Reviews for Loreley Island
lookingwest chapter 15 . 6/29
This is interesting, haha. I read through the chapter, thought about it, then went and read your other reviews so far - and I'm actually in the opposite camp of Jalux right now. This whole story I've been super super suspicious of Stella in the market for ruining Clay's life, and their relationship / love interests being very destructive and not healthy. I mean - Clay's obsession really wasn't healthy. But for some reason in this chapter you've completely stumped me on whether or not his feelings are genuine or not. I almost feel, after this, that I lean that they *are* genuine. Which isn't how I've felt until this point. It's amusing me. I think it's because Stella feels so genuine this time? Like she really did love him? I almost took it that her "past names" were actually other people and she just sort of carries those identities with her in this life - not exactly that she has been *literally* all those people. But maybe so, given all the evidence with the school transfer and identical looks to past women.

Some answers - still a lot of questions, which is good! I thought the ending with Gwen and Anthony did a great job teasing the supernatural facets of this world again with the electricity nod. I especially liked the whole atmosphere of that scene. I thought you did a great job including the device of the music, plus I absolutely loooooved Anthony's last line and the one before it, with the toes touching air. It gave such this cool last image to this chapter!

The whole Stella/Clay love-making scene was very tense due to the fact of where and when it was happening, haha. I liked the urgency and tension in the relations that are marked by the storm happening all around them. The opening descriptions of Stella's sort of "whirlwind" shield thingy with Clay was really cool. Excellent descriptions, once again. The narrative broke apart in interesting ways sentence-wise in the first part with these two, I think because again, of that urgency, and the nature of the actions and setting. I liked the use of the shorter sentences and the frantic dialogue, especially Clay urging her to stay. I felt like...I don't know - they were both being ernest there. Like they really do love each other. But I can't help but wonder what happened to all those other men that loved either her (or her past lives)? Did they suddenly decide they couldn't be with her forever, so they killed themselves because it was the only way out? Did Anthony have something to do with it?

Like I said - more mysteries, but we do get some answers on the exact nature of Stella's supernatural qualities, as well as Anthony's! It was great to see progress in the relationships between both of them. Oh, and then of course we've got Hildy, who is being the best friend ever to both of them and both Gwen and Clay have been really crappy friends lately, lol. Nice addition to the current US climate in regards to race and violence as well - I did wonder with this story what differences he faced in this economic standing, if any, when the story started because everyone in this story is incredibly privileged. There didn't seem to be a huge acknowledgement that "looking different" changed much for him - and I mean, it shouldn't, but then - as we've learned / know - it does. And it's shit that it does, of course. So it was nice to see a very steady nodding to that here. Action-wise, the scene where he gets caught was amusing. Scary, because I'm picturing this butler like someone out of the Addams family, haha, but it makes me wonder what Hildy will do now.

So much suspense! Can't wait for the update! ;D
Electrumwriter chapter 15 . 6/28
Tonight I return to Loreley Island and I elect to review this chapter, because it seems that it is reaching the climax we’ve been waiting for.

I admire the hard work you put into constructing the prose. It is very easy to read and at the same time, really elegant. Especially the imagery around Stella that is always jewel bright. The blue-green flickers of her eyes and the impression of diamonds in her hair.

Interesting to get some backstory about Stella and Anthony. I suppose Anthony is a supernatural being too, but it sounds like he is not malicious and doesn’t want Stella to drain anyone. But Stella’s motivation is still open for interpretation. If she is like the goddess in your other story, then she views men as being playthings and doesn’t truly care if they are hurt.

I appreciate the foreshadowing we got about the osprey. The electric imagery that surrounds the couple really has intensified. Up until now it was just warming up. The continuing electricity theme has been seamlessly woven together. Of course, given the turn the story has taken, it would have intensified.

I get the impression that the shout out from Hildy’s mum is based on an observation made in real life. It is interesting and a change in form from the fantastical direction the story had been taking. I see that the chauffeur appears drained. I wonder if it’s an effect of the Wydevilles.

As for the final scene with Gwen – I am getting the impression that the nature of the magic in this story has been carefully thought out. There is indeed electricity everywhere. The Wydevilles can channel it somehow. And the rules have all been laid out as well as the cost it exacts. You interest in 20th century vinyl music continues to intrigue me as well. I suppose vinyl does sound more soulful. Now I want to know what the song for this night was.
Chiscribe chapter 14 . 6/28
The descriptive writing about the storm is just beautiful and so unique as to place the reader right there in the heart of it. Really lush and vivid phrases like "rats of sun pierced the purple clouds" and "bullets made of ice" contrasted perfectly from the calm before the storm to the storm of the century and the fact that it's described as a "freak storm" makes me wonder if it isn't all natural.

The scene with Gwen and Anyhony was fun and intriguing because it brings up more questions surrounding Stella and her family. Despite his appearance I get the feeling that Anthony is old...like really old and with that age comes a sort of intuition that isn't easily penetrable by mere sexual gratification, as I'm sure that's what Gwen intended. She's so manipulative and cunning that it was interested to see the tables turned, her charm not working and now she's the one who is asked to fulfill a favor. A lot of great subtlety in that scene, like a power play between two master manipulators.

Hildy is once again proving his worth as a friend by trying to contact the coast guard for Clay and Stella, no matter how hopeless that might be (it is a big ocean after all...) but o find it kind of funny who the majority of the story is him running around like a chicken with his head cut off trying to warn Clay about something or other. lol

Real great chapter, look forward to reading the other one!
Ventracere chapter 1 . 6/28
This is a strong chapter over all. I definitely liked all the descriptions you gave us which gave us a greater worldview of what was going on around Clay. Something I was a little irked by - this is personal preference, not your writing - was how quickly he fell for Stella, though I can understand, it as something to do with her unnatural beauty.

There's something off about Stella that no one can place just yet. It's like she has this pull on Clay that he can resist, an I like how in the back of his mind, Clay can't help but think, "part of his brain that warned him against really stupid actions to shut up". That shows us that he's not mindless, he is intelligent, he knows that he shouldn't be doing this. That alone gives him some more dimension than the rest of the other boys vying for her attention. He knows that there's something off, but he can't reconcile that with the fact that Stella is before him and chose /him/ to hang out as opposed to the other guys.

Which brings us to another thing: why did Stella choose him? Is there something that she wants from him that no other boy can give to her except him? I kind of got the idea that Stella and Clay weren't exactly close, considering how he was a little bit of an outsider earlier. He viewed her as a bit weird, and considered her "barely capable of speech", yet he was still slightly offended when he found out that she was in contact with Hildy? That's an interesting driving point, though it might have to do with Stella's "charm" of sorts again.

Last thing, Gwen grew a little on my nerves. I feel like she was characteristic of the "annoying" girlfriend, someone that the boyfriend can't really stand. It's nice to see that Clay tries to be the "good" boyfriend, and understand that she loves him. /SPOILER/ However, he then goes and kisses Stella at the end of the chapter. What does this have to say about their relationship? Does it invalidate it?

I have a lot of questions, but that's only going to get answered by reading on - so good hook at the end/chapter as a whole :)

Thanks for the read!
Virtuella chapter 15 . 6/28
So good to see a new chapter of this up! It starts very neatly with linking into the now-familiar colour scheme. Gorgeous descriptions here of how the weather links with the emotional and sexual tension. I particularly liked a few sentences that played variations on a circular theme, the spiralling hailstones, the shimmering spheres and the glittering helixes. The whole passage has a luminous quality to it; it is very visual in a way that is not based on experience but so easy to imagine that it feels completely natural.

The blason is a fascinating motif. Sign your name across my heart. It evokes all sorts of other stories without connecting specifically to any of them. They certainly have a PACT now. I suppose Clay will never be a to go for a doctor’s check-up again without running into difficulties of explanation? But silliness is out of place here, so I shall desist. Stella’s many names, that’s a vampire motif again. I couldn’t find out what “Nusa suma an An–a” means or even what language it is; I guess it will be revealed later.

And from this magical bubble we get thrown back into reality with a sharp reminder of America’s problems with their trigger-happy police. There are some excellent descriptions in this passage as well, a Gothic counterpoint, especially the gate and the “bleached walnut” head.

And finally Gwen. "Some of us are more electric than others." So here the whole concept of magic comes back again to science. A seemingly magical chandelier is based on “bioluminescent enzyme” and in the end everything is down to electro-magnetism. This is something that I have often pondered with fascination, how ultimately our entire world is just made up of electric charges.

Excellent chapter. I hope we won’t have to wait too long for the next one.
alltheeagles chapter 15 . 6/28
RG EF review

I like the clues you’re giving on what Stella might be, between the impromptu pseudo-wedding ceremony and the electro-magnetism lecture from Anthony. It indicates that this isn’t a wholly supernatural tale but maybe some kind of sci-fi instead. Not sure at this point whether gender is a central concern, ie only the females in the family carry this ability, or it sure seems that way for now. I hope Clay doesn’t get fried to a cinder but I doubt it, the story doesn’t sound like it’s over yet.
The other thing I like isn’t even a main plot point, but I like it because I can relate to it. I am referring to Hildy’s mother’s warnings about why he has to be good because of the way he looks. It’s subtle and subtle enough that it could easily be overlooked, but at the same time, it’s in-your-face current.
Finally, not meaning to sound snide, but since when has using protection and not hurting your partner been connected? Unless he meant ‘hurt’ figuratively as in catching something, I suppose… :p
Jalux chapter 15 . 6/27
I'm starting to see ties between this and your other story.

I feel like it's been hinted at the start that getting involved with her is going to majorly screw Clay over. Honestly that feeling only got worse with this chapter, like a life long sort of contract never ends well and perhaps the rest of the story will end in him trying to break free of what he just did. It's also interesting to see he's pretty naive I guess, willing to go this way for his first supposed love.

I think Hildy is the most relatable character in the story, he honestly just seems like a decent person trying to help his friends and I liked the developments with his detective work. Somehow I get the feeling he has a major role to play in helping both Clay and Gwen down the line. The convo in his head was nice to characterize him a bit more. Gah too many cliff-hangers. I somehow suspect this has something to do with what Stella is. Is Gwen going to become like her maybe? It's very interesting I'm not going to lie. Update soon!
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...
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