Reading Reviews for Growth
  
28 Reviews Found

Review #1, by nott theodore dull as dirt

2nd August 2014:
Hi teh! I just realised how long it had been since I stopped by and read some of your wonderful writing, so I thought I'd better rectify that! And then I realised that I read this ages ago, before the Dobbys, and thought I'd reviewed... *blushes* Sorry it's taken me so long!

This was amazing, truly. It deserved both of the Dobbys that it won so much, because I'm in awe of the story that you've told here. You know how much I love minor characters and stories like this one which take them and give them a whole life, something that makes them real and makes us feel for them. It's fantastic that you've managed to do that here, show Merope Gaunt alive even though it's the last nine months of her life, and really, she seems to be dying day by day.

The imagery in this piece is simply stunning. From the very beginning of the story you manage to pick some really interesting and unique images to compare Merope's situation to, and I loved the way that you began each of the three sections with something more descriptive, detailing what the pregnancy was doing to her body and what was happening inside her.

I thought it was a brilliant idea to split this story up into the three trimesters of her pregnancy! There's so much room for outlining the development there and showing just how desperate Merope becomes through the course of the nine months that she has, up to the birth of the son that she loves so much.

One of my favourite things was the detail that you included in this piece. The fact that Merope realised that she was pregnant and decided that it was time to stop giving Tom Riddle Sr. the love potion that she'd been using all the way through - that's something I'd probably have forgotten all about if I'd been the one to write this and showing that in her first trimester really emphasises how awful things will become for her. She's left alone, abandoned by the man she fell in love with, and she can't return to her family who would hate her for loving a Muggle. At the same time she can't support herself and she has to go through her pregnancy entirely alone, which is really terrifying.

I'd never heard of pica before and I thought that the way you included it was really interesting! I felt so sorry for Merope when she was having to eat dirt and all sorts of things because she couldn't afford the things she needed. And then things just keep getting worse for her throughout those last six months especially, when she has no food and she has to sell the only things that she owns which are of any value - and even then, Burke doesn't give her a fair price for them, and I can't help thinking that while he's congratulating himself on getting a good deal, Merope's dying unnecessarily and how different would things have been if she hadn't?

I seriously wanted to hug Merope through this, because you showed beautifully and brilliantly just how depressing and difficult her life was. There weren't really any happy memories for her to cling onto as she went through her pregnancy, because her life with her father and brother had been terrible and then Tom left her. The baby growing inside her was her hope for the future and I loved the dream sequence that you wrote, when she chose his name.

The line I found most powerful was when Merope decided she wanted to raise her son as a Muggle and they'd be happy together, because it got to me so much. She was so wrong, so completely wrong and she never knew or found out just how wrong she was about that. In a way I'm glad that she didn't live to see what her son became, but at the same time I don't think he'd have been that way if Merope had survived. And then when you got to the birth scene, the ending was so powerful and poignant and gah, it was just brilliant.

This was really perfect, teh! A belated congratulations on your well deserved win!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Sian! ♥

First, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the torrent of lovely, lengthy, detailed reviews you've left on my page. They made my entire weekend. :D You're an absolutely fabulous reviewer, and it means a lot to receive your amazing reviews!

Aww, and thanks for your squeeworthy comments on Growth! It feels like an age since I wrote this and posted it up, and until today, I'm still very surprised at how successful this piece is. I didn't think many people would like reading about Merope Gaunt.

I wrote this story with the intention of focusing on her pregnancy, so it made sense to me to split the fic up into segments according to the trimesters of her pregnancy, and the different series of changes she undergoes for the whole nine or ten months. And it is indeed a very terrifying time for her, because everything pretty much goes wrong. She's completely unprepared for the child, and yet it keeps growing and growing, and she keeps moving closer and closer toward that dreaded date of delivery. There are so many rosy happy pregnancy stories on HPFF, but it's quite tricky to find some which deal with the negative effects of pregnancy and childbirth, or even of mothers who aren't and will never be ready to be mothers. Merope can't take care of herself, much less a child.

And yeah, I'm glad you picked up on that moment of hope at the end of the dream sequence! Second trimester is generally one of hte happiest times of pregnancy - well, for most women. The morning sickness goes away, and women start feeling the feel-good hormones and the baby starts kicking, and it's a bit of a miraculous period, really. But of course, for Merope, it doesn't last. :(

Ugh, reading your comments about this story makes me wonder how the devil I could ever have written something so depressing!?!? Seriously, this is probably the most depressing thing on my page. There's no hope at the end, at least I don't interpret the ending as a hopeful one. :( There could have been so much more to Merope's life, but she chose to leave it all behind.

laskdjlak thank you so much, Sian! This was a wonderful review, and all your wonderful, analytical comments made me remember this story and think about it all over again. ♥

-teh


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Review #2, by anonymouse dull as dirt

27th June 2014:
This is an amazing story and had me entranced from the beginning!

Author's Response: Hey there!

Thank you so much for reading and reviewing! ♥ I'm so glad you enjoyed this; it really means a lot to me. :)

-teh


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Review #3, by Mariano_Pingitore dull as dirt

23rd May 2014:
Excellent work! Merope is a wonderfully intriguing character, I loved this story!

Author's Response: Aww, thank you so much for taking the time to read and review! ♥ This really means a lot to me, and I'm glad you enjoyed the story! Merope is indeed a very interesting character, and it's a little sad that she isn't explored much in fanfic compared to other characters. Thank you again! ♥

-teh


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Review #4, by TooMuchMagic dull as dirt

13th April 2014:
Hello! I found this one-shot through the Dobbys page and thought I'd check it out since I've never read a Merope fic before.

All I can say is, this is probably the most vivid, colourful, wonderfully creepy imagery I've ever come across on the site! I'm honestly quite grossed out right now haha, everything from squishing cicadas to grabbing handfuls of dirt and plaster to eat... I feel a bit like I should take a shower or something, which is great because it means you hit it right on the head with the grotesque details!

Little things I liked were "comma of a child" and "the morning air is balmy enough to feel like a hand, touching her cheeks". Beautiful!

And I really felt for Merope. Having to pawn off a family heirloom to survive and take care of her child, having such a horrible family, having to resort to love potions, having too little magical control to even do simple tasks like mend a hole in the wall...

Great one-shot. Thanks for totally creeping me out haha. I'll check out more of your work, you seem to be a very talented writer :) 10/10

PS: I LOVE TEH TARIK. GREAT NAME.

Author's Response: Hey there!

TEH TARIK IS GREAT!! (And I don't mean myself) :P

Wow, thank you so much for this fantastic review! I'm glad you decided to stop by and read; this really means a whole lot to me. ^.^

I was trying to write a more descriptive piece with this one, and this was also written for a horror/dark challenge on the forums...therefore it's natural that some creepy imagery would have come out of this! :P I'm glad you found it unsettling. Merope's story is an incredibly tragic one, and I'm not sure she even had a moment of redemption in either this fic or in the books. I was quite unrelenting in my writing of her.

Oh thank you so much once again! This review was just such a lovely surprise to receive! ♥ If you do check out more of my work, I hope you'll enjoy them; not all my pieces are as descriptive as this one. :)

-teh


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Review #5, by MissesWeasley123 dull as dirt

9th December 2013:
hehehehehehe I am so camping out here for forever and ever and ever and ever.

You have such a knack for the little things. And those little things are really what makes all of your pieces stand out. This piece of dialogue literally made me be on the verge of tears.

"This is the locket of Salazar Slytherin, an heirloom passed down the generations in my family, the Gaunts," she pauses, "I want thirty Galleons for this." -- this was agonizingly painful. I felt so bad for her, because her life just sucks. Her entire life has been horrible, and I just don't even know how much it would suck to be in her place. Her life is just so sad, and you show that wonderfully.

So many parts were creepy as hell, and I was feeling rather feminist in some places. The part with Burke definitely was one, that just made me so angry. And then with those two wizards who tease her and it's so disgusting and creepy, and again, the scene you've painted is so vivid and so real.

By now, her body is out of proportion. Her belly pushes out the front of her dress into a tight lump. Her shoulders and ribcage are skeletal. Her fingernails are flaking, her hair falling out more than ever, her teeth shaking in their gums. Her feet and her legs on the other hand are ballooning, swollen with water. When she presses a spot on her leg, her fingertip leaves a small dent, which does not fill up. Her flesh is dull and inelastic. -- this. Just, wow. My mind is blown at that imagery. It's just so good, and I love it so much. That opener of her third trimester just had so much in it. It showed what she'd become over time and it was horrifyingly beautiful and I don't know I'm confused ohkay.

That second last paragraph, where she's cradling him and saying that they'll be okay.. but they don't and agh. That last ending just killed me. It was worse than your gladly beyond ending, because ah! There's that feeling if she didn't give up... Voldemort wouldn't be Voldemort and god, you're so talented.

Fabulous, absolutely thrilling and beautiful writing.

Author's Response: I MEAN FREE FOOD LIKE THINGS WITH SUGAR AND CREAM AND CHOCOLATE *dumps a cartload of chocolate and sweets on Nadia*

TWO reviews from you in such a short period? *cries* I am not worthy!!! THANK YOU NADIA! ♥ Thank you for coming to this older story of mine and breathing some fresh review life into it! And if I remember correctly, I believe you were one of the people who also nominated Growth for the Dobbys, so I can't thank you enough for that ♥ ♥

I'm glad this story brought out your inner angry feminist, because let's face it, the blokes in this fic (Burke, Riddle Sr., Marvolo, Morfin) are a bunch of...of...I can't think of any suitable 12+ words which would adequately describe them. And I'm glad you liked that sentence that Merope says! It was quite deliberate that she sounds so resolute, so determined, even if that resolve lasts for only a moment. :( I suppose Merope is that kind of character, and I do sympathise with her a lot in this respect, how downtrodden she is, and how disadvantaged she is in surviving the harsh world out there, having had such an awful miserable childhood.

The third trimester details! All were of her less-than-ideal pregnancy symptoms, including things like oedema. THE UGLY SIDE OF PREGNANCY (YES THERE IS AN UGLY SIDE OF IT :P).

Depressing last paragraph! :( :( This is definitely more depressing thatn the Scorose one, because I really wanted to maximise the depressingness of this fic. It was for a horror/dark challenge, although I'm thinking this fic is more along the lines of 'dark' rather than horror.

THANK YOU NADIA ♥ ♥ (LOLOL THANKS FOR PUTTING UP MY SILLY RESPONSE IN THE AUTHOR RESPONSES THREAD).

teh


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Review #6, by atellam dull as dirt

26th August 2013:
Creepy as hell, this story was. Brilliantly written, but creepy as hell, haha. Although I think that's the look you were going for, so again, well done!

I've only read one other story about Merope, which I loved for reasons very different to this one. I like the language you've used, even if the constant nature references freak me out a little bit. The other story was much more about how Merope fell in love with and hooked Tom Riddle, while this is much more her personal struggle after he's left her.

Ahh, definitely favoriting this one.

Keep up the marvelous work!
- A. :)

Author's Response: Hi again! I really do love it when a reader appreciates my writing enough to read through several stories on my author's page! Your reviews are honestly so flattering and so encouraging, and they've left me feeling so elated.

This story was originally written for the horror/dark challenge earlier this year, which explains the creepiness! It means I probably succeeded in writing a horror/dark piece, which is territory I'm not altogether familiar with. You're right in saying that this story doesn't focus much on her relationship with Riddle; I was more bent on describing those last few months of her life, when she was abandoned and alone while pregnant. I can't even begin to imagine what a difficult time she must have had.

Thank you so much for your lovely review and for favouriting! It truly means so much to me as a writer! ♡

teh ♡


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Review #7, by navyfail dull as dirt

6th August 2013:
This one-shot is nothing short of fantastic! The descriptions were great and I love how you captured Merope's character. The division of the story was nice: first trimester, second trimester, etc. The mention of pica disorder fit her character is a way. And how you added the Borgin and Burke's parts were lovely.

When I read that part with those two wizards that were waiting for her outside of Burke's, I felt very bad for her. She may have done some wrong but she didn't deserve to be treated that way.

Merope's life was quite sad. She is one of the characters in Harry Potter that I wanted to know more about. Thank you for this one-shot. It actually does feel like this is her real story.

10/10
~Sama

Author's Response: Sama! ♥

Wow, thank you so so much for such a wonderful surprise review! This was honestly so unexpected and your compliments were so lovely that I'm still reeling from all the wonderful praise you've showered on me!

Merope certainly didn't have the easiest of lives, and this fic is meant to be a rather bleak portrayal of the last few months of that miserable, pitiful existence of hers.

I'm so happy that you like the descriptions and the story structure! I was certainly trying to write a more descriptive piece, and a lot of work went into crafting those sentences and descriptions (hopefully I didn't go overboard with them...:P ).

Thank you so much for reading, and for leaving this fabulous review, Sama! It's absolutely made my day ♥

teh


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Review #8, by Indigo Seas dull as dirt

20th June 2013:
Here for the review exchange! :) Firstly, I was so, so excited when I was paired with you because I've heard so many lovely things about your writing and I've only ever had a few opportunities to read it and (I know I'm rambling, but-) it's really, really gorgeous. My vocabulary is not quite what I want it to be right now, but really - it's beautiful.

I could definitely go out and pick various sentences that I particularly liked, but these stand out to me:

"Inside Merope, there is a comma of a child, picking up shape, unfurling its fuzzy outlines."

and

"Meropeís spine curves over the hummingbird centre of her body."

I mean, the way you describe things is really beautiful. You're taking very natural elements like rock and dirt (or the hummingbird that I just mentioned) and you craft these descriptions in such ways that your sentences just sing. Really, be super proud of this; it's so, so pretty.

And your sentences are just the right lengths, too. Sometimes you'll have really long sentences (a personal favorite of mine) and then you'll have tiny ones in there too to mix things up. Your use of fragments is masterful: they're not all over the place so they don't slow the story down, but they put pauses right where the reader wants them. It's excellent.

I could really go on and on but now I feel like I'm embarrassing myself, so I'll just tell you that it was really, really gorgeous (I keep saying that!) and the story was lovely in a twisted, heartbreaking way. I'm so glad I got to review it!

xx Rin

Author's Response: Rin! ♥

Gaah, thank you so much for this absolutely wonderful review :D Your compliments were just a;skjd;asah I'm so flattered to hear that you've heard so many things about my writing. It's such a great feeling when other writers know of you (uh, also puffs up the ego a little bit ahaha...).

I'm so happy to see you commenting on things like diction and sentence structures and sentence lengths and descriptive technique! Because that's what I really focused on in this story. My other stories are less attentive to detail and style and diction; they're more about characterisation and plot (sort of). But in this story, I really went through each sentence, trying to put things together, see which words and images worked and which didn't. This fic really gave me a lot of grief to write, but it's definitely worth all that. I'm honestly so happy when reviewers pick up on the details, and I noticed in your own writing the amount of care that goes into constructing your sentences, and how organic and fluid they are, so it really means a lot to receive this compliment from you.

Thanks again for this amazing review, Rin! I'm so glad we were paired up for this month's exchange ♥

-teh


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Review #9, by randomwriter dull as dirt

17th June 2013:
REVIEW TAG!

This really took me somewhere else.
Great work :)

I thought that there might be some tense issues in between, but that seems pretty intentional, so it's fine. Also, this phrase- 'a thin fine down covers its body'- didn't make too much sense to me... Maybe a typo?

That aside, you have chosen the prefect words to convey Merope's sense of hopelessness and desperation, with a hint of determination. Simply prefect in that sense. Also, brilliant characterization. This has a nice flow to it :)

Good work :)
This is going to favourites, though it isn't my type :p

Author's Response: Hello there :) Thanks for this lovely review, and for favouriting! I'm glad this story took you "somewhere else" - hopefully somewhere not too pleasant, because this story was originally written for a genre challenge (horror/dark) and I wasn't trying to make this a sweet fluffy piece of writing :)

The whole story is written in present tense; that being said, there are flashbacks embedded throughout the narrative (I refuse to separate them into italicised segments :P ) and in these flashbacks, the tenses shift to the past. I guess this might throw some readers off if they aren't paying close attention, but it's how I like to write my flashbacks ^.^

As for "a thin fine down covers its body" - I am missing a couple of commas in there (I removed many commas because I don't like them in this story...taking a great deal of artistic license here...). And the word "down" is actually a noun, not a an adverb or a preposition or adjective...from dictionarydotcom this means, "a growth of soft fine hair". In terms of the pregnancy, this feature, this "down" is called lanugo, and foetuses and newborn babies are usually covered in lanugo. So, yeah :)

Thank you for your lovely comments once again! Especially on the characterisation! I hope I clarified some things for you.

-teh


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Review #10, by _relative dull as dirt

24th May 2013:
So I wanted to leave a review, but I just couldn't think of anything else except, wow.

So, it really doesn't do this piece justice, but wow.

Author's Response:

Hello! Gah, thank you so much for taking the time to read and review! It wasn't a short easy read, and it means so much to me that you enjoy this. Also, I absolutely love random reviewers ♡ Thank you once again for reading, AND favouriting!

teh ♥


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Review #11, by GubraithianFire dull as dirt

24th May 2013:
I saw this in the recently added and recognized the author as the one who wrote that beautiful Lavender one-shot so naturally I was eager to see what you would do with Merope (so hi again~). And my oh my. I'm looking at the other reviews left for this story and they're saying that you disliked this, which boggles my mind because this is so so so good. You have exceedingly good taste in minor canon characters whose life stories you dissect in one-shots, which I'm sure extends to your other stories.

Merope in some ways, I think, is easier to tackle in fic than Lavender because there's kind of a consensus on the broad strokes of her character that there isn't with Lavender, if you know what I mean? Like, as far as I've seen, Lavender is construed as either an idiot or a misunderstood secretly strong young woman; there's no such binary assumptions about Merope because her place as the tragic mother heroine is pretty well-established in both canon and fanon, when she is written about at all, which is pretty rare. But that's not to understate how well you place Merope within that trope, because seriously, that was beautiful and horrifying. I'm really glad I hadn't eaten for a while before I read this hehe. Somehow it didn't click for me that what Merope was doing with eating the dirt and plaster and such was part of a condition until your author's note, though I have heard of that condition. I read it as more of a comment/symptom of the abject misery of the poverty she's lived through all her life than a symptom of her pregnancy on its own. Either reading, which I suppose are not binary themselves, gives a terrible, frightening, grotesque sheen to the pregnant canon character story, which is always unicorns and rainbows and explosions of morning sickness and cute cravings. This story went to places I definitely wouldn't have expected but I'm so, so glad it did -- almost no matter what an author does with this skeleton of plot, it is going to be compelling, but this was magnetic and horrible.

Your language all the way through was fabulous, though, which made the grotesque nature of your imagery (I think someone said earthy imagery, which is a really good way to describe it) all the more jarring and off-putting. In the best possible way, I mean. I could talk about what sentences I loved and why (that first paragraph totally sold me on the whole story, but also comma of a child, the cicada thing with Morfin, the adder Morfin nailed to the door... God just everything) but that would take a while and it's probably something you've heard in all of the other reviews. So I'll hold off on that and just say... this was gorgeous. It takes a lot to get me to read fic these days and I'm really glad I've found yours, because you are a huge talent, you shape sentences with astonishing ease and a pureness that is always gorgeous no matter the context, you have a great sense of how to mold canon the way that suits the stories you want to tell -- I'm hugely impressed. Well done.

Author's Response: a;fklhjuicvnjhsghdyahas

HELLO AGAIN ♡♡

So I've read through this review a few times now. And I am still not sure what I ought to say. First, thank you so much again for a second brilliant and incredibly perceptive review - this wasn't a short read, and I'm so incredibly grateful that you even took the time to check this story out even if you don't read fic anymore ♡ (I got a bit sad when you said you don't read fic anymore, but I noticed you've been around on the archive for a REALLY LONG TIME according to your profile page, so I guess I understand. I joined HPFF a few months ago, and still find this place quite exciting :D )

You've pretty much got the whole story pinned down. There's not a lot to it, apart from what's there. You're right, we all know Merope's tragic story and how she's such a pitiable figure in canon, a product of joyless and bleak circumstances. There are quite a few Merope stories on the archives - not many, but they do exist and some of them are quite brilliantly written as well. So I did try to write something that would hopefully be different from what already exists (and most of these either detail Merope's relationship with Tom, or her childbirth and death), There wasn't a lot of stuff on her pregnancy. And that must have been an incredibly traumatic time for her, nine months of being alone and pregnant, of not knowing how she will cope...I'm not sure if she knew that she wouldn't survive childbirth...but she /was/ selling her locket to Burke, so I assume that she was trying desperately to live. Pregnancy can be something quite terrifying, if you aren't prepared for it and if you don't have the necessary emotional support from others...and so many things can go wrong, if you think about it...in a very pessimistic manner.

Gaaah, your comment on the language and the sentences ♥ ♥ This was one of the more difficult stories to write, precisely because I put in so much care and effort into the sentences, to make them smooth and nice-sounding :P Diction, sentence structure, imagery...all these were things I paid a lot of attention to in this fic, and by the end of it I was jsort of sick of everything and probably felt that it was truly rubbish...which is why I first threw it into the queue with a big angst-filled author note declaring how much I didn't like this. Yep, I can be very dramatic. But I've edited this a little and put some distance between the writing and myself, and I think I'm a lot happier with it now. Especially after all the amazing feedback.

Thank you so so so much once again for this amazing review ♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡
It's honestly gaaahaksjfhljkljaksfhljk ♥

teh ♥♛


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Review #12, by marauderfan dull as dirt

24th May 2013:
All I can say is wow. This was really spectacular! I have never read a story quite like this before. Great use of imagery and detail - you conveyed so much just through the descriptions of what is going on around her as a parallel to her pregnancy. I'm so glad I found this story. Merope is such a weird character - it's hard to like her, which makes her very interesting to read about (if that makes sense). Fantastic job on this and I'll definitely be checking out other stories you've written!

Author's Response: HELLO ♥ ♥

Thank you so much for all your wonderful flattering reviews! Honestly, they were so unexpected, and they completely made my day. And thank you for your lovely comment on the imagery and descriptive detail of this story! You're right, I focused on what is going around her, and the physical changes of her condition, and attempted to use descriptive detail and the action to convey Merope's emotional state and internal world (hopefully I achieved something with this baha!), rather than angst about too much in the narrative.

And it definitely IS difficult to like Merope, I agree. She's not portrayed favourably in the books, and she's something of a wreck, and I really wanted to bring that out in this story, not only show her pitiable state of abandonment, but also the idea that she's a product of her loveless circumstances.

Thank you so much for this amazing review! Have some hearts and diamonds! ♦♥♦♦

-teh ☀


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Review #13, by WeasleyTwins dull as dirt

24th May 2013:
Hello teh! Here for a bit of review tag (I apologize in advance if the review is short, I've got to go to work soon).

Oh. My. Holy. Harry. Potter. Really, now really, what in the name of JK Rowling was that?! Brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Oneshots definitely showcase your talent because you can fill it to bursting with such ridiculously astounding descriptions. I am so jealous and in awe right now. You are a genius. GENIUS. Have you ever considered writing literary fiction? You should.

The things you choose to describe are wonderful - that first paragraph. I cannot even manage to say anything remotely coherent. It was perfect. And Merope, oh goodness, she disgusts me and yet delights me at the same time. That longing for Tom, the Pica disorder, what Tom Jr. does to her psyche, it's all so intriguing. And yet, I find myself completely repulsed by her.

I could write a dissertation on this oneshot. I really could. There are so many things I want to tell you, but I'm still in shock. I'm sorry this didn't make a bit of sense and is so short (really, I apologize). This is a wonderful, WONDERFUL story. It will be an HPFF classic.

Fantastic job, darling. I LOVE it.

Shelby

Author's Response: Shelby ♡

alskfj;asf

GAH THANK YOU FOR THIS REVIEW ♡ ♡ ♡ ♡ Honestly I'm just so happy that you liked it, the descriptive detail and everything. This is probably one of the few stories in which I've put a lot of effort into the description and imagery to establish a tone, a mood, an atmosphere. Honestly, your compliments are just leaving me a bit speechless and I wish I knew how to respond a little more eloquently!

This wasn't meant to be the prettiest of stories, and it wasn't the easiest to write, either. Merope had a terrible life :( And the last few months of her life must have been so hard - JKR glossed over this in the books, but seriously, if you think about it, Merope's entire existence has just been nothing but a portrait of pain and lovelessness. I'm so glad you found my portrayal of her intriguin but rather shocking.

Thank you so much for this absolutely lovely review, Shelby ♡ Don't worry about the length of it; I'm so elated that you even took the time to read through and review! *hugs*

teh ♡



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Review #14, by ChaosWednesday dull as dirt

1st May 2013:
Tag!

I know you were probably hoping to get a review on a different story, but I've been meaning to have a lok at this since the challenge, so here I am!

I see why you would consider this to be your least favourite, but not because it isn't good! It just seems as if you picked up many themes and it was difficult to weave them together into something as compact as a 4000 word one-shot.

But, honestly, I thought some of the imagery was magnificent. And it spoke volumes to me as I am terrified of all things that go in the direction of body-horror. And pregnancy is probably one of the most surreal and distrubing things nature has ever come up with :P

My favourite descriptions would probably have to be the scenes in Borgin and Burge's, just because you really used the setting to magnify the horrors of Merlope's pregnancy and her physical disintegration. The way you describe Burke's eyes really defined the darkest side of the world Merlope lives in for me: "Burke has wet eyes that seem to wobble in their sockets, sticky yellow drops caught at the corners. There is a boil on his lower eyelid, making the small flap of skin droop toward his cheekbone. And strangest of all, the long feathery eyelashes, each slow blink bringing them together" neutral gazes, corruption, abuse. Something about the delicate eyelashes sticking really completed the image for me. So good job on that.

Also, I loved this: "Behind him, the Kappa opens its scabbed eyelids and extends its webbed hands, its thin flesh pancaking against the glass." As a parallel to Tom wanting to break out of her belly, it really worked for placing him in all this filth that defines the world of dark magic and shady deals before he is even born. He is in a bottle, powerless but not miserable...his motivations are unclear but he is not pure. I think this was a very elegant solution and I admre you for coming up with it!

I enjoyed how you tried to look for imagery among the behavious of plants to illustrate Merlope's pregnancy. It's interesting that you chose to connect insects to that as well, and there were parts where it worked nicely. But I found sometimes that you overdid it a tad and began mixing insects and plants to a degree that became more confusing that illuminating. For example the first paragraph: "Something has changed in Merope Gaunt, a thrumming of insect wings, a pulse kickstarting into life. Her belly is a pouch of warm soil, crisscrossed with red veins. Seeds can take root here, splitting into small plants that will inch up and up her body, their tendrils will wrap around the soft masses of her organs and the trellis of her bones before sprouting out of her mouth and into the sun." if you are trying to describe the phoetus, then is it a winding plant, or it is it a winged insect? Also, maybe you could use the actual word "insect" less and stick only to the adjectives and verbs that would remind the reader of the behaviour of insects? Then maybe the imagery would be less confusing.

I suppose what could have tied up the story more tightly would be a reason for all the horror-imagery, you know? Tom is eating away at Merope from the inside, the burden of her guilt and the punishment for her decisions. Somehow, despite all of the distrubling imagery, he doesn't come accross as something unsavory. It's just a bit difficult to figure out what you are trying to say when everything (both the outside and the inside of Merope) are described similarly.

Well, I hope this could help! I wasn't trying to be critical and must admit I enjoyed your ever astounding ability for beautiful descriptions here as much as in anything else I've read by you :)

Author's Response: Whiskey ♥

Gaah, thanks for this amazing review and for all your critical feedback! It was really interesting to read your thoughts about this piece, and your interpretation of the imagery - because this story relies quite heavily (a bit too heavily for my liking, in fact) in imagery to illustrate a theme, and to carry the story forward. I myself am not a big fan of stories with heavy but generalised imagery; also, I very much prefer the literal to the metaphorical / figurative :) Hence, I wasn't too sure about this piece. Actually, now I remember, I edited this piece months ago, but I've been a bit too lazy to upload the updated version. Anyway.

I didn't focus much on baby Voldy in this story - except in the dream bit, and his influence on Merope. I meant him to be more of a neutral force in this story, but some reviewers including you have seen him as already unsettling and somewhat tainted - and I must say that yes, I think it's quite possible to interpret him this way. It really made me think about my own story and see it in a different light :)

As for the imagery - there's quite a lot of different things going on, isn't there? :P There are images of plants, insects, earth, eggs even (though this is extraneous and is purely there because...I dunno :P ). I didn't mean for them to be teased apart with each component analysed, but mmm, you're right. It is VERY TELLING that when they're taken apart bit by bit, it becomes a bit confusing. What I intended was for all these images to work together to create an overall motif/theme of natural life, or growth / flourishing.There's a kind of duality of growth in this story - Tom is flourishing well and dandy but at the same time, his growth is kinda parasitic on Merope, pretty much stunting her. Everything is flourishing about Merope, inside AND outside, except the essence of Merope herself.

ACK THIS PROLLY DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE *buries head under pillow*

Gah, I'm just floored by your compliment on the descriptive detail ^.^

GONNA TIE UP THIS RAMBLY RESPONSE NOW :D THanks sososo much for this wonderful review, Whiskey! You've really made me think about my own story. And that's always a good thing ^.^

-teh


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Review #15, by Jess the Enthusiast dull as dirt

18th April 2013:
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea why you don't like this story because I think it's fantastic! Wow! I've never read a Merope story before, but you really drew me in and this was a fascinating read. Great job! I really loved it and this is definitely going onto my favorites!

10/10

~Jess :D

Author's Response: Hello Jess!

GAAAH THANK YOU SO MUCH ♥ I really should remove that author's note :P It's just that, this is the first fic I've written, which relies so heavily on imagery and descriptive detail to carry the story forward. And by the end I didn't know if I had overdone it or something :) But the feedback so far has been jawdroppingly fantabulous!

THANK YOU for this lovely and totes unexpected review, AND for favouriting!

-teh


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Review #16, by Toujours Padfoot dull as dirt

17th April 2013:
H.O.L.Y. C.O.W.

This has got to be one of the most amazing one-shots I have ever read. I cannot fathom your dislike for it! There are so, so many things I am going to quote back at you because the writing left me so awestruck, and even though I am regurgitating basically a quarter of the story, I had to narrow down the list because it was so long.

I don't even know where to begin. Seriously - SPEECHLESS. So I'm just going to rail off some of the lines that I thought were particularly beautiful. Which was difficult because it's like searching for one star in a whole ocean of stars. There is nothing about this fic that I could possibly nitpick, nothing that could be improved. It is perfect.

And afterward she would lick the back of the spoon and kiss the purple stains off the sides of his mouth.

These same vines that have broken up the house are also holding the ruins together.

She would pick off the papery shells of cicadas from the bark and show it to him and he would crush them, laughing at the crackle beneath his thumb, the golden flakes of desiccated insect skin drifting down to the ground.


I love how earthy your descriptions are. The imagery is impeccably placed. Nothing is extraneous. Everything has just the right amount of detail, and your use of sensory details is omg. The insect skins, the girl of clouded clotted dirt, transforming the act of drugging a man into loving someone into this simple, well-of-course-she-did sort of thing. It reminded me of a little girl chasing after a puppy, desperate to bring it home and keep it and squeeze it.

He opens his mouth to speak and his voice is different, too - slower, more tentative. "Is that - what you will call me?"
- Favorite part. Honest to God, that scene made me hold my breath. And when he turned around and it was Tom-but-not-Tom, and he uttered that one line in that marveling, sinister-under-the-surface way that only Tom Riddle Jr. can speak, I just sat back with my hand over my heart and couldn't even read on for another minute. I just wanted to absorb it. SERIOUSLY, HOW CAN THIS BE ONE OF THE LEAST-FAVORITE THINGS YOU'VE EVER WRITTEN. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW JEALOUS I AM OF THESE DESCRIPTIONS. THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL. Sorry for yelling. I get carried away.

Merope's hand drifts to her head, fingering the bald patches where the skin is so thin and stretched that it feels like she's touching her wet skull.

Burke has wet eyes that seem to wobble in their sockets, sticky yellow drops caught at the corners. There is a boil on his lower eyelid, making the small flap of skin droop toward his cheekbone. And strangest of all, the long feathery eyelashes, each slow blink bringing them together.


- I love both of these. It's not pretty imagery. It's kind of gruesome, and made me shudder a little, and that means you did your job. This is the pregnancy of the mother of the most evil wizard who ever lived. Intermittent flashes of ugliness, pictures that make us wince uncomfortably - are absolutely essential. It's the sort of tone that doesn't just lie flat on the surface. It sinks into the readers. It gives them chills. I hope you know how fantastically talented you are for being able to incite these reactions, because it's not a talent easy to come by.

Behind him, the Kappa opens its scabbed eyelids and extends its webbed hands, its thin flesh pancaking against the glass.

The small vipers and adders, slithering through the dead leaves, finding her as she chanted to them, laying their chins on her lap and braiding their bodies against her legs.


Perfect. Perfect and creepy and perfect. I am so sorry for the amount of gushing I am doing. I am honestly just so blown away by how amazing your writing is. Every single sentence is a gem.

Her family. She would sell them all for less than ten Galleons.

The sound of a woman gasping, calling for help and help is another pair of arms pulling her up as the world contracts around her, falling like a thin sheet and moulding itself to the shape of her body.

He tests his new voice and the soggy vowels waft into the space between him and Merope.


Just... *dies* This is unbelievable. Your word choice. You choose your words so deftly and they are just seamless, they pack the biggest punch. The world contracting around her brings to mind this chasm of pain, convulsing into darkness. And the 'soggy vowels' - once again, it's your word choice. You have such a way with the English language. Even Tom Riddle who is barely a minute old is still the canon adult Tom Riddle somehow. We can see it right there, stamped in him from the moment of conception: an evil that will claw its way into the world at any cost. Even if he seems nothing but beautiful and perfect. He's just this sinister little creature.

I feel so horribly for Merope, especially since she'd been planning to raise him as a Muggle and her son was the only thing she had left, but standing out there in the snow, preparing to slip away into death, it was sort of liberating. Merope is free.

Thank you so much for linking me to this! ♥

- Sarah

Author's Response: mmmpfffhh mmmphhdfhh

I have no idea how to respond!!!??!111!!

Honestly, this review just made my entire millennium. As you may know, I fangirl myself silly over your own amazing speechlessness-inducing writing, and to receive a review like this from you is just.just...can I just take the easy way out and smash my keyboard and let you gauge the extent of my feelings by yourself? AKLSFHBFAJKL

Right. I should probably edit out that author's note at the bottom; this story has been edited for minor things, actually, and I forgot to upload the newer version but anyway. I suppose I've never written a story that has so much imagery and description, that relies on these to drive the narrative forward. My other stories are much sparser and I hardly use figurative language and all. Also, I wrote this for a challenge and rushed through it and I honestly thought it wasn't very well-written at first. But I'm incredibly gratified that you found the prose seamless and the word choice deft, because these are precisely the effects I was aiming for. I wanted to keep the language relatively simple but smooth, and be really really picky about the words I used. It was an extremely laboured writing process (no pun intended). All the other lovely reviewers have gushed about the description and imagery, but I think you're the first one to point out things like diction and the individual sentences so thank you so much for that ♥

There are actually plenty of Merope stories around, but most of these tend to focus on the Tom/Merope ship, or on her abusive upbringing in the Gaunts' home. But I was especially intrigued by the period between Tom's desertion of her and her childbirth and subsequent death. I can only imagine what a truly horrible time it must have been for her. I suppose she was freed by death, but it wasn't an easy death :(

Can I just say that I'm ecstatic that you thought this line was lovely: /These same vines that have broken up the house are also holding the ruins together./ OMG I HAD TO REWRITE THAT LINE SO MANY TIMES. And now it's my favourite line in the whole story. I mean I'm not the best in describing buildings and trees and stuff like that and that dream scene was a major headache.

Anyway. Thank you sososo much for this amazing review! Eeep. Still in awe of it and I probably will be this way for quite some time. Gonna leave some hearts for you before I sign off ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

teh


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Review #17, by academica dull as dirt

7th April 2013:
Hi! Here from Review Tag!

I really loved this. Your ability to make the most of imagery is astounding. As of now, I can only dream of writing a long, detailed piece like this one, and yet these are some of my favorites to read. I would pick out a favorite phrase or two except I don't know where to begin. Mostly, I loved the way you described Merope's changing ugliness, the way pregnancy was cruel to her malnourished, unloved body. I also really liked how you showed the change between Tom in love with Merope and Tom after the effects of the potion had worn off--I almost wish you had described more of why Merope had decided to stop giving Tom the potion.

My favorite part, though, was Merope's vision of Tom Jr., the first time she really fell in love with her baby and decided to start doing what she could to take care of it. It was such a weird contrast, such a grotesque person loving something so purely, and you could detect that love right up until the moment when he finally stopped crying.

I was also impressed by the fact that you researched pregnancy and tried to make it realistic. It's a breath of fresh air after seeing so many easy, pleasant pregnancies depicted in other stories. I thought you were just capitalizing on the filth that was Merope's life and her home with the pica, but to add it in as a realistic element gives it a whole new sort of importance for me. Great job there.

This was a delight to read overall. Wonderful work!

-Amanda

Author's Response: Hello Amanda,

gaah, thanks for this absolutely lovely review :D This piece is definitely heavier on the imagery and descriptive detail than my other pieces! I'd been relying on imagery and figurative stuff to sort of build an atmosphere of despair and to accentuate Merope's hopeless situation and how ineffectual she is in dealing with her the state of her life. Without being too dramatic, I hope. I really enjoy writing stories that are a bit more flat in tone rather than dramatic.

And unlike many writers, I can't write a short sharp piece focusing on a single aspect of a character's life and delving really deeply; I'm not skilled enough :P So I have to make my things a bit longer :)

I'm glad you liked Merope's dream of Tom Jr.! I was worried that it might be taking things a little far, but this /is/ magic after all, and I dunno, it might be possible. Also, pregnant women can have really weird dreams :P It's one of the effects of pregnancy.

I'm glad you liked the detail about pregnancy! I really did have to make it realistic seeing as the entire story was going to revolve around this, and while I'm familiar with pregnancy, having been pregnant before, I did have to look up the more severe side effects such as oedema and of course, pica (which isn't that common). I chose pica because nutrition / nourishment is really important during pregnancy, and Merope lacks the desire to take care of herself after her abandonment by Tom (as was mentioned in HBP), Also, all kinds of growth (healthy growth and parasitic unhealthy growth) and nourishment are sort of recurring motifs in the story :)

Ooh, long review response :P Thanks so much once again for your fabulous review, Amanda! I really appreciate it.

-teh


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Review #18, by caoty dull as dirt

2nd March 2013:
Hello. I'm here. Finally. Sorry. And this review, like all the ones I leave for you, will be almost entirely incoherent.

You have an amazing eye for detail, and it really stands out here. Merope's scalp after making so much Amortentia is one that stuck with me in particular - actually, all of your description about how Merope's body slowly disintegrates, almost, as the baby grows is just beautiful, even though it's actually kinda ugly and may have put me off having kids for life.

The underlying theme of, well, growth is very strong throughout this one-shot, and you know how much I like underlying themes. Merope and Tom Sr. are shown as not growing, with Tom's stone-ness and Merope's disintegration and soil-ness, which is reflected and reinforced by her pica. Which was, by the way, very One Hundred Years of Solitude-y, so you get points for that too... especially since I just loved the Rebeca/Jose Arcadio 'ship.

Anyway. Moving on. The imagery you associate with growth... I may have a slight fear of plants from now on and it'll all be your fault. That's all I can say, really.

There's always a danger with these character-centric fics that the magic of the Potterverse is forgotten by the author - I know I do that a lot - so your ability to interweave magic and Wizarding culture with this kind of story is impressive, and it feels completely natural. It's lovely. Well done.

One minor thing I can't seem to move past: you know how at the beginning, in like the chapter summary, you've introduced the idea of dullness, right... I don't see it enough in the rest of the fic to leave an impression, and I'm wondering why it's even there. Could you explain that one to me, please?

Anyway. Thank you for entering this into the challenge. :)

Author's Response: caoty ♥ hollooo.

first, to answer that minor thing: does the catchiness (sort of) of a summary justify its irrelevance? :P Because obviously there's nothing about constellations in this fic and I'm not fond of reading about constellations in fanfic anymore. But I read that bit on Wikipedia and was quite interested in how JKR got the name for Merope (the one from mythology who married a mortal and became mortal and faded away some crap like that). As for the 'dull as dirt' bit, which is the title of the chapter although it really doesn't need a title because it's a oneshot...well, I think that might be slightly more relevant. I just combined a couple of things: first Marvolo calling her a 'sack of muck' in HBP, and Harry describing Merope as really 'defeated-looking', and also at first he was unable to distinguish her from her surroundings, because she was the colour of the dirt floor or something like that. Whatever, I'm making it a lot more convoluted than it actually sounds. As for how exactly dullness is relevant to my story...erm well...Merope is kinda dull isn't she? :P OK, sorry, this paragraph is an absolute waste of space. You're like, the only reviewer who is sharp enough to pick out all the tardier bits of my writing despite what you keep saying about your reviews being useless and incoherent blah blah etc.

Ah, 100 Years of Solitude ♥ I started reading this like, three years ago and still haven't finished. But I love the book to bits and am still reading it at a very very very very slow pace.

I thought the plants in my fic were actually the good guys :D It's the humans that are the bad ones :P But ah, your comment made me grin. And reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan's stupid movie, forgot the title because it's something really general...it's the one where all the plants in the world start emitting neurotoxins which make people commit suicide.

Gah, thanks so much for all your amazing compliments ♥ Always love a review from yooou! And thanks for holding the challenge, really pushed me to the limits, this fic.

you're too awesome.

♥ teh



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Review #19, by TheHouseElf dull as dirt

2nd March 2013:
This is a beautifully written one shot! I pitied Merope right from the get-go when she was first written by JK, but this just took that pity to a whole other level. The depression that she's in is clearly epitomised in the scenes at Borgin and Burke's and as a reader, I wanted to shout out to her, and tell her that she's being conned. I loved your portrayal of Tom too, he's a tough character to get around, because you hate him for his condescending manner, but can empathise with him slightly as he's effectively been trapped by Merope with a love potion. The descriptions were deliciously crafted too, the little details, the smells, all of it :D The Gaunts remind me of the Ewells in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and Mayella Ewell and Merope Gaunt are definitely kindred spirits :P

A stunning and sentimental one shot that made me weep like a little girl, definitely one for the favourites xD

Author's Response: Aww, thanks for such a wonderful review :D So much lovely praise ♥ Merope isn't the easiest character to write; she has such a tragic end, but she never really had much of a life to begin with :( JKR said part of why Voldy grew up to become the way he was (utterly incapable of love and empathy etc.) was because he was conceived via love potion and not actual love. Well, you can always extend the cause of the problem even further back and claim that the Gaunts' made life such a misery for Merope that she was driven to do what she did ;) Misery and human cruelty certainly do travel down the generations and always result in the worst.

And yeah, now that you mention it, the Gaunts and the Ewells really are similar. I never noticed that; it's been years since I read To Kill a Mockingbird!

Thanks for your lovelylovelylovely review, and for favouriting :D And thanks for the swap!

-teh


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Review #20, by Lady Asphodel dull as dirt

1st March 2013:
Well this was quite an interesting read. I wish I could write as descriptively as you. :) You did a great job exploring Merope's character and the insight of her past.

Keep up the great work!

From the review tag,

-Asphodel

Author's Response: Thank you for reading and reviewing ♥

-teh


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Review #21, by ValWitch21 dull as dirt

25th February 2013:
Excuse me? What's that I read in your author's note? A little messy and silly? Crappy ending? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

This is one of the most disturbingly well-written one-shots I've read in quite some time, and really, you put my writing to shame.

You got into Merope's head so well, and you made her far more sympathetic to the reader than JK did. I don't think I've ever read such an accurate (in my opinion) portrayal of her, and this was beautiful all the way through. Her being affected with pica is so fitting and realistic, yet so original and horrifying at the same time.

I liked her musings about the Muggle world, and the fact that she wants to raise her son as one. The irony in there is killing me.

The way she keeps being cheated for the family heirlooms she sells broke my heart -- if there's one thing I hate, it's unfairness, and this got me seriously angry at your characters. I WILL REACH THROUGH THE SCREEN AND KICK YOU angry.

And he told her the locket was fake! What a sly {insert non 12+ word here}! How dare he! I hope karma slaps him across the face before I do.

That ending was beautiful. It wouldn't have made sense if she didn't die suffering, having spent her whole life as such, but I still wish you'd given her a speck of hope. And she did get it, kind of, but not to the point where I can leave this story light-hearted.

Another of your one-shots that I've loved... It's time for me to go and find something happy on your author page!

Author's Response: Hiya Val :D

Thanks sososo much for this lovely and totes unexpected review ♥

And would you please scratch out that ridiculous comment about putting your writing to shame!?!?! At least, scratch that out in your head :D

Ah, I'm so glad you found this to be a sympathetic portrayal of Merope! I was having a lot of trouble myself, writing her with empathy. And this being the horror/dark genre and all.

They're not my characters; they're JKR's :P She made them the way they are, Burke was a swindler in the books, Marvolo was abusive, Merope was 'defeated-looking' etc. All I did was go into a bit of detail into some of their worst character traits :P So...JKR's the one to blame, not me!

Oh yeah, there's nothing happy on my author page apart from A Lightness. And somehow you didn't find that too cheerful...I thought that wasn't angsty at all :P

THANK YOU SO MUCH for this absolutely lovely compliment-loaded review Val ♥

-teh


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Review #22, by SilentConfession dull as dirt

24th February 2013:
Hey teh! I'm here for our review swap! I had a nice long review written and then my browser closed and i lost it all :( Hopefully i can try to say all the things i did first time around!

All I can do is flail. This is a lovely piece of work. It's so DARK! I love that because you can really just feel this story. The imagery is fantastic, it is really gripping and some of the images you invoke are eerie and chilling. The sucking of the dirt, the hole in the wall from the plaster she ate, the glinting eyes, the way you describe Tom's eyes and how it changes when he's not under the potion anymore. There was so much of the imagery but i didn't feel like it was too heavy at all. I think that it helped characterize Merope and it did it in a way that made me feel her and infer things rather than just spelling out for me. Which i think is really great because i think it helps me understand her.

you did a really great job with Merope here. You can see who she was as a person and you did great with adding bits and pieces of her back story as well so that we can understand how she came to this point as well. One of my favourite bits was her interaction with Burke and how she just accepted the money he offered. He obviously wasn't being honest but she just didn't question it and just let it happen. Much how it seemed like she did with the rest of her life. Let herself be neglected, never tried to make herself better until she thought Tom. It was the only thing she did for herself and even that was a really bad attempt at it.

The hissing bit and the apparating with her pregnancy- it just shows the state of her depravity has got to. I can just feel her desperation and how out of touch she is with reality. It's scary really because you can see how someone like Tom was birthed from her and this situation.

The only critique i can offer is small but there were times that the description was a little messy and if you cleaned it up a little it would help make some of the parts a little clearer. For instance- the part with when Tom comes back?? (does he come back or is it just her mind imagining him there?) This might have been the only place that i felt myself questioning things because the imagery and description was a little less tight than the rest of the piece.

This is a really great piece of work though teh and i've loved reading it. It's just so good and haunting. I think you really captured this moment and i liked how you did in three trimesters of her life and how it forced her into the downward spiral with her life. Really beautifully done! I'm really happy were able to swap and i had a chance to read this!! You've done such a stellar job with it!

Author's Response: Hello Zayne :)

yes, I know all about writing a lengthy review only to have a mutinous browser shut down on you :P Or in my case, every time I hit backspace to erase something the entire page goes back and all the words are lost :(

But thank you so so much for still writing another lengthy detailed review! And from scratch again!

Ahaha, yes this is me trying to be /dark/ :D I'm not really used to writing in this genre (this fic was done for a challenge) and I didn't know exactly how to be /dark/ so I just threw in loads of imagery :P And I'm SOHAPPY that you thought all that imagery wasn't too overwhelming or too overdone, but instead contributed to Merope's characterisation!

Yeah, Merope was sort of described as a 'defeated looking person' in the books, and I was trying to get this across in my characterisation of her. And she did get badly swindled by Burke as well; it sort of made sense to me that even if she did know, she wouldn't have put up much of a fight anyway.

I'm so glad you pointed out bits where the description was messy. Gah, my fault! Yes, that is all a weird dream. Tom (sr.) never comes back. Not at all, not even in the dream. Merope is actually dreaming of a future Tom Riddle Jr. (i.e. Voldy) bahaha; actually it does sound a little far-fetched...and yeah, you're right, it was pretty confusing because of the far-fetchedness of the idea. Hmm, I'll see what I can do to fix it.

Thank you so much for your lovely comments and absolutely helpful critique Zayne! Pleasure doing a swap with you :D

-teh


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Review #23, by Athene Goodstrength dull as dirt

23rd February 2013:
Here from review tag! And oh my goodness... this is stunning. Itís so atmospheric and your choice of language is fascinating and intricate and scratchy and nasty and tragic.

Itís so physical. Incredibly so. And I love the way you root (aha) her pregnancy in the ground and the dirt and the insects that she finds herself craving.

There are so many strong images, I donít even know where to start. Tomís dilated pupils as he kisses Merope in his potion-poisoned state, the patches of threadbare scalp that are one of the prices Merope pays to keep him that way. shudder ... this is so dark! And haunting. And creepy. Iíve also entered Caotyís challenge and it seems we both went the way of sick, twisted, unhealthy obsession/love.

Riddle Jr. is a brooding, frightening presence even in the womb. And itís interesting that Riddle Sr isnít just some handsome rich kid - she only really recognises him when heís disgusted by her.

And just as you make me begin to really be disgusted by her too, you make me pity her as she canít make Tom understand, and her father was awful and somehow her self-esteem and the neglect sheís suffered becomes bound up with her pregnancy and manifests as pica. The poor, poor girl. And whatís it all for? She has no idea that sheís bringing something evil into the world. The image of her sucking at her dirt-stained fingers is incredible. Seriously, I can see her.

The line about selling hair reminded me of Les Miserables... The difference between Merope and Fantine though, is that Merope is already a mess.

Ughhh. I pity her so much. That dream seems to have given her hope, but itís sad too because the reason she now wants to pay attention to and nurture her child is because she thinks itís a way to have some form of Tom in her life, not because she cares for herself or can love a child properly. And why should she? She was never loved until she got potion into Tom. Sorry, Iím rambling. I just LOVE this fic so much. I love anything that makes me ask questions and think about the characters.

Uh, what else? Burke is so icky. There is really only one thing of beauty in Meropeís life, isnít there?

Iím a student midwife and the thought of coming across a lady in Meropeís state is making me shudder! Malnourished, pica, and am I seeing pre-eclampsia? And I love the apparating moment - in my Hermione WIP, Iíve decided pregnant women canít apparate because itís just too risky.

That parseltongue moment was awesome.

The ending is so sad, but also not... sheís finally free, and has experienced a moment of pure love. Itís a cool thought that Voldemort himself had a moment of being loved purely for what he was, not what he could do or how he could persuade...

Anyway. Ramble over. Loved this.

Athene xo

Author's Response: Hello Athene :DDD

Gah! What a lovely review! I'm always so overwhelmed and a little speechless every time a reviewer comes along and leaves so much praise. THANK YOU SO MUCH. Seriously. Thanks for making my day /month/year/forever.

Aah the challenge! Yes, this is the first time I've written in this genre. And man was it difficult for me trying to be ahem...dark. :P Hence the copious amounts of imagery. Probably a little too much in some areas! Ooh, yes I've heard of your story for the challenge! I've got to swing by and check it out one of these days. Heard it's about a creepy Snape; caoty will love that one!

One of my main concerns while writing this story was that I wasn't writing Merope with empathy, that perhaps I was focusing a little too much on atmosphere and things like that. That's usually why I don't do so well writing horror fic; it's like there's a barrier between me and the characters I'm writing, and I assume sometimes that the reader will not be able to appreciate or empathise with the characters. So it's such a wonderful thing to hear that you feel for Merope a bit.

I've yet to watch Les Mis :) Everyone's raving about it on the forums - so maybe one of these days...

Ooh, you're a student midwife? You would know about different kinds of pregnancies (I mean the good and the less pleasant ones) more than me! I was describing pica, and yeah, there's something like pre-eclampsia there, or oedema or "pitting" - as I heard it's called. Hope I got most of these things right!

OK anyway asjkdhalksjhf THANKS SO MUCH ONCE AGAIN. For your absolutely review! Your words and compliments mean so much ♥

-teh


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Review #24, by my_voice_rising dull as dirt

18th February 2013:
WHY YES I WILL GLADLY READ YOUR STORY. I was so excited to see a request from you! I'm afraid these days it's the only way I can make time to read anything. But I'm always so excited to read your stories!

Wow. One paragraph in and I'm completely blown away. My favorite thing about your writing is your absolutely stunning use of subtle imagery: pouch of warm soil; thrumming of insect wings... gorgeous. Beautifully disturbing. I can tell just from your introduction that this story will succeed in the horror/dark challenge!

OH MY GOD "SPINES OF SUNLIGHT." And kissing the purple bruises from the corners of his mouth. And the black irises bleeding into the whites of his eyes. Will you just stop it? Just stop. (Of course I don't mean that, this is so incredible, I just want you to know how much your writing truly blows me away!) I do think the line She can almost hear the creaking of marble plates sawing against each other is stunning as well. But the word "creaking" kind of throws in a different idea from what (I think) you're going for. I think the line would be much more powerful if it were just She can almost hear marble plates sawing against each other, or even ...the sound of marble.... Again, a really powerful line.

(My apologies that my reviews are always 99.9% fangirling.)

I think it was really smart to pick pregnancy as a major part of a horror/dark story. Maybe I'm just being biased, as somebody who never wants to have children, but there is something parasitic about it and you've really taken that idea and expanded on it so wonderfully. The section about the comma of a fetus, sprouting eyelashes and fingernails--all completely natural things, but they sound so grotesque in the way you have rendered them.

There's definitely a unity in your choices of imagery. Dead insects, green vines, hair, sprouting potatoes, the growth of a fetus--they're all a part of cyclical death and rebirth. They tie together so well, but are so subtle that you have to stop and consider exactly what it is about this that seems so unified.

I pity Merope so much in this story, but it hits the hardest when she's dealing with Burke. When he refused to give her the six Galleons for her earrings (which were probably worth that) and she gave up so quickly, it just said so much about her. And how she's willing to part with the locket so easily. So horribly sad.

Oh my god. Goosebumps. Your ending is so haunting and so incredible, and I must add this to my favorites RIGHT NOW. I'm sorry I haven't been very helpful at all, this is just so astounding. Gah!!! Another amazing job!

Author's Response: HELLLOOO

I'M GONNA TAKE THIS REVIEW TO BED WITH ME...wait that sounds a bit weird...

All these compliments askljdashfjklasf!?!?

BAHAHA imagery...every time I start having trouble with moving the story forward I resort to imagery for some narrative filler and stuff like that :P So umm...the more imagery my stories have, the more stuck I usually am. But I'm so flattered that you like the imagery and think they're subtle! When I was writing all that stuff I was repeatedly facesmashing into my keyboard thinking, oh my god what is this can I be any more obvious blah blah...so gah! I'm so so happy and relieved that you find it alright.

And yes, that creaking/sawing thing...I do have the tendency to overdescribe sometimes! thanks so much for pointing that out; it does actually sound pretty clunky. LOVE IT whenever reviewers start picking my sentences apart and pointing out all the awkward bits and all the parts where the writing gets a bit too cluttered or too lazy or something.

I'm glad you managed to feel so much sympathy for Merope...to be honest I was having a lot of trouble connecting with her character, I didn't feel as deeply involved with my writing and stuff.

And I'm glad you thought bad pregnancy was a good choice for a horror/dark story bahah! It's quite creepy actually, the way the body can change so much and so quickly over such a short period of time.

THANKS SOSOSO MUCH FOR YOUR REVIEW SARAH. You made my entire week.

Here, HAVE SOME HEARTS ♥ ♥ ♥

teh



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Review #25, by patronus_charm dull as dirt

15th February 2013:
Tag!

I really liked how you described Merope being pregnant, as Iíve never heard or thought about it, like the way you described it, so it was a pleasant surprise to find it like that, and it seemed to be very accurate.

Even though you werenít really introduced to Tom and Merope relationship, you still do feel for her when he leaves, and I know that she drugged him, but the fact that he leaves and she was pregnant must have hurt her a lot.

I really liked the idea of splitting the story into trimesters, as it was nice to see how much she changed from the start of her pregnancy to the end of it. It was also a good idea to do considering this is a one-shot and it allowed you to cover the key aspects of it, and not have to include everything.

Also the fact that you started each new segment with a description of how her pregnancy was affecting her was a really good idea, and I thought it allowed a new interesting perspective to the story, as people tend to focus on the emotional effects of it, not the physical affects.

I thought that you captured Meropeís desperation of trying to provide for her baby very well, you caught a real sense of the fact that if she didnít make certain sacrifices her and her baby would die. Itís an almost strange concept that you feel sympathetic to the woman who brought Voldemort to life.

I liked the idea that Merope would have been the one to give Voldemort a normal and perhaps happy life, which may have stopped him going down the path of destruction he chose.

I thought this was a great one-shot, and I found it very unique!

Author's Response: Hello there! Thanks for such a thoughtful review :) I'm really glad you thought this a unique story...it was written in a bit of a rush and I wasn't too inspired.

Yeah, I wanted to focus on the physical side of pregnancy - the idea of the changing body. Since I wrote this specially for the horror/dark challenge, I thought I might focus on descriptions of the flesh and things like that and hopefully make it a little...ahem...creepy. Baha! I probably failed in the creepiness area!

I think JKR herself mentioned it: if Merope hadn't died and instead raised Tom Riddle himself, he would have become a very different person.

I'm glad you managed to feel a little for Merope...that was one of my concerns for the story: that writing in this genre and focusing so much on language, tone, mood, description especially description of the body would sort of create a rift between the reader and the character. So your comments were really reassuring.

Thanks so much once again for your lovely review!

-teh


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