Reading Reviews for The Star of Kazan
  
8 Reviews Found

Review #1, by Your Secret Santa The Star of Kazan

31st December 2012:
Hi again

Wow. Once again you wrote something very different from everything else you've written. This was . . . mysterious in some ways. When I finished reading it, I had several questions about Florence and the happenings. I don't really understand who she betrayed, but I'm not really sure if I'm supposed to or not. I guess I'm just not that good at that whole "use your mind when reading" thing. I just really didn't get some of it, but I don't know if it was intentional or not. But I still liked it.

What makes this amazing is Florence. She is really characterized well. I love how she feels so guilty and awful for whatever she did. And how it seems to haunt her. She can't forget what she did, so it obviously has to be something really bad. And what I actually enjoy the most, is that she fact that I can't help but empathize with her. It just seems like her past actions is ruining her life, because she can't forget it or forgive herself. She lives in regret, and it just seems like she wants to escape it all. She wants death so she can be free from the guilt and pain, so she can finally have peace.

Okay, I read what you wrote as an answer to one of the other review and I know understand what she did that was so wrong. But I actually liked it before I understood it, but its even better now. I hope to see more of this in the future. I would really like to know more about Florence.

- Your Secret Santa

Author's Response: I'm really happy that you think my writing changes and i branch out with my writing. I've always thought myself to sort of write the same genre's the same way over and over again.

This piece ended up being weird. I'm not really sure what it is and i'm not overly happy with it. I'd like to go back and edit it at some point, however i haven't felt inspired to do so yet. The story i plan on writing for this is sort of on the back burner until i finish one of my other WIP's. It will take a lot of work and a lot of research however i'm glad you are looking forward to it. It will make this moment even more clearer for sure.

Thank you for your review on this and that you liked it, even if it was really ambiguous. :P


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Review #2, by Cherry Bear The Star of Kazan

24th September 2012:
Hey there! I'm terribly sorry for the delay in reading and reviewing this, and I have to say that I really enjoyed this. I'm a sucker for ambiguously-written pieces of writing, so when I read the author's note at the beginning I was immediately intrigued. And I loved your ambiguity - the slow trickle of information about Florence's life and her guilt - because it really grabbed and kept my attention.

I read because I wanted to know more about your Florence...and, now that I've finished, I still want to know more. There's a sense of incompleteness at the end of this, and I don't know if that was intentional or not, but I'm still a little confused about a few things. I think I get the general gist (maybe?) but I don't understand who she betrayed or who captures her at the end. But, then again, maybe I'm not supposed to...? At any rate, I may have to read that eventual other story about the events leading up to this, because I'm definitely curious.

I think, in addition to the ambiguity of your writing, I also loved the moral ambiguity you touched upon in this. Specifically, in this paragraph: "She should have known when it, for that is what it was to her now, told her that life and death were the same card that it was a lie. They were two different cards altogether, and although you can't have one without the other you most definitely can't trade a death for life. No matter what tales it told her." It's hard to find a good, thought-provoking fanfiction, but this part definitely made me think, and reconsider the difference between right and wrong.

Does any person have the right to decide someone should die in order so another person can live - to play God, like Florence admits to doing? And now I've just realized that Florence talks about her playing god and she's in a church and ah it just raises so many good questions about religion and blind faith and Voldemort playing god and now I really want to know exactly what happened to her sister and what made Florence think she was doing the right thing.

That's definitely another one of your strengths - you made me empathize with Florence. Even when I didn't know exactly what she had done, I could still see that she wasn't some 2D evil character; she had reasons for her wrongdoings and, because she could no longer justify them, she was now trying to seek forgiveness. It's definitely an intriguing theme and I'm surprised that that quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower inspired it, but I think it works. I liked your use of the quote as well - it fit with the story very smoothly, so good work there.

All that aside, a few criticisms for you. Please don't take them personally as I don't mean to offend you in any way:
- While I love ambiguity and inner musings and such, at times it felt like you were trying to cram too much character reflection and vague, stylistic elements into this. I don't really know how to explain this beyond that, at the end, I was left with too many questions and barely any answers. Which is all fine and dandy stylistically and definitely your prerogative as a writer, but it does make things confusing and there wasn't really a click moment for me, where I suddenly understood every vague sentence.
- Sort of similarly, the flow of this is a little bit choppy at times. You switch really abruptly between Florence's trains of thoughts, so that it reads almost like a stream-of-consciousness. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing (: It's just a little jolting and disorienting and, again, makes things a little more confusing.

Aside from that, I really did like this! Like I said, it was an interesting use of the quote and I really enjoyed the depth of this and the insight into Florence's life. It's so great that you're writing about such a minor character :D Minor character love ftw. Anyway, thank you so much for entering my challenge! I really appreciate it, and I'm so happy I had the opportunity to read and review your story.

Cherry Bear

Author's Response: oh wow! This is such a lovely review i'm floored by it really! I'm also really sorry how long it's taken me to respond!!

I'm actually planning another major edit to this which will cut down on the word count and highlight the actual story that is mixed in here so that it's a tad bit clearer to the readers.

She was taken by the Death Eaters (their shiny, metal masks). Who's she's betrayed is a bit trickier i suppose, i think it comes down to that she's betrayed everything she's ever known, her friends, family, herself by her actions that happened before this one-shot. It stems from her guilt from sacrificing the red lipped woman in hopes that it would bring her sister back. It's based on a myth/legend thing that i'm working on that with the sacrifice of one what was lost can be regained (this was touched on by the quote you actually quoted in your review) that will come up later in the story i'll be writing about her also, why she thought this was morally right will come into the that story. There is only so much i can touch on in this piece :D .

That is the basis of this and i'm happy enough with it being a bit ambiguous as this is just something that will point to this other story, an introduction and preview of the story itself so part of the ambiguousness of it is intentional as i don't want to lay it down point blank and make it incredibly easy for the readers to get what's happening. But at the same time I want the story to be recognizable.

Anyway, i'm pleased to hear that you found it thought provoking. I'm always a little worried when i put up a story that touches on a lot of moral and religious ideas that there is going to be negative backlash or that people will find it too heavy.

Anyway, thank you so much for your insight and your thoughtful response to this! I really appreciate it! I will be going to edit this to try and make that click moment happen where things do make a bit more sense and it hits harder. Thank you for issuing the challenge, it was a lot of fun to write.

-zayne++


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Review #3, by Cavell The Star of Kazan

16th September 2012:
I had such a lovely long review written up for you literally five seconds ago but no, of course I accidentally press the wrong button and then it's gone forever! I'll try to make up for it, though, and try to remember what exactly I wrote so here goes:

Ah, love, I have a million excuses and apologies for you but I think the best one I can give you is an extra-long, gushy review to praise your lovely one-shot. But, I don't want to talk about that, so on with the review!

You're right, at times it is a bit hard to understand, but all at the same time it makes sense if you just think about it a little and I thought long enough to even get tearful enough to have to wipe my eyes so that I could actually read this gorgeous thing properly. This was such a clever, original idea which I totally loved so I'm glad you requested this.

I adore Florence, even with her flaws and guilt-ridden state and the horrible thing she's done in the past, but the past is the past and the poor girl can't do anything about it so I feel so sorry for her *squishes* I want so badly to know about what happened to her poor sister and Florence herself and why exactly her life had to end right here at the church.

It really does say something at exactly how awful her actions have been when she's actually at a tumbledown church begging for forgiveness and deliverance, and her fleeting and disjointed thoughts about her situation just added to the intensity and seriousness of this story, so kudos to you because you give so little backstory but I'm interested in it all the same.

There were pretty much no mistakes in this thing at all, and I don't know if I've said this to you before or not (I probably have, so apologies for repeating myself too much) but I'm so picky with spelling and commas and oddly-phrased words, but nope! Yours is flawless to go with the awe-inspiring writing. (I also totally expect a link to the story about Florence when it's up, cough cough, because if it's as well-written as this one then it's bound to brilliant)

I genuinely don't have anything constructive to say so sorry (again!) for such a rambly and mushy review but I can't help it - I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this story, and I can't even give you a favourite line because I loved every word of it, so brava, love.

--Linn

Author's Response: ksjhdfkjsh ah Linn! This review is too nice and i've just stared at it for ages because it brings me such joy and overwhelming feelings! I can't even respond properly without blubbering.

I know it's a bit hard and i'm actually planning on revamping it a bit and cutting down on the word count so i can focus more on the story. I am happy that you think you've gotten it and was actually touched by it. I'd be curious to know what you thought happened. :P

Her life had no meaning left for her anymore, all she could see was her guilt and pain and she couldn't get past those feelings of complete worthlessness. I think also she thought that maybe through her death she could give back life to the one she took. Of course, you can't bring back life, but she's a bit mentally unstable which will show more in the actual story. Anyway, it's a complicated story and will take some time for it to come out but i will be sure to link it to you when it does :P Her death is like her deliverance because she doesn't have to face her feelings and failures anymore. to her, the past isn't just the past, it's her. (i hope that makes sense?). But she sees her past as her present and future as well.

I don't think it's flawless at all and your words are so overwhelming if you think that it is here. I'm happy that you enjoyed this, as sad as this piece is. Thank you SO SO much for your lovely words, they nearly made me cry. :D *hug*
-zayne


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Review #4, by pennyardelle The Star of Kazan

14th September 2012:
Hey! Here I am, as promised! So, I read through this, trying to read carefully to decide if it felt ambiguous at all. When I finished, I did think I had a tentative idea of what was going on--it sounded like Florence had allowed someone else to die in order to save someone she cared about, and was finding that she couldn't cope with the guilt of having done so, or something along those lines.

Given the author's note at the end, it seems like this scene will make a lot of sense when it's put in context with future stories. I think that, if you're pleased with the idea of it hinting at the story without giving it away outright, and maybe not being entirely clear at this point, then you don't need to do too much to it. If, however, you would really like it to make sense as a complete stand-alone (or are just looking for things to edit), I'll offer a couple suggestions :)

I think perhaps some of the confusion stems from the fact that there is a lot that comes before the first concrete connection to the HP series. Whenever I read a fan fiction, I think my brain is programmed to seek out the characters/places/events that will anchor the story in a time and place, and with this story, I felt like I didn't get that until "Lily", nearly 500 words in, and then it was another few hundred words before "Gryffindor" and "Slytherin" cropped up. Near the end, you mentioned "Hogwarts". Still, these aren't exactly specific references--Hogwarts, Gryffindor, and Slytherin could be mentioned in any era, by almost any magical character, and we also know of two characters named Lily, who lived in different eras. The fact that this appears to be set in Russia also seemed disorienting without being explained in some way. I think that maybe (especially near the beginning) some more concrete references to the wizarding world, Florence's background, or even just the time period would make this clearer.

My only other suggestion is, perhaps counter-intuitively, to eliminate unnecessary sentences and phrases. The writing is beautiful, and it would be a shame to see any of it go, but I think part of why I felt confused in parts is because you would say something specific, and then do a big (albeit very nicely written) loop around before coming back to the actual plot-proper. In my opinion, you could probably trim out a lot of the dwelling on her suffering--keep the sentences that really pack the hardest punch, but sacrifice anything that's unnecessarily distracting. This piece could probably convey the exact same message in 2,000 words or less.

Anyway, those are the only things I can think that would help. Like I said, though, I think I did walk away with an idea of what had happened to Florence, so maybe you can just live with the occasional ponderous review until all of the backstory is available for people to read. :P It really is lovely writing, though--very nice pacing, flow, and imagery.

Author's Response: Thank you so much Penny for taking the time to read and review this for me! I appreciate your help and comments so much!

I am happy with it simply hinting towards the bigger story that i'm working on as this is a sort of preview to that story. However, there is a part of me that wants to make sure that this can stand alone to an extent, enough that it make sense in the HP world anyway. I like your suggestion about bringing some of those details into the story earlier and setting up maybe why she's in Russia! I think it would definitely help grounding the story so people can feel a bit more related to the character.

I also think i agree with you comment about cutting down on the wording. I noticed with my first big edit how I had a tendency to repeat things, phrases, or emotions. I think it probably very obvious within the first 500 words that Florence is suffering. I don't want it to seem like it's suffering just for the sake of it.

What i want i for people to sort of get from this is the heavy laden guilt and pain that she's going through and see how a mistake can eat away at your soul kind of thing. Which, was the girl that she allowed die, that she even made it possible for them to die because she wanted to bring back her sister. So yes, you got the basics of what i was aiming at anyway. Which is why, at the end, she wanted to be taken because she believed she deserved it and couldn't cope with what she's become.

Thanks again for all your suggestions and thoughtful review :D I'm always up for editing and trying to get a story to a better point and i find this really helpful to me. Although i'm pleased and beyond overwhelmed that you like the actual writing bit of it, i don't want the actual story to be lost in in the language i used. Thanks again Penny for this incredibly helpful review!!


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Review #5, by Alopex The Star of Kazan

13th September 2012:
Before I address the questions that you posed, I'm going to mention a couple of grammar/typo issues I noted down while reading. I think "more real" is a more accepted way of saying "realer." "Chocking" should be "choking." In the italicized line about the light on earth, you should use "is" instead of "are" (because light is, not light are).

I can understand why you have had some readers remark that this is a nice piece in terms of imagery but doesn't seem all that substantial (I guess in terms of plot?). I suppose I have to agree, in general. I think the chapter overall has a very nice flow to it. As you said, it is rather floaty. It is rhythmic. The beauty of the flow almost overpowers the extreme suffering the character appears to be undergoing.

However, it is a bit difficult to tell what is happening or why. There is a lot of pretty description of a character suffering extremely, but we don't really gain a very good understanding for just why she feels so darn sorry for herself and why things are so extreme. It almost seems like she is suffering for the sake of suffering.

Then again, I could have missed the point. :P I've been known to do that. I actually like that you have a story here that is approaching a more proper short story format (short story as I understood the term in literature class, not as HPFF defines it by word count). This story did remind me a lot of short stories read for class, and generally to answer questions about those, I have to think about it longer than I have for your story. That said, I do feel like a lot of short stories I read in school packed a little bigger punch at the end, even if it took a while for me to understand. I do think this story suffers from a bit too much ambiguity, or not enough backstory (maybe I would feel differently if I had read the other pieces you mentioned in your author's note).

Now I'm going to finally try to answer your questions. What do I think happened at the end? I think Death Eaters came and took Florence. I also got the impression that she wished for them to come for her.

I do feel some sympathy for her, because it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for someone who seems to be in so much pain. However, I don't feel that I care a great deal for how she got there. I would like some more details to make me feel more invested in her story, because as it is, her pain feels rather abstract to me, and difficult to relate to or understand. She obviously feels some great guilt, but I need some more hints (or leading questions, haha). That last line also leads into my answer about why I think she did what she did: out of guilt, I suppose.

For all my criticism, I did find this a pleasing story to read (despite all the suffering!). As I said before, it has a pleasing, rhythmic flow, and the imagery is indeed nice. I do think it is difficult for the average reader to make the connections you wish, though.

Author's Response: Thank you for your honesty! It was definitely something i was worried about if anyone would actually 'get' this piece because although the connects are glaringly obvious to my eyes, it probably only because i know the whole story and i know what each sentence or hint is pointing too. It seems like those connections however were only happening in my mind. :/ .

So, in leu of that, i've edited it and added on a few hundred words trying to give that backstory and make some of the connections clearer. It's still a bit ambiguous but i'm hoping with what i've added it grounds the story a bit more and makes it more concrete.

I know i have the tendency, especially when i write third person to have that weird floaty style of writing and i'm not sure how i feel about your comments about how it's just so pretty, especially with the amount of suffering going on. I hope that it isn't distracting or purple prose as that would be a nightmare.

I suppose the whole idea behind this was her guilt for sacrificing the stranger with the red lips in hopes that it would bring back her sister. I don't think i made that story line clear enough or why she thought that was possible. Which, in my head, there is this myth that says you can replace one for another. In the story i'm writing solely on her there will be a lot of that back info about that myth (one i've made up) and how Florence goes through this whole journey trying to bring back her sister and it plays with some actual theories of time (not actually time-travel though). Anyway, without that story I realize this scene probably makes no sense so i've tried to clear it up a bit in the edits i've made. Hopefully it's not quite as ambiguous.

Thanks again for your opinion and taking the time to read this! I really appreciate your input :D


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Review #6, by Elphaba and Boyfriends The Star of Kazan

2nd September 2012:
Hi, Elphaba here with your requested review!

I first read your story a couple of days ago, but just took notes because I didn't have time to review it right away. It looks like it's been updated since then. You seem to have read my mind, because of a couple of the changes I was going to suggest have already been made. :)

The main impression I get from this story is that Florence has done some great wrong, and now wants desperately to atone for it. I can't help wondering if it involves the two girls mentioned playing near the beginning. I wonder whether this is her and a sister? That's what my own imagination points to, anyway. :)

The story flows very nicely, and the borrowed sentence and quote are seamlessly worked in. You've included a ton of lovely imagery that involves sight (red lips), hearing (the shuffle of her feet), feeling (splinters in her hand) and even smell (musky air).

There is one minor thing I noticed. In paragraph four, I wonder if the word "exonerated" should be changed to "exalted"? It just seems like it would fit better within in the context of the paragraph.

Despite not having a back story for the character, I do find her interesting. This sentence is especially intriguing: "She should have known when it, for that is what it was to her now, told her to trek through the cold winters of Russia that it would lead to this." This makes me wonder who "it" is? Voldemort?

Another passage: "She got what she was promised; she just hadn't realised it would be like this," also made me think of involvement with Voldemort and the Death Eaters.

The red-lipped stranger is equally intriguing. Who is she, and what role does she play in Florence's life?

I do wish that there were a little more information about what has brought her here, and what it is she hopes to accomplish. I don't think a lot is needed, maybe just a couple of tidbits. :)

The "metal mask" mentioned at the end makes me think that she's been caught by a Death Eater and either killed (deliverance) or taken to the same prison where her sister (if it is her sister) is being held. I also wonder whether the references to reflections imply that she's the one who's imprisoned (that would support the death method of deliverance, I think). I could be totally off, but that's what my brain comes up with. :)

I didn't get the canon connection until I read the author's note. I do wish there were a tiny bit more detail about her identity in this story, just so I wouldn't have had to read the note to get the connection.

Despite the mysteries, I am intrigued by the character enough to want to check out the other stories about her. The fact that this one is well-written definitely helps. :)

Author's Response: Hi Elphaba (love the name, Wicked!!)

Yes, i'm a habitual editer and i'm really glad that some of the edits that were made by me or my lovely beta were able to fix some of the problems you saw!

Yes, she is trying to atone for some guilt so you've got that right! It also has something to do with the girl by the sea who is indeed her sister and although i didn't mean for it to be exactly like you have written here i'm all up for reader interpretation i suppose. :P

You picked up on some really key lines though and i'm really glad you did. I found that while writing this i'd have just a sentence or phrase that hinted to the backstory. Which is probably why this can be confusing as there isn't a giant hint to who any of these characters are.

The involvement of Voldemort and the DE's are actually less than you probably suppose and unfortunately, i didn't make that clear enough. They play a part, but not in her motivation to be there other than they killed her sister. I'll have to make that bit clearer i think.

The red-lipped stranger plays a fairly vital role to Florence's guilt. not her pain, but her guilt.

Anyway, it seems like I may need to go back and change a few things here and there to make the outcome a bit clearer. I do like when readers come up with their own interpretation of a story to an extent but i feel like this is too floaty and ambiguous that all the connections couldn't be made.

I know what you mean with trying to make her seem more canon in the text, but that's the only moment that we know her from and that moment is hard to bring into a piece like this, but i will certainly try to integrate it ;D

Thank you so much for your critique and your words! I'm pleased that it intrigued you!! That is definitely a huge compliment to me! Thanks again, i really appreciate you stopping by!!

-zayne


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Review #7, by starryskies55 The Star of Kazan

1st September 2012:
*enter Challenge-Master*

Wow, this was a very complex piece, filled with imagery and you did it incredibly well. The church was amazingly depicted, and I loved how you integrated the 'going in because of her feet' first line, I loved the sense of inevitability that was portrayed throughout the story.

There was a few typos, and I would have liked to see a little more character development- it seemed a lot of the story was just imagery. I would have liked to have seen why she ended up in a russian church, etc.

Thanks for the entry, this is a beautifully written piece.

Author's Response: I'm really pleased you thought it was integrated, i was worried that it would just stick out like a sore thumb! Thank you so much for your compliment!

I had a worry that the story behind it wouldn't quite make sense to people or that it would tie in together in the end and it looks like it's been lost with you! ;( I'm definitely going to be going back soon and trying to clear that up so that the ending and the story is clearer :D

Thanks so much for giving this challenge though as it was a lot of fun to write and explore!!


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Review #8, by classicblack The Star of Kazan

1st September 2012:
Hey, it's Ali with your review!

So this was one of the most interesting stories I've ever read. It was quite... intense.

I think the strongest point of this story was the imagery. Especially in your description of the church. How you portrayed the ruined church and Florence curled up at the altar- truly amazing. Speaking of the church, I loved how you showed how some people can lose faith that they've always hung on to so easily. The constant use of the words "Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle." was really powerful in showing how Florence was weak and had given up.

The one-shot flowed as best it could given the fact that information was slowly and not very explicitly revealed. The story felt only a bit disconnected because the same information was repeated and then another fact would be thrown in.

I liked the italics in the story. They showed how much Florence had lost and how much she wished that she could do everything over again.

The backstory was perhaps a little too sparse to know exactly why Florence was despressed, although the imagery did allow me to feel sorry for her and connect to what she was going through. My understanding is that she got involved with someone that tricked her (the red-lipped woman) which resulted in the death of someone Florence loved (my guess is her sister because they are described as being similar in looks). Other than that I feel as if the justification of why Florence was the ball of misery she was was okay. I feel as if a few more details about why she did feel that way would have improved the relation to the main character greatly. Although, I definitely understand that you don't want to give too much away as you're going to write a story showing exactly what brought her to this point.

Because you mentioned masks, I'm assuming that Florence was captured and killed by Death Eaters in the end. I assumed this especially because I think you mentioned once that she was trying to bring Voldemort down. I think just a tiny bit more emphasis on the fact that she had been battling Voldemort would have made the ending clearer. That it to say, only if I'm right about the Death Eaters.

A few typos:
1) "It felt realer now knowing that she was here..." It should be "more real." "Realer" isn't a word ;)
2) "She couldnít see passed her own ache..." It should be "past" instead of "passed."
3) "For light on earth can only last so long before it are sucked into the black holes." "It is" instead of "it are" would be correct because it is referring to "light," which is singular.
4) "Destroying the perfect glass reflection so that only shards and ripples remaining in its wake." "Remaining" should be change to "remained."

Really though, overall I felt like there was a really strong pull from Florence to the reader. There was a connection made. Nice job!
Happy writing,
classicblack from the forums

Author's Response: Hey Ali!

Thank you so much for all your words and thoughts on this piece! I really appreciate it a lot!

The imagery was probably the best bit to write and I really enjoyed writing this piece simply because of that. I'm pleased though that you felt like it was good and that it was able to get the point across and make you feel something.

I've been worried about the backstory and that it won't come off clearly enough for the reader to understand as there is just so much imagery and so much just floaty language. It was hard because at the same time, Florence isn't all mentally there in that she's just so weak and tired and I feel like her thoughts would be disjointed and confused at times. So it's hard to bring the balance with trying to show that and also making her motivations for how she's come to this point clear enough to be deciphered by the reader.

But thank you so much for your review and giving me your thoughts! I really appreciate it so much because now i know where i need to work with on this! Thanks again!

-zayne


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