Hello, SPEW buddy! I'm really glad I decided to read and review this story, because it's wonderful! Very well written, good intensity, and exciting. You had me leaning forward towards the screen and gripping the desk in front of me as I read.
I didn't notice any grammatical errors (which is another sign that you had me hooked, as very few stories draw me in so far that I don't note grammatical errors on the first read), but there were a few lines that stuck out to me as not quite working in one way or another.
The first of these is the last line of the second paragraph, which says "Only two years out of Hogwarts and she was drifting already." Grammatically it makes perfect sense. It's the logic that doesn't quite work for me. From what I've noted, people tend to drift right after finishing school, whatever the extent of that schooling may be. The twenties are, for many people, the drifting decade. So to my mind it would make more sense if Susan noted "Two full years out of Hogwarts and she was still drifting." But that's really more a question of perception of the world around us than anything else, and I know that cultural stuff like that varies from region to region, especially in terms of how soon women tend to settle down and get married, so my opinion about this one line may be reflecting our different experiences than anything else. But... something to think about, at least.
The body of the story (the journey through the maze itself) is very strong. It's well written and keeps the reader on edge. Actually it feels like the reader is drawn into the veil-covered maze too, because reading this section is like getting sucked into a tunnel and then emerging from it at the other side one breathtaking read later... something like a roller coaster ride. *gets mental images of a ride through Space Mountain at Disneyland* I noticed that a lot of the obstacles/occurrences in the maze are "natural" or weather related. Is there some deeper meaning behind this? I'd sort of like to see the weather/nature theme play out at some point, though I'm not sure when in the resolution that would happen.
As a very random sidenote, I enjoyed the riddle immensely. I was mentally squealing "a revealer!" and felt very satisfied when Susan came to the same conclusion.
The only bit that could really use some improvement comes towards the end: Justin. The Susan you've written is an evolved, interesting, complex character. She jumps off the page. She's multidimensional. She's real. But Justin as you portray him at the end of the maze... isn't real. The boggart version of him in the maze itself had more personality. Her reactions are all interesting and intense, while his are a bit unoriginal. If you ever decide to come back to this story for more than minor editing (and as always, I understand completely if you don't), I'd suggest filling out his character. As it is he's a bit clueless and very in love with Susan, both of which are fine. But there's nothing about him that makes it seem really alive. And his romantic streak seems... a bit too perfect to be real. Maybe that's part of what I'm reacting to... I don't see real guys acting and reacting in that way.
One line in particular really set off my cliche sensors (though I admit, I'm definitely sensitive, moreso than the average reader). Justin says: "Yes, and it broke my heart. Darling, you know I would never betray you like that. You’re the love of my life and I will never lie or push you away." It's a very cliche moment in what is otherwise a very original story. I know you need to have something about the boggart in there for the resolution to be complete, but... could you come up with something different than this? It's emotionally satisfying, I suppose, but again it's just too perfect, too cute.
Okay, enough about my reactions to sugary romance. Despite my opinion on that one line and my problems with Justin, the ending still works for me. It's a bit on the fluffy/cute side, but there's nothing wrong with that. For the most part, the ending is done in an original way, taking it beyond simple sweetness. I especially love your portrayal of Susan. She's doesn't push many boundaries, but that's part of who she is. She's still strong, courageous, and very human. She isn't perfect either intellectually or emotionally, she's not always in control, and she doesn't always know what she wants. And if you were ever to write some sort of sequel to this... shall we just say that it wouldn't take much convincing to get me to read it?
Author's Response: Thanks so much, SPEW Buddy! I liked your review very much, it made me happy. Do you think, perhaps, that you didn't find any grammatical errors because there weren't any? Nearly impossible, I know, but my beta is pretty good.
I knew you wouldn't like the romance, as I didn't like it either. At this point I was just wanting to get the story done so didn't spend a whole lot of time on Justin's character or his dialogue, though I'm glad you think Susan's a good girl.
About the drifting...it didn't come out the way I wanted. I wanted to portray more that she was already settled into a good life, there was no reason for her to feel this way...oh well.
Thanks again for your review! Maybe I'll think about a sequel...maybe Susan will star in the next Gauntlet.