Reviewing My Commentors – ‘No Animals Were Harmed …’ by Suzanne Conboy-Hill

This next reviewer of Fierce turned out to be another very prolific author. I tracked down a recent story by her, and found No Animals Were Harmed …, by Suzanne Conboy-Hill, published on EDF on November 21, 2013. She has a lot of published work – see her own list here, at her blog.

I’m in the minority with this one – I liked this story. I gave it a 4 / 5.

I found it fast-paced, with a nice WTF is going on vibe that slowly pays off as both the reader and the MC figure out as the story unfolds. I think the attempt to to make the reader share Neela’s confusion paid off very well. The style of writing is simple and direct, and makes great use of dialogue to show the story unfold. Nothing feels unnecessary – I found it fun to read through. Neela’s reactions made me imagine Kara Thrace playing her – perhaps Conboy-Hill is a Galactica fan?

I wanted to know more about the IsFac, the scavengers who found Neela, and how they found her. I think the story could have spent a few more words fleshing out the beings who captured Neela, just to help readers understand what she’s up against. While I loved Neela’s witty feedback, to have her continue even as dehydration does her in was very unrealistic and somewhat distracting. I did love that she went out hoping for the best for Jace and their daughter.

How this story can improve my writing:

This story shows an excellent way to paint a scene with dialogue, without resorting to dry descriptions of scenery. I also appreciate the simplicity and pace of the prose. The reader is taken from setup to execution (literally) without excess information. The story has an immediate hook, and keeps curiosity going as the horror of Neela’s situation is revealed. Writers can note how quickly Neela is placed into her situation, and how the story’s momentum avoids clunky exposition.

3 comments on “Reviewing My Commentors – ‘No Animals Were Harmed …’ by Suzanne Conboy-Hill

  1. Very generously and articulately expressed, thank you! As a quick note about Neela’s terminal wise-cracking – I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals and been there when people have died. So many of them say something funny at the end, if that is how they were all along, and I couldn’t imagine Neela going out with anything less than a bang, the feisty madam!

    • TCC Edwards says:

      Really? I stand corrected about the ‘unrealistic’ remark!

      Your time with patients at the end of life must be utterly unforgettable – I’ve lost family members, but I’ve been spared being there when they died. I can’t fathom it.

      Still, it’s nice to know some folks go with a smile. I know I fully intend to.

      • Me too! I suspect it’s the people who have always dealt with adversity that way. Much as emergency service workers who use ‘gallows humour’ to cope with events most of us would shrink from. My dad’s last words to us, after my sister inadvertently set off the alarm in his room were, ‘That’s another relative I can’t have in here!’ so I’m guessing it might run in the family 🙂

        End of life care, unless it’s sudden and traumatic, can be full of humour – as long as patient and professional see eye to eye and the po-faced is not teamed with the inveterate jester.

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