Hi there. I clicked on this not knowing what to expect, since I’ve never read your work before. I was glad I did, though, because I really liked what I read. I don’t normally comment on titles or summaries, but may I just say, your title really ties in with your story. And your summary was short and to the point, and that drew me in, especially because you didn't give anything away. Summaries and titles are so important, and I thought you nailed it here.
Having said that, I think you repeated the title in the story itself a bit too much. I understood what you were trying to get at here, but it was just a little overdone, and I think a few deletions of “smoke and mirrors” would do. The title arc was intriguing, and I loved the idea — I just think that when it comes to repeating your title in your story, less is more, really. This is especially significant considering how short it was, although its length was by no means a bad thing; I actually think that the story had a good length, and that meant it didn't drag and flowed nicely.
A few things regarding spells: in the books, the spells are always italicised, and Avada Kedavra was spelt incorrectly. These errors didn't detract anything from what I thought of the story — I was just slightly distracted by the mistakes to focus on it, so another read-through would iron these errors out. Or, alternatively, you could use a beta.
I will never leave Him.
I thought this line was intriguing; capitalising the “him”, which is only ever done to describe God (as far as I know) was a great way of emphasising just what Voldemort meant to him, as well as how much power he had over Pius. I really liked this — it was subtle, and far better than just stating this outright.
Present tense has always been something I love, but only when written well. Here, it added to the tension in the atmosphere of the story, and it made Pius’s predicament even more unfortunate, making me feel almost (almost!) sorry for him. Well done for managing that — I’ve never sympathised with Thicknesse before now, yet now I come to mention it, I suppose it was rather unfair of me to think that, given he was Imperiused. That was one of the things that drew me into your story; I've always been... curious, if you like, about Thicknesse, and the whole premise of this was so interesting and definitely unique. I’m yet to find a decent fanfic other than yours which explores Thicknesse’s character as well as yours has.
Since we don’t really see much of Thicknesse in DH — in terms of characterisation, at least — I thought you did a good job with him, considering he’s an OC, to all intents and purposes. I would have thought it impossible to write a story in the first person, whilst that very character is under the Imperius Curse, but I thought, again, you did extremely well. The narrative and the tone is just so, so... subservient, to Voldemort, which was fitting and appropriate given that he was under the Imperius Curse. I applaud you for being able to maintain that tone from start to finish; Pius’s voice is clear and sustained throughout.
I also thought Rufus’s characterisation was spot on. He, unlike Thicknesse, was more fleshed out in the books, but whenever we saw Scrimgeour, he seemed tough, or, at least, pretending to be. At no point did he seem weak, in canon. The fact that you drew on the parallels of their characters was very interesting, and Scrimgeour’s display of weakness was very in character and effective, so well done.
“It was Imperius, we know,” says Hermione Granger, the second of the Trio.
Something I wasn’t too sure about was the use of “the Trio”. I thought it was unnecessary and, to be frank, a little clichéd, and this really sort of stood out for me because up until that point, I thought the story wasn’t clichéd and was wholly original both in its premise and its plot. I would suggest taking this part away entirely, because I’m not really convinced that Hermione was “the second”, either, since that kind of undermined Ron in a way, assuming Harry was “the first of the Trio”. I don't think that was entirely accurate, and nowhere in canon were Harry, Ron and Hermione described as “the Trio”. I still hold to my opinion that this story is unique and un-clichéd; the lapse in cliché, really, is very minor and certainly didn't affect my overall thoughts of the story once I’d finished it.
Aside from my quibbles, I thought this story was superbly written; the dialogue was excellent, and you really fulfilled my curiosity in Pius Thicknesse. If I didn't know any better, this story could’ve been canon. An excellent read, with not quite as many reviews as it deserves, and I hope you continue to write more.
Author's Response: Hello Soraya. Thanks for giving me such a lovely long review. I am very aware that I spelled things wrong (I wrote this at 1 in the morning, submitted it and promptly forgot about it.) And as for the ‘smoke and mirrors’ thing, I did think that I used it a little too much while rereading, but see the 1 in the morning thing. And finally, the Trio quibble. Remember that Pius has been under Voldykins’ control for nearly a year and been thinking of H R and Hr as a unit rather than humans, hence ‘Trio.’ Other than that, I’m considering writing a sequel to this starring Stan Shunpike. It’s good to know all the best things about my story and thanks again for reviewing! ~Lily~