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Review:Violet Gryfindor says:
Wow. I can see how this story won the challenge. It's startling beautiful in its language and imagery - there are far too many excellent examples to list here. There's a wonderful fluidity to the images your works evoke, and you particularly use water imagery effectively to symbolize how Narcissa constantly drifts between life and death. Andromeda can never quite get a hold of her sister, rather like trying to hold water in one's cupped hands - it somehow always escapes. You find incredible ways of describing Narcissa and Andromeda's experiences - everything is ghostly, fluid, neither here nor there, just like Narcissa. It's a haunting story, made more so by the second-person narration (which you use amazingly well!). You recreate the atmosphere and mood of Plath's writing with this, which is quite a feat.

I think my favourite parts, though, were the repeated allusions to the Three Fates - the references to the thread that wouldn't snap, that even knits itself together again, too stubborn to let her die. This allusion revealed not Narcissa's weakness, but rather her strength, her ability to somehow keep coming back to life and going on no matter how many times she brushed with death. Lucius dies so easily in comparison. But I love how, in the end, Narcissa drifts away peacefully - she chooses to go, or rather chooses not to come back. Which it is depends on whether her gift is living or dying. I would agree with Narcissa that it's living, and it's interesting how Andromeda sees it as the opposite.

Another significant image that stood out was of course the mirror. It's perfect for Narcissa because of her name, but I'm also fascinated by the idea that she did become trapped in the mirror at her first death, or that the midwife's covering of the mirror made Narcissa become trapped in life. Once again, a lot of it depends on how one interprets that conversation between Narcissa and Andromeda in the middle of the story - what is "like hell?" for Narcissa, living or dying? That ambiguity is the heart of the story, a story about existing between life and death, about constantly being in a state of flux, caught between worlds.

I'm sorry for rambling. Your story is beautifully written, and I've enjoyed being lost in its magic for a little while. It's characterizations are equally well-done, and the references to the Black family and the war very carefully inserted, leaving the spotlight on the two sisters and their very complex relationship. You've done brilliant work with this story, and I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to read it!

Author's Response: Hi there! :)

Wow, thank you so much for all these amazing compliments. I loved writing this piece, and I'm glad you liked the imagery and the flow of the story. I'm glad you pikced up on the water imagery, and that's a beautiful way of describing it: how Narcissa is like trying to hold water in Andromeda's hands. I'm really pleased to hear you liked the perspective of addressing Narcissa, I was hopeful that would turn out alright. Hearing the story recreated and did homage to Plath's writing is what I really hoped to accomplish so getting your feedback is really lovely.

You liked the Fates! I'm so glad, I loved writing those allusions to Greek mythology and it's wonderful that you noticed and enjoyed them. Yes, her ability - or curse - to keep living is very questionable and difficult to pin down. I love your analysis of how the sisters see it differently: for Andromeda, seeing her sister die is horrific and the way that is exploited is even worse, whereas for Narcissa it's difficult for her to see it as anything other than a gift as that would mean admitting fault in herself.

Yes, I felt that the mirror was very important in symbolizing Narcissa, and that it went beyond the myth of Narcissus. The myth is not only about vanity, but on a deeper level about being trapped, and I wanted to convey that though it is very ambiguous as you said. I really love how you've described the ambiguity and contrast between life and death here: Narcissa is in a strange state of being in between and not quite pinned down, without her own identity, and in that way she is trapped.

I'm also so pleased to hear you liked the tie-ins with canon and the characterizations as well. I loved writing this and I'm very honoured you enjoyed it especially as I think so highly of your writing! :)

Thank you for the beautiful and thoughtful review, it was really such a lovely thing to receive on my story! ♥


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