Thread: [Pokémon] [SWC] The Promise I made to You
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Old October 10th, 2012 (1:18 AM).
Cutlerine Cutlerine is offline
Gone. May or may not return.
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
Age: 22
Nature: Impish
Posts: 1,030
Well, now this has been a long time coming. You've been conspicuous by your absence for quite some time now - I think the last time I saw you post a story was, what, a year ago? More?

Although I have to say, the wait seems to have been worth it. In a way, I'm quite glad I didn't get a chance to enter the SWC this year, because I don't like my odds going up against a story like this. It's like a thin, fragile swirl of dark powder across glass: I have no idea how the events within it happened, I don't need to know how the events within it happened, and I'm now struggling to justify a simile that made no sense.

Joking aside (as if that could ever happen), it really is a great story - far better than Havisham, at any rate. Your central character is no Patrick Bateman, but for some reason I can't help thinking of American Psycho when I read it, especially the line: "I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust." I have no idea why - this doesn't strike me as particularly relevant; your characters are not psychopaths - but I thought I'd share it anyway, because, um... just because.

OK, joking finally aside (hopefully), let's peel the skin back and take a look at the meat. The main idea is great - the sense of a seismic shift in their relations is there, like a wound just barely scabbed over, and I think your decision to not elucidate the great secret works better than any revelation would; it allows the reader to build castles in the air that (I know from experience of having people predict what's going to happen next in my stories) are usually wildly different from what the author imagines, and often more satisfying for each individual reader.

Actually, that reminds me of the time I bound a story together with a twist of metal wire because I ran out of staples, and accidentally ended up adding another layer to its meaning - but that's irrelevant. Sorry, I have a propensity for digression. Where was I? Oh yeah, the half-hidden secret.
Yeah, so that's great.

The characters are well-realised, too - although there were a couple of moments when I was reading through that made me think, "Really?" The most prominent ones are, in no particular order:

Your lips are an impassionate line stretching from one end to the other; your eyes betray nary a trace of desire.
Nary. Nary. Nary. Nary.

OK, so I'm overreacting, but nary? I know there's often a temptation to use the word 'nary', but honestly, it always comes across (to me at least) as hideously pretentious and the mark of a character I can't take seriously - unless it's used in an intentionally humorous way in dialogue or something. The whole way through the story, I was thinking to myself, Remember, this character is the kind of guy who says 'nary' seriously - and that kind of spoiled his character for me. I found it quite a bit harder to sympathise with him, because that - and a few other bits of literary pomposity that crop up in his narration - make him seem to me to be the kind of person whose presence I can't actually tolerate. That's not to say it wasn't a good portrait of a person overall - it was - and perhaps you intended him to come across that way, to give him a little more three-dimensionality. It certainly gives another aspect to his - wait, am I even criticising anymore? I'm not sure. Hm. I may come back to this point.

On a similar but unrelated note, Celebi's first line of dialogue is... well, frankly, it's pretty wooden, which is surprising given the way you handle the rest of it.

“A few deaths are to be expected,” you respond. “No one can build a case against us on a few measly deaths. It’s all part of the job, and you should know this.”
In sharp contrast to the main character's dialogue - and in fact Celebi's later dialogue - this is flat, stilted and kind of uncomfortable. (As I believe was once said about a particularly ill-made chair.) I'm not really sure why it happened; I suspect it's just one of those things. You know. Things. That happen. Those things.

Um... let's see what else I noted down... ah. I seem to have accidentally deleted my notes. I shall have to play the rest of the review by ear, then. Let's see... oh yes. I should probably have put this part at the beginning for reasons of good style, but this story is very you. Despite only having read one or two things by you before, I seem to have a fairly comprehensive mental diagram of your style, preferred technique, lexis and areas of interest somewhere in the back of my head. I mention this not only as an aside, but because I think this story marries your approach with the subject better than others of yours I've seen; this isn't so very important in the context of this single story, but it does indicate (to my mind at least) that a development of your skills has occurred since Havisham (and that other one I don't remember the name of). So... yeah. Well done, I guess.

Hm. I'm going to have to break it off here. Without my notes, there isn't much more I can write. I'll just have to apologise for the brevity of this review, thank you for a good story, thank the gods that I didn't put one of my stories up against it, and leave.


For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.
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