Reviews for Psychosomatic
Theodore Hawkwood chapter 1 . 5/5
Hello there. It's Theodore Hawkwood from Writer's Anonymous Longer Review Game.

First off I would like to apologize that I'm more familiar with the Sherlock Holmes stories as written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as opposed to Sherlock, but it wasn't anything a quick gander at Wikipedia couldn't fix.

Now onto the review proper...

First off I thought the title 'Psychosomatic' grabbed my attention right off the bat. Knowing that Watson is a physician by trade it drew my attention as to what this story was all about. It immediately made me want to read more of the story to see what it was about. So I must congratulate you for your title selection.

Second, the first line had some damned fine imagery. The sickly green light and its persistence does conjure imagery that the building has occupants that are in a somewhat blighted state of physical or mental health. It also seems to have a rather ghoulish feel to it, over the late hour of the writing.

I like Watson's impressions of the family that lived down the hall from him. The description of their restless state and likely nocturnal habits were ones that struck out at me the most.

That paragraph also showed Watson as both a clinician and as a human being in a good way. It showed the latter because he was curious about the family, and the six urchins (nice word usage, by the way, really hit home as to the state of affairs for the family). I got the impression of the clinician aspect of Watson's character by this piece when you mentioned they cried more than he expected normal children to do so, but he had been distant from children for quite some time.

The piece with Alice and Watson's interactions with her was equally good. I got the impression that he liked her and wanted to interact with her as another human being but something was making him keep his distance (I assumed PTSD).

There was a nice contrast with his descriptions of Alice and her friendliness (annoying/pitying and pathetic/nice springing rather readily to mind) and his reactions to it. It was some good characterizations of parts of Watson, the ex-Army physician.

As a military man myself the piece where you describe Watson's reaction the the foul language of the bloke living directly above him was something I immediately understood. Because of that I could see quite vividly in my mind's eye the sort of invective flowing from the guy.

I found that line about 'months before he wouldn't have tolerated some girlfriend beating low-life' and tolerance of said chap to be a most poignant piece of writing. The part where you simply declared that it was 'different now' made me even more curious as to why this was so.

I also had to find that touch of anthropomorphism on the part of Dr. Watson's cane to be quite a good one. Especially when contrasted with how Watson is troubled and believes that there is nothing wrong with him at all. I for some reason imagine some little voice in Watson's head causing the cane to say 'Bollocks' with that particular line.

Seems like because of PTSD Watson sports the mantra of 'There's nothing wrong with me'. Quite good bit of characterization for a canon blind fellow. Seems like Dr. Watson could use a dose of the phrase, "Physician heal thyself."

The next bit on the 'murdered sleep' was a very nice invocation of the Bard and MacBeth more specifically and it is something I most heartily approve of.

The paragraph where, after the murder of his sleep, where he tries to gain his footing was another excellent piece of imagery. I liked the images of sharp icicles jabbing into his leg. And then I saw the heart of why you chose the word 'Psychosomatic' as this book's title with the part that Watson didn't make the distinction between imaginary and psychosomatic.

I liked his struggle with the steps to the kitchen to go get his tea and the spillage of the tea onto his hands. And the look into the determined aspects of his psyche when he thought to himself 'Don't drop it. For God's sake.'

I can't imagine why, but for some reason I seem to picture Watson having a row with his doctor about the cane and the like. In my imaginings I picture a reedy, older sort of fellow crossly reminding Watson that he'll need the cane, and Watson stating 'bollocks to that' and thus illustrating why doctors make the worst patients.

And near the end I like the 'beacon to a lost mariner' image regarding the bedside table with the description of how much tea was left in it after the walk to the kitchen. It brings to mind the stubborn aspects of Watson's character for some reason.

All in all I must say this is a very well written piece of work. Short yet with great imagery and characterization.

Good job!
frankannestein chapter 1 . 2/10
Hello, Edhla! Me again. Thought I'd come back to these marvelous oneshots of yours to see what happens next.

I didn't expect to see a Watson story (yeah, mostly fandom blind but I at least know who he is). As always, I like the way it starts, with a killer one-liner. This one is full of / mood /, especially with that judicious placement of "sickly." I can imagine John living in this apartment and being resigned to an annoying hall light, and probably everyone in the First World has employed a towel under the door at one point in their lives. I'm expecting the living situation to be tolerable at best. It's instantly sympathetic.

This is kind of an aside, but I finally feel like I know what time these stories have been taking place. Before now, I couldn't help but place them in Victorian-type settings, but Alice's faded WWII photographs blow that right out of the water. See, there's precious little mention of technology in these oneshots - cars and telephones and electric lights at the most. I kind of like the ambivalence. It allows my imagination greater freedom.

This is probably an ffnet oddity, but [there was no response from her at all. and John wondered if the man] is a strange place for a period.

[Months before, he'd never have tolerated some girlfriend-beating low-life saying things like that to him. It was different now.] Interesting. I want to know why. :3 I'm guessing it has to do with "psychosomatic" so I'm not actually asking. I just liked the flow of these two sentences.

[The spilled tea and burned fingers didn't matter. Weren't the point at all.] Oh, this was nice. A quiet victory. I like this sort of story. Well done.

Anne
GGMK chapter 1 . 10/22/2014
This is my first time reviewing a Sherlock story. :)

I don't envy John in this fic. His former living arrangement's aren't for me! I like how you described the kids; that's how children always seem to me, crying and getting injured in various ways, so its realistic.

The two paragraphs about Alice were sad. John finally found a friend, and she ends up passing away. I like how you wrote the scene in a "quiet" way. If it had been an overblown dramatic scene, it wouldn't have worked so well.

It always stinks when you try aiding someone, and they throw it back in your face. I wanted John to beat the boyfriend up, and I get the feeling he was tempted to do so, if he could.

I have no real life experience with anyone who is psychosomatic, but you do a pretty good job showing how it works. The final few paragraphs are emotionally harrowing, and also my favorite part, because it made me feel bad. Anything that can dredge emotion from me is good stuff!

The very ending is a bit sudden, but since this is kind of a prequel of sorts, I guess stopping there wasn't a bad idea.

I didn't notice any obvious punctuation or spelling errors, so kudos! I enjoyed reading this.
Starluff chapter 1 . 5/8/2014
I don't think I truly understood just how serious John's pre-Sherlock conditions were, until reading this fic.

The part about the urchins was interesting, because it made me wonder what John must have looked to these kids; all quiet and not quite there.
Alice was a nice part. I know that your John is quite proud, so I like that he still liked her and had tea with her, even if it she was doing it slightly out of pity. No matter what, someone to talk to is someone to talk, especially if they're nice.
And then she died, his only friend.
The couple was another good one. I quite liked that it was the girl who told him to back off first. That just spoke volumes. Humans at their lowest.
And then the last part just broke my heart. The way John tries to convince himself he's fine, even though he can hardly make it to the kitchen without passing out. For a proud military man like John, not being able to do something as simple as make himself tea must have been a pretty low point. "The spilled tea and burned fingers didn't matter. Weren't the point at all." Indeed. It's a very expressive line. It doesn't elaborate because it doesn't have to; the reader understands. The way you portray the cane kind of reminds me of how LotR portrays the ring: making something something so insignificant, so normal, into something menacing, is quite a feat. Especially since it was symbolic.
All in all, a great fic. It really adds to SHERLOCK, because it fills in the blank spots and adds depth to it. My favorite kind of fic :3 Truly an enjoyment reading and POOR JOHN! Don't worry, Jonny-poo! A certain detective consultant will help you! 3
-Starluff
becgate chapter 1 . 4/29/2014
Loved it! ! Wanted more! !
blueskydog chapter 1 . 3/25/2014
Hi, I'm doing this for the Story Review Challenge, but I also happen to be a Sherlock fan.
Here's what I have to say about this story:
Overall, it has an interesting atmosphere, with most of the language evoking a claustrophobic feeling for me as I was reading. Here are a few specific thoughts on your word usage:
In Paragraph 2: "Big eyes"-more descriptive? how big? What do they look like? Color? etc.
Paragraph 3: "Faded sepia"-nice, original, evocative.
Paragraph 5: "Other times there was no response from her at all. and John wondered if the man was shouting at an empty room." The period in the middle should be a comma.
Paragraph 11: "The rustling of wind in the trees." A bit generic, overused. Try something fresher?
Paragraph 13: Oh my gosh, the cane looked accusingly at him? Marvelous!
Paragraphs 17-22: I really like the "icicles of pain" metaphor, but you use it three times in a row and that makes it seem a bit repetitive. Really great metaphors, like this one, have more impact when used just once or sometimes twice, especially in shorter stories.
This is a really interesting take on what John's life might have been like before Baker Street. I like the small, but significant, conflict of bringing the tea to his bed without spilling. I would like to know more specifically how John thinks and feels about certain things, though. It would add a bit more character to the story. Otherwise, though, a very fine piece.
reminiscent-afterthought chapter 1 . 9/11/2013
Ooh, some pre-Sherlock John. :)

I think the "in the hall" in the first sentence is unnecessary; if a towel is going to block it out, it must be on the other side of the door.

The idea between blocking out light vs. blocking out sound is a very interesting one. Particularly since sound needs something to carry it as well, so the towel can't quite manage. The children indirectly in the scene was an interesting one as well; I never really imagined what John would think about children, but I can hear him thinking of them as urchins. :)

[It was sort of pathetic and sort of nice. He'd liked her.] - aww, how sweet.

[The flat had been empty since then.] - don't think you need the "then". Also, I think I'm missing the transition between that paragraph and the one that follows it.

That second scene was a very interesting one, particularly contrasted with the first scene of the story. It makes the slightly detached tone of the first bit seem all the more powerful, since the second scene comes out almost raw. The descriptions are gorgeous; funny how I often see the drowning image but never with a life-buoy. :) Clever extrapolation there.

[Yeah, nice work. But how are you going to carry the tea back again?] - lol. That was quite amusing, despite the context. It's also interesting how the story ends in the image of the tea, something that could be normalised yet you've made the whole scene seem almost nightmarish. Excellent work. &hearts
Esther Huffleclaw chapter 1 . 9/11/2013
I really like the opening sentence. It creates a vivid picture in my mind. Nice.

John ‘s neighbours remind me of my neighbours. The neglected children make me so sad. And then, Alice who goes away in the ambulance and never returns makes me very sad. The neighbours are so real. Nicely done.

“Other times there was no response from her at all. and John wondered if the man was shouting at an empty room.” I think you meant to put a comma rather than a period. Also, what a starkly emotional paragraph. Just beautiful.

You’ve done an amazing job of depicting John’s emotional state here. It all just feels so useless. Wonderful writing here. Of course there’s nothing wrong with him. Nothing physical, anyway.

Oh, John. The walk to the kitchen and back to the bed hurts my heart. “The spilled tea and burned fingers didn't matter. Weren't the point at all.” No, they weren’t, were they? I’m just going to go cry in a corner now.
Rainie Skyes chapter 1 . 9/8/2013
If anyone wanted to see what was in John's head prior to his meeting Sherlock, all they need to do is read this story. It's perfect. The detail is amazing. Well done. :)
magentacr chapter 1 . 8/27/2013
Aw. I love how your fics give more insight to little bits of the show. You got all that from that one clip of John sitting on his bed in his old room in episode 1. It's brilliant. The details of his neighbors were interesting. I love his determination to walk without the cane, even though it was painful, Obviously just because he's expecting it to be painful. The doctors tried to tell me once that some painful fits I was experiencing were psychosomatic; although i still don't believe them, (and I have good reason to think they're wrong) but because they said it, I still find myself trying to control it through willpower, telling myself the spasms are in my head and I can stop when I want to. I never can, I've just got better at dealing with it, until we can get some milk which I had to discover was the cure myself. I think it's to do with stomach acid, but the doctors still think it's in my head, probably think the milk helps because I find milk comforting, so its like a placebo. Although i wasn't expecting it to work the first time, I was just thirsty... but anyway, I'm rambling. Point is you've done a great job of capturing those feelings here, the uncertainty of whether it's real or not, but trying just because you've been told you should be able to. Very well written.
jack63kids chapter 1 . 7/7/2013
This is heart-wrenchingly wonderful. Small details in the life of a desperate man. The first detail of the rolled-up towel is masterfully 'trivial' yet tells us much about his circumstances.

All the other people in the flats and John's reaction - of lack of reaction - to them all is a great way to bring out what is wrong with him - and it's not the leg, not just the leg. That he has emotions, but buried deep, comes over well, despite his lack of engaging fully with the world.

Sets things up nicely for when he meets Sherlock and comes to life again.
Tusjecht chapter 1 . 5/6/2013
Whatever energy I had to read long passages has been sapped by constant nerves, impending the next milestone of my life in...twelve and a half hours. So I will - lazily - diverge to one of your one shots.

Despite having never entered the Sherlock Holmes universe, I get the distinct vibe that if I was to pick up the material that introduces John Watson, the image I obtained from reading your story and the one formed by the original material would be identical twins. Watson shrugging off the downsides of public apartment life, believing his own placebo that his pain is a medical condition, and his undeterred drive to have tea by his bed; the strong will to live as independently as Watson once probably did a few decades ago is unpacked here with all the elegance of an origami creation.

Often, I've come across fanfics (especially those concerning Japanese settings) where the attempt to set in character is not so much overdone as it is outright ruined; this comes across as the exact opposite: WELL done. Watson's personal voice narrating the monologue expressed itself beautifully at some points I note:

"She'd put him on blast for half a minute without breath, telling him to mind his own… adjectival… business."
"Yeah, nice work. But how are you going to carry the tea back again?"
"Don't drop it. For God's sake."
"Weren't the point at all."

Sometimes, that last line listed above might have raised a flag in the Grammar department, but here it felt perfectly natural when coming across as Watson's inner voice.

A well-written piece that could have come straight from Watson's personal diary. A pleasure to read. ( :
Ersatz Einstein chapter 1 . 4/29/2013
There are a few errors here. Excessive comma usage, incorrect hyphenation, etc. Still, it was generally well-written, and you established the setting well.
patemalah21 chapter 1 . 4/16/2013
Very descriptive. Well done.
Lazerwolf314 chapter 1 . 4/3/2013
[One step .] - Technical issue, nothing major, just the period is a space after step.
[telling him to mind his own… adjectival… business] - this here, is spot on in terms of looking at the world through John's eyes. Instead of actually using an ... adjectival as you say, you don't, which shows how down to earth and slightly sarcastic John is. I do love the sort of roll of the eyes that seemed to accompany the line when I read it.
Also, I enjoyed how we get a chance to see John's changed perception of basically everything now that he has been invalidated home. [Months before, he'd never have tolerated some girlfriend-beating low-life saying things like that to him. It was different now.] - It shows how day to day he lives, how some things have gotten clearer to him and others are now fuzzy. It tugs at the heartstrings knowing how deeply he is damaged.
I personally didn't entirely like how the two parts differ in pace; I would have prefered the first half to read slower or have some more, I don't know, pacing, in order to balance with the second half, because as I see it now, it's reads like 'Boom, here's plenty of information, why John is withdrawn and whatever, what are you going to do with it?' to 'Here's a single snapshot of one five minute interval'. But this is just me.
A very nice oneshot; good work.
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