Reviews for Fiddlehead
Keleri chapter 1 . 1/28/2017
Simple but heartbreaking! Wonderful work as always. I like how you've used the frailties of the abra line and linked them with the real-world illness.
Negrek chapter 1 . 1/19/2017
I've been meaning to read some of your stuff for a while now, and what better time than January, really? I'm a big fan of psychic-types, and you did a lovely job of giving a sense of how they view the world. The images we get of Fern's inner reality were very evocative, and the little details, like the way you describe Abra experiencing Fern's joy or the way she roils while trying to remain outwardly calm, really sell it. The parallel between Fern's physical disintegration and Alakazam's, but the critical contrast of Alakazam's psychic powers, is great, and I love how you brought out that creepy factoid about Alakazam's head growing too heavy for its neck and made it central to the story.

The overall tragedy didn't work as well for me as it might have, though, primarily because I don't feel like I really got to know much about Fern by the end. There's a lot of time spent on her decline, her anger and resentment and attempts to make good on life despite her disability, but outside of the fact that she's very determined and does her best not to let her illness dictate her life, I don't really get a sense of her personality. Why is it that she's so determined to go on this journey, even though she knows it will be hard, even though she's aware that she's probably never going to achieve whatever it is she's striving for. We get plenty of insight into what she's like when her life is bad, but what about when it's not? She must be happy sometimes, too. What is it that she and Alakazam spend hours talking about? What are those books she's devouring once she becomes bedridden?

For the same reason, I don't think I felt the connection between her and Alakazam as strongly as I might have. Why does Alakazam like her, exactly? Obviously she helped them when they were small and weak themselves, and they can see into her mind, and she's been a constant for pretty much all their life. But these are kind of just general, logical reasons they would be close; I don't think there's a lot in the text that gives a real sense of the specific, personal bond they have and how that developed. The last line is definitely solid, but it kind of left me wondering... how did Fern make Alakazam strong, exactly? Like, obviously she literally trained them (at some point... offscreen...) so they could evolve, but other than that I'm not sure what they're talking about. What is it exactly that Alakazam loves about Fern? Again, just what are they talking about in those long mental conversations? Just what did they dream of doing together, even if they knew it would never really be possible?

I guess it's sort of what I alluded to earlier, that there's a little more emphasis on the suffering and decay of the protagonist's lives than works for me. I think it would be more effective to have a little more in there on the "good times," because surely they must have had some together, to become so close. For me what really makes tragedy stab is having a sense of what *could have been*, getting a taste of what makes life worth living for the characters before watching it all get ripped away, and at this point, I don't think the story has much of that. There was a little at the beginning that I really appreciated, like the way her smile feels when Abra first meets her or the purple streak in her hair that Kadabra grows to love. Touches like that are what have the most impact for me, but overall I think you could stand to have more, a bit that gives some sense of what Alakazam and Fern's life is (or what they hoped it might be) outside the specter of Fern's illness. Maybe one or two brief scenes.

That's what I felt this one-shot was missing, the contrast between the sad and the happy that makes the tragedy was particularly tragic. But there was a lot to like, too, and it might be somewhat tricky to do with the POV you've chosen. I liked how you built up Abra's understanding of Fern over time, how they had to learn what her body language meant, match her expressions to what it could feel, psychically, to try and make sense of her. All in all I think this is a solid one-shot, especially for how you handle the pokémon POV. I think you could go for more impact with the tragedy, but there's plenty to like here nonetheless.
Guest chapter 1 . 1/18/2017
Fuck. I cried.
Anla'shok chapter 1 . 1/18/2017
This is beautiful and tragic. Doubly so by the fact even a pokemon as powerful as alakazam can t fix it. Great writing.
Farla chapter 1 . 1/17/2017
[It means that her bones are weak. If not exercised, they will crumble. If put under stress, they will snap.]

I don't think this is worded right. Going by the rest of the fic, they crumble regardless and exercise is just drawing out the inevitable a bit, but here it sounds like as long as she takes good care of herself she'll be okay indefinitely.

[It is five weeks since Fern and I left her home village. For the first time, my eyes are open.]

But abra are seriously the worst starter! If it only takes about five weeks to evolve, why leave early?

I'm guessing the main concerns for pokemon journeys in this world are in the journeying part and not the pokemon, but getting a pokemon for protection is tied to being able to journey across canon, so you need to make it clear if murder by pidgey isn't a big concern. It might work better to not mention a pokemon journey at all and just have it be a matter of her wanting to travel as far as she can before the end, with any battles that happen being incidental to the traveling part of it.

Universe-taunting starter decisions aside, the writing of this is lovely, and the poetry of the words is all the better for the unsolvable bitterness of the situation.