|Reviews for Tainted Bloodline|
| RisanF chapter 15 . 10/19/2017
Going into this blind, it took me awhile to piece everything together, but the basic gist game through after a few parts. The description of the strewn bones and the wolf-women is very creepy, and adds to the atmosphere. We have a good battle with the Arch-Lycanthrope, although it was a little easy for Kori to take him out. Still, the fight was exciting, with good attention to movement and imagery.
(It looks like you've removed a lot of chapters from The Writhing Plague. Starting anew?)
| ElvenValar chapter 17 . 9/28/2017
| ElvenValar chapter 1 . 9/28/2017
| Imperious chapter 15 . 9/3/2017
Hmm, I liked the detailed descriptions you gave for the cave and the general ambience because they really allowed the reader to be present with the protagonists. I particularly liked that you also included the smells as well as the visuals. The behaviors for the werewolves were also very well written and vivid.
I didn't quite enjoy the fight scene as the paragraphs were a little too choppy. I feel like you could have taken the time to build up more of the tension, or perhaps to join some of the shorter paragraphs together? Short paragraphs are generally intended for speech.
What could have pushed the story to greater heights may be the inclusion of more tension and conflict. The fight scene felt a bit too easy. Nevertheless, well done and continue writing :)
| Timbo Slice chapter 13 . 8/29/2017
Hey, since you insisted on reviewing chapter 13 I decided to give it a read and was glad to see that the story is still enjoyable enough to jump in, almost as if the chapter was a standalone in the bigger story. Key plot points like the farmers taking care of the abandoned baby and subsequent reveal along with the burning of the other bodies served to get a good grasp of the plot up to that point in the story.
And speaking of the farmers and baby I thought that was well written with Kori being the only one to see through its disguise while the others were oblivious, her initial reaction upon seeing the imp flowed nicely and felt like genuine shock. Though I'm confused as to how the others didn't at least see the baby jump on the table and started to chug vodka if it was an actual illusion, the werewolf magic must've been pretty effective towards them.
One thing of note is in the beginning where you describe the fire as crackling "cheerfully", I think a better adjective could be used to show the fires intensity as how does flames crackle cheerfully?
| Timbo Slice chapter 3 . 6/4/2017
I thought you did a good job of getting the tension across in the beginning scene with Kori, Ericka, and Brunhilde as there were instances where you showed Brunhildes disdain for Kori through her actions which Erucka was able to pick up on. Having her disregard Kori's choice of name was also a nice touch that helped to further harden the dynamic between the three of them.
The writing itself was solid with no real spelling or grammatical mistakes that were jarring and the prose moves at a steady yet quick pace, so maybe I can suggest squeezing more tension out of the scenes? The story itself isn't really picking up much steam by the third chapter, and the additional paragraph at the end could have been served as a cliff hanger scenario to drive the plot forward but just felt like more filler.
| Murphy Chapelwood chapter 3 . 5/31/2017
This is from WCC review I owe. It mostly will be pertaining to the events of Chapter Three, but I've read One and Two and will be touching on the story as a whole.
The Pacing, and the problem I see is that the story is very linear: this happens, then this, one after another with no memories or flashbacks (not necessarily the traditional flashback, it could be a character repeating an important story) and the chapter endings are seemingly chosen at random. A chapter wants to have a nice roundness to it—the end in some way echoing the beginning, whether repeated emotion/memory/action—and a chapter needs to encapsulate an event (not a string of scenes, but one solid event: a dinner, a party, a child rescued and the wolves defeated, a journey to a castle, etc.).—Looking at chapter three, it's written in a "Day in the Life"-sort of way, laying out events quickly and moving from one to the next, which could be fine for any old day but this is actually a day of firsts, any one of which could have been—and probably should be—an entire chapter on their own: meeting the half-sister and her mother, the language lesson (and what could have been used to introduce some useful setting history), the banquet dinner and its revelations about the court. Why these scenes don't currently feel meaty enough leads me to...
The Dialogue, and how the characters talk sounds correct, but the content of that dialogue feels a bit thin: as in "this is the information needed to get across" and there is not a lot of window-dressing around it. For instance, where is all the condescension from Brunhilde besides the one remark about Kori's incomplete etiquette education? I would think, with Kori growing up working in a rustic village, she would be more... athletic than Erika, a noble girl, who is likely dainty; and Brunhilde could note such a physique as being "brutish" compared to a court lady, maybe speaking around it in some way: "We'll need to get a tailor in, to fashion dresses more suitable to your... frame, Korina." (-I'd also make sure Brunhilde always calls her by her full name, as a fairly obvious rebuttal at familiarity after Erika asked her about it.)—Again, when Erika casually mentions her betrothal, more characterization could be introduced through dialogue: what does she care about? Erika? Does she gush about her dress, the location of the wedding (the royal gardens, a special cathedral, etc.), the list of famous peoples that will attend, or does she go on and on about Seigfried (about how handsome he is? or about his undying love? Does he write her poetry or love letters?)... never be afraid to have a character just ramble on for a lengthy paragraph or two, especially when they really enjoy what they are talking about—a true portal into their personality. And it's how people actually talk, not just clipped/concise sentences served back and forth like a tennis match.—I'll go into the banquet dialogue in the last section.
The Writing is solid; the action is quick and clear, and not bogged down with too much specificity.—On a side note, when you're writing narration you might want to pause whenever you come to words like "feel/feels/feeling/felt/believe/think" and choose a different way to convey the meaning. Most of the time you can cut such words (in the very same way you can with vague qualifiers like "seems to be/appears to be/almost/maybe") entirely and not lose anything. Here, for instance, the story is in third limited, everything in narration is of course what Kori thinks/feels, so writing it becomes redundant and cuts into the flow of the reading. Really, removing all but the quintessentially crucial instances of think/feel is one of the easiest methods to make writing appear more polished.
Lastly, I guess this goes under Enjoyment or maybe just Other, but despite the werewolf attack, and especially in the Gruenwald Keep sections there is a decided lack of conflict; it being bound up almost entirely in Kori's anxieties.—There are a couple of paragraphs spent on their journey, but that felt like more an excuse to rehash her conception than to be any sort of obstacle. Where are the suspicious/bigoted peasants? who give them dirty looks, turn them away from their inn? because of Kori's green skin—I haven't been given the impression the setting is so supernatural that commoners would not make fools of themselves over someone with a strange appearance. There were the two muttering stable boys, but not a real challenge or impediment.—All but one of the nobles (Brunhilde) so far have been quite magnanimous to Kori (I would almost say, suspiciously so, though if there is sinister foreshadowing it is really too subtle for me). Even if they are not hostile, I would imagine there to be a wafty condescension from someone like the Regent or the court ladies, maybe entirely unintentional but still present (I mean, she was raised in a village out in the country—think about how the various social strata interact in the real world, and in a medieval fantasy it would be even more pronounced). Arrogant phrases ("Here at Gruenwald Keep..."), or speaking down to her ("You, of course, would not be aware living as you have but..."), or something to fuel Kori's anxieties about being among the elite.—Also, like the previous mention about dialogue, the court ladies (Megan, Franzi) feel instantly too nice (perhaps that's from fear of Erika, which would be an interesting avenue to explore) and seem to be there just to get across the information (Siegfried, Gerd, marriage, Rudolph's dowery for Kori, the looming specter of assassination)... to my mind, I would think there might be the implication that Rudolph has ulterior motives in bringing Kori to court (a power grab or the like) even if they are nothing more than suspicions based on jealousy and/or cruelty. Nobles and courtiers like to gossip and sooner or later all gossip turns cruel—because it's just so much more delicious that way. Court persons have boring lives, they invent scandal to create their own excitement; the court in this story, with its veneer of placid goodness, would be an ideal place for such whispered drama.
| Dlombardi chapter 13 . 5/29/2017
I don't know why I laughed when that vodka was being chugged lol and the illusion of a baby, I laughed even harder. I guess the art of deception tickles me. An interesting read. Remember to watch out for wording. In the beginning, I actually thought the kitchen was on fire with the phrasing! Could just be the word "firelit" in its context. Don't be afraid to put a little description to engross your readers in a fixed setting. It doesn't have to be long winded of course, just something that gives readers a definition/idea of the space your characters are in or walking into. Overall, nice read
| Dr. Self Destruct chapter 3 . 5/24/2017
Hey there! Just the Dr stopping in to deliver a winning WCC review. :)
Writing: I noticed quite a few places where you could show instead of tell more. I know that whole "show don't tell" advice can be maddening, trust me - but it really does help with reader immersion when done in the right areas. For example, in the opening paragraphs, you'll see descriptions of something like "Kori felt a twinge of unease." You could easily show this through her body language instead of tell us she's uneasy. Maybe she's fidgeting with her clothes, or gnawing on her lip, or hesitant with her movements. Stuff like that. You do this well when you end the previous chapter with "She tried to open her mouth to say something, but could only stammer." That's a great way to get across unease.
Another example: "...it was her air of serenity that took Kori's breath away. An aura as it were of unspeakable calm." This is just telling us she's serene and calm, but it would be more effective, I think, were you to show us. Maybe she has a slight smile. Or a very soft voice. Maybe she's standing with a relaxed posture. You could even get inventive with a quick metaphor here - up to you.
One last example, because I feel like this is the greatest area of potential improvement (and then I'll shut up, lol): "Kori felt a bit alarmed." Instead of saying she felt alarmed, you could show this through her body language. Maybe she resists the impulse to grab him and ask him to stay. Maybe she tenses. Perhaps she feels some other physical reaction to her alarm. You do well with mentioning how she doesn't want to let him go when they hug. That's a good example of how you're effectively showing a character's response instead of telling it.
Describing all these things instead of telling the reader that's how she feels is more convincing and allows the reader to feel what the character(s) is/are feeling.
Pacing: I think I remember you mentioned in the OT that you were having some trouble with the pacing. I don't know if it's necessarily the pacing that's the problem (it's hard to tell coming into the third chapter without having read the first two or what comes after) but it might be more a matter of lacking tension. You can usually always give something a purpose and therefore make the pacing quick by adding a layer of tension. In this chapter, other than the characters attending a banquet, not much happens. You could create some interesting tension, I think, by even having Kori somehow talk to Siegfried (since he seems to be a hot topic in this chapter) or maybe even have some kind of tension between the girls at the table. Perhaps one of them tells a scandalous story about Siegfried, which angers the others. That could be an interesting place to start for some character development, too. Because the way other characters view a specific character is just as enlightening or important as how they view themselves...if that makes sense.
But yeah. I think adding some tension will help with the pacing of this chapter.
Dialogue: I really enjoy your dialogue! I think you do a great job getting across the tone and setting from the way the characters talk to each other. It all feels very formal and what I expect of nobles.
Theme: I like what you're doing with the story behind Kori's conception. I mentioned above that how characters view themselves is very important when it comes to actual character development, and from seeing the way Kori regards her conception (being too squeamish to even think the word "rape") it tells us a lot about her. She seems shameful about that blot on her past, which is unfortunate and makes me feel a measure of empathy toward her. I hope you follow through with this part of her character because I think, if you keep digging, you'll find some really deep and meaningful concepts to explore in terms of self-acceptance.
Hope you found this helpful! :)
| Henry Palmetto chapter 4 . 5/23/2017
Chapter 4 builds on the relationship between Kori and her sister Erika while mounting tension between the protagonist and her mother, Brunhilde. In a moment of frustration she takes comfort in the presence of her sister, who then opens a secret passageway which enables Kori to observe the entire landscape. The chapter concludes with the girls pouring over a novel, and by establishing Kori's unspoken fondness for King Siegfried. This chapter also introduces Kori's troubled parentage-the rape of her father, and the demon in her bloodline.
Whether intentional or not, there is definitely a strong focus on opposing gender relations throughout this story. With the exception of Kori's uncle, all the men are feminized, weak and particularly in this chapter, sexually vulnerable (Kori's sexually molested father, the boys in the story of Walter, Walter himself-a 'delicate boy' with a bunch of vitriolic older teens). By contrast, the women are all Valkyries, and more and more I find myself thinking of Das Nibelungenlied. Similar names notwithstanding, the rape of Kori's father could be an echo of the humiliated Gunther in Krimhilde's bridal chamber, and it isn't impossible to see the relationship between Kori and Brunhilde turning as vicious as the Brunhilde/Krimhilde squabble in the poem.
I'd beintrigued to see a very powerful and dominating cast of women in this novel, but for now most of what I am attracted to is hinted at briefly rather than fleshed out in full. Kori flip-flops far too much: I do not believe she would go from slaying werewolves to hanging her head like a humiliated schoolgirl during etiquette lessons, to fawning over feminine boys in romance books with her sister. These last two details completely contradict everything I knew or liked about her. Rather than hang her head in shame, she ought to have given her mother the finger; rather than dote on boys, she ought to be training with the castle swords-master. She may be young and she may be naive, but she most certainly is Wolfsbane and Demonspawn. The last thing the reader ought to be reminded of is a bubble-gum smacking teenybopper.
I understand this is a first draft and so the language may be forgiven. When you begin your edits, I would recommend that you update a lot of the dialogue. Fantasy novel talk can be difficult: it's neither here nor there; it's not in the past and it probably won't be in the future. That being said, it needs to be consistent. This is particularly problematic in the dialogue between Erika and Kori. "Behold, the multiverse mapped out for us," does not belong in the same mouth as "don't sell yourself short:" there is roughly four hundred years of English language development separating that imperative from that idiom. This may sound like nit-picking, but language that vacillates too much can be very distracting. If you really want to make your characters speak like Biblical angels, they must stay in character at all times: it's probably a pain in the ass, but it can be done (David Mitchell's "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" has pretty realistic 18th century period talk; Patrick O'Brien's "Master and Commander" characters have an incredible command of Napoleonic era naval jargon; Anthony Burgess's "Nothing Like the Sun" doesn't use a single word that existed prior to 1612). Otherwise, modern syntax will work just fine.
My same criticisms about pacing and scene development apply here as well so I won't repeat them.
Siegfried as a budding love interest is quite obvious the moment he is introduced. Kori's thoughts of him convey nothing new and end the chapter on an anticlimax. If you plan on turning this into a realistic love affair, it needs to be more unexpected. If you plan on carrying this on as a predictable love affair and twisting it into something else later, it wouldn't hurt to begin developing the relationship between Kori and the king in this chapter.
I don't see any reason why this world ought to exist as a multiverse. One universe seems plenty big already. Furthermore, as this civilization still uses castles and swords and armor-medieval era technology-how in the name of the Gods would they have developed the technology or the philosophy required to perceive an infinite number of universes? Like my language qualm, this is another example of a slight inconsistency-easy to miss but fortunately, rather easy to correct.
I look forward to reading more soon.
| Dublinjake chapter 8 . 5/21/2017
Alright, chapter 8 ! Another really good one. I was kind of worrying this would turn out to be a filler chapter, but I think it was a pretty interesting and important one.
We got a good insight into his character. He's plainly been playing the social game for so long and is deeply tired of going through the motions. I was really terrified from the last chapter that he would be a major annoyance, but now I'm looking forward to more of them. He's plainly observant, and is at least capable of pretending to have a plan.
I also find Kori's crush on Siegfried and how seriously she's taking it pretty amusing. It's a bit of a Dipper Pines scenario, she has no hope but hasn't yet caught on to the fact that they were losing.
| Dublinjake chapter 7 . 5/21/2017
Just from the start of the chapter (haven't read the rest), but I'll point to Megan as a character with a strong voice in dialogue. You did it right here. I can imagine what she sounds like and can immediately distinguish her from Kori And others. I know you're saying that you trying to base the way they speak off of actual German people speaking, but I'm really not sure it's working. Perhaps limit it to Kori and Madeleine? As Kori's the only primary character from the countryside you could play it off as the effect of a local or regional dialect. It also helps to compliment her outsider credentials.
Another note from the start: Kori's perhaps growing a little too perfect. She's a little too chipper and committedly enthusiastic about all of her studies and doesn't see,m to have any struggle with them. It kind of cheapens the societal leap she's taking. That being said, I really like most of this chapter.
As far as pacing goes, this one flows the best. Everything feels like it flows together.
I really like that we see Kori facing some difficulty in swordsmanship training, as it helps to balance out the excessive perfection seen earlier. I also like that she's got a really superficial and unjustified crush on Siegfried. This really compliments her age and makes her feel more tangible and real.
Gerd and Rudoplh prove amusing in their lack of tolerance for Siegfried's nonsense.
Honestly, probably my favourite so far.
| Dublinjake chapter 6 . 5/20/2017
This part feels a little flimsy for me. Perhaps it's just the fact that the stable scene screams "this is your love triangle for the evening, folks". It just doesn't feel natural, and I think you really need to work on the dialogue in this portion and probably elsewhere. I know you said they're all supposed to be German, but I'm reading this in English and it reads pretty darned awkwardly in some places. There's a weird thing that recurs where someone says something, you go into narration and then the response just doesn't seem to fit with what was just said. Like here:
"Ralph"... "We're both in the next royal guard though." What's the "though" for?
You also Seem to repeat the same phrases across multiple characters which just feels unnatural and doesn't feel right, e.g. "It does feel better". A more distinct sense of voice needs to be set up for each character. The fact that some guardsman who can't even read speaks the same as a Prince just doesn't feel right. It's too formal. Even if you're going for the angle that Ralph is emulating Gerd in an effort to impress, you could try to work in slight slippages to colloquialism and poor grammar, or have efforts to correct himself. Perhaps even have Kori simply notice a slight weirdness about the way he speaks, as if he's forcing himself to speak that way.
I also feel that the handling of Kori is growing a little weaker here. On the one hand you've got Kori be quite aware of her almost borrowed status at Gruenwald in the stable scene, in her realisation that people may be wary about her. And she's spent the last few chapters worrying about it. However, when engaging with the soldiers, she doesn't bat an eye when they treat her as slightly superior as a Sommerknacht. Come on, have her react to that. A sense of satisfaction, perhaps a bit of false dignity and grandeur in responding? Or at least an internal giddiness, which you showed you were able to capture well in the episode with Rudolph earlier in the chapter. She also asks a Prince to speak to her in a very familiar way, in spite of the inferiority complex you've been building up so well. There is a potentially arrogant and defiant streak that you could play up in Kori that could help things be more interesting.
That being said, I am interested in where you go with Gerd. He does come across as having an aura of detached amusement. However, you could play on that quip to Ralph about asking him to "Spell Korina" more. Perhaps have him use it as an opportunity to slip in a word to Korina or something.
Also, I do really like how you've built up Rudolph. He does come across as a really calming and supportive presence and is probably my favourite character so far. I'm interested to learn more about him. What's his backstory? What does he do? He seems like a chill guy.
Not so sure about Ralph as he doesn't seem to have a very defined personality yet. It just feels like in the twice the amount of text it took to pique my interest about Gerd I've grown less interested in Ralph than before I knew about him. He just reads like a bit of bland beefcake as yet. The beefcake part isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the bland part is.
Sorry I don't have more positive to say about this part. I do like the episode with Rudolph as mentioned, and Gerd looks like a potentially interesting character. I still like Kori, and the antagonistic relationship with Brunhilda is being built up quite well, with it slipping into Kori's everyday thoughts (though hearing the same comment about Brunhilda loving that repeated does somewhat limit the effectiveness). However, this is probably the first real dud chapter. Sorry Electrum.
| Dublinjake chapter 5 . 5/19/2017
Not much to say here, one of my favourites so far.
I like how you handled the backstory of Lord Sommerknacht (great name btw) and Kori's reaction to it. I like that you acknowledge the obvious resentment that must be there on both sides, and treating this as a compromise instead of a tender act of fatherly love and encouragement. I also like that Kori is trying to actively seek out her purpose, instead of waiting for it to come. Her protective nature seems to be very central to her arc.
The trust between Erika and Kori is also interesting, and I am seeing something more to Erika in her constant attempts to ready herself to be queen. It's ambitious, perfectionist and helps to raise her from the perfect fantasy sister I previously took her for. I hope you play up that aspect in the coming chapters.
| Dublinjake chapter 4 . 5/15/2017
"And when he returns he finds his two friends keeping one another wamr by resting their faces on each other's crotches"
... The less I say the better.
Honestly, probably the weakest part so far. I still liked it, but there's a lot of missteps here. I'll say I do like how the friendship between Kori and Erika is developing, though I am still betting on Erika's kidnapping, and that Kori and Siegfried go on the quest to rescue her, leading to them growing closer to the point of romantic complications by the time Erika is rescued. :P She just seems too ethereal a character. She doesn't react the way she should. Perhaps if she showed a little more bewilderment at Kori's powers that would help out. Kori's protective instincts are also becoming very clear, and it's helping to solve that blandness I complained about in an earlier review.
I also like what you're doing with the idea of them reading a nice bit of fluff escapism. A very episodic boarding school story that likely isn't of great literary merit but is also a huge best-seller. This helps to create a sense of this world having a more fleshed out culture. I especially like the premise of this book within the story, as this sort of premise is out of fashion in our modern culture and this helps to give your world a little more individualistic flavour. That being said:
"And when he returns he finds his two friends keeping one another warm by resting their faces on each other's crotches"
... What on earth? The sudden whiplash and double-take just isn't worth it. I'm sorry. I appreciate what you're trying to do, setting up an opportunity for some girl-talk. But... too strange. Also, you do have a tendancy to have them talk about the book more like they're describing it to the read than recounting it to each other.
The breakdown is also a misstep in my opinion. It sets up a nice character moment for Kori, but I feel like this could either be moved a little further on in the story or played differently. I understand it's a sensitive issue, but it does make Kori look perhaps a little too sensitive and feeble. If this had been going on for a while, and gradually built, or if Brunhilde had been a little more friendly at first, causing this sudden outburst to be a shock, this would be a little more effective.
Or, alternatively, as I assume the arc for Kori and Brunhilde's relationship is going to essentially be "Brunhilde hates Kori but accepts her at the end after she proves herself", you could have a first move towards this. Perhaps have Brunhilde see the fault and try to comfort or at least call back Kori after she breaks down, and try to get along better from there, while still fighting with the underlying resent and hatred. It would, in my opinion at least, add a few layers to Brunhilde's character and make the relationship a bit more interesting than the standard fare. If Brunhilde, from this starting point, accepts Kori at the end of the novel just because she accomplishes a great deed, any acceptance would seem parasitic and opportunistic when you thought about it. Unless you called Brunhilde out for it in-universe at the end, this would be a pretty big narrative fault.
Hope these are useful so far.