At first, when I read the summary, I was like, How could I possibly feel sorry for Umbridge? But now that I actually read it, I almost cried.
I think part of the reason Umbridge is so hated in the series is because 1) she is fake- she’s not up front with what she believes in, and 2) we don’t know her motivations, or at least, anything about her history, except that she seems to only think about herself. This was a really great version of what could have happened. It almost read like a night time ghost story…it had spooky elements and the language was dark and almost gothic at times. The idea of running around an empty town with a storm looming and then running into the dark gloomy forest....for example: The playground was empty; the swings creaked spookily in the wind that was now whipping up all around her. The old bridge stood by itself, alone and un-loved, and the abandoned log cabin was empty save for a few birds hiding from the tempest.
I think the way you interspersed the ”Dolores Umbridge… sections throughout also helped lend to that tone. Speaking of that…I thought it was BRILLIANT. It felt creepy to me…partially because Umbridge creeps me out, and partially because of the fact that the lines were so simple, but so…harsh? Forboding? It was almost as if I could imagine it were a movie and the lines were whispered in a voice over. I have NO IDEA if that makes sense…
I thought names were a strong suit in this, which is something that I personally struggle with. “Dolly” is such a cute nickname for Dolores…which, while it is never an adjective I would associate with her, it helped us picture the relationship between the two girls. And Agnes is just as atrocious a name as “Dolores”, lol, which makes sense as they are sisters.
Dolores’ characterization still managed to be reminiscent of the person we love to hate, even at this young age. When she yells at her sister, calling her “a horrid little girl”…that’s not only quite a terrible thing to say to someone at a young age, but she’s not that much older than her sister, so calling your younger sister a “little girl” is kind of a bratty thing to do, lol. And the transition into the part in OOTP with Harry and Hermione is probably the strongest part in the entire piece. The ending is tragic, and it made me actually feel something for her, as I believe that she loves her sister through the relationship you’ve built up throughout the piece. Then you take that one thing I believe she loves away from her, and show me how it got taken away: mean children and centaurs. And THEN you open transition to: Dolores Umbridge stumbled through the Forbidden Forest, following the two children, that filthy lying boy and that know-it-all girl.” Just….gaaaaaaaaah. It doesn’t make me LIKE her, because I know what happens before they led her into the forest…she’s still Umbridge. But…when she freaks out on the Centaurs in the forest, it’s easy to see that THIS could have played through her mind. That final scene, looking at the blood and her sister…all of the imagery is powerful, and I think it works.
I thought it was kind of odd in the beginning that she kept calling her sister “the girl”, and there were quite a few grammar mistakes throughout, enough that I felt the need to point it out. Mainly punctuation around dialogue tags, but there are others as well. I know you had a beta, but I thought I’d mention that while it didn’t necessarily detract from the overall story, it was noticeable.
Overall, great story and enjoyable read!
I don’t usually stumble on the pieces on younger writers because there isn’t much talent, but you have surprised me. As much as I am revolted by the very idea anyone would be called ‘Dolly, by a sister, a mother , whomever, I’m with Dolores.
Dressed ridiculously in her mother’s old tee-shirt and her sisters too-long trousers, with a grin so big it rivalled the Cheshire Cat’s, she could have made anyone smile.
I like the mental image of a Cheshire Cat. You pulled it out of well known literatature and used it well. This line is impressive, but I think you need an apostrophe there for possession. I glimpse other peoples writings before I even attempt a review, and I notice that a weakness of yours is punctuation. I often forget to do this myself in writings. It only takes minutes to proofread. Never simply rely on a beta, although that’s why they’re there, for a writer needs to understand his mistakes. We all make them.
To see these two children in their village, wearing old, ill-fitting patched clothing was an alien concept to them; they couldn’t understand it, and so they came to the conclusion that the children were weird, and should be avoided at all costs.
This seems as a bit of an exaggeration, but I have to remember you are younger, so I’m glad you are writing. What impressed me here? You know how to use a semi-colon correctly. Hallelujah. You know that is the most feared punctuation mark in the English language. It took me until university to catch on to this one myself. What’s more, even though readers tend to shy away from these really lengthy sentences, you not only have punctuated the damn thing correctly, but you make a point. The words might come off a bit choppy and clichÚ, but you have showed a variation.
Shouldn’t you capitalize ‘Silvia Woods’ since her buddy ‘Ink Woods’ gets that honour? Shouldn’t they be placed in single quotation? The portrayal of Dolores as a poor girl, since you’re probably tired of me being a grammar sob, is interesting. I think it fits her characterisation well. You might not have mentioned it so much in in the introduction there, but there you are. I wanted to say, ‘She’s poor. Right. Oh, here it is again. And again. Russia, we get it. Move on,’ but that’s a good point.
The break when Agnes wakes up shouldn’t be there. For one, it’s too short and doesn’t make a point. Usually, those are centred. I think those two pieces with the breaks can be easily deleted without much consequence or loss, really, but there you are. You can move on with the insight without the insight of mundane detail. I glossed over that as filler, really, for it sounded a bit clichÚ.
You make Dolores human with this relationship with her sister. I have, oh, (yeah, I’m counting names off on my fingers) four sisters and three of them are within a year of me. A sister relationship is just like that. You fight about the stupidest *** as kids, and then you reconcile, just to do it all over again in a couple of days. And when boys first entered the picture? I cannot tell you. The confrontation of a hazing like that is such a picture. You’ve reminded me of the lynching practices they held in the southern part of the States against slaves. I never understood why the States resorted to slavery at all. There’s a narrative by Crevecoeur which would shock the living *** out of you on this matter. Oh my God. You’ve scared the hell out of me. What an ending.
I’ve always liked her. If nothing else, she pissed McGonagall off and made her a wonderful character. And you tied it all in with a bow.
Let me know your thoughts. Hope this makes you think.
Russirussirussia! I already told you my opinion for your story, but I figured it was so long ago, I should remind you how much I liked it!
I thought it was wonderful that you put those little notes in between ("Dolores Umbridge hates..."). It gave the story almost a flashback-like structure, like.. what she is reminded of when she faces, for example, children.
Then, I also liked how you show us that there can be a bad side to people/creatures we only know as (mostly) good from the books - like Centaurs. They can't all be educated and sophisticated, and a bunch of "black sheep" certainly would leave Umbridge prejudiced for life.
And then, in response to the review before mine, I actually think Umbridge is a solo-fighter, in a way. She does work with and for the Ministry, but she adapts to new regimes very quickly. She seems mostly concerned with her own well-being, and she fights for herself - but her ways include sucking up to the people who have power.
Your story really made me feel for Dolores Umbridge, and that is some achievement, as she is one of the characters I hated most when reading the books! Your description especially in the second half makes this a very emotional and moving read... And everything, as always :D just fits perfectly.
I have no ConCrit for you. sigh. I'm a bad reviewer...
Author's Response: No, Kara, you are a WONDERFUL reviewer! *squiggles* This story owes a lot to you! I agree with what you said about Umbridge being a solo fighter, thanks for that ^_^ Thankyou soooo much for such a lovely review! I am SO glad you liked it <3 ~Russia xxxxx
I love your explanation for Umbridge's abnormal fear and hatred of part-humans, but I'm not sure if the story explains that well her love of order and authority. Nobody helped her that much in life -- you'd think she'd be a big individualist, not a loyal Ministry employee. However, perhaps an explanation of her loyalty to the Ministry was not your goal in the first place.
Author's Response: Thankyou for your review, Laura! I think Kara answered your question about her Ministery loyalty lol. Really, I was aiming to show why she had such a thing against half breeds and against muggles. *hugs* ~Thanks, Laura! Russia xxxxx
I lked the fic... But I really don't think it fits centaurs to kill innocent children. Maybe some other creature, like kappas or werewolves,surely, but centaurs seem far too peaceful to me to have done something like that.
However, I really like the whole idea of giving Dolores a reason to be so evil. Well written and quite gripping also. Kuddos.
Author's Response: Ahh, but that is the point. These centaurs are the outcasts from the gently centaur tribes. There are evil people in this world, so why not evil centaurs? This is my reasoning behind Umbeidge hating half breeds, she was just incredibly unlucky that the first bcentaurs she met were this un-ruly, bunch of outcasts. She never got to meet the kind, gentle centaurs. Do you get what I am saying? There musy have been the odd centaur who thirsted for power and hated humans, in my eyes, they would have banded together to form this pack. Thankyou for the review! Russia xxxxx
i really lyk the way u have given sum1 as foul as umbridge more depth .
Author's Response: Thankyou for the review, I am glad you enjoyed the story. Russia xxxxx
Not the story, what happened in the story. Taylor should have died as well.
Author's Response: Haha I know it was sad, but I decided to leave Taylor alive, afterall, surely it is more of a punishment to live with what he has done? Thankyou for the review! Russia xxxxx
This was certainly a very interesting read. I enjoy reading about minor characters or any stories that provide explanations for characters' behavior. That being said, I thought this had a few flaws in it. It was well written of course, but the problem for me was that I just didn't find it to be entirely believable. I couldn't buy into the story. It started out well enough (except for one minor point I'll mention at the end), but I lost faith further on. For example, your paragraph describing the mother's thoughts at dinner, of how proud she was of them, conveyed to me that she loved them both very much. However, when she learns that her youngest daughter is missing, she "had continued her needlework as though nothing had happened." A mother already grieving nonstop from the death of her spouse would seem to be highly protective of her daughters, afraid to lose them as well. I know that you tried to make it seem as though she didn't realize her daughter was missing with the following sentence, yet as soon as she said "'I thought she was with you,'" I thought she should worry. It just seemed a large contradiction from the message I had gotten before. In fact, even the idea that the mother would let two young girls run around all day wherever they like struck me as very odd.
Alright, time for another compliment. I especially liked this line: "'AGNES!' Dolores yelled after her, 'AGNES, stop being such a horrid little girl! Come back here RIGHT NOW!'" I thought it gave brilliant insight into the woman that Dolores would eventually become, other than the situations she ended up in, of course. Yet, another thing that I disliked was the centaurs. By the time I reached this line: "These centaurs were ruthless, probably outcasts from other tribes, they thirsted for blood. " I found myself thinking "Oh, come on" and all emotion that had been built up to that point was lost for me and I finished the story with an indifference to Dolores' woes and Agnes' death. That line and explanation was very weak and from the great nobility and honor that centaurs seem to have, especially with their "we do not hurt the innocent a.k.a. children" belief, I really needed stronger evidence and support for how those centaurs could not only break that belief but also go so far as to apparently kill for pleasure? I suppose it could be possible, you just needed to do a better job of convincing me.
Now, two more minor complaints before I leave you with another compliment so that you don't hate me: 1. If it was so dark in the woods, how was Will able to aim so well with the stones, or even see them at all? I think you later mentioned them being in a clearing, so that people further in the woods could see them but not vice versa. (I know, that's an extremely obnoxious thing to point out, especially as I'm basically wrong, sorry) 2. This is the point I said I'd refer to at the start of the review. You didn't explain why Dolores Umbridge hates mudbloods. This troubled me because I always had the impression that Umbridge was pureblood in the stories, but she couldn't be here, or else why would her mother not clean her shirt with magic and Dolores not worry? And if she was half-blood (her late father a wizard), then, again, why does she hate mudbloods? It seems like nearly all half-bloods (drastic exception made for, well, you-know-who, and his case is thoroughly explained) are tolerant of mudbloods.
Alas, I owe you a compliment. I loved the last two paragraphs and "poem." I thought it was very clever how you made the transition from her experience as a child with centaurs in the forest to her experience with Harry and Hermione so many years later, and I liked how you finished off with that final poem of sorts, ending with the reminder of how she became who she is.
So, in conclusion, while I spent a lot of time on the negatives, I can't say that I disliked the story. I think I liked it a good bit. Oh, and bear with me on the length. This is my first review, so I apologize if I it's too long or if I was too pedantic.
Author's Response: Wow. That is one LONG review! Thankyou for taking the time to write it all out! I tried to portray the character of the mother as someone who wasn't quite all there. She loved her children, but at some times she was a bit... unsure. She doesnt quite understand what is happening. She is so deep in grieving, that sometimes things don't quite click. She does love her children a lot but doesn't understand that anything could have happened to Agnes when she went missing. Do you get what I mean? To put it simply, she had lost her mind. Ahh yes, the centaurs. This bunch of centaurs were supposed to be the outcasts from other tribes. The centaurs that had rebelled against the ideas and ideals of the other centaurs. They wanted to hurt children, to take over the world in essence. They were thrown out of their tribes for their ruthlessness and banded together to form the tribe that Agnes and Dolores meet. There had to be a reason why Dolores hated Half-breeds, if all centaurs were nice and kind, she would have no reason to hate them would she? Agnes and Dolores were stood in a clearing, the moonlight enabled Will to see them clearly enough to see them, but not enoughfor the girls to see Will. Dolores is a Pureblood. Her mother lost her will to do magic when she lost her mind. I'm sorry, I accept I should have explained that in the story. It is one of her things that she just can't quite connect. I think she hates mudbloods purely because they remind her of the muggle children who in essence, killed her sister. As she worked with the ministry and learned of Pureblood ideals, she just came to think more strongly about them. Like why does Malfoy hate mudbloods? It is just something he has learned from his family and is surrounding environment. I am glad you overall enjoyed the story, thanks again for your review. Russia xxxxx
I absolutely HATE Umbridge, but after reading this, I actually felt sorry for her. The way you described her background was perfect. I didn't think that I would ever view Umbridge in a different light. Great job!
Author's Response: Thankyou so much for the review! I was surprised myself at how much I came to like Umbridge during the writing of this fic, I will never look at her the same again! I am so glad you enjoyed it! Thankyou for the review! Russia xxxxx