Reviews for Dead Craft
Anihyr Moonstar chapter 4 . 5/29/2015
Ah, the lovely thing about having already read through prior versions of this is that I pick up on things I didn’t before and immediately leap to guesses about who is who even if they haven’t been introduced yet. As soon as the scene in the last chapter came up with the image of the woman soaked in blood and the ‘Please, I want my mother…’ I was like, that *has* to be Jude, and in this opening I immediately assume the ‘bitch’ is Charlotte waving around her badassery and sticking people with knives. Cool to spot hints of her and have little nuggets of to-come characters wound into the early scenes.

I think I mentioned in just my last review how much I love the way witch magic seems to toe the line between the physical and something else. The scene here where Kit is drenched in ‘cold blood’ and the analogy of that magic continues I think is especially powerful - and bone-chillingly creepy. It makes a heavy mental visual image as well as having a sensory impact, and that it ends with an almost ‘drowning’ sensation drives home the horror element of it all.

I always feel bad for Kit when he tries to shape. It comes off almost like electroshock therapy or something - go to do something that’s so natural and suddenly pain jolting down to your bones. Poor baby.

“I taste the sound of the dead.” - Really love that line. Poetic and blurring the lines of the senses, which seems apt since that’s happening a lot to Kit in this moment between drowning on blood that isn’t there and being bound up in magic.

“…inhaling and exhaling witch magic as thick as I imagine breathing water might feel.” Greattt description. And again, it feels like it fits right in with what I was already basically trying to imagine for Kit, dealing with the blood magic in the air.

“I wonder how much of it is willed into their inseparable bond—how much of it could autonomously act out of turn if not kept in check.” Duuuude - well, this is a cool thought. I feel like I should have anticipated it since I seem to remember that Jude’s magic had a semi-separate self in the previous versions also, and it’s really all that’s keeping him *somewhat* ‘sane’ - term used loosely? But in any case, I really like the idea that the magic is almost its own thing, since that feels really in keeping with how its already been described - not quite physical but almost, expressing emotions, readable, thick and malleable but not quite like anything else. Anyway, very neat plot reveal.

Very enjoyable chapter. The whole interplay between Jude and Kit felt intense, teetering on a knife’s blade so to speak, and Jude has always fascinated me so it’s cool to meet him - even if he’s unnamed as of yet. I look forward to seeing him get more face time.

It also felt really well-paced on the whole. Quick and engaging, like I was holding my breath right alongside poor Kit and once things got going between him and Jude, you can’t tear your eyes away from the page - as though if you do, something terrible will happen the moment you blink.

- Moonstar
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 2 . 5/29/2015
I'm terribly slow reading this - I'll apologise. Life is not being fun; life is being amazingly annoying at the moment XD. I’m not going to waste a lot of words on how well you write: this is more refined than the original, and I feel you’ve cut down a lot of words, which results in more flowing prose. Rather than all that, I’d really like to talk about the prose and the world-building so far, because I think you’re dropping us even more hints now :D So, I rather like this idea of there being a war between humans, vampires and witches, with the shapers being somehow caught in the middle it seems.

It not only speaks of a crapsack world, but an extremely dangerous one where witches seem to be surprisingly evil and callous – torturing their victims, keeping them alive for longer than necessary. I think this was nicely indicated in the scene with the vampire that was ‘allowed to escape’. Architopel’s horror at how that vampire was treated – punished and tortured needlessly – I think served as a very good commentary on just how dangerous these witches are. But they are also in danger themselves, as is indicated by them needing Architopel as a translator. Whatever is going on behind the scenes is something huge and rather terrifying, and I like how this chapter is already hinting at that.

Hmm, I’m going to say that the shapers aren’t necessarily more benevolent than the witches in their attitudes towards humans, but at least, they’re not all too keen on genocide, as Architopel states. Rather, I like how Architopel simply states that humans and shapers are just perfectly indifferent of each other, with the indifference ensuring that they both just stay away from each other. It really marks a curious contrast to the hatred that witches are implied to have towards humans. I rather like that you have so many different perspectives and agendas going on; it already sets the scene for a much longer and complex plot. I know that you're worried about plot, but I don't think you're doing badly at all so far.

More than anything though, I’m really curious as to what kind of world this is set in: some kind of alternate universe where magic abounds, and vampires are slowly taking over? I don’t know, but I’m agree to find out :3
alltheeagles chapter 11 . 5/28/2015
There is a stronger sense of Jude's attraction to C this time around, and it seems to be reciprocated. I don't recall that from before, but anyway I like it. I think Jude and C go together well - she obviously steadies him and he can, well, protect her if he remembers not to eat her. Yeah, you probably don't want a shipper for this story but just humour me, okay?

I like your approach of having Jude be lucid when he's at peace with his magic. I think that helps you narrate more efficiently than having him as an incoherent mess most of the time. That magic of his is almost becoming a character by itself it's so distinct from him.

Finally I like that you've pulled all the threads together in this chapter, like kind of a summary - what Kit read in prison, what happened to C on the way there, and the story of what happened to Jude's family. I don't find it repetitive, and it's useful to confirm or disprove any theories that readers might have generated on their own so far.
Jalux chapter 16 . 5/27/2015
I was a little surprised at Charlotte's new found determination but I liked it. She seems to have found something to fight for once again and her kind of tough persona has returned. I do like the stark contrast between her and Achitophel and how she seems quite capable and brave and he seems really timid. I think I mentioned this before but yeah I noticed it here especially when she mentions it's like she shot him even though she didn't or when she tells the prince he's a coward. Her hostility to both the shaper and the prince is expected but I can see her eventually finding new people to trust in because to the reader she comes off as quite brash and a little rude at the moment (which is both understandable and relatable even Patrice's death and the shit she's in).

This Coven sounds interesting, I wonder what their goal is. We still don't know a whole lot about witches and what they're after so I liked that added bit of suspense. Having your villains be mysterious is always effective and keeping the reader guessing and I'm curious as to whether they're the "main antagonists" or just some small obstacle for our heroes.

I think Charlotte's questioning of the prince was effective enough. Her use of firearms and his defiance made the scene more believable to me so when he did impart the names. Still I almost want you to switch up freakshow with something similar once in a bit. Even freak could work maybe?

I liked the ending where the prince describes Achitophel to her, it's something we kind of now that he is special or at least was special. I'm still curious at to why he doesn't seem to give off this vibe of a master strategist. Is it just me not reading it or is it intentional? Either way it's interesting haha.
Anihyr Moonstar chapter 3 . 5/26/2015
Opening: I love the opening scene insofar as it really emphasizes again the conditions Kit’s been put through/is living in. You can feel his hunger (poor bby) and it just makes you want to give him a warm bath and wrap him up in soft blankets and feed him and brush him and…

Well, that might just be me. But I *do* think the description of him wolfing down his food comes off very powerfully and inspires sympathy for Kit.

Scene: That second scene right off the bat with the shaper language and the imagery of the body in the arms soaked in blood really stood out. You managed a combination between something twisted (the opening sentences of something ‘ill’ and it crawling in his ear like a ‘worm’) with something almost tender/innocent (the want for a mother, and the sound being so ‘small’). In a single short paragraph I think you paint a vivid tragedy, and Kit jerking up and howling in the next paragraph cements that imagery really well.

Other (?): “In the swell of our silence, I just make out his magic stifling down an aura of strange knotted sadness—and fear. I blink. I wonder what Nikolai fears.” I have probably mentioned it in reviews past, but I love the way you handle magic for this world. Rune magic has always been one of my favorite concepts to play with, but I also love unique ways of having the magic described almost but not quite as an entity all its own, whether that be raw energy or some physical form. In this case, the idea that a witch’s magic is personal to them and, when seeping out, can give an aura of that person’s inner emotions, is a favorite ‘trope’ I suppose, and I think it really added to the atmosphere of this scene, giving us a tiny, ‘human’, glimpse of Nikolai and adding his emotions to the mood.

Ending: Dun-dun-dun. “Last meal” - how poetic - you should be grateful, Kit? You get to be the bread and wine of vampire Jesus’ last meal. Ahem. I actually especially like the balance to this chapter as far as the beginning and that ending go - they work together. The ominousness of being “taken below” introduced in the opening scene, and then Kit getting to figure out exactly what that means at the closing of the chapter (or, the lead in to him experiencing it). Nicely structured, and great bait for leaving the reader to want to see what happens to the poor fox.

- Moonstar
Anihyr Moonstar chapter 2 . 5/26/2015
Imagery: “I see the writhing, fluttering tangle of vampires…” I love this description. It makes them sound almost like a sea of angry, hissing bats - the ‘fluttering’ in particular - and emphasizes their primal/chaotic temperment. The way you describe Kit’s pain, too, when he tries to shape, the rune magic like hooking barbs into his bones, is chilling and stark.

Dialogue: You use dialogue so sparingly, so it always comes off as standing out when it does appear. In this case in particular, though, I think that has the added effect of emphasizing Kit’s loneliness, trapped with just himself for company and enemies everywhere, as well as making the words themselves almost…jarring, but not in a bad way? Basically just adding to the atmosphere of most every ‘dialogue’ here feeling more like an interrogation - Kit entirely helpless and bare and the other half of the convo sharp and unwelcome.

Scene: I have to admit, I’m a little confused by the actual translation scene, where Kit finds out that the things he’s supposed to be translating are written by humans and not shapers. I re-read it a couple times, and I feel like he was trying to make a moral choice between revealing the humans and their code or writing down literal translation and hiding that knowledge of his. What I don’t understand is which choice he made at the end. I *think* he writes down a literal translation? But that might be just me hoping that Kit won’t rat out the humans and get them killed by witches even though he doesn’t care much for them one way or the other?

Plot: I enjoyed the way you worked in some shaper/human history into this chapter, though. Another little tidbit to add depth to the web of relationships that your various fantasy world races have, and it was a very smooth insertion that fit in soundly at that moment.

- Moonstar
Anihyr Moonstar chapter 1 . 5/26/2015
Ah, Kit. I still remember you, poor thing, and it seems like you haven't changed much. Still so pitiful and needing of love and attention. I think you do a great job, as usual, of getting across a character fast, vivid, and personal. Your word choice for both his direct actions and his narrative style all seem to emphasize his skittish, tortured and panicked state in the opening chapter and he immediately instills sympathy in the reader.

Your writing style in general has always impressed me in both its detail and poetic rhythm. Even though you write prose, the sentences you build always seem to push the limits of word use and structure in cool ways that allow you to give off a very unique vibe to your audience. It also forces my eyes (which have trained themselves over years of college, unfortunately, to start to skim on instinct) to slow down and absorb every word because otherwise, I won’t process what I’m reading properly.

I think the opening does a very effective job of immediately nabbing the reader’s attention, starting right off the bat with action and powerful description (and I’m always a fan of cutting to the chase in an opening). It also sets the stage well as far as introducing key elements to your fantasy world - shifters and witches. One of the most fun but also challenging things in fantasy, I think, is delivering your world to the audience in a way that they want to absorb it, so not too much at once, but also enough that they aren’t lost, and you manage to string in a lot about shaping, witch magic, and the interplay there.

And plot/other(?) - I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, maybe I have, but I really love the way you grapple with the three such typically cliche concepts and make them your own. A fantasy with werewolves and vampires (less so witches, I guess, but still), immediately comes heaped with so many potential overdone ideas, but you turn them into something else entirely, which is wickedly cool.

- Moonstar
Electrumquill chapter 1 . 5/26/2015
OK an in depth review:

Opening: Wow this was an intense beginning, uncompromisingly vivid and brutal imagery. You make Kit animalistic right away… I approve. I like the graphic touches of his heaving up hot bile and the notion that the rune band is worse than a killing blow. Certainly sets up an ominous scenario. The pure pain of the binding spell really drives home what it’s like for a shape shifter to lose his magic.

Technique: That brings me on to technique. The first part of the chapter is a total sensory immersion first person narrative and it does grab the reader’s attention. I approve of how the writing is shaped to Kit’s suffering. Such as when in the third paragraph, the taunts become single words in reported speech and then when bound, he’s tangled in a webbing of thorn and bramble. You certainly have a vivid imagination for what these shape shifters can sense and how they can be hurt.

I suppose the paragraph at the end with Kit describing his wasted human form reinforces it. He’s come a long way downhill if he prefers being a fox to being a man. The use of truncated sentences is suitable for extreme scenarios. As long as you don’t overuse the technique it gives graphic suffering more zest and piquancy.

Enjoyment. I do enjoy your writing style very much and I am quite interested in where the story will go. Parts which stick out most for me are the images of Kit being reduced to the fetal position and then the eerie description of the witch’s prison. Although personally I don’t think I would write about vampires anymore, given that so many other writers do, I do appreciate the way you portray them in their frenzied state brrrr. I also enjoy the notion of Kit’s human form wasting away due to his not using it. Makes perfect sense.

Ending: As punchy and uncompromising as the opening, we actually learn a bit about Kit’s character as well. So he preferred being a fox because foxes can’t really feel guilt like humans can? I wonder what he’s done. Your prose echoes the style of the opening as well and I quite like a cyclical structure in a chapter.

Other: Overall. I can tell you have worked hard on crafting this prose. It’s not just the imagery that’s carefully crafted, it’s the shape of your sentences as well. I admire the enthusiasm you have given to your story and am green as my heroines with envy at your will power in putting in so much work. Would that I can focus like you do. I can tell that if anyone has a high tolerance for the gruesome and the horrifying (as per Stephen King’s definitions) your story is a must read.
pumadelic chapter 6 . 5/26/2015
This feels a bit rougher than the previous chapter and does actually need some proofing in places - eg 'It wasn't you fault' and 'your not a rapist' instead of 'you're not a rapist'.

Opening. Nothing better than women rocking out in my book. It's great to get the backstory on these rriot girls. Although it's lively, it's also a bit cliched - the insert about 'blacklighting' the ids adds an original world-building touch. 'We lived by the lyrics we hyped' doesn't quite ring true. Details of what they wore work better. So it might have been good to have a few actual lyrics here, or to describe the variety of venues they gigged in..just more touches of individuality to make the rock experience come alive.

Plot/technique/Setting

You convey the experience of being on the run well, with some good world building details such as the clarifying pills along with more familiar setting fare like takeaway cartons which grounds the story. We're being given more and more indications of a frontier like environment where the human elements have been eroded by witches and vampires. I'm not quite sure what the Good Guy's rot is but I'm presuming some kind of grim pollution. The shot that gets Patrice does come as a surprise as the water containers are used well as a warning of what's to come. I think the capitalisations don't really achieve anything, especially Not A Good Death. Somehow the shoot out does not really grip because there is a lack of the staccato rhythm and descriptive language you've had in other chapters.

Relationships

This comes across well. Patrice and Charlotte go way back and they have an instinctive trust of each other. Patrice's vulnerability is quite moving as it is a new aspect to her but very believable. It is unfortunate that the girl's very brief lapse into this kind of emotion is followed by one of them being picked off. You may mean that as a deliberate comment on how tough they need to be to survive in this environment.

Ending

the wolves transformation is effective and I liked the line 'their bodies are so starved they already look like rotting corpses.'

You have a cliffhanger ..can Charlotte save Patti? I think the reader likes them enough to be invested in this.

Again, I don't see the point of capitalising 'Still Alive.'
alltheeagles chapter 10 . 5/25/2015
RG EF

I liked Kit's astute observation that Jude is now a mindful(?) vampire - it puts the vamps into perspective. Usually the vamps are the cold, smart, calculative characters but here they're more like zombies. His second observation, that C is running from him, I found it funny somehow, even if cognitively I know that this is not supposed to be funny. Ditto the 'what's wrong with you' exchange. Dunno what you did to tickle my funny bone. So anyway, yay, Kit's found his mojo and it can be attributed to C too. It's like, she's the muse for both of them.

Language: PEDAL not peddle
LuckycoolHawk9 chapter 9 . 5/25/2015
I liked the reptition in this chapter a lot because it comes to reflect the mental state of Jude and makes the piece even more engaging. I also liked how you sent him up as the unwanted child because it tells a lot about how he has become the way he is and why no one cares. I also love the ending also because it shows how much of a monster he had become. Great chapter.
Shampoo Suicide chapter 14 . 5/25/2015
I must have read this already without reviewing because the opening feels very familiar haha. It's similar to the dreaminess of the last chapter, too, though far more obvious that this is actually dreams being recalled/described. I love the way Kit refers to his normal form as namesake a lot, it adds a weird personal touch to it rather than constantly thinking of it as only the corporeal form of what he's supposed to be, you know? It's like HIM it's who he is not just his body. It really establishes that being shaped into something else is not ideal or even nearly the same as being what he's supposed to be. Very cool.

I love love the structure you've played with here, so much. The sentences throughout were choppier and in keeping with his more confused/stream of conscious like narrative but also the way the smaller sections broke down into these one line paragraphs and formed this really poetic structure was so cool to read/see. I loved the way you played with repetition throughout and in these parts especially, as well. I really like focusing on your language and stylistic tricks because I, personally, don't think you give yourself enough credit for them!

So, a lot kind of happened here, especially compared to the more subdued last chapter. But what I liked about it, and how it was laid out, is how it shows just how distinct the story is told through these different viewpoints. Like Charlotte's narration is more streamlined and you always get a better sense of the action, where here, for example, it shows how Kit tends to focus more on the effects and pain, physical and mental, of everything going on. Again, love the glimpses of Jude through other POVs and the continued mention of Ruth who I'm excited to see expanded upon!

I enjoyed this bit a lot. You gave the reader a really good sense of Kit's internal mood and that in turn helped establish the bleakness of the setting/mood otherwise. Very cool. I love that, for me anyway, the dreamy feel of the opening sort of followed so that everything, even as I knew he was awake, felt both hyperreal and yet surreal like nightmares often do. Don't know if that was intended but I liked it!
Virtuella chapter 14 . 5/25/2015
I found the opening very effective, the dream sequence with the repeated false awakenings. I like the way the imagery links to the elements and the systolic/diastolic aspect of the ebbing in and out. It feels very organic.

Then the memory of the former lover and the stark and disturbing image of cutting off his fingers – makes me wonder if it would be possible to free himself that way. You make such good use of repetition and parallelism.

I noticed repeated mentioning of curves and bends, not sure if this is significant or just coincidence? It could connect with the way the plot twists and turns and the characters are unable to see far in advance.

The invasion of the vampires in extremely creepy. Probably because he catches the first glimpse of them when he is still stunned from his sleep, and also because they are not identified as vampires until later.

“The shaper I used to be” Here is another little piece of the jigsaw. I like how we get to reconstruct the past little by little but never quite distinctly. It gives a feeling of depth and mystery.

I was confused at the end about the vision of the woman, who she was supposed to be and whether or not she was real. I assume this is something we’ll find out about later.
Jalux chapter 15 . 5/25/2015
So Achitophel finally reunites with Charlotte? I'm inclined to believe it's her despite the fact her name is not mentioned at all due to the guns she carries and Achitophel's reaction to her. Exciting stuff, I was quite curious to see her giving him orders and wondered if any trace of Achitophel's former strategist mind remained in him? He seems quite content with following orders rather then formulating plans so I wonder if he simply doesn't remember much of his past anymore.

Writing is quite good across the board, the actions in particular are quite noteworthy here. Nice blending of the dialogue and use of short sentences. Some of it is pretty standard I suppose as far as writing goes but I think the execution is excellent. And I thought the use of repetition in this chapter was a vast improvement over the last chapter. Maybe it was the action but it just clicked better for me.

The ending leaves us on a solid cliff-hanger. It works I feel because the prince has shown us a wealth of powers and we can't be certain whether he'll die from this or not. I was a little surprised he went down like that but that's a strong point in itself. Sometimes it's nice to surprise the reader when it comes to "fights" since you make subsequent fights more interesting if you're unpredictable.

I definitely liked this chapter, not a whole lot of plot but it was made up for by a tonne of action. I believe our main characters have reunited so yeah I found that fairly cool too, I'd assume we're swapping over to Charlotte now and if anything the transition is smooth if you do choose to transition here (which you did). So quite enjoyable.
alltheeagles chapter 9 . 5/24/2015
RG EF
I'll start off by saying that I was really apprehensive about Jude's chapters since it's supposed to represent a fragmented, imbalanced mind and I remember being confused out of my head the last time I read it. Well, it's not too bad, really - I can still catch the main message amidst all the confusion. I think it's smart of you to limit his POVs to one chapter at a time. It was also smart to have the 'normal' flashback section as a respite from the general crazy, and also he's a lot more lucid in those sections. The chapter further clarifies the relationship between Jude and his magic to a certain extent, though I'm still not that sure if the magic is an inborn instinctive ability or if it has to be learned by those with magical potential. Also not sure who the 'she' in the last bit is, his mother or Charlotte? Or his magic even?
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