Reviews for Winter Crossed Spring
SoSaysL chapter 5 . 7/20/2018
It’s wonderful that we’re shifting to Fuyuuko’s perspective, right when we want to hear from Haruhi’s viewpoint about all this. In particular, I’m getting really worried about Haruhi now... I hope she’s all right because it can’t have been very pleasant to be nearly liquified by a Shoyu-Sha (going back to my previous point, I would love even a small insert on what that means!).

Ha! An ornamental smile, what a fitting turn of phrase. Emphasizes what Fuyuuko is really feeling, to the point that even a simple smile is purely for decorative use. Nicely written, there.

“The Sent[s] greeted each[ ]other with a glance…”

So they have a miracle fruit on their hands, but Haruhi may be slowly dying of… long-term poisoning. Very ironic, since she’s a Purifier. I wonder if she could rid someone else of the ailment she has, or if she has it within herself to defeat it with the strength she has been given? Like, what are the limits of her powers? And her refusal to use the fruit may be a subtle way of declaring to herself (after the revelations of the previous chapter) that she refuses to sacrifice further lives in exchange for her own, that she embraces what it means to be a Sent (at least on her own terms).

“I felt my normal life little life [small typo] was my destiny, and I reveled in it…”

Ah, that’s just wonderful. I have to commend you on that passage where Fuyuuko feels panic that Haruhi knows something she shouldn’t. Immediately the reader starts to jump to conclusions. Personally, here’s my guess: ti has to do with some darker truth about the nature of being “Sent.” More specifically, I suspect that being a Sent requires, in some way, shape, or form, sacrifice of the self…most likely death. We shall see!

“She could still find something useful afterw[a]rds…”

Ohhh, Fuyuuko doesn’t have a mother… hearing her sacrifices in exchange for the life of a Sent was a really nice part of this chapter that I definitely enjoyed, as it kind of informs us on the kind of person she is and, in the end, the things that are most important to her (that is, I have a hard time imagining Haruhi saying such things). It’s also very heartwarming to see these two characters grow closer together (especially as evidenced by Haruhi’s braid after the two manage to emerge from the tunnels), and you know their closeness has been well-earned over so many trials.

But as always there are still secrets between them...! Which is also great, I foresee a chapter where Haruhi feels Fuyuuko has betrayed her trust, and Fuyuuko's, seeing the destruction that ensues, is like, I knew you had this violent potential in you all along.

You know, I think that the kinds of conversations and character interactions in this chapter- where you get a chance to explore the themes and “soul” of a work, as it were - are where your strengths as a writer really come through. The characters feel so real, and the trials they go through are not just enemies to vanquish, but also the struggles of surviving through the world itself… speaking of which, the Forgotten Works. Your world building here is so very nice here, really enveloping the reader in this fantasy world - I can say I felt characters’ struggle through the elements as if it was my own.

Few critical thoughts here except the typos, I thought this was most excellently done-
SoSaysL chapter 4 . 7/20/2018
And so the journey becomes ever more treacherous for Haruhi and Fuyuuko…

Nice acknowledgement and likely foreshadowing that in this war, perhaps there is more to success than pure physical strength. (After all, you do have to wonder why so many Chosen Ones across the tales we tell are quite young and not stereotypically "strong" warriors).

Ah yes, we’re continuing in the tradition of Haruhi being Haruhi. You know, maybe it’s because she gives off the aura of being very annoyed by small things that she finds herself so often bothered? Like, someone like Fuyuuko would simply shrug and that would be that. And another note - that scene is *so* effective because at first we think it’s some kind of comic relief - until the raiders come in and someone is already dead.

“Haruhi would’ve likely agree[d] with the chieftain’s assessment…”

“N’doto gave a low whistle [and] leaned forward to rustle his horse’s mane…”

Oh no, Fuyuuko sees an inclination towards violence, towards destruction, in Haruhi. It would be very interesting to follow this thought further, and see if Haruhi ever finds herself tempted by the path Fuyuuko fears she will follow. Great foreshadowing here, it’s written all over the way Fuyuuko thinks about/interacts with/talks about Haruhi - I look forward to seeing how Haruhi will come to reject or grow into Fuyuuko’s suspicions about her.

So Haruhi knows how to fight? Interesting, perhaps she will grow into a true force to be feared later on. I also really like the description of how she feels during the battle. It’s her first time in an armed conflict, and of course it’s going to be a little surreal. She won’t really know how to handle herself (even though she’s clearly overpowered and few really stand a chance against her), and that’s pretty realistic. It’s also telling that she thinks everything will be okay once she finds Fuyuuko, even though in less desperate circumstances it seems she’s loath to admit that Fuyuuko is someone she trusts to that extent.

“What good will you do hanging onto her jacket like a suckling?[“]…

Fuyuuko is actually taking Haruhi along… It seems that despite her misgivings on Haruhi, Fuyuuko still believes any experience is good experience. I suspect she’ll come to change her mind about this by the end of the tale…

…”just enough time to slow her [won?] gait before…” (Perhaps you meant to say something else, just wanted to point it out)

Ah, Fuyuuko has magical powers that translate into being able to change her physical environment… which, you know, I should have seen coming. Now that I think of it, it’s the first time we’ve seen the Sent use their powers like this. I am curious about what their powers are and how they translate into being able to manipulate the world around them, but as a personal preference, I’d like to see more up-front explanation on this earlier on (more thoughts on this later!)

Fuyuuko is probably my favorite character right now; she’s evenly levelheaded, empathetic, generally handles situations well, and is also not above delivering slightly snarky comebacks (like that line about, well, that depends on whether or not he asks to be taken).

How does Haruhi fall into this cave? I would definitely like to see more explanation of this, since (and it may just be me) I reread it a few times and wasn’t quite sure.

Hm, here are my critical thoughts (take them with a grain of salt!) - if you have important information that is of interest to the reader about the rules of this world, it might be better to tell them straightaway - I feel sometimes that I am left in the dark about terms that are meant to immerse me in the fantasy world but I do not know or am meant to infer what they mean (the Banshee, mzlei, kan, etc).
Of course, it is part of the charm to immerse us in a setting and let us figure out what is going on, and no-one likes an info dump (and I can tell you are very careful about avoiding bulky info-dumps, and the gradual building of setting and character is where this story shines). Yet personally, I would love to get a few sentences earlier in the narrative about what it means to be a Purifier, or a Translucence, or the different types of Sent, and so on, or the philosophy on which this is all based (I think, this more than anything, just so I can place and better understand their ideology), or their concept of Heaven, or so on and so forth. So, your reader and you have a common baseline on which to build further mysteries upon. I don’t mind leaving things like the Plague a mystery, but I think that some exposition might be helpful as far as setting the scene goes.

Oof. The ending connects like a punch to the gut. For me, definitely the best conclusion to a chapter so far, not just the realization in itself but also what it signifies for Haruhi’s efforts as a whole. It’s true, isn’t it? That in the end, despite her status as a Sent, Haruhi had acted only to save herself at the cost of someone else’s life. Wonderful stuff here, it’s the crux of what stories are about: exploring our humanity, what you are willing to sacrifice for your goals, what it means to save and be saved.
And so Haruhi slowly comes understand that perhaps, just perhaps, this whole “saving-the-world” thing isn’t as heroic as it’s cracked up to be. It’s also very nice (and quite poetic) that one of the previous chapters ends with Fuyuuko shielding Haruhi from the truth, but this time, she’s not able to. The truth stands for itself: Haruhi realizes what she has done.

Well done! And ever onwards-
Aviantei chapter 4 . 7/19/2018
Phew, an intense chapter here. Lots of balance of action and different world elements. I liked the exploration of the southern culture, and all the action built a high stakes tension chapter.

I liked the dip into Fuyuuko’s POV for a little while, then we touch onto some more difficult aspects that Haruhi is dealing with. Peace does not always come about from peaceful actions. Haruhi will have to learn about the tough aspects of being a chosen as time goes on.

I noticed a point where you used “principal” when you should’ve used “principle.” Not sure what someone in charge of a school would be doing here...

Thank you for the chapter. Also, remember: if you think you’re behind on reviews, CG, you’re nowhere near as behind as I am.

Aviantei chapter 3 . 7/8/2018
What’s this? Another review within the span of a week? What’s happening?!

In any event, I know you’re doing the seasons challenge, but I very much like the way you’re building up the world as you slip in the seasonal details. Keep it up!

But, hey, Hitsuki! I know that guy! Maybe it’s just because I’ve encountered him before, but I found his presence thoroughly enjoyable. We get to see a combination of his flamboyant nature with his determination, which is frankly a recipe for characters I enjoy. I’ll be looking forward to seeing more of him in the main story!

Haruhi takes some other steps forward here, as she starts to see more around her. It’s subtle, but it’s something, and those little things will build up eventually.

We also get some thoughts from Fuyuuko, who I sort of feel like I’m getting a better picture of. Time will bring more, I’m sure. Also some hints at encountering the last of our Sent. Will we see Natsudo in this collection?

This piece has a much lower set of stakes to it and unfolds at a more “wandering life” kind of pace, which hyper contrasts from the last segment. Not that this is a bad thing, but the shift is definitely there. Maybe a tiny more stakes will help things flow better as an overall collection. As a standalone piece, this is more than enough.

I’m trying my best to catch up on reviews (there’s so much to read, goodness), but I’ll keep trying. Hopefully this will spur you on as you work on completing the sixth piece. Until next time!

SoSaysL chapter 3 . 7/7/2018
This chapter was probably my favorite so far: very thematically cohesive and well put together. Here are my notes:

I liked the point you bring up in the letter - that perhaps those who bring pain and misery are suffering themselves (that is, when Haruhi is commenting on the wraiths). It encourages empathy even for those who cause pain to us, those we would wish to blame. I am sure we’ll hear more about the wraiths later, but for now it’s a very nice piece of foreshadowing.

It’s also interesting that Haruhi immediately seems to see everyone in an adversarial way, even when they have shown no evidence of ill will. For example, the stablehands perhaps are just minding their own business, but she sees something suspicious and/or threatening in that fact.

You also do something I am fond of - giving bits of information about a character’s appearance, not all at once during an info-dump when they look in the mirror, but over time. I was surprised to find out Haruhi was blonde, with long hair - I have to admit my mental image of Haruhi might have been with shortish, dark hair (although, now that I think about it, this might just be a subconscious association from the Haruhi of Ouran HSHC).

I really like this line: Fuyuuko couldn’t help but wonder where personal matters like love fell in the grand scheme of doing good. We have so many tropes that deal with love: like, love is patient, kind, and a force of good, but also love can be used to justify evil. But on a more personal level, what role can love play in the lives of people like the Sent, who have literally been “Sent” to serve others? Would definitely love to see this question touched on more in coming chapters.

Ha, Hitsuki seems to particularly good-natured. He greets all of Haruhi’s cold snark with a smile, and it even provides for some nice comedic relief at times. And it’s very telling that, when he finds out she’s a Sent, he doesn’t withdraw or feel embarrassed - he still seems to say what he thinks and treat her like a normal human being. Which, of course, must be a refreshing turn of events for Haruhi regardless of whether she admits it or not. Another note: it’s wonderful how you make Haruhi’s faults become so clear, even when much of the narration is from her perspective - that’s something I’ve always been a fan of in writing. I tend to be peeved when the main character has no faults, or does everything perfectly, but here we are made acutely aware that Haruhi has some significant faults indeed.

Criticism: hm, I actually don’t have much to say here. I really liked this chapter, it’s definitely a break compared to the previous chapters but decidedly not filler; there’s a lot of heart and substance here about love, human connection, and how we shun or allow it. And you can see hints of Haruhi beginning to open up over the course of the chapter, which was a nice touch.

The only thing I can think of to say is that perhaps the love interests we write are not as interesting as our main leads - that they sometimes can suffer from less development, or blandness of personality compared to other characters because they are usually the ones defined by their interest in the main character. This is in so many stories, I think. For this chapter I think Hitsuki is introduced well - yet if Hitsuki is going to appear again, or have a more prominent role than described here, I would definitely like to see his personality developed a bit more, so he feels as real, as flawed, as Haruhi or Fuyuuko. (Which, of course, is a testament to how well you’ve developed those two).

Ever onwards to better our writing!
Aviantei chapter 2 . 7/4/2018
This is definitely an interesting piece to look at because I was around while you were writing it. In case you were worried, I didn’t predict any of the plot for this at all. (Thumbs up)

Since you spent so much time on that opening scene, I want you to know that it turned out very smooth. I’ve heard you talk about the sword user compatibility stuff before, but it’s also interesting to look at from an in universe perspective.

Second sequence brings some action onto the table, which was much more tension filled than I had been expecting! Good sequencing here. Hm, I’m a little curious about the whole “plant chooses who gets the fruit” mechanics tho.

Ending is nice to give some alternate perspective with Fuyuuko! Lots of things talked about here. I’m very much a fan of the “still deciding which things matter” exchange. The question is: philosophy or foreshadowing for the main series?

Oh, yes the opening letter. I like Haruhi’s sign offs. Also the smooth way you showed how the time line has progressed.

Hm, yes, I feel like this review is a bit more comprehensive than the last. Hopefully there was something of worth in it for you!

No where near as clever as Haruhi,
Aviantei chapter 1 . 7/1/2018
Okay, finally hitting a review here. I’m still a bit drowsy from being sick, so I hope my half gathered thoughts will suffice.

The highlight of this piece for me was all the foliage details throughout the forest journey. You pulled together some great specific details that really brought the scenes to life.

I also like the set up of the dynamic between Haruhi and Fuyuuko. I don’t feel like I have a full grasp on them yet, but I look forward to journeying with them over the summer.

Also find it interesting that three of the four chosen ones are girls. I appreciate the reversal(?) of usual group dynamics.

I don’t have too much else comprehensive to say, but know that I enjoyed the piece! Hopefully it won’t take me too long to review more...

SoSaysL chapter 2 . 6/25/2018
Very contemplative, and I think this is the chapter where you really hook your reader (especially towards the end). You tend to write with a light, subtle touch when it comes to difficult or heavy matters, and yet the implications and conclusions come through with the same (or even greater) sweep and scope for the careful reader. Very excited to see where you’ll take this in the future. Here are my thoughts on this chapter in the meantime-

In her letter, Haruhi’s snark at Fuyuuko might be a statement that perhaps - even if there are the beginnings of a true connection there - we don’t always acknowledge it right away. I wonder if Haruhi’s letters to her sister will change in what she does and doesn’t omit, or how she describes other characters, it will definitely be interesting to see.

Heaven sent? There’s different degrees of agency displayed by divine power that are portrayed in fiction, and I wonder more about that phrase means and where this anthology stands on that spectrum - how someone is Heaven sent, how Heaven expects them to carry out its will, etc. Questions to be answered later, perhaps.

Does Fuyuuko mean winter?
Haha, kidding, I just googled it and better understand the conversation now. Carry along, carry along…

I really like the conversation between Fuyuuko and Haruhi, it distances them a bit (especially compared to the end of the introduction, when I get a sense that these two could be good friends), and introduces the possibility of tension later on. You can’t help but wonder where this will go - Haruhi is dry, cutting, mercilessly shading the world in (perhaps a too cynical) light, and Fuyuuko is clearly uncomfortable with this. There is virtue in optimism, but protection in cynicism. I think Haruhi has the instincts to be a survivor in this sense… but it’s definitely a skill to be sharpened and honed since that kind of pessimism can prevent you from taking advantage of opportunities that are open to the eager and bright-eyed.

Ha, that’s nice: there is indeed a difference between being able to fight and being able to survive. In fact, the entire ensuing scene when Haruhi is faced with a dose of her own realism (albeit used on herself) is wonderful. It makes terrible sense, and yet we can relate: don’t we all want to save those we love who are doomed?

The phrase “I must away now,” gave me pause, it sounds like it could be correct phrasing, perhaps an archaic form, but I’m not sure?

Wow. I think the star of this chapter is the later section when the fruit actually falls for Haruhi. This effectively ramps up the action, introducing real danger in Haruhi’s journey right away, and the best part is that (yet!) there are no villains. Everyone is acting with quite understandable motivations. My favorite line is when Haruhi imagines her impending demise - “A careless life given for so many carelessly taken.”

On the critical side - I would definitely like to see a bit more description on what actually happened in the time omitted, and more exploration of what that act of self-preservation meant - the fact that it might even be considered a crime. In particular, Haruhi uses a bit of the fruit to save herself. That could have saved her father, or Oda’s daughter, or any number of people - what are the consequences of that, what does it mean? How do you live with yourself knowing that you’re supposed to lay down your life for others, and yet you’ve done quite the opposite? There’s such great dramatic stakes in that scene, and I think that the description of the aftermath could perhaps explore the consequences and/or philosophy of it in greater detail.

Hm, I think that Fuyuuko definitely does not trust Haruhi, although she does want to shield her to the extent that she can. And the realization that Oda is clinging to a delusion is quite devastating (perhaps a little too understated? It took me a few rereads to fully piece together what was going on, but I will say it was well worth it.) Quite a sense of bittersweet foreboding in their departure, very nice. The dramatic stakes have been raised, and now I’m wondering what’s happening next.
SoSaysL chapter 1 . 6/6/2018
Greetings again, CG!

You write so very well on a technical level, not to mention the worldbuilding is quite nice. And a side of character development, how amazing! Suffice to say, I really enjoyed reading this chapter. Take my minor quibbles with a grain of salt! Let me get my notes in order...

I really like Haruhi’s wariness to the world around her. She’s a savior and the world seems bound to see her as such, even if only that is what they must tell themselves, but she definitely carries a trace of cynicism that comes across really well. Yet she's relatable and flawed, with resentments and fears. You do get a fully-formed sense of who this character is by how she describes things and people and how she relates to the world around her, so hats off to you.

What are the Dunes of Yorei/Sands of Dolstheim? In original fiction I think you need more context. The one exception to this is if these places will become incredibly relevant later on, and mentioning them now is a way of giving that context (and a jolt of recognition to the readers when they pop up again).

It's the same with the mention of the plague... this can be the first time you mention it, but for something so devastating I would definitely like to see more hints about it in the first chapter.

The last line is so great. “Then she held her letter to her sister and cried.” You don’t even have to describe the rest of the events, or catalogue her is enough, those words.

...Since the younger sent had never need[ed] or use[d] a horse during her previous training…

You manage to make me like Fuyuuko nearly immediately. She is very aware of Haruhi's flaws and seems like she can (and will) help her grow beyond them, but is ultimately wise enough to give Haruhi breathing room so they can become true partners. She is also exactly the kind of partner you want by your side; someone who will support you, but also call you out when necessary. The reader can sense that this is the beginning of something grand, and that with time these girls will become trusted friends as the journey continues.

“To think that who we really are aren’t the faces we’ve worn so long…” Maybe reword? Not sure though.

I may have entirely missed this and this may just be my impatience as a reader, but where are they going on this pilgrimage? Although I suppose half the journey is finding out where you are meant to go...

Bottom line: the writing and story are lovely and hold a lot of promise, and I am really looking forward to reading the next installment. The worldbuilding is also enviably good, as we get a sense of the setting right away, and the characters feel complex and relatable... like real people. All the best and may your ink never run dry-

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