Out to Play

Author: Celeritas

Nominator: Dreamflower

2011 Award Category: Hobbits: Family - First Place

Story Type: Story  ✧  Length: Short Story

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: When Pippin demands the importation of a Buckland Yule tradition back home, Paladin must reach into memory for a bed-time story.

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Reviewed by: Dreamflower  ✧  Score: 10

This story was a LOTR GFIC Yule Exchange Fic, written as a gift for Cathleen, who had requested a story in which Paladin was telling a story to his children on the eve of Yule. Celeritas comes up with a clever frame-story. When Pippin demands stories for Yule the way they always have them in Buckland (where he'd spent the previous Yule), Paladin is at first stumped, because Buckland tradition demanded the most ghastly and scary ghost stories, and he's hard put to think of what to tell. I love the little details Celeritas shows, of the little family visiting at Great Smials for the winter, and of the warm and flirtatious relationship between Paladin and Eglantine. I also like his reaction to the brief appearance of a servant OC, an unnamed lad who sheds light on Paladin's generous and detail oriented character. We see a hobbit who prefers to do for himself when he can, but is wise enough to know that it's not a bad thing to let others do their own jobs from time to time. We are also treated to nice descriptions of his children, that set up Pearl, Pimpernel and Pervinca as distinct personalities (and left me most worried about young Pimpernel who chills easily) before Paladin sets in to tell a story of his own childhood. The tale that Paladin came up with was such a perfect tale-- a bit mysterious and ghostly, but not at all ghastly or terrifying! Just what Paladin needed to offset his nephew's gruesome tales! I very much enjoyed the ambiguity of it-- it undoubtedly happened to Paladin, yet what did happen? Were the Elven children truly ghosts? And the ambiguity at the end as well: did Pippin also go out to find those children? Knowing Pip, probably so! Hopefully, however, he will not give his parents as much of a fright as his father did his!

Reviewed by: The Lauderdale  ✧  Score: 7

Christmas ghost stories are some of the best. Paladin is at a loss for a good ghost story to tell his son and the other young hobbits, something that they won't have heard before. He doesn't consider himself fanciful enough to just make something up, as his cousin Bilbo does, but when he asked Bilbo once how he came up with his own stories, [Bilbo had only looked at him quite gravely and told him that one told only what one knew.] And when he thinks about it that way, Paladin realizes that he might have a story in him after all. This is a rather enigmatic little piece that leaves us to wonder - did it all happen as Paladin says, or did he cobble something together out of a memory of imaginary childhood friends? Were Lindo and Silmie malignant, or essentially benign? How does one reconcile their presence with Tolkien's own ideas about the afterlives of his different races? And that ending - how much is "real," and how much is Pippin's infamous suggestibility? Whatever the answers, this story made Paladin Took a lot more interesting than I suspected.

Author response: I'm not going to lie; I nearly squeed when I read this review, because it meant that someone "got it," as it were. A lot of the reviews I received when the fic was posted took it at straight value and assumed that it automatically was true, even though I was trying to leave as many possibilities as I could, because I think uncertainty is one of the great things about horror. So thank you, very much!

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 5

Dear Celeritas, I like how charmingly you have used the template of the traditional ghost story here. It lives very much through the setting and the characters. The atmosphere of the big bustling house is nicely contrasted with the intimacy of the family group, and as a reader I feel almost as cosy as they do with their biscuits and steaming mugs around the fireside. I like how you left it open whether Lindo and Silme were imaginary friends or real ghosts. And trust Pippin to get into mischief… This is really delightfully done.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

A jolly holiday hobbit tale that is also a very effective ghost story. The dichotomy between the happy, cozy Took family and the faint, slightly disturbing infringement by supernatural activity is handled seamlessly; it's hard to tell when the family vignette ends and the ghost story begins, which makes both all the more real. I loved the ending too; it is perfect for the story. Extra points for great characterization of little Pippin; and for the effectiveness of Paladin's tale-within-a-tale.

Reviewed by: Darkover  ✧  Score: 3

An interesting tale about what may or may not have been either Elves or ghosts--or "faded" Elves. At the same time, the story manages to be about a happy hobbit family. The style, description, and dialogue are all excellent. Well done.