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Complete Still Life with Skull by TheDivineComedian - T

Discussion in 'Review Board' started by LucyInTheSkye, Aug 10, 2020.

  1. LucyInTheSkye

    LucyInTheSkye Second Year

    May 29, 2020
    Away with the fairies
    Title: Still Life with Skull
    Author: TheDivineComedian
    Rating: T
    Wordcount: 25 000
    Genre: Horror/Mystery
    Status: Complete
    Library Category: General Fics or The Alternatives
    Pairings: None
    Summary: September 1974 and Remus goes a bit loopy, what with the moon, and the teenage wolf, and his friends who are not Animagi yet, and the creepy dead thing that is following him around.
    Sirius had a horrible summer, too.
    Link AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/works/13719279/chapters/31517040
    Link FFN: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12841244/1/Still-Life-with-Skull

    “Oh, go on,” says a soft voice in the dark. “One step will do. I always wanted to see Thestrals.”

    This is by the same author who wrote Blackpool , and it shares some plotlines with it and some with other stories by the same author. I can’t say what it's about without spoiling it, but suffice to say it’s a character study explored through memories and with focus on several aspects of dark magic. Style-wise we’re talking horror, or maybe a mystery. In a different author’s hands, this might easily have been a gory psychological thriller, and although it has those elements it’s written with beauty and a lot of humour.

    If you find Remus Lupin a completely unsympathetic character, then this might not be the story for you. Lupin is the main character both as struggling teenager and failing adult, and he interacts with Sirius and Regulus Black, Severus Snape and Madam Pomfrey. To me, they all feel lifted out of canon with some more meat added to their bones and put back into a slightly darker universe.

    The story is crafted in layers, with a new one revealed each chapter. Therefore there will be things that don't make sense at first. Chapters 1-3 are all different bits of the puzzle of what the story is about, and then Lupin and Pomfrey play detectives together in chapter 4. Chapter 5 is the resolution.

    I’m completely biased since this is by favourite author in the fandom, and for me it’s an easy 5/5. Its atmospheric, clever and darkly magical. However, I can imagine that the ending won’t seem that great to some readers, since the reveals are evenly spaced throughout the story. The conclusion is huge for Remus’s character, but perhaps not for the reader, especially since we’re talking canon compliant.
  2. haphnepls

    haphnepls Second Year

    Mar 26, 2019
    Yeah, I liked the story even though there are few things that usually put me off of fics like present tense, too much of this (It kinda loses its purpose if you use italics in every other sentence), and every now end then, the author tends to make a semi-connected row of words that just doesn't sit well with me. I'm sure it's supposed to be stylish or to add to the atmosphere, but to me, it just looks pointless.

    Since you mention the ending, I loved it, but would've liked it if he did it a bit longer. Not because there is something missing in the fic, but to add the final touch to the atmosphere created by the presence of dementors. They are said to be one of the foulest creatures that walk on Earth, and the horror aspect of them should capitalize on that; the feeling of dread, their constant influence, the bigger power hinted by the author...

    I liked the extra 'meat added to their bones' because it made me care a bit more about characters (which is saying something because I'm not much of a Lupin fan), and even though some of the characters feel OC at the times, it's fairly easy to get over it because it only adds more to the story.

    I'll rate it 4 because I like this kind of horror, the execution and the characters. Also, I haven't read a decent fic for quite some time so it might also be that influencing my rating, but nevertheless, 4/5.
  3. cucio

    cucio Seventh Year

    Aug 13, 2016
    High Score:
    Nice short story, and there seems to be more from where it came, thanks for bringing it up.

    Writing is competent, evocative in places. Characters are well fleshed out, with a lot of tiny details that help build their personalities. Sometimes it goes a bit too far; for instance, the J.S. Bach reference is too contrived to fit in the HP-verse. Good study of Remus' affliction and the support offered by his friends, clever use of magical creatures as a plot device.

    4/5, would need to be tighter to get full marks.
  4. darklordmike

    darklordmike Order Member

    Mar 14, 2009
    This is a really good fic, just like Blackpool. I didn't like it as much as that story, mainly because the focus is on Remus. I don't generally find him to be an interesting or sympathetic character, but the writer did a good job of fleshing out his backstory here. The POV switches between 1974 and Harry's third year.

    Her prose is excellent and she really knows how to tell a story. Secondary characters like Snape and Pomfrey are well-developed. You get sucked in whether you're interested in the subject or not, because events are just confusing and foreboding enough for you to want an explanation. It reads like a dark fever dream. I'm not certain that every loose end got tied up, but it's certainly a memorable fic, standing out from other fanfics on the quality of writing alone.

    4.5/5, rounded up