This is one of my stronger reviews. I have a tendency to tell authors what they already know about their story- my “impressions”, more of a summary of how I received a story, but in too much detail to get to my point. I think this particular review avoided this, and helped really explain what I thought about various aspects of the story – characterization, writing style, etc.- and really said WHY I liked it or didn’t like it. I also had some critique interspersed. It wasn’t harsh, it was simply honest and justified, and I tried to make it clear that it didn’t by any means overwhelm the rest of the story, but it was still there and there were impressions I had reading it.
Hey Natalie! I have come to review as promised, and I'm glad you promoted your story, because somehow I missed it in the updates. Is this the first story you've ever written? Because it was a joy and a delight to read - can I have more please? :D I am mega-impressed!
I think there can be many characterizations of Astoria, as we know so little about her, but any take that is well written is believable. Your take on the Malfoys' Post-Hogwarts life is refreshing. It doesn't feel overdone, and it is explained. The motivations behind their somewhat secluded life brings us a version of Scorpius that is accepted and well-balanced and prejudiced free - again, tastefully and refreshingly done so as not to be overwhelming.
Your characterization - spot on. Well, in my humble opinion. There have been 12309827 different versions of Scorpius and Astoria, and I really like yours. Astoria seems like she is a good fit for the Draco you've molded as well…willing to play into his ego a little bit, but all aboard the "Let's Forget the Past" train.
My favorite…impression?...of your work is how you intermingled the history and the aforementioned motivations and beliefs of the Malfoy's into the dialogue and into the story as it unfolded, rather than giving us several paragraphs in the beginning. It felt like I was peeking into their life for a day, shadowing first Draco, and then Teddy, and finally Astoria as something trivial like Sunday lunch is actually a very pivotal moment in their lives. It made the flow of the story smooth and easy to read, breaking up the dialogue and the prose.
I also liked the time stamp and place - it helped to juxtapose the differences and similarities between the two families…does that make sense? At least, it did for me, lol. Teddy and Draco had a VERY different background, but at the same time were both willing to cross bridges and change tradition. And they both were cute being nervous. :) I also thought the comparisons between the Weasley children and Scorpius were initially a tad overdone, but now that I think about it, that's probably what I would have been doing the entire time myself - making comparisons in this nervewracking situation to the one think I'm most familiar with.
I also thought that you sprinkled it ever so nicely with glimpses into how the Wizarding world has changed, and just with little fun tidbits here and there to make the reader really feel immersed in a magical world. I think as writers of this fiction we sometimes forget to do that subtly here and there: playing Auror and Wizard Baddie, Astoria's thought about stunning two birds with one spell, Teddy's household spells worth a "T" grade, Archiwizards…etc.
So, this review is monstrous, and probably the longest one I've ever written! I think there were a few nitpicks in there somewhere - one of your codings is off, something was supposed to be italicized, I think, and I have to mention that I did have a little, "Hmm" moment when Draco got the owl from Xanadu - but I wasn't joking when I asked for another. Something with lots of Astoria in it.
As I mentioned above, I can spend too much time telling authors things they already know about their story, and I don’t think that’s helpful to the author, unless it makes them feel better that someone interpreted their story correctly (or maybe worse if it’s wrong). My interpretation of Bella’s characterization was unnecessary, and there was really no reason to use so many quotes. I almost didn’t review this story, I nearly analyzed it for discussion. I also have some random tangents I digress on (such as “On a side note, I like your Tonks, you should write her more.”)
Here I am, as promised. It's much too late again, but I'm going to stop procrastinating. This fic deserves this review.
I should first mention that you are scarily good at characterizing Bella. You have understood the root cause of what drives her character…at least, as I understand what you have come to understand through reading this story, if that makes sense.
She is completely insane. She lives for Voldemort. Period. Every decision she makes is for him and what she believes around him. Some of those beliefs are reinforced from her childhood, but the point still stands that she lives for his approval.
"Her wand hand was trembling a little with excitement; rewards from the Dark Lord lay ahead for her."
"However, the Dark Lord's mocking was very different."
"She was going to spill her own family blood, an act she felt honoured to commit."
"Soon, very soon, she was going to show the Dark Lord she always kept her promises."
If you assume, as she does, that this is the correct way to base decisions in your life, she is completely rational. She is cold, calculated, powerful, and not a woman to mess with.
She also lives moment by moment while simultaneously keeping the bigger picture at hand - this is most evident in duels, where she will jump from the most advantageous target to another, but relent or move targets sometimes when she sees advantages or her bigger picture in mind.
For example, right in the beginning, she moves to Tonks: "Forgetting about Potter, and with murder in her heart, she rushed forward to duel with the girl." But then when Sirius sends a spell her way, she decides he's a much better target because: a) she can get to Tonks another day, and b) it seems to be a part of her personality that she enjoys revenge, torture, the possibilities it presented to kill. So she just switch *snap!* just like that. The duality theme of her personality is present throughout the piece in different forms.
Another example of duality, and my *second* favorite part (my first will come next :D ) is the part about the photographs. She spends some time reminiscing. I found it surprising that she would get the photograph out, until I realized it was spurning her angry - she was relishing in it. But at the same time, there is a bittersweet quality to the memory. She remembers Cissy as a sister she can be proud of, even though she saved the photograph, and she let her save it this long. I think these qualities of stopping, thinking about her past…and then suddenly dropping the picture and burning it with those hateful thoughts are two twisted sides to her personality you've managed to portray quite well. It makes unpredictable.
The scenes you've chose to represent from the book, in particular the last two - fantastic. Her motivation and the way you've written them make them fresh. I didn't feel like I was reading the scene again, I felt like I was reading a new scene, and I was actually worried for Tonks in the 7 Potters scene, even though I know she makes it to safety.
Her obsession with Tonks is scary. The final scene at the Battle of Hogwarts is frightening in its intensity: " The wandless girl turned around at the sound of the approaching footsteps, but Bellatrix was too quick for her; she grabbed the girl’s hair, pulling her head to expose the neck, and slit her throat in a smooth semi-circle." And like the 7 Potters scene, though we know what happens, it still feels like I’m reading a new scene. (On a side note, I like your Tonks, you should write her more.) I like the fact that you didn't have her kill Remus.
I am conflicted about how you decided to have Tonks die. *sobs* On the one hand, I would like her to go out fighting, no matter what. On the other hand, I was strangely satisfied that Bella didn't take her down fighting; it was cowardly (even though she still felt a sadistic pleasure from it).
The last four words: quite chilling, and thus quite a fitting ending for Bella's tale.
I hope this makes sense…I don't know if there is anything constructive in there, but…I seriously fangirl what you've written about Bella.