This is a very cute one-shot! I love how you turned one of the most overlooked creatures in the Potterverse into one of intrigue and depth. You have quite a sarcastic, witty and instantly likeable style of narrative, too. It was very entertaining and retained my attention easily.
I like the on-going theme of the owl as the bringer of news. You begin with it through name definitions and end with it very poignantly. Defining the owl’s role was a clever thing to do, because it places restrictions on the bird that humans don’t have. It makes me think of the house-elves, and how their entrapment is much more explicit, and it’s certainly something that could be developed more. Wizarding owls are obviously domesticated and ‘broken in’ to servitude in the way a horse is in our world, and I like how in this one-shot you showed how this can give them a purpose to excel at, but what comes with that is restraint. It makes me want to set free the Fell pony at my stables … but I am not sure Gemma would approve.
I love how the atmosphere suddenly changes near the end with the simple phrase: “I am no longer needed”. The tone instantly becomes sombre, with the talk of the funeral and the humans’ grief. Throughout, the story has been quite light-hearted and so I was just waiting for this to change, because of her being Cedric’s owl. You handled the change in her life really well, as well as the grief of Cedric’s family. It wasn’t too angsty and you didn’t dwell on it, but the emotions were still there.
The crucial thing that didn’t sit right with me was the great understanding the owl had of the human world. The owl seemed to understand EVERYTHING that was being said around her. Usually, when writing from an animal’s POV, you have the animals able to communicate with each other and be perceptive to humans, but there’s usually a gap in understanding. Thinking about my cat as the perfect example – I think he knows that I love him to bits, but when I am grooming him (he gets very mattered) he still thinks I am trying to hurt him. Details such as the baby names book – the owl couldn’t plausibly understand that, otherwise they’re behaviour through the HP series would have been much more astute and intelligent. I can understand them being able to interact with each other, though, so I liked the moment when she was gossiping in the owlry.
Over all, it’s a very lovely story.
*hugs SPEW Buddy*
After reading this story, it was easy for me to see why it was a first place winner in one of the challenges. From a technical standpoint the story is very sound (not that I an am authority) and it is strong emotionally. It also offers a unique perspective and you did a great job personifying the thoughts and feelings of Evangeline. Recounting the story of Cedric’s through her eyes tears at the heart strings. It’s really quite sad, but just so nicely done!
I really liked the part where Mr. Diggory comes to Eyelops to get an owl, which ends up being Evangeline. I think you did a nice just characterizing him the same way he was in the little bits and pieces seen of him in canon. I especially like how you work in the whole thing he has about his son’s rivalry with Harry Potter. This statement had a profound effect on Mr. Diggory. He frowned slightly as if disgusted by this admission.
You know one tiny thing that I wonder about, however. And, I must warn you that this is quite possibly the most nitpicky thing in the history of the world, so feel free to disregard. But, I wonder if the shop-keep would refers to the owls and eagles as “models”. It just seems to me like him saying “birds” would have worked better. I guess my experience is that every shopkeeper in any pet store I have ever been in has had a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the animals. Referring to them as “models” almost makes the owls seem manufactured.
Eh … just a feeling.
Another thing I saw in like the second or third paragraph was the phrase “day off” in back to back sentences. It’s not a big deal and I honestly only notice it because it is something I really watch for in my own writing … repetition. I mean, its one thing if done intentionally, almost poetically. But I don’t think that’s what you were going for there. Correct me if I’m wrong on that.
My favourite part is where Evangeline tells mourns over the all of these wonderful deliveries she will never make. She will never get a carry a love letter, engagement announcement, Christmas cards, or birth announcements. It’s just such an awful sense of despair like I sure the Diggory house was overwhelmed with after their son died.
Great story and a deserving winner of the challenge!
I love a beautiful and unusual name, and so I was quite intrigued when I saw the title of this was Evangeline; I wasn’t disappointed! It’s always a wonderful thing to come across a new and well-written idea, and this was extremely well written. You succeeded in making the reader empathise completely with the owl and look at Cedric in a new light. For those first few lines I really thought Evangeline was human, and this feeling continued, although you did such a good job of keeping her owlish points of reference in there. Most of us know the feeling of our pets understanding us better than some humans, and I think you got this across well in the short-lived relationship that Cedric had with his owl. It’s a compliment to your writing style that in such a short one shot you can achieve so many different levels and touch on several themes.
I’m going to fling in a batch of concrit here; it’s nothing serious, just a few things I think could be tidied up.
The only thing that runs throughout is repetition. Nothing major, but in a few places it interferes slightly with the narrative. The first instance is in the first paragraph with sorrow. I know you are trying to establish a theme very early on, and in a short piece I know it’s best to take the direct route. I just felt that maybe a synonym could have been used at least once. The constant repeat of sorrow set the tone, but it also sounded a little clunky.
The other two places that I noticed it were:
Rarely did I have a day off bringing news and advice between the two. Occasionally I would have a few days off and would happily nap in the Owlery.
Day off and days off – I think that could be reworded.
I puffed my feathers proudly under the scrutiny. My tan feathers glowed in the torchlight and I clicked my beak to show him that I was attentive. Mr. Diggory approved.
I think the first feathers could be removed and Evangeline could perhaps just ‘puff myself up proudly’.
I have a Britpick for you. We wouldn’t say keep. We would say shopkeeper. This in no way detracts from the narrative, but in the interests of authenticity I thought I should point it out. :-)
Past time should probably be pastime.
“Let’s see, I have a Pacific Screech owl, he’s rare in this area, very fine. I also have an Eagle owl, both of whom are very sturdy birds. But if you want the best, I’d recommend her,” the keep gestured towards my cage as he stood back, as if revealing a famous artist’s newest
You have a nitpicky dialogue error there at the end. (Did I mention I was the queen of nitpickiness??)
My favorite past time was exchanging gossip and discussing the latest articles from the Daily Prophet Filch used to line our roosts.
Okay, this was the only line that I though really needed reworking for clarity’s sake. Daily Prophet needs to be italicised… but you need a that between Prophet and Filch and a with after roosts. It makes the line sound much better. (By this point Amanda is now stabbing me with a pen and wishing I had never rejoined SPEW – I did say I was going to get the concrit out of the way first!)
My final thing is the sentence in which Amos Diggory is brandishing ‘a’ letter. I think you need to clarify that’s it’s ‘the’ letter, otherwise it could be any old letter. And that’s it! I have no more concrit.
So, what did I love; I loved your realistic dialogue and would have liked to see more… I’ll read more of your stories to get another fix! It was natural and flowed well. I really liked the small references that you dropped in which gave more dimension to the story, like the mention of the weather and the length of time the journey would take. I think things like this are important to a story because it adds realism. I found the fact that they looked up an owl’s name in a baby name book amusing and it brought a smile to my face, even though the whole story is quite a sad one. It’s always nice to see a light note enter a heartbreaking tale.
Evangeline’s musings on death are so sad; she has a very realistic view of what happens after the funeral when people go back to their lives and leave the wound still there. I found your mention of her dispensing funeral announcements, and then the contrast she makes with what she would have been doing had Cedric survived very poignant indeed. It was that that really made us realise that here was a life lost; a life that could have been lived. You managed this very, very well.
Her thoughts on the general fate of owls brought to mind that of house-elves and added to the picture that wizards really don’t seem to regard the creatures that serve them with much respect. The fact that Cedric was prepared to treat her almost as one of the family is in contrast to the attitudes of, say, Ron with his owl and the old family owl. This is another interesting theme you wove into this story and shows the quality of this, that you can pack in so much and still remain focussed on what is really going on; Evangeline’s uncertainty and her grief.
Cedric’s mum’s reaction was a very real one. I can imagine the pain she must have seen every time she saw Evangeline. Not only is the owl a reminder of her son, she is a reminder of the glory that once was. It’s a double whammy for the poor woman, and again, you get that across subtly and well. The last line is a powerful one and one that stays with the reader. I wonder what will happen to her. Will she live out the rest of her days in that back room? Will she be sold on or sent back to Eeylops? If it wouldn’t spoil the poignancy of this one-shot, I would ask for a sequel… but sometimes things are better left as they are, and this is a perfect piece of poignancy that leaves us where we should be. Thank you.
Author's Response: SQUEEEEE! And I will NOT be stabbing such a wonderful reviewer!!! I don't know how I'll ever match the compliment! Thank you for the nitpicks, I enjoy good concrit, it makes me a better writer. I'm so glad you picked up on just how sad Evangeline's fate really is. As being my only OC (so far) I ponder her continued existance sometimes, and I just don't know what's in store for her. I wish her all the best, but like all the best characters, you never really know where they are going to take you. As for her name, I did in fact go through baby naming resources to find a name that fit what I wanted the story to tell. As it so happened I came across the gem "Evangeline" and the peices just fell into place! Oh gosh! *blush* I'm just so happy you liked it! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!
Amanda, that was so lovely! Really, I loved it. I've read it twice now, and I can't even find a simple typo to correct! You are making this SPEW job harder than it's supposed to be, darn you!
I think this story was an excellent example of personification. You gave Evangeline these human emotions and traits, yet never lost sight of the fact that she was an owl. Her relationship with Cedric was so bittersweet to read; I loved how she felt such a loyalty for him. It really gave her demension as a charcter, taking her from pretentious pet to something more relatable.
I felt that Evangeline almost longed to be thought of as human. Is this true? I got the feeling that only her duty as an owl held her back from exploring this feeling more. Maybe it was the conversations with Cedric; somehow I got it in my mind that she always wanted to be able to speak back. Again, am I right here or going on something that isn't there?
I feel for Evangeline; her whole life has been taking for her. Now, she is useless. For something so proud, that is a blow. I love how you described this; how she never really let this pierce her skin (metaphorically speaking, of course).
Anyways Amanda, really great job. It was such a pleasure to read and review for this story, even if I couldn't find anything wrong with it. :)
Author's Response: Oh! I'm so glad you liked it Hanna! Thank you so much for the comments! I'm not sure I ever thought of Evangleline wanting to be more human... but that's something interesting to ponder. I certainly did want to personify her, so I could see where that desire would be imaginable. Thank you!!!
Panda-Amanda! *giggles and hugs*
I was browsing the story updates in the SPEW forum and came upon your summary for your story. I have a strange obsession with names -- the more exotic-sounding, the better. And those names in the summary sure stood out to me! =)
This is a very solid, strong fic with definite literary terms -- you've covered your 'character', the idea or plot of your story, the imagery, the theme, the climax and rising action -- it's all there. And written in splendidly.
Evangeline isn't something I would expect in an owl. You've created her just like another human being. If I would have done this prompt, I would have written it in abstract, short sentence to emphasize that this is an owl talking, not a human. But with this story, it works.
The background information you give us on Evangeline is defined well -- she was bought on impulse, basically, yet she's done all this good with the Diggory family. I mean, even Cedric talked to her, let out his feelings. It's sad how in the end, Evangeline is left alone, ignored or looked down upon. She doesn't deserve that. In just mere minutes, you've pulled the reader in, making them see and feel Evangeline's emotions. *applauds* Who could have done a better job?
There's not a lot for me to criticize here:
Already Mrs. Diggory can’t lay eyes on me without bursting into tears; a far cry from the days when she would jump for joy when she saw me glide in the window.
Instead of the semicolon, a comma would be better. Because 'a far cry...' isn't really a seperate sentence; a comma will fit in better.
He keeps the window open for me, but the bedroom door stays shut tight.
The 'tight' at the end of the sentence doesn't sit well with me. It appears almost awkward, in a way. I would rephrase this to: He keeps the window open for me, but the bedroom door stays tightly shut. That, in my opinion, flows so much better.
No one thinks about the bringers of good news, when there’s no good news to be sent.
This sentence had a huge impact on me. You sure do know how to end a story powerfully. I've reread that now, many times. It sums up what the story was about, leaves the reader with something, and also introduces the moral a little bit. Awesome work here!
Author's Response: Peri-Anna!!!! *squees and hugs back* Thank you SO much for this lovely, long and cohesive review! You don't know how much I CRAVE those! *giggles* I guess that's why we're both in SPEW! Thank you for the heads up on the sentence structures. I'll definately look those over and make the appropriate edits. *Dances* Thanks love!
Awhh I love this! I feel so bad for Evangeline... you write well!
Author's Response: Thank you very much!
Like everyone else, I have to say this is one of the saddest fics I have ever read. You captured Evangelines feelings about Cedric and the grief his family suffered just so perfectly and so beautifully.
I love that name, Evangeline. Thats why I wanted to read this fic. Do you watch Lost? The actress who plays Kate Austen's name is Evangeline Lilly.
Author's Response: Thank you! No, actually, I decided what I wanted my character's name to mean, and then searched on a baby naming website. And when I came across Evangeline, I knew it had to be!
What a wonderful idea, and how wonderfully written! I believe this was the winner of the challenge... am I right? Well, if it is, then you undoubtedly deserved it. :-) Great work!
Author's Response: Yes, I did take first. Thank you sooooo much!!!
Awwww...that was so sweet and sad. Well done!!
Author's Response: Thanks Jenn! I really appreciate it!!!
Sad, but heartfelt. Congrats on winning the challenge!
Author's Response: Thank you Genny dear! It dawned on my today that I didn't let you read it before I submitted it. What a terrible friend I am! But I'm glad you liked it! and thanks for the congrats!!!
Your story is so sad and sweet. I love how her name opens and closes the story, as well as being tied with everything else. This is what attracted to me to this stoy... because I just watched a movie where someone is named Evangeline (Nanny McPhee), and I thought it was a beautiful name.
It's very very sad. I love the concept that an owl is very overlooked by most people, but have their own feelings and ways of seeing things. Being Cedric's owl and all, it's so sweet to hear what he really feels being the Triwizard Champion, and his feelings for Cho.
I really liked how you've done this fiction, and good luck. :)
Author's Response: Thank you so much! I love Nanny McPhee (Isn't Emma Thompson the best?!). I love the name as well. When I first got the idea for this fic, I wanted a name that carried a strong meaning. When searching through a baby naming website, Evangeline popped up and I liked it so much I ran with it. Thank you!!!
I’ve never read a story told by an owl before, but this one was a pleasant surprise. I really like your characterization of Evangeline; the discussion of names was a great way to start out, and the gossiping owls were cute as well – very funny that Evangeline is feeling proud and lofty because of her status as a Hogwarts champion. I like that you keep the narrative consistent; there are no sudden descriptions of Cedric in his classes or dormitory – only in places where interaction with owls is usual (for the wizarding world, at least). One thing to think about would be about how being an owl would affect her style of narration. Would she use similes pertaining to wings and feathers? Would she make references to things “as the owl flies?” How would her word choice be affected by the fact that she’s an owl, not a human narrator?
A few nitpicks: Or maybe Dolores, which means, “Lady of Sorrows,” yes, I certainly am a lady of sorrows. Try a hyphen or a semicolon or even starting a new sentence after “sorrows.” My tenure as his messenger was a happy one. You haven’t yet mentioned a “he,” so the pronoun is confusing – maybe you could introduce “him” when you first mention the gift. “Come around back with me and I’ll show you our fastest models.” I was a bit thrown by the fact that he referred to ‘models’ of owls – I actually skimmed back a bit to make sure I hadn’t missed something and they weren’t really in a broom shop. I generally think of owls in breeds, or perhaps you could just say “our fastest.”
The transition from joy to sorrow is very well done, as Evangeline feels suddenly extraneous. I was initially surprised that she was a new owl, bought when Cedric became champion, as I thought that it would make more sense to have her background go farther with them. However, it proved to be a beautiful touch, much better than it would have been the other way; she was bought for the sole purpose of bringing back his happy news, and in the end she is left with no purpose. And the last sentence was lovely. Great job!
Author's Response: I'm honored that you'd discuss my fic so throughly! Thank you for the wonderfully insightful review. As for the shop keeping calling the birds models, well I just thought he might think of the animals as merchandise like cars (or brooms). But I see your point. I will consider the other changes as well, thank you for pointing them out to me. Thank you again for the kind words and extensive review!
I like how you started it off when the meaning of her name, and went back to it towards the resolution. It also added a lot as you started at the end, and then went back to the beginging to explain the emotions and feelings. Also, I thought it was neat how you tied the Hedwig and Evangeline together, well, relativly at least... Wonderful job.
My favourite part had to be when Cedric was talking to his owl about Cho, it's just funny when you think of it. Wonderful one-shot with a lot of emotion, it seriously made me feel bad for Evangeline.
Author's Response: Thank you so much for the thoughtful review. I'm glad you appreciated the emotions Evangeline was going through. Thank you again!
Very powerful, I think it might be your best work, and that is saying something.
Author's Response: *blushes* Thank you so much! I take that as a very high compliment!