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Luminous: Cicadas (Chap 1)

by AlyTheBookworm


Rewriting my old fantasy story, Luminous. Please ignore all the older chapters I've posted, as there are new characters and a new plot. Also feel free to tear this apart, I'd appreciate any feedback or suggestions you have!

Edit: This is now chapter one, not a prologue.

LUMINOUS

Chapter 1 - Cicadas

The night they lost their home had been as ordinary as it could be. There was no warning. No ill omen or sign to prepare them for what would happen.

Ryn’s world ended in a matter of minutes.

Snuffed out like a candle.

The dark shutters of the house had been opened minutes before, flooding both the main room and the sole bedroom with cool night air. Ryn vividly remembered the squirming junebug on the sill of the open bedroom window. The choir of summer cicadas in the woods outside. She remembered the smell of the spices in her mother’s soup… and the sound of the pot bubbling and simmering over the fire in the hearth.

Sometimes she wondered why she had retained her memories of those meaningless details, when everything that had happened afterwards was now a half-remembered nightmare.

Ryn still remembered her voice. Mother had been patient, so soft-spoken.

-

“Girls, I could use a hand getting dinner ready.”

Kaisa was the first to answer their mother. She immediately jumped down from the big bed where the two of them had been sitting. Remembering to pat the head of her ragged stuffed pony, she gently set it down on a pillow before leaving the room.

“I’ll help!”

Was that enthusiasm? Ryn thought.

She wasn’t sure if she wanted to smile or roll her eyes as she pulled herself to her feet and followed her younger sister. Only Kaisa would be excited to do chores.

The main room, her family’s kitchen, dining room, and sitting room combined, was small and smelled of woodsmoke. Food was stored in two cupboards in the corner and prepared on the polished wood counter than ran over them. The dining table, its dark surface scarred from decades of use, was bare and still damp from a recent washing.

The fireplace was large and filled the room with a pleasant warmth that was complemented by the sunflower Kaisa had picked yesterday, which sat in a clay pitcher on the mantel. The flower was missing half its petals, but Ryn’s sister had brought it home with a look of pride and couldn’t stop staring at it all through breakfast that morning. Mother hadn’t the heart to tell her the thing was ugly, but its lopsided yellow smile was beginning to grow on Ryn.

Their mother glanced up from checking the soup as they entered the room.

“Sweetheart, why don’t you fetch some water? Ryn can help me set the table.”

Their mother wiped her hands on her apron and swept a strand of greying hair from her eyes. As Kaisa skipped down the front steps to the water barrel at the side of the house, swinging a bucket as she went, Ryn grabbed what she needed from one of the cupboards and silently began to lay out the soup spoons.

When she reached the fourth place at the table, she hesitated.

“Ah, don’t worry about that, dear. We only need three sets tonight,” her mother said.

Ryn nodded, hiding her disappointment as she returned the utensils to the cupboard. It didn’t surprise her that they’d only need enough for the three of them, but being reminded of her father’s absence was still upsetting.

She grabbed three clay bowls and laid them out next, thinking about next week’s Harvest Festival to distract from troublesome thoughts and memories… For a while, daydreams of food, music, and games entertained her, until she realized he wouldn’t be home for the festivities.

Ryn scowled, but didn’t ask the question. Why’d he have to go? When will he come home?

She’d asked those questions plenty of times before.

Mother always had the same answer- something trite about honor and patriotism. She’d talk about how Father was fighting to serve the kingdom, to protect their home, which was ironic as Father would likely be fighting his own countrymen. Though they’d be soldiers from other regions of the kingdom and they’d fight under the banner of a different lord, they were still Elyssians.

Ryn hadn’t forgotten how Father wouldn’t meet her eyes when he was forced to line up in the central clearing with the rest of the village’s men, who were all herders or farmers and had never touched a weapon before. She hadn’t forgotten the waver in his voice when he had to explain to his wife and daughters that he was leaving and didn’t know when he’d return.

That day had been over a month ago.

Ryn still grabbed four sets of utensils each night. Someday, she’d become accustomed to leaving the fourth in the darkness of the cupboard… but she didn’t think she’d ever lose her anger at the nameless lords who had conscripted her father.

“What’re you thinking about?”

Kaisa’s voice broke through all of her negative thoughts, bright as sunshine burning away rain clouds. Ryn hadn’t noticed her return.

“Nothing.”

“You look like you’ve swallowed sour milk.”

Ryn considered snapping at her little sister, but her irritation faded when she noticed Kaisa’s look of genuine concern.

“It’s nothing,” she repeated. She was even able to muster a half-smile, which her sister returned.

Stop being such a worrywart, Ryn. Father will be home before we know it.

“Then let’s eat. I’m starving.”

The two of them sat down at the table and their mother began to ladle a thin vegetable soup into each bowl, along with a chunk of brown bread. Ryn took the seat across from her father’s.

After both of them were served, Mother took her place at the table. Warm firelight illuminated the lines of her face and glinted in her irises, which were black as ink and identical to those of her daughters.

“We thank Auri for this meal,” the three of them said in unison. After a moment of silence, they began to eat.

As she slurped soup, Ryn couldn’t help but stare at the empty chair her father had occupied. Shadows played on its rough surface, and she wondered what the soldiers would be eating that night.

“Ryn, go and shutter the window. It’s starting to get chilly in here,” Mother said.

“Yes, mama.”

When she reached the window, she glanced out. The steep dirt path shone as it wound its way up out of view to the rest of the village. The neighbors’ house, directly across from their own, was lit by a single lamp in the bedroom window, and the nearly full moon hung like a lantern over the forests of the Elyssian foothills. Ryn caught the distant sounds of cattle lowing over the whisper of the leaves…

And the stench of something burning.

“What is it, dear?”

“A fire.”

Soup spoons rattled as her mother rose from the table and rushed to the window. She gently nudged Ryn to the side and peered out into the night.

Mother flushed as she saw something Ryn couldn’t. Her eyes narrowed, and a frown crept over her face. Ryn strained her neck, struggling to look over her shoulder, but her mother quickly pulled the shutters closed.

“What’s happening, mama?” Kaisa interjected.

“It looks like there’s a fire on Eldyn’s farm,” she said grimly. “Girls, stay inside. Lock the door. I’m going to head up to the village.”

“What’s happening?” Ryn echoed her sister.

Mother finally met her gaze. “I-I’m not sure yet. I’m just going to go check on Eldyn and his family and make sure they’re alright. If it’s only a fire, they’ll need my help putting it out.”

“But-“

Mother grabbed her shoulders. “Ryn, sweetheart… Just stay put and take care of your little sister. Can you do that for me?”

Ryn nodded, still confused.

“Good. Kaisa, listen to your sister.”

With that, their mother opened the front door. She stood there for a moment, a faint breeze tugging at the edges of her dress and the wisps of dark hair that had pulled free from her braid. She turned and smiled to reassure them, then stepped out into the darkness and pulled the door shut behind her.

Ryn reluctantly locked the door with an ominous click.

“What now?” Kaisa said.

Ryn’s sister was so full of life it became easy to forget how small she was. But even for an eight-year-old, Kaisa was painfully thin, short, and always seemed to be drowning in the coarse fabric of her kirtle. Now, her dark eyes wide and fearful in a rounded child’s face, she looked even smaller.

“I guess we have to wait.”

Not knowing what else to do, Ryn returned to the dining table and pulled out a chair. A few minutes passed. She decided to try to finish her soup, but at that moment, even the thought of eating was nauseating.

Kaisa broke the silence. “Only a fire? What did she mean by only a fire?”

Ryn frowned. Fires were enough reason to worry, but her mother’s reaction to whatever she had seen implied that something more was happening in the village.

“And why’d she tell us to lock the door?” Kaisa persisted.

“I don’t know.”

They fell back into a tense silence.

Ryn tried to maintain a stoic expression, remembering the responsibility her mother had placed on her as the older sister, but couldn’t stop herself from fidgeting. She found herself pulling strands of dark hair from her braid as she did whenever she got nervous. A sense of dread was beginning to creep into her mind, as if something terrible was about to happen... Or already has.

A high-pitched scream split the air.

Kaisa flinched. Ryn froze.

They both turned to the window. It was, of course, closed. Kaisa got up and rushed over to peer between the crack in the shutters.

“What do you see?”

“Not much, but I can hear something.”

Ryn joined her sister and tried to listen to whatever was happening outside.

“It sounds like...”

She pressed her ear to the wood and heard the snorting of horses, coupled with the clinking of metal and shouting. In the distance, glass shattered and a woman began to scream, a sound of pure terror that sent chills down Ryn’s spine.

As they listened, staring at eachother with growing horror, the sound of hooves and boots on the path was joined by a crackling that became a roar, as if someone had lit a bonfire in the clearing outside.

Suddenly, the handle of the front door began to rattle and shake. The men were trying to enter the house.

“Open up!” a rough voice yelled. The speaker pounded on the door with his fist.

Ryn and Kaisa glanced at each other, eyes wide.

“This is your last warning! Open up now!”

Ryn held a finger to her lips and glanced towards the bedroom.

They’d started to move towards the room when something heavy rammed into the front door, splintering the wood and leaving a fist-sized hole.

Kaisa screamed.

Ryn grabbed her sister’s hand and they ran to the bedroom, pulling the door shut behind them. Shaking uncontrollably, Ryn quickly grabbed the heavy wooden rocking chair from the corner and they both shoved it up against the door.

It was then that she realized the main room of the house had fallen silent.

“Are they gone?” Kaisa breathed.

Ryn listened for a moment. She heard pieces of the front door crack and hit the floor. Then the sound of a hand scrabbling at the door knob.

She mutely shook her head.

The situation felt unreal, like a dream that would soon be forgotten. It was already slipping away through her fingers. Ryn couldn’t remember why they were huddled in the dim bedroom, why they were so silent or why her heart was pounding. How had they gotten there? Surely this couldn’t be happening to them.

She heard the front door swing open, and heavy boots stepped over the threshold.

Ryn’s blood turned to ice.

“Kaisa, go hide under the bed,” she said. To her surprise, her voice came out calm and steady. It belonged to a stranger, not the terrified ten-year-old that she was.

Kaisa stubbornly shook her head and refused to move. Ryn wanted to argue, but decided it would only waste time.

“Maybe there’s something we can use to fight back?” Kaisa’s voice was very small.

The thought that they’d be able to defend themselves against the intruders was laughable, but Ryn found herself looking anyways.

She scanned the room for a weapon- something heavy, maybe a candlestick. She ran her eyes over the worn blankets of the two cots in the corner and the faded colors of the quilt covering the large straw-stuffed mattress that their parents had shared before Father was drafted. The weathered desk in the corner. The stuffed pony and the two dolls with cornsilk hair and button eyes…

“Ryn!”

Kaisa had finally looked out the still-open window. The shutters swung back and forth and heat spilled into the room, heavy with the stench of smoke. Her voice was full of pain and tears welled in her eyes. Ryn ran to her and immediately pulled her away, but couldn’t stop herself from seeing what had upset her sister.

The world outside was on fire. The house across from theirs had been engulfed in roaring flames and become a monster, spitting sparks and groaning as it steadily collapsed into a mountain of blackened wood. Embers burned like eyes full of pain and rage, and smoke curled into the air like dragon’s breath.

Tears pricked her eyes, whether from the smoke and heat or something else, she couldn’t tell.

“Ryn! They’re coming!” Kaisa screamed.

Her mind raced for a solution, a way out. They couldn’t leave the room as the road outside wasn’t safe and the intruders were breaking into the main room as she stood there. They’d easily get past the pathetic barricade Ryn and Kaisa had made, and there was nothing they could use to fight back.

“Auri, Auri…” she pleaded under her breath.

There’s no way out of this.

The bedroom door was kicked inward and choice was taken from her. She had to act now or they’d both be caught.

She grabbed her sister’s arm and hauled her up onto the sill and out the open window. In a rush of adrenaline, they went through the opening and fell to the dirt path. Ryn landed on her feet and, her legs wobbling slightly, dragged Kaisa back up.

The soldiers, as they appeared to be, pointed and yelled in harsh tones from the front of the house. A few were mounted, wearing a livery of red and burnt orange, but Ryn didn’t see much more than that.

She headed for the woods at a run, still barefoot and praying the horses wouldn’t be able to follow them into the tightly interwoven trees and undergrowth. Kaisa stayed close behind.

Each moment and detail of the chase that followed blended together, like a dream with no chronology. For a period of time, they huddled in the hollow of a rotting tree trunk, gasping for breath. Whether they were being followed or not, they were soon running again.

They were forced to cross fields with no cover, and more than once found themselves crouching in the tall grasses to hide from passing soldiers. In the distance, mountains of smoke billowed into the air and farmhouses became beacons of ruddy light against the darkness of the sky.

Ryn couldn’t remember if they’d been going for minutes or hours. Either way, they ran until the world was spinning and Ryn’s legs were on fire. She felt like her heart might burst with every intake of breath, but still couldn’t get enough air into her lungs fast enough.

They finally stopped running in a small clearing miles from the village. Both collapsed to the damp earth saturated with petrichor, only now realizing that the sky had started to drizzle sometime after they’d escaped the house. Kaisa’s dark hair was drenched in sweat and her small body looked pale as snow against the dirt, like a wraith from one of Mother’s stories. If not for the rise and fall of her sister’s chest, Ryn might’ve thought she had dropped dead from exhaustion.

They lay there, Ryn slumped against the mossy trunk of an ancient tree and Kaisa spread-eagled in the center of the clearing, until their breathing slowed. By then, the drizzling rain had died down to a light mist that left Ryn shivering.

She wanted to speak, to say anything that might comfort her sister, but couldn’t manage even a word past the lump in her throat. It was impossible to speak, to move, to break that heavy silence.

Surely, surely, if Ryn did not move she would wake... She’d find herself tucked under the quilts of her bed, Mother brushing a strand of hair from her face. She’d hear the gentle whisper, assurances that it had all been a nightmare. If Ryn waited there long enough, the world would right itself and time would move again.

So she lay in silence, growing numb as she listened to the rustling trees.

It was quiet; the cicadas had stopped singing.


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48 Reviews


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Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:03 pm
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Jyva wrote a review...



hello aly, you asked for a review from me, um… two years ago, but i never got to it. so i’m here now.

overall, this piece seems decent. the characters all have slight cases of fancy-fantasy-name-itis, and i had to google a few of the words you used (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but it was written well enough and i found myself able to ride the flow of the story. time for the nitpicking :D

>The night they lost their home had been as ordinary as it could be. There was no warning. No ill omen or sign to prepare them for what would happen.
Ryn’s world ended in a matter of minutes.
Snuffed out like a candle.

five short sentences in a row right off the bat, YEET
short sentences are best used sparingly for dramatic purpose, so doing this straight away at the opening of your story is like swinging a bat at your reader and screaming “THIS IS DRAMATIC! YOU FEEL DRAMATIC NOW! F*** YOU!”
this issue does get assuaged a bit by the sentences right after this, but still, you could pump the brakes a bit – you’ve just started driving and you’re already going at 100.

also, the italics – i don’t see what they’re meant to be changing. non-italicised would be more dramatic, i feel. if they signal that the words are a character’s thoughts, as you do with them later, that’s a bit odd as we’re reading from the perspective of the character recalling the past, so Ryn is… already thinking. no need for em.


>The main room, her family’s kitchen, dining room, and sitting room combined, was small and smelled of woodsmoke. Food was stored in two cupboards in the corner and prepared on the polished wood counter than ran over them. The dining table, its dark surface scarred from decades of use, was bare and still damp from a recent washing.

this sets the scene nicely, but… too much detail. does the house come back later? why does the reader care about how recently the dining table was washed?


>The fireplace was large and filled the room with a pleasant warmth that was complemented by the sunflower Kaisa had picked yesterday, which sat in a clay pitcher on the mantel. The flower was missing half its petals, but Ryn’s sister had brought it home with a look of pride and couldn’t stop staring at it all through breakfast that morning. Mother hadn’t the heart to tell her the thing was ugly, but its lopsided yellow smile was beginning to grow on Ryn.

nice nice nice


>dramatic daddy background

nice


>“What’re you thinking about?”
Kaisa’s voice broke through all of her negative thoughts, bright as sunshine burning away rain clouds. Ryn hadn’t noticed her return.
“Nothing,” she said sullenly.

i thought Kaisa had just broken through all your negative thoughts, Ryn
are you sullen or not make up ur mind


>“It’s nothing,” she repeated. She was even able to muster a half-smile, which her sister returned. Stop being such a worrywart, Ryn. Father will be home before we know it.

personal thing – i like to put character thoughts on a new line


>Soup bowls rattled as her mother rose from the table and rushed to the window. She gently nudged Ryn to the side and peered out into the night.

there’s a slight disconnect between the words used here. mama bear got up so fast that the soup bowls – filled with soup, btw – rattled, and “rushed” to the window. i guess she can slow down and catch herself in order to only “gently nudge” Ryn away, but still. i’d make her either going in a concerned manner or going calmly.


>Ryn’s sister was so full of life it became easy to forget how small she was. But even for an eight-year-old, Kaisa was painfully thin, short, and always seemed to be drowning in the coarse fabric of her kirtle. Now, her dark eyes wide and fearful in a rounded child’s face, she looked even smaller.

noiiice


>She decided to try to finish her soup, but it had gone cold and at that moment, even the thought of eating was nauseating.

it’s only been a few minutes Ryn the soup isn’t cold stop lying


>A sense of dread was beginning to creep into her mind, as if something terrible was about to happen... Or already has.
A high-pitched scream split the air.

so a bunch of soldiers come and start terrorizing villagers and setting houses on fire and other bad-guy stuff, and you’re telling me that these girls sit here for several minutes and don’t notice anything? a ten-year-old and an 8-year old, without any supervision, after they see a fire and their mother leaves and tells them to keep the door locked – they don’t get curious at all? they’re not straining their ears to try hear what happened? they don’t stay huddled together staring out the window right after their mum leaves? they only just NOW feel like something’s wrong, minutes after (at least) the first house has been set on fire? dawg, that sh** makes NOISE. there would not be a single solitary dramatic scream minutes after this happens. there would’ve been screaming happening before they noticed the fire. there would’ve been a neighbour pounding on their door and telling them to run while Ryn was setting the table.


>They both glanced at the window. It was, of course, closed.

glanced was the wrong word to use here. glancing is brief and casual. there was a fire and someone just screamed. their eyes would’ve gone to the window so fast the girls would’ve nearly suffered aneurysms.


>In the distance, glass shattered and a woman began to scream, a sound of pure terror that was both chilling and heartbreaking.

“chilling and heartbreaking” feels like overkill, as if you’re telling the reader how to feel.


>Kaisa screamed.
Ryn grabbed her sister’s hand. “Come on!”
They ran to the bedroom and pulled the door shut behind them. Now shaking uncontrollably, Ryn glanced around the bedroom for something to block the entrance with. With her sister’s help, she grabbed the heavy wooden rocking chair from the corner and shoved it up against the door.

this could be better. go over it a few times. “Kaisa screamed.” is a good start, i think, but this is a moment of panic and you need to have the words rolling after that first impactful sentence to build up the emotion and ramp up the speed like i am doing in this sentence ha ha i’m so witty. “Ryn grabbed her sister’s hand.” to follow it just doesn’t work because it’s a similar sentence that’s much weaker. you start this dramatic, emotional tone well, alright, the first sentence launches the reader off into the air, and then “Ryn grabbed her sister’s hand” is like a weight tied to them that just sends them plummeting down instead of bringing them into the clouds and this metaphor is getting too convoluted for my taste now ok

also you used “glanced” again. besides the tonal issue it’s also repetition of a word you used for a similar situation just a few sentences ago

i’ll try re-write it:

Kaisa screamed. Ryn grabbed her sister’s hand and they scrambled to the bedroom, slamming the door shut behind them. There was no time to breathe. With shaking hands, they both grabbed the heavy wooden rocking chair from the corner and shoved it against the door.

not my best, but you get the idea. notice the omission of Ryn’s dialogue there – i felt like it slowed down the scene and Ryn being too panicked to speak, only act, would be more impactful. i also got rid of “Ryn glanced around the bedroom for something to block the entrance with,” because the reader can figure out for themselves why the girls are moving the chair to the door.


>Ryn listened for a moment. She heard pieces of the front door crack and hit the floor. The intruders were likely breaking down more wood in order to reach through the hole and unlock the door.

third sentence is redundant. why else would the front door be breaking down? let the reader have some fun


>The world outside was on fire. The house across from theirs had been engulfed in roaring flames and become a monster, spitting sparks and groaning as it steadily collapsed into a mountain of blackened wood. Embers burned like eyes full of pain and rage, and smoke curled into the air like dragon’s breath.

good description, but like before, they would’ve noticed this way earlier. fire produces heat and makes noises, and given what you’re telling us here, it would be HOT and LOUD as FFFFffrick. Frick. hot and loud as frick. either that, or you could have the fires just now starting up – it takes time for a house to catch on fire. how much time has passed between now and their mother leaving?


>“Auri, Auri…” she pleaded under her breath.
There’s no way out of this.
The bedroom door was kicked inward and choice was taken from her. She had to act now or they’d both be caught.

ayy, you used a new line to signify the character thinking here. where’s the dang consistency


>The chase that followed was full of darkness and confusion.
Each moment and detail blended together, like a dream with no chronology.

both of these sentences achieve the same thing. i’d remove the first one, #2 is better to me. or meld them together.


>Now that they weren’t in immediate danger, worries surfaced in her mind and she couldn’t stop herself from wondering if their mother had escaped the soldiers. Maybe she saw them coming. Maybe she ran and got away like we did… But what if she didn’t?
Where do we go now?

you slowed down to let the reader absorb what happened before getting to the worrying-about-mama bit, but i’d argue that you still need some more time before this. i mean, getting their village/town/whatever burnt down and being chased by soldiers on horses and losing their mum is pretty damn huge.


>Ryn knew Kaisa would be having the same thoughts. She wanted to speak, to say anything that might comfort her sister, but couldn’t manage even a word past the lump in her throat. So she lay in silence, growing numb as she listened to the rustling trees.
It was quiet; the cicadas had stopped singing.

neat.






Hey Jyva!
Your nitpicks were very helpful, and most of them have never been pointed out to me before. Also, "nearly suffered aneurysms" really cracked me up.
Thanks so much for the review :)



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Sun Jan 20, 2019 6:18 pm
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neptune wrote a review...



Hi Aly! Sorry for the wait — this week has been quite the busy one for me! Let’s not wait for longer and hop into the review right now then, shall we? I’ll start with some nitpicks and go on to some general thoughts about characters and pacing, as requested!

She wasn’t sure if she wanted to smile or roll her eyes as she pulled herself to her feet and followed her younger sister.

This is really good character building of Ryn (and her thoughts on Kaisa)! I really like this sentence.
She hadn’t forgotten the waver in his voice when he had to explain to his wife and daughters that he was leaving and didn’t know when he’d return.

I think it would be cool here to include more about Kaisa — you’ve slightly touched upon her and her father but haven’t really made connections between the two characters, which may be a nice add on. I feel like Kaisa is just a little left out from this part?
Ryn listened for a moment, pressing her ear against the wooden boards of the wall.

This is the second time you describe Ryn as “pressing her ear against” something. Maybe use a different verb for some variety?
It belonged to a stranger, not the terrified child she was.

I liked this description! I’m a little confused as to how old she is (we already know how old Kaisa is) and this description kind of makes me more curious, but I’m sure we’ll figure this information out eventually (and hopefully soon)!

I feel like it’s a little weird that Ryn didn’t have any other thoughts about her mother at the end — I understand how they had to run away from the soldiers, but afterwards she wasn’t thinking about her mother? I don’t know. To me this just kind of blurs out the mother a little, and although I’m sure she’ll have more mention in future chapters, I feel like it’s only right to mention her a tiny bit towards the end.

I also wanted to quickly mention that I agree with ShadowVyper about this being a prologue — maybe I’ll unferstand why it is one once chapter one is out, but for now I’m slightly confused.

I’m liking the descriptions you have going, describing Kaisa as small in dramatic situations really brings up the intensity. I’m more curious about Ryn, though, as she seems more of a mystery, though she appears to be the protagonist. Kaisa is getting descriptions about her size, voice, appearance, and meanwhile, we have Ryn’s thoughts but not as many descriptions for her. By the end of the chapter, I feel like I have more of an idea of what Kaisa is like, rather than Ryn.
All in all, though, the descriptions were superb. I liked the subtle metaphors, like
Embers burned like eyes full of pain and rage, and smoke curled into the air like dragon’s breath.

I think your pacing was good, too. As far as an action-filled chapter goes, you did a great job with it. It was pretty quick but I do like how you managed to develop your characters throughout the chapter.
Anyway, I think that’s all I’ve got to say! Hopefully something here helped. Thanks again for requesting a review from my WRFF thread, I really appreciated it! If you’d like me to review any of your other chapters, feel free to let me know!






Thanks so much neptune! :)

I agree, I think I'll go back and write more details about Ryn herself. She's two or three years older than her sister. Also, I decided to make this a prologue because the first chapter jumps seven years into the future to the girls' current life, but I'm starting to wonder if this really works as a prologue.. Anyways, thanks again for the review!



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Fri Jan 18, 2019 4:49 am
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ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Hey Aly,

Shady here with a review for you, as promised! Thanks for the request :D My WRFF thread has been a bit dry for a while so I was excited to see this! My style tends to be to read through and comment on whatever stands out to me as I'm reading, then give a general summary of my thoughts at the end. Let's get started...

I still remember her voice. Mother was patient, so soft-spoken.


So this being italicized makes it seem like it's a thought, but it really doesn't read like a thought because no one actually thinks in these terms. It's too stiff and formal and feels more like a transition than an actual thought so maybe work on rewording that??

The dining table- its dark surface scarred from decades of use- was bare and still damp from a recent washing.


You want to watch your use of dashes. In some cases they are good and can add to the drama of the piece -- but you used them in at least three different places. And since they're not excessively common punctuation they stood out... and punctuation really isn't what you want to be standing out about your novel/story.

Most of the time having a phrase surrounded with a comma on either side makes it function as an aside, and you could replace most of the dashes you use with commas, honestly. A dash is helpful when there's only one to clarify, not as an aside like how you're currently using them.

So like "The dining table, its dark surface scarred from decades of use, was bare and still damp from washing" is correct and that middle bit between "its" and "use" is an aside, further describing the table, before getting back to the main point which is it being bare and damp.

But a dash would be appropriate in a situation where you really want to emphasize something. So, like, generic example not one from the story would be like "She needed to be like her father - bold, strong, and willing to stand up for what she believed in."

You see how that's different? It's not an aside to further add description -- it's used to really emphasize what it is that's trying to be communicated in the sentence. In my Generic Example, the bold, strong, and standing up for what she believed in is what you want to emphasize and so the dashes sort of indicate to the reader, oh, this next part is important, pay attention.

Like you could also write that above example as: "She needed to be bold, strong, and willing to stand up for what she believed in -- like her father."

Same words but that way it emphasizes her father and his good attributes rather than emphasizing the attributes themselves. I feel like I'm rambling now but you kind of see what I mean? Use the dashes for emphasis rather than an aside. Use commas whenever you can so that your dashes don't lose their power of drawing attention.

Later, she’d feel the loss of her home for years,


Mm, not loving this for several reasons. One, it swiftly and certainly yanks us out of the tension. Here we are worrying about the present conflict and you yank us out of the story, mentally, but making us envision what was going to happen for years after this moment. It makes us feel cheated on the current conflict.

And two, it also kind of ruins the rest of the current drama because you literally just told us here that she's going to survive it. For all I knew she was going to be the one that died and her sister is the one who survived. Or that this story was actually going to be about the soldier that killed the sisters. Or whatever. I mean sure I assume the story is about your main character but this IS a prologue -- and I actively try to lose myself in the conflict of a story. And here you just killed your own conflict. I know she's going to survive. Done. Bam. Rest of the chapter is still interesting as in figuring out the details but the worry of "oh no will she be okay?" is dramatically lessened.

Years later, Ryn couldn’t remember if they’d been going for minutes or hours.


Same thing here. Generally not a great thing to focus on future time jumps to describe what's happening here. You could easily rephrase this to "Ryn wasn't sure if they'd been going for minutes or hours, all she knew that the ground spun under her feet and her legs felt as if they were on fire." or whatever. Find a way to keep it in the present and things will be more interesting.

~ ~ ~

Okay! On to the general thoughts...

1) I'm not sure why this is a prologue. Obviously if/when I read chapter one that might become more obvious to me, but, in general, I am very anti-prologue in stories. And I know that that is v much a personal opinion that I hold. But in my personal opinion, prologues are extremely rarely needed. I mean I guess if you have a significant time jump between this scene and where your novel is opening then it works. But I'm just not a fan of prologues and this was written very much in a way that could be a chapter one.

2) You have a really nice writing style. Your pacing is excellent and, aside from the few places I mentioned, you do a really good job of keeping us wrapped up in the conflict and tension of the scene, which is no easy feat. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this chapter/prologue and am hooked on wanting to know what became of the girls/their mother/their father and what is going to happen next.

3) If you choose to continue writing and posting this story, feel free to continue requesting reviews on it. I can't promise that I'd be able to 100% be able to keep up with it in a timely manner because you know, school and all that and I'm already following 3 novels on here -- but I did enjoy reading this and I'd be happy to read and review further installments if you want me to and I have time.

4) This isn't really related to the rest of the review but I'm excited and thought I'd mention that this is my 600th review! Woo!

I think that's all I've got to say about this. Great chapter and great writing!

Let me know if you have any questions or need anymore help.

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)






Thanks for the review Shadow! The points you made are super helpful, and I don't think I'd have noticed these problems otherwise.

Also, congrats on your 600th review :)



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Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:07 am
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FlamingPhoenix wrote a review...



Hi, Shikora here with a review.

Let's get to it.

So I couldn't find anything wrong with this story if I'm going to be honest with you. So I'm just here to tell you that you did a really good job, the name to this story is really interesting, and it drew me in right away, and that's really good. You want to have that power over your readers, to just get them interested by just reading the name to your book. But it wasn't just the name I liked it was they way you started your story.

The night they lost their home had been as ordinary as it could be. There was no warning- no ill omen or sign to prepare them for what would happen.

Ryn’s world ended in a matter of minutes.

Snuffed out like a candle.

I thought this was just a really cool way to story your book, after reading this I couldn't look away from the words. This just gave me the feeling that something harebell just happened and I really want to find out what.

The plot for the story, I haven't seen much yet, but i can see that it's going to be really cool, and I look forward to reading the next chapter.

I've really connected to the characters in your book, and that's a really good thing. You showed their personality really well when the girls were going to go help their mother cook. But it wasn't just that that let me know more about them, it was the description you put into the story, it let me come into their world for a little wile, it let me see what they were seeing.

Over all you did a really good job with this story, it didn't feel rushed, and the chapter was nice and long so I could dwell in their world a little longer.
Well that's all from me today, I would go into grammar and spelling but I'm not very good with that stuff when I'm reading a story. I really liked reading and reviewing this, I liked telling you how well you have done. Never stop writing and have a great day/night.

Your friend
Shikora. :D






Thanks for the review Shikora! :)





Your welcome. Your writing is really good.



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Sun Jan 13, 2019 2:09 pm
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RavenBlack wrote a review...



Hi @AlyTheBookworm, Rav3nB1ack here!

This is so well rewritten and your description is so good, like REALLY good. Here's some key things I liked.

- I love the description of Ryn's memories of her old home, the contrast with its beautiful scenery and the tragedy of what happened is very clever in setting the tone and causes the reader to pity Ryn. Well done!

its lopsided yellow smile

I really love this description of the flower, it has a sadness to it and also shows how Ryn can see the beauty in what's ugly and I love that.

“Ah- don’t worry about that, dear. We only need three sets tonight,” her mother said.

This is a great example of show and don't tell! From what I can infer from this I can tell that Ryn was expecting her father to join them, someone who's usually with them. But her mother's comment suggests that maybe he's been absent for a while now. Which you enforced later in the story.

but being reminded of her father’s absence was still upsetting.

I think this will shape Ryn into the person she is in the present. Her father's absent will weigh heavy on her heart.

Ahhh, so her father is fighting in a war. I really wasn't expecting that but it's an interesting addition. Her mother's response shows that she's trying to hide the pain of him leaving in front of her children, by holding him to such a high standard. I can tell that she's angry but for the sake of her children she doesn't want to show it - which I like.

drowning in the fabric of her dress.

This makes me worried for Kaisa and is such a painfully, sad description of her. Especially when you mentioned that she was so full of life, it paints a picture of a little girl who's practically on her death bed but lives life with the naivety of a child.

The world outside was on fire.

I LOVE this phrase! It's so tragic yet beautiful. Fire is always used to illustrate destruction but can also symbolise rebirth.


Has you can tell, I REALLY like your description. I think your characters are well written and you've set up a lot of themes that I think could be prominent later on, like their father's absence and Kaisa's childlike naviety ( It'll be good to see how this develops. Will she have to grow up quickly? Or will she always remain naive?).

Keep Writing!






Thanks for the review, Raven! :)




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