|Review:||Toujours Padfoot says:|
Hello, there! ToujoursPadfoot from TGS here with your requested review.
I really like prologues. There's a certain detachment, a different point of view, that makes what comes next seem even more real. I like that you showed us this event long ago in 1402, and you built up a level of intrigue for readers. They'll want to know what exactly this curse is, how it relates to Eileen, and what exactly was in that letter that rubbed away. Readers will definitely feel compelled to continue on and see what happens.
I can't comment on characterization because your main characters, Eileen and Tobias, haven't been featured yet. I thought Ursula and Penelope were written well, however. Your pacing is great and sets the stage for mysteries yet to be unraveled.
I do suggest that you pare down the first paragraph. The first paragraph of a chapter, and even more so the first paragraph of a story, tends to be laced with extra words not just because we're hyper-focused on creating the scene, but because that's usually the paragraph we reread the most when looking it over, and it undergoes the most edits. While the rest of the chapter rolls smoothly, that first paragraph is a little too wordy, this sentence in particular: Lightning casts its lament across the clouds in the distance; the clamor of thunder rolls ceaselessly onward, a knight of battle against the stagnation of impinging summer. Simple is sometimes better, especially in a prologue where you need to build momentum, and the 'stagnation of impinging summer' was a bit much.
I think my favorite line was this: The raw flesh of her fingertips seems to burn and she knows that she is stroking the ethereal Death as he cloaks Penelope in his embrace. That image is creepy/beautiful, the idea that Death is inhabiting her bones now and drawing her swiftly away. I felt badly for Penelope, and did wonder why she didn't give birth in a magical hospital, but I felt even worse for Ursula because essentially there is this baby being dropped off on her doorstep and she has no choice but to care for him. That's got to drain the last bits of life out of her since she's already an old woman.
I'm curious about the effects this letter had on Reynold. Is the curse in the words? In the letter itself? I don't see how he could have comprehended its content immediately, so the metaphysical reaction to it mystified me.
Overall, I think you did a good job on this and I like the idea of a novel devoted to minor characters like Eileen and Tobias. Congrats on your first HPFF novel, by the way!
Author's Response: Hello! Thank you so much for reading and reviewing! I really appreciate it!
Oh, prologues. You know, I had such a hard time calling this a prologue. I know that I a lot of readers dislike the idea or often skip them and that can't be done here. I wanted readers to understand the gravity that this event from hundreds of years ago has on the story. So, I'm glad you like prologues!
Thank you! Now that I've started this novel, I'm trying to give my characters the time that they need to be cultivated and seem as realistic as possible. And I'm always worried about pace, so thank you!
You are right - I've read and reread, written and rewritten that first paragraph so many times I'm surprised my eyes aren't crossed and I'm not crazy! I'm kind of sad you didn't like that sentence, because it's my favorite, but I do understand what you're saying. I write oneshots and focus so much on descriptions that writing a novel is a different, and rather difficult, experience for me. Thank you for the suggestion - I will definitely see what I can do.
Oh goodness, that line kills me. I love it (I hope so since I wrote it! :P). I can't tell you the whys and hows yet, of course, but readers will eventually find out what the problem/curse/issues at hand is for this family.
I can see the confusion with the letter. Without giving anything away, think of the letter as a warning of a curse already in place. Ahhh, that's as much as I can say without giving vital information away!
Thank you so much for the great review! I really appreciate it! :)