Write A Novel, The Review - Chapters 67-69

Our Junior Journalist, Mishal Faraz of GEMS The Winchester School, gives her thoughts on Chapters 67-69 of the SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com Write A Novel Challenge.
Write A Novel, The Review - Chapters 67-69
By Jenny Mollon
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Every week as I sit down to write the weekly review for the “Write a Novel Challenge”, I have a sense of nostalgia about all the weeks gone by and how SchoolsCompared.com and WhichSchoolAdvisor.com have brought together schools from all over the UAE to work on a never before attempted project. I must confess here that when the novel gets finished, I’m actually going to miss the thrill I have felt each day in the past three months waiting for a new chapter.

Last week ended with Neina and Isla reaching the conclusion that Queen Orla derives her power from Isla’s mother, and they travel to the dungeons of the Mors World to find her held captive there. Isla, going by the logic that the death of her mother will result in the fall of Queen Orla, hands a blade to Neina and tells her to kill her mother. Let’s see how the plotline evolved this week...

Chapter 67 has been written by Christia Baghdadian of The English College.

Taking some creative liberties to twist Shakespeare’s oft quoted words-

To kill ,or not to kill, that is the question.

And that, my dear readers is a very brief summary of this chapter.

The chapter picks up right from the point where last week’s chapter concluded. Neina is absolutely shocked to hear Isla instructing her to kill her mother. She vehemently refuses to carry out the act, but Isla insists

“It shouldn’t be that hard! This thing is not my mother. Anyway, I wouldn’t be killing her - you would! I mean, come on… this is your chance to take your revenge on me. This is your chance to avenge your own mother. An eye for an eye.”

Factual error: As readers we know that Neina’s mother’s death did not involve Isla in the slightest measure, at least it has not been explicitly stated anywhere in the novel. This plot loophole is a result of the misinformation embedded in Chapter 66 and that is what is being continued. With no other option than to just ignore this inconsistency, let’s move on.

Isla tries everything in her power - threats, goading, sarcasm - to persuade Neina to kill her mother, but Neina refuses. Left with no other choice, Isla decides to do it herself. But as she gears up to execute the task, her mind is flooded with images from her childhood; the carefree and warmth filled time spent with her mother.

“Memories flooded back into Isla’s mind as if somewhere deep inside of her, the better part of herself was warning her that using the blade would destroy whatever goodness she still had left.”

Seeing Isla’s plight, Neina decides to step in and do what is needed. (At this point, as a reader I was wishing that instead of contemplating who would kill Isla’s mother, why could Isla and Neina not try to figure out if there was a way to save her?).

As Neina is about to kill Isla’s mother, Queen Orla appears at the doorway and encourages Neina to go ahead with the killing. The Queen’s appearance miraculously reminds Neina that there was indeed another way out and she pulls out a turquoise stone from her pocket and exclaims:

‘Just look. I can’t believe I forgot about this. I have had it with me all this time, through everything that has happened. I will never forget the day that Archie gave it to me.”

She recalls Archie giving it to her and telling her that it will protect her from even the most powerful magicians and kill her enemies if need be. Neina is totally surprised that she forgot about the stone. To be honest, even I cannot believe it that Neina had it with her all the time and she remembers it only now. Why didn’t Neina use it all this while? Why didn’t she use it to protect herself from Isla?

The chapter ends with Neina looking at this new-found treasure as a symbol of hope.

Chapter 68 has been written by Alya Al Shamsi of Swiss International Scientific School Dubai.The chapter begins with Neina trying to figure out what to do with the stone: “If I can just figure out how to use the stone correctly then maybe I can put an end to all this madness and save humanity.”

The Queen tells her to put the stone away:

“You have no idea what you’re messing with. The stone of Arazeth is not a toy.”

The stone has a name now; the stone of Arazeth. The Queen asks Neina to hand the stone to her but Neina and Isla compel her to explain why this stone is so important.

“The stone of Arazeth is a myth, or at least that’s what I thought. It holds immense power and is said to be able to do unimaginable things on the night of a full moon, more so than on any other night. It has been missing for centuries. Many have searched for it. Somehow it has ended up with you."

The Queen once again insists for the stone to be given to her. What follows is a struggle between the trio. While the confusing struggle goes on, Neina is still clueless as to how to make the stone useful. She feels someone snatch away the stone from her. It’s Isla’s mother!

Isla’s mother, the woman described earlier as an “empty battery” now stands tall with the stone “aiming it towards the skylight in the ceiling from which moonlight now streamed in”.

Another plot inconsistency here. The action is taking place in a dungeon. Dungeons are supposed to be underground prisons. They are usually windowless and even if they do have small openings to facilitate air circulation, it is impossible for them to capture moonbeams.

Moving on, as Isla’s mother stands there holding the stone, a blinding light emits from it. Neina and Isla shut their eyes and all they can hear are the Queen’s screams.

Cydnee Howard of Dubai English Speaking College has penned Chapter 69.

“The antechamber of the tower that they had been standing in had been reduced to blank walls and smooth stone, the finery and decoration scattered around the room in thousands of pieces.”

The chapter opens with a factual error. The entire scene has taken place in the dungeon and there would certainly be no “finery and decoration” present in a dungeon.

Getting back to the plot, Isla goes to the supine body of the Queen and turns her around “Her eyes were glassy and distant, her chest unmoving. She was gone.”

Overwhelmed with emotions, a sobbing Isla collapses in Neina’s arms. She looks around to observe the intricacies of the tower. As Isla contemplates about all that has transpired during the time she’s known the Queen, Neina thinks of Archie...

“Neina thought back to her Archie, and for the first time in weeks, the grieving widow smiled.”  Factual error alert: Archie and Neina were not married!

So, the key take away from this chapter is that Isla’s mother held the stone and that resulted in a cataclysmic burst of energy which killed the Queen and Isla’s mother. That part done, Neina tells Isla that since it was her mother who killed the Queen so that means Isla is the new queen of the bog!

‘You are an only child Isla, the next queen of the bog, is you.’

Question: How does Neina know that Isla is the only child when Isla has never talked about her childhood with Neina?

And the chapter closes.

I wrapped up this week’s reading with mixed feelings. I was relieved that there was no blood shed or disturbing imagery after things went a little haywire last week and the writers have attempted to work with what they were passed on from the previous week’s writing. However, there are a fair amount of factual inconsistencies present in all chapters. Also, one thing that continues to nag me is the fact that Isla’s mother is a peripheral character in the story. She is not a developed, full-fledged character and was mentioned in the past only in relation to Isla’s past. Hence to now place her at the fulcrum of the plot is a little arbitrary.

I excitedly look forward to next week’s writing and I sincerely hope that our novel gets the unforgettable conclusion that it deserves. As I sign off, let’s hear it once again for WhichschoolAdvisor.com and SchoolsCompared.com for actually making a really huge, ambitious and logistically mammoth project a reality.

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