Hi Kaitlin! Here for Magical Menagerie and January RvG!
I've had this on my list to review since you wrote it for the Prefect's challenge. It was truly such a great read and I'm so glad that you entered it in the challenge because I loved reading it!
I think this is an amazing retelling of the Guagua Aucac myth. I (very very vaugely) remember this myth from an old Spanish class, I think, because it sounds mildly familiar, but this was such a great rendition. You can really tell that this story and the area is something that you're familiar with from your travels. It definitely puts a personal spin on the tale, which I think is great, because not only does it give those of us who know you a little some insight about something you're passionate about, it really gives the piece just a little extra layer of detail that makes it just that much more interesting.
This tale has this little bit of tension in it that I really enjoyed. You have a great writing style and I felt like I could feel how tense Javier was once he started recalling the old wives' tale. I loved how you weaved the lines in throughout the story, building it up until the end. It was just spooky enough to be perfect! Javier hearing the crying throughout his walk home was described so well with all these perfect details. It would be so easy for him to dismiss it as the alcohol just skewing his view butyour chilling descriptive style of writing does such a great job of bringing us to Quito with Javier and making us feel just as anxious.
It's so chilling at the end-he's already heard some child scream and is already picturing this tale in his head. Then he gets home and just sees the bundle on his porch. Again, your way of writing here is so perfect, really building it up, but not making it seem too overdone. It was so great when we finally find out why he should be wary of the child's screams. I thought it was a really interesting way to end the story with the last line of the old wives' tale. Because it wrapped things up in a way that felt totally complete, but was also totally sudden. After the line before that and everything going black, it was the perfect, abrupt (in the best way possible) ending that this piece needed!
Absolitely amazing job Kaitlin! I loved everything that you did with this piece and am so impressed with it.Congrats on winning the challenge!
Oooh. That's cool that you've possibly heard this myth before. I was unfamiliar with it until I traveled to Ecuador last year. I'm glad the familiarity with the area helped. When describing the city, I just closed my eyes and pretend to be Javier walking around...and described what I could remember.
I'm glad to hear that you liked the style.
I try really hard not to make horror too slap you in the face. I feel like it's often scarier when it's more subtle and psychological. Like if it could almost be real.
Thank you for the lovely review!
Hey Kaitlin! Here because I've been meaning to read this fic, but also for the Magical Menagerie and January RvG (Gold).
This is a beautifully written fic. The descriptions are whimiscal and melacholy, and you capture the essence of emptiness here. I am able to walk the streets with Javier, see where he's going and where he doesn't necessarily want to go.
I also love how you create tension by weaving in his flashback about the old wives' tale. It binds the entire story together. The further we get into the story, the more sinister Javier's surroundings become. You do such a great job of using your description to support this. Also, excellent use of the woman red herring! I loved that.
The ending is chilling. It's like he's almost compelled to pick up the package, despite being freaked out by the tale. The ending is ambiguous and perfect for the season and time of year for which it was written. Personally, I think that Javier met his untimely end because the myth is so close to the front of his mind while he's wandering around drunk and pining for a lost love (or maybe because I like tragic endings, or both). Congrats on placing first in the challenge; well deserved!
Thank you for popping by!
I'm glad you enjoyed the descriptions. I spent a lot of time in Quito, so I just tried to describe it in the way that I remember it. I pretty much just closed my eyes and pretended I was Javier....and wrote what I saw.
Ah. I'm glad the red herring and the story woven throughout worked out okay.
I'm a fan of ambiguous endings in horror. Imagining what happened on your own almost always makes it creepier for me because then the monster can sort of take the shape of whatever I find scary.
Hi Kaitlin! I’ve been meaning to read this story for a while now, so I’m triple-dipping this review with that, filling a request on Nim’s wishlist, and, of course, December RvG.
I love love love when you can almost feel an author’s experiences through a story, and I really think that shone here - in all the descriptions of the city, of the peppered-in Spanish, the incorporation of this myth - it’s clear that this is a city and a culture you’re familiar with, which makes the story that much more realistic and authentic.
It’s also incredible that, in just these short 1,000 words, you’ve established a really strong narrative and backstory for Javier, while also still exploring this myth of Guagua Acua. It makes the myth that much more compelling that you’ve set it against the background of a character that’s already surprisingly well fleshed-out, even though you had so few words to do it with.
The horror aspect of this was also really well done - it didn’t feel over-the-top, just this general sense of unease as the story goes along and then the blunt ending where he screams and everything goes black. And even then, it could be a demon, or it could’ve just been a baby (because Javier was a little drunk and had been psyching himself out the entire walk home, so he might just be panicking for no reason), but we don’t really know either way. It worked really well, and I spent most of the story waiting for the conclusion of the myth - and throwing the last line of it right at the very end was super powerful.
This was such a cool little short story - I loved it!
Thanks for dropping by. :)
I'm glad it came across that way. I spent 3 months in Ecuador last year and really fell in love with it. I feel like there's a really big gap in representation of non-European/North American countries in writing in general, so when I have the opportunity to write about another culture or country, I like to do it if I can.
I have a tendency to always write fairly short chapters, so that's sort of my wheelhouse.
I'm so glad to hear that. One of my biggest issues with horror is when it's slap you in the face obvious. In the few attempts I've made to write it, I always try to make it a little mroe subtle. I really loved Silence of The Lambs, so that's sort of set the presidence for the type of psychological horror I enjoy.
Hey there, Kaitlin!
When I saw you had entered the Prefect Fall Writing Challenge, I couldn't wait to see your entry. You did an outstanding job as usual. In particular, I love how you weaved an authentic legend native to Ecuador into your tale.
From the reason for Javier getting drunk to his choice of drink, aguardiente, there is the sense of realism. Certainly, aguardiente has a kick to it - a bit of an acquired taste. The story sort of reminds me of the Twilight Zone (in a good way) where things start off normal/rational enough and then takes that little sideways step.
And don't get me started on las viejitas and their little stories and superstitions. Some are outrageous and yet when it's dark outside, the niggling idea some might hold a grain of truth is inescapable. This is what you tapped into and brilliantly, I might add.
Overall, you had a great balance of description while interweaving bits of his aunt's cautionary tale of the Guagua Auca. This story was a pleasure to read!
Aww you're too kind. I'm glad you were excited about the idea of the Ecuadorian legend.
Aguardiente definitely has a kick. I learned that the hard way in South America. I definitely wanted to try and ground the story in reality and just have the legend slowly creep in.
I know exactly what you mean about Las Viejitas. I grew up with stories of La Llorona, El Cucuy, and La Chupacabra. Even though I know they aren't true, if you think of them at the right moment, they can definitely creep you out.
Thank you so much for the lovely review!
Hi, here for our swap.
This was really creepy. Though, I can’t say I didn’t feel sad that Javier’s girlfriend left him. That’s why he was drinking.
I wouldn’t want to cross this ‘baby’ anywhere. I hope someone saved him but I don’t think he was lucky enough to be saved. This was perfect for Halloween type story.
I can’t wait to read more of your stuff.
Thank you for the swap!
It is indeed why he's drinking.
I left the ending vague for this exact reason. I wanted the reader to decide if it was a creature or just an actual innocent baby.
Thanls for dropping by!
It's a sad start for the protagonist who missed his girlfriend Magdalena, that's why he had drunk much feeling lonely. I'd like to try sugar cane liquor once, though. :D
According to his aunt's words, it seems that there was one mysterious happening in fall. I had a chill wondering if a person feels lonely, a kind of scary or horrible demon will haunt you. It is said people have passed a story from generation to generation and they believed it was true. I have a relative who really had an experience seeing a ghost. So I believe there exist supernatural things.
It is outstanding that you set the demon as a baby, which contrasts with the magnificent scenery of the center of Quito or the large parts of the city. I wonder what it is like to have a beautiful view there. (I’m looking forward to seeing your blog about your travel, Kaitlin!)
I hope there will be someone who can save the poor protagonist. Or was he killed by the demon? (The imagination sent me a chill again.) I don’t want to see the demon hidden in the blankets. It was just like Voldemort Harry encountered more than once in the books or in the films. All in all, while babies are usually thought as they are cute and adorable, you set the opposite Halloween-ish episode for this challenge. You did a great job, Kaitlin!
Thank you for asking review swaps. Let’s do it sometimes.
Thank you for the lovely review!
I definitely think supernatural things can exist, although I don't really have an explanation for how.
The city of Quito is so lovely. I spent almost 4 weeks there and absolutely fell in love with it. I can't wait till I get the blog posts up so you can see the photos too.
I left the ending open to imagination. He could've been killed or he could be panicking for no reason. it's your decision to make.
Thanks for the swap! And yes! Let's definitely do it again sometime.
I wanted to take part in this challenge myself but the prompts didn't really inspire anything. An Ecudorian legend sounds fascinating as I know very little about South America and definitely nothing about their legends (and now I sound like a character from one of my original fictions; she would love this).
You are so good at descriptive writing. You've probably noticed my own writing isn't so descriptive (I have no visualisation abilities at all) so this impresses me. I LOVE your opening paragraph. The writing is beautiful.
And the reference to the slam of the door actually made me jump. It was such a dramatic image coming after all the previous beauty and quiet.
I like the suggestion of creepiness as he feels he is being watched. It's not dramatic or sudden, but just begins to imply something odd going on here.
There is something chilling about his return home, about the way it seems like he's home safely and away from whatever might have been watching him and then it becomes clear that the danger hasn't passed at all. There is something forboding about the "dark unwelcoming windows."
In a way, I think my lack of knowledge about Ecudor made this story even more enjoyable because I had no idea whatsoever what was coming. I must google and find out what exactly this demon means.
Thanks for the swap!
Aww thank you! I try really hard with description. I love being able to visualize things while I read.
Yeah. I like subtle horror much better than blood and gore. I think psychological creepiness is much more effective than jump scares, so I'm glad the creepiness and tension sort of just built through it.
Ah. Enjoy! There are tons of awesome Ecuadorian legends and myths.
Omg, I was stoked to see what this was about once I clicked the link, as I spent a little while in Ecuador myself a few years ago. Though I didn't know anything about this myth prior to reading this! Anyway, I'm here for our swap!
This is so good. Very appropriately spooky for Halloween - you kept up that tone so perfectly by setting the story at night and how the tales his aunt told him are floating around in his head. Isn't it always when you're walking alone in the dark that you remember all the creepy stories you've ever heard? Or every sound just sets you on edge? (A few months ago I did a night hike alone up Mt Whitney, and literally EVERY sound I heard, or movement I saw out of the corner of my eye, I was so sure it was a bear, bc the person at the visitor center the previous day had warned me about bears so much XD) And I love that you've really focused on that feeling here, how the streets are empty without the vendors and everything's eerily quiet, so the sound of the baby - which could easily be just a normal baby - has him hurrying home. Ah it's perfect.
I also really love the way your own travels influenced the story as well, like how the Basilica scrapes the sky and the detail about the brightly colored building facades (something I love about a lot of South American cities!) This story is wonderfully grounded in its sense of place.
The ending is absoutely perfect, too. Like, it's impossible to tell based on the ending whether this was actually a demon that just got Javier, or whether the story merely ends with Javier freaking out at seeing an actual baby because he's caught up in the stories his aunt told him and because he's a little drunk. I love that it ends with that unsolved as to whether it's true or not, that's perfect.
i did see one possible error - in the beginning his girlfriend is Magdalena, and when she's mentioned at the end she is Maria Elena.
Anyway, this is such a great Halloween story and I loved the way you worked your travels into the prompt and how you used the legend in your story! I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks so much for the swap! ♥
Ah! Isn't it such an incredible country? I loved it there so much! I spent roughly a month in Quito.
Definitely always when you are alone in the dark that you start to remember the creepy stories. I know the feeling about the bears. I had that through most of my roadtrip around Canada and Alaska.
I'm glad the ending came across ambiguous. I didn't want it to be concrete as I wanted the reader to be responsible for the outcome.
Thanks for the catch on the name! I went and fixed it.
Thank you again!
I kept on checking for this to come through the queue! It was really good. It’s refreshing to read something other than Harry Potter XD Another reason I enjoyed this is that I’m currently listening to an audio course on the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica. I know Ecuador is in South America and not Mesoamerica, but it’s still kinda close right? Haha. I’m the kind of person that enjoys connecting dots between things I have learned/experience/read.
There’s so much I liked about this, I don’t know where to start!
The italicized quotes from his memory of his aunt telling him about the ghost story really set up the story well. It’s like they were stepping stones: with each new quote, the scary factor increased. Something happened, and then the quote, and then I knew the story’s horror was building.
The guagua auca is terrifying. You conveyed that well. I’m also impressed that you create such a good horror story in less than 1000 words. I don’t think I’d be very good at writing horror (though I’ve never tried, so…). Regardless, by the end it’s definitely scary. I mean, not the I’m-an-adult-and-I’m-hiding-under-my-bed level of scary. But you build it up so nice! Yes, I think that’s what I’m most impressed with -- the steady build-up to him finding the guagua auca. ‘Cuz I knew it was coming. The reader knows! But that’s the suspense! And you deliever, and it’s good!
Written for RvG November. Go GOLD!
Thanks for dropping by! <3
Definitely kinda close. It's always nice to be able to connect dots.
Ah. I'm glad the quotes from his aunt worked okay. I was worried they might make things too choppy.
You should definitely give it a try! I always thought I could never write horror, but now I've tried to write every genre! You never know what you'll come up with.
I'm really pleased that even though you knew the scare was coming that it was still suspenseful.
Thank you again!