Reviews for Dead Craft
Virtuella chapter 9 . 5/3/2015
The opening of this chapter made me feel as if I was thrown back to the beginning of the story, confused and disorientated, only more so. The disjointed writing produced that effect very skilfully. It became clear soon then that we were getting an insight into the tortured mind of the vampire-witch and into the way it is torn between itself and its magic. I wasn’t quite sure whether the italics were supposed to represent the voice of the magic. In some cases that seemed to fit, in others not. In any case is seems clear to me that this person is not evil in any conventional way, but utterly deranged.

The lucid moment with the memory of childhood came across very strong. To be six years younger and feel “six-years less loved” is something that would never have occurred to me, but now you mention it I can see how a child might perceive it that way. This heart-wrenching moment is then intensified by the statement that “by my first drawn breath I'd already disappointed my mother.” What a painful existence, being thus judged from birth!

I am very interested in the religious/philosophical concepts that underpin the gender issues in this story. When we hear that no boys are allowed in the house, it first seems that this is merely a custom for the time of birth, but then the older child mentions that nobody would want three boys. He is merely dropping a hint that nobody wants two either – is he trying to spare his brother’s feelings, or to subtly undermine them? A matriarchal society is indicated by the repeated mention of Gaia and of mothers, and yet all the supernatural characters appear to be male. I am very curious about this.

Something that struck me as fascinating in the last section is the dialogue between the vampire and the magic in the variations on the question, What have you done? You worked out the nuances there really well.
Jalux chapter 8 . 5/3/2015
The opening few sentences were expected, we knew she wouldn't be dead given her story has yet to run it's arc. Still I almost would like you to create a little more tension somehow (having a witch's viewpoint on her at first?) so it'd break away from the usual faint, think they're dead and then wake up. I'm kind of guilty of doing the same thing which is why I'm suggesting ideas to help with that. It's not a bad opening by any means especially since you've written it well, there's a good sense of disorientation as she wakes up and the dust is a nice touch to suggest it might have been a long time since she collapsed.

Charlotte is a tough piece of work which is to be expected given her past and her recent hardships. I'm definitely a fan of her don't take any shit attitude given in the face of someone who she knows is much stronger. There's also a seeming lack of care for her own wellbeing I feel from reading this which is pretty cool. She feels like she's got nothing to lose.

Interesting that she meets up with who I presume is Achitophel given he was also being taken away. I like this technique of how you introduced both characters and gave us their backstories before having them meet. This way we definitely feel connected to both characters. That being said I do prefer the feisty Charlotte to the cowardly Achitophel haha. It also makes me wonder what sort of connection or relationship will occur between the two of them. Given the Romance tag I'm inclined to believe they'll end up together but we'll see given she likely hates him for being a shaper.

The ending is cool, I thought it was Achitophel for a second but it's the vampire-witch who's casting the magic? It's interesting because the reader is left curious at to how a witch turns into a vampire. It also seems like he's crazy which raises the question of if our MC is in the clear yet. Tense stuff, update soon.
alltheeagles chapter 2 . 5/3/2015
RG EF review

I like that the plot has kicked in - now we know why the witches want Kit, as translator. It all makes sense, why they didn't kill him outright and why him in particular (because of his linguistic ability). I like that Kit's thoughts are now clearer, unlike the chaos of pain and fear in the previous chapter, which was frankly rather hard to make sense of. At first I wasn't sure why the witches would bother to give him clothes if they're as immodest as they are said to be, but then I saw that referring to 'decorations' a good way to bring in the humans into the narrative - gives Kit a reason to start rationalising.
alltheeagles chapter 1 . 5/2/2015
RG EF review

I've read HTD before, so I'm largely familiar with the terms used - shaping, etc. Still, I like that you don't drop us right into the terminology, so you have references like 'witch men' (to clarify that the term 'witch' is being used in a non-gender-defining sense) and the helpful 'vampires' at the end of the paragraph describing them (so we know they're not ghouls or zombies).

I also like that Kit uses shaper terms to refer to the witches, ie Alpha and pack and so on, rather than using the 'proper' terms like Grand Witch and coven or whatever. It shows that there are two distinctly different cultures here, and also shows that Kit in no way at all identifies with the witches, because I'm sure that as a poet he has a wide vocabulary and knows all about what other groups call their leaders etc.
Jalux chapter 7 . 5/2/2015
It's admirable that she wants to help other people before trying to join Patrice, I suppose my question is answered as to why she would want to keep on living. It's a solid opening from the previous chapter in my opinion as we now want to continue on to see how her journey ends and if anything can change her mind about dying. Interesting that she chose not to bury her friend, was it grief or just lack of care since she thinks she's going to join her?

I do appreciate all the extra information on shapers and witches and how they are hard to kill but more specifically what special powers they have that makes them hard to kill. It gives a better understanding of the various creatures/monsters in the world and it's pretty interesting too, especially shapers having high pain tolerance. I wonder did we really see that with Architophel? He seemed to feel pain or maybe I'm not remembering correctly. Either way the information is handled in a good way, mixed in with the action which is something I personally feel works effectively as while some might think it hurts pacing I think it's fine with a bit of action since they balance each other out so to speak.

Speaking of pacing, I think it's fairly good when you do action scenes mainly due to the use of short sentences when things get really tense. Although the main character obviously isn't going to die here there was still some tension as it's clear these witches are more then likely too much for her to handle. Good setting out of the action scenes here.

The ending is quite saddening, you actually have to wonder if she'll be happier this way being with her two friends. It's a good cliff-hanger even if we know Charlotte is most likely going to live through this although I have no idea how. Still these sort of insight into her mind shows us the extent to which she misses her friends and the shit she's been through in life generally. I think you have a strong character here in Charlotte.
HarryPotterForever3 chapter 1 . 5/1/2015
I liked it because it was extremely descriptive and drew the reader in. I feel like you are Achitophel yourself and you feel her pain. He is really struggling now. The ending really sums up her struggle and the beginning is more of her fight. I really want to know what is causing her to be in so much pain so I will continue on to chapter two.

I like the way you describe the setting with small details and I like how it is so different, and seems so real. You have a talent for writing and I hope you continue writing. I didn't read the original so don't know how it changed, but the flow seemed natural and I love how intricate your plot is. Over all great job!
m. b. whitlock chapter 6 . 5/1/2015
RG Depth #4,822

Loved this chapter! The way you introduced us to Charlotte and Patrice in the last chapter made us ready to really learn who they are/were in this one. I think gradually revealing character histories and themes is a really good technique because readers will care more about the information when they have a sense of a person and can understand and appreciate the significance of the identity-forming event(s).

In this review I will be discussing lots of aspects including the Opening, the Ending, Character, Writing/Techniques/Style, Dialogue, Relationships, and Setting. It’s all mixed up but I know you’ll get what I’m talking about. :)

I think this first line works really well:
“Patrice was the first one of us to pick up a guitar, and she was the first to suggest we start looking for a drummer.”
Everything Charlotte tells us about Patrice in this opening paragraph has a lot of resonance because we already know Patrice some at this point (like I said above). We know what she’s capable of and some of what she’s been through.

Like this line too:
“We used to be Real Rockstars before our city fell.”
But, this is a minor formatting thing, I personally wouldn’t capitalize “Real Rockstars” unless you mean the name of their band is ‘Real Rockstars’ (cause that’s how it reads to me now, might just be me…). Wondering what the name of the band is, maybe you’ll reveal…? *hoping*

Cool! You give us the name:
“We called ourselves Wealhtheow and made our own recordings.”
I love it when writers include cultural details like this. (You may have come across a few band/djs in my story, all original…). Fun! ;)

This really sets the mood, the vibe people were feeling at the time:
“Even then, it was like everyone knew this was the only time we'd get to live like this. With passion. With security.”

Sounds like punk rock to me:
“At sixteen I writhed on the floors of stages, surfed *crows* that lifted me and wrapped me with shades of magic and clamoring shouts.”
Little fix, “crows” should be ‘crowds” I think. :)

Really like Charlotte’s descriptions of her power as a singer:
“I would spin under spin lights and screech into microphones, or sing so soft I'd practically make out with them instead.”
Sounds quite authentic. Wondering if you personally have any experience as a musician…?

This bit is especially fabulous:
“We could make all the boys faint, Patrice, Lara, and I.”
Not the kind of thing you read a lot (with girls as the musicians and guys fainting) but is sooo true!

Tiny thing, maybe look for a stronger word here than “curled”:
“When the beginning of the end *curled* from the Old Main witch-ghettos, we didn't care for anything but our music.”
Could use something like ’Coiled’, ‘uncoiled’, ‘seeped’, ‘clawed’, ‘crept’, idk, it’s just ‘curled’ sounds a little too cute…? And you’ve been talking about the girls’ hair a lot and I think a contrasting term for the emergence of the witches might work better. Like burnt curls, hair gone evil… tendrils, tentacles… Okay, I’ll stop going off… It’s a teeny, minor thing.

Very effective, iconic image here:
“And then—Lara died with my voice. With Patrice's 'Lux. With her drumsticks and our strange, crazy childhoods.”
Works very well. Gets into some of the themes you’ve been weaving into Charlotte’s story so far too. The fact that Charlotte’s ‘voice’ dies with Lara is also a solid character beat you can hit for the rest of the story…

Like this:
“Not dying's the only luck we've had so far since Patrice broke Jaxon's arm.”
Charlotte has a great sense of humor and I am enjoying it a lot.

Missing pronoun:
“First time I traveled through *a* threw up at least twice, and so did Patrice.”
Think “a” should be ‘I’. :)

Little fix here too maybe:
“trudging *careful* around rotting cess pools and old landfills”

Very good dialogue in this scene:
“"Char," she says, shakily, her tears dropping. "I don't know why. I'm sorry. I don't know why I went alone. Why did I go alone?””
I like how they sound like girls here and true friends. Also, really sensing how difficult things have become for them.

Terrific action here!:
“Thunk.

Our plastic water container explodes.”
In a lot of ways this sudden violence seems a bit predictable because you had us so deep in that emotional moment and the girls were vulnerable but honestly I think it works great. Very effective and pulls me deeper into the narrative. Classic technique that never grows old IMO. And your language there is perfect, sparse, immediate. :D

Great ending!:
“I immediately search for more bullets. Wait For Me, Patti.

But I find none. Not one.”

Ready to read on!

vb,

mbw
Jalux chapter 6 . 5/1/2015
It was nice how you expanded on Charlotte's and Patrice's backstory here after showing us their predicament. This works better for me because we actually care a bit for them now because they've just been exiled and would like to learn more about them. I certainly like how the guitar brings the two together and what they achieved after. I didn't feel so much for Lara and her death I suppose because we haven't seen much of her but I wonder if that will come back to haunt the two later that their friend died. Still I definitely get the sense of just how close these two are having gone through the loss of a fellow friend and their shared love of music and having fun basically. You want to see them get to safety more or less which ends terribly as Patrice is shot down at the end. Gah, that actually sucks but I don't doubt she's dead with an arrow through her neck...

Powerful conversation, the guilt comes through nicely through Patrice's lines and shows a bit of her character maturity in that she wonders if the way she's lived her life more or less (with violence) makes her a bad person. Charlotte tries to reassure her but I definitely feel out of the two Patrice is someone who looks back on her actions while Char seems to want to move forward, simply laying the blame on the people of that town. It creates a nice dynamic and you have two good characters here I feel which is a shame as the ending ruins that. I see why you did it though, it's not bad just I liked Patrice as a character.

Going to talk a little on the world here I guess, it really seems like a terrible place and a good setting. I mean even the wolves are struggling for food. I felt this chapter showed you can never relax out in the wild or even at home for these girls it seems. It seems like the only way you can be safe is if you're someone with a lot of resources like Nikolai? Either way love all the world-building you've done.

Ending was brutal, especially when she loses it and guns down the wolves. Description of her friend's death was very vivid and quite shocking honestly. And was she trying to commit suicide at the end? It's a believable spur of the moment thing but that hit home. A great ending as now I wonder what she'll find to live for cause she clearly needs something at this point! Good chapter.
auroraglider chapter 1 . 4/30/2015
This story is very deep, if you know what I mean. It is quite different from what I normally read but I have to say, I find myself strangely attracted to it. I will continue to read, because as of late, I find that sometimes I am very intriqued and find much pleasure in things that I never thought I would. You are a very descriptive writer which I find very delightful. So to chapter 2 I go.
Jalux chapter 5 . 4/30/2015
What the? That opening certainly threw me for a loop, I mean that escalated pretty quickly from a barfight to her castrating him. Certainly I get the feeling Patrice is not to be trifled with. I think this town of Catskill though is quite intriguing to read about and you've certainly made it so by showing us aspects of the town that most people would not consider normal (rape culture for one). The history and it being a military outpost makes sense though and although it was just exposition I still liked it because the town had already caught my interest.

I'll have to admit I was confused though, before we had magic and shapers and now we have guns? I suppose it's just me thinking this was set in the medieval time but did we timeskip to a but I rarely see fiction with magic, witches and guns set in the same world so it was cool I guess. I do wonder how say a witch will do against conventional weaponry?

The ending is good, they're running on borrowed time essentially with their limited ammo and food. Obviously they can find more but there's a bit of tension in two people venturing into the world of magic and shapers/witchers with limited supplies. Interested to see how this will turn out!
LuckycoolHawk9 chapter 4 . 4/30/2015
I liked the fact that Achitophel is still trying to shape because it shows a character flaw he has and show that he is indeed in denial. I also liked how you introduced the hybrid because it comes to tell a lot about the character without giving anything away. I also love Achitophel's recurring dream because it shows how he is needed as a whole. I also really liked that ending because it leaves an awesome cliff-hanger.
LuckycoolHawk9 chapter 3 . 4/30/2015
Okay, I love how you showed what Achitophel did in the past because it showed the type of human he was, the kind who loved writing long poetry. I also like how his work being hurt was something that hurt him more than the words because it shows a strong tie that he has to his past as a whole. I also like how you revealed they had a human near them because it shows a new dynamic as a whole.
Jalux chapter 4 . 4/30/2015
I definitely liked this chapter for a multitude of reasons. I think one of the aspects that stood out to me particularly was how Achitophel or the shaper seems to have found a reason to live through the book Nikolai showed him, it's a good piece of characterization as he feels less cowardly now and we discover he has a fair amount of curiosity for the world. Also through his thoughts of escaping we get the sense that he's fairly clever so all in all I think I came away from this chapter with a much better understanding of him along with his previous talks about how humans and shapers interacted. So that pretty much addressed a gripe I had with the story before.

Writing is crisp, clean and free of grammatical errors from what I could see. I think it's a nice touch how you liken death to an old lover for him then continue to draw on that as the chapter progressed. It's a simple technique I suppose but it's executed well and provides the reader with some great imagery. I'd also agree with another reviewer and say you use the right words to describe your system of magic. It's a foreign concept basically so you need to make sure your reader understands how the magic works and what it might look like and I think you succeed on both fronts here.

Going to talk a little on the plot here, that line of Mai, brij, va hult... seems to constantly pop up and each time another piece of it seems to be revealed. It's like a puzzle that we're working through as the story moves on and it keeps us on edge as I don't believe you're explicitly shown us what these lines may mean. It does seem to suggest this shaper is someone quite special though.

Hm, curious ending. I wonder if he's actually dead, certainly the description of what happened to him would suggest so but from a narrative perspective I don't believe it makes sense for him to die here. Still there is an element of tension either way and it is a good cliff-hanger to end the chapter on. I'm inclined to say he's definitely alive given there's so much left in his story to tell (the book, the chant he keeps hearing, etc). You do feel sorry for him as well, just the last few lines of him having...a tough time. I'm hopeful after all this shit he's been through the first few chapters he'll find reprieve when we return to him (he's already kind of I suppose with his new will to live).
m. b. whitlock chapter 5 . 4/29/2015
RG Depth #4,816

So I was immediately struck by how different Charlotte’s voice sounds from Achitophel’s. I really like the contrast. It sets up a very different character from the first line. It’s a cool break, new voice, new setting, new history, and of course new perspective on this world.

I have to say I liked Charlotte pretty immediately. Her voice rings true for a girl who has lost any chance to enjoy her young adulthood but is nonetheless refusing to be defeated by the harsh reality of her life. Her devotion/sisterhood with Patrice shows how important loyalty is to her. I can’t imagine much in the world means more to Charlotte than that. Even though she may think Patrice behaved badly, the last thing she will do is abandon her.

The backstory for their expulsion is very good, gritty, original and convincing. It also really establishes these girls as quite bad*ss. I am already anticipating them knocking the f*ck out of some vampires or witch dudes.

Okay I’m going to get into notes now:

Opening:

I think the opening paragraph is terrific. Charlotte tells the story of what happened in a punchy, funny way, although we never lose the sense of how serious the situation is:
“The arm's whatever. But after she broke his arm, she castrated him.”
I became really worried for Patrice (and Charlotte) when I read this but I totally was laughing too. Good one. ;) Maybe I like this opener so much and the rest of the chapter that follows because it’s been awhile since I read about some punk rock bad*ss city slick girlfriends… Too many victimy girls in some of the stuff on FP I’ve been reading… IYKWIM ;)

Character/Voice/Writing/Techniques/Style/Plot:

Haha:
“I said she followed him because she was drunk, and what girl during The End of Days doesn't like the idea of a good deal on a brand new semi-automatic, I Mean Come On.”
Really loving Charlotte’s voice here. The irony comes through shining but it also feels grounded in necessity. I mean, you can’t be tough about sh*t if you can’t see the sick humor in epic conflict and hardship. Love how Charlotte pokes so many holes in the bullsh*t slogans and propaganda she’s been fed.

The whole castration story is very original, and even though it’s complex you tell it fluidly in a way that makes it easy for us to get it, and at the same time you keep Charlotte’s voice consistent:
“In other words, they felt Catskill's women owed them.”

Interesting development:
“Men like him can talk all they want about us being The Good Guys, but when they turn around and act like man-whore shapers, they write up a warrant for their own castration.”
Now I’m wondering why shapers are called ‘man-whores’? And I’m also wondering is the only females in this world are humans…? The witches appears to be all male, as do the vampires, and now shapers… Hmmm. Some very intriguing gender dynamics going on. (Something I’m quite into myself, so yeah, like it!)

Great description of Patrice:
“Her neck is worse—shaded with greens and deeper purples.”
Interesting that you chose the name ’Patrice’ for this character. It makes me think of ‘patriarchy’ and fathers and stuff… cute irony that makes sure Jaxon will never be one.

‘Quaintest’ is an interesting word choice here:
“Wonderland's Quaintest Creatures of All.”
‘Quaint’ has a precious quality about it to my ears. It’s a little too cutesy…maybe…?

Like this:
“Those luxuries, when you're here for awhile living some semblance of the life you used to—they can take the edge right out of your game.”
This gives me an idea of what Charlotte and Patrice have had to deal with up until this moment. I bet they’ve faced some serious sh*t. I am also liking how Charlotte takes pride and some pleasure in her life as a warrior.

“Witches, I've danced with. Vampires, in droves. Shapers—my skin crawls.”
Wondering what Charlotte and Patrice’s deal with shapers is all about… Good stuff, getting into the plot and wondering about things.

Really cool, epic, Western-esque ending image:
“Patrice and I turn for the woods, pistols strapped to our thighs.”

Psyched to read on!

vb,

mbw
Virtuella chapter 8 . 4/28/2015
This is a very strong chapter and I like how various elements from the earlier chapters come together and the two (presumably) main characters meet. It is interesting that in witch captivity Charlotte’s voice is beginning to sound similar to Architophel’s. If that voice is an effect of witch captivity, then it means that Architophel also has another, more personal voice which we might get to hear later.

The brief flashback to Charlotte’s previous experience in jail in “Happier Days” is effective and shows how close in time the old world still is. Her teenage expression of “totally wicked” contrast with the grim present. The shadows creeping up the wall even when the witches don’t move are very creepy indeed.

The speeches given by the leader – presumably Nikolai from the earlier chapters? – read like a nightmarishly twisted version of stuff we might hear in the real world from the less sane political and religious leaders. Again a smart nod at reality. I like how Charlotte keeps giving the various reasons as to why witches are The Worst, only to claim minutes later that shapers are REALLY The Worst.

“being Not Dead means I've got to do The Right Thing like the Good Gal I Am” This is a hard-hitting sentence. In a post-apocalyptic world like this, being alive at all must pose impossible moral demands.
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