Reviews for Under a blue-grey sky
Jalux chapter 1 . 8/7/2015
I really liked the opening in this one, I think it was well written but the main hook for me was what the neurite it was describing because it was so vague. I also enjoyed how subtle some of the world building was and how you slotted exposition nicely into the story so it never felt like an info dump. One small criticism I have is that I really didn't get a feel for the main character but I suspect I just need to read more.
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 2 . 8/5/2015
I read this one a while ago, but I was too tired to comment. Now I'm sort of too anxious/nervous/annoyed by RL troubles to respond properly, but I remember liking this (just I'm reviewing my memory - I hope that's fine with you? :D) This won't be my best review, though - I'm really sorry XD I may have forgotten some important things that caught my attention while this chapter was fresher in my mind XD

I recall the writing being very fluid and rereading of the last scene reminded of that: it flows, and reading this easy and fun because of the fluid, smooth prose. I feel that you've become far more comfortable with first person POV and balancing those various experimental-ish thingies with your prose :) A good narrative is always something that gets me into a piece, so you're doing right on that front.

I really enjoyed reading about Cray's day job: I can actually see where your 'Bellmaker' influence stems from but beyond that, it's just nice to see how nicely you opened this chapter (with the tunes of his craft). It was a beautiful introduction and also set a good motion in wave to demonstrate how close Cray and his father are. I was actually pretty touched by how much Cray's Dad cares for him and vice versa - heartwarming in the light of those attacks (re: chapter 1) and tragic considering that they lost Cresta. I think that the emotion was very genuine and realistic - definitely something that surprised me and grabbed my attention :) I'd like to see more interactions Cray and his Dad. Moreover, what I also liked how you gave us more insight into this world re: the job scene: how it was a world broken up into districts that all served one particular one - I can see the 'Hunger Games' influence here, but it's not overt and you're weaving your own story and building your own world here. I'm especially enjoying this, because of how you mention 'the lady' and those people she hires to do her dirty work.

Haydlen - I like the dude, because of how he actually is so much polite when Cray's Dad is around. You can tell how much he annoys Cray, but how they are still undauntedly close, which ...actually to what I want to talk about - that scene where Haydlen pretends that Cray is Cresta is :D :D but also utterly tragic. I'd usually put my slash googles on and say I 'ship this', but I'm not sure if I can accept a ship where Cray just acts a substitute for a girl that's gone. Still: I like the tragic-sad aspect of it because it softens Haydlen's character and leaves so much room for more angst :) I guess I'd very interested in a slashy version of this story :P
Electrumquill chapter 2 . 8/4/2015
I would be interested to know how routes to employment work in this world. In a bygone era, girls were expected to train to be home makers. Is Cray training to be a blacksmith because she cannot expect to be married, or is this world a mix of ancient and modern? You explain the structure of villages and districts well and what their economies are based on. I still want to know about the precious metal smiths though.

Regarding Cray: I sense a lot of bitterness suppressed in her. That is perfectly understandable. Certainly her bitterness against Haylden is understandable, but her hatred of Cresta would indicate very deep emotional turmoil. I think she is scarred worse on the inside. The poignancy of her dad’s response to the mention of snatchers does show the impression that past events have made on him. It might actually have messed Cray up more though.

I do wonder what Haylden’s motivation really was in bearing gifts to the forge. Was he hoping that Cray could somehow stand in for Cresta or was that just spur of the moment. This impact of the loss of Cresta is definitely more disturbing than the impact shown on her father, although not necessarily more poignant.

Other details I like were the honeycomb as a delicacy – that is a detail which makes the whole setting more primitive and Haylden’s magpie type tendency to take trinkets from the Lady’s lair. I suppose she puts up with it because she is satisfied with how much he is damaged already.
Ventracere chapter 2 . 8/1/2015
Opening: woops. I messed up in the previous chapter - I had thought those were flashbacks, sorry about that! Here we get the interaction between she and her father. It's a touching moment and we get to see a bit more as to how Cresta's kidnapping has an impact on their small family. But the quip about how she hates Cresta sometimes. I've got a feeling that it as to do with the fact that her face is a reminder to what they've lost.

Quick little note - I think you only do this once, but for the most part you've referred to her father as "papa" there's once instance in the beginning when she refers to him as father, perhaps change it to "papa" to keep things consistent?

Relationship between Halyden and Cray is definitely an interesting one. I feel like they have a love and hate friendship? They're connected by Cresta's lost, yet at the same time, Halyden has turned "into a monster" considering the previous chapter of him laughing at her predicament and him now apologizing in this chapter. It's throwing me into quite a loop. Cray is obviously nice to him, even though she is a bit tentative around him.

The scene where Halyden confuses Cray with Cresta hurt. I think that's the worst part, and it highlights what they've all lost and what Cray has to deal with. You underscore that Halyden truly cared for Cresta, and his mistaking Cray for Cresta emphasizes the longing for what he's lost. And the fact that Cray is frozen, can't bring herself to stop him is something that intrigues me. Why doesn't she stop him? She's rattled by that soft smile - why? I think there's something more that we're not seeing.

Ending: That last line packs a punch. "Even though I know that no matter how fast and how far I run, I can never run away from my past." The thing is, she lingers as much as she runs. It encaptures the last two chapters perfectly. She's haunted by Cresta's face, with how others act around her. And she herself, is at fault for that.

Thanks for the read!
Electrumquill chapter 1 . 8/1/2015
Opening: Graphic description of Cray’s scar. I think her perception on being scarred would vary according to exactly when she was scarred. One gets the impression right away that she remembers having an intact face which of course makes her disfigurement sting all the more. I see the format starting out is alternating between Cray’s info about herself and the bumbling mercenaries attacking her. On first reading it was just a tiny bit disorientating, but I do see the purpose now. We have to know what she looks like for the mercenaries’ reaction to make sense.

Technique and setting: I’ve decided that Cray’s way of measuring out information about herself and the world in question works well, on balance. She describes her own scar well, as she ought to. The details of the mercenaries are given naturally enough, with their broken common tongue and whose employ they are in. However, the moment silver is mentioned I become pedantic about knowing the currency. I like the irony of this line though: “completely loyal as long as her silver continues to flow.” Cray and Haylden are definitely mutually antagonistic. Obviously she doesn’t think being mad is an excuse for working for the villain. He is to be pitied, since he is injured so much worse than she is.

I notice that Cray has snapping turtles in mind when thinking of a simile for something that snaps. So this is set in an alternate US where the timeline branched off more recently than the 17th century?

Character: Everything is viewed through the Cray prism, so it’s necessary to start with her. I actually like her sense of self-detachment as it were. Although very far out of her depths with the mercenaries, she doesn’t go into a total funk. That alone is impressive in the circumstances. Her snarkiness worked best when she was wondering whether she could conceal her scar in a certain light the adds that she “tells” herself that. It seemed almost cruel to Haylden, but I suppose working for the villain wouldn’t impress her, whatever the reasoning behind it. Haylden has a very dry sense of humour as well. He can deadpan about his “wondrous beauty.” I wonder how Cray would deal with being maimed – as well as disfigured – like he is.

Ending: I wonder why Hayden does work for the baddie. Is he mad, or does he have a scheme for retribution in mind? It was the right decision, to save up the information about Cresta to the end as well. It gives more poignancy to the parting question, “what becomes of those snatched.”
cud-b-better chapter 1 . 7/31/2015
A nice start although to be honest I was a bit confused at the beginning I can't even tell whether the character is male or female. But well done with the descriptions you've set the foundations for a good story, an attempted kidnapping right from the word go. Wonder just what the deal is, and if this Lady is so messed up why wouldn't the people just unite against her?

I wonder just how this will all unfold.
Ventracere chapter 1 . 7/31/2015
Opening: oh man. You start up mysterious, but it's also blatantly obvious what you're talking about, if that makes any sense? Something I liked is how right from the get go, you establish that the protagonist is a pariah because of the scars on her face. It makes her unique, especially considering your summary that it's her beauty that got her in this place. The section section of the chapter flushes it out a bit, detailing her capture and her fight.

Technique: something I liked is the constant bouncing back and forth of the narrative. We get her present day description of herself, of her watching the mirror and describing the scar marring her face. Then we get her "downfall" of sorts on the response to her scars. We get to see how everything came to be, and it's not that easy. It's not that she just got attacked, there's a story behind it, much bigger than I imagined it to be. Nice!

Pacing: The pacing is rather constant. There's not a big punch of action or anything too big to shock your readers. And that's a good thing. I especially liked how you didn't rush this, since you gave us a clear idea of where you were going with this. There's a clear distinction of who is going to be involved - Haylden and everything that started it all, Cresta's kidnapping. Without having too slow of a pace or rushing through things, you ease us into the protagonist's predicament.

Ending: Heyo. You leave us with a scene of what makes my eyebrows raise. Like I said previously, you introduce the main antagonist into the piece Haylden, and I really want to know where this all leads. It's a quick and easy hook, to leave us with a scene that I want to see how damaged they have all become. Which goes to say, you paint Halyden in a nice, yet, terrible light. Just how damaged he has become due to Cresta's kidnapping is something altogether.

Thanks for the read!
BeeSkeez chapter 2 . 7/30/2015
This is my first experience with the review game, and I have to admit I was a bit tentative, because I wasn't sure what kind of quality the writing of the stories would be. I am so pleasantly surprised by your story!

I thought your intro was fantastic. Honestly, I find it difficult to explain exactly what it was that I liked about the way you described the scar. The idea of Cray feeling like it was taking over her face was just strangely easy to relate to. I think everyone's been there, where there's something wrong with them and they think that's all people notice, and for her that's even more the case. The way you described was a perfect balance of self-conscious without becoming melodramatic. Plus it makes her a more interesting character, because she's not just your typical flawless girl. I also loved it as a way of explaining the whole world that she lives in - this world where being perfect is a bad thing, because it can get you killed. It was a really flawless way of integrating that backstory with your character, rather than having awkward exposition just hovering around like so often happens with fantasy stories set in a markedly different world.

Having said this, I did find the initial way you had broken up the story to be a bit confusing. I don't know if this is because I'm tired, or because it was the first time reading it, so I'm not sure how valid this criticism is, but I did find the cut between the discussion on the scar to whoever the guys were who she ran into, to be quite awkward. It was hard for me to follow, and personally, i think you might be better off shifting things around a bit, so the whole scar story is first, then the almost getting snatched story. On the other hand, I can totally understand the benefit of cutting it up a bit, and kind of revealing things bit by bit to the reader, so I would say just go with your gut on how to chop and change that bit of the story.

I will say the chapter are very short. I think it could potentially be improved by adding a bit more length to the chapters, particularly if you are planning to change POV (unless I misunderstood your author's note). In my opinion, this just gives a bit more scope for engaging with the particular characters before having to shift to a new person. This said, if you are just going to stick with having Cray as the only narrator (which I would not have any issue with at all, as I'll talk about in a second), then I guess length doesn't really matter.

As characters go, I really liked Cray. Like I said before, I felt like the scar gave her this wonderful depth, that you don't find all that often. Like, the calm acceptance of the fact that her parents have scarred her out of love, to keep her from having the same thing happened that happened to Cresta is a very mature thing for her to feel. And I find Haylden fascinating. it's hard to say why, just as soon as you were explaining about his job, what he does now, how he was betrothed to Cresta... it all just seemed like there was so much more to say about him. Out of everyone, he's the one I'm most intrigued by. I really like those kind of weird, mysterious characters who aren't just mysterious because they're really surly and sit in dark corners wearing hoods haha.

Last thing, just quickly; I love this world. It seems to have so much scope, and because it's so original I have no idea what to expect from it. I really can't wait to see where you take it, and to learn more. in particular the whole being snatched thing, has been set up so well.

Looking forward to the next update,
O.T.A chapter 2 . 7/26/2015
I didn't see that coming. Haylden's grief has lead him to see Cray as Cresta (the two share the same face).

The opening of the chapter starts to tie the story together. You have a lady that rules over the villagers and kidnaps beautiful people. And then you have this love song. At first, I thought of Cresta and her betrothed, but the "in my eyes part, there's only you" doesn't match up. Does that mean there's only that person's face? Or does that mean there's only that person underneath the face?

The scene that stood out to me was with the father. The fear of losing a child. The explanation about the kingdom and mentions of politics. The way people are acting after losing someone is realistic. They are grieving. They feel helpless and fearful.

I liked that there was less breaks in between the chapter. It flowed a little better than the previous chapter. The writing is well written and enjoyable to read. And I really like the first person POV in the story.
O.T.A chapter 1 . 7/26/2015
The opening was extremely eye catching. The first sentence is isolated and stood out. "It's taken over my face." I wanted to know what "it" was the moment I read that sentence. The scene that stood out to me was the part where the Snatchers wouldn't take him because he wasn't beautiful enough. I think that's a great opening to the story. It tells a lot without explaining too much.

But I was confused at the breaks in the story. Each was well written, and I liked the writing style, but I felt distracted by the many breaks in between. I felt like I was starting a story that abruptly ended and was starting another story that abruptly ended.

The characters also stood out. The dialogue was realistic and the description beside the dialogue helped me imagine the characters' personalities, behaviors, and actions. You also get a brief history on the relationships that may be visited later on in the stories (the older sister and her fiancee).
Hedonistic Opportunist chapter 1 . 7/24/2015
Promising start - and no, I've not read the old version of the story before (it generally doesn't interest me to read the original version once the rewrite is up :) Why would I read something that's most likely not going to be as polished as the rewrite :D?).

One thing I picked up immediately is that the writing style for this shaper than your other works: there's little experimentation in terms of POV, and I found the first person POV to be a lot more straightforward in this than some of your other works. I think it's a great improvement, and I thank your secret work for this; it makes the piece a lot more easy to read, and also helps make the voice of the narrator more authentic. It's also rendered more authentic, the voice that is, by how natural the narrator sounds: he's got something of a bittersweet, edgy and casual voice that renders him sympathetic but not over-dramatic. He's somewhat resigned to his face, and has accepted that he's going to remain like this. I like that, because it makes him an interesting character, and also fits the darker tone of this story. I also like the narrator for being sarcastic, rebutting Haylden for not helping out, and reflecting on how dark the man is; it shows how lonely he is though - forced to hang out with a man like this.

Also, Haylden's backstory is super sad though, which I think is reflected in how he behaves towards the narrator: there's a touch of concern underneath all that sarcasm. And craziness. I like it, obviously, because it spurs on my slashy shipper googles though I know you won't give me slash XD. That is fine: I like the backstory of Haylden having been the fiance of the narrator's deceased sister. It shows how much he cared - the event broke him, and I do wonder whether he's entirely broken or there's still some fire in him (maybe he's an undertaker because he's plotting something). Anyhow, I really like the interactions between Haylden and the narrator (what is his name anyway? XD I didn't register it lol) between them in this chapter. The bond might be characterised by sarcastic jibes, but the concern and mutual care is clearly there.

I'm definitely in the plot and worldbuilding as well: you've got an interesting world here where some lady reigns who uses young people (and beautiful ones) for nefarious purposes. I wonder they are ... :D

(sorry bad review. I liked this though :) )
lookingwest chapter 1 . 7/21/2015
I don't think I've read this story before, so well! There are a couple things I wish I knew more about in the first chapter. Setting, being one. Time-wise, and all. Blacksmith sets me down into a world where I'm imagining it pretty much like the same place as All The Wrong Reasons. That sounds close enough. The human trafficking theme has a much more urban feel to me, but I think that's because it's such a recent (I mean it's been around forever, but) awareness thing that I mostly hear about in contemporary times right now. Or - it makes me kinda thing of a Samurai Champloo thing. That's one thing I always wonder with all your pieces - are we in a Western America, UK, or are we in the East? I never know, and I suppose it's not totally important, but this one got me thinking :)

I also wish I knew the age of the undertaker guy too - or at least, some sort of description of how old he is so I'd have more of a pin for the "eldest sister" and Cray. Normally, my default is kind of "mid twenties" or "late teens" for most pieces - though ATWR has readjusted that assumption with Freyl (who I thought was like 50 but turned out to be in his 20s after all), so it just made me wonder with this piece. I'm picturing the undertaker around 40, anyway. Maybe just because he's an undertaker. But that's a unique character, and I'm looking forward to how you'll handle him.

I think the relationship between Cray and the undertaker was actually my favorite part of this opener for the novel. I really liked the line about how she(? assumption based on long hair, but could be wrong) wishes that he'd leave her alone but they both know each other only due to her sister being Snatched. It's also interesting considering how Hay gets involved. I wonder why the Snatchers haven't ever tried to Snatch her before today, when it feels like her sister was taken awhile ago? Maybe we'll learn that soon.

The world feels small, I guess is what I'm saying - so I wouldn't put it past this mob of the "Lady" to basically "know" every young woman or man in the entire kingdom(?) so how have there been no tabs on Cray at this point of like "nobody wants that girl because of the scar on her face?" Again, maybe we'll find out. But from the info about her sister getting Snatched and how large their trafficking organization is, I'm surprised they're not better organized.

The scar was tied with the Hay/Cray as my fav other thing about this opener for a novel! I really just in general enjoyed the opening sequence with the description of the scar, and there was some fantaaastic imagery going on all around with the crevice of it and the bit like it's an earthworm. Though I don't know if you need to be a "bug expert" as justification for recognizing the image of a worm. Still, it backstories Cray's family. By the end though, I forgot she had a brother. Love loved the "ditch" sentence. Then again when it crops up.

End is good, nice last lines. I'd bump the third paragraph (from the bottom) into the fourth for consistency since you drop the tag on that line - I thought Cray was saying it at first, but other than that, I liked the work-in of that character description. I've been having a hell of a time with that in my 1st person lately. This opening chapter showed great strides in technique with that aspect of using the 1st POV! The last novel I wrote, I did 3rd person for the 1st half of the novel (Part 1), then switched into a 1st person for the 2nd half (Part 2). Curious to see how this pans out with a more random weave, I really like seeing those kind of experimental leaps, looking forward to it!
LorrahBear chapter 1 . 7/20/2015
This is a phenomenal first chapter! Very well written, and it flows very smoothly. You've done a great job of giving me just enough information so that i can figure out what's going on with the snatchers and her face without needing you to tell it to me straight. Wonderful.
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