|Review:||Toujours Padfoot says:|
I was going to read Diamonds into Coal for the holiday swap, since I'm so behind on it, but I saw this and immediately had to read it because I'm a sucker for fairy tales.
I LOVED the style of this! It's so cold and haunting, with repetition that enforces the image of someone whose mind is slipping, who needs that repetition and is constantly evaluating what they have, who they are, what others think of them.
I suppose this is her penance for giving Tobias a love potion. I could feel all the undertones of an unhappy marriage even though you never explicitly detailed violence or yelling. You made their relationship even colder and more isolated that it would have been if you'd told about them throwing stuff at each other and hollering at the top of their lungs. Instead you showed us a quietly dangerous man and a delusional woman who takes what she wants but even after she has it, it's never good enough. The way that you wrote it was absolutely beautiful. I found myself going back and rereading certain lines several times because I loved them so much:
They were ripped by hands that feared them, tossed aside and taken by the wind. One drifted by, crinkling in the frozen, crisp air, flattening against the wall. Poisons.
A child died in winter. Ivory snow, chapped lips, hair black like crows and death.
What would his love potion smell like? Spirits, poverty, disappointment.
I like how her train of thought is sometimes interrupted all of a sudden, and she seems to fade in and out of lucidity as she addresses these different anxieties. The prose had all of the pretty delicacy of a fairy tale but with a twist of your own, making it darker and showing her mental imbalance. I am so, so jealous.
Was the mirror the Mirror of Erised? Looking into it and usually seeing perfection made me wonder if it was. Either way, Eileen was perfect as Snow White, with her being a princess and with the references to blood. She was oblivious to the fact that she was destroying herself, that she was deteriorating.
Not everyone can write stream-of-consciousness. I've found that most of the SoC I've read on this site is overly embellished. On the surface it's a bunch of pretty-sounding things strung together, but if you read it with a closer eye, it actually lacks real meaning. Stories have to mean something. Overly-ambiguous stories padded with too many descriptions and metaphors is deceptive and can fool people into thinking that lavish prose equals amazing writing. And that's why I'm so particularly struck by this story. The writing is beautiful, but every single line has a meaning. It's not just randomly thrown in there to look nice. Not once did you try to fool your readers with language that, in essence, makes no sense. I can honestly say that I can count on both hands the number of SoC stories I've read on HPFF that are truly honest and not just a bunch of interesting words slapped together (Sunflower is a master of sincere SoC, so I was delighted to see that she inspired you), and this is one of those rarities that I found both lovely and poignant. It very much tells a story.
The end: A sharp gust of wind - the world swallowed her, and she was nothing at all. - So haunting! Perfect, perfect ending. I imagined her kind of dissolving sideways from your description there, puffing into a ghost or something. Giving a man a love potion and then wasting away to nothing reminds me a lot of Merope Gaunt. I liked those similarities of how Tom Riddle and Severus Snape came into the world. Where I think Merope would have adored Tom, however, there's something especially sad about the fact that Eileen was disappointed in her child. That she didn't approve of him. It completely shatters the common belief that Eileen was a very weak, cowardly, passive person who let herself be bullied.
You should definitely write more stories in this style! I enjoyed reading it very much.
Author's Response: Hi Sarah :D Thanks for the review!
Hey, that's cool! I do hope you return to Diamonds into Coal at some point, but I'm glad you came to sample my twisted little fairy tale!
It's great that you liked the style. I really wanted to convey exactly what you said--Eileen is slipping throughout the piece and she holds onto hard-learned lessons from her noble life and her precious logic to try to keep it together. Sadly, it doesn't work so well.
Writing Tobias and Eileen as husband and wife was challenging and scary and totally interesting. Like I usually do, I tried to stay away from the over-the-top violence and language that I see in troubled relationship stories quite a bit. I'm happy that the very chilly nature of their marriage came through and that you could really see how their initial flirtation turned into a dark mutual loathing.
You know, I didn't think of it as the Mirror of Erised. For me, it was just kind of a symbol of Eileen's vanity and her continual forward looking, like the present is never good enough. I like your interpretation, though!
Oh, I'm so pleased that you like my SoC! I know exactly what you mean when you talk about that sort of "pointless" attempt at the style. I really tried to avoid that and to emulate Sunflower's style, because in her pieces, it always seems like every word counts. I really had fun with it and will probably try it out again at some point.
I was heavily inspired by Merope's story here. It's almost like she and Eileen came to the same conclusion from different angles; Eileen fell from grace, and Merope failed to rise.
Thanks again for your fantastic review :)