Well hello there, oh mighty fine SPEW buddy of mine! It’s about time I get started with your review, don’t you think?
I actually read all of your one-shots before deciding to review Redefining Sanity, and I thought I’d mention that because I chose to review not the story of yours that I would have done the most squeeing about, but the one that actually felt I could say something helpful about. So, here goes. :)
As Jenna and I discussed only an hour or so ago, Percy is a very difficult character to grasp and write, but you’ve made an honest attempt and for parts of the story your interpretation works really well for me. I find it highly believable that after such a horrible event as you decided to put him through, the ambitious and pompous Percy we knew would turn into the numb person we see here. I especially like how you describe him in relation to his surroundings in the beginning of the story; he’s cut off, not only because he’s a wizard, but because of the guilt he’s still carrying.
However, I’m not so sure about parts of Percy’s dialogue. For example: “Gah! You’re infuriating!” and “Well, seeing as you’ve completely destroyed my restful bench, it’s time for us to go back to work.” - I agree with you that Percy may very well feel these things, but even though we have known him to be a horrible git sometimes, he always expresses himself very well and is polite and haughty even in his anger. It seems… beneath him, somehow, to speak to Luna like that. Of course, it might be that his character has changed over the past three years, but if that is your intention, then I would have liked to see some kind of mention in that in the text; sort of like, “He couldn’t believe how harshly he was speaking to her, what an impolite and unforgiving person he had become.” You know?
Something else that left me doubtful was: He had achieved the one thing that haunted his nightmares as a child: He was one hundred percent responsible for murdering someone. - Why would Percy have nightmares about murdering someone? Did he sometimes dislike his brothers so much he just wished they’d go away, and then have nightmares about killing them? Yes, I’m wondering why he would have such dreams, and I would have liked to see a bit more explanation about that.
Speaking of explanations, I think your story could have done with another dash of details. I know, I know, I’m a complete sucker for details and descriptions myself so I maybe you don’t want to take me too seriously on this, but sometimes I do believe it can be good for a story. One example is how you refer to Percy’s boss as, well, ‘his boss’. Why not give this boss a name, something we can relate to in canon and smile in recognition. This would also give you another noun to use, so that you wouldn’t have to repeat the words ‘his boss’. Another example is Percy’s flat and the office – I would have liked to know a bit more about the surroundings there, the atmosphere. I know you can do this so well, Shanae, because you prove it in the beginning of the chapter when you describe the outsides so clearly and poetically.
Oh, yes, I meant to mention ‘Hilda’. Does she share the name of your character in To Strike with a Vengeance for any particular reason? I’m not saying that I don’t like the name – it’s wonderful – but do keep in mind that there are people who will read all of your writing and perhaps be a little confused if you use the same name for different characters.
And on the subject of Hilda, I must admit I’m a bit confused there. Percy seems to think that he and Hilda never do any work together, and yet Luna claims that Hilda spends her days doing exactly what Percy tells her to. I think it would be great if you would clarify a bit here – is it Percy who is confused and doesn’t notice his surroundings (meaning that Hilda actually does what he tells her to) or is it Luna who’s got things upside-down again?
I can see that I’m being a real bore here, but now I’m going to move on to a few of my absolute favourite lines.
The one he’d come to refer to as his crying tree though it was a place he’d never shed a tear.
I love the contrast here – that it’s his ‘crying tree’, even though he’s never actually cried sitting underneath it. And I think it rings very true for Percy, too, to have a certain place to sit and do nothing, think nothing even.
It was too cold to cry; too bright to hide; too early to drink; too soon to forgive.
Ah! This is such an excellent line! Such rhythm and flow; it’s wonderful. But I’m wondering about ‘too soon to forgive’ – we’re reading from Percy’s point of view here, and who is it that he would forgive? If we are talking about Percy, then maybe ‘too soon to be forgiven’ would be clearer?
Your sister Ginny was the nicest girl at school – my friend, I think.
Another thing Jenna and I just randomly discussed. Well, actually, she was talking about how so many people don’t write Ginny very well, because she’s either just a talented and popular witch, or else she’s ‘fiery’, sometime to the point of being crude. And Jenna said exactly that, that many writers forget that there’s much more to Ginny; that she’s the person who always stood up for Luna, the person who always gave people a chance, even a second chance if they deserved it. And I think that here, even though Ginny isn’t even in the story, you’ve managed to capture the very essence of her so well, through Luna’s words. Well done!
“The other you is rather dull; I won’t be sane much longer if I have to work with him.”
*giggles* Because, yes, here I actually have to giggle. This was the best Luna-line of all the fic, I thought, because it’s so typical of her not to consider herself as insane or even strange. And I can just imagine Percy’s reaction at her words. You described that well, too, with this following line:
If he had to work with her much longer, he knew he’d be insane.
Very nice sane/insane contrast there, but if I were you, I’d put an italics emphasis on ‘he’d’ in the second line, to really string the two sentences together.
Percy and Luna is one of the most unlikely pairings I could imagine, because they are so profoundly different, but somehow, this still works. In the end, I think it’s all about finding that slice of common ground, no matter how thin it is. And you’ve managed to do that, through the loss of Fred and what I guess to be some kind of apparition of his. It was a difficult fic you set out to write here, my dearest Shanaslan, and I think you’ve pulled it off very well!
More! I need more! Interesting twist, having Percy have killed Fred. I think it actually explains a lot about his actions after Fred's death.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It blended two unique characters in new way. BRAVO!