Admittedly, I'm a bit of a picky h00r when it comes to what I will read. In the beginning of my fanfic existence, I gorged myself on anything and everything available, and consequently jaded myself a bit. There are only so many fics you can read - especially in the AH genre - before everything begins to blur into one tired ass plotline. It's the law of diminishing return and it cannot be helped. Also, lately I have fewer and fewer opportunities to read, so when I do spend my time on something I want it to blow my stripy socks off with its awesomeness, and to showcase said awesomeness quickly. I'm impatient like that.
A Constant in the Darkness by camoozle did not disappoint on either count. Even the summary drew me in; Bella with an eating disorder paired with Chefward? Ironic and original. Fucking yes, give it to me. I was already halfway on board with the summary alone, but the first paragraph clenched it for me:
The imagery Cam creates with her winding words and lyrical phrasing is evocative and gripping; I get such a distinct impression of Charlie's character from the scents she describes alone, and feel as though I can almost smell each one. Which segues nicely into my next point: camoozle's characterization blows me the fuck away.
Bella is bulimic, though not for the reasons you might imagine. It is not a bid for smaller thighs or a flatter stomach, but rather a way for her to simultaneously deal with and rebel against the grief she harbors over losing her father. Her mother ripped her from her bed at the age of 10, stealing her away in the middle of the night. She never heard from her father again, until he has a heart attack 7 years later and asks her to come stay with him while he recovers. She denies herself food as a way to gain back the control her mother stripped from her when she took her away from her father, but also to dispel the memories of her father that so often centered around cooking and eating.
She is sarcastic and bitter, but not brittle or too bitchy to feel sympathy for; her hard exterior merely masks the bruising within. She is intrinsically broken, insecure and feels unworthy of love. She is close to no one, as she never lets anyone in, fearing they will eventually leave her.
Edward, too, masks his dark interior, though he does so with cooking. While cooking, he is home; his constant and obsessive worry ebbs and he is able to be while simultaneously bringing joy and nourishment to the people who he fears he will one day hurt.
He and his sister Alice watched as their father killed their mother and then himself in a schizophrenic rage, and knowing the hereditary nature of the disease, Edward expects the same for himself. He holds himself back from becoming too close with anyone outside of his family, fearing he will only hurt them one day.
Until he meets Bella.
(Do you see what I mean about the imagery? Geezus.)
Bella, too, feels the immediate and visceral attraction to Edward, though her insecurities mock her.
I quickly finished my shopping, trying to push that boy from my brain, and regain the shred of dignity that I had harbored for so long: detachment. If I don’t care, they can’t hurt me. It is my mantra, my solace, my poise. I am a Zen monk when it comes to love.
They both fear the magnetic pull they feel for one another, and try to resist. Luckily for us, their resistance is not only futile, but short lived. Cam does not draw out their separation in misunderstanding upon miscommunication. She plays upon the weaknesses of both characters to ultimately drive them together.
They are both self-destructive; Bella passively with restriction, drugs and alcohol, Edward seeking violence to end his torturous waiting game, inviting the event that will finally make him snap. Bella pushes those who love her away, Edward is a nurturer, atoning for crimes he feels he will have no choice but to commit in the future. They are polar opposites and yet their unique brands of fuck-uppedness makes them fit perfectly together. Cam describes them as binary stars; two masses who will either suck the life from each other, or hold one another together as the universe attempts to rip them apart. I find that description poignantly apt.
Camoozle's writing style is both poetic and stark; sometimes the words wrap around me and I lose myself in the images she evokes. I smell and taste and feel and see exactly what she is describing. Her characterizations are strong, and her secondary characters are nearly as compelling as Edward and Bella. Even Alice is original while remaining familiar - she's a tarot card reader. I mean, fuck - that's brilliant.
This is not your run of the mill, angsty teenager story. The characters are dark and terribly troubled; your heart aches for what they've been through, and at times you just want to wrap them in cotton wool and stick them in your pocket for safekeeping while simultaneously beating the shit out of them for limiting themselves. They are beautiful in their flaws, vulnerable and sad but so earnest.
If you're looking for something different and compelling, this is it.
Ilsuocantante, author of Answering Bells likes long walks on the beach, boysecks, marsupials (especially koalas, because, let's face it, the kang is kinda lame-o) and all things Rob, Geekbert, and spends coious time in her chat and over at The Twilight Sisterhood.