I adored your story. You have an amazing writing style - fluid without being too flowery, descriptive without laboring over the details - that draws the reader into the story and never lets them go :) I have to say, like everyone else, that I especially liked the way you didn't portray Death as the typical Grim Reaper but rather as almost childlike. Other than that, I pretty much second what everyone else has to say! :)
This is a very unique and strange--but in a good way--fic. I love it. Right on the Favourites list. I really liked how you chose to portray Death, rather than the somewhat stereotypical grim reaper persona.
This story gave me chills when I neared the end. At first, I wasn't sure who this young man was, and you did a great job building up the mystery around the character. The way you portrayed Death in the beginning was very robotic and mechanical; the unfeeling yet childish voice seems reminiscent of the robots in I Robot, if you've ever seen the movie.
It's an interesting idea that Death itself is fleeting (the dead only encounter him for a moment) and that it marks the beginning of another path that all began with meeting Death. There are plenty of such ideas in literature, but the way you put it in the sentences I place them upon the path. I am permitted neither to guide, nor to force them along it. was very clear cut and forced me to think deeper into this particular philosophy. I thought those two sentences were the most powerful I've ever seen in any fanfiction. I was, however, confused by the symbolism of the grass chain. Why would Death bestow such a chain upon his 'victims'?
They were utterly black, and in all ways like the lake: their cold, still depths seeming to stretch out beyond the vast, bleak reaches of eternity itself.
This sentence was a little awkward. I think it should be written They were utterly black and, in more ways than one, like the lake.
is that for anyone in particular?
The 'Is' should be capitalised.
I found the last paragraph unnecessary and weakening for the story as a whole. The second-to-last paragraph was an excellent place to stop, leaving us to our thoughts. While seeing what happens to Harry, Ron, and Hermione immediately after this encounter is okay, it didn't seem of great importance since the story focused more on the meeting with Death than anything else.
What an interesting story. Interesting in a good way.
I'm afraid I'm going to just second what everyone else has said.
Just thought I'd let you know how much I liked it. =)
Wow. Very nice descriptions, especially of Death. Your prose is very fluid, it's easy to read and sounds great when read aloud. I liked how you avoided the whole Grim Reaper image of Death and made him closer to WC Fields' "fellow in the bright nightgown". This is some of the best reading I've found on this site in a very long time. Thanks for this!
Out of my favorites, your story ranks very high. It was more than I ever expected, and struck a chord deep in me. The fact that this is an “oddball” only makes it more special, as there isn’t anything at all like it.
Starting off with the bible verses was a wise decision, because it made it clear that this fic was about Death, and also gave a sense of sacredness before the reader even reaches the first paragraph. The opening itself is very different, but surprisingly smooth. Most authors don’t start by talking about Harry with such detachment, but for this sort of piece it fits. I liked the imagery of the secluded glade from the start, and it meshes well with the idea of Ravenclaw, for great intelligence is often accompanied by a sense of introversion and guardedness.
The delicious little hints that you drop are intriguing; Hermione and Ron being unsettled by the place was very effective as a signal that there is something more to the secret place, and the contrast it offers with how Harry doesn’t feel threatened by death was lovely, but I loved the more subtle details. The silence was a nice touch because people never seem to be comfortable with silence, just as they are never comfortable with death. And I loved this line: “It made you feel like even your thoughts would be overheard; like your hopes, your fears, your deepest desires and ambitions would be taken forever and absorbed into the infinite silence.” It’s absolutely beautiful, and exactly what death does: strip you of your consciousness. (As far as anyone knows for sure.)
The description is simply amazing. There is a certain freshness and timelessness all at once, and the prose seems to sing, almost. The imagery of the glade was gorgeous, but Death himself was equally stunning. The contrast between his white clothing and his eyes, “utterly black, and in all ways like the lake: their cold, still depths seeming to stretch out beyond the vast, bleak reaches of eternity itself,” was brilliant. I love the idea of death being graceful, delicate, and light, and it was very chilling when his hand shot out to grab the blade of grass from Harry. Actually, I liked the idea of the grass chains being given to those who are dying. It ties your Death character in with the setting deep in the forest. Also, Death’s belief that no one is special is perfect.
But the thing that fills me with the most awe is how this shows so clearly Harry’s relationship with death. It can almost be called the purpose of this one-shot. All of the little details add up. “He found the silence, the absence of life strangely peaceful.” This is how I’ve always pictured Harry, as at peace with death, as he’s dealt with it all his life. “He had been nursing an unlooked-for desire to get to know every nook and cranny of the place, as it felt so familiar, yet at the same time so utterly alien to him.” This sobered me, but it makes a lot of sense. After losing so many loved ones, Harry is undeniable curious about death, as when he asked Sir Nick what came after. “A creeping, terrifying, primal urge gripped him - an urge to run, to run away from this man as fast as his legs could carry him.” Actually, this applies to everyone, not just Harry. The word “primal” really clinched it for me, because that is one of the deepest ingrained fears in humans, the fear of death. The fact that Harry is not scared and that he “understands” about death are very IC, too. Harry as a whole was very “Harry, just Harry.”
I do have some constructive criticism. “Then, without a word, the young man sat, cross-legged, on the grass and began to make another chain, his delicate fingers working with astonishing speed and dexterity.” If you removed the commas around “cross-legged” the sentence would flow better and remain grammatically correct. “The Chosen One people are calling me because I'm the only one who can kill Voldemort.” If you put quotes around Chosen One, as well as a comma after that and me, the sentence would be less stilted. I’m not too crazy about your use of parentheses, because they feel awkward when reading, and the ending was not as profound as it could have been, as some people have already mentioned.
I apologize for the length of this review; it’s almost half as long as the story, lol. I’m just in awe of your talent and the profoundness of this story. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful work. I’ll treasure it.
I think I just fell in love with your writing! The way you set the scene and create the atmosphere of your story drew me right in. I did not only feel as if I was right there, I actually felt like I was Harry, sitting at the lake, talking to Death and holding Ravenclaw’s wand in my hands. Only a handful of stories manage to take me out of my room straight to whatever place the story is set in, and even fewer make me identify with the main character like this one did.
There was only one instance, where I couldn’t identify with Harry. The man who murdered my parents? I can see Harry sound derisive while he talks about being the Chosen One, I can see him ask his companion if he knows Voldemort, but I just can’t see Harry refer to Voldemort as ‘the man who murdered my parents’. In canon his parents’ death is still a raw subject with Harry and from what I understood from your story, it isn’t set too long after HBP. In such a short span of time I can’t see Harry changing that much, his parents’ death is something he almost never talks about and when he does, he never does it quite in this off-handed way. It felt wrong, somehow. As if it wasn’t Harry speaking anymore.
Having said that, I have to also say that I loved Harry’s characterisation for the rest of the story. His spoken lines felt natural to him and I especially enjoyed the difference in his perception of the lake and Ravenclaw’s grave to Ron and Hermione’s perception of the same place. Harry has been exposed to death a number of times, witnessing it when Cedric, Sirius and Dumbledore died and subconsciously being aware of it when his parents died. Ron and Hermione haven’t come into such a close proximity with death and will feel differently about it. Harry is much more aware of it, but at the same time, I don’t think he’s as afraid of death as Hermione and Ron are, in a way he would probably even welcome it. You show this beautifully in their reactions to the glade. While Hermione and Ron are uneasy and don’t like the vibe they get from the glade, Harry feels at peace until after he had his talk with Death and figured out why the glade is the way it is.
Moving on to Harry’s companion, Death. If someone had just told me that there was a character walking across water, I probably would have told them that I didn’t want to read such a story, because I don’t think it’s possible to make that believable. I’m glad that no one told me and that your story got the chance to prove me wrong, which it did, if you couldn’t tell. Death was characterised perfectly! I liked how he doesn’t think anyone is special. Everyone is unique and special in his own way, but no one more than other’s and I think it’s appropriate for Death to believe no one to be special, because in the end they all end up the same way, namely being sent on this mysterious route he talks about. I also especially liked the grass chains he was creating all the time. Even though I’m not sure of their relevance, they were a nice touch and somehow fit the mood of the story.
Last but not least: your actual writing. I simply adore your style. There is no word out of place, nothing that hinders the flow of your sentences. The atmosphere is tightly woven and everything you describe is incredibly vivid. It’s a joy to read your writing!
You're right: I've never read a story quite like this before, but now I'm exceptionally glad that I have.
I liked the man...whoever he was. He was certainly quite a character.
You portrayed Harry quite well, also. He was indeed, "just Harry". I hope to see more written by you in the future. =]
Dear, the Susan Bones' Book Club is in the forums *points to link under navigation* We pretty much sit around and talk about great fics. You should be honored-- we only talk about the best over there.
Anyways, when I saw that we were suggesting good Gryffindor fics, I up and nominated you (with Harry being the Gryffindor character)! I'm glad we decided to discuss it and I hope you will drop by in the forums to see us (although, I'm not sure, but is the SBBC one of the places you can only see if you are sorted?) Anyways, cheers and good writing!
Author's Response: Thank you, mugglegirl. =) I see now that I have to register. I've done that and I might take a look when I have a spare minute. Thanks for nominating me, though. It was quite the surprise. =)
The imagery, symbolism, and fluidity of the sentences were excellent. I would like to second Pandafan81; Harry up n' leaving seemed off-kilter.
Author's Response: I must confess that's more to do with my laziness than anything else... Perhaps if I'd have given it some thought and hadn't written the whole thing in a few hours, then I may have come to the same (better) conclusion. *sigh*
First of all, I must let you know that your fic has been picked to be read and discussed by the Susan Bones' Book Club on the beta forums. You are more than welcome to take a look throughout the week to see what people have to say. It is a great honor to be picked, and we are honored to be reading such a great story!
I loved your story.
I specifically enjoyed the imagery of the death character. So often people imagine a grim reeper with black hoods and sharp farm equipment. But I liked your image much better. Death is not evil, not like a dementor that steals your soul, but a natural part of life. The next great adventure, like Dumbledore says. I don't think a person should be met on the other side by a scary figure, but an ageless serene character that you have created.
I can see how Harry would think it's a bummer job (I laughed out loud at that line, it's just so Harry) because Harry has had to deal with a lot of death, and has only experienced the pain that it causes. But unlike Voldemort, I don't think Harry fears death, he just doens't understand it yet.
I think this is what Voldemort would see when he encounters a boggart. This young man offering him a grass chain.
I rather liked the idea of the grass chain being offered to someone as they pass on. Kind of like being given a lei when you visit Hawaii! I also liked that the death character didn't know nor wouldn't tell Harry about his lost loved ones. That he is just the person that allows the person to cross over, and the path from there on out is their own choice is very appropriate.
Overall I really liked the imagery that you used. The stillness of the lake and the surrounding forest.
The only thing that bothered me slightly was Harry's sudden resolve to leave the camp as soon as possible. I would think that he would feel more settled after the encounter, than a desire to run. Perhaps you meant that he didn't need to dwell there any longer? Like, he didn't need to stay and figure out what draws him there, because he's aldready figured out that mystery. But he just seemed too rushed to leave.
Otherwise, I loved this story. Excellent work!
Author's Response: *blinks* Wow... Errr... Well, I don't know what to say, really. I suppose I should insert some profound thanks in here somewhere, so I will. Thank you so very much for the wonderful review, and of the exciting (and disconcerting) news that my story is being picked apart by you Mugglenet lot. Where exactly is this Susan Bones' bookclub? I have half a mind to drop by there and see what you're all saying about me... *trembles*
Wow, I'm impressed! This story strikes me as being very well-crafted. The description of the scene, as well as of the young man is clever. I enjoyed the dialogue, and I found this to be refreshingly original. I hope we'll see more stories from you in the future.
I have to say that I have never read anything like this before. Your portrayal of death was incredible, to say the least- I especially like the way that Harry wants to run away, but realises that he doesn't need to be afraid. Beautiful.
Wow... this is fabulous! I certainly hope there's more to come :-)
Wow. I agree with Gina, this was an absolutely marvelous fic. Just reading it gave me goosebumps... Truly original. I must say, your author's note at the beginning is what caught me into reading this, and I have no regrets. You put everything into so much detail. The lake, the silence, Death himself were all incredibly desribed. The grass chain was a great touch, by the way. I thinks its what gave this story such a unique touch. Also, you portrayed Death in an interesting way. Most of the time Death (AKA Grim Reaper) is almost said to be like a dementor, but the way you described him (the eyes...) was almost mesmerizing. I can't wait to read more from you!
Excellent! you have done a fabulous job of building suspense while providing beautiful imagery. Please keep it up! I look forward to reading more of your work.
Wow! This was wonderful! You are a very talented writer. You set the scene for this mysterious glade immediately. You use wonderful descriptive language; the images you project with your writing are some of the clearest and most vivid I've had. I especially liked "The place was quiet. Almost suffocatingly so. It was like being in a sacred place, where talking too loudly constituted a grave and irredeemable spiritual offence." The description of the pale young man - "It could have been said that the young man had a theme going, but his eyes spoiled the whole effect entirely. They were utterly black, and in all ways like the lake: their cold, still depths seeming to stretch out beyond the vast, bleak reaches of eternity itself." was fantastic, and I loved his chain of grass. Harry was spot-on, particularly when he was angry at his pale companion and stuttering. I think this was a fascinating way to give Harry this experience with the pale young man.
This was a beautiful piece, very reflective and moving. I am worried that the grass chain is for someone very close to Harry. Are you planning on writing any more stories with this character? I think they would be wonderful.
Great job, thank you for writing such an original piece. Keep up the good work!! ~Gina :)