Reviews for Singspiel's Enclave
alltheeagles chapter 9 . 6/20/2014
I imagine it can’t be a good feeling for an eleven year old to be the object of such negative scrutiny from his peers, but Alex gets super coolness points for taking everything in his stride. I particularly liked the statement about how he was playing a part too, as if everything is a game, because that’s how it is with children – the line between make-believe and reality isn’t that clear yet at that stage in life. Max’s cactus is cool too! At least it’d live much longer than a bouquet, and somehow I think Alex would appreciate it more than roses too. I suppose you’ve answered my question about why Birdy is a good guy through Max’s observation that she was already injured at the time of the house fire. Maybe Kim realised that too at the back of his mind and that’s why he trusts her.
The watching the compound incident was tightly written and their reaction quite natural. It’s a little sad that Kim has to lie again and is finding it easier to lie, but it’s inevitable given the situation, I suppose. He could hardly tell his parents what’s really going on. Sophia continues to surprise me. I had her pegged as the mouse who would cry and maybe sell them out, whereas Monica was the firebrand of the gang, but now it’s quite different – Sophia is like the anchor that stabilises the group or the glue that holds it together.
I also like how you show the tension that Kim’s mum (and dad too, but that’s not so obvious) is under. It may or may not be directly related to the events that Kim and his friends are investigating, but it adds yet another layer to the complexity of the story and makes it more than a ‘mere’ account of the adventures of some pre-teens. Dad’s reaction came as a big surprise and I wonder if perhaps it was a bit of an OVER reaction? Not to mention confusion – wasn’t he all bright-eyed with pride over his son just yesterday evening?
Even without your note at the beginning, I can work out that there’s something going on with the parents that Kim doesn’t know about. I’m guessing it has something to do with Mr Singspiel’s meeting and the way Kim is being locked up, he’s probably being suspected of involvement. I’m too lazy to try to figure out what the ‘real’ story could be... so I’ll just wait to be informed. ;p
Typos:
- ‘wondered aloud’ is joined up
- There was A thick black vest
alltheeagles chapter 8 . 6/20/2014
I enjoyed the writing in the dreamscape, though I wasn’t sure at what point it became a dream cause wasn’t Kim looking at Bird through the window and telling her Alex died? So is this a recollection of a dream or did Kim suddenly fall asleep? But anyway, the dream was really cool, and it’s utterly dreamlike with the logic of dreams and sudden scene changes and appearances of characters. Excellent job there!
I feel there must be some significance in Alex merging with the monster in Kim’s dream, but I can’t figure it out right now. I also find the role of Bird as friend and kind of protector in the dream intriguing. I think that also represents something, but I likewise can’t work it out either. I asked before why Kim is so adamantly on Bird’s side, right, and that question comes up again. Why has he put her on ‘his’ side against the monster and the adults and even, it seems, Alex too?
I think if I were Kim’s mum, I’d jump to the same conclusion about Sophia. Nice touch! And then came the candlelight dinner scene and you had me going all misty. I wonder (but only a little) what Mr. Singspiel wrote that made Kim’s dad feel so proud of him. Well, if I were a parent, I think I’d be quite proud of Kim’s empathy and loyalty to Alex too. I told you, right, how I haven’t had this kind of emo reaction to any story for quite some time? I think you should take it as a compliment that I’m going all mushy over your work. It may have something to do with some things that I’m going through in RL right now, but I still think it’s something that speaks very loudly about the quality of your writing that you’re causing such an effect.
Sorry this is a relatively short review from me. I can’t think of anything more to say apart from “I really enjoyed the emotions in this chapter.” Great job!
Typo: mouth OFF
alltheeagles chapter 7 . 5/16/2014
OMG! Alex died? I thought he was a very important character! OMG! I still can’t get over it. OMG! I was about to type about how well you described the aftermath of the unrecallable dream, and then... I so totally see it now, how the dream was foreshadowing all the horrid things Mr. Singspiel was going to announce.
I feel rather devastated, which is strange, because I seldom get emotional over stories nowadays. I hardly ‘knew’ Alex, yet his death feels like the loss of somebody that I interact with regularly. And Monica’s left too... when she called Alex I kind of guessed that would happen, so it wasn’t as unexpected as the news about Alex, but still... I guess it’s the idea that the gang is breaking up that’supsetting me even more than the individual bad news by themselves. I liked the feel-good vibe of that gang – it brought me back to my childhood and the happy hours spent lost in the adventures of other such gangs, before innocence got tainted and life got complicated.
I loved the bit where Kim went crazy at register taking. It rivetted me to the screen. I don’t know how to do it justice – it was realistic but age appropriate and intense but not over dramatic. I completely identified with Kim’s feeling of wanting to make it a tantrum to be remembered but holding back from long years of conditioning to obey the voice of authority. I feel like that lots of times (metaphorically of course; if I hit my table and yelled at superiors on a regular basis I couldn’t afford a lappie and internet connection to be doing this on).
The references to first times was beautifully poignant. When I first saw the statement at the beginning after the girl waved, I didn’t realise it was a quotation from Alex, but then you explained it and it made perfect sense. Ack, more of the feels... So then things picked up again with the silver sharpener rounds, and that was good, cause if you’d ended this chapter on a sad note I’d have been down all day today.
The ‘code’ of parents’ attendance being taken along with Kim’s summary of boringness was a nice touch as well. Haha... I’m on to that! Ending on the episode of accidental caffeine overdosing was brilliant too. I know just how THAT feels, and it really is a most accurate description of the mood that Kim must be in. Beware the post-high crash though...
All in all, I just want to go on and on gushing over this chapter. WELL DONE!
Editing:
-yesterday’S bitter evening
-than THERE ought to be
-missing space before the paragraph “This one won’t be about...”
alltheeagles chapter 6 . 5/10/2014
It’s quite interesting that Kim immediately draws the conclusion that there’s another shadow man and another Bird-like person rather than thinking that Bird was the one responsible for the fire. Why does he think she’s good? Because she tried to smile at him?

In the next bit, why were Flick and Simon sent to the corridor? They didn’t have anything to do with Monica’s breakdown, did they? Also, if I were a teacher and one of my kids freaked out like that, I won’t let another kid take her to the nurse; I’d rather leave the rest of the class unattended for a while. Reason: what if Monica had a violent fit on the way to the nurse or something? But oh well, nothing did! :)

I’m also not sure why Kim is so reluctant to visit Alex. On the one hand, I understand the instinctive reaction to something negative – avoid it if possible – but on the other, it doesn’t seem to gel with the strength of their friendship. The last time he visited, Alex wasn’t in such a bad way that he could have frightened Kim off, I think, so why would Kim think he’s any harder to see this time round even before he visits? The problem is that I don’t really know what ‘normal’ Alex is supposed to be like, I’ve only had the sick and apparently very different Alex described in detail to me. So I have nothing to refer to that could help to explain why it’s so upsetting for do have a bit later on how Kim is afraid Alex might die, but then in that case, shouldn’t he grab every chance to see him while he still can? Oh, I AM sorry, I have so many questions this chapter!

I like the metaphor-ish reference to bullies, and how Kim reflects on it: that their ‘bully protectors’ Alex and Max have fallen, and they’re basically completely vulnerable now, and mentally falling under the ‘bullying’ of the fires and deaths. I also like the uneasiness that you convey in the part with the overheard conversation. On Kim’s part, he is mostly concerned with what he’s done or not done, and that is very realistic because if I overheard a conversation about myself that’s exactly what I’d be listening out for. But over and above that, he senses that things are not right with his parents and he’s perhaps unconsciously worried that he’s the source of that; the post-bath scene punctuates that perfectly.

Editing:
•[I’ll be asking Mr. Prattler cover] What does that mean?
•as many times AS it takes for you
•there’s a LAURIE instead of Laury somewhere
•I know everything and I’m ...? (missing word?)
alltheeagles chapter 5 . 5/7/2014
I don’t know if you consider this a compliment or otherwise, but I continue to see the ghost of Enid Blyton in your story, with the sweets (where does one even FIND such sweets anymore] and the countryside complete with resident robin. Kim’s observations on Monica’s parents’ likely reaction is accurate, but I think the way it is expressed is oddly cynical and worldly-wise for what I have come to perceive as his character. He’s 11, but sounds, I dunno, 41?

You brought in the discussion of the monster very naturally in the conversation between Sophia and Kim, and the characterisation of Sophia is very distinctive. However, the paragraph beginning ‘Sophia’s dad worked...’ stuck out because I'm not sure if it it was Kim recalling or summarising the conversation or just giving the reader some information as part of the narrative. If it wasn’t part of the conversation, how did Kim know about it, and in such detail down to shaky hands on coffee mugs? I suppose this is what Sophia’s father told her, since it was said that she and her mother were sleeping at that time, but this doesn’t come across clearly in the writing.

The good cop-bad cop scene with Kim’s parents was interesting, and it carried through the dynamics begun in Kim’s bedroom where dad wanted to keep Kim in the know but mum wanted the opposite. Mum seemed terribly harsh in this scene, which was a little surprising cause I had formed an impression that she’s the warm caring albeit strict type of mum and that Kim was actually closer to her than his dad. In a way, they represent two parenting styles: mum’s old fashioned ‘parents know best’ and ‘children should be seen and not heard’ vs dad’s modern ‘reason with the kids’ and ‘let kids express themselves’. I kinda get the feeling that you’re a supported of the latter style from the way you’ve portrayed mum and dad, but me, I’m with mum. Course that won’t make for much of a story would it, if Kim were summarily forbidden from any further digging! Anyhow, she apologised later, so it looks like she’s gonna cross over into the modern parenting camp as well. No Tiger Mums in this story, I guess.

Kim’s deduction of the truth about Bird was nicely done! Shows he’s a smart kid too, just maybe not as smart as Alex. The only bit I have misgivings about is him telling Bird that his friend is dying because of her. That seemed, I dunno, a bit cruel?

Editing:
-‘tug of two manipulative little fingers’ – um, shouldn’t that be the whole hand tugging?
-[at a spot just below my ear] : she is so far away that it would be hard for Kim to know precisely where the finger was aimed, so it would make more sense if it were ‘her ear’ and with an extra clause like ‘and instinctively I put my hand in the same spot’ or something.
alltheeagles chapter 4 . 5/6/2014
Tip to mum: concealer works much better than powder. :) The plot thickens. Dad and mum’s conversation in Kim’s room, could, for me, have been a little less direct. I’d have left out the dog attack info and just have mum saying ‘It was an accident’ to interrupt dad’s ‘those three deaths...’ and then maybe repeating it in a louder voice when dad tries to say something like ‘But what if...’ But the way you have it is fine too, and I liked the detail about mum’s hoarse voice (was she crying or arguing with dad earlier?) I just made this suggestion based on Kim’s reaction – I think based on dad and mum’s conversation as it stands, he’d likely have started thinking about the three deaths and the dog attack and so on and started trying to link it to Smarty’s house, but he didn’t do that – he read the ginger ale story instead. But I also do get why you mentioned the dog, cause the snatch of dialogue later on what it took the girl eight days to do and what the people were talking about. Seems that it’s a significant event, so you can probably disregard all of what I just said.

I loved the line ‘as if ... sleeping and they didn’t want to wake them’ but Kim’s choice of the word ‘things’ is ominous, as if he’s already forgotten that they were—are—people. The detail of Kim interpreting the soldiers as slacking on their day job rather than say, a deliberate presence to deter protesting, says something about his uncorrupted thought processes, as well as his suggestion that they scatter the ashes at the Star Ship. It could have been interpreted as snarky and flippant, I suppose, but I don’t think so based on what you’ve shown us of Kim’s character so far.

‘the ugly yellow purple gleam’ is an unusual description. For a bruise, it’s spot on, but for eyes, it sounds positively surreal. I suddenly thought of werewolves and witches, haha. Was this chapter shorter than the others? I got that impression somehow. Maybe cause not as much happened this time – I could summarise it as ‘Kim and his family went to the funeral and they were discussing Smarty and the accidents’ whereas I couldn’t do that for the other chapters. Of course, it isn’t completely accurate to say nothing happened, cause you gave us plenty of clues and possibly red herrings with the girl and the dog and amnesia and the mysterious but oh so rude doctor. This chapter just felt less packed than the previous ones. Is that good or bad? Could go either way, I suppose. Good, cause it’s like a breather, but obviously not so if you want to keep up the same blazing speed of plot movement throughout the story.

Editing suggestions:
-LATER speeches? (‘latter’ seems to be for when you’ve just made a list of things and want to refer to the last item in the list)
-feeling curiouly MORE powerless the closer I drew
-nothing to be alarmed ABOUT
-how HE is over the weekend
alltheeagles chapter 3 . 5/4/2014
Your writing in the beginning of this chapter makes me feel happy and wistful and nostalgic. It’s a good feeling. Alex is definitely VERY grown up for a 6 year old, but you acknowledge that so it’s not a sticking point. It’s great how you bring in Laury’s involvement as well, which helps me to understand how great a burden he must be under not being able to remember and feeling that he’s let Laury down somehow. However, I think three years old is much too young to be having a crush! Some three year olds can’t even talk properly yet. Unless, of course, Laury is as much of a prodigy as Alex is. I also like how you’ve introduced the origins of the gang and how the Star Ship brought them together. Like I said, chanelling Famous Five there... A private tree house isn’t a particularly new idea, but I think you’re presenting it in such a way that it feels fresh and relevant rather than a tired cliche.
On the exchange between Kim and his dad, it feels a bit sudden in the sense that he hasn’t seemed particularly close to Kim before this. I got that impression from their earlier brief conversations and the description of his father’s non-committal role in the ‘amphitheatre’ scene. But here, the talk of cover ups and doubting Alex suggest that they have an intimate relationship and that his father seems to regard him almost as an equal, ie an adult. I would not, if I were a parent, cast doubt on the character of a boy I had already decided to take into my house. Why muddy their innocent friendship that way?
Why doesn’t Mr. Singspiel go into Alex’s room together with Kim? He’s been kind of a background figure so far, but I think he has a greater role to play, right? His name is in the title after all! XP His name is very intriguing anyway – sing and spiel – like he’s a minstrel of some kind. Back to Alex: the difference between how he interprets Bird’s situation and Kim’s relatively innocent view not only shows his intelligence but also his suspicious nature, which you haven’t mentioned before, so I wonder if this paranoia has been brought on by the concussion, or if he was always the conspiracy-theory type.
Chin like a butt – loved that! But I found that scene a little choppy; a bit more on Kim’s emotions would be good, eg he was surprised at first, then taken aback by the doctor’s rudeness then worried about what the doc might be doing to Alex, etc. The ending was good though – the weird dream was full of foreboding.
Here are some editing suggestions:
-I think it should be ‘I collected MY and Dad’s empty plates’.
-I use ‘roofs’ for more than one roof; the Net said ‘rooves’ is an archaic form.
-Shouldn’t ‘outright’ be one single word if you’re using it to mean ‘directly’?
-‘unclear’ and ‘glass bridge’ just don’t go together in my head. Maybe ‘as unclear as (something else) and as precarious as a glass bridge’?
-‘played along and pretendED to look disgusted’
-‘like THEY did in the stories’ (in the movies?)

If you don't want me to do grammar stuff like the above, let me know, ok?
alltheeagles chapter 2 . 5/3/2014
OMG I just realised I referred to Kim as a her in my previous review. So sorry! Whatever could have made me think that he’s a girl?
The first part of this chapter is like a cup of hot chocolate – sweet, comforting, reassuring. I love that feeling. It’s a great contrast to my angsty JaT for sure. The question might perhaps be raised on why it’s all light and joy when someone died in the previous chapter, but I think that reflects the resilience of children. They’re not as fragile as many might believe them to be. Then at the lunch discussion scene, I started getting echoes of the Famous Five. But that’s exactly what you’re gunning for, right? Pre-adolescent mystery solvers. You’ve nailed it in that case.
One possible discrepancy in Sophia’s account was that she said she was tired, but then AFTER that she still went swimming? Maybe she was just guilty about not saying anything about what she saw so was trying to downplay her culpability.
The bit in the hospital with Smarty was really gripping. You could so easily have turned it into a melodrama fest but instead you were restrained and subtle and as a result I really FELT for him. I love how you capture the awkwardness of a 12 year old boy trying to say something ickily touchy-feely (looking at the ceiling was particularly realistic), and how he’s trying to be upbeat but maybe torturing himself inside with not dying together with Laury.
I also like how you’re slowly setting up two layers to this story – the topmost layer of what happened at Smarty’s house, and the less-visible one below that of what the adults including Kim’s mom are involved in. Kim’s reaction to the threat of his books/models being confiscated is so cute! But I don’t really understand why he would get so worked up over the Monstrosity being a special hospital. I mean, it’s not like he’s in danger of being sent there or anything, and Smarty isn’t there either, so there isn’t a clear reason that I can see for his (over)reaction.
The humour is still great, too. It never feels like you’re trying too hard.
alltheeagles chapter 1 . 5/3/2014
For the RG EF

I hope you don’t mind too much that I’m starting from chp 1. You have long chapters so I’m quite sure I’d be lost if I jumped straight into chp 5.
I like your characterisation – you manage to paint a very vivid picture of the different people. However, having four people enter the scene almost at the same time was a little disconcerting, and soon after that even more characters appear... it just took rather a lot of mental effort to sort it all out. But once I did, the story was an engrossing read.
The other thing I liked was the touches of humour, eg the one about wall watching and algebra as an item of clothing. Apart from making me smile, they also helped to flesh out Kim’s character even more by showing that she is intelligent and observant.
The main characters are 11 to 12, right? (Apart from Mr Singspiel of course). Well, I think you got the right ‘voice’ for that age group. A little worldly wise at times, but also essentially innocent and not bitter or disillusioned. Based on your experience with writing Conan you’re probably a dab hand at that anyway, though he isn’t exactly a typical 12 year old. ;p
Finally, I’m not sure what the Star Ship is. It’s some kind of place?