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Review: Tracking Redemption by shoefreak37

Tracking Redemption by shoefreak37

Summary: When Edward flees to Volterra after learning of Bella’s death, he is coerced into remaining as a member of the Volturi Guard. Redemption can be found even when it is not being sought after. Slash/New Moon AU

For our first post-launch review, I chose the first fic I reach for when someone asks me for a vampslash rec. With perfect glee I sat down to re-read Tracking Redemption by shoefreak37. I very very very rarely re-read fanfic. Consequently, I thought I might have to push myself to pick it up. This was only the second time I’ve read this story, and yet once again, I couldn’t put it down.

The story begins in New Moon, but Edward is running to Volterra earlier than in canon. Alice has seen Bella in the meadow with Laurent, and then she disappears from Alice’s visions. With Bella dead, Edward runs off to commit Volturicide.

This time, no one follows him. This time, Aro succeeds in acquiring Edward as a member of the guard. His first assignment is a simple one, more or less. His second, not so much.

He began scouring the hardened nails with ferocity as though trying to purge himself of the self-loathing he was experiencing. If only he could get his hands clean, then he would be free of what he’d done. He could forget it.

Edward cleansed and rubbed and polished and buffed his fingernails, but the stains would not come clean. He added more force and the brush crumbled in his hand. He grabbed another one and began scrubbing again in desperation, and, once again, the tiny plastic tool could not withstand Edward’s panicked grip.

Shoefreak37 ‘humanises’ (so to speak) many of the Volturi, making them real people with depths beyond what we might think of as ‘evil’. Edward finds a few friends within the guard, and Demetri is there from the beginning. Slowly Edward comes to realise that perhaps he wasn’t attracted to Bella in the way he thought he was, and yet he continues to feel tremendous guilt over her death.

“I know that the pieces of your heart are scattered. You feel that you will never find them all again, but, trust me, I am very good at finding things. I already know the shape they are to go back in,” Demetri stated, clutching Edward’s left pectoral tightly. “I can feel how good your heart is Edward, even in its absence.”

Edward let his breath out in a rush, and sobbed once more quietly. “How can you stand to be near me? I can barely tolerate myself.”

“Edward, I have not been moved by another in well over five hundred years. How could I not want to be near you?”

I’m sitting here trying to find words to express how I feel about Edward and Demetri. I can’t. I get stupid-happy all over again. I have a different Demetri in my head from the one in the books (and definitely the movie). He’s patient and understanding. Gentle and self-sacrificing. I’m trying very hard not to *swoon* while I’m supposed to be helpful and factual and shit 😉

Edward is innocent and very pure at the beginning of the story. His thoughts are very proper. This character definitely grows and changes in the course of the story. The sex scenes in Tracking Redemption are very very hot (OMG mountain sex), but the first time Edward says something I wasn’t expecting, it almost killed me dead. More than that superficial change, Edward eventually comes to accept himself, to accept what he is, his immortality. This I found to be a very strong theme within the story, and is part of what makes it a perfect example of alternate universe vampfic.

Tracking Redemption is compelling, surprising, and concise. It’s a hair over 100k, but it doesn’t feel like a rambling epic. Every sentence adds to the story and advances the plot. I’ve heard Shoe refer to her prose as ‘purple’. It’s not, in my opinion. If there is a smattering of turgid members, it’s completely appropriate to Edward’s point of view. Shoe writes in third person, but she does it exceptionally, never once dropping out of Edward’s head and into someone else’s.

The strongest impression I come away with every time I read Tracking Redemption, is that it doesn’t read like serialised fiction. There are no loose ends. No obvious ‘corners’ the author has written herself into which she must then waste an entire chapter digging her way out of (don’t look at me like that, I have a WIP in which I’ve done that exact thing). The first time I read it, I could not believe that shoefreak37 hadn’t written the entire story before she posted a word. It just seemed that cohesive.

I was beyond impressed.

Tracking Redemption has an outtake, Hide and Seek, and a futuretake, Cadence of Humanity.

There is also a companion story: Til Death Do Us Part by GracieBlack28, which is a Jacob/Bella story set in the same universe. I haven’t read this, so I offer the link for FYI purposes. The author seems to have a few other stories set in this universe, focusing on the wolfpack, Embry and his parentage specifically.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2011 in Reviews, Vamp Slash

 

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Review: BRONZE by mothlights

BRONZE by mothlights

Summary: Edward is a rebellious newborn lashing out at those who try to help him. At his wit’s end, Carlisle asks Isabella, the woman who was once his mentor, to take Edward in until his bloodlust cools. ExB Very AU – COMPLETE

I don’t read a lot of het fic. Very little. Probably less than 5% of all my fic reading is het. Probably 0.5% Edward/Bella. Just not a fic-Bella fan, I’m afraid.

Well. After reading BRONZE, I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to reading even Steph’s Bella. There are some similarities, sure, but overall, mothlights Bella has very little to do with canon-Bella, and I like it that way.

Edward’s fingers twitched, but there was no pushing away Carlisle’s thoughts, so he swung his attention to the mind of the one who would soon be his keeper. Carlisle had called her Dae and Genovefa and her latest name, the name by which he had known her, Isabella. Even ten miles away, Edward could read her. She was focusing on the cool give and bristle of moss beneath her feet. Her heel came up; the air caught the moisture from the dew on her skin. Cool. Damp. Pressure. Motion. Skin and pine needles and earth. Then the smooth conformity of wood as she stepped into her house. If these wordless sensations were the only thoughts invading his mind until he mastered his godforsaken bloodlust and set out on his own, then it would be an improvement over his time in Washington.

In an alternate timeline, BRONZE’s Bella is an ancient vampire, a hermit living in a cabin in the mountains, who takes on the newborn and volatile Edward as a housemate. Edward himself is quite close to his canon self, or at least what he might have been like in his first few years. He is a mind reader, but is frustrated at the simplicity of Bella’s thoughts, which gives him no opportunity to figure her out.

Isabella turned to face him. The breeze was gone, and all the birds had flown, leaving the forest silent. She didn’t bother to blink, but Edward found himself blinking repeatedly. He had never felt quite so looked at before. Power seemed to roll off of her in waves, and he was certain that, like him, she had a talent – perhaps withering something on the spot or causing storms. Whatever it was she could do, why hadn’t Carlisle told him? Don’t growl. Do not growl, the most basic part of him warned. He wanted to pull his arms back as far as they would go and send her through the rough logs. Instead he felt himself bending slightly, almost bowing his head.

I’m not telling you what Bella’s gift is, only that it’s nothing like canon, and it is so well imagined and executed as to blend seamlessly into the Twilight universe. And I do love this Bella. She is strong and wise, yet not perfect.

“How old were you, Edward?”

“What?”

“How old, when you ran your car off the road?”

“Nineteen.”

“Nineteen,” she repeated. Her voice was soft. “You’re not a child, so I’m not going to treat you like one, no matter how you choose to act.” She dropped down so her face was in front of him. “But if you ever lay a hand on me again you will wish Carlisle had let you die. You understand?”

I hate to give away plot in reviews, and so I won’t. I will say that this is a real story. Sure, there is romance there, but there would still be a whole lot of story without it.  There are surprises, thrilling conflicts, bad guys, daring rescues, and original characters that have depth and rich histories of their own. And mothlights explores the Children of the Moon (the real werewolves), fleshing out the tiny details we got from canon into a very adequate mythology.

Though set entirely in the 21st Century, BRONZE took me on a journey through history. It gives glimpses of mammoth hunts, the markets of ancient Sumer, and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It touches on Aro’s humble beginnings, and the time before the Volturi made the laws, when the Romanians ruled the vampire world. And while brief, these glimpses are vivid, well researched, and used in just the right way within the story.

Mothlights didn’t bore me with details however. She gets right to the point without meandering, and yet she allows Bella’s history to come out gradually. Necessary exposition doesn’t seem out of place, it is integrated into the story and is as compelling as the rest of her words. Her prose is simple and unaffected, and yet so lyrical, with an ebb and flow that had me reading aloud to myself without realising I was doing it.

Once you’ve read it, check out the prequel that details Carlisle and Bella’s first meeting. It should have a glowing review all of it’s own: Corruption : Compassion

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2011 in Reviews, Slash Approved

 

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