Reviews for Dead Craft
InkWellWisher chapter 3 . 7/31/2015
Review for Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

I really like chapter 2’s purpose: to establish more information about this world through Kit’s deciphering of the human’s shaper code. He becomes a navigator in is this landscape of moral ambiguity—this is interesting when compared to Charlotte’s perspective. Their interpretation of the witches is a little blind to the age of some of the witches, and there is no distinguishing between “boy” and “man” until later chapters—indicative of their dehumanizing of the enemy.
These chapters also help establish what to expect of this world and sets a pattern of interaction between Kit and the witches, soon to be disassembled by the foreshadowed horror in the basement. The tuning pegs are being twisted.

I am also enjoying these little tidbits of definition to nameless, faceless characters who serve as Jude’s amplifiers; they magnify the restlessness dampened by the walls. Moments such as “He words it like an excuse to leave, his magic shivering” or the eagerness of one of the witches to avoid a nasty job. The more detail painted around Nikki’s predicament as the next in command is particularly nice, it adds a sense of authenticity to his character that was not there in previous versions. There’s something pitying about him, we see him suffering—under his guilt or the stress of leadership, or a combination of both.

I am glad that I am doing a second read-through, there are some details I did not thread together previously—Nikki’s reference to a former translator is Jude, given away by his messy corner filled with the taped-up hardcovers and the compass. For some reason, I forgot some of Nikki’s lines about the translator hiding the messages. These are great details that interlace the fate of the characters until they eventually collide, the coincidence that sets the machine of narrative in motion.

In this rewrite, I enjoy that the copy of Margott is now part of Jude’s collection. It lends more to the sympathy of his character, much more effective than one (if I recall correctly) that was Charlotte’s father’s copy?

My favorite part about this section, however, is Jude’s pleading magic, curling up from the basement. You have such a strong descriptive language when it comes to magic, particularly Jude’s—Jude’s magic, which comes from both the words he speaks, and those that you write. It becomes an opportunity to break down barriers that define character’s voice and action and keep him exposed, over stimulated, and highly vulnerable, like a raw nerve. A person without boundaries is also invasive, violating. Jude is not just a vampire—he becomes a psychic vampire to everyone around him.
“Hello, please, I want my mother.” -Oh, and did I mention that this is absolutely terrifying?
InkWellWisher chapter 1 . 7/30/2015
Soldiering on through this second rewrite, I will try to review each chapter, or combine 2 chapters together for one longer review.

In this rewrite, Kit’s resolution to what he thinks is his death is reminiscent of the protagonist of a Kurt Vonnegut novel, heavy, bleak, and pitiful. I even see the shadow Snowman from Atwood’s Oryx and Crake in the scabby, flea-bitten misery of being trapped in his human form, a perpetual nightmare.
What I am most interested about in this introductory chapter is how Kit is reclaiming parts of being human that disappear in the shaped animal form, whether he wanted to or not. This includes the vulnerabilities of his human flesh, as well as his state of self-awareness, which grows throughout his captivity with the witches. Actions such as covering his genitals for modesty, or the projection of animal-like characteristics onto his observations of the witches make this transformation more apparent.
If there is anything I could suggest, it is to make the disparity of changing from his totem shape to adjusting human form resonate more in this chapter, best achieved by manner in which Kit narrates his experience. This is something you obviously pay well attention to throughout other parts of the story, but I am wondering if perhaps the opening paragraphs could strengthen this feeling a bit more?
“They catch me shaped fox”—this opening line really works for me, but the next grouping I find myself looking for more traces of the animal in Kit’s narration. Your decision to keep any allusion, metaphor and sensory description out of the brisk, short bursts of violent action and reaction is particularly effective, but I want a little more out of this—a little more confusion, or panic. But then again, this is the opening of the story, and keeping the events more clear and concise is better to connect to the reader, who might be alienated by a confusing, more abstract introduction.

Really nice concise use of descriptive language and simile in this chapter—
“Witch men with bright eyes and magic that writhes together like a ball of snakes.”
“They are pack-like in the way shapers are pack-like. Desperate and always moving. Eager to please and quick to lash out.”
These areas are successful in conveying to us what the witches are like with a minimum of explanation, they allow us to do the work.

“I am a cage in a cage—learning how many ways a human can bleed.”
This concluding line the chapter is amazingly powerful. The last few paragraphs are an excellent resolution to this opening chapter—the conflict comes not just from being captured and bound, but having to live in the form that causes him the most physical and psychological suffering, which says a lot about his choice to stay in totem for a year.
Virtuella chapter 17 . 6/13/2015
Nice opening paragraph with Charlotte’s view of Achitophel. He may or may not eat like an animal, but she would perceive it like that anyway, wouldn’t she? And ah, don’t I know the awkward feeling when we’ve asked a provocative question and find we’ve not been heard or are being ignored! So, she doesn’t think he looks like a poet? And what would a poet look like?

It’s very credible that Charlotte should feel survivor’s guilt. She is in no position to indulge in grieving, but it makes her a more relatable character that she feels she ought to.

I like the way Achitophel comes across here, restrained and poised, giving Charlotte no handhold to attach her prejudices. Why did he walk away? Just to annoy her?

The scene with the young witches is intense and disturbing. They are two terrified children, but charlotte, in order to justify herself, needs to name them “Bad Guy 1 and 2.” Her need to divide folk into good and bad guys seems to fit less and less with reality, in which almost every group appears to be victims.
Virtuella chapter 16 . 6/13/2015
I’m wondering about the nickname “Kit” for a poet. Is it a nod at Christopher Marlowe?

I liked the opening paragraph with Charlotte’s reflections about the afterlife. “Like the ones I love still have memories intact while I'm wishing most my whole life could be forgotten.” That is a valid point to make in any context, not just this one. If there is to be an afterlife, in what form exactly to people continue to exit? Will the baby that dies be forever a baby, the ancient dementia sufferer forever be just that?

Charlotte putting names to the corpses – that was a plausible step to take here, making the grief more tangible. Twenty-one children under the age of thirteen. This is where the corpses, in retrospect, become humans again and the whole scenario unbearable. And it is credible that Charlotte would feel a need to blame before all other things.

That Jude wears a shirt and tie and smokes incessantly is such a neat thing. Very effective contrast between a mundane exterior and the whole magic shenanigans.

Nice to have a little more of the backgrounds of the characters revealed here. I really feel a strong need to encounter some witch women, because they are altogether too mysterious!
Virtuella chapter 15 . 6/13/2015
“I punched through into one of my nightmares”

This was a good opening, making me wonder (given all that had already happened) how much worse things would become to qualify as a nightmare. The idea of his own pack turned into vampires would fulfil the criteria. In this world devoid of any certainties, it would also be conceivable.

Your word choices, as always, are stark and vivid. In particular you choose many very dynamic and expressive verbs, such as ebb, swipe, capsize, splatter, flutter, jut, shred. They give an intense quality to the action scenes. Unfortunately, if verbs stand out they will also stand out awkwardly where they are unnecessarily repeated, so you might want to check up on the use of pop, recoil, unwind, dart and a few others.

The paragraph about the decomposing corpses was suitable disturbing. I liked how it was followed by the single word “humans” in a separate line, almost as if that was all that was left of humankind altogether. It also linked well with Architophel’s later considerations: “They were people she knew. Maybe even people she loved.”

You are really keeping the readers on their toes with all this uncertainty about who is playing straight or isn’t. I remain a little confused, but I assume this is your intention.
Ventracere chapter 3 . 6/11/2015
Opening: You drop us straight back into the desperation of the Fox in the opening. Normally, I would nitpick on the fact that you use short sentences one after another, but in this case, it works to your advantage. It emphasizes, again, the urgency of the fox's hunger, and how he's desperate to survive. Food isn't something he can bargain for right now, and you opened well to remind your readers of that.

Scene: I found the one where the Fox had a nightmare an intriguing one. I would have thought that in his situation, he would have been reliving the his experiences. The piercing scream of that jolts him back into reality is a good one. His nightmare/dream of sorts is mild, something that he wishes he could have. In a sense, it's tranquil, something that allows him to escape until he's dragged back into all of it again. The wail that wakes him before the witch leads him up to Nickolai is like the calm before the storm, much like his dream.

Characters: At this point, I feel like I've gotten a better grasp of who Nickolai is than the fox. Even though we're seeing everything from the Fox's POV, I feel like everything we've seen so far is kind of in a pained haze, where the fox is literally primed for survival. On the other hand, Nickolai is a conniving, manipulating, character that I can't decide whether or not I want to appreciate his cunning ways or dislike him for what he's doing. He's got a motive for what he's doing, that's for sure. And I'm not exactly sure what his motive is behind all of this just yet, haha.

Ending: This ending is a less of a hook, but it's a fitting one for this chapter. It's ominous, considering the entrance of the unseen "human." You've noted that Nickolai has designated either the fox or the human as the "last gift"/"fitting last meal" which has me wondering, what is going to happen to the fox. For one, he wasn't seriously injured in this chapter, but now, we've got another piece of the puzzle in play. The human. It makes me want to know just what part the human plays, and how much more this will affect the fox.

Thanks for the read!
deadaccount2019 chapter 7 . 6/10/2015
[Plot] More a specific plot point, the caches made a nice first solid crumb leading Char to Kit and Jude. I'm wondering if the caches will play a further role because it feels like there's buildup being made (referenced by both characters in a pretty intense manner both times). The magic having branded Char also would explain why the man-hsting badass would just dump Kit's ass later, since she's going to be tracked whether or not he's around. It eliminates what could have bewn a bir of a plot hole.

[Setting] This is more in regard to the familiarity of the story's world and society. In the past I've always had the impression that vamps were an elder race, rather than a concoction of magic or madness. As such, I was surprised first, the learn witches have laid claom to that presrige, and second that their history isn't as alien as I'd once thought. I can't help feeling a bit irked by Char's hatred because although it's deserved, it also reminds me of ignorant or outright racist comments I hear white ppl make about aboriginals. Very nice touch of realism (totally agree that indoor plumbing rocks XD) and familiarity.

[Character] Chalotte is always so much fun to read because she's so crass, but also because of the begrudging sarcasm. When she entertains thoughts of death she doesn't feel like she's given up, just too tired to fight the bullshit at the moment. It keeps her from being melodramatic or unbearable and really just makes me want to see her kick ass and survive.

[Scene] That fight though! :D If anyone could take on a pack of witches, it's Char, and I like that we get to see her embodied in more than just her words. She throws everything she's got at the witches, which added a savage element to the scene and her. The one draw back is that it felt like you could have gotten away with fragmenting a couple sentences (a couple felt too wordy for a fight scene), but the scene was no less intense (loved her final breaking point about Men. cruel irony knowing her future companions, lol).

Overall really enjoyable (and a bit emotional) chapter. Sorry for the limited feedback (still on phone at hospital). feel free to ask any questions).
alltheeagles chapter 20 . 6/10/2015
RG Depth

Getting the CC out of the way, I have a small problem reconciling this portrayal of Jude’s POV with his behaviour towards Charlotte in the previous chapters. How can he be so sane and lucid with her if his mental state is this messy? Unless you mean that he’s only like this when his bloodlust is strongest ie he’s basically bipolar... or schizo? Haha, you probably want to tell me, enough with the amateur psychiatry already.
As always with Jude’s narration, I’m not completely sure I understand everything correctly but I think his magic disagreed with him and left him and then he... killed some shapers in vampire mode? That must be connected to the flashback part where he almost tells his mother (and us) why he wouldn’t kill shapers only wound them, but I can’t work out how exactly because there’s also that line about his magic arguing with him with ‘never again after Nikolai’. Um, his magic doesn’t want him to kill? What use is that kind of magic for protecting then, and male witch magic is exclusively for combat and attack, isn’t it?
My question over the nature of witch’s magic makes a comeback... is he in control of his magic or is his magic in control of him? Is his magic a learned skill, a nurtured inborn ability or some independent entity that’s separate from him? This renewed interest comes from some things I’m picking up, or at least I think I picked up: that Jude was appointed his mother’s personal guard for some time, that mum knew about his unbrotherlike feelings for Eleanor, that does certain kind of magic that is unheard of (so how did he learn those spells?)
I understood perfectly well that waxing is related to the phases of the moon, but yeah, that AN could be useful for people who don’t get it. I can just imagine their reaction: why’s Jude so obsessed over removing body hair? Haha. Having said that, I do feel that the repetition of the word ‘waxing’ is a tad overdone. So I suggest a bit where Jude starts thinking about all the synonyms of waxing, oh I dunno, something like waxing - growing –increasing – eating me up – hungry – growing hunger rising need etc and that would simultaneously explain the concept of waxing and address the over-repetition of the word.
pumadelic chapter 8 . 6/10/2015
Opening

Declarations of continued life are good after a has she bought it cliffhanger. Charlotte's resuscitation is evoked in suitably visceral terms. Some great language here and some things that seem a little too experimental to work: the cheek 'sore pressed' to cement for the first and 'grogginess swoops me' for the second. Swoops is too fast a verb for grogginess. I know what you mean but it gives an oxymoron effect.

Writing/technique

A fine mix of short, snappy sentences and longer more fluid lines when Charlotte is reflective. I like the 'memory swims up, pinches quick' - it should be quickly but you get away with it - and 'the ghost of drunk giggling makes me shiver' is a good metaphor for her reminiscing. The unnatural laughter of the captured vamp/witch being 'split up' because Charlotte can't hear it properly is effective. The capitalised bits are still really irritating me and I think they actually spoil some good lines. I'm sure italics or inverted commas would work better. 'Hive mind' sounds great and is meaningful. 'Painted in blood' and 'moon coloured skin' are also excellent. 'Every spindle..like tiny razored threads' veers close to being a mixed metaphor but I liked its tactile impact.

You are still drip feeding information about the different beings in this world but I'm still confused. Witches can become vamps, vamps can also be shapers - I feel a bit thick but I'm just not getting it and I'm also not getting what is meant by 'Good Guys' 'Bad Guys' ; with all her irony, how Charlotte would put beings into this category or the other is unclear to me. Witches are bad guys, shapers are worse; how do humans get divided? I did really enjoy the idea of vampires being completely high on blood, so much so as to be doolally after drinking it.

Plot

Ok, In Charlotte's encounter with the vamp/shaper, I wasn't sure whether he was calling her name and recognised her in some was speaking in those italics? The idea of her being fed to the vamp is grim. The witch leader's speech has a ring of religious pomposity about it I really like and there is some mystery over the vamp's real identity. This continues when the vamp begins to draw on his magic and it becomes apparent that the witches have turned him - which Charlotte identifies as a brutal action. This seems like it might backfire on them and the final lines suggest just that.

Enjoyment

This is a strong chapter. Although it repeats tropes of capture and escape from previous chapters, the vibrant writing carries it along . Curiosity is roused from unanswered questions about the witch's motivations and actions and there is a fair bit of genuine tension.

Ending

The change to one line paragraphs works well. I like the 'creeping ..an echo of sanity' This is one place the capitals probably are necessary. His is the latter is ok..it is rather formal for Charlotte but it is nice ironic close. We do wonder what the witches have unleashed here.
alltheeagles chapter 19 . 6/9/2015
RG EF

Why is Kit angry with C? Cause she overreacted to him sharing his warmth with her? I guess she can’t be blamed for being like that with her belief—however unfair—that all shapers want to do is rape and kill humans. But anyway, it’s good that she came to her senses somewhat eventually. Good on Kit for not taking it out on her later. BTW I found it mildly amusing that it’s the first time he’s said her name, and again I can’t explain why.
After all that tension over what the pack were discussing, the final reveal came as a bit of an anti-climax, but I can’t fault you for that cause I can’t suggest an alternative, except maybe that the shaper exchanges could be reduced if you’re not giving a translation. I mean, having the exact words implies that C understands it (so the reader should likewise be told the meaning) otherwise it’d just be gibberish to her, she wouldn’t even be able to segment the sentence into words. I did like the voting though, that’s a cool way of showing the pack nature of the shapers.

What, no more chapters? Nnnnnooooooooo!
Shampoo Suicide chapter 16 . 6/9/2015
(I just re-read my previous review, I don't know wtf half those typos were, hope you were able to understand me anyway XD)

YES. CHARLOTTE. I don't know if you know yet but Char chaps are my favorite. Oh, what's that? I've made that perfectly, redundantly obvious? Too bad. Char chaps are my favorite! I love this opening (which I'm counting as everything before the first section break). Great characterization/background. It brings to mind the stuff I said earlier about her simultaneous fear of and anticipation of death. Like, maybe now I kind of get it even more, like she is resigned to dying, yet afraid of dying because what if the false hope she finds herself clinging to is...well just a nothing-less void. I love that. So human (not intended to be a pun ahaha, since she's the main human character and all). And I love the rationalizing her way out of believing in that false idea, too, because it again speaks to her badassness.

Semi-aside: I may have mentioned before Char feels to most real to me, or at least easiest to grasp as a character...not just speaking of fantastical elements just like even motivation and character traits seem most alive. I don't know if that's just me falling deeper into her story than any, or if it's a product of the differing styles of each POV? It's interesting, though. Like, I think that's why I've said I like learning Jude more through the others, for example, because the POV is purposefully a bit harder to bite into (heh). But I do wonder if it's just me this is happening to or if it's the story itself.

COMPLETELY captivated by the scene post opening. Everything about it worked for me. Paced perfectly. Loved the descriptions, especially in the second paragraph of that section when Jude takes out his cig and then throughout whenever she notes how young and human he looks, and the dialogue was fantastic too! That may be my favorite bit in this so far, honestly, because (and this is funny given what I typed just before) it really makes all of the characters and their present anxieties feel alive, and background troubles too (Kit less so on the background) plus it was just so well written and enthralling. Yessss. It feels like a part you had fun with, so I hope it was.

The final scene/section was a nice pressure release, and interesting choice for ending on. I like that it felt both expository and necessary for transition and still felt like paced well and all that. And, again funnily, I like that it seems to be leading to more of Kit's deal (even if not in his POV) because I'd like to feel as wholly informed on all of them as I do with Char. I think it's a great thing that you can use these characters together to tell the reader more in a very natural way. A Good Thing about headhopping and also speaks to your ability for smooth sort of exposition. Yay! Enjoyed this one a lot.
Shampoo Suicide chapter 15 . 6/8/2015
I love the use of "punched through" in the opening lunch. Really packs a wallop, heh heh heh (sorry). I also really liked the device used at the end of the opening paragraph (layer, break;web, shatter, etc.). I could spend all day playing in the language of this, really, it's (as I'm sure is PAINFULLY clear to you by now) is really a strong point in your writing and this work so far. I really love, and not to sound like your possibly compli-sulting MFA peeps, that you choose to go for it in that way because it definitely works for me as a reader.

What I liked about the style-play in this chapter was the really short sentences and strategic fragments because it made it feel almost like...I wanted to say stage direction but it's not quite what I'm going for. To try to explain better it really sucked me into the action and also helped establish mood, especially early on. It's interesting because I think it shows any style can be effective narratively if the writer is deft enough. Like you don't need long sweeping lines full of rote description to get across what is happening, and the way you've chosen to do it is not only working but also enhancing.

Speaking of description I really loved the paragraph dedicated to the sight/smell/horror of the corpses. So real and visceral I literally wrinkled my nose. And you elevate it again beyond just description with your cool touches, I especially loved "skin the color of dusk, dying blues, dead purples" and how the ash in the breeze was "ghosting my ankle-bones". So good.

What follows, with the meeting up with Char (!) again, was done really well too. I like that it led to him realizing he'd stumbled upon human bodies because of the weapons and was followed by the sight of he with her massive gun, heh. Love love love them all together in one place again. I laughed at the quick banted between Jude and Char as well, I like that there are (appropriately) light moments to keep the reader's head above the totally bleak dark situation a bit. AGAIN also I think the fun language play helps with that too (XD) because I get all swept up in beautiful sentences and descriptions and only after I've taken everything in am I like WHOA this is dark shit. Unless it's particularly brutal, of course, in which case the gorgeous writing just keeps you sucked in but makes you squirm even more. How you do that.

Random aside: interesting that Jude called Kit his pet. I laughed at is as a kind of funny little quip but I wonder if it speaks to something else I'm missing (not like relationship wise haha I meant to his motivations here, especially when we later see he's kept his word).

And OKAY the ending makes me want to go ahead but I know I'll want to review so I will just be cool. Ugh.
alltheeagles chapter 18 . 6/7/2015
Rule 10 review (EF)

C’s thoughts about Jude’s appearance made me smile. I found them sweet, which is probably not a typical reaction but ah well, you already know I have a weird sense of humour. Her thoughts also echo my questions about the nature of vampirism. Just wondering if you’ll address that eventually. Vampirism (and similarly, zombies) have been explained as a virus as much as supernatural phenomenon – the writing so far suggests you favour the latter, I suppose.
Jude is now lucid, huh? Big change from earlier versions. Are you keeping the crazy narrative voice for his POV chapters? The new information on his relationship with his magic is pretty intriguing. I’d thought it was being turned that damaged his control over his magic but now it seems the rift started even before he ‘died’. Again I have questions about the nature of witches, but I won’t ask them – they aren’t the point of this story after all.
Finally, I can’t quite recall who this Benny is. Should I?
alltheeagles chapter 17 . 6/7/2015
RG EF

The description of Kit was an eye-opener – I had this mental image of him as looking like Russell Brand but now I’m getting more Benedict Cumberbatch. I like that C can now think of him in a more neutral way, rather than going I HATE SHAPERS ballistic every time she catches sight of him. I wonder what she thinks a poet should look like anyway – goatee and receding hairline? C is being rather hypocritical anyway when she talks about the shapers liking to copulate. Didn’t she admit doing that herself, or at least Pat did that?
The capitalisation is still a little bit much for me – things like Good Guy and I Can’t Do It are okay, but I find myself spending a lot of mental effort trying to work out why things like Turns and Walks Away or Take My Chances needs to be capitalised, which effort I think is not paying off when there is no pattern to the phrases chosen for this treatment. Oh well, maybe it’s just me and I’m too dumb to see the pattern... Right, that shall be the next thing for me to OCD over.
Finally, I think the boys are sweet! Judy indeed... I guess they’re used to taking orders from women and that’s why they just gave in like that to C’s demands. Anyway, what note are they talking about? Has it been mentioned somewhere before?
Electrumquill chapter 2 . 6/7/2015
Opening: My understanding of the first paragraph is that Kit is already hauled before the alpha and that he is disorientated, so has a flashback to when he first woke up. I think my personal preference would have been for the chapter to begin with the second paragraph and have the info from the first paragraph worked in to the main body of the chapter. The vampire imagery from the third paragraph would itself be a good hook.

Technique: I love your use of horrendous imagery – first and foremost with the vampires as a writhing, clawing and fluttering tangle. That really impresses on us how feral and chaotic they are. For the record, I used to have an interest in dungeons and dragons and am now going to try to fit the lawful/chaotic terminology to stories and characters more often.

It is just as well that the descriptions of the shaper’s pain have eased in this chapter. Too much of that kind of thing would eventually put the reader off. The lighter tone of the part of the chapter with Kit translating is a necessary relief from the intensity of the previous chapter.

Setting: Interesting to get a little backstory about this dystopian-fantasy world. It could either be another universe altogether or a post-apocalyptic model. It was a punchy way to get the important points of the human-witch-shaper-vampire dynamics across, with Kit’s reflections, and as credible a method as any other. How exactly the witch human hostilities developed is the most interesting unanswered question.

Enjoyment: As mentioned, I like the imagery you choose for the vampires and I will now mention certain vignettes which stood out for me. First, the awkwardness of Kit dressing in old human clothes. I like the way your imagination works in forcing a mostly bestial man into the clothing of his choice. I also appreciated knowing the type of vampirism you use – they’re zombie like. And how much of a menace the witches are and that the shapers were more refined, despite being animals.
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