene in this lovely chapter, because of all of the delicious mystery. Anthony is a right mysterious fox, and you must have had so much fun teasing us with all of his secrets (like how old is the dude! And WHAT so he isn’t Stella’s uncle? And he is married! And what does he want Gwen to do? And omg so much). I am very very excited to see all of these questions answered. BUT ANYWAY let me gush about your words and things for a bit :D

‘speared the purple clouds’ – I adore how you’ve described the sunset in such a pretty way and kept it fresh and original. As always, I admire your description so so much, you have such skills 3

‘he’s so fucking tight’ – ooh err! Loved all the description of Anthony in this. He sounds so debonair!

‘her forearm stung for a second’ – WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Omg so much mystery, so many question *brainsplosion*.

‘the wind is blowing up my skirt, touching me’ – hehe, obviously loved this part. And the possible link between Anthony and weather? I don’t know if I’m reading too much into things, but I wondering now if he had anything to do with that sudden storm from nowhere, as he MIGHT be using the wind to fondle Gwen here. Maybe?

‘bright crescents glinted in his eyes, mimicking the curve of his lips’ – Gahhhh, so beautiful. I would never in a million years even think of such pretty things *bows to you*.

Loved the contrast between Gwen and Anthony’s champagne world and what’s all going on with Hildy and Clay and Stella, the storm was written so well – all quick and full of pow. When the lightning struck the sea (and then the boat!?) I was like omg. It flowed so well, the pace perfectly matching all the action that’s going down.

‘blazing echoes of the white hot strike’ – nom, gorrrrgeous.

GO ON NOW HILDY! SAVE THE DAY!
Draven-uk chapter 14 . 5/2
Ooh... Scary and exciting stuff out on the ocean with Stella and Clay. And I'm wondering what exactly Anthony is wanting Gwen for.

This is beautifully written as always with so many wonderful descriptions and comparisons used.

Bravo!

Drav
lookingwest chapter 13 . 5/2
Plot - You got me! Haha. That whole Stella plot twist was a fun red herring last chapter. I have to say when I was reading it I was a bit disappointed that Stella actually wasn't with Anthony, like I guessed - but then that turned out to be true! Was happy with finding that out, because I totally would love learning more about Anthony as well and when I heard the yacht was gone that was a big tip off. He's an even bigger mystery than Stella - he's the one who was at that party though, right? I don't recall very much interaction between him and any of the core characters in that scene so it'll really feel like I'm being introduced to him all over again coming up. I bet he is dangerous... Or something. This whole Wydeville family is so mysterious and strange. I mean, I hope Gwen's okay, but a little danger will be fun for the story at her expense, heh. So well done with the plot this round, for sure!

Oh, and - curious about the old woman thinking it's 1966. Gotta be a connection there. I bet she could remember a few things for Hildy if she wasn't so sick. But I liked that plot nudge too.

Character - Gwen is back at being Gwen. I actually don't mind it too much. I mean, I guess I more feel sorry a little bit. Like it'd be...really really great or something if Anthony was actually a good guy and really liked her or something and wasn't trying to...suck her soul out or whatever he might do, lol. But I have a feeling Gwen's revenge plot is going to get her into some pretty dark waters. There was this moment when she recalls Clay's look at her as really "hating" her or some such detail, and I found that a little sad too. On Clay's end. It just kind of reminds me how much of a butthole Clay has been through his "breakup" with Gwen. I know she was annoying and she drove him crazy and isn't a totally nice person herself - but the way he cut ties was still rude and I think even characterized him as a bit of a jerk. So far that's kind of how I've been feeling about Clay, honestly. Other than his love for Stella he kinda feels like a little bit of a spoiled rich kid. I suppose they all are, but I think that's what's leading Stella into thinking she has control over this situation. Clay, on the other hand - I don't think he cares if he has control over his situation at all, so there's a nice contrast there.

Relationships - Ahh, Clay and Stella finally do it? Maybe? I wasn't sure at the end if that's going to be a fade-out and the next time we see them it's in the bed with the smoke, heh. OR, maybe we'll get a more detailed scene later on. Either works for this story, I think. I remember back in like, Ch. 2 or 3 Clay has a bit of a "self-service" moment that's described - and we get some in depth description with Stella. So I wouldn't be surprised to see a sex scene in this story, but I wouldn't be surprised if I got a fade-out, either. Curious to see what might unfold there, or even if they're interrupted. It was interesting to see Stella admitting she loves Clay and this is her first time. Overall, I can never tell if she's lying or if she's not... It's a curious thing. Maybe she is Alix or something but her mind gets erased every few many years ahahaha, I don't know. It was a nice development to finally learn though, what Stella has to say about Clay and how she feels! (Even if maybe it's fake?)

Setting - This is something other reviewers have pointed out. I thought you had some nice moments of setting in this chapter. For the sake of not repeating and just mentioning - the ones I were going to choose have already been picked out. Shampoo's line about the clouds and the description of the sky was a gem, and so was V's mention of Hildy seeing the clouds like tumors. I thought both reflected their individual characters and scenes very nicely. Especially the one with Hildy because he's so distraught about leaping to his supernatural conclusions. I thought his reaction and worry was on point in that regard. I also liked the detail of Stella's hair floating in the wind and framing her face like fairy wings. I think that was the simile used... It all contributed to creating / inventing that magical scene between the two of them. Even if for some reason by the end of this no one was actually endowed with supernatural abilities, you've definitely got a handle on creating a scene of magical realism just through the setting and interactions between Stella and Clay.

Technique - I just wanted to mention one last thing. I notice that you've been using the technique of switching to first person to narrate inner-thoughts for awhile now, and it's always been fine and I never thought anything of it, honestly. But this chapter, I think with Hildy and Gwen, it started to feel like maybe it was getting on the heavy side? Especially with Gwen at the end, mostly. I suppose I'm used to this technique being used for smaller quips and not longer dialogues. It makes me wonder if you could somehow frame at least the second paragraph to pop back into that 3rd person by shaping it "Stella remembered Auntie Miranda never mentioned..." and so and and so on. This is a personal opinion thing though, and since no one else has mentioned issues, I wouldn't consider any changing unless others were noting the same. But in that vein - I really liked the last line! Fits Gwen perfect!
lookingwest chapter 12 . 4/30
Oh no, I'm nearing the end of chapters! I hope you update soon already, haha. Also ohhh right, the shipwreck from the Tempest! Yeah, I do remember that one! :) Phew, okay, I haven't been as oblivious to the cover art as I thought I had, lol.

Plot - WTF Gwen! Haha, okay, like, not what I was expecting at all with her character's plot. That was totally unexpected. What was I reading...oh! There's this book series I *just* finished a week ago, well it's only 2 books so far, but the first one was good (the second one wasn't) called The Well's End. People in it would catch this virus and it would age them to death, basically, in a really fast amount of time. This totally reminded me of that, but obviously everything is different and it's got to be more supernaturally explained than by science / a virus outbreak. But, wow. I almost expected that woman to end up being Alix or something or someone related to her family. That's totally crazy though, poor Gwen, I wonder what will happen to her now. Guessing no one will believe it's her but Hildy and she'll end up homeless or something with no family eep, I feel really bad for her. What a crazy thing to get mixed up in... But the plot twist was really cool. It went a way different route than I thought it would. I also liked the hint of something plot related in regards to Clay and Stella with the wine bottle and her bringing up the twenty years thing again. Seems like every twenty years terrible things happen, though this Gwen development is totally new - haven't heard any rumors of this behavior before from their family or on the island in general, but maybe that's because the people this happen to just fade away and no one believes what happened and the people they once were "go missing." First supernatural event though, besides Stella's lust spell, lol, yay!

Character - I think my favorite bit in this chapter in regards to character was when Stella was talking about male seahorses (I thought everyone knew about the pregnancy thing, so it was cute Clay didn't know), and then how Clay characterizes off her a bit by mentioning that she sounds like she did it French class. I totally forgot about their French class experience together, but when it was recalled I remembered that info from back in Ch. 1, I think. And how she took the class even though she was fluent. But I digress. It was a nice moment of characterization because it finally showed how maybe she's a little...nerdy or something? I don't know. That there's a reason no one turned their head a lot at her when she was back in school and she knew weird things, like that poem Clay mentions she recited that had everyone confused. It was nice to see a hint of that behavior instead of just being told that it was what she was like, you know? So well done there!

Dialogue - Enjoyed the banter again between Clay and Stella when they actually get to the boat. I have to say, Clay is really outdoing himself by his ability to keep it in his pants this long, heh. I totally thought they'd be at it within 5 minutes of being on that yacht, but they've staved off longer than expected! I do like the moment when Clay tries his luck at the very beginning of that scene and how she keeps brushing off his advances, but it's also interesting because she's never adverse to the prospect of having sex with him, she's just like "shrug, we should do it later" haha. I'll be interested to see now if it does happen - and what even might happen in regards to her foreboding "we might not be able to stop" dialogue that she gives. That probably is just a general thing, but still, says a lot about what she knows she's doing to Clay too. And I find that a mysterious complexity of her character as well.

Relationships - Nate and Hildy were a new pairing, I think. If this is the first time we've seen Nate this extensively, I'm afraid I can't remember, I thought you did a good job with his character build in the scene and then how you played him off Hildy. Recalling the party with just the description of say, his bloodshot eyes, worked well. Their conversations between each other felt natural, and I liked the discussion they both had about whether or not to call the cops. You can tell that Hildy respects the island of Loreley as well - that his bond / relationship is strong enough where he's not going to disturb it or its inhabitants with the police unless he needs to. And that also came through with Nate. I was wondering during that scene if he was going to call or not, so it was good to get that squared away plot-wise since that would be my first gut reaction, like Nate's. So anyway, in turn through that last scene - you do well to not only characterize the relationship between Hildy and Nate, but also the relationship both of them have with the island itself.

Another lovely chapter! Like I said, update soon ;D
lookingwest chapter 11 . 4/28
Well. I feel like a bit of an idiot. Here I am, staring at your lovely cover art every time I come to read this story, and I've never actually let it sink in that I'm staring at a mermaid. I suppose that solves the mystery, heh. Unless it's just kinda one of those cover arts that's merely meant to convey mood. I can't believe I didn't notice it before. I feel like that's always been the cover art too. Geesh. No one ever comments on cover arts (now I'm getting off track), but I do like yours for your works. I'm a theme girl myself when it comes to presentation on my profile, and your works have such cool vibes!

Setting - I think I'd like a little more setting description of where they are in the second part between Stella and Clay beyond just the osprey. Though I do like that focus. I mean, the opening paragraph is really nice to set the scene itself, but perhaps more description throughout while they talk, coming back to sensory detail like touch or taste? The salt from the water? The hot sun - any humidity? The roughness of the carving under Clay's fingers? The cold of the water that's in the cave compared to what's outside in the sunlight? Things like that that are beyond just sight, I suppose. Though the focus on the osprey again is pleasant. Overall though, in this chapter I think I could use a little more oomph in this department :) I will say though - the descriptions with Hildy's scenes were great!

Characters - Which, brings me to this category in terms of the Hildy scene. I thought your focus on Ben and Courtney through the lunch was fun. They really do seem like characters - in the sense of someone being a "character" and not just like er, story characters, if I'm making any sense, heh. I had a *very* clear picture of both of them. I suppose they do kinda fit into a stereotype of a certain type of older man whose looking for a younger lady, but I'm curious to see how you break them away from that. I'm kind of assuming that sense we get a few chapters devoted to setting up this dinner, and we get an in depth description of the two of them beyond just the surface, they'll crop up again... Otherwise, I'm wondering if they would then need to be downplayed... But if they crop up again I'd love to see how you fit them in somehow. I honestly think they're the first secondary characters introduced that haven't actually perpetuated rumors about Stella's family and weren't prompted by Hildy to provide any information - maybe that'll come up in the next chapter when he tries to leave the lunch? I'm kinda thinking things won't go as smoothly since it's quite abrupt! But anyway, I get off topic again... Their characterization was on point / well done through dialogue, quips, and mannerisms. Loved the bit with "Hil-D" and Hildy going along with it. This scene also brought out Hildy's kinda judgemental side a little more than usual. That creates complexity for him or - it makes him feel like a real person for his age and his privilege, I think. And AH, what the heck with Gwen? She was totally kidnapped by a merman, I just know it. OR maybe she discovered she's a mermaid, heh. Either way, really can't wait to find out with her, I swear...

Opening - Unlike the ending scene which lacked this a tad, I thought your opening scene had some great vivid moments of Clay coming to, and being rescued by Stella, in a sense. Her use of the word "Respire" felt archaic in a good way - adding to her mystery and her uniqueness. We don't, again, get a whole lot of total description right away of surroundings, but I think that's totally appropriate given that Clay, in this opening, is so focused on Stella he doesn't really see anything else, as especially hit home by the last line of the scene when he specifically states he doesn't care about anything else!

Enjoyment - A short chapter, but an effective one to move things along. I think my favorite / most enjoyable moment was when they found the Kidd and Sands inscriptions on the rock wall (Stella and Clay). I almost wish we could've gotten a little more about their story right then... They seem like fascinating historical figures. Then, pfffft, lol, Clay's attempt to get laid in the cave was amusing. Stella seems almost nonchalant about it? Which I find interesting in terms of what might happen now that they're headed back to the boat ;D Oh my, I wonder what might be coming up next...
lookingwest chapter 10 . 4/27
Ending - Again, a powerful ending. I always try to change up the categories I write on for Depth, but this time I gotta compliment again, the poetics / way that you describe the water and the scene of him swimming. I especially perked up at the mermaid skin description, heh. I've never in my life read a story where there's been such a mystery in regards to what a supernatural character might be. I still stick by that she has something to do with water - siren or mermaid, but I like that you threw in vampire for kicks and giggles. Don't take this the wrong way, but I almost get a bit of a Cullen (from Twilight) family vibe from Stella and her cousin / family in general. I mean that in a positive fashion! They're just very mysterious but also well off. I couldn't help but feel as though Stella had tension or conflict with her cousin. Which, omg. Totally made me think of Gwen, idk. This guy disappears and Gwen disappears around the same time? I'm on full alert now plot-wise, haha. Anyway, love the end!

Relationship - I think this was intentional because it feels very obvious to me - though maybe it wasn't, but I like the symbol of the sea hawk with the fish. I saw it right away as a symbol for Stella and Clay's relationship right now. It had a bit of foreshadow in it. Stella is still so mysterious to me, I really can't figure her out. I feel like she's trying to be "good" but in the past she's been bad? I don't know. But that bit where Clay mentions the fish isn't dead yet but the sea hawk is trying to get a better grip - and then we find out the sea hawk is a lady hawk, haha, it just all came together really well as a representation of her toying with him. Maybe she isn't trying to, but Stella definitely has him in her talons and she totally knows it. I'm wondering at this point though, what she likes about Clay - or what draws her to him. He seems on the whole like...hmm. I don't know how to describe it. Eh, maybe it'll come to me later. Anyway, I'll be interested to see if she ever hints at the attributes she likes about him. Okay - maybe this is it: she feels way out of his league? Hahaha. But it isn't quite that either. But kinda. Okay, I'm going to stop rambling about it ;D

Setting - So you must sail, huh? I mean, I totally assume you have before after reading this chapter, so if you haven't and this was all research second-hand, then you've done a really convincing job. But on the whole (and I can't remember if we've talked about this before in PMs or not), I get the sense that you're familiar with this type of terrain / area as a writer, maybe. Now me. I'm like, totally landlocked here in South Dakota, lol. Never been sailing once in my entire life, either. So this whole story has already been a window into lifestyles and hobbies I've never came into contact with. Another reason I'm enjoying it. But I really enjoyed the sailing here! I've never had oysters the way Clay has them prepared either, heh. Only oyster stew around Christmas, XD. Thought you did a great job with a bit of tension with the wind that lead into Stella talking about her grandfather - that was such a seamless and convincing transition into a topic for conversation, using the setting as a prompt. Great technique there. Things felt very organic and natural, and it was nice to see Stella get excited about something. The mysteries continue in regards to her past - now in France too!

Enjoyment - Gotta say, overall, I really enjoyed this chapter - my reading of it went by really quick and nothing felt like it was dragging as far as pacing or any other element. Very smooth read. It's a delight to finally get to know Stella a bit more. On the whole her and Clay - well, even Hildy to an extent, don't seem to have too many wild quirks, but that's a good thing I think, as they all feel like convincing, real people. Gwen's got a bit of a spark - I think she's got the strongest / clearest personality so far besides Clay's stubbornness and obsessive behavior, but Stella, I'm still waiting to see come out with something that goes beyond just the way she looks or (loved the detail of the compass) her magnetic aura :) After saying that though, I did enjoy the moment where she questioned Clay's ability to actually hold his breath that long and challenged his cockiness about it a bit, haha. Looking forward to more, thanks again for the read! :D
Virtuella chapter 14 . 4/27
It’s a neat structure to have the two boats encountering the same storm but in such different ways. And it’s ironic that Hildy can worry about Clay being out in that weather, but doesn’t know that Gwen is, too.

I like how casually you’ve characterised Anthony as a lady-killer. The mystery about his age is hardly unexpected at this point, but entertaining the way it is handled. We also continue the mermaid theme with the colours gold and green and the general elemental spirit theme with the oddly amusing notion that Anthony uses the wind to fondle Gwen by proxy.

I feel I am missing something connected with the crew members’ names. They seem to be variations on Shakespearean names, but I can’t quite see what that signifies. I’m also sure there is a significance to the red string, but I can’t work out what. It is likely to connect to Clay’s wine bottle – or maybe that’s a red herring.

The exuberant sexual imagery at the beginning of the next section contrasts with the restrained flirtations on the Aramornis. I liked that you once again use science terminology. I also liked the “monster-headed storm clouds.” Considering Stella in this chapter, I wonder whether she is in fact a victim of whatever it is that is so strange about her.
lookingwest chapter 9 . 4/26
Opening - The foreshadow of this road / Route 3 is not lost on me at all. Someone is going to die or be involved in a horrible, horrible accident with that bend, yikes! Also - got your PM and yeah, I'd made that connection about the road even before reading Ch. 8, haha, sorry I didn't make that clear, I think I was hesitant because I wasn't 100% sure and Whirlymerle's story LE&D has a couple that dies on a road in a car accident like that too - and I was giving myself pause like "oh, wait...does someone also die in a car accident in this story too or am I crossing wires?" No big deal though. And I don't mean to say that his death isn't original, because it is, just a coincidence of plot points!

Anyway, the opening. I liked the use of the opening in that way though, it keeps cropping up (this road) and this time it happened with Hildy which was actually unexpected for me - I thought Clay would be the one to have another close encounter with it. The bit with the tourist girls was a bit lengthy to the point where it made me wonder if we might come across them again, but maybe not. I'm not sure we needed the paragraph description of the one girl falling over, since I think Hildy saying they looked drunk anyway would've been convincing enough for me to move on to his point about how he feels regarding tourism. That characterizes him and also gives a bit more life to the island, though I couldn't help but feel it's not something that will come up again - but it might! Some nice little techniques in that first opening with Hildy driving, though!

Plot - This bit with Gwen is getting serious - I didn't think much of it before this chapter but now I can see how troubling it is that Hildy can't find her. We also haven't had her POV in awhile and it's bothersome. I hope she's okay but gosh, this just reminds me of just about three weeks ago (this is really sad, be forewarned) a little boy was fishing with his family on the river where I live, and the mom turned her back for a minute and then he was gone. Turned out that he drowned :[ So when Clay said the last place he left her was the pier, I got really scared for Gwen. I hope she's not drowned - I'd rather have her in some conflict that could then be resolved, for sure. It's an interesting subplot, anyway (her disappearance) that I didn't think would develop and now I'm really interested to find out what happened to her. And nervous, eep!

Relationship - It was good to see Hildy and Clay interacting again. It's clear to me that Hildy really does care for Clay, I mean, really. He's mad at him right now but I don't think he would wish him ill due to his behavior, he's more just worried. I felt his last line about saying hi to Stella for him was supposed to be delivered with some sarcasm, but I almost also feel like there's still a lingering air of concern there. I was nervous about them meeting up again because I wasn't sure if they'd really start going at it or have a fist fight or something, lol, but I think the fact it hasn't come to that says something about Hildy, too. Clay is being a total asshole, especially in that later moment where he actually almost texts Hildy to tell him "good riddance" about Gwen - geesh. It *really* makes me wonder if Gwen or even Hildy ended up dead, if Clay would even bat an eyelash at this point because he's so "under Stella's spell" or if that would be a plot point that would snap him out of it. Scary!

Ending - Stella - finally! Excited to see where this goes from your ending. Like Clay, I was almost wondering if she would show up. Also, not gonna lie, I was almost half wondering if she'd end up materializing out of nowhere, lol. But she didn't, so the curiosity is boundless! A note on writing here, though, for sure - I really liked your ending description on the life force thing (also the title of your chapter, yay!) and the "energy mounting inside him" - I think that really ups the tension on what might unfold between these two in upcoming chapters. I can't wait to finally see more Stella in this story - you've done a wonderful job so far building up her background and characterization from heresay/gossip up to this point since we last saw her speak! And even if she's not in the next chap (I haven't peaked or anything) - this was still a nice climactic moment enticing the reader to continue!
Virtuella chapter 13 . 4/24
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 :)
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