"Only the guilty rise before the sun." --Okay, that is the most perfect first line in the history of all first lines. Just saying. For the sake of character space, I'll try not to get too hung up on the very first line.
All of this personification for death (to Death) is making me entirely too giddy. While that feeling may be inappropriate for the subject of the story, I can't help but find the beauty in the tragic writing. I suppose that's the appeal of dark literature, though. The idea that Death is an unstoppable, ravenous entity (or non-entity, perhaps) is absolutely wonderful. I would much prefer to call it delicious, though that is an odd adjective to be used here, so I'll stick with wonderful. Marigold's father, haunted with a unfortunate past of his own, is truly compassionate to try to ease the suffering of Death's victims, though he knows that he does not have the ability (nor the right) to interfere in Death's conquests.
"Wickedness and desperation mate in the air." --and holy wow. Then there's the Plague, directly tying into that lovely line! (Watch out, you've got me started now.) Historically the Plague was has been known to have been one of the most severe suffering of all time. Without modern medicine to ease said suffering, the symptoms would sometimes overcome the victims before the body instinctively knew when to give in. I mean, the malaise, gastrointestinal issues, gangrene, seizures, comas, the *pain*...gah, what a magnificently horrific pandemic to ever sweep across history... and you have nailed the torment on an emotional level. More of my inability to form coherent sentences as I marvel at your work: gah! Marigold's perception of the man on the horse is fantastically dark as well, "he could be the envoy of Death himself". Stephane Slytherin, though his arrival was ominously presented, gives me the feeling that he may just be the savoir the town is looking for.
Vincent's ailments are tragic, but are so very beautifully written. The brief speculation on why Radley's son has been cursed with the sufferings of a physical deformity, while the town drunk's son is healthy, able to lead a full life (as full a life as one could get in that time, at any rate) amused me. The feeling of unfairness brought unjustly to oneself transcends times and is, what I believe, to be one of the largest grievances to otherwise fortunate people, even today. Not that I'm saying that Vincent is fortunate, as he clearly is not. Radley's dismissal of Stephane's preposition is realistic, as the tale of the magical school would seem bizarre and far-fetched, I believe. Though, by sending the children, it could only benefit them, in the very least separate them from the disease-ridden society that they've been forced to integrate with. That sounds like pureblood ideology, but that's not what I mean it to be. I'm just saying, the magical children should be able to have the opportunity to learn and master their magical abilities and that I agree with Stephane's cause.
Even the snakes are effected by the Plague. If this were a movie, I would probably want to shut my eyes. I fear for the children of the town, with the Muggle attacks so near. So, I'm rooting for Stephane! And the story of the Piper unfolds (marvelously, of course). The rats, carriers of the infectious bacteria, willingly drown themselves in the lake, in a spectacular display that could act as a Coup de grāce for the townspeople. Marigold's wonderment is truly justified.
The clear explanation for the muggle's *need* to attack is beautifully written, "With the Plague, the Holy Father had surely been punishing the townsfolk for allowing the demonic creatures to practice their black arts for so many years, and to free themselves from sin they must avenge these lost virtues and prevent further Purgatory from raining down from the heavens." Their justification is sensible, to those who truly believe that the magical abilities of people are directly connected to the black arts, shrouding their faith and angering their God. Throughout history, it seems that, for the most part, has been justified as a religious purge. (I just want to take a moment to say, squee! I love this story!! I'm geeking out all over the place while I'm reading this, just so you know!...even more than when I went to go see Plague, the Musical.)
...the disease is in the water. A standing ovation on the accuracy of drinking alcohol as a substitute for water as it *was* often contaminated. The rats are decaying in the lake. Just love, lots of love! (And people in my house are starting to question my mental stability due to my excessive geek-outs over this story...)
Ah, Trip! Ouch, he's a little upset with Marigold over Stephane. To be fair, she is smitten with him, and Trip is jealous. Marigold's accusation of Trip being the freak, obtaining his magic through thievery or some other misguided venture was tough. Poor Trip.
Stephane's going to do something very bad. Marigold and Trip had a falling out, but she definitely wont be happy if something happens to him, especially at Stephane's hand. That's no way to win her heart. GAH! Now I really want to cover my eyes!
Then the last line... just...ah! To tie up the end, just like the beginning, where I feel that I could rave for hours on end. Okay, I'll stop the nonsensical rambling!
This was freaking fantastic!
Author's Response: Hola! :D *dies at the awesomeness of this review* Wow, thanks so much for all your wonderful thoughts! :) I'm really excited to answer this, in fact.
I knew I couldn't write a story about the Peverells in the medieval years without Death showing his spooky face. I love dark literature too, so of course I completely understand what you're talking about. Yes, both Marigold and her father have a strange insight into the workings of Death, and both know better than to try and defy Death besides the protection the Invisibility cloak offers. I quite enjoyed writing Death's appearance so it's lovely to know you approved.
I love all your geeking out here. :P The Plague would be completely devastating, and these people just have no way of cohesively understanding it. It's wonderful to hear you thought I did it justice and brought through the horror and the emotion- that's just what I hoped for! Stephane is both ominous and hopeful: he's a contradictory character to everyone, including Marigold's understanding of him.
It amused me a little as well, how Radley thought it unfair that his son would suffer when he is more deserving. It reflects how selfish and superstitious they would have been. I agree, it's definitely something which is still relevant to people today. I'm glad you found it realistic that Radley rejected the proposition: Radley, despite being the mayor, is quite selfish and doesn't look at situations quite clearly or rationally. I completely agree- even if Stephane's methods aren't completely acceptable, in the long run it would benefit the children to be taught.
I would probably shut my eyes too! :P Some of the images here are just terrifying. I'm glad you liked the way the Piper story progressed- it was a lot of fun though a bit challenging tying it in with the story.
I'm glad you thought the muggle justification to punish the wizards made sense. It fit very well, with religion being a justification to get rid of the slightly frightening magic, and to dispose of the wizards in powerful positions around the town. It's very tragic and irrational, but so were many religious conflicts of the era. I love all your geeking out! :D And what, there's a "Plague, the Musical"?!! What is this sorcery?
Ah, isn't the image of the rats in the water just awful? I'm glad you thought it fit historically. :)
Yes, Marigold did act out of place with Trip, especially since he's her old friend and she barely knows Stephane. She was being very rude and upset, but it's really no excuse. And bad things are definitely coming!
I'm glad you liked those two lines at the beginning and the end! :D
Thanks so much for this INCREDIBLE review!!! :D It really was so detailed and perfect and really made my day- you really are too wonderful! Thank you! ♥