| Hey there! My name is Drew, and I've chosen to offer my feedback on your work as a peer and fellow member.
As I'm sure you know - when it comes to all reviews/critiques, it's ultimately the author's choice whether to agree with, consider, or even just ignore the reviews that you receive. Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, hurled vegetables, heavy machinery or other forms of feedback if you'd like.
Item and Date Reviewed:
24 July, 2010
Rating Given (Scale of 1-5 stars):
4.5 - touching, heartfelt and accessible; excellent story with profound imagery throughout
I'll always read a good story about the wee folk; my own culture's ripe with 'em, and it was truly refreshing to see a similar and yet completely unique perspective on the idea of what one might call "the Other" across the pond on the British Isles - my family's all Scots-Irish with a little Cherokee here and there...
Upon the first read-through, the jarring realization was just that...jarring. Is it a dream that Jill's had, a drowsing memory, or could it truly be a visitation from the fairies to whom Rory had introduced her in the past, as they shared their moonlight waltz together to the music of the promenade...
This work raises some wonderful questions within the reader's mind - questions that continue long after the first (second, third) helping of the somewhat bittersweet fantasy romance. Jill seems to be in a limbo of grief, exalting in her memories of Rory and their love together, then plunging into the pain and suffering of her loss and the terrible consequences surrounding it.
As far as first impressions are concerned, I can only applaud. Works that deal with fantasy and loss have been accomplished many times before through supernatural media, but this piece had a particular...simplicity...to its narrative that really makes it "pop" off the page and into the reader's consciousness - becoming a movie in the head, rather than a collection of simple words upon the page; that, to me, is storytelling.
What I Found Most Enjoyable:
You have a wonderful gift for those minute details that make a story a wonderful piece of literature. From setting to imagery, character and emotions, conflict and resolution, your story is quite well-framed and pleasantly circular.
Despite the loss of her love, mere months ago, Jill maintains a visceral connection to both Rory and the wee folk that had first beckoned them out into the night together. Anyone that has experienced the loss of a dear loved one will find this character trait easily accessible, and the character will become all the more stronger for it, the greater the audience and the more devoted the reader.
I enjoyed Jill's bewilderment, ending up on the patio she'd shared with Rory early in the work, with the same odd song on her lips that had so puzzled her before - real or otherwise - and it lends an authenticity to her conflict and resolution as a character...that there is an "Other" world and therefore that visceral, heartfelt connection to a magic moment she'd shared (through whichever manner the reader may have decided to interpret) with the true love of her life.
I also have to applaud your use of in media res in this story. Such is a tricky feat to accomplish without a bulky, backstory-laden pile of exposition from the very start. You move seamlessly into the romance, the character, the conflict...bravo.
"Jill felt a shiver run through her as the night exhaled softly preparing for the early morning sun."
"...she leaned into him, enjoying the sudden flush of warmth that flooded through her."
--such a lovely setting, vivid and poignant, touching and honest.
"Why did he have to be such a complete romantic? she thought and then the tears came again."
--grief is never sensible, and I enjoyed this bit of honesty in your story.
"She glanced at the clock, its floating red numbers marking the growing gulf between her and Rory."
--Time (and its passage) are both such wonderful motifs when dealing with loss or separation; the difficulty is bring it subtly enough into the story without the proverbial 'facepalm' on the reader's part.
"...she joined the promenade and moved with joy and love until the darkness faded."
--fantastically ambiguous method of ending your work...does she join them, "heading for the light" as it were, or is it simply the start of a new ritual in her life that will no doubt keep her closer to her lost love?
What I Feel Could Use A Little Work:
It's always difficult to convey a full-length dream sequence in a shorter story. Depending upon the font, sometimes there's just not enough whiplash to wrench the reader back into the here-and-now. Sometimes, especially on a computer screen where the contrast is a good bit less-than-desirable, the ready might not notice the italics-drop altogether and continue reading as if Jill had merely fallen asleep after her waltz with Rory - I thought at first that her face was wet with dew from sleeping outside, rather than tears...and I kinda felt a bit robbed of my catharsis that came with the realization that she was heartbroken and alone and that all the story preceding had been fantasy of some sort or another.
For me - in my own personal and subjective experience as a writer - I've found that centering a single asterisk is enough to bring that beautiful freight-train of imagery to a halt, allowing you to really nail the reader with the heart(ache) of the matter. It also gives just a touch more polish to a piece that needs so little to begin with that every little tweak starts pushing it closer and closer to that coveted 5.0 stars.
Line by Line:
"...small goose-bumps." --somewhat redundant; leaves room to really flourish your writing talent, as well. Consider, perhaps:
"A slight breeze sent a skitter of goosebumps across her bare shoulders."
"With a smile, she leaned into him..." --phrasing, perhaps:
"Smiling, she leaned into him..." or "She leaned into him, smiling..."
" "Listen. Do you hear that?" " --needs just a touch more exposition, maybe:
"Rory's ears perked up. 'Listen. Do you hear that?' "
"Rory saw the puzzled look, illuminated by the moon, and smiled." --a bit cumbersome...consider some rearrangement of your clauses, perhaps:
"Rory smiled, seeing her puzzled look in the moonlit dim."
"Without waiting for an answer, Rory stood up, pulling her out onto the lawn."
--I would simply take out "Without waiting for an answer" and add in something like "Rory suddenly stood..."
""Rory, are you here?" she whispered into the dark, silent room." --new Par.
"...at the drunk driver that had killed Rory, at Rory for insisting on going out that night, at life for its unfairness." --perhaps too much exposition.
"The backyard seemed to shimmer like the stars that filled the sky." --long analogy, possibly best just to say, "seemed to shimmer in the faint starlight."
"Unsure what was going on..." --goes without saying, to a degree.
With all that out of the way, I have to say that I have no suggestions as far as plot of character...bravo, indeed, in that regard!
You've written a gorgeous piece of romance, loss and fantasy. As I said earlier, I truly feel that with some subtle tweaks here and there, you'll definitely be looking at a 5.0 star work in no time at all.
Thanks again for your contribution! I hope this review has helped to motivate, inspire, and validate your work as both and artist and a writer as well.