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406 Public Reviews Given
Review Style
If you're really desperate for a review, feel free to email me. Just don't expect a very quick turnaround. NB: I'm happy to review novels. I tend to review from the point of view of a reader rather than an editor. I 'nitpick' on anything that interrupts my reading flow. If you want me to go all out with nitpicking in general, ask me to do a line-by-line. Quite happy to do so - as a copied static or email.
I'm good at...
Getting into the story from the reader's perspective.
Favorite Genres
M/M, romance, horror, western
Public Reviews
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151
151
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi elizjohn !

I found your review request for "Mr. Nelson & The Horrible Writing Prompt, and your comments about the writing prompt intrigued me! I've found some of them bizarre too but I would never have thought to actually involve the prompt like you have, it makes a nice twist.


*Tree*First Impressions
I liked this a whole lot and that's probably because I would have written along similar lines - the locket as a trap for someone or something. The fact that a locket is usually used to hold a picture of a loved-one (past or present) adds power, and it makes a great prop for a horror story. Love, horror - these seem to go together rather well!

This story is well crafted, starting with a simple school lesson to introduce the 'prompt' and slowly sliding towards the horror. The reader is kept quite in the dark about what's going on, and I like that we don't immediately know what's going on despite the fact that something trapped in a locket is certainly not a new plot device. Nor is the repetitive nature of the ending, but the fact that you've brought Thomas in as a 'fixer' shifts the plot to a new level. For me Thomas' awareness of the situation makes this story more suspenseful. His frustration and desperation are very clear; he's obviously been fighting to make Mr Nelson see (and accept) the truth for some time.


*Wind*Strengths and Suggestions
One of the main strengths of this short story is, straight out, the way you tell it. It's simple and clean. I can picture the students groaning when they see the prompt, Mr Nelson doing his best to 'sell' the idea and get the best from them, Thomas' utter frustration and Mr Nelson struggling to cope with what he's hearing (from Thomas and in his head). Letting the reader 'see' as s/he reads is the mark of great writing.

Your dialogue is snappy, easy to read and not overblown; I felt it was the engine that was moving your plot along. There was only one tiny piece that brought me up short - when Thomas calls Regina a crazy bitch. Swearing generally doesn't bother me but 'bitch' suddenly popped up and was like a slap in the face. I didn't feel there'd been any lead up for Thomas to suddenly spout bitch or for Regina to be called that. He'd been ranting and begging for some time to Mr Nelson before the word pops up, but we never got the feeling Thomas actually thought this. I myself think the word could go, but if not then Thomas' earlier words need to start conveying some of that feeling so it doesn't come up sounding like BITCH in massive letters and make the reader go 'where the heck did that come from?'

Who is Regina?
Despite Regina being a fairly central character, she's just a wisp rather than full-blooded. I was left with many questions around her. The biggest one is - where is she in relation to this classroom setting? The kids are trapped because they were in the English class at the time the trap was sprung, but where was Regina? She must have been a student of the class too, right? If so, where is she? It would be seriously more dramatic if she played a role in the opening complaints about the prompt or even if she was there at the end physically with Thomas and Mr Nelson. There is also no explanation about how Regina came to have a magic locket or was able to create such magic. Or why she was so desperate for Mr Nelson that she trapped him (and the class).

I think you could quite easily lengthen this story to include Regina in a more full manner without any detrimental effect.


*Quill*The Technical Side
Nothing really knocked me for a six regarding spelling or grammatical oddities. However, when I first read the following line it came out as the window having the exasperation, rather than the boy:

“Why do you hate us so?” asked a boy seated near the window with exasperation.

I'd been thinking some well placed commas might do, but I think I'd re-write the sentence just a bit instead. Perhaps something like 'asked an exasperated boy seated near the window.'


*Tree*Closing Comments
Putting aside my questions about Regina your overall plot, characters, and dialogue were nicely woven to create a sharply moving ouroboros-sequence. You might not have liked the original prompt, but you did a great job with it! It is in fact a very nice story for Halloween month.


Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read and review your work! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any queries about anything I have written, and if you ever make any changes I'd be happy to review again.

Many kind regards,
Osirantinous

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152
152
Review of nightmares  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (3.5)
Hi Robert Wallis !

As first short stories go, this is pretty good, and I'd like to offer a review of "nightmares. As per normal, these are my personal views and you're welcome to use them however you like.


*Tree*First Impressions
As every writer knows, you have to catch the reader's attention very early on. If they're not hooked in the first paragraph you're pretty much doomed. My very first impression of Nightmares was 'what an intriguing opening few lines'. And you continued to catch me with the direct acknowledgement of the reader. I felt a bit voyeuristic on one hand and on the other that I was being treated to some great inside secret (a scary one, it turns out). The mention of Jon Doe did confuse me just a moment because that is such a well known pseudonym. For a second I had to wrack my brain to see if I could recall any real murderers going by that name! That in turn made me feel a bit uneasy, which is a perfect fit with your genre.


*Screw*The Nuts and Bolts

Setting
You do a wonderful job of painting the reader a picture of the physical setting. And anyone who has moved house will sympathise with the boxes everywhere as well as recalling their very first flat which was probably just as much a shoe box as Jon and his mum's.

Temporally, though, I am confused. Bless Wikipedia for telling me that year three is generally 8 years old and year six 11 years old in most school systems, but that didn't clarify the past and then the more distant past. Early on Jon tells us he's eleven but when he goes to lie down and starts to dream he goes back to the past - year six - when he's eleven which he's stated he is (unless he's in the New Zealand school system where year six is for 10-year-olds). So how much 'past' is it actually? Then he sprints even further back to year three when things went terribly wrong. Just when I think I've got it (the past is over a four-year period), at the end Jon tells us he was in a mental home until he was eight, and I'm not entirely sure if I've got all my dates and ages correct because he says he didn't get off Scot free. I'd presumed this was over Daniel's murder (when Jon was eight). But if he was in a home until then.... So, as I said, temporally I'm a bit confused about when passed events really happened; I think a little clarification would help (or perhaps even removing that sentence about year 6? It sort of sits there on its own and I don't think it would harm your plot if it was taken out.).

Plot
A very scary plot given that it involves an eleven-year-old child. At first Jon seems very normal, coping with moving house and a split family. We have been warned of course that all is not as it seems but it is actually still quite a shock to read of his murder of Daniel - again, you've got the suspense part of the genre down pat. On an even scarier note, this plot could just as easily be about a boy who'd been taunted one too many times and simply reacted as seems to happen too often these days.

You also made it clear that you were giving some background to the life of the killer and it is mind-blowing that 'life' started at such a young age. That heightens the suspense for future stories about Jon that I presume you'll be writing.

There was one aspect of the plot that was unclear, that had been added in like a dangling carrot: Daniel plaguing Jon, protecting him for that one reason; to have Jon for himself. Why? This really adds to the suspense but unless you are going to write more about Jon and bring Daniel's ghostly needs into play I think you'd almost be better off removing that paragraph. Readers will hunger for an answer and woe if it's not given. Try not to dangle carrots that won't lead to anything.

Character
You describe enough of Jon for me to be able to envisage him, as well as why he is taunted and why he reacts. He also comes across as a very intelligent child. However, I'm a bit on the cusp of thinking some of his language was a bit too "old" for an eleven-year-old. That's a matter solely of personal opinion, of course, but I can't imagine a child talking in quite this way: "Just a bit tired, that's all. What else did you say, sorry?"

Right at the beginning you state that Jon is pure evil, yet through his memories he actually comes across sympathetic. He's clearly dealt with years of very bad teasing and taunts and that day in year three he has just cracked. I'm not sure if you meant to make him sympathetic - if you did, all well and good, if you didn't then I think you need to add a few more memories detailing unpleasant moments. Right now, I feel sorry for him and I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Again, just my personal opinion, and having him come across this way does of course add to the suspense!

Climax
The end clearly indicates that Jon has demons. He suffers nightmares and he jumps at shadows. And here we also learn he's been in a mental home. All this and he comes from a broken home. It is fascinating to learn that he named himself Jon Doe and a bit of a cold shock to the reader to learn his real name. It's nicely done.

But your very final paragraph left me confused again. More of the temporal stuff really. We learn that Jon's real mother left him but was it before he went into the mental hospital or when he came out of it? If the day she told him he was vile was the last time his life was ruined, I expect it to be after he murdered Daniel since he said that Daniel's taunt and the murder destroyed his life. Destroyed must equal ruined on some level. Also note that bringing Jon's real mother in at the end does cause some confusion to the beginning where he said that he and his mum had been kicked out three years ago. Which mum are you talking about in that first sentence? It sounds like it's Dawn, and if it is her then what does she know about Jon's birth? I think the very last sentences are another couple that could be removed without damaging your story at all. In fact ending on "When it was deemed acceptable for my release, Dawn adopted me, well she adopted the Jon Doe, not the murderous Ben Hill." is pretty powerful!


*Wind*Strengths and Suggestions
This is quite an easy read; for the most part you are clear and concise, your wording easily allowing us to create the images in our minds as we read. The plot is strong and certainly suspenseful.

Clarifying years and mums, as mentioned above, would tighten the whole story even further.

One other thing I would suggest - don't give Gemma "dirty blonde hair". If Jon thinks he's going to win her as a girlfriend that description will end it before it starts! He describes her eyes as tropical blue, he must be able to come up with a better description of her hair.


*Quill*The Technical Side
By technical I generally mean spelling, grammar and the like. There's only minor 'crimes' here that you probably already know about so I won't mention them, apart from the "dirty blonde hair" sentence. It doesn't stand on its own as a complete sentence. I get the feeling you were explaining what reaction the hair caused Jon? If not quite that then you do need to re-order the sentence; perhaps something like 'her long [golden] hair always fell neatly down her back.'


*Tree*Closing Comments
I liked this short story. You hooked me from the start, hooked me in the middle with the murderous year three and then hooked me at the end with the whole 'mental home' comment. Aside from my confusion about years and mums (which might just be me), I think your first effort a strong one. I would certainly read more of Jon's story should you write it.


In any case, thanks for giving me the opportunity to read and review your work! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any queries about anything I have written. And I'm always here if you'd like me to do another review at some stage.

Best wishes,
Osirantinous

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153
153
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: ASR | (2.5)
Hi ChrisDaltro-Chasing Moonbeams !

I am a member of the Paper Doll Gang (feel free to visit "Rockin' Reviewers - Award Page for more information), undertaking their review course for newbies. One of our lessons is to review work by a ‘yellow case’ or higher, somewhat daunting for a newbie reviewer! I chose "The House on Black Brook Road because horror/scary is not something I generally write, let alone read so I believe reviewing out of my comfort zone will help my skills. But I also hope that, in relation to the topics in the Horror/Scary newsletter you were mentioned in, my comments might help you garner some tricks to capture the interest of non-horror/scary readers like me.


*Tree*First Impressions
Your opening sentence is a great hook. It’s a simple statement but it carries power; it is the event that creates your story and it’s all the more powerful because it’s first person. I expect to be really carried deep into Abigail's mind. The second hook is the house – for the character, obviously, and the reader. Love at first sight doesn’t have to be between two people! (I can relate, my house was the first I looked at too!) In fact the opening section reminded me of Susanna Kearsley’s Mariana; the lead character is hooked by a house as a young child and buys it as an adult. It is a ghost/spiritual story too, though a romance rather than horror.

So I prepared myself to be unnerved by the house or by something in it. The fact it was run-down, hadn’t been lived in for years and was a stunningly quick sale helped build the tension.


*Screw*The Nuts and Bolts

Setting
The story starts in 1994 and appears to follow a time-frame of a couple of months, before it jumps well forward in time going by the line “I remember I had to scare my son and his family away from here but this was a very long time ago.” It made me a little bit confused. Are we dealing in years? In fact are we dealing in centuries? Is the story-teller now dead and a ghost too? The present tense “I still don’t understand…” at the start of the ending doesn’t make it clear. Even as a ghost Abigail could still be this way. I wanted a little more ‘closure’ on the ending.

You started with the great opening hook of time and place, I think ending with something of the same would have added a bit more clout. It is clear Abigail has suffered and still suffers but how long? Perhaps the opposite of giving a precise time-frame (for linear folk like me) you could have added into that final paragraph something about Abigail not knowing how long things had been going on for, how long she’d been hiding in her room. To my mind that would add a bit more scary into it.

Plot
I’ve already said I’m not so hot on horror/scary. I can do ghost but not really in the evil, psycho kind of way. I am the kind of person who has to watch/read this genre in the daylight and then easily scare myself at night. Being a house owner, the idea of a house being possessed is very unpleasant and uncomfortable. It’s just like Abigail says: it’s her house, how dare someone else try to claim it, how dare she feel unsafe in it. A house is your asset, your bolt-hole, your place of rest. So, I think you’ve got a great plot here and I like the fact that Abigail is all rose-tinted glasses about the house and even soldiers on when things start to be a little bit odd.

Conflict (aka Plot Fuel)
There were some places, though, where I didn’t feel as scared as I was perhaps supposed too. Doors opening on their own, footsteps and other odd sounds are classic scary stuff, almost a cliché, so they weren’t anything I didn’t expect. And when you had Abigail witness these things you described them in a fairly minimal manner, missing the opportunity to really freak me out (the active-imagination side of me is grateful).

The breathing and running in the walls was a different matter. Hearing creaking floorboards behind you would be nothing to hearing something scuttling about within the walls, perhaps following you as you moved through the house, shadows appearing occasionally. That really made me feel like I wanted to run a mile so I would like to have seen that come into play more – was it just a possum or rat, could it have been a bird stuck somehow, how could there be a shadow when there’s no light… Yes, I think you could have played this out more and heightened the tension. Is it the house or is there really someone else in the house?

Character
I like the fact that Abigail kept her rose-tinted glasses on through various odd happenings, even after she’d encountered breathing and movement in the walls, cold air, and the presence of something evil. She is determined to win whatever battle is taking place. But other than this, and the fact she is clearly handy at renovation, I didn’t really get a sense of what type of person she is (besides impulsive in buying house at first sight). You mention she had a bad divorce; a little bit of background on that might have given more clues to what type of woman she is. By the end she sounds rather a bit like she’s stepped to the ‘crazy’ side (understandable) and it would have been nice to get a more in-depth look at that happening. Again, I think a little step-by-step would have heightened the scary feeling – especially if part of her knew something was giving way.

I thought it was interesting that I only got a 'visual' of the ghostly shadow right at the end, in two last paragraphs. It was a bit startling to read about the burning eyes and animal smile right at the end, as if I was only just being 'introduced' to the character. Giving away little hints throughout the story would have kept the reader engaged and would have increased the opportunity for creating shivers down their back. For example, when Abigail goes into the room on the third floor a hand touches her face but there is no description of the hand. Even if Abigail didn’t see it, surely she could tell if it was bony or clawed. Later Eve tells her about a stench; it could have been in this earlier instance too since a hand on a face would have been close to the nose – smell of death, smell of must. Aromas can be just as scary out of the blue as noises or shadows.

Theme
I'm not sure if you intended to have a motif here. I certainly don't start out with one in mind when I write. However, in reading the story again and my own comments above I'd say determination/courage might be such a motif. Abigail sticks to her guns, no matter what the ghost or the house throw at her. It shows strength of character. Her life might be going to hell in a hand-basket but she won't give in, will fight for what is hers even if the consequence is being reduced to acting much like the old woman.

Climax
I mentioned under Setting that the ending seemed to be positioned long after the previous events. I felt a bit disconnected by that; the previous paragraph was Abigail meeting the ghost face to face but nothing seemed to come of it and then suddenly we were at the end. How long is the time gap between both events? Abigail still has the strong sense of ‘my house’ but then you also say that she was never herself after the last meeting with the woman (presumably the paragraph before). She hides (I love that sentence) and the following final sentences made me wonder if 1 she is now a ghost and/or 2 she is totally crazy.

The final quarter of the ending, while you don't end with the 'precise timing' I mentioned above, is still strong. A challenge directly to the reader and I like that kind of writing; it draws the reader in and makes us part of the story. Not sure I liked imagining a bony finger beckoning me though!


*Quill*The Technical Side
There were a couple of things that caused some pauses in my reading that I'd like to mention. They are just my opinion so feel free to ignore them.

In your first paragraph you give two distinct descriptions of the house, split by "You could tell that nobody had live there for many years." I think this sentence would have fitted better either at the beginning of the description or after it. In the middle as it is I feel it makes one or other of the descriptions a bit extraneous.

In the paragraph starting "The next day was Saturday." I was confused about the floors. You start by saying the rays lit the stairs that led to the first floor and then you went up them to the second floor. I presumed the floors were one and the same but it was a bit jarring. I had to read the paragraph twice to make sure I hadn't just skipped something. The same sort of disconnect happened a few paragraphs down. You ended one with "It was then that I knew that there was something wrong with my home." yet at the end of the following paragraph had Abigail saying "I still thought it was all part of my imagination running wild." This may just have been Abigail in denial but again it disrupted my flow and I had to go back and check what I'd previously read.

Finally, the paragraph with Eve was proof that Abigail wasn't just imagining things but because it wasn't written in the past perfect tense it turned the point of view to an omnipresent narrator, upsetting my flow. It is Eve telling Abigail what she'd witnessed but in using just the past tense it reads as if Abigail was both a fly on the wall to events and was in Eve's head to know what she was thinking and feeling. It's a pretty easy thing to mix up PoV, and sometimes hard to pick up!


*Tree*Closing Comments
As I mentioned at the beginning, your opening paragraph was a great hook, and I related quite closely with Abigail about being drawn to a house without much preamble. And the first night I spent alone in my house I had an odd experience too. As I lay in bed I heard a door unlatch and footsteps tapping down the hall. None of my doors were closed and I don't have wooden floors. I opened my eyes and saw a tall dark shape by the bed. I told it to go away, that I was alright and then slept like a log. I prefer to think it was my deceased grandmother just checking on me. That was six years ago now and I've never had it since but Abigail is definitely a character I can relate to and wanted to read about.

I am confused about the ending, the time-frame of it and just what sort of state Abigail is in. But that is also a good thing, since it makes me question why she is like this or that, makes me read over again to see if I can spot anything secreted in the story that will illuminate her situation. It also starts me imagining how I might handle such situations. It's a bit of an odd feeling, really; I'm not sure the story itself really scared me but you've given my imagination some good prompts so I can scare myself later on!


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read and review your work! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any queries about anything I have written. I'd also love some feedback on the kinds of things Preferred Authors would like to see in reviews so I can tailor my review 'themes' appropriately.

Many kind wishes,
Osirantinous

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154
154
Review of Annie  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (1.0)
Hi carlton607 !

I've just read "Annie, and I'd like to offer you a review.

*Tree* The Big Picture:
To be honest, this short story puzzled me; I felt like I was reading two stories superimposed on one another and happening concurrently. That would be an intriguing way of writing and would certainly grab the reader's attention, but I mostly came across feeling a bit schizophrenic and rather unsure of just where Annie stood (or rather, lay).

On the other hand, that little bit of 'can't quite figure it out' can be compelling. Annie is obviously frightened but why? She screams it and while we're reading so do we! Why is she afraid? Why is she worried? Why is someone hiding in the bushes? And what the heck happened in the past? Unfortunately, the reader doesn't find out and I felt a little let down. Annie has woken up happy and somehow resurrected but WHY... There seems to be no real reason and the fact that Annie dies a little bit later is straight out puzzling. I kept thinking that perhaps part of the resurrection entailed her growing from old to young and 'dying' actually meant that she'd gone back into the womb (or maybe that was me envisaging Annie as a baby which just might resemble a plump chicken!).


*Star* Strengths:
One of the main strengths of this piece is that it's very easy to understand Annie's emotions - even if we don't know why she's feeling them. And even though you've managed to turn physical events into emotional events (such as the lightning), which ring alarm bells everywhere, they still convey emotion. Frankly, the image of lightning biting into a soul (spelling!) is strong. One just has to see the figurative side, rather than literal.

I loved 'She was petrified like a peace of old wood.' even though you had the wrong 'peace'. You might have meant petrified as in scared here but petrified as in frozen also works well, and you do mention in the next sentence that Annie's face froze.


*Apple* Suggestions:
I said earlier that I felt rather schizophrenic reading this story; it's mostly because there are multiple points of view - Annie's, Buster's, and a mystery narrator. Third person narrative can certainly have multiple narrators but they need to stick to what they know. A prime example of this is 'Buster rolled over and went to sleep out in the hallway. Annie wondered why Buster did that even though she couldn't see him.' You've actually admitted the error here - Annie can't see what Buster is doing so how does she know he's gone to sleep in the hallway? Another example is that the sun is shining through the window and Annie 'knows' it but she actually still has her head under the blankets. How can she know the sun is shining? Keeping your eye on who is narrating will help refine your story line, and prevent characters from appearing to have an omnipresent eye.

Something I, personally, would like to see is some explanation of what Annie is worried about, what happened in the past. I like to be kept guessing but the way she keeps freaking out about what happened without giving anything away is rather annoying. Tied to this would be why someone is hiding in the bushes. Is it to do with the past? Is she just paranoid? This story has so many 'whys' they tend to take over and ruin the good qualities, so I would suggest either removing some of the 'emotion' sentences totally or complementing them with explanation of why Annie is so terrified.

You also need to watch that you avoid contradiction. In the same paragraph from which comes the old wood metaphor Annie is afraid, freezing (as in going still) and calm. Petrified, frozen and fearing does not sound calm to me! And then she goes into a peaceful slumber, something unexpected and highly unlikely in this situation; especially when you next state that Annie woke several times in worry. Topsy-turvy writing adds to the schizophrenic feel and only confuses the reader. You should try to be clear and consistent with emotions (and actions) so the reader doesn't spend all their time unsure what's going on. In addition be careful how you compose sentences. For example, I like that Buster was happy because his tail wagged but I'm pretty sure that's not what you meant to say. A simple way of weeding out oddities is to read out loud; it'll be quite clear where something doesn't sound quite right and you should be able to fix it up without much hassle (and it'll prevent reviewers nit-picking).


*Quill* The Technical Side:
Please watch your spelling and word choice. Spelling and grammar checkers won't pick up when you've got peace and piece wrong so you have to be extra diligent in doing this yourself. Spelling errors are distracting, using the wrong word totally even more so. Passed and past are another trick set of words that will rewrite your story without you meaning to.

Not so much technical but I felt that there were several sentences that could be removed altogether because they didn't actually fit with the plot. 'Buster was a mix breed dog and he liked to play.' is such an example. It doesn't fit with the story and certainly not within the paragraph it's included in.

Overall, though the plot isn't quite clear (and maybe that's how you want it) there is enough here that the reader can start to get involved with what's going with Annie, feeling the see-sawing emotions as she does. However, I think you could help them connect more closely with her if there weren't extraneous sentences (such as that about Buster liking to play) and if the narrator's point of view was refined to just one (that of Anne).

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read and review your writing! And don't hesitate to get in touch if you want me to clarify any of my comments.

Best wishes,
Osirantinous

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155
155
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
Hi Nick!

I've just read "The Mysterious Death of Michelle Gram, and I'd like to offer my thoughts.

*Tree* The Big Picture:
Your opening sentence was a total attention-grabber and made me intrigued to read on to find out why the character would even think such a thing. And getting into the story, I started to feel just like Mr Weaver - I don't carry change any more either and every morning run a gauntlet of beggars, buskers and charity collectors. I (and pretty much everyone else around me) avoid eye contact because you do feel worse when you catch someone's eye and just walk passed. I think most people reading this would agree that guilt does arise and I like the fact that readers will start to think about how they act and feel (even if that wasn't something you intended).

Initially I wasn't sure where the 'ignored' of your description came into the story as I didn't see that Mr Weaver was actually ignoring his conscience, but on a second read it becomes clearer in his actions with the second beggar, with the tip for the barista, as well as the fact that it seems every day he does have cash (and where I live ATM machines do not give you $5 notes!). He is ignoring the guilt over Michelle. Mind you, I felt that Mr Weaver came across as just that sort of person, and that an attack of the guilty conscience was out of character for him!

In general this is a well-written, easy to read story about everyday actions and their 'consequences' (real or otherwise). And whether you intended to or not I think you've created quite a clever web; something to make people really think about what's happened/happening in this story.


*Star* Strengths:
As I mentioned, the first sentence is a real attention-grabber and draws the reader in. Your over-all writing style is clear and coherent. You don't go into a lot of description beyond Michelle, the heat haze and the window and I like that because to me it suits a story dealing with ignored feelings. The less effusive the better!


*Apple* Suggestions:
This is an entirely personal observation but I would like to have seen at least one of your other characters a male. The roles are all of the subservient sort - beggar, barista (think shop-girl), secretary - and to have them all filled by females just makes me think this story comes out of the 60s, 70s when that was the norm (especially in the conversation between Mr Weaver and Barbara). On the other hand, this actually seems to suit Mr Weaver's personality.


*Quill* The Technical Side:
By technical I mean typos and other odd things we writers do but your writing is clear of that and you've kept a good grip on your days of the week, not slipping up in your move through the week.

There are, however, a couple of places where I thought you could remove or swap around some words to tighten up the telling even further. For example, "according to the police report I read in the newspaper." You don't really need "I read" there because it's clear that's how the news was imparted. And when Mr Weaver is questioning Barbara about her knowledge you have "I asked. I’m not sure why." It's a bit staccato. You could move the "I asked" so the sentence is "I'm not sure why I asked."


Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read and review your short story. And I look forward to reading more.

Best wishes,
Osirantinous

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156
156
Review of Requiem  
Review by Osirantinous
In affiliation with The Rockin' Reviewers  
Rated: E | (4.0)
Hi BDukes! I've just read "Requiem, and I'd like to offer this review.

I really like the idea you've put into words here. In the beginning, I admit, I didn't get it; just thought it was two old men playing music (even with the title!). So I very much liked the fact it wasn't so much that but a more powerful telling about how a long life ends (or can end). I am no musician but I am intrigued by the idea that instead of having your life flash before your eyes, it is played out in a song. It's a much more emotive way of thinking about/dealing with life and death.


*Star* Some Strengths:
Besides the gift of opening up your readers to a fresh way of viewing one's life (and death) I consider the fact that the plot wasn't overtly clear (at least to me!) a further strength. It made me read more seriously, rather than skim, and kept me reading until the end. And because of that slight non-clarity I felt the ending paragraph far more powerful. It made me go 'oh' and I read Requiem again from that newly acquired view point.

Natural dialogue is sometimes hard to come by, but yours is natural as well as expressive. You can really hear the pout in Stuart's voice as he says 'I asked for a song, not a lecture.' You might not even have needed to say Stuart pouted because the dialogue itself gave that impression.

*Apple* Some Suggestions:
I did find the first two paragraphs slightly confusing.

In the first instance, a misunderstanding on my part because I took speaker to be an actual person speaking. The belching I got (and was amazed at it being in the first sentence) but then the plugging threw me and I had to reread the sentence again for sense. I thought that exchanging belched for another (more music-oriented?) adjective might help provide some clarity.

Secondly, it didn't seem to me immediately clear who the pronoun 'he' always referred to in those two sentences and whether or not Stuart and the old man were one and the same. I had to read over a couple of times to separate the musician from Stuart. It is just a suggestion for linking Stuart/old man but making the apology line part of the first paragraph and even merging it into something like 'He offered an abashed smile and an apology in a voice trembling with anxiety.' might offer some clarification.

*Quill* The Technical Side:
By technical I mean those things that'll get out the red pen, but there is not a lot here that needs redacting from my point of view. I've already mentioned the pronoun use which I brought up for clarification's sake more than anything else.

The one other thing I noted was actually in your powerful last paragraph. You use before three times in the two sentences. A word can keep cropping up, especially where it has several meanings and uses, but it can also start to take over and affect the reader. I would recommend at least changing the second instance to gap the first and third but even changing the final version to something like '... whispered and walked out the door.' would work.

In any case, I liked Requiem a lot and I'm pleased you've given us the opportunity to read and review your writing!

Best wishes,
Osirantinous

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Review of Alea iacta est  
Review by Osirantinous
Rated: 13+ | (4.0)
I have totally nothing critical to say about your writing style; it's very easy to read and flows well and I don't think you need to change a thing. As a classicist, and a Roman one at that, I can't wait to see how this story unfolds without Octavian in the picture. Most Greek and Roman novels these days tend to follow the known path; I'm glad to see one veering off it!
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