|Reviews for Death's Kiss|
| thedeitychildren chapter 7 . 6/26
I love this story! The characterization you do is incredible, the format you write each chapter in is very interesting, and I love the world building. The inclusion of fate magic I think is very well done. Each chapter reveals to me new things that only draw me deeper into the story. I cannot wait to learn more. Every interaction is very well-done as well, I was listing my favorites, but really it's all of them.
| She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 7 . 8/8/2019
I wanted to slap Johan’s mother for the way she spoke to him. Even if it is inevitable that he dies at 18 why doesn’t his life have value in and of itself? I guess that’s how all kids were treated in many cultures, but so cruel. I wonder if Johan will run away? He has no reason at all to fight his parents’ war.
| She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 5 . 8/6/2019
This is the most powerful chapter so far IMO. There's so much to analyze, like the librarian's justified hatred for the protagonist, and how Johan's actions were understandable but that doesn't mitigate the consequences. Indeed, a library burning down in a setting like this would be a tragedy - that information may never be seen again.
| She Who Loves Pineapples II chapter 4 . 8/6/2019
Hey. I’m trying to review at least a decent handful of other people’s stories for the 12 Shots of Summer challenge. Thanks for reviewing mine, by the way. Sorry I never replied to it I’m horrible about those things
Anyway, I read your previous chapters but didn’t review them. I definitely feel as though the previous chapters were fundamental to understanding each other.
This chapter was interesting since your MC is being more… IDK, open and emotional than he has been in previous chapters. Before, we can infer by the fact that he’s writing these letters that he does not want this life he has, that he not only resents the adults who have forced it upon him but is still aching. But he always narrated his tales in a detached, cold sort of way as was his habit; this is the first time we saw him really act on his desire to not have the life he has. It made me sympathize with him a little more to see him act openly as a hurt child, even though it was inferable in previous chapters it made him difficult to empathize or connect with.
Funny, there are quite a few ways you could have made “burn” fit this story! This way is not what I would have expected but it works just fine.
I think it would have benefitted if you’d fleshed out the reaction between Johan and Alfonso a little bit more. That part read a bit too much like “must get the information out, let’s shove it into some dialogue” rather than a natural conversation. I think it would have been more authentic to play up Alfonso and Lucia’s fear of Johan, and have them go through a range of approaches to interacting with him – testing out treating him as a tyrant, a prince, a suffering child, maybe a moment here and there where they treat him like any other of their kids’ friends, but of course that would be fleeting because of his power over them and their fear. There’s a hint of all those things in their interactions but a good portion of it was too matter-of-fact and casual to fit the situation IMO.
| Aviantei chapter 4 . 7/24/2019
(Due to FP logic, I can only post one review per chapter, thus I am giving you a signed guest review to compensate this deficiency. Cheers.)
Oh goodness! More Death’s Kiss? More L writing? How fortunate! Even if I got a tiny bit lost navigating hyperlinks and didn’t realize you’d changed around chapter 4 instead of adding a new part.
Regardless, I continue to enjoy story and the voice of our protagonist. The letter addressing blend of first and second person is fun to navigate, plus we see our prince’s semi-problematic personality traits in action, which adds a nice balance of realistic people even in a fantastical world.
Though I get the feeling that even with magic on my side I wouldn’t be able to bake a marzipan cake.
Thanks once more for sharing your original works with us, and I look forward to whatever else you may put out this T-Sauce session!
| pff chapter 7 . 10/17/2018
Interesting, better than a lot of what is on this site, but for whatever reason I didn't care for the first chapter, the second one was better and was what actually hooked me.
| Chronic Guardian chapter 7 . 9/4/2018
Goodness! Way to pull a Johan's Parents on us! The moment we think we understand the rules of the story, you pull out another dimension to the situation and force us to reevaluate our entire understanding of the situation! I mean, you're considerably less callous about it, but still!
I like the mystery surrounding the dream girl. Originally I thought she might be an invention of Mallory's, but that seems considerably less likely given Mallory's response to the situation.
...Although, granted, Mallory is a liar, so it's possible he's just playing both sides of the equation, but your portrayal makes me think he might be genuinely flummoxed.
"Mallory's gaze was unflinching."
But not unFINSCHing, right?
...I'll see myself out.
I also like where this falls in the timeline, because coinciding with the countess's schemes immediately makes me wonder if Johan is falling under the exact same lethal enchantment that his ill-fated bride did. Is this dream girl the secret cause of his madness? Having this new character for him to reveal (or "display") another side of himself to makes me wonder about how he framed his letter to the late countess so that it conveniently left the dream girl out. Johan, you little philanderer!
Dang! And Johan's parents telling him the facts of their plan! I'm almost surprised he has enough restraint to not call out his mother on not producing another heir herself, but Johan is both more cultured and more idealistic than his parents. Even if they treat him as a tool, he still hoped for better. Poor kid...
Now that I think about it, he also didn't share that little scenario with the countess, did he? My! Johan is more sensetive than I thought.
Throughout this story, I love the irony of Johan keeping himself sane by explaining himself to a dream. An anchor cast in the clouds seems ill placed, to say the least!
Also, I like how this story gives us the first clear connecting bits back to the first tale in the collection. This allows room for speculation and tension as we see Johan slipping further and further away from a grounded existence as well as a possible motivation for his eventual self-imposed exile into the clockworld.
Most of all, though, I think it's interesting how Johan once again destroys his own refuge here. Despite the best of intentions, his touch seems cursed with death. I almost wonder if that's him channeling/redirecting Mallory's curse somehow, but I don't have a solid enough grasp on the world magic to say so conclusively.
Altogether, I like how you manage to add so much to the collection without sacrificing the stand alone potency of this individual entry. In my own work, I feel like I eventually drifted too far away from one shot format and eventually just wrote chapters, but every entry here feels complete to me. Each piece seems to hold the whole story until we step back and see the constellation they form. That's a beautiful balance to strike, L. I'm glad it worked out for you.
Also, I guess I'll say here that I'm really happy you chose to go with original work this summer! I know it's a different ballgame than fan fiction, but you still play it well. All your practice has made you a potent, poignant writer with a knack for the thought provoking. I hope to eventually see more of where you go someday.
In the words of Strange Fruit, "The Flame Still Burns."
Keep on rockin',
| Aviantei chapter 7 . 8/18/2018
Huzzah, L slips in another shot of summer! What an excellent way for week Twelve posting day to get even better!
This piece...definitely has a lot going on. It was well co stricter and easy to follow, but I’m not quite sure where to start. I guess I’ll just take a look at this dream girl here.
Props on including character description with enough to build an image, but not such fine details that she seems tangible. I had more of an impression of her than a complete idea of who she is, which seems fitting for someone who’s a reflection of a dream.
Also, Johan. You cannot go three days and three nights without sleep. Someone get this boy a self care bot or something.
More from our rival here. Johan seems like he’s coming to more even ground, but it’s not quite there yet. The plot is brewing, boy, stay alert.
The sequence with Johan’s parents was... I can’t put the exact tone to it, but it definitely twisted my emotions about. You established the shaky family relationship in the letter to Johan’s father, but this brings it back into focus. That attitude is not how parents should be. It seems like they’ll possibly get what’s coming to them for not trusting their son, if nothing else. Will we perhaps see a letter to his mother in later installments?
And the sequence of breaking apart from the girl in the dreams carries a lot of weight. There’s an importance to accepting reality over fantasy, but in a world of magic you have to wonder just where reality and dreams can cross. Considering our rival’s projection capabilities, I’m willing to bet this girl exists somewhere, even if Johan didn’t quite get the chance to find her.
Nice work on capturing the essence of the prompt and slipping in another shot, L. It’s been an honor writing with you this summer. Do keep putting words to the page, and I’ll be waiting to read them,
| Aviantei chapter 6 . 7/31/2018
You mention this as hitting a take on when Johan doesn’t want to get married, which has humerous connotations. And it’s not to say you didn’t pull off any humor in this piece, which just makes the bleakness you tie in all the more apparent.
From the opening “countess who died before your time,” we already get a picture of how this will end. We also see the twisting of what should’ve been a blessing into a magic that twists others, as our countess’s obsession shows. It grows more unsettling as time goes on. You definitely nailed a very difficult tonal balance in this piece. Well done.
One thing I would’ve liked to see more of was character description on the countess’s part. I understand her personality very well, but I didn’t have a clear image of her at all. Just a few extra touches would help the reader out a lot.
I like the respect of “I won’t outright recount your death in a letter to you,” but I’m also hella curious. Hopefully we’ll touch on it at least in passing over other installments. I have a feeling that Johan’s gonna be carrying around some guilt.
You’re doing amazing, L! I’ll be checking out your standalone pieces when I get the chance. Hopefully I’ll see you again at the Billboard!
| Chronic Guardian chapter 6 . 7/26/2018
Well, dang! Way to add variety to your dramatic tension! I must say, I'm a big fan of keeping your hero on his toes, and there's no better way to do that than to switch the rules of the game once he thinks he's getting the hang of things. So you think you know war, Johan? Not where hearts are concerned!
I especially like how this entry gives Johan a reason to stick to himself and only really connect with others in these posthumous letters that are more for his own benefit than the recipient's. His gifts have made him so unapproachable that the only company he can keep are enemies and the dead. And his parents wonder where they went wrong...
Let it be known that I rather enjoyed the Mallory scene at the beginning. Despite the shifting tone between "current recording style" and "epistolary summation", you do give some precious expansion on this villain and further flesh out his congenial, courtly mannerisms in a way that make him simultaneously affable and sinister. He is still Johan's enemy at the end of the day, but this assurance might actually allow them to be more comfortable with eachother. Certainly, lies are to be expected, but there's no question of the ultimate aim or, more importantly, the foundation of the relationship. Mallory ultimately intends to kill Johan, and it is comforting to know they will always be enemies and that they are justified in their mortal struggle. Because all this has been established as unchanging, Johan seems more free to engage.
And I think this is what juxtaposes with the Countess. She does not fit in with the established expectations that have already ruined Johan's life and her presence demands something more from him that he isn't willing to give. There's a complexity to what it is exactly, whether it's Johan's horror at being esteemed a hero he knows he isn't or a resentment of another role where he will merely play a puppet, but the end result is all the same and the Countess is ironically posed as more threatening than the man who cursed Johan at birth.
Also, side-note, I always love it when ultimate blessings have some unforeseen oversight, such as Johan being able to charm others but not read them. This is the sort of fantasy writing that can make for an engaging mental puzzle instead of an abstract power fantasy. Good job!
Also also, I find the royal-casual slang of "Fourth of his name" to be oddly endearing. It's a well constructed shorthand filled with all sorts of subtext for us to unpack about the speaker and where she sees herself to be addressing the crown prince as such. Man! World building in a sentence.
"Chutzpah" is such a lovely word... I often wish I had more ocassions to use it.
"Honestly, I'm one of the few people you can trust around here. You know that, right?"
My, the Countess must be pegging him as particularly malleable to simply take her at her word for this. I mean, it illustrates her foolhardy character nicely and really brings home the point that she thinks she can change reality through simple assertion, but seriously... Johan's response is perfect.
Hovering unsaid (and perhaps purposefully unknown to the Countess) is probably the thought that Johan is cursed to die soon, so it's one of the kingdom's interests to have him produce an heir first. Or, at least, that's the subtext I get from Johan's parents being so eager to get on with it. Also, in my usual way, I like the thought that Johan is putting a spin on things for his reader and allowing the poor Countess who failed to think she had at least some vital effect on things.
...Or maybe he didn't think in that direction either. Johan doesn't seem like one to consider himself a conduit for the royal line.
I love the whole "Arrange myself in a pile of desserts to win positive association through the stomach" strategy the Countess tries to pull, especially since it completely misses the nearly one-dimensional point of Johan's existence as a warrior.
On a similar note, I like how the Countess is in cahoots with Johan's parents because it shows that NONE OF THEM understand the Johan they have created. I can just imagine the poor Countess coming back after the latest attempt and the parents suggesting another "surefire victory" that ends up pushing Johan further away. Little bits like this that allow the audience to paint background details to the picture, whether or not that's exactly what you had in mind, are some of my favorite because I feel they invite the audience to engage in fulfilling interpretations.
Great subtle writing with noting that the Countess is trying to recreate her home in the palace. She doesn't want a buy-in to an existing establishment, she just wants a transposition of her vision. This is tragically rather symbolic of her relationship with Johan and how she's trying to impose a reality over years of contrary grooming.
The ending rush flows wonderfully, and it's hard to pick out any one point that makes it work when the whole thing feels so fluid and well orchestrated. It's kind of like trying to pick out my favorite note in a sweeping glassindo, if you follow me. The tragedy is inevitable, Johan is completely ill-equipped to defeat his own cursed "gifts", and the whole lie of connection and nobility (or, perhaps even normalcy) can only end with the brutal truth.
On that note, I really like how you leave the ending ambiguous and it brings a number of theories to mind. While Johan could be saying exactly what he means, I (as per usual) like to over analyze the structure and overall narrative theory of the glossed event. If, for example, Johan is fully conscious of another reader, then he gains a little something by obscuring events. Does he not want to explicitly admit his role in the Countess's death? Or, in an odd form of posthumous reverence, is he allowing that moment to be something only he and his wife will ever know? It's a morbid thought, certainly, but it strikes me as the odd poetic favor Johan might go for. "I will allow you to share something privately with me: my shame and guilt." Of course, he can't articulate it like that, but that's the interpretation I think I'll settle on.
Over all, I love how you approach Johan's conflicted humanity in this installment. When creating a self-aware, psychotic monster, there are a lot of fine lines of sympathy that are easy to trod all over. Your treatment here is filled with your signature grace and, with minimal adjustments for narrative context in the beginning, basically set for on-the-page publishing. It's pithy, it's layered, and it's tragically fantastic drama. Well played, L.
You are fantastic!
| Aviantei chapter 5 . 7/21/2018
A moment of silence for that poor library.
So, yes moving forward here, we see some foreshadowing of seeking answers, plus play up our rival a bit more. Lots of magic is at here, from Johan’s studies to the dream realm/astral projection-y type conversation that goes on here. It seems we have a new type of battlefront waiting for us.
I didn’t get as strong a sense off the librarian as I have from other characters so far, but I think that’s okay. This section feels less about delving into the librarian and instead using the incident as moment of reflection on Johan’s part, and it works well.
Aaand another dramatic end note. The curiosity is starting to get to me about later stages in Johan’s life. Looking forward to what we’ll find in the throes of chapter six!
| Aviantei chapter 4 . 7/21/2018
Okay, chapter four. A feel like this one had a slower start, but it picked up at the end and kept up a steady clip all the way through. Nice addressing of the Forest prompt...or rather the lack of a forest that no longer exists. Rest In Peace.
The role of our prince here is definitely different from what you’d expect. He’s partially protected in the first few years, but it seems his father views him primarily as a weapon. Not a healthy state of mind. We delved into their father-son relationship last chapter, and this time we see a lot of its effects.
You had some incredibly strong lines this time around that have managed to fly completely out of my head. “I apologize for my attempts at setting you on fire” is a particular favorite of mine.
I very much like how Johan doesn’t view his enemy’s compassion as a weakness, but rather something to be emulated. Someone has to act like a decent person. Learning that lesson relatively young helps prevent a lot of annoying Prince tropes, too.
So, yes, another strong chapter with a somewhat slower opening. The fact that you published five entries at once still astounds he. That means you can expect another review—coming to you soon!
| Aviantei chapter 3 . 7/21/2018
I wanted to apologize for the sudden cut off of my last review. My phone decided that it was totally ready to post, despite being in the middle of a sentence (rude), and I didn’t have ample time to read chapter three and continue my thoughts. So here they are.
As I was trying to say, it can be easy with the type of narrator you’re using to overdo it on the interjections and comments, meaning that there’s something extra to say every other line, which leads to stalled flow of action. Chap two was still enjoyable, but every now and then I was wondering when we’d see things in action instead of our prince’s wandering thoughts.
That being said, I very much liked the set up of this chapter. We have a subversion of typical chosen one fare that has just the right twinge of humor to it. Plus that rival. I’m intrigued and ready for more.
Sliding over to chapter three, I found the voice spectacular in this one. The addressing of the father shows a lot about this patent child relationship and brings a refreshing element to the chapter. The balance between narration and action is better, too, because were balancing small snippets in a sort of montage of our narrator’s youth. I struggle with well flowing summary scenes, but you seemed to have zero issues with it.
Looking at characters, I liked the distinction of the different mages. We don’t spend a lot of time with them, but we have a rough idea of their characters. Will we spend more time with them later on? I’m curious about a lot of the world you’ve got going on here.
And that chapter ending. Fantastic. That’s how you hook your reader in, L. I’m raring to go!
More thoughts coming soon,
| Aviantei chapter 2 . 7/19/2018
Well, that’s certainly a way to become a chosen one. Maybe this prince can go hang out with Haruhi from CG’s work and they can trade cynical anecdotes.
While your narrator has a distinctive voice, I feel like there’s an imbalance between the narrator’s comments and the amount of scene progression. I’m not saying stop the s
| Aviantei chapter 1 . 7/19/2018
Apologies for my late arrival, Dear L! I’ve had a lot on my plate lately, but reviews are forthcoming. Besides, I wouldn’t want to miss out on the treat of original L works, now would I?
Here you’ve established a narrator and some very philosophical thoughts, along with what I’m sure is loads of foreshadowing. I have my personal reservations about openings that address the reader (mainly because my own attempts have been subpar), but you use it well. The character voice is strong, and I got sucked into the rhythm you laid out across this opening. Well done.
You mentioned that this is a fairy tale retelling. I haven’t quite picked up on which one yet, but I’m interested to find out. I enjoy this sort of sub genre, and I’m sure you’ll handle it well.
With your strong voice (and because you’re L and you’re amazing), I’m looking forward to this tale you’re spinning (and have added more chapters to than I had initially expected). I’ll do my best to provide you with more insights as I read on!