First off, let me tell you that I am not going to nitpick your story. However, I am going to tell you how much I loved it. This is such a beautiful and heartbreaking tale and I thought that the characters and the situations were very realistic. You used the sadness without making it too melodramatic. It felt like you were experiencing the emotions of Padma. I thought it was interesting how you characterized Yama to be a rather humane and rational person despite the fact that he is a god.
Also, I really enjoyed how you incorporated Hindu culture to make it a very important part without making it sound like a page out of a history textbook. The way you did it was so subtle and in a way that flowed with the story. Not a lot of people can do that.
I can also see why you titled your story “Dreams of a Fallen Lotus Petal” since you used the lotus as a symbol of the two girls and the fallen part as being Parvati.
Overall, this story is extremely beautiful and sad to read.
Author's Response: Oh, thank you! I'm really worried that this story does seem a little forced, because it took so much energy and thought to write - it didn't come easily. But your praise makes it seem like it was so much more simple!
This story is absolutely beautiful. All the feelings are real, believable and utterly heartbreaking to read. Your descriptions suck you in, and you do not read about Padma’s pain - you experience it. That is something not many can manage!
The Hindu culture and beliefs you put in are essential to the story and you put in just enough detail to make it intriguing, but not overwhelming. This truly is a different way of thinking (for me, at least) and the way you wrote the story, I slowly came to believe in it in the same pace as Padma did. Awesomely done! Also, all parts and stages of Padma’s despair were gently and delicately woven together in a seamless way. This added a flow to the story which made it easier to read, and got me even more sucked in. Nothing short of excellent, really. =)
I had a good, yet sad, read. You’re a great writer, but I guess you already know that. =) Great job! It shows you’ve worked hard on this, so kudos to you!
Author's Response: *chuckles* I love your penname!
Thanks for the comments on weaving, I was really hoping to step away from my usual motage style :) I love reviews, because they make me realise the good stuff, rather than the bad stuff. So thank you!
Steph. Steph, Steph, Steph. I was browsing random author’s pages in search of something to read, and I spotted this. It was the title that really attracted me -- such a gorgeous sentence, and once I had read the first few paragraphs, I found my self helplessly drawn in. You have just written such a beautiful piece here, I will do my best to do it justice in this review.
In a dark and forgotten room in her home, she is pressing herself into a corner, desperate for something to cling to. Although there are two walls firmly behind her, there is still a vast space before her within the vicinity of the room to needle her mind, to taunt her.
Well, I always try to make my first sentence the very best I can, and you have certainly done a good job here. The reader really gains a sense of the helplessness she is feeling, even though it is not yet clear who she is or why she is there, which is very impressive. I particularly like the language you use -- ‘needle’ seems so harsh, which is exactly what is needed to give a strong sense of the pain that Padma is suffering. But as you continue your writing seems to get even stronger. I particularly love the sentence: She will die inside, but that in itself will not take her closer to her beloved. It isn’t overly complex but it had a very strong impact on me -- your writing is so full of emotion.
She is hiding herself in her shoulder, beneath her thick dark hair and drawing in silent breaths of anguish as she presses herself further into the wall.
Whilst I like this sentence, I think I would rearrange the commas here, because the way you have it now essentially splits the sentence into two parts -- ‘she is hiding herself in her shoulder’ and ‘beneath her thick dark hair and drawing in silent breaths…’. You see that the second half doesn’t really seem to fit together? If it were me, I would either take the comma from after ‘shoulder’ and place it after ‘hair’, or simply add one after ‘hair’.
And there will be no light, no light without Parvati.
Again, a beautiful sentence. I think I shall have to cut down the number that I rave about in this review, otherwise I’ll be here for years. But I do love the way that you let the reader know what has happened without saying it directly. And I think it’s lovely the way you mix long, descriptive sentences with short, powerful ones -- your writing has a lovely flow to it.
She wants to forget. Oh, how glorious it would be to forget and pretend, just as they do, that nothing had ever happened.
I think this is perhaps my favourite part of the fic, purely because there is a certain truth to it. Loss is devastating, and of course to ‘forget’ would be the easiest way out. Because it really is hard for those left behind. And I really admire the way Padma’s different emotions, her inner turmoil, comes across so strongly throughout your fic.
Padma resists her with stony silence and wills with every fibre of her body for this woman to leave her alone.
This sentence interests me, I must admit. The way you wrote it -- particularly emphasising the word ‘woman’ is intriguing. Is it that Padma is rejecting her mother, that she’s lashing out at her as if they are no relation to one another? Or is it that Padma is somehow rejecting her humanity -- that she doesn’t want to live anymore because she no longer has her sister? I may be reading too much into this, but I was curious as to why you chose to emphasise that particular word.
I have a couple of small nitpicks in this next part, I hope you don’t mind:
It is cruel, unnerving, and just when Padma feels as though she is going to burst, she screams in vain to the walls of her darkened room.
Rather than ‘is going to’, which for some reason seems to me to be slightly awkward here, I would replace it with ‘will’.
The only sounds are her erratic breathing and the deafening silence, and it pushes against her ears, forcing her back down onto the bed in exhaustion.
Just to make the sentence flow a little smoother, I would change ‘and it’ to ‘which’.
Her voice cracks and she sheds the pent-up tears. She cries in pain, in sorrow and in forgiveness. She’s thought about departing the world to join Parvati, but she knows deep down that —
‘Your sister is beyond your reach, Padma. You know this. You choose to ignore it. You know that she has moved on. Do you not remember you own history?’
Ooh, lovely, lovely, lovely. I just adore this part -- her realisation and the way that you wrote it, with Yama voicing her thoughts. It’s beautifully poetic, and I love seeing the different ways in which Padma is dealing with the death of her sister. Just a quick note, though -- you have a typo in the last sentence (‘you’ should be ‘your’) and I wouldn’t tend to shorten ‘she has’ to ‘she’s’, as I think it only sounds right when written in the present.
And she cannot be with her beloved, because she does not exist.
Honestly, I welled up at this line. The description of how she feels is gorgeous, and her acceptance. Well. I believe ‘guh’ would be a good way for me to describe this part.
The tears that will stream proud and freely, unstemmed from her identical brown eyes will be tears of acceptance, of gratitude, and of love.
And you end on a beautiful, heart-rending note, which really stayed in my mind after I finished reading. This is honestly a beautiful piece of writing, Steph -- I love your style. Really what is best about it is seeing Padma’s journey to acceptance after a tragedy. Lovely to read.
Apologies for rambling on -- I felt that this was so lovely I had to go through it bit by bit! Anyway, kudos to you, my dear, for there is honestly nothing I could say critically that would improve it. This is going on my favourites for sure.
Author's Response: Oh, WOW. Let me collect my thoughts and get back to you :) a brilliant review, dear ;)
It’s so fascinating to see how far you’ve come since your early writing, specifically Self Analysis, and yet there are still recurring themes and strengths.
You really do very nicely with darker imagery. The opening is wonderful; I could clearly see Padma desperately pushing herself against the walls, and love the idea of the empty space threatening her. The wording on that sentence is slightly awkward, though. Consider changing it to something like, “Although there are two walls firmly behind her, there is still a vast space in the room before her to needle her mind, to taunt her.” I also love the description of her crying: “her mouth opens in a mind-manacled silence.” Perfectly put.
The encounter with Yama was also described very well. “He chuckles deeply in his throat, and Padma can see the ornate jewelry jingling and dancing over his bare chest as he finds amusement in her stark answer.” It’s very tangible and mysterious all at the same time. It was very apparent that he was an alien being, exotic and almost dangerous. (By the way, I corrected your spelling of “jewelry”. ;) You did a phenomenal job researching the mythology, especially with all the difficulty that you initially had. The Indian culture was beautifully portrayed.
You’ve peppered this one-shot with such lyrical, haunting phrases. “And there will be no light, no light without Parvati.” Then there was the rawness of that one sentence, “I want Parvati.” It’s just so powerful and searing and *guh* The imagery of the candles flickering as she says it didn’t hurt the effect, either. ;) Oh, and I loved this part: “I’m her. We’re not Padma, or Parvati, or Parvati and Padma. We’re Padma and Parvati Patil. We’re together. We always have been.” *shivers*
This entire portrayal of grief at the death of a twin is heartbreaking, but only made possible by the strong characterization of Padma. Her deep grief seems likely of a Ravenclaw, seeing as we are known for being introverted. But what I found most intriguing was, “But Padma has all the control. Or at least she thinks she does.” We know so little about Padma from canon, but somehow this really fits her. I also had no idea her name meant “lotus” until after reading this and it makes this fic even lovelier.
Um. I have a lot of nitpicks. Please don’t kill me—it’s just my beta-ness coming out.
“She herself will not cry aloud.” The reflexive “herself’ is not needed and interrupts the flow a little.
“She will die inside, but that in itself will not take her closer to her beloved.” Again, the reflexive.
“It’s not where it’s supposed to be, she is chanting inside her mind childishly.” Try putting “childishly” right after “chanting” because that is the verb that it goes with.
“She fits in her chair until someone from the room runs with a scream to help her, to pull her back, away from her sister.” I didn’t know what you meant by “fits.”
“The cacophony of endless sound and pain fills her head, throbbing, probing, and demanding.” This is a little contradictory, because before she was being threatened by the silence.
“Through delirious eyes and a beneath a sweaty brow, she sees him.” There’s an extra ‘a’ before “beneath.”
“Parvati will not have known him, but he would have known her.” You switched tenses—“will” should be “would.”
“His voice is calm as he rejects her request with the slicing of his hand downwards.” Again, try to keep descriptors closer the action or noun that their describing. “Downwards” would work better before “slicing,” with the “s” taken off.
Just a wonderful piece of writing, Steph. The ending was just perfect, with her acceptance of her grief and the butterfly symbolizing Parvati. Beautiful.
P.S. Sorry for the length of this...>.>
Author's Response: *TACKLES* REN! This is a fabulous review that I have answered in entirety via PM because... it'd be too long here :D Yaaaaaaaaay!
I seem to have problems navigating the submission of reviews. 2nd attempt.
This is a very powerful exposition of the depth of pain that accompanies the death of a parent, sibling, a very close friend, and especially a twin.
Your writing style allows the reader to feel as Padma feels. We enter with you on a journey inward until we reach the center of the dark world of silent screams.
What a fantastic way to present the spirit guide. She is both of and not of this world. She is both Padma and not Padma. Yawa is totally believable and presents Padma's reality, our reality, gently yet with a fierce firmness that we may not stay within the dark.
Yawa takes all of us, Padma and your readers, to the center of the dark so the reality of the dark can be faced. Then, almost with knowing, small cracks of healing light enter and draw Padma back into the forward movement of life.
It is very much to your credit as an author that you end your story with a beginning rather than ending. You have a good grasp of the symbols and images you utilized with great integrity within the story.
Thank you for writing and posting a journey that allows your readers an opportunity to experience what many fear to feel.
Author's Response: Oh, Pat. You're so wonderful. Such a nice review to finish off a not-so-wonderful-bar-a-few-surprises-day. Thank you for relating it to something, that means a lot to me.
And don't worry :) I've stuffed up so many reviews in my day! I shall have to return the favour, no doubt :D.
I have a story posted in MNFF.
It has been there for about 2 weeks (?).
You have not reviewed it.
Review it now.
Author's Response: You're a funny lady. :D
Whoa! Breathtaking fic, really. I really hope this wins, and the time you took for writing this was worth it. I can see that this fic must have been pretty tough to write.
I liked the way you made Padma accept the reality of life. And I liked the theory of all souls being one, and the fact that God resides in each and every human being. Good description of Yama too!
PS: Yama always reminds me of the Hindi film actor, Sanjay Dutt. He had become Yama in one of the movies- though he used to be a mordern Yama with a red blazer and all!
Author's Response: Heee, thank you so much for the help with Yama. That was the part that blocked me. I wanted to write it, but it was like...ugh. I was so glad that you didn;t find anything wrong with it, dearie!
Aww that is so beautiful, steph!!!
I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a twin – someone who has been next to you your whole life – but you have portrayed Padma’s torture amazingly =)
I have a story posted in MNFF.
It has been there for about 2 weeks (?).
You have not reviewed it.
Review it now.
And see? You DO spit out a new story every week =D
Author's Response: *giggles madly* Coincidence, I swear :D There's another one, probably tomorrow dearie :D