Reading Reviews for Go Softly
6 Reviews Found

Review #1, by patronus_charm Go Softly

7th June 2014:
Wow this was so beautiful and haunting, Jenna!

The whole story had this ominous feel to it so when we started and Thackeray and Swift were just planning innocently together it felt as if a dark shadow was always lurking behind the two of them. I really loved how you showed their relationship though with the way the two of them could only really understand one another and no one else would get them. I really wish we could have seen more of Swift as he does seem to have a beautiful spirit as you said with the way he helped Thackeray through everything and was always there.

The way you discussed gender issues and how each one was viewed was really interesting and really worked well with the story. The first thing which really stood out to me was how early on Thackeray realised he/she was different and that was at school and how they placed you according to your gender and it really made me question whether that was right or not after seeing how problematic it was for Thackeray. Then there was that moment with the woman being yelled at for her dress and it really made me sad how much people can be chastised for things like that.

Ah, Swift’s death was so heart-breaking! It was even more haunting because Thackeray was talking about it from later on so she could recount his last night and last moments making it even more tragic for the reader. There was so much powerful description surrounding his death and how the darkness took over him but this line ‘My brother slaughtered himself’ really stood out to me and stayed in my head for a while because as Thackeray took that view I can understand why it took her even longer to recover.

The ending was written beautifully though! Even though her name wasn’t mentioned, Roxanne’s spirit just seemed to seep through the writing if that makes sense. It was so moving to see what a positive change she had in Thackeray and really gave me hope that they could always be happy together!

This was a really beautiful one-shot, Jenna!


Author's Response: Hi Kiana! :)

I'm so glad you found this story - I was thinking of putting a little mention in the AN of TEG but it's awesome that you noticed it anyway. This was one of the first one-shots I've written in a while that was just inspired and not for a challenge so I was so nervous but excited to post it, and it's also one of my first sequel-style stories too. So thank you! :)

I definitely know what you mean about the ominous feeling, that's how I felt writing it as well. What happened to the family is so sad, and I got quite attached to Swift so it was a little upsetting when the time came. I'm glad you liked Swift and the siblings' dynamic as it was so simple in a very complicated story.

Thank you! I'm so pleased to hear that. I've studied gender identities and roles in some classes so it was interesting to find creative ways to show that in the story. I agree, I do think that things are changing but people still experience discrimination and feeling excluded from society, and showing that through a child's eyes was so challenging but poignant to work on.

I'm glad you liked the description around his death and the way that Thackeray took it, even though it was heartbreaking. :( Killing a character is so hard, especially in this case where mental health and other sensitive issues were involved, but I'm pleased it stuck with you in the story. Poor Thackeray definitely felt some self-blame and anger against Swift and I tried to show those stages of grief as well.

I'm glad you liked the ending and the tie-in with TEG! :) I'm so glad you liked seeing Roxanne even though she wasn't named, and the positive ending. I loved that bit, it was one of the first scenes I imagined when writing. :)

Thanks so much for the lovely review, Kiana! ♥ I've really loved hearing all your thoughts, and appreciate it so much! :)

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Review #2, by lia_2390 Go Softly

27th April 2014:
Hi Jenna,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Lia

Author's Response: Hi Lia! :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review #3, by remembertoturnonthelight Go Softly

8th April 2014:
I literally cried, when Swift died. And when Thackeray brought the girl to the hill... This was an excellent story. I loved it.

Author's Response: Hello! :) Oh no, I'm so sorry if you cried, but I'm really pleased to hear you liked the story and it was an emotional read. Thank you so much for the lovely review, it was a really nice surprise! :)

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Review #4, by MargaretLane Go Softly

29th March 2014:
Hmm, I like the sort of dreamy atmosphere you set up at the beginning of this story.

Considering the number of single-sex schools in this country, things could probably have got more confusing for your character. Or maybe it would have been less confusing, as teachers would be questioning whether they were a boy or a girl. I don't know.

*grins at growing up with Moore's melodies* I learnt rebel songs with my nursery rhymes and actually wrote about the poetry of Thomas Moore and Thomas Davis for my final year project at college.

One thing: it's more common to say "principal" than "headmaster" over here. I'd mainly hear "Headmaster" used by Protestant and maybe some paying schools.

Oh, you've written "my parents tell I about verbal bullying" when it should be "tell me."

This is ridiculously nitpicky, but cremation isn't that common in Ireland, though it is becoming more so. It is still unusual enough that burial would be taken for granted, though. Apparently, there are four crematoria in Ireland - three in Dublin and one in Cork. (This compares with over 200 in the UK, which has about 12 times our population Of course, Wicklow is fairly near Dublin and there is no reason your character COULDN'T be cremated, but it wouldn't exactly be the norm. Your characters do sound like the sort who might go for a less common option though.

I really like this story, well you could probably have guessed that. I am rather interested by these characters. I might take a look at your Enchanted Garden story sometime to find out a little more about Thackeray.

I particularly like the part where Thackeray talks about having read about magical wardrobes and so on.

Author's Response: Hello! :)

I'm glad you liked it! That was the sort of mood I was in while writing this so I'm pleased it came across.

That's an interesting point! I think I'll imagine Thackeray at a non-single-sex school, but I imagine being a fairly gender-neutral person would be tricky either way.

That's awesome! I'm glad you liked that mention - I've been studying the melodies in my class this year so they just had to make it into the story. I just wrote an essay featuring Moore's 'Oh blame not the bard" and Ferguson's "Thomas Davis: An Elegy" so it's quite funny you should mention them.

Thank you for letting me know about the principal and the cremation! I'll go and change that right away when I'm done responding to this. :) That's actually fascinating about how cremation is less popular, and I never would have assumed that. Here in Canada cremation is definitely the norm and burial is both really expensive and generally rare. I actually really like the idea of Swift not being cremated, but buried.

I'm happy you noticed the magical wardrobe reference and the books - I love tying in my favourite childhood books to stories.

Thank you so much for the lovely review! :)

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Review #5, by Rumpelstiltskin Go Softly

26th March 2014:
Hey there!

You really have too many stories to choose from, which is great, but I want to read them all but there's so many! I haven't even touched your novel yet, but I will get there.

Anyway, you and your beautiful imagery -- I'm so jealous. When I'm reminding myself to add descriptions in my stories, I should read one of yours first to remind myself how much of an impact it will make. I mean, honestly, it's so beautiful O.O I just want to carry your stories around with me so that I can read the imagery.

Thackeray's feeling of Swift's superiority over him is understandable, as one sibling often feels this way towards the other. I love that he mentions that Swift is hurting inside, but nobody seems to know why. It seems that he's dealing with some issues (the beast that is clawing from within him) but Thackeray still looks up to him. I think that's fantastic.

The feeling of protection on the "enchanted hill" was really quite striking. I remember the childhood innocents of finding a place of security (like beneath the tree in the backyard) where nothing could harm you, where you are free to be who you are, feel what you want, and do as you'd like. (And now I miss being a kid :(, haha.)

I really enjoyed the small scene where Thackeray (and I really do hope I've been spelling his name correctly) observes the woman by the bar. Thus, a transgender issue arises, and is explained in the best way. I'm really quite happy about how understanding his family is about that situation, and I loved the confidence and reassurance that Swift gives him -- the men were just bullies, and there's nothing wrong with the woman.

It's a natural response to become so angry in the face of taunting, so Thackeray's reaction of wanting to hurt others or harm himself is natural. I did like that his use of magic escaped him when he was so angry, when he couldn't control himself. What's more is, I really like the fact that he couldn't wait to tell his brother.

When his parent's sit down with him, I really loved the thoughts that raced through his head. I think, most specifically, the fact that he believes that he's an ugly child, and ultimately should not be in this world was the most striking. I really, really loved this line, "Swift is different as well. We deserve to love one another." -- That was fantastic, and further emphasizes just how much Thackeray looks up to Swift.

When Swift dies, and Thackeray needs to make the connection with something, and he sort of gives Sir Gawain Swift's persona...that was heartbreaking. He needs his brother, and so he used Sir Gawain to represent him. SO. MANY. FEELS. :( And then, this line, " My life is beginning as my brother’s ended. I wonder how he knew." Just wow. Yes, it's fantastic that Thackeray is going to Hogwarts, but to feel as though his brother had sacrificed his life so that Thackeray could live...that was beautiful.

And dear lord...the ending was so heavy and light at the same time. It's almost as though things are beginning to be resolved, and yet there's that heavy hurt that dragging it down...but it's okay. :( The final line, where he tells the girl that he used to come to this place with Swift...and she understands his pain...and...feels, just so many feels.

This was so beautiful and tragic, and I'm hormonal and crying :(. I'm glad that I read this though, because it really was wonderful!


Author's Response: Hi Rumpel! :) I'm sorry, I really took a long time to answer this amazing review!

It makes me so happy that you liked this story! It was so special to me while writing it and I had no idea if people would like it or not, so getting this amazing feedback is really lovely.

Aw, I'm so glad you liked the imagery and description! This story relied on it quite a bit, and I'm glad you didn't think it was too much.

Yes! Thackeray loves Swift, but can see that he's imperfect just like Thackeray is. It was challenging but interesting to get into the head of a kid whose brother is both their hero, but also has his own problems so he can't just focus on Thackeray's problems. I think having that moment of realizing that our parents/siblings aren't perfect is a big part of growing up, but happened in a really tragic way for this family.

The enchanted ground was based on a real place in Wicklow where I went once when visiting and it was just beautiful, and such a peaceful place which I imagined would be very lovely. I know what you mean about being a kid and having your own special, almost magical place - it really was the best.

I'm really pleased that you liked how I handled the transgender issue and the family's approach to it. I felt the moment would have quite the impact for Thackeray and resonate for a long time, and I really wanted to do it justice.

I agree, and Thackeray's anger was so sad to write but it felt appropriate. Writing Thackeray's own feelings of self-hate was so heartbreaking as well, but I think it's realistic for how somebody might feel after being teased and not having a strong sense of their own worth. :( But then Swift was there to be Thackeray's double in some ways, and that was comforting, so I'm really glad you pointed that out.

Feels! :( I love the story of Sir Gawain, and initially it was going to just be mentioned as the story Swift was supposed to read with Thackeray that night. But then the story and its messages - of sacrifice and rebirth, especially - really resonated with the message of the story and tied into Thackeray's feelings about losing Swift. So it was one of those lucky moments where two of my ideas actually fit together! :P I'm so happy you liked that section, though, I really wanted to do it justice and write the grief appropriately.

Aw, the ending. :( The scene with the girl is a scene from the Enchanted Ground (my short story where Thackeray is the love interest) so it was quite interesting to write it here, and I really liked hearing your perspective as you haven't read TEG. This review was just amazing!

Thank you so much for all your thoughtful observations and reactions, I absolutely loved reading this review and really will treasure it. I'm glad you found it emotional, and that the crying wasn't too bad! :P Thank you for this, lovely! ♥

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Review #6, by nott theodore Go Softly

16th March 2014:
Hi Jenna! I'm so glad I got to catch up on The Enchanted Ground in the last few days, because it means that I can now read and understand this story!

This was so beautiful, seriously. I don't know how you've managed this, but Thackeray isn't even a canon character and yet you've made me feel like the name and the character appear frequently in the books, I understand them so well (them/their is my attempt at replacing gender-specific pronouns, so you'll have to roll with this one :P).

The imagery and description in this piece, from the very beginning of the piece, were breath-taking. I don't even know how you manage to come up with these images or how you manipulate words in the way that you do, but the effect that it has is wonderful and I always love reading it. The words are so evocative and paint stunning pictures in my mind, and it's a real talent to be able to do that so well.

At first I was going to point out the typos I noticed, but then once I got to your AN I saw you'd transferred it from second to first person, which makes more sense. There are quite a few occasions when it's been changed to I when it should be me or you depending on the context, and it happens throughout. For a while I thought you were doing a strange version of the Irish accent in Thackeray's head :P A read through will sort that out though, and that's all I spotted (I have no idea what 'Command-Replace' is!)

This was a lot, lot darker than I was expecting it to be. Obviously I knew that Thackeray would struggle as a child because of problems with gender identity and things like that, but I think what was the most haunting and touching part of this story was the focus on Swift.

Thackeray's brother seemed almost idolised here, and it made sense to me that a kid would look up to someone that's older and has always been there, protecting them. But I could sense that, in each section, there were subtle changes in Swift's mood that Thackeray was able to pick up on, and he was just getting worse and worse and becoming more depressed. It was so sad and moving to read about, and the subject isn't an easy one to write about either. It affects people in a very personal way, so you've done a brilliant job (yet again) of handling the issue so sensitively.

I also didn't expect that Swift would die in the way that he did. Well, obviously I knew from TEG that he would die in a car crash, but as I read through the story I became more and more convinced that it wouldn't be an accident, and that's just so horrible to think about. It's terrible for someone as young as Thackeray - ten years old - to have to deal with something like that. The problems in school couldn't possibly have got any better afterwards, and in a way I'm glad that Thackeray got the chance at a new life when starting Hogwarts. After everything, that's just what was needed, I think.

Oh, I forgot to mention this earlier but I think that the scene in which the drunks outside the pub were yelling at the girl was really effective. It's awful that something like that was what alerted Thackeray to the problems that can exist over gender, and I'm really glad that Swift was there to help offer that feeling of protection and that their parents are so accepting and liberal minded. It was brilliant because I think that for a lot of children, it takes one moment like that to alert them to the problems they could have in the future.

I was so glad that as Thackeray got to Hogwarts, things got easier, and then eventually Roxanne and Thackeray met! Seeing that scene from TEG in this story, from Thackeray's perspective, was so sweet and touching. I can understand why Roxanne wasn't told about the truth behind Swift's death - it almost felt like respect for his memory - and it was sweet to see that Roxanne helped to ease the pain a little.

This was just so lovely and beautiful Jenna, and there's nothing else I can really say except you've made me think about things much more deeply (and struggle to write reviews because of pronoun problems :P), but I loved reading this!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hi Sian! :) Wow, can I just say how happy you made me by leaving such a lovely review on this? This is one of those stories where I predicted not many people would want to read/leave reviews as it's a sequel story and not too exciting, so it means all the more that you came by. ♥

Ahh, thank you! :D Thackeray feels very canon to me as well, somehow, which is part of why I loved writing this. I'm really pleased you feel that you understand and know Thackeray - writing this helped me get to know Thackeray a lot better (*edges around the pronouns* :P).

You're too kind to me. I'm glad you liked the imagery - especially in the beginning, especially since it is a real place I was able to visualize it quite well and hoped it would translate to the reader.

Haha, yes! :P I've gone through again and hopefully caught more of the typos. I posted this in the middle of writing an essay as I really wanted to take advantage of the short queue/am lazy about proofreading, but I read it over and some of them were quite brutal, haha. :P Command-Replace is just a function on Word where you can replace all of one word with another, so here I Replaced all the "you" with "I." (like I said, I'm lazy :P).

I found it quite dark to write as well, though I think it sort of had to be written this way. I knew when I wrote TEG that there was something more sinister and sad about Swift's death than him simply being killed in a car accident, and wanted to show that here and how Thackeray wasn't quite ready to share everything with Roxy. I'm glad you found I did it justice and handled it sensitively! Issues like this are quite moving to write about, especially through a child's eyes.

I'm glad that Thackeray got the chance for a fresh start as well. It was a little bittersweet that Swift never got to share that with the family, too. And yes, it really isn't fair, and I don't think Thackeray would have ever recovered from the loss of Swift. Thackeray's childhood interests me in that it was tough, but not because of parental problems - instead the inner demons of depression and then social aggression, which I'm sure a lot of people can relate to, in some degree.

I'm pleased you liked that scene! I wasn't sure how people might interpret it but it did feel like an important eye-opener for Thackeray. I felt that it would resonate through the years, especially as Thackeray's own gender identity is so unique, and I loved writing the family's reaction to it. I can imagine Thackeray thinking back to that moment and remembering Swift in that moment, and finding it comforting.

Aw, I'm pleased you liked the intersection with TEG! Yes, I imagine that perhaps someday Thackeray might explain everything, but it's a private thing and I felt that Thackeray wouldn't want to expose Swift's vulnerabilities like that, even if he's gone.

Aw, thank you so much! I'm really honoured that this made you think about things - and yes, the pronouns are so tricky! :P I really appreciate how thoughtful and kind your review was - thank you! :)

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