*Magnify*
SPONSORED LINKS
Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/beholden
Review Requests: ON
1,155 Public Reviews Given
1,156 Total Reviews Given
Review Style
I have a review template that is only used for in depth reviews, usually those that are specifically requested. These will be as comprehensive as I can manage, including everything I have noticed in reading the piece. Most of my reviews, however, are more in the nature of reactions to the piece with brief notes on things I find particularly good and suggestions on dealing with any obvious flaws in the writing.
I'm good at...
Reviews of stuff I particularly like. If I think the writing is good and the ideas original and inventive, I will say so and become enthusiastic about it. I will point out flaws, particularly where I feel that they interfere with a positive reaction to the piece, but I will also offer suggestions for fixing such problems.
Favorite Genres
I have a broad spectrum of genres I'll review. It's easier for me to list the genres I won't touch.
Least Favorite Genres
Romance, erotica, overly dark subjects without a good reason for existence.
Favorite Item Types
I'm unsure what is meant by this - I would have thought the genres sections covered this.
Least Favorite Item Types
See previous section.
I will not review...
Again, see the genres section that lists the genres I won't review.
Public Reviews
Previous ... -1- 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... Next
1
1
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Review of Fast Freight by J.R. Jimkins

Initial Impression:

This is a tale that stirs nostalgia for a former age, a time when hobos rode the rails and life was hard but simple. It achieves its object very well, being atmospheric and filled with an understanding of what it means to live on the edge of society. The main character is very well drawn and the reader becomes involved in the tale quite quickly, eager to see Billy achieving some form of good luck at least.

Title:

The title is ideal since it echoes the central theme of the story and has enough untold mystery to draw the reader in.

Content:

It's a sound tale, predictable at times, at others producing unexpected surprises (I fully supposed that Billy would have a heart attack by the end but it never came). That's a good balance to achieve, delivering some of what we expect so that the tone is established, but retaining some twists that keep the reader on his toes.

Wrapped up in the final scene of Billy returning to his old life on the rails, there is a reflection and a question of deeper meaning. Is success and fame something that, on occasion, is not as kind as the life we knew in obscurity? Billy seems to have discovered that there was a freedom in his old life that was lost in his days of popularity. Which challenges our own attitude to what is important in our lives.

Then there's the matter of Hardy Evers. I confess to being seriously tempted to steal the name, change it slightly to Hardly Ever, and use it for a character in one of my own stories. It's a wonderful name and one that deserves the character you draw for it. But who is this mysterious man who knows so much of Billy's life? The obvious answer, given the setting and the usual run of such stories, is that he's the devil. But no, it turns out that he's something else entirely and genuinely interested in Billy's welfare. It's a fine point and one you do well to hold so closely to your chest.

Personally, I'd guess at angel, but that's just me. Others will have different answers, all of which will bind them in tighter to the tale and make it that much more memorable. A clever ploy, to provide just enough info to tantalise the curiosity but allowing the reader to supply any answer and so own a part of the story.

Style:

Your style is simple, straightforward and unconcerned with flowery descriptions that would be out of place in so gritty a story. There are two minor points that I need to make, one a matter of grammar, the other of word repetition.

"...“Fast Freight.” ;a haunting, ominous song" - After "fast freight," you have a period, closing quotes, a space and then a semicolon. It should be comma, close quotes, and space.

"Whether the songs were quiet or rowdy, people loved drinking to them. Pub owners love people drinking to tunes they love, and they love the musicians playing them." - The constant repetition of the word "love" becomes irritating. You may have meant to point at the similarity between the feelings of differently involved characters, but it's not effective in that. I would change some of the instances of the word to a synonym or two, if I were you. The point will still get across.

Flow/Pace:

No problems here - your style has a natural flow and you establish a gentle pace right from the start that is ideal for the subject. It's not fast and exciting but the tale extends over many years. Easy and even-tempered is the right pace in this instance.

Suggestions:

Well, I made the one about repetition - I think that needs attention. And, obviously, the typoed semicolon needs deletion as well. Otherwise, I wouldn't change a thing.

Overall Impression:

A most enjoyable tale that entertains but also contains considerable food for thought./size}

Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Small photo
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
2023 Quill Nominee


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
2
2
Review of Peace  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
I like this. It's very well thought out and meticulously constructed so that the reader learns just what he needs to as the tale unfolds. The result is that curiosity draws the reader on relentlessly to the end and we can appreciate the full extent of the prince's plan.

Where the story is particularly successful is in the setting and atmosphere - this is quite believable with the the language and customs being such that they fit and nothing strikes us as not belonging to the imagined place and time. It's a carefully built world that is quite exceptionally effective, given the brief nature of a short story. That's how the story is billed but it could also form the basis for a continuing and fascinating longer work.

I found no errors or typos and the presentation is such that the whole piece is professionally presented and delivered. It really is a most enjoyable experience. Sound work indeed.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Small photo
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
2023 Quill Nominee2023 Quill Finalist


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
3
3
Review of No Closure  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I was pleasantly surprised by this. After reading a few of the early pieces posted in your portfolio, I made the mistake of thinking it would be a while before your writing and editing improved a great deal. But this is a huge improvement. For a start, it's free of grammatical and typing errors, which immediately makes it easier for the reader.

And then it's taken a step back from the actual events recounted, allowing the reader space and time to deal with the emotions and thoughts invoked. From being a cry of pain and anger, you have evolved with amazing speed to being able to open events quietly before the reader and so communicate more than just the experience. Now you're communicating in much greater depth and understanding. I'm really impressed.

This piece allows the reader to walk alongside the little girl and hear her thoughts as she makes sense of the great void that has opened in her life. It's done with great subtlety and care. The formatting is a bit odd, with paragraphs being separated sometimes by gaps and at other times by an indentation from the right margin. Best to stick with one system, I think (either indentation or a gap). But otherwise, this is quite excellent. Well done.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Small photo
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
2023 Quill Nominee Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
4
4
Review of Out of Time  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Shades of Chernobyl. They made a movie about Chernobyl, a terrible thing that demonstrated just how awful it was. But the most interesting thing is that, not only did the wildlife survive and flourish in the evacuated area around the plant, people have been moving back there for years without any bad effects being apparent. Not that I'm saying that the situation as outlined in your story is impossible, but I dare say we have been wrong about how bad the long term effects of such accidents will be.

Which is not reviewing your story, I know - just a thought. And the story does indeed induce a feeling of horror as the invisible, creeping death of radiation looms over and begins to engulf the poor, trapped technicians in the plant. It's a story for the modern age, with a monster all too real and a part of our experience and imagination for seventy years now. Congratulations on having the idea of combining the tale (heroic as well as horrific) of the trapped technicians into so scary a story. The fact that it is well written and without error adds to its powerful effect, of course.

A strong story of what could happen in reality and all the more frightening as a result.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
5
5
Review of Acceptance  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
My immediate thought on reading this was how refreshing it is to read something so disciplined in style and form, so redolent of times long past. This, of course, is explained by the note at the end and it underlines what we miss in our modern use-once-and-throw-away world. The poem is a jewel of poetry writing, a demonstration of how it was once done (and how it could be done again today).

Apart from the delightfully measured and careful construction of the poem, the feelings and morality expressed within it is timely in the modern world. There are things that are timeless and forever that need to be celebrated in this way. If this poem encourages us to write in a similarly disciplined and precise manner, it will do us no harm and might, indeed, lead us on to better pastures as well.

Thank you for putting this up. It is a wonderful breath of fresh air from long ago.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
6
6
Review of Coffee Shop  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (3.0)
I am unsure as to the purpose of this piece. It's descriptive of a mind in turmoil as something needs to be grasped to (presumably) solve some form of problem that has arisen, but we're not told enough to understand and sympathise or anything else. This leaves the reader swimming in an ocean of words but without a direction to choose. They are very emotive words and stir deep feelings but, without something to hang those feelings upon, it's a bit pointless. The fact that the protagonist is interrupted in her thoughts before she can make any sense of it all merely serves to confirm the lack of direction in the piece.

You need to take the piece somewhere. At the moment, we are told only that a woman is sitting in a coffee bar, rapt in her thoughts and trying to grasp something she knew once but has since slipped away from her awareness. She's interrupted in this and surfaces without anything being solved or decided. I think you have to decide what to do with the situation - in some fashion (and I expected it to be through the agency of the new arrival) the thinker needs a solution of some sort for the piece to have import. She must either stumble upon what she is looking for or realise that it's hopeless and drop the matter for other things.

Either way, it would give the piece a reason to exist. Otherwise it's a beginning to a much larger story in which her problems are identified and resolved somehow. And beginnings are not stories - they need endings to achieve that. It's clear that you can write - but to keep the reader, you must finish what you started.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
7
7
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
I like this story. And that comes from someone who sighs and turns away from prompts that call for reasons to cancel Christmas. At last, a good reason! I sympathise entirely with Santa in this case.

The story is particularly effective because the punchline is kept for the very end. This always makes for the best short stories - it's their raisin d'être, after all. The mistimed punchline is the death of all short stories. And this one revels in it, drawing the reason out of Santa in carefully chosen stages so that the reader is avid for the answer by the end. It's expertly done.

Add to that the fact that it's well written, without error, and perfectly paced, and I'm left with nothing to quibble about at all. Well done, indeed!


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
8
8
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
Ah yes, the horror of the ordinary and every day. There is quite a creepy feeling to this little tale that centres on the relationship between siblings. There is cruelty between some siblings that would not be possible between strangers and this story focuses on that. It's a dark area and shifts the tale into the horror genre - just.

If there's a weakness to it, it lies in the internet aspect. I can believe that a pair of michievous brothers would get up to such a trick, but to put the result on the internet may be going a bit too far. That would speak of a serious problem in the relationship between the brothers and their sister.

Or maybe I'm a bit more squeamish than most. And horror is supposed to be weird, isn't it? As I said, it's an interesting little tale.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
9
9
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Interesting take on the future! Very different but very possible at the same time. I like the technique of conveying most of the info through dialogue - you're good at that.

The one aspect I have some doubt on was that I ended without really having developed a liking for any of the characters. Even the central character struck me as being rather sleazy and unpleasant - I dare say Ocean Princess had a lucky escape from his tender ministrations in the end. Maybe this was intentional - after all, there's no reason why we should like anyone in the future. But it might not be a good plan from the writing point of view.

However, it remains an effective and thought-provoking tale, full of extrapolations into a rather dismal-seeming near future. Very imaginative and well constructed.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
10
10
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
If Sylvester is the cat in the photo, then I understand why he is so smart. It's tuxedo cats - we have a female tuxedo and she's the smartest cat I've ever known.

You poem is short, simple and sweet. States its premise, then backs it up with a few examples and ends with a statement from the cat. What more could a reader ask? Of course, some might expect a longer poem, or more structure, but, if the poem succeeds in getting its message across, then everything else is detail. And detail doesn't always make things clearer - sometimes it serves only to confuse.

In my experience, cat poems are best when kept short and straightforward. It's how they are, after all.


image for pet Day raid


Image #1778387 over display limit. -?-
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
11
11
Review of Patching Up Pets  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
Interesting little tale with a most unexpected turn of events towards the end. I haven't heard (or read) the expression "toodle pip" in many a long year, so that was a highlight for me. And as for "checking tree-mail," I absolutely love it! Clearly, I'm a sucker for a well-turned phrase.

The story itself is a classic of Sonali's gentle touch and confidential style - so easy in flow, wide-eyed in appreciation of the smallest details. Like "toodle pip," it's somewhat old fashioned but that makes it an old friend too and easy to love.

If I were forced at gunpoint to make a suggestion for improvement, I'd say that the dog names could do with a little more imagination - to add to their characters. But it would be so minor a change 0 hardly worth doing at all.


A most enjoyable read.

image for pet Day raid


Image #1778387 over display limit. -?-
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
12
12
Review of A Day at the Zoo  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
This one depends very much on what you were trying to achieve. As an amusing little story, it's excellent but doesn't need the final paragraph. The explanation and tying up of loose strings merely serves to soften the impact of the story's point. But, if you intended to write a piece demonstrating an eternal truth, then it's fine. Anyone who has raised a few kids knows how true is the point made.

It's flash fiction so I must presume that the twist in the tail is the main object of the story. And then we don't need to know what happened afterwards or have the moral explained to us. The fact that Albert laughed is sufficient to know that everything turned out fine in the end.

Apart from that fairly minor quibble, the writing is strong, clear and direct. I found no mistakes and there were no problems with flow or pacing. It's a pleasant sliver from daily life that makes an enjoyable story. Well done.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
13
13
Review of The Gun  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This is an amusing little tale that delivers its twist in the tail with considerable aplomb. It has one weakness that unfortunately detracts from the impact of the denouement, and that is that it concentrates too much on the "borrowing" of the shotgun. One mention would have been enough and the constant return to it makes it too obviously the spot where the twist is going to happen.

What is needed is some lulling in the middle of the tale. Instead of mentioning the shotgun again and again, allow the reader's thoughts to drift to other things - give the boys something to do beyond driving to town, describe their visit to an unnamed shop, maybe have an incident or two to deflect attention. And then hit them with the discovery of the purpose of the whole thing.

The story is not ruined by the concentration on the shotgun, but it could be stronger if dealt with as suggested. The unexpected hit is always more effective than the telegraphed one. The elements of good flash fiction are present but just need a little polishing, that's all. It's an enjoyable story even so.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
14
14
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (5.0)
This is a great little tale. It has atmosphere, wonderful characters and a little surprise at the end, all done in only 300 words. It's a lesson in how to establish setting and character without going into long descriptions.

The first sentence throws us immediately into the depression years, when hoboes ran the rails in boxcars, dodging railway officials. That's a wealth of setting and atmosphere achieved in just a sentence. Then there's the two boys, obviously ragged, one barefoot and both boundlessly optimistic, all topped off with their info-laden names. It's subtly and cleverly done. And the final surprise is sprung, not with an Ahah, but a gentle reveal that brings a smile to the reader's face (I'm not saying that my name being based in the same book doesn't add to the effect *Wink*). It's a truly wonderful little story.

There are a couple of tiny errors that I noticed. "He had a sturdy looking leather boots..." needs no "a". And “You’re name's Huck Finn?” - "You're" should be "Your."

But these are microscopic flaws and do nothing to mar the quality of the piece. It's a most enjoyable read and a refreshing boost to my day. Thank you.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
15
15
Review of The Crimson Rose  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Very effective and unexpected. It begins as almost a case study of the obsession with collecting that can develop in those who become interested in such things. From there it transforms into a very vivid portrayal of a world drifting into madness as the obsession takes hold and assumes a paranormal aspect. The degeneration of Mallory into control by something resembling a fit or "turn" is extremely well done. Even so, I did not see the crystalline denouement coming in the form it did. That was quite horrific and shocking to imagine.

Considering how few words are needed to convey the process, I think this story is told with masterful skill and assurance. At no point did it allow my attention to wander and the pace of its storyline was very well judged. The characters are well painted too, so that I am left with little to say except to express my appreciation of such excellent writing. The complete lack of errors and typos is evidence of good editing so it's quite a tour de force. Well done indeed!


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
16
16
Review of Griffin's Blade  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
I saw you come in and thought I ought to welcome you back. Good to see you. Had a quick read of this and decided to let you know what I think of it so far. Of course, it's barely begun, but the quality of the writing is already obvious. I've been wanting to read a few more detective stories as I'm considering having a go at them myself, so this happens along at a good time for me. Glad you didn't pick the usual era for a setting (those thirties slick and cynical detectives of the golden age of detective novels do get a bit tiresome after a while - every bit of info has to be wrapped in a package of neat, ironic reflection) - I could never learn how to do one of those.

So, if it's okay by you, I'll be happy to read along with your writing as and when required.

As for the story so far - the first chapter is a delicious starter, a taste of everyone's secret desire to be "discovered" and whisked to stardom by a mysterious benefactor. And this is followed by a neatly delivered episode of criminal passion and revenge. Great start!


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
17
17
Review of Sarah  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Ooh, scary ending! This one's in the deepest fears class, the kind our imaginations love to construct when the lights go out and we're reduced to primitive beings alone in a dangerous world. It's an effective tale that builds in tension and unease until the final sentence delivers the dreaded blow. And to leave it there is the sharpest point, allowing our personal demons to bring the scariest possible ending.

Of course, the setting assists in the deepest fears thing - there's a sigh of relief as we get inside the house and lock the door. The darkness, so recently a thing to send shivers up the spine, is turned into mere inconvenience, and the cell phone light is another friend. How awful that this apparent safety should be turned so quickly into illusion by the ending!

It's very effective, the writing sparse and clear, giving the reader space to awake personal fears, and a complete lack of errors that gives full reign to the building tension. It's very well done and a fine tale to give one the shivers late at night.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
18
18
Review of Young Love  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
Obviously, I agree wholeheartedly. Experience teaches even the wildest soul. And you state your premise clearly, then explain in so many ways how it is true. Only through years of living does such understanding come, and your words make it clear that you know what you're talking about. Write what you know, they say, and you prove them right.

I love your signature trick as well, the bracketed addition to the word "with" to ensure that the double meaning is not lost. This, surely, is a sign that the poet has thought carefully about each word used and the composite meaning being constructed. And the depth of meaning in this poem is confirmation of each point strung together in a necklace of pearls to show the true beauty of the thought.

This is the kind of thing I aspire to and attain so rarely. I ought to begrudge such brilliant talent and envy the one who uses it so well, but I cannot. It just does me good to know that it exists and I am honoured to share in it, even in as simple a thing as a review.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
19
19
Review of A New Invention  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 13+ | (4.5)
This is an amusing little tale of a machine for recreating memories. As a mixture of magic and science, it's a bit odd, but it makes no pretence of serious suggestion. And the whole thing amounts to a romp in the no man's land between dream and memory so anything is possible.

The one area where it gets a bit complicated and hard to understand is the description of the hands inventing themselves. This becomes a maze of hands doing things to hands with little to distinguish between which hands are what. If you see what I mean. This does not matter in the end because none of it really matters - the only problem is whether it should be called a memory or a dream machine. And I'm on Poppy's side for that.

I do wonder where the genre Animal comes in. Perhaps I missed it but I don't recall there being an animal involved. Unless you count a goblin as such. But then you'd have to think about the classification of elves. And they're certainly not human. Personally, I'd take out that one genre and replace it with Children.

But I'm probably being too serious. It is, after all, a bit of fun, an amusing entertainment, and in that it succeeds admirably. Well done.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
20
20
Review of Hero's Witness  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
An interesting way to get to know someone. The story is fine, with a good ending (I think it's right not to be too clear about the exact result - let the reader work it out). If it has a problem, it's that the timeline is a little difficult to unravel. Let's see if I can explain that.

The first paragraph introduces us to Mark and we begin to learn about Chloe. This happens in church but we don't know that the occasion is. That begins to coalesce in the second paragraph, when Cloe emits an anguished cry. A suspicion is planted but it's only a suspicion.

Then we get into the shooting scene and Mark's parent's advice concerning the Mall. And at the end, we find that Mark has something else on his mind, too. Well, we've been waiting for that ever since we heard that he finds her beautiful. But the suspicion regarding the church service is still only a suspicion. I don't think you would lose anything by settling that in the beginning - it's a funeral. Leaving it unstated means that the reader has to retain it for later confirmation (which never actually comes, although the suspicion is strengthened) and that's distracting from the main thrust of the story.

It's a minor matter and you may feel not worth changing, but I mention it because that is how I reacted to it. Certainly, it does not have a massive impact on the story. The writing is good but you could consider making it a little more impactful by adding some flashes of detail. Tiny things without importance are often triggers to emotion in situations like the shooting and its result, and these bring the telling to life in the reader's mind. For one thing, time is slowed in these experiences and this allows us to notice things that normally we wouldn't. A pen falling from a pocket and bouncing on a tiled floor, for instance - no connection to the main event but stark and vivid so that it remains in the mind forever. I read a description a few days ago of a similar experience and it was told as a series of apparently unconnected details. The result was an account that was surreal in its vivid and realistic impact.

I must congratulate you on your editing. Not a flaw in the whole thing, neither grammatical nor typo. Makes the piece a joy to read. And it was most enjoyable and a very competent piece of writing. Well done indeed.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
21
21
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: 18+ | (5.0)
Powerful stuff. In flashes of vivid images, you draw a searing picture of a terrible event. I have to somehow distance myself from the event you so skilfully release before me, if I am to comment upon the technical aspects of the poem. It's not easy but easier to sit here just experiencing a thing like that.

So what makes it so powerful? I think it's the build up, the heat and drought portayed in so many details that stick in the mind, leading without drama to the event that tears a hole in the readers understanding. It's so matter of fact, experience delivered in hard, clear sights and incidental thoughts, that it makes the experience the reader's. And that, surely, is the job of poetry.

You have put a whole new aspect on the face of Florida for me. I don't know how better to say how good this poem is.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
22
22
Review of Hymn 2  
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (5.0)
This is rather good. I like it especially because it's different from most attempts at spiritual poetry, being entirely conversational in tone and centred on the nature of God, rather than the spirituality of the poet. Having tried myself often enough to express my relationship to God in verse, I know how difficult it is to come close to an adequate description. I suppose it should annoy me that this succeeds so well where I have failed so many times before. Maybe it's a sign that it's working (this whole spiritual thing) since I feel only happiness in your success.

So, having dealt at length with my own reactions to the poem, I must say a few words about what makes it good. And pick at any flaws if I find any, of course. The rhyming is good, unobtrusive and unforced. But it does create an expectation of metre as a by product. And that can get a bit lumpy at times, my friend. It happens to be one of my obsessions - I insist that my own stuff flows, even when it doesn't rhyme (which is often) and this makes me hypersensitive to flow in others' poetry as well. So my only suggestion is that you read it aloud and fiddle with the metre if you decide to tinker with the piece.

Because otherwise, I can't fault it. I'm actually really keen on it.


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
23
23
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.5)
It doesn't say so anywhere, but this appears to be part of a much longer story. Does that matter? I think it does, at least to a reviewer. If it's intended to be a self contained story, it's a bit lacking in a reason for being and would be better off described as a vignette. I mean, I could make a case for it being a story, but I'm not sure everyone would see it that way. For me, the obvious point is that Fyndorian is really a female masquerading as male - hence the insistence on privacy. The description fits better that way, too.

But, if that is the point, it's a bit too well concealed for most readers, I think. So I have to regard it as part of a much longer story. As such, it becomes more gripping, the stranger at the end more threatening, and everything making more sense. I still think Fyndorian's true nature will be revealed at some point, however.

It's interesting in style. The mixture of local dialect, imagined medieval English, and other influences in the dialogue (and thoughts - that's particularly unusual) is brave but I wonder how long you can keep it up. And how long will it be before it irritates the reader? I think in these situations, it's best to go for a local accent that you know very well and stick with it. No matter how medieval the setting, if you say they talk in a certain way, then that's how they talk - as long as it remains consistent.

The slice of story itself is quite attractive. Well written and engaging, it flows well and develops quickly into a very full scene of multiple impressions. It has us quickly on the side of the two main characters and introduces an ominous presence that promises to become a threat to the wellbeing of our heroes. Unless, of course, you're playing with us and he's really a blessing in disguise.

So the whole thing appears just a part of something much greater but, in itself, is an excellent introduction to what may become a book. I'll say this (and I don't say it to everyone), if it were the opening chapter of a book, I'd keep reading. Which is surely the object, isn't it?


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
24
24
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: ASR | (5.0)
Obviously, there is something about the Cramp that has allowed it to last for over twenty years while other contests have disappeared. And it may well be that it's the choice of a midday deadline that has resulted in this - I don't recall ever seeing another contest that ends at that time (and is judged very close to that time - most contests take their time to announce results and that might have something to do with the length of their existence too).

Or it may have nothing to do with timing at all. I would point at another fairly unusual property of the Cramp that might well have a lot to do with its durability. And that would be that it awards first place even if there is only one entrant. That must surely add to its attraction to those who have difficulty being noticed in other contests.

Most likely, it's a combination of these and several other factors (not the least of which is the stamina of the owners). But one thing I do know - GMT is the world standard for datelines because the Brits got there first. They had the idea of setting up a standard so they get to keep it. Kinda the universal standard for ideas.

Anyway, I should be commenting upon the quality of the writing, the entertainment value of the piece, and possible suggestions. My problem is, you're too good. If you aren't going to make any mistakes, what is there for me to say apart from a little applause? It's an excellent article, very amusing and well written and not a typo in sight. Well done and the promised applause. *Wink*


Bulbul signature which links back to the group page
Image #2202470 over display limit. -?-
Beholden
Nominated for Quills Best Reviewer, 2023
Image #2291664 over display limit. -?- Image #2291665 over display limit. -?-


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
25
25
Review by Beholden
In affiliation with WdC SuperPower Reviewers Group  
Rated: E | (4.0)
To be honest, I thought the story fell a bit flat because it contained so lttle tension. If the narrator is to be believed, one side had all the power and magic, the other only ignorance. Because the elves were so talked up (they even had a dragon on their side), it never seemed that they had a chance of losing the fight. And so it proved, according to the description of the battle.

I guess I'm saying that the story needs more balance if it is to have the necessary level of conflict to make the reader care who wins. Most stories do this by having the baddies with greater power and force, so that the goodies can win through by intelligence, luck, or divine intervention (because they're the good guys, after all).

Bit of a quibble about the dragon, too. He gives the elves a winning advantage as it is, but, if his scales are the size of a man's shield, that's one huge dragon. Relating that to the illustration, that makes the elven lady (presumably Viridea) positively enormous. At that rate, all she needs to do is stomp on the invading humans.

I do get it - it's a fantasy, so much leeway is allowed and even expected. But there's also the reader's suspension of belief to be taken into account. And there needs to be at least a relation to reality involved. Sorta second cousin level, for instance.

As regards writing, the piece is fine, with vivid description, fast paced action and interesting developments of otherworldly characteristics. No technical or grammatical errors as well. I just can't help feeling the story needs a little more oomph.


*Gold* My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!.
594 Reviews · *Magnify*
Page of 24 · 25 per page   < >
Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/profile/reviews/beholden