I don’t believe I have ever read anything of yours before, and since you’re SPEW’s Featured Author for the month I thought it was about time I started. I really like the concept of this story – giving Remus a mysterious past isn’t really an original plot device, but you’ve managed to spin it to make it new again, and I’m really interested to see where it goes.
I loved how you started the fic in the middle of the action. I read so many stories where the author would have been better off cutting the first few paragraphs or more of the story, because they start off with a lot of rather dull exposition. But you’ve jumped right into it with Remus leaving – I’ve never read A Blank Canvas so I might be missing something in the beginning, but even so it still works without the prior knowledge.
In the beginning, your sentence structure stood out to me a lot. The sentences are all quite short and choppy. I’m not sure if you’re doing it purposefully to show the tension between Remus and Tonks in this scene, but I don’t think it really works. The harsh structure really doesn’t help the story to flow well, and you need this – especially when the reader has just begun. It does improve once you delve further into the story, but you might want to work on the beginning.
I did like the detail you put in, though. Tonks is very in character, and from her behaviour and attitude I got the impression that she and Remus aren’t entirely happy, which is really well done since you never actually specify this through the exposition or dialogue. I loved the short part about how things never had a place and Tonks’ crocheted blanket – those few sentences really spoke volumes about the situation and what Remus and Tonks live like.
Occasionally you seem to jump around with your writing, and it doesn’t really make much sense. I have to stop and think about what’s happening and reread to see if I’ve missed anything. For example, a few paragraphs into the story you write: A rusted iron lid landed on top of an article about the new Minister. This doesn’t really relate to the paragraph before, and the appearance of the box seemed totally random to me. It happens again in a major way once Remus gets to Italy. The character of Natalia is not very well explained, and neither is Remus’ trip from the train to the shop to his grandmother’s house. I’m not sure if you’re aiming for the vague, fill-in-the-blanks style of writing, but it just left me slightly confused. You shouldn’t be afraid to explain things, because you need to remember that the reader doesn’t have the same background information on the characters as you do. Because you rely so heavily on dialogue in this section, the reader misses out on a lot of key information that is simply glazed over by Remus and the other characters.
On that note, this sentence really confused me: He put his hands on his wife’s shoulders. It came completely out of nowhere, and I didn’t understand it at all. At first I thought you were implying that Natalia was his wife, but if that’s the case then it really wasn’t explained well at all before that. So maybe it’s just an error or sentence that should have been removed?
You’ve put a lot of thought into Remus’ character. He’s such a quiet and thoughtful, and I loved how his memories started to flood back once he got to Italy. The small lines about how he couldn’t remember which festival was occurring and how he had forgotten the beauty of the city were really great details to put in – those are the kinds of things that really make characters and stories.
As a whole, I really enjoyed it. Thanks for the lovely read!