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Review:lia_2390 says:
Hi Jenna,

I'm here for our review swap on TGS :)

This is a beautiful one-shot. I'm not entirely sure what else I can possibly say. I haven't read the first one-shot this is based on, and somehow I don't think I need to.

I liked the way you wrote this in pieces. Each scene, though short, told much more of the story in my opinion - as if each section became much heavier as your story unfolded. There was something about the narrator's tone that I loved. Not so much nostalgic, but very 'in retrospect' - if that makes any sense to you. While each scene presented the narrator at an older age, it still felt like he was much older and hopefully a little wiser throughout.

You addressed a tonne of sensitive issues in this story too. You said a lot without having to spell it out. One was the darkness around Swift and the struggle with the consequences of his illness. Mental health has come to the forefront these days, though in some places it is still stigmatised. I felt bad when Thackeray found his 'tools'.

Another thing you addressed is the matter of gender. You sort of foreshadowed it in the beginning with the girl in the pub, and considering you never mentioned the narrator's gender, I suppose their situation is similar (ironically). It is sensitive and I am impressed you included it here. I almost smiled when the narrator attempted a change of hairstyle and clothes. If I'm guessing correctly, then it goes back with what I mentioned earlier.

There were some areas where you slipped into second person. Here for instance: "They're concerned. They love you, these three people here. " It's the part where Thackeray used magic at school. Otherwise, that's all I spotted.

This is one of these stories I can't really read once. There's a lot here, and I think I'll find myself coming back to it in the future. There is a lot to think about - in spite of the angst, I think it is realistic considering the the Western culture these days. I think this deserves more attention because it was tastefully done.

- Lia

Author's Response: Hi Lia! :)

Wow, thanks so much for the beautiful review! It really means a lot to get such nice feedback on this story as I really care about Thackeray as an OC.

I'm glad you liked the structure with the different scenes. It felt very natural to build the tension of the story up that way and slowly show the conflicts and fears in Thackeray's childhood. I really like your comment about "in retrospect," and that's definitely what I was going for: the story felt like Thackeray was looking back at a former, more naive self and explaining why they are the way they are now.

I wanted to explore the different sorts of depression the two siblings had and the toll it took on the entire family. It's not a particularly uplifting message, but I did want to do it justice through Swift and Thackeray's own self image. I felt very bad about that part as well, and almost didn't include it, but Swift's death was in some ways the end of innocence and heroism for Thackeray so it did feel necessary.

Yes! I'm so glad you noticed the gender identities here and liked how these things were portrayed. Thackeray was originally going to be just a character whose gender was never specified in the first story, but I ended up hinting that Thackeray was instead very gender-neutral and possibly even transgendered, without specifying outright. You're very right about the implications of changing Thackeray's appearance, that can be read as a gneder identity moment. :)

I'm going to do a read-over right now and try and catch the last of the "you"s. Thanks for pointing that out! :)

I'm so honoured you found this realistic and tasteful, I really loved writing it so getting this feedback is truly lovely. Thank you so much for the thoughtful review, Lia! :)


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