Reviews for Anastasia: Retold
AkkaTik chapter 15 . 10h
Funny, once both decides to get more distant –either by taking refuge in planning how to keep the con going or by giving the other the cold shoulder-, they start falling faster and crashing into one another. Denial is stronger than ever, even if front of rather big clues that attraction has been flaring from the start: Dimitri suddenly realizes that she’s ignoring him, yet he knows exactly how much time has passed since he had her full attention. Same with Anya: she knows that getting too close to him is dangerous, but she resents him for not noticing her as much as she would want him too…

Then, everything that happened between them so far burst into an explosive altercation, the no touching policy, the spark they felt the first time they made contact, the power play… until violence melts into lust… and a new layer of denial. Isn’t it ironic that Dimitri, who’s more experienced in the bedroom, is precisely the one fighting this very obvious desire with all his might? After all, Anya already admitted that “want” is a big part of the complicated lump of feelings he rouses in her… Again, I can’t express how many nuances you packed in that simple scene that becomes smoothly steamy while staying tasteful, evocative and true to character… Thank you! :)
AkkaTik chapter 14 . 17h
This is actually my favorite chapter in the whole story. It’s a seemingly random moment without any corresponding scene in the movie and it doesn’t exactly keep the plot moving, but there’s something fascinating going on.

It’s actually the third time one of them wakes the other up (after the first morning in the palace and her nap in the train) and that’s basically the first time they get to interact without distraction in that intimate moment when they’re fresh out of sleep… it explains why Dimitri smugly teases her by waking her up before the needs arise: she did the same thing after they met and his rude way of shaking her reminds of the urgency he felt in the train, just before she sacked him on the nose. He therefore uses this opportunity to get even with her in both accounts: that means their aggressive bantering is back on tracks instead of being a way to find a measure of reassuring familiarity… Furthermore, the localization, inside of a church, conveys an impression of solemnity that enhances the double meanings of their conversation…

There’s a double talk going on and operating on at least three levels: first, the banter covers their anger and frustration at the situation. Dimitri is angry at himself for his lack of professionalism and at Anya for being a distraction and making him commit mistakes. On the other hand, Anya is angry at him, because she considers he’s responsible for the problem, i. e. forcing her out of the train and losing what would have been their only tools, money and a map. Yet, like him, the anger she throws at him is actually directed at herself, because she knows she “wants” him: his presence is making her out of her out of control (in only two mornings shared with him) and his needling pushes her out of her comfort zone. And she’s enjoying it deep down which makes him dangerous in more ways than one.

Plus, underneath this anger, their dialog is in essence a talk of seduction: each of them reacts to the slightest provocation. All their lines aim at getting a rise out of the other, in blowing on embers to feel the fire coursing between them. And anger is the safer way to channel that ardor… But, there’s a subtle play on double entendre in their lines after the possibility of getting more physical is hinted at by the red light on Dimitri’s lips: she acknowledges that she want to kiss him and he reacts to her awareness… From that instant and until Vlad interrupts them, their dialog gets a very well-done sexually charged hidden meaning: he’s basically telling her that he can have her if he wants to (the line about “handling” her), that he could seduce her. And she’s letting him know that she’d “like to see” him “try”… It’s an open invitation wrapped up in a provocative package… This scene shows perfectly how you turn hostility into attraction. Passion is really a double edged-sword between them and you make their love-hate relationship very intriguing and clever. Masterfully done! :)

Lastly, it’s interesting how Dimitri’s real nature and his kindness show when he gives her something of his: he’s not ready (yet) to offer comfort like Vlad did when he took care of her after she got sick, but he expresses his sympathy by giving up something concrete that they both need. His budding affection takes the form of male protection: the distance provided by not acknowledging that his protectiveness is personal must feel easier to deal with. It’s a subtle nuance you added to the situation.
AkkaTik chapter 13 . 17h
Hi! The spamming goes on! :)

In this chapter too, hands play a singular role: after eliciting a spark when shaking hands for a truce, now giving and taking hands comes across as a way to reach for the other. They’re both completely lonely – they have nothing left to hang onto from what they brought from their old life, they’re lost in the whitened woods and Vlad is not here to smoother things up. And, left to their own devices, things click between them. He ends up guiding her back to where they started in order for her not to be alone anymore: in a way, the brief moment cleaned part of their angered slate too. Walking back together while touching symbolizes how they’re ready to slowly start opening up to the other, literally step by step. The detail of him giving her his gloves makes sense in this context: he was running after her and shepherding her back to ensure her safety, but this mark of thoughtfulness shows a well-hidden caring nature. The guy can definitely “do nice”… Even if they’ll probably both cling to the excuse that she became more lenient because of Vlad’s condition. Dimitri goes from admitting that there’s something between them and that he appreciates her passionate disposition to arguing with himself that he still doesn’t like her; neither the conman nor the distrustful battered orphan is ready to be honest with the other, even in the privacy of their own mind.

Also, I like how you fleshed up Vlad’s character. The fragility and the chest aches give credibility and enhance the impression of vital danger. (Last point, I’m only half-serious, but I admit that the line “higher, Anya” made me grin… Okay, she was only touching “the back of his coat”, but given their propensity to mention their “ass” whenever they interact, well… it gets a bit suggestive, LOL)
AkkaTik chapter 12 . 6/30
Nothing much happens in this chapter, yet it’s still a turning point. As they crash on the ground, reality hits hard and both Anya and Dimitri are bound to face something they fear: the loss of control. It’s probably the first time that Anya is really angry with her companion for something he’s done to her, for what she considers a small betrayal. Before, she was more into a dynamic based on power play, trying to prove to herself that she was in control by getting the upper hand on someone who affected her. On the other hand, Dimitri wished for a clean slate, white as snow and that’s what he gets exactly: not only is he forced to tiptoe his way in the snow, but he lost all his life that he kept symbolically locked in his suitcase. He has nothing left, only the road before him to get walking forward on… In a way, they’re even more blatantly in the same situation: both are left with no past to show but a flimsy hope for brighter days (the jewellery box) and an uncertain future ahead of them.

It probably explains why Dimitri is so adamant to convince her to stay with them, aside from his well-founded fear for her safety. Interestingly, his urges to get a rise out of her turn this time to a way to distract her from flying out of panic; he wants to lower her guard, instead of trying to bend her to his will. This kind of anger feels safer, familiar, compared to her distant rage and heightened feeling of loneliness… And, undoubtedly, he reacts to the vulnerability he can read underneath the cold rage. It’s also tragically amusing that, just when he starts showing a bit of sincerity, she reverses to his conman ways, by planning to steal what she needs to survive without them. At the end, it’s the certitude that they have no longer control over her that makes her stay with them safely. At that moment, I think that for Dimitri the con has taken a backseat over the necessity to survive together, a perfect ground for building some untainted trust along with companionship. It’s exactly what happened in the movie: getting under fire together broke the ice, even if here it will take a little longer.
AkkaTik chapter 11 . 6/30
Oh, poor Dimitri is slowly coming to realize he’s more than a con man. The fact that Anya brings out both his aggressive and his sweet side, instead of the calm, collected and cold mask he’s created for himself to hide behind must feel uncomfortable indeed. I like the hand metaphor representing the differences between them and how well they seem to complete each other in a more emotional level. Physicality is the only way safe enough to express whatever emotions they feel, because they can try to control it and to brush it off. Interesting too that many of the little steps they’re taking on the journey to affection is shown by sleeping: first Dimitri’s nightmare and Anya’s inability to let go of her nerves (representing the dark spell they’re under because of repressed bad memories), then now Dimitri is very slowly admitting to himself that he’s interested when he watches her sleep. And both times, they awaken the other with a start, making the sleeper crash into reality from the world of dreams of wishes that could have gone better. Each time, they deal with it with a confrontation. Again, you expanded a little tidbit that was used in the movie for suspense and humor purposes and made it something meaningful…

Also, regarding the main action of the chapter, I like how realistic it seems. I really prefer your version of how they ended up stranded in the snowed-in wilderness: it makes sense and, in spite of the fire, explosions, green demons and all, this jump into the snow looks somehow more spectacular and dangerous and the one they ended up taking in the movie, because Anya is truly afraid and because doing is really hazardous in real life. Great work!

Dimitri and Anya understanding each other’s intention at first glance is a nice touch too. And the way you reversed their sense of danger from the movie is intriguing: Anya was the one who helped him with the chains and he didn’t want her to take that risk. Here, he’s still trying to protect her from getting caught in his own less-than-chivalrous way, but his intentions are as ambiguous as ever: he saved her from getting arrested (something important for the con artist that he is), but it is obvious that he was also protecting his investment by keeping her control until they got to Paris… It is captivating how his caring instincts and manipulative nature keep getting interlaced in your story.
AkkaTik chapter 10 . 6/30
Ah, here starts the good stuff, lol! ;P

The toilet part was a nice addition: it gives more realism to her need to get some alone time. I always wondered how Anya, who was above all someone pretty independent, must have dealt with spending so much time with two men who were basically complete strangers. It was only skimmed over in the movie (obviously), but I remember that the bedroom they all shared in the boat made me cringe: so much for privacy…

Also, the detail of Anya realizing that she knows virtually nothing about Dimitri –something he is very careful to entertain-, but that he gets her enough to know “all her buttons” is fascinating. For one, it suggests that she’s intrigued by the young man, because let’s face it, one of the main aspects of her personality is that she’s always looking for answers… otherwise she would have let go of her past and settled for a reasonably satisfying new life instead of wandering in a potentially dangerous journey with two men whose motivations she doesn’t trust. There’s a mystery in Dimitri and she’s aware of it: it’s played with in the movie, because this attractive young man who’s hiding in a lost palace barges in the middle of her daydream about romantic dances and about the comfort brought by affection. In the movie, there’s something in the winter palace of Sleeping Beauty’s castle or of the one owned by the Beast and the fact that Dimitri is more or less living there implicitly gives him an eerily quality, as if he already belonged to her magic past. In a way, he’s shattering her dancing daydream only to replace it with an insane and exciting version of reality, charming her into stepping into dangerous and fascinating new possibilities. But here, the darkness you brought in his character makes the mystery even more noticeable and stimulating, because it’s part of who he is: she’s intrigued by who he may be instead of where he might lead her. Plus, I find interesting that she doesn’t consider that what she thinks about him might be mutual: she’s even more mysterious than he is, because she has no past to share, whereas he choose not to tell her what he went through. And he’s as ticked off/turned on by her ability to push his buttons by instinct, which must sting given how much he tries to act aloof with her. In a way, I believe that’s the aspect in which character development is the most perceivable in your story: they learn to open up, in order to be more aware of the other’s feelings. In the movie, they’re trying to learn who they are deep down (self-discovery, as you said), but here, it seems that this progress is deeply associated to learning who the people you choose to build your life with are. Like the Dowager Empress bestows upon her the identity of Anastasia, you hinted perfectly that it’s Dimitri who makes her identity as a woman grow…

Last point, the hand touching that turns into an unexpected spark of seduction is very well written. It reminds readers that they’re both very young and emotionally inexperienced people, in spite of everything bad that has happened to them. That’s why they can’t get enough distance with their turmoil of feelings to understand what is going on: even though the contact and the reactions are highly physical, there’s emotion involved too (the “strange pressure in her chest”, the realization that she’s feminine compared to him, that she can be seen in a new light because of the way he makes her feel). That scene was your rendition of the moment when she grabbed his hand as he was about to fall off the train, right? There’s the same sudden flash of awareness and surprise. Amusing too that we get to read Anya’s reaction here, because in the movie, he was the one stunned by the electricity coursing through him at getting an unexpected physical contact with her. Bonus points for making her realize that the flash of sexual attraction is quite similar -yet different- to the anger he triggers in her: that the difference between playing with fire and actually getting her fingers burned, I guess! :P
AkkaTik chapter 9 . 6/30
So far, I think this chapter is the closest to the corresponding one in the movie, yet it undeniably adds something subtler.

First, Dimitri’s surprise at watching how Vlad was “looking at her like his own child” makes one wonder whether Vlad might have subconsciously recognized her as someone he knew as a kid. In the movie, Vlad’s character is not really explored as much as it could be: he’s just a genuinely nice guy whom circumstances have forced to carry some unsavory activities… Here, he’s more interesting: he must be pretty protective of children, otherwise he wouldn’t have taken Dimitri under his wing. Dimitri’s nightmares have shifted to a now adult Anastasia wearing Anya’s face when rejecting him (coincidentally after the real one told him that she didn’t like him) and I can’t help but wonder if the same thing isn’t happening to Vlad. The similarity between this orphan and the mischievous but lovable little girl he must have known even from afar (and who he thinks has probably been slaughtered along with her loved ones, because he has no real reason to doubt that for now) is blatant, both in the physical features and the feistiness at dealing with his protégé. It might be what has triggered his fatherly instincts…

Concerning the two grumpy love birds, well I like how their banter has shades of many other emotions: concern, even if neither would acknowledge it; curiosity and the need to share, both what they think and what the other might have in mind. Anya asked him about Russia because it reflected her own thoughts on the subject and she felt a pull, a kinship with him. It’s attraction to someone she instinctively feels is similar to her, but on an emotional level. Before, the aggressive appeal was more directed to his attitude and probably his looks, in spite of herself. Again, when they try to resist the pull, their default response is anger: it’s easier to deal with, easier to hide behind… and it’s also a sure way to get the other to react, isn’t it? ;)
Akka chapter 4 . 6/29
Finally, they meet! :) Your depiction of the con Vlad and Dimitri are setting up is very smooth. Again, you skillfully use the scene in the movie to convey the impression of sometjing deeper and more dangerous going on. It’s as fast-paced, but one can feel Dimitri’s desperate attempt at conning her: in the movie, Anya looked more like a convenient easy prey falling in their hands at the right time. Here, she’s the last chance at staying alive and moderately safe… That makes him all the more treacherous, because there is no one ounce of truth in what he’s feeding her and he has no qualms at getting what he wants from her. There’s an edge in Dimitri that makes things more unpredictable and, well, yes, exciting too! :)

Bonus points for enlightening Vlad’s ambiguity. He’s portrayed as only a fatherly and benevolent accomplice in the movie, but in your version, he’s a completely con artist, which makes him much harder to read…
Akka chapter 3 . 6/29
Wow! Your depiction of the palace is so full of atmosphere! It’s no longer a fairy-talish and mystical abandoned castle, but only an old dead place that makes Anya a bit afraid –like she should, because her repressed memories should be related both to her lost home and to death and destruction. It then becomes more obvious that the magic brought in the scene of her dancing among shadows comes from her, instead of something that was awaiting her arrival to get awakened. Everything is “painted in shadows” as you put it, even Dimitri before she sees him: her idea of a home is as lifeless as his.

Surprisingly, the less magic version you gave us makes sense in a very intriguing way: it enlightens how, instead of her searching for traces of her lost identity (that the palace and the portraits represent), she’s already looking for the people that made her childhood alive and vibrant. It’s precisely why she’ll finally choose a real person who loves who she is instead of clinging to the shreds of who she was. SPOT ON!
Akka chapter 2 . 6/29
I can’t believe how much you’ve done with a split second moment in the movie. You’ve expanded and enhanced their bachelor hide-out in the palace as the closest to a home Dimitri must have known... and, in hindsight, the ambiguity of the notion of “home” in his mind, something the movie only suggested. Your portrayal of his character is simply captivating. There are so much shadows, despair and intensity in his thoughts. Like Anya, he’s still living in the past: while she’s trying to put a name of her ghosts, he’s trying hopelessly to run away from them. They haven’t met yet, but one can tell already how very similar they are, inhabited with the same feelings of fear and misery that they will later cover up with the same rage. No wonder they end up being hopelessly attracted to each other…

Another thing that your chapter hinted at involves what Anastasia represented for him. She was a dream, a fairytale, a light in his gloomy life as a little boy. And the disappointment at getting nothing concrete out of saving her in terms of hopes explains why he got the idea of using the name of his only good childhood memory to finally get something more out of life: there’s an underlying resentment and sadness that really makes him look like a flesh and blood character. Your Dimitri is more complex than the one in the movie.

Last thing, the idea of making Vlad a ladies man is pure genius: it matches his debonair attitude in the movie, while giving him more depth too. Plus, it contrasts with Dimitri’s restrain. In spite of his undeniable sex appeal, the young manis often more driven to rationalize his desires than to admit them.
Akka chapter 1 . 6/29
Hi ! I just discovered this gem of a story a few days ago and I’m in awe! I’m reading it obsessively for the second time, because I was so eager to get to the end that I feel like I must have skipped some sinfully delicious details… You’re a wonderful writer and I hope your talent will get the attention it deserves! In the meantime, I guess I’ll spam your inbox with comments in hopes of making you happy… or so annoyed you’ll take pity and write some more chapters, your choice! XD I can’t imagine going on for months without reading more, lol!

So, chapter 1 : in quite a few words, you’ve captured exactly how Anya must have felt. The movie put forward the hope she harbored for a new life, but I like that in your version, there’s so much more: determination and a very subtle fear, not so much of what might come and of the possibility of not fulfilling her dreams (like in the song when exiting the orphanage), but of not going forward. In the end, she’s more afraid to stay in her dim half-life without memories than to take risks. That’s so spot on. It looks like nothing much, but it gives very interesting and adult depths to her character. In the movie, she’s a teenager about to experience real life; here, she’s already a young adult, with her share of bad stuff…
AkkaTik chapter 8 . 6/29
Ok, I must say that the introspective bits you’ve got skillfully scattered in the story might be my favorite part… It really gives some moody atmosphere!

Also, just one detail: I find it very interesting that you made Dimitri grin at her question about how he knows about what Grand Duchesses do because he has a secret she can’t even fathom. It makes him look like a poker player, holding all his cards very close to his vest (which becomes even more visible later)… Funnily, I always thought that he was smiling at her in that scene from the movie because he was turning the charm on, almost like he was trying to tame her into submission with his flirting. I must say I like your theory better! :)
AkkaTik chapter 7 . 6/29
This chapter is so funny (the plate looking like a “murder scene” and the line about eating the imaginary high horse have me grinning every time! What’s with the poor guy and horses, anyway? ;P). Also, I’m in awe of how well you combined the different plotlines in that brief scene. First, the lessons for becoming more lady-like start pretty early, which seems more realistic somehow... and fail epically at the end, which unfortunately also seem more probable than her suddenly getting ready after some advice on how to act. I’m all for the slow learning process! Then, the sexual tension and the resulting denial are masterfully suggested: the finger licking was just the right amount of provocative –both as an insult and sexually- to make him uncomfortable indeed. ;) Good chapter!
AkkaTik chapter 6 . 6/29
Ah, the dream illustrating rejection, Dimitri’s deepest fear after losing first his parents and then his only ray of hope… It really matches what we can guess of his psyche from the movie. I also like very much that you made him become the main character at a crossroad here: indeed, Anya has already made her peace with leaving after choosing not to follow the road to the fish factory. Dimitri’s thoughts, his fears and regrets at leaving his familiar world for the unknown, make the chapter look like the pendant of her scene with the song. The soon-to-be lovers seem even more alike. Again, I think that part of what makes your story so interesting and alluring is how you managed to give more depth to his character, whose ambivalence tended to fade behind the boyish charm in the movie: it both explains his motivations for tricking an innocent girl (and an elderly lady whose life he did save) and why Anya felt attracted to him in spite of her misgivings. Great work!
AkkaTik chapter 5 . 6/29
Your rendition of the complicated relation between those two is so intriguing! Even in a short and seemingly random moment we can feel many things: the tension between them, the curiosity, the unacknowledged interest (her reaction to the smile and his reluctant caring attitude) and the lack of comfort at experiencing these emotions. And the notion of sharing a room brings to light the tacit sexual undertones simmering under the surface: funny it’s that aspect that made Dimitri try to ease things between them, isn’t it? ;) It's like by trying to calm her (nonexistent) fear of him, he’s suggesting that the idea that something intimate might happen has briefly crossed his mind when he was about to let her enter his quarters. Or am I reading too much into the line?
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