Reviews For Matthew Seven
Reviewer: Gmariam
Date: 09/22/10 19:13
Chapter: The Ravening Wolf

This was a really fascinating story. Really well-written, engaging, and thought-provoking. I loved the characters as well the the well-paced progression of the plot. The horror aspects were well written and the cliff-hangers were great!

The ending was unexpected, at least the bit with Moss and what Yvonne did to him. Once we learned Yvonne's memory, I knew who the girl in the ward was. I had a feeling that patient would come back!

I only wanted a bit more at the end. Namely, how did Yvonne recover? But I sense that just wasn't a part of this story, that her final scene with Mary at the end was sort of where you were always planning on taking it. It was well-done, even if I wanted more details. :)

A great story and I'm glad to have read it for the review circle! ~Gina :)

Author's Response: I wanted for this story to be unpredictable right up to the end, which then puts the actions of the main character through the story in a different light. It's a technique that crops up in a lot of anime, and is how practically every character on 'Lost' was established, and I find it fascinating. If you're given all of a character's backstory up front, you can probably figure out what situation they'll ultimately be put in in the climax of the story before the story gets there, and that's... well, usually boring, if the character or the plot are anything less than excellent, but having the layers of characters peeled away as the plot moves forward automatically gives the whole story a very different dynamic. The character is on a journey to further understand their world, and you're with them for that, but at the same time you yourself are also on a journey to further understand the character. It was a fun technique to use to plan.

Glad you liked it so much; I think it's got a lot for people to discover, if they're got the stomach to stick through it.

Reviewer: hestiajones
Date: 09/22/10 16:42
Chapter: The Strait Gate

Hello Derek!

Well, well, well. This was certainly something new; I’m not sure if I’ve read anything like this in fanfiction before.

No, I haven’t, actually.

OCs are definitely a hard sell, but I feel that they are so much more challenging to write. How do you begin? Where do you begin? You’re entrusted with creating a believable human character, and to make that person interesting enough to read about. Too often, people think it is easy to do this, thereby producing scores of…well, Mary Sues and Gary Stus. OCs take time to build, mainly because an individual is a complex thing to build.

You crossed that hurdle smoothly, and believe me, if I had read this story a little earlier, I’d definitely have nominated it for a QSQ in two categories, at least. That was the one thought which kept playing in my mind the whole time I was reading it: why haven’t many people noticed this before? Perhaps, it is the fact that it is an OC-based story; perhaps, the disturbing horrors contained in the story put them off. Which is sad, really, because it deserves a chance.

I wouldn’t say I related to Yvonne, and that is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. The most important thing is, I found her real. I found her believable. She had her own quirks, her own idiosyncrasies. Her reflections on music, novels – pop culture in general were amusing to read. The thing that I enjoyed the most is her balance between the Muggle world and the magical world. I’ve always been somewhat disappointed at how this area has never been explored in fanfiction, so I was pretty much excited to see you portraying that. And it wasn’t just there for decoration; her being a Muggle-born and still in tune with that part of her life play a vital role in the story.

The second thing I loved about this story was the horror aspect. I don’t mind reading/watching horror – well, I don’t like obvious mindless bloodbaths like the Wrong Turn or Hostel movies, but I like my ‘scary’ things to have a bit of a soul, a bit of a meaning, and a bit of a purpose. The girl in the bus, the experience of the extracted memory, the witnessing of Archer’s death – every instance was written well without being overdone. I suppose it might make people queasy if I said that I enjoyed a big bowl of pasta while reading all of that. *shrug*

The third aspect which lent substance to this story was the theme of religion. Now, I’m not Christian, so I was somewhat unfamiliar with most of the Biblical references, but thankfully, I got the gist behind them. I actually expected this right from the start, this inclusion of religious elements mainly because you start each chapter with a quote from the Book of Matthew; the title was pretty much telling as well. But I like how you left it open-ended, and not didactical or self-explanatory. Omniscience as an idea has always made me feel uncomfortable, and it was jarring to see some of my fears coming alive in this story.

Fourth…ahhh! You used the wizarding world so well in this fic, and presented it from a completely different angle. I like how everything was written so matter-of-factly. The Department of Mysteries, which sounded creepy before, became even more bizarre here. There are so many details to talk about here, to be honest – the arrest of the Muggle-borns, the Longbottoms, etc. I shall say that they were cleverly worked into the overall plot of the story, and let that suffice!

Last, but certainly not the least, your prose is rather good. It is fluid, fluent and effortless. I think that alone can make a story in many cases, and added a lot of quality to this particular story.

The only thing which I thought of as a tad anomalistic was a change in track in the fourth chapter. Yvonne undergoes a series of hallucinations after she wakes up, through the bus ride, and up to her arrival at her apartment. Although things aren’t yet normal, I was surprised by her level-headed, undisturbed conversation with Christine. That changes soon, of course, when she goes into the kitchen, and things take a turn in the shower. But that period in between seemed a little too normal. Or was the presence of somebody who had some idea of her situation causing the apparent normalcy? I wonder.

I am glad Gina directed me towards this story. I must confess that I am myself guilty of ignoring OC-based fics most of the time, and I don’t think I’d ever have read it if it hadn’t been for her recommendation. I seriously had a great time reading it, and it deserves a lot more than six reviews.

Well, seven, counting mine.

See you around the boards!

~Natalie.

Author's Response: It's a narrow line to walk when creating an original character. On the one hand, you spend all this time coming up with who they are and all the things that make them unique and interesting, so naturally you want to show all that off. On the other, for the character to not be an overwhelming force in the story they need to be well-integrated into the universe, which means showing a lot of respect for the source material and letting your original creation take a back seat once in a while. That's a tough thing to do – downplay something you created that is obviously awesome – and I think it's one of the big reasons that 'Original Character' is almost synonymous with 'Mary Sue' in many people's eyes.

In making Yvonne, my main goal was to have her come across as a real person, who had to have enough depth and weight to carry the whole story. I wanted her to have the same believability as a person as the whole Harry Potter setting has a its own little universe. I'm not sure she's completely relatable – her motivations are pretty closed-off, for most of the story – but I was doing a bit of experimenting with bait-and-switch in reader expectation: Yvonne's first set up to be the archetype of the headstrong intelligent girl that falls for the older damaged man, and then the regular person who gets in too deep into something she doesn't understand but has to keep pressing on, but she's really neither of those things in the end. I aimed to let people make their own judgements about her, I think, and I tried my best to distract readers into thinking down the wrong path, like. I hate reading anything where I've got the main character figured out from the first five pages, you know?

Horror is an interesting thing, as a genre. When people say 'horror', they're usually talking about a class of films filled with gore, jump-scares, and little else. This obviously transfers terribly to writing, for the simple fact that you have to take time to describe the horrible beastie about to leap from the shadows, where a film can do it all in a handful of frames. There's this other class of horror films, though, that's usually very tame by comparison in terms of content, but are filled with such a constant tension that you almost wish something bad would just happen so the tension would break – stuff like Psycho, The Shining, The Ring, anything David Lynch directed – and that's just perfect for text. The growing dread, the creeping sense that everything is going horribly, horribly wrong, and the ability to describe unsettling concepts and not have them dampened by a poor special effects budget... it's why Lovecraft is still popular today and why so many writers borrow liberally from his ideas, I think.

It's a shame people shy away from religion in general in the HP fandom (possibly out of fear of offending people?), especially since the last book is so obviously full of Christian allusions. However, just because Harry, the saviour of the wizarding world, going through a sacrificial death and rebirth, does that mean that DH is pushing its readers to accept the word of Jesus Christ? Of course not. Religious symbolism, like any symbolism, can just an element of telling a good story. I purposely took quotes from the Sermon on the Mount as far out of context as I possibly could, just to show that although a story can talk about religion, that doesn't automatically make the content religious.

The fandom doesn't like to stray too far from Hogwarts, it seems. Understandable, since the majority of the books are set there, but the thing that makes the Harry Potter series stand out from other modern fantasy stuff is how fully-realised the world is, how complete and real it seems. It's more than just the magic school, it feels like there's a whole magic community out there, and I like the stories that focus on different parts of it. We know about life at Hogwarts – what's life like at St. Mungo's, or the Ministry, or Diagon Alley, or any one of a dozen other places? I like writing where I can explore parts of the canon we don't see that much of, and Yvonne became a nice cross-section of some of the aspects that interested me – magical professionals, Muggle-borns, students slightly removed from the Trio's era at Hogwarts, the Department of Mysteries (which I am perpetually fascinated by and will always write into a story, given the opportunity)... things like that.

Thanks for taking the time to review, glad you liked it. I seem to get a lot of reviews that have sentences beginning with things like 'I don't normally like/read X, but...' and I consider that the highest of praise.

Reviewer: Gmariam
Date: 09/20/10 19:24
Chapter: The Good Tree

I was totally not expecting the bit about God. Absolutely fascinating. So few fanfics go into religion, this is a perfect way to address it. And an amazing cliffhanger as well! I can't wait to finish and leave a bit longer review. ~Gina :)

Author's Response: I was always disappointed that religion is such an untouched subject, since faith is left relatively unexplored in the canon. How does knowing magic exists affect people's faith? How do people raised with religious upbringings react to the magical world? How does magic affect views on miracles, ghosts on the afterlife? For that matter, are there athiests in a world with Horcruxes? The (very small) parts about God in my story are just the tip of the iceberg, I think.

Reviewer: Gmariam
Date: 09/19/10 13:25
Chapter: The House Built Upon Sand

Oh my, that was really, really scary! Amazing writing! I don't like horror movies, but reading one is not as bad as actually seeing something like this actually happen on screen (eek!), and I really have to know what happened to Yvonne and if she is okay! Great job! ~Gina :)

Author's Response: It's funny, because I think I'm the opposite - I don't have much trouble forgetting images in films, but sometimes descriptions of things will just stick like fishhooks in my mind. The girl on the bus was such a thing. I wanted to go a bit horror with this story, so I was trying to think of a concept that was particularly hard to get out of my head, rather than just an image of something grotesque. I think anyone can write about monsters and madmen, describe them in meticulous detail, but it's not going to have the right impact unless there's something underneath the monster, like.

Reviewer: Gmariam
Date: 09/18/10 20:50
Chapter: The Mote In Thy Brother's Eye

Wow, more and more mysteries! Great set-up, wonderful job building and layering things. This is fascinating, and just fantastic writing, as well. So descriptive here at the end in particular! Great job! ~Gina :)

Author's Response: The image at the end of this chapter - of someone getting closer and closer to their reflection and then climbing inside their own eye - was the thing that sparked this story off, and I did a lot of thinking about who this person was and what exactly they were doing and how they got to this point. I hate anything to do with eyes - people touching them, talking about their contact lenses, things like that - so I paid very close attention to getting across the feeling of utter wrongness that went with that image, but also the sheer unreality of it. Like, where can the story go, after this? Guess you'll just have to read on...

Reviewer: Gmariam
Date: 09/18/10 20:24
Chapter: The Strait Gate

What a great start! You've quickly established a terrifically engaging character in Yvonne. I already feel like I know her, perhaps because she seems so Muggle-ish and yet works at St. Mungo's. Your attention to detail fleshes things out but doesn't get trapped in boorish repetition; everything contributes to the in depth sense of character and setting you've outlined her. You've also set up (I think, anyway) an interesting mystery/plotline about the emergency at the hospital. I'm already wondering how things tie to the summary.
Your writing is very good and I look forward to reading more! ~Gina :)

Author's Response: One of the things I realy wanted to do with Yvonne was anchor her in the Muggle world. She has an apartment with a toaster and a TV, she rides the bus to work and listen to an iPod, she's one of us. Yet she's a part of the magical world too, and I guess we as HP fans can relate to that, too. It always bothered me that there were no characters in the series that ever really remained strongly connected to any Muggle roots they had - not even Hermione, who I was sure was going to start a Muggle rights campaign base on her house elf activism - so I made one, and made sure to make as many Muggle references as I could. When else am I going to get the chance to, after all?

Reviewer: A Magical Muggle
Date: 01/14/10 1:44
Chapter: The Strait Gate

Wow. It's creepy and intriguing all at once. I'll definitely be waiting to read more.

Author's Response: Thankyou. More is on the way - hope to see you around for the end.

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