Hi hi hi! :) It's definitely been way too long since I stopped by your page - though it's still as intimidating as I remember, with your 129 stories all neatly lined up :P
I've seen this around before, I think, so I wanted to stop by because I remember it was for a myth challenge or something, and I love myths so it's right up my street :P
And it's so good. You got the mythical kind of idyllic feel right off the bat, with Marta thinking that everything around her is pretty and nice and with that kind of sense of what could possibly go wrong that fairy stories have, you know - like the Grimm brothers, in particular. I have to admit, it did make me wonder if I was wrong about this - about how badly wrong it was going to go - haha, so in that respect, it did it's job pretty well :P
And omigosh that description of what she found! I love how you started with smell - because with something like that, you'd smell it long before you found it, even if you didn't know what exactly you were smelling (which Marta, being young and seemingly pretty innocent, wouldn't know). It was also so visceral, yk, such a vibrant description and then the description of what it looked like - the bones and the flesh, and the horror dawning as she realises where she is and what exactly she's found.
Then the chase! That's what I was expecting, haha, but what I love about this is how suddenly the chase is on, yk - how quickly it goes from being her standing there, looking at it, to her sprinting away through the trees with someone crashing along behind her. And the heartbreaking moment when she's almost there, and then isn't - when her bravery is rewarded with almost but not quite.
Poor Marta :/ She didn't really deserve that, when she'd been so brave to go in, so confident at the beginning that it'd all be fine, what was there to be scared of? And her poor friends, too, witnessing it all.
I love Marta's voice in this by the way, and the way you wrote it. Her voice was so perfectly innocent and simple - which is perfect for a child, and surprisingly hard to do (at least for me, haha) - but you just do it so effortlessly in this. And the way you write the horror/thriller type bits of it, with the short, snapping sentences, and the quick darts from action to action. It's so good and so well done.
This is such a great little story - a perfect little thriller and I loved it :)
When I first saw the list of Spanish names and then the Spanish-sounding "El Cucuy," I was hoping with all my heart for them to be Mexican/Latina. Just because there are rarely stories written in a fairytale style that feature characters of color, and so I was hoping that the characters weren't Spanish but Latina. And then I read your author's note, and so I was happy. <3
I thought the transition from a beautiful nature scene with a gorgeous sky and peaceful trees to a horrific description of the human remains was written perfectly. I was so relaxed and happy in the beginning, and then as soon as Marta saw the bones and leftover meat, I felt nauseous. (Also, I just want to mention how much I love the way you described it: "All around her are bare bones decorating the dirt, some dry and bleached white by time. Others have strips of flesh in varying states of rot.)
Personally, I don't quite blame her friends for not risking themelves to save her. It's a lot to ask from them, I think. They're all young, and almost certainly terrified, and their chances of success were close to zero. But poor Marta omg. <3
This was short and sweet and wonderfully written, thank you! <3
El Cucuy sounds cheerful, rather musical but it's a scary monster. The names, Marta and Maria reminded me of 'Sound of Music ' and the deep forest description made me imagine the incident happened in Austria. Then I read the note which says it's a monster in Mexico. I wonder if they have lots of forest trees there and what forest it would be there. Is it like Aokigahara in Japan where not a few people go deeper to try suicide?
Each description about the horrible scene Marta witnessed in the forest sent me a chill. I remember the real folktale is always cruel. What her grandmother told her turned to be true, which reminds me of British folk tale, a beautiful woman encounters a werefox in the forest or mountain (I forgot the detailed story in which that happened) , the both tales tell us don't dare to try doing something reckless wrapped by the word, 'Show Off Your Bravery'.
Eep, if surviving just one hour is that big of a deal, this forest is worse than I thought it was!
Wow, you do a marvelous job at building suspense here! I didn’t think I’d feel too nervous about the forest (maybe the not-so-scary-after-all Hogwarts forest desensitized me), bt with just a couple sentences you have me on the edge of my seat.
That would be my strategy too find a nice spot not too far into the forest to hang out. But you’ve built the suspense so well that now I just want to shout at her to keep moving, to not fall into the nice looking trap.
I wonder if the graveyard is just this sunny patch, or if it extends wider and she just hadn’t seen in the dark.
Eep! Even as she was running away I thought maybe there’d be some twist or prank and everything would be okay, but nope. Poor little Marta. And poor Marta’s friends for having seen that happen.
This was really well done.
*splutters* Excuse me? How dare you all have a gift giving competition without ME?!?! Well, lucky I caught you all before it ends.
I loved this short story. it was perfectly horrifying. This is my first introduction to the myth of El Cucuy, but I can understand the fear over such a creature in the forest. I love how swiftly you set up the situation, with Marta just trying to stop her friends from teasing her, and even in such a short amount of words I found myself caring for her, which makes the ending all the more terrifying. Your descriptions of the forest and Marta's fear were spot on, too. I was glancing over my shoulder throughout!
Congratulations on winning the Order of Merlin! I did not have much time to write reviews during the Staff Appreciation Event, so I'm back here :)
As you may know I'm a huge fan of stories about magic in remote countries (yes, Mexico is remote for me), and I really liked how you write about a creature (El Cucúy) that exists in folclore. (You even made me research what this creature is.) The only thing I missed is that we don't really see magic in this story, I was just curious to ask why you decided to write this as an original fiction and not embedded in a fanfiction world like HarryPotter?
Your descriptions are brilliant as always, I could feel the fear of this little girl! It kept me wondering what creature dragged her back to the forest or if it happened at all for real or was just her imagination.
Anyway, I found this a really good story, with a little bit too much of mystery for myself to figure out what was happening.
Hello again, lovely!
I know you've been writing some original stories for Shadowplay, which is way more than I'm ever able to do, and I couldn't resist this piece when I saw it on your page. Myths and legends and Mexican Spanish? Count me in!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO POOR MARTA, THOUGH? THIS IS NOT OKAY!
Seriously, this is the first time you've introduced me to this character and the story is less than 1000 words, but I'm already rooting for her so much and I can't believe the ending of the story. I'm so sad. I should have known better since you enjoy torturing Yorkshire characters (and readers), but I was really hoping that she was going to get away safely.
The opening of this story was really effective - you set up the quiet sense of calm really well and I kind of knew from the first few lines, with the idyllic description of the day and the edge of the forest, that something was going to happen. I think that calm opening helped to really build up a sense of tension and anticipation for what was going to happen, too, and really gripped me.
Marta's sense of fear and worry was conveyed really well in the story, too. I loved the way that her grandma's voice kept coming to her, warning her not to go into the forest because of the monster that resides there. That tale gave a clear indication of her age immediately without having to state anything and as an "adult" reader, it kind of lulls you into a false sense of security. Maybe something is going to happen but we know those stories are the ones created to tell to children so that they don't go wandering in places they shouldn't, so we can't really guess what's going to happen. It just seems like a normal case of friends teasing another friend into doing a dare that they're scared to do, and it's hard to imagine anything bad will come of it (although now I'm kind of mad at her friends).
Marta's such a likeable character, though. I love the way we see her steeling herself to go into the forest and prove her friends wrong because she doesn't want to be thought of as a coward. Even though her grandma has warned her against going in, she couldn't be expected to know that something was going to happen and I was on tenterhooks as she crept into the forest and then encountered El Cucuy and tried to escape from it. I wanted her to be free so badly and I really thought she was going to make it, right until the last minute :( I loved your incorporation of the myth, though, and the way you created such a gripping and terrifying story around it!