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Reading Reviews for Flatline
6 Reviews Found

Review #1, by TreacleTart One

10th May 2016:
Hey Pix!

I'm here for our review swap!

As always, your writing is beautiful. You do such a good job of writing concise description that really allows the reader to imagine exactly what is going on. I could really see the somber setting of the hospital and then later the sparks flying as Dorcas fought for her life. It was quite vivid.

I'm wondering why Barnaby told Apolline about his sons, but failed to mention his daughter. That seems quite unusual. And the sons' reactions don't do much to help. I wonder why the family has such a bad relationship with her.

We see maybe a momentary glimpse of why the relationship is bad when Dorcas thinks about her mother's death, but it's really just a breadcrumb. We don't get a whole lot of info about why that effected everything, but it is enough to get me interested in what happened.

I really liked the idea of Molly being Dorcas' mentor. All too often , women that have children in books/fic are portrayed as having no life outside of their children. I loved that at the beginning Dorcas was skeptical of her because she had a baby on her hip, but that as she got to know Molly she realized what a tough woman she is. I'm glad that she can be a mom and still take care of business.

In terms of a first chapter, I thought this did a good job of introducing each story line and the characters. I'm intrigued about what will happen and how Apolline will deal with this big surprise. For some reason, I don't expect it will be easy for her to get Dorcas to come home.


Author's Response: Hi Kaitlin! Thanks for the swap.

Aww, I don't know. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying too hard to use too few words. It's a balance I'm struggling with right now. That, and this was written for the challenge on a very tight deadline and I just didn't have time for all the words. Ahh, we'll see what happens when I get the time to revise.

The whole thing with Barnaby neglecting to mention his daughter to his wife is a big deal. I don't know if I pulled it off well enough in chapters two and three... it's something I have on my "needs to explain better" list for this story. Still, I liked the idea of him having something this important, and not sharing it with his wife, for whatever reason. It seemed like the dramatic way to go.

I'm glad you thought it was enough to get you interested. Battle isn't really the time or place to get into deep thoughts. :)

I loved the idea of Molly being in this sort of position. I kept thinking, "How would Molly be such an accomplished duelist with someone who we know has had a ton of practice at killing people?"

Well, my thought is that those skills only come with that so-called "practice", and I reveled in getting a chance to show how that might have come about. And you know what? Having a baby doesn't take the fight out of a woman. One of the only reasons I stopped fencing after kids was because I live in a hot state, and I decided that sweating under the five protective layers of thick fabric just wasn't worth it anymore. (We fenced outside... can you say 'heat stroke'?)

Thanks again for the review swap! I'll get to yours shortly.


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Review #2, by oldershouldknowbetter One

12th April 2016:
Hi there, I'm here for our swap. Let's see what you've done.

So this is a time period that I don't really know much about. Not that we know much from the actual books, we barely know the names of the people involved. But not only that, and more importantly for my appreciation of your story, it's not a period that I have any real head cannon about. It's all tabula rasa for me, so I'm not coming into it with any particular prejudices. So, impress me. ;)

So it starts with a dying man in France - about as removed from the main action as one could get. But at the mention of his name we know we are to be drawn into the tale; he has a recognisable last name. This must be Dorcas's father. He charges his new wife to find his estranged daughter, that's all well and good, and a usual device given these literary straights. What's intriguing, given the time in which this is set, are the mysterious men in black and their equally mysterious poison. I know your writing, you peper your stories with these sort of charachers and situations only to have them build and reappear throughout the rest of your story at crucial times. In particular, this set up with the three mysterious men, there for a mysterious purpose, with a mysterious drug that may save the man's life: is well done. There are many, and interesting, permutations of what they could be, who they could represent, and what their purpose is.

You have a strength in making us care about your supporting cast, even the tertiary members. The wife of Meadows is one such, with such an economy of storytelling we care for her and her situation.

We cut to Dorcas, whom we only know two things about: one, that she was in the original Order of the Phoenix; and two, that, according to Moody, she was killed by Voldemort personally. There is a story behind the woman that is there to tell, a lovely gap in the works of JKR that is begging to be filled. I guess that is your purpose here.

So we cut to Dorcas, and she is in the middle of combat. Way to throw us into the deep end. Combat can bring out the best and the worst of people and you are not going to give us pause to get to know her before we see her in such dire straights. And it does. The woman is genuinely fighting for her life. She does so intelligently and well (NOTE: these fictions are RSPCA approved and no actual animals were harmed in the making of this fan fic). And it does bring out probably the worst of her, stung to the core by what the Death Eater and his ilk have done, she heads down a dark path herself - was she about to kill him?

But she is interrupted by a new player, her supposed partner. And by the red hair we know that it is Molly Weasley (not that it isn't confirmed just one sentence later, lol). She's fairly ... proficient (I couldn't use the descriptor I wanted, as this review has to be pg, but she kicks a lot of what I cannot write). She stops Dorcas quite forcibly, gets the information that they want, and tries to console/counsel her friend.

I'm not too sure about this Molly, her inclusion and her character. [see the next review where I will talk more about this, before you comment too much on my misgivings] I am not even sure she was part of the first Order, and yes you confirm this a few parragraphs later, when Dorcas mentally complains about that very fact.

Also the way you give us some little tit-bits about the order - more what we can read between the lines about it. It is a very laissez-faire operation. I cannot see that Dorcas would be without any occupation for five years: what does she do outside Order stuff; how does she eat and support herself; what is her cover story so the Death Eaters don't immediately hone in on her? Now this is all a bit perplexing, here in this moment, at the very beginning of your tale, but knowing your penchant for frugally dribbling information to your audience, I am prepared to have these questions answered over time. Some of the answers are more obvious than others, such as the nature of the order - it must be even more underground than the Death Eaters so as not to attract their attention - but others are not. I have confidence that you will reveal all, at the proper time.

There are also hints at some darkness in her past which has led her to the place where we meet her. We know, for instance, that the wife of Meadows that we first meet, cannot be Dorcas's mother, but now a tragic ending is hinted at for her actual mother. The full details are left to our imaginations and/or to be revealed in future chapters. It grounds the girl a bit more in the mould of this particular plot-type. This story must be about the events leading up to the tragic death that we know awaits her in her fairly immediate future. So this sort of tragic past is perfect storytelling for the path that we know must await this heroine.

There are a few things, here or there, that I would change in your phrasing, but they are minor. Overall, this first chapter not only sets the scene well, but it also gives us some tantalising hooks for further development of the plot that should see your audience come back for more.


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Review #3, by Lostmyheart One

11th April 2016:

I'm finally here for our review swap :) And I've got to say that I am so happy that I picked this story! I actually didn't know what I was going into, I didn't read anything about the story and just started reading. It was a fantastic start, I love those kind of mysteries/surprises - at least that's how it felt to me - and it was such a nice twist right at the beginning. The wife didn't even know of his daughter, and it seems like his sons didn't want to speak about it. Something must've happened since father and daughter became estranged?

I loved the both parts, the POV of the young wife and the POV of the man's daughter, Dorcas. They were both really interesting in their own unique way and I love your writing style! It's so nice and easy to follow, yet it has this sort of quality over it. I don't know how else to describe it.

I might plunge right into the second chapter, because this first one is so good!
Thank you for swapping with me.

- Avi

Author's Response: Hi there, and thanks for the swap!

I'm happy you picked this story too. It didn't get much notice. I suppose that not many people are into war stories with minor characters. But I was compelled to write this one for the challenge.

I hope you were able to read the rest of the story. It explains a lot of things that I left open in the first chapter.

Thanks again for the swap!


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Review #4, by TidalDragon Three

10th April 2016:
And once more!

This chapter reminded me pleasantly of the first, only laden with more emotional depth. I could feel the final break as you wrote it, the last vestige of any hope at a deathbed reconciliation dying instantly with three words. What was interesting about it to me is that just as Dorcas does not truly achieve closure (though there is, I suppose, a measure of it in the finality of what transpired), we don't achieve closure as readers about whose perspective was truly "right" - perhaps by design because in situations such as these blame can FEEL right to either party. But I am gathering that Dorcas was blamed for staying and what she was involved in, which in turn led her mother to stay, and albeit indirectly (at least as written) to her mother's death. If this is indeed the case, I think Dorcas certainly is the better person and feel deeply for her.

My one lingering question is re: the Death Eaters. Were they actually brought there by her father? Was it his final attempt at revenge for his wife and her mother's death which he blamed on Dorcas? That's how it came across to me, but I couldn't be certain.

In any event, this was an excellently rendered tripartite piece! Thanks for participating!

Author's Response: I'm so glad the blame feeling worked. That was exactly what I was going for. I feel like my stories tend to lean towards the "when nothing seems right, you still have to chose SOMETHING to stand for" themes. It's a real struggle, something that I find intriguing.

The whole Death-Eaters-showing-up-for-some-kind-of-retribution on her father's part was all weird and rushed and threw a few readers off the point of the story. I blame my muse for the plot expansion in the limited time for the challenge.

There are some things I have to learn to rein in. Plot idea is one of them.

Thanks for hosting the challenge! It's good to make challenging challenges and give me stuff to work on! I appreciate your detailed reviews and all your words!


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Review #5, by TidalDragon Two

10th April 2016:
Hello again!

This chapter felt a bit more like advance-the-plot, but I was gratified that you used it to reveal some important dynamics about the Order, the Weasleys, and a little history of the spat between Dorcas and her father. Blaming your child for your spouse's death certainly seems to be a good recipe for completely alienating them and I'm looking forward to seeing if we ever get a justification for that most heinous of accusations.

As for the Weasleys, I enjoyed your depiction of them for a few reasons. First, I think it often gets lost how much older Arthur and Molly were than a lot of the other members of the Order (the ones we become familiar with in canon anyway) and I thought you did a good job displaying the balance they'd have to have achieved with protecting and raising their children and contributing to the war effort. In their reaction to Dorcas's plight though you really underscore the overwhelming dedication to family that we see through canon and how that couples up with their younger, First-War extra edge.

Author's Response: Yeah, you're feeling what I'm feeling about this chapter. Too much 'stuff' and not enough time to fit it all in properly. The flow suffered, but I tried to cover it up the best I could. If I ever learn how to simplify plot, this would work so much better. It was like there were supposed to be three more scenes... but we ran out of time.

Glad that Weasley thing got showcased for you. That was an important point I tried to make here. The 'family' theme was important to the next chapter, so I wanted it established here. I just wish I knew how to focus a scene under time-pressure better... that goes on my list of writing skills I need to develop. But yeah, the way the Weasleys managed to raise a bunch of kids during the war and after does get overlooked a lot. It's not easy being a Weasley. We have a lot to thank Molly and Arthur for, and it's not just domestic stuff.


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Review #6, by TidalDragon One

10th April 2016:
Howdy Pix! I'm R&R-ing for the Knockout Challenge and now I've come to you! Since you've got three chapters, I'll spread things out across all three meaning they'll each be a little shorter, but hopefully I won't miss anything I want to say.

ANYWAY...I thought this chapter really showcased your versatility well. We opened with a well-rendered, painful moment between a dying husband and wife that you dialogued and described exceptionally. Then we transitioned from a suddenly controversial, but seemingly normal request into a full-blown action scene. The way you wrote that scene was great because you didn't lose the feelings and sensations in the battle itself and at the same time you avoided those things seeming segmented off into separate paragraphs from the spellwork - this is something I struggle with sometimes so it was cool to read.

At the end you come back around to the grander picture of the war itself and the danger of good intentions leading to dangerous, even reprehensible actions and left us with a delicious cliffhanger.

I'll see you in Chapter 2!

Author's Response: Hi!!

I'm finally responding to reviews today. It feels refreshing, like a cool spring breeze...

Anyway, this story is what happens when I tell my muse that we're going to sit down and write a simple, short story that has action and adventure, and a few solid themes in it... and my muse decides that deadlines aren't important and hey, let's expand on those themes, and of course make the outline twice as long because - issues - . Argh. I want to rip that bagpipe out of his hand and put his unicycle under a bus.

Anyway. The first chapter wasn't too far off what I wanted to do. Writing spells during a battle is HARD. Some people do it better than others. I like to mimic the way that the masters do it... and call it a 'learning experience'. LOL!

Thanks for the kind words!


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