A Light in May

Author: Antigone Q

Nominator: Thundera Tiger

2010 Award Category: Genres: Mystery - Second Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Medium Length

Rating: Teen  ✧  Reason for Rating: some non-graphic violence

Summary: A storm brings travelers and a mystery to peaceful Imladris. This is a traditional "whodunnit" told largely from the point of view of a bouncy seven-year-old Estel/Aragorn. It's not the usual Legolas-meets-Estel story; and my hope is that it has lots of humor, suspense, and a few good plot twists.

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Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger  ✧  Score: 10

Larner recommended this story to me, and when I found some time to sit down and read it, I discovered it to be nothing like what I expected. It starts slowly, painting an absolutely beautiful picture of Imladris and a very young Estel. I have to say now that rarely have I seen a child so well written. He's perceptive and quick, but there's also a wistful innocence about him that colors the story with some brilliant flashes of humor. But moving on, the story progressed through the first two chapters and I thought I saw where it was going: Some disagreement in Mirkwood prompted Legolas to go to Imladris. I couldn't have been more wrong. The fact that Legolas didn't even factor in except as a diversion never occurred to me. The story is filled with twists and turns, and it throws them so quickly that you're barely able to readjust all your suppositions before it throws the next twist at you. I was completely thrown when the poisoning happened at the dance, because I suspected THAT would be the crime responsible for the mystery. Little did I know that the real crime of the["whodunnit"] happened months before the story even began. And the plot devices! The story is littered with what I assumed were deft touches to make the world of Imladris deeper and more real. Or to add humorous insights, like the missing healer that Estel keeps seeing on the bridge with another errant healer. But these seemingly innocuous additions weave their way into the plot until they're essential elements in the unraveling of the mystery. I was completely transfixed by this story! I loved all the echoes to Tolkien's other works, I loved the way each character had his or her own unique personality, and I thoroughly enjoyed the OCs. This was one of the best Middle-earth mysteries I've ever read, and I can't recommend it enough!

Reviewed by: obsidianj  ✧  Score: 10

This story made me smile. Young Estel is adorable and he is a most of the time well behaved seven-year old. Mostly because the adults around him know how to deflate temper tantrums before they can occur. I loved the twists and turns the mystery part of the plot took. Legolas and his friends(?) from Mirkwood were surely trying the patience of Lord Elrond. Every time I thought I had figured it out another bit of information was revealed and the story shifted again. Well done. Estel is in the middle of it all and the reader sees the story unfold through the eyes and imagination of the young boy, which makes in parts an unusual viewpoint for serious matters. Despite the adults trying to shield him from the things they think are not appropriate for him, he manages to see more than is good for him. The foreshadowing of Estel's future life when he took the flowers for the festival, reaching too high, scraping his knees and hands, but in the end succeeding was touching. Did Elrond realize this? Or is it just the reader who knows how the overall story will end? This story has a different portrayal of Gilraen than a lot of stories I read recently. She is withdrawn, not really paying attention to what is going on around and with her boy. She seems to be still in mourning and deeply depressed. The way she and her son now speak different languages could have been comical if it wouldn't be so sad. I loved the way, she got coaxed out of her shell. She is not healed, but the reader can see she is on the way to recovery.

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 10

This piece is labeled a whodunnit and, indeed, there is a mystery to be solved, complete with poison, bodies, and people who aren't what they seem. But it is mainly a story about childhood and family, about what it's like to be a little boy living with your depressed and distant mother and your Elven foster-father and -brothers and their entourage in Imladris. At Estel's age (7) everything around him partakes of some element of mystery when filtered through the sensibilities of a perceptive but nonetheless inexperienced child: the natural world, his family members, even himself. In one scene, not having other children to play with and having been told several times that he is unusual for a child his age, Estel goes to the library in an attempt to research how children his age normally behave, followed by a hilarious attempt (emphasis on the word “attempt”) at having a temper tantrum. Even the things that Estel thinks are established and unchanging show themselves to be unreliable. Living with Elves, he considers them to be infinitely understandable and safe compared with Men, but over the course of the story he discovers that Elves don’t always act as they should: they can be rude and uncivil, and some of them can be far worse. ([“Elves do not do such things. Not elves,”] he cries at one point, clinging to his mother as some part of his innocence is taken from him. As I read this story I looked for Aragorn, for the seeds of the man that Estel will become. Many of his gifts are still in their infancy. His herb lore is very limited as yet, though he does have the ability to use athelas. Legolas watches at one point, doubting but ultimately impressed, as one of the twins sets Estel to tracking a mouse: the boy succeeds, but tracking is as yet a game, not the grim business that it will become in later years. Arwen is neither present nor mentioned in this story, but there is foreshadowing in an incident involving some Evening Stars, the blossoms of a plant that grows in only one place in Imladris, where it was placed by Celebrian. It is hard not to feel a little choke when reading this scene, because it invites associations of similar moments from childhood, accidently breaking or destroying something precious to one’s parents. Not normally keen on mysteries, I didn’t know how much interest this story would have for me going in, but I was enchanted throughout. I recommend it to both the mystery lovers and those who don’t normally do much reading in the mystery vein.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 10

I had wished very much to nominate this one myself, but ran out of nominations. So, it is heartening that someone else did what I failed to do! Seven-year-old Estel unwittingly opens a mystery when he tells his beloved Papa Elrond about the signs someone has been camping near his favorite climbing tree, there near one edge of the valley. When a golden-haired Elf is found there unconscious from a blow received when a lightning-struck tree fell, things begin to grow interesting in the valley of Imladris, and even more so when a hunting party from Mirkwood arrives in search of Thranduil's son. But it proves that the Elf who lies in the Hall of Healing is, although one of the sons of Thranduil, NOT the son the party came in search of! Then, when the son is poisoned at the celebration held to honor the blooming of trees, things grow even more problematical. Who would bring spider venom to Elrond's house, and why would such a person seek to poison a prince from Mirkwood? Regicide and kinslaying have been planned, and yet another body is found in the wake of recent flooding. An exciting whodunit set in Rivendell itself, with Elrond, little Estel, and Glorfindel hot on the trail of the devious murderer and would be murderer! A most enticing mystery filled with wonderful description and a perfectly charming young Aragorn I find quite in keeping with my own imaginings of him! Definitely a story to read and enjoy! Do check it out!

Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 7

This was a wonderful whodunnit! It was a traditional mystery, yes, with lots of clues and red herrings, but it had much that made it very original, beginning with the choice of main POV character: seven-year-old Estel, who, while intelligent and sharp-eyed, thinks and behaves like an actual seven-year-old. A child's POV is hard enough to pull off with a fluffy story, but even more difficult when it is a mainly serious story. (Although this one was leavened with lighter moments, which made the rest of it more real.) There was also an original portrayal of Gilraen. While it's not the usual fanon portrayal of her, it's also one that is logical. She was a very young widow, in a place where she did not speak the language. I really liked her growth in this story. And I also liked the plausibility of the reason for Mirkwood Elves to be in Imladris, something not always covered in fanfic. A good mystery and a good read-- and though plot-driven, the characterizations were excellent!

Reviewed by: Fiondil  ✧  Score: 6

A spring storm brings an injured Elf to Imladris, one who is hiding a deadly secret that will endanger the inhabitants of the Last Homely House. This is a classic whodunit, seen through the eyes of seven-year-old Estel. Antigone Q does a good job of bringing Imladris to life, with its ceremonies and rituals. The Elves are well depicted and clearly Elves. I think the image of Elladan walking about with a crow on his shoulder and a baby fox nestled in his arm will stay with me for some time. But the most intriguing character is Gilraen, the lone adult Mortal, still grieving for the life she lost when Arathorn died. The author’s depiction of Estel is spot on. She clearly has captured the mindset of a seven-year-old and in spite of the seriousness of the storyline, I found myself snickering at Estel’s way of seeing the world around him. A most enjoyable read.

Reviewed by: Linaewen  ✧  Score: 4

I love mysteries, so it was a wonderful blessing to discover this one -- not only is it Lord of the Rings, but it is a glorious mystery besides! The mysterious elements are there, indeed, but in addition, this tale is beautiful in and of itself, with its descriptions of Rivendell and indepth characterizations of the inhabitants. Estel is so sweet I want to pinch his cheeks! A thoroughly engrossing and satisfying tale!

Reviewed by: curiouswombat  ✧  Score: 4

This is such a well written mystery story - with twists, turns, multiple layers and well written characters. Young Estel is particularly well written - a very believable small boy! The denouement, when it comes, is just right - the clues were all there, but not so obvious that it was all far too clear before this point - a real skill for any writer to achieve - well done Antigone Q.