|Reviews for Aĉaĵego|
| Electrumquill chapter 13 . 1/10/2021
Hello! Back to Aĉaĵego. Good to be visiting it again. The premise is nice and clear, so after months on end, I can still remember every bit of it. Specifically the premise of this chapter that has been set up – Karasema’s custody battle in a rigged trial of sorts with the priesthood.
I see the priests use the tactic of deifying people as it suits them. They must be resourceful with weaving real life events into the fabric of their theology as needed. Sort of like how the second king of Rome deified Romulus the first king when he got lost in the mountains and made him a nexus point of history and mythology. Now that Floreca is an angel – surely a greater distinction than being canonised – I keep expecting her to be able to weigh in and help proactively.
I like how they frame their position as treating the sisters the same as every potential adoptee from the orphanage. Especially leaving it to a kind seeming old lady to compare Karasema to a flighty underage mum. Even to the reader, that’s making a better case than if they had left it to one of the men to say the same thing.
The idea of different perspectives on the case is effective as well – from a certain point of view and with incomplete information, Karasema has left a family member in the lurch. How would the onlookers from their community know that she has the right intentions?
If Karasema had more presence of mind, she would of course have pointed out that the wetnurses needed paying…
I like the build-up to the priest’s account of his supposed dream about Terdiino. It’s the same premise as the traditional Hellfire sermons – it relies on the charisma and speaking skills of the priest to be able to sell the otherworldly ideas even when there is no concrete proof for it. “I have been informed in dreams, in visions…” sounds very different if the priest sounds unsure of himself, or unbalanced compared to if he sounds impressive.
Good touch, that the priest smiles at her the way he did when sentencing her to death!
Interesting… so in this culture they have the opposite of a dowry…? I wonder what the rules are if the bride is less desirable for some reason or another, e.g. already being pregnant, or being a horrible shrew. I’m a big nerd for world building details like this one. If I had to advise a nephew or younger brother on this topic, I would say never take the horrible shrew no matter the dowry or bride price, but definitely consider the already pregnant bride if the dowry is right and everything else is favourable.
| LittleAlchemist chapter 10 . 11/23/2020
Hmmm that's quite the cliff-hanger... It sounds as if they have decreed that now Floreca herself is an angel. Maybe when they saw her, so withered and sickly, they may have assumed she was something like an undead so were doing some weird ritual of respect greeting. The name of this chapter is rather deceptive cause no healing takes place. I expected Floreca to start to recover. You do talk about how healing souls hurts more than withered ones. But that seems redundant cause Floreca is already a goody-two-shoes. Though when you consider the fact religious people adopt righteousness due to beliefs about reality that then make pursuing righteousness a logical thing to do, they are no longer pursuing righteousness for righteousness' sake but intelligence. Theology ideas shape how we see the world and from that the seemingly most "intelligent" path within informs our decisions. Karesema who doesn't believe in the goddesses sees that logically there's no advantage to devoting oneself to the pursuit of righteousness. And to swing the other way, an evil religious fanatic then kills because that is the most logical thing to do in their world. Your character's inner philosophical dialogue is making me go off on semi-tangents now. But that just means it's engaging me. Anyway you did a good job with describing and portraying how sick Floreca is. You have stand-out lines that really benefit your story overrall and convey emotion well, like Floreca being so sick it was all she could do to remember who she was. I was surprised she had the strength to walk to her family at the end there. I'm still enjoying the dialogue of the Aĉaĵego and your decision to make it speak old English. Floreca pitying an emotionless flower just goes to show how emotionally vulnerable she is right now. Though she's suffering and sick, so perhaps she's hoping for divine pity. It doesn't work that way though. I enjoy Floreca's pre-occupation with her religion and beliefs on altruism. It's interesting to me, I wonder if it would be as interesting to most other people though.
| LittleAlchemist chapter 9 . 11/23/2020
I still find it interesting that they relate medical issues to soul problems. Soul-drain or 'one who grows faster than their soul'. Unique to the setting culture and story-building though. I wonder if the medicine outside of Floreca's area could actually cure her soul-drain entirely. That would make me feel meh. Cause you have already established this as shitty and kinda tragic pre-middle ages. It's hard to imagine a happing ending after living lives of such constraint. Again that's why the Aĉaĵego gives this such a sense of relief, as the magical immortal monster he is is the break-away from an otherwise overwhelmingly suppressive existence. Despite Floreca's piousness and virtue she is the one dying of sickness, it's pretty characteristic of religious life. The ridiculous expectations of Gods or spirit beings to have us humans be utter slaves to fixed ideas of altruism that don't reflect the true nature of this free universe. Free and not contained and controlled. Though I shouldn't detract from this. Okay I wrote all that after reading the first two paragraphs before I could forget and now I've read the whole chapter. This is actually very sweet and happy, you do a good job at conveying certain feelings, like the dolls that were beautiful enough for Floreca to just stare at them. Maybe you could make this into a happy ending... if Floreca was healed and lived that life she imagined with all the neighbours and community loving her. It's a nice possibility. I understand that feeling Floreca is wrestling with. Knowing everything turned out as best as it possibly could have, better than you could have asked, but you still feel saddened by not having what you really want. When the Aĉaĵego was scared at Karesema's appearance it made me realise... perhaps it could be killed. I've been imagining it as an ancient indestructable killing machine, but a death for the Aĉaĵego may not be impossible in this story. I like the story-telling writing in this. The descriptions are done well. I like the relationship between the sisters. Karesema is the strong one while Floreca holds tight to the virtues her mother instilled in them. It's a shame I can't bring you the brutal criticism you crave. I dunno, you could argue the pace of the plot developments is quick but it's logical that they be quick like this so there you have it. One inevitable scene we all know is going to happen... the moment when Floreca rides on the Aĉaĵego's back as it flies. We all know that's going to happen and it'll probably be great.
| LittleAlchemist chapter 8 . 11/23/2020
So one really nice feeling associated with this story is a sense of... relief? Freedom. It has to do with Floreca and her sisters living such a poor, dissatisfying, unfortunate life in an ancient society full of female suppression. But now suddenly in an unlikely twist of fate she has made an exceptionally powerful and magical friend. The Aĉaĵego's dialogue seems interesting and unique. It makes sense, that this creature who has never had a bond before would bond so quickly to Floreca. And she mentions that she has had a connection to the Aĉaĵego from the childhood stories. Something I already inferred but it was still a good thought for her to have there. The memory that Floreca is entertaining at the start of this makes me think Karesema is going to meet those family members. With so much religious-based ideas on morality and human conscientiousness it makes me wonder if the outcome of this story is going to be a moral one. While Floreca's speech certainly helps us understand human nature, ideas themselves only have any value if both parties are willing to listen and consider them. As is the rule of life, power determines survival and who gets killed. As such, for all Floreca's talk on righteousness and people-awareness, this could still all turn to shit. Karesema could rally people to save her sister and the Aĉaĵego could snap and kill everyone. Proving that ideas mean nothing when people aren't calm and willing to listen to them. While the goddesses indeed seem fake, it does seem like some sort of fate is at work here. Maybe the situation with Floreca's Mum losing all boy children was a coincedence. But Floreca's situation with the Aĉaĵego could be read as a type of fate playing out. Or just the typical life coincidences that seem that way, as life is a funny thing at times, as it is all things. You want some critical feedback... If I try to be critical the first thing that comes to mind is, why go back and spend so much time editting something that isn't novel-length? I mean it's a novella and that's fine. The world isn't too big since the story situation is preventing that expansion, so I get you don't have a lot of directions to go down. But this is still only the eighth chapter. Anyway as I read this I'm paying attention to any part of this where you might be going too far in one way or the other, but I haven't felt that way yet. Everything seems to be unfolding well. But I am waiting to see if it maintains this balance and if so it's been a good read.
| LittleAlchemist chapter 7 . 11/23/2020
Woah... tensions spiked so suddenly when the Aĉaĵego threatened to kill every single human until they gave it medicine. And then the Aĉaĵego was convinced to not kill any humans anymore if medicine is brought. What will happen after Floreca dies? Will it have a toddler-monster rampage and slaughter all the humans? I can tell how delicate this whole situation is. Nobody had bothered to socialise with the Aĉaĵego like that before, and it may have never heard normal conversation between two human family members. It was thanks to Floreca's religious indoctrination, believing the Aĉaĵego was an angel that she treated it with so much respect and admiration. It's interesting when I consider again how much Floreca loved tales about the Aĉaĵego as a child. So anyway on Plot we have a super-powerful monster that can spazz out with a temper-tantrum and maybe kill all the humans. The Aĉaĵego could easily kill all humans if given a motive, it only ever agreed to taking one human every so often cause that's all it needed! In the sense of this creature's emotions, there is unpredictability. But I doubt you will turn this story into a bloodfest, even though from a logical perspective that seems very likely. Since you asked about predictability... I suppose this does feel like it's following a trope. Like if you'd explained the premise to me, this is how I would expect things to go. But it's well-written, descriptive and the characters stand out. Also the future beyond this point is not something I can predict. Well I could. I could switch on my writer's brain and think about what I would do from here and make some theories. Personally I hope you surprise me cause it's great to feel on your toes. Like I'm trying to weigh whether I want a happy ending (I sorta do) versus an all-out bloodbath (a surprise but honestly unlikely, since this is also a little reminiscent of don't judge a book by its cover, the Aĉaĵego was just doing its animal nature thing, it never knew love, yadda yadda)
| LittleAlchemist chapter 6 . 11/23/2020
This was great in several ways. We get to see more development for Karesema, I'm starting to really get a feel for her. Seems like she's always been a bit independent, always a bit fiery. She's not at all soft. It was a great thing to take their super-mother Nun and reveal she was a sinner and fraud all along. At the start when I was speculating about her change I assumed it must have something to do with her religion, but no we find out the real reason. Seems like the goddesses were punishing her, but if they're not real it's just a strange coincidence. It would've been hard for Floreca and even Karesema to come to turns with a mother who seems to mysteriously not love them anymore. It is a big change. It was a good idea to have Karesema's mother promise her to look after her sisters. It then makes sense for this flashback to be here as it undoubtedly will be something Karesema is recalling, and is an interesting change in tone. It makes me wonder why Karesema did her crime in the first place and ended up in this situation and it occurs to me you're probably going to have a story to explain that as well. My enjoyment is increasing as you reveal all these hidden details that have led to the current predicament. On setting I liked the grove descriptions. I liked Karesema looking up at the trees searching for Floreca. I also liked the twist with the father, I didn't realise he was such an angry man. The way the girls had mocked him at earlier times made me think he was a bit of a dope, but no he seems much more patriarchal. The ending was good and ominous.
| LittleAlchemist chapter 5 . 11/23/2020
What do you mean you don't like this chapter? I don't see anything wrong with the execution. And SO much plot development and movement has happened. On characters I want to talk about the Aĉaĵego and Karesema. For the Aĉaĵego's part you've done a great job humanizing him this chapter - which is an ironic use of that word. He loves stories and has never had a friend and is learning so much from Floreca by talking to her instead of eating her. It fiercely reacted from her trying to hug it because it didn't know affection. Now Karesema I'm also impressed with now, at the start of the chapter I thought she wasn't much of a character but at the end of it here her reprimanding of Floreca and anger was impressive but I didn't expect her to be the one to burst Floreca's religious cognitive dissonance bubble. Everything seems to tie nicely and naturally together, the motives and beliefs of the three characters. Floreca's religious indoctrination is technically a delusion (belief in something nonsensical) and the desperate attachment she has to that (like a lot of religious people have) is a point of struggle for her and vulnerability. A complaint I have is I wish the Aĉaĵego gave a reaction of some sort that was registered by Floreca when she told its supposed origin story, because that seemed glossed over. Actually if you'd had the Aĉaĵego ask questions about it instead and sounding mystified or confused I would have enjoyed a little exchange like that. No spelling or grammar issues here.
| LittleAlchemist chapter 4 . 11/20/2020
I think it's very sweet that the two sisters who started life together are also together, acting as siblings, when their coming death is inevitable too. It gave a sense of poignancy and felt special, in a way. On characters I like what you're doing with the Aĉaĵego. It was interested in the story and wants to hear more, but doesn't have the sense from enough cordial interactions to ask instead of knocking out Karesema for being too loud. On setting I like how the culture is expanded on further, by real medical conditions given spiritual explanations due to the lack of scientific knowledge. Being knocked out or concussed is simply "the spirit leaving the body" or knocked out for a time. At the ending there we can see how a lot of indoctrination has effeted Floreca's thought-patterns and beliefs. There's cognitive dissonance too, she is trying to ignore the evidence that her religion is fakey-fake and tries to instead find ways to re-affirm her beliefs. She mustn't doubt, unless she find herself not getting into heaven after she dies, a typical fear-based tactic of control used by religions to keep people bound. Of this whole story I enjoy the culture, the characters, their past, history and religion, the ancient monster Aĉaĵego and how it all ties together into this.
| LittleAlchemist chapter 3 . 11/20/2020
This was a nice little flashbacky childhood chapter, it gives even more exposition to the culture and lore. A little sad to see the "wives, obey your husbands" thing but it's such a staple in so many religions that I guess it can't be helped... But I like how you balance that by having goddesses as the deities. And I like how they have that "iino" prefix at the end of their name too to make it easier. On characters I enjoyed the mother and her backstory. Almost being a nun and the way you described her story-telling abilities was good. The pacing of this was good and good foreshadowing for an almost hero-like worship Floreca would have for Aĉaĵego. It explains her prior confusion in believing the Aĉaĵego had morals instead of only wanting to sate its hunger. The relationship between the sisters and their mother was nice. That ending about them giggling together for at least an hour while in bed in the dark is evocative. I can remember similar situations with my brother or friends.
| LittleAlchemist chapter 2 . 11/20/2020
Did it have to have a cockroach head... Indeed the Aĉaĵego is very monstrous. A rat's tail and cockroach head... the bat wings were expected as I don't think feathered ones would work so well underwater. I like how Floreca was applying her fanciful man-made religion to this ancient creature, who couldn't care less about humanity's fear-based story-tellings. On dialogue I enjoy how the monster talks, speaking in an older English it would've heard long ago. Also knowing a few unusual words, like "vexacious" so that's cool. The setting of the cave was ominous and helped to build tension. The fact we're reminced that there could be human bodies around further cements that. On characters I like their motivations and customs. Floreca's pain is described well, with her initial colouration and temperature and weariness at find them. Karesema's objection to Floreca's proposal is understandable due to their customs even though it makes sense for Floreca to die. The bit about their true-names and child-names is also interesting
| LittleAlchemist chapter 1 . 11/20/2020
I loved the descriptiveness of this and the monster's perspective. I also appreciated the guard's perspective and the exposition of the two and the Aĉaĵego. We see a distinct difference between the monster and humans. The pacing of this was good, though I found it just a bit jarring when we switched from the monster's perspective to the human's like that. Maybe it would've been better if you used the monster's part as a prologue, or split them with something like an asterisk or tilde. I would've preferred that. On setting I will say I enjoy the historical vibe to this of an ancient civilisation and ancient monster. The feel of the era is captured well. The opening set the tone well. The monster is referred to as "it" and is merely hungry. It goes around eating things, seemingly living forever, and gaining intelligence while still being a horrifying predator. It was interesting when it spared the child for the parent. It's also spooky that we aren't given a proper description for what it looks like, beyond the ability to swim and fly.
| casmonido chapter 16 . 9/9/2020
I may not know what a well written story is, but I think this one is well written. I did not feel tempted to skip over parts, as I often do, because the rhythm of the sentences pulled me in.
Just like others, I didn't expect Floreca to die so suddenly. Even though I read the last chapter first and I realized she wouldn't be alive by the end, her dying after being thrown against the boulders still came as a shock. I really thought she would die of her sickness. I hoped she would be able to resolve the problems with Jadinda's adoption on her way out. But instead, her life got snuffed out just like that. :(
Oh, anyway; you left us with enough information to be able to come up with a few scenarios as to how the remaining sisters' lives may play out.
The interesting thing for me as I was reading this story was how my perception of the society these girls lived in has changed over the next chapters. At first, I guess, my view was simplistic: this society works, the rules keep everyone reasonably happy, children don't starve out in the streets, the monastery and priests don't seem totally heartless. As we learned the story of the girls' mother life, I began to realize that although the way society's structure may work for the collective, many individuals are still hurt by it in the course of their life. This seems incredibly realistic and perhaps is the main message I got out this story. Looking at the character's struggle for happiness, at their courage and the different ways each of them made sense of their reality inspires me to examine the way I look at our world and try to correct the perceptions that may be unjust or expired.
I thought all characters were likable and well-constructed, but I have a special affinity for Karesema. She'd be a good adventure story character. And I would be happy to read such a story :) or just to imagine it.
In reference to the author's note on the last chapter: I'd advise to keep all those parts you said you were unsure about. I don't think this story is a page-turner, nor should it aspire to be, so the meandering is okay. To me, it read like a calming tale about people failing but still fighting for a good life. A reflection on society, perhaps. So all those legends and backstories and flashbacks are fine, and they're all pretty interesting, although they don't work to cause much tension.
| casmonido chapter 6 . 9/1/2020
Oh my god life was so unfair for these women :( Karesema rules!
| Electrumquill chapter 12 . 8/31/2020
Back to Aĉaĵego after a long hiatus! Hope you are doing OK despite the general craziness worldwide.
I like the touch of realism with Karasema’s entrance. It is difficult to sound impressive under duress. It has been established now that the whole power structure in the settlement is in disarray now that the Aĉaĵego is behaving differently. That would of course impact on their theology. There can only be major disruption from this.
Characters: I like the contrast between Karasema and Sagulo, with how it comes across how devious he is and how guileless she was. She’s not quite so guileless now of course. It’s well portrayed in retrospect. Yes, things can often seem plausible at the time and then dumb in retrospect.
Setting: Like the attention to detail with Sagulo’s version of red tape and onerous bureaucracy meant to cause delays: “Let’s commune with Terdiino and then the brotherhood under Terdiino…”
Conflict: I like how Karasema puts the pieces together and it’s satisfying that it dawns on her that Sagulo must be terrified. If only she were smarter – she would have thought of threatening him directly with the Aĉaĵego and it’s wrath. It’s true that she has a (small) chance of being able to set it on them. I’m guessing though that the priests can do her some other nasty turn that does not require the Aĉaĵego.
Meta: I like the observation about storytellers. Don’t we all want to have Rakontisto’s success?
| Whirlymerle chapter 3 . 8/2/2020
Have you seen The Emperor’s New Groove? The first scene of Karesema and Floreca with their mother at bedtime gave me those vibes. Especially with the “nu-uh” and “uh-huh’s.”
Anyway, I really enjoyed this chapter! The lore felt wholy integrated into the world. It carried the same tone of a number of myths from various ancient cultures but at the same time felt very original.
Additionally, I think it was really clever to weave in a discussion about the “morals” of the story, and have the mother casually mention that the lesson here is to listen to your husband. The fact that we know from the previous chapters that the myth likely wasn’t how the Acajego came to be added to highlight how myths serve the authors who create them more than anything else. The social commentary was a nice wink to the readers and made it more than just a world building chapter. And I love, love that you flip it around at the end by having Karesema say that her dad must have obeyed her mom, because he’s ugly. It was funny and showcased the sisters’ characterization well.
Thanks for the read!