Reviews for Lords of Hel
Electrumquill chapter 1 . 11/17/2016
I have noticed your method of sensory immersion in your openings. So the Dream of Secession began with the comforting scent of tobacco smoke whereas this begins in deep darkness, with the reek of death.

The base in the subterranean warehouse is set up well. Good place for it to be.

I like that Little Ritchie is quickly shown to not be a total monster precisely… I mean he does wish that the prisoner be spared the worse type of execution.

So when knocked in the privates, Ritchie refers to electric cables connecting his nerves together… is he a cyborg? This could perhaps be clarified.

Other reviewers have noted that the Boss is how one would expect a mob boss to be. Personally I think his most memorable line is: “I couldn’t care less ‘bout the names of dead men. And ye’re about to start rottin’ real soon, boy.” Gets across the sort of man he is just as much as his demented laughter later.

I would say that I prefer alternate history to this kind of genre, but the piece is well done. It’s potential audience is of course a bit limited, but that’s not a flaw.

Given the confines of the word limit, the world building at the end is very illuminating. The police in this world really are reprobates. The paragraph explaining their complicity fortunately balances out the exposition with the ghoulish preparation of the body.

I think the best aspect of the piece was the showing of Ritchie’s last vestiges of humanity that persist despite the soul destroying environment. Especially his whisper to the captured racker and disgust at the Boss’ psychopathic relish in the execution.
whispers of lowlit flames chapter 1 . 9/15/2016
Ooh, dramatic opening. Tells a bit about the character, situation, setting and conflict all rolled into one. And a vivid beginning as well: solid descriptions of the setting and the circumstance. Having said that though, some of the descriptions felt a little telling, like they were purely for the benifit of the reader. An example is "In actuality, it was little more than..." - could work if you'd written in first person POV but somewhat less so in third person.

Some of the sentences sound a little bulky as well, particularly when compared to how efficient you are in other places. The first sentence in particular tells so much, and yet it takes an entire paragraph to illustrate Ritchie's and his catch's walk to the stage. Some bits are repetitive too, like how long the factory's been their lair and the boss commandeering silence (does seem a little reminiscent of Snape without the voice XD)

Interesting little moral story at the end there. I particularly last the second last paragraph - especially with the implication that his father's also involved with gangs (unless I'm misinterpreting the born into part...). The middle however does come out rather action/gore-focused in comparison though. Is this a crime action story, or a reflective/moral piece? It feels like you've tried to combine both but it's gotten a little cramped. I'd recommend changing POVs with scene breaks or something - there isn't much of Ritchie while the other guy gets chopped up, or else write that prominenly from Ritchie's POV - blade too near him, blood splattering on him etc. He gets a little lost in front of the boss and though the boss is commandeering the stage, he's at neither the beginning nor the end of the fic and in a piece of this length, I wouldn't call him a main character. Not much stands out with his character - pretty much what I imagine a typical gang boss to be, but Ritche's interesting - starting from the "Little" tagged almost permanently onto his name. XD
Lunafoy chapter 1 . 9/13/2016
Best short storie ever
Victoria Best chapter 1 . 9/11/2016

Really enjoyed this. You've got great characters, a rapid fire, high impact narrative, and a lot of memorable quotes. I particularly liked the Boss - he's a great character and I think you handled his characterisation well. This was a solid, well-written story, and I could easily see this being part of a series or novel. Great work on this!

Okay, here are my suggestions:

"Pitch black." Can you think of something better than pitch black? There were a few cliche descriptors like this which you might want to have a look at - another one I can remember was 'blood-curdling' which doesn't quite capture the reaction and emotion to witnessing something so horrific.

The sentence beginning with "his footsteps echoed down" feels a little long and clunky to me.

Love the line "like thick molasses." Very original and painted a clear picture.

I liked the way you introduced us to Hel through showing rather than telling, like the "but Boss's orders were final down in Hel" and "the base of operations the Lords had called home." Great balance between showing and telling. Small thing I noticed is that you use 'home' twice close together here.

There is a ",but" at the end of the first and second paragraphs. I would recommend getting rid of at least one of these lines to avoid similar sentencing. I feel like you use 'but' quite a lot, actually, so definitely look through and see where and when you've used it.

Metal used twice in one sentence. Also, why not just "at the end of the hall was a thick metal door" rather than "at the end of the hall there was a thick metal door?" Just one word but it certainly picks up the pace.

"Like a sun high in the sky." I'm struggling to picture this comparison.

Love all of the slang like the 'dope slingers' and 'chumps.' I can see you've done your research! Love it!

"His heart may be devoid of empathy." Feels a little telling.

"Gang banger." I don't think you should use this term... has a very different UK meaning to the US/ Canadian meaning and I was a bit like whaaaaat when I read it XD

All minor comments. My only big concern with this is that it feels a little short - the ending feels sort of sudden and I don't get any closure or certainty or 'yes, okay' or 'damn' or 'omg!' from reading this, and the storyline feels quite simplistic. I would like something more meaningful from this story as a whole, something relevant and thought-provoking, something I can take away and think about. The best stories say something, you know? This feels a bit too fun / video game-y. Perhaps you were going for a commentary on gang culture, but I would like then a bit more emotion from Little Ritchie - he takes it all in a bit too detached for me to empathise and be like "damn, yes, let's sort this out." The best part of the story was definitely the comment that fear is the biggest motivator - maybe expand on this? That could be a moving bit of writing. I just feel like this has other places to go and isn't quite comfortable where it is, although other readers may disagree. Hope that helps!

Anyway, thanks for this great read, keep writing and good luck in the WCC! I'm looking forward to reading more from you!
R.M.Spencer chapter 1 . 9/10/2016
Interesting start. I feel like you present the dynamics of a gang well.

One thing that you should be careful of is the amount of point of view switching that is going on in this chapter. It is a bit confusing trying to keep track of who's head we are supposed to be in and it makes it difficult to follow the action. Pick a character and stick with it, or consider using paragraph breaks or different chapters for each character to make the switch more distinct.

Another thing I noticed was that you do quite a lot of telling and little showing. The tone of the piece was well conveyed but I want to see a more vivid picture in my mind. What do the characters look like? Boss is playing find the body parts, you probably don't need to tell us he is devoid of empathy. Don't tell me how a character is feeling, show me by describing their actions, their facial features, their gestures, etc.
Cheddar-Graham chapter 1 . 9/8/2016
The beginning was noir-ish, but I felt that mood wasn't sustained right to the end, where it became just descriptive. You weren't kidding about the violence, but I was actually expecting more than just one arm. Having Qui... end up completely dismembered and left to bleed out would be quite on par with the image of the Boss that you've set up. Still, maybe having too much graphic blood and gore would be distracting, I suppose. And the screaming might attract attention. Also, this could benefit from having a definite closing, IMHO, even if the plot is relatively simple. Maybe some kind of thoughtful punchline would contribute to the noir mood...
Editing: Lord's (possessive) and Lords (plural) - I think you need to sort that out.