Well, you said you wanted a SPEW review, so here I am!
First of all, the style in which you wrote this in was really really good. It really felt like a newspaper article. The way you worded your sentences and the words you used just screamed “NEWSPAPER” at me. The thing is... I don’t like reading newspapers. >.> For me, the newspaper layout just isn’t interesting enough, I have a very short attention span, and nothing in the newspaper style jumps out at me. I think the very long paragraphs may put some readers off. I have as terrible habit of skipping to the dialogue or parts of the fic that are easy to read, so it took a lot to keep my eyes focused and in the story. As I said, it was written in the newspaper on style on purpose, and you pulled it off brilliantly. I just might suggest splitting up some of those larger paragraphs to make the story look more appealing.
To be totally honest, I have fallen slightly in love with your Charlie. He just felt so... real. You did a fantastic job with him, Kara. You should definitely write more Charlie stories! We don’t know very much about Charlie, but everything you made him into was just so plausible. You made that amazing analogy of him, comparing him to Percy and all of his other brothers. I would paste in all the bits about him that were fantastic, but unfortunately than I’d have to paste in the entire fic... :-p I never really saw Charlie as a Percy type figure, but it seems like a logical idea. You even made him convincingly slashy. I know this was your first time writing slash, and I honestly thought it was really good! There were subtle hints of romance throughout the fic, and a few of them caught in my head well enough tp be copied and pasted into my word document for future reference in this review XD.
“Oddly, I was concerned about Oliver quitting his Quidditch career”
I can’t even explain why that line stuck in my head and made me think romance. I think it was just the first sign that Charlie cared about Oliver and, at the very least, they could become friends. Then of course you had, in my opinion, the BEST line in the entire fic:
“As long as it isn’t Rita Skeeter - she’ll turn you into a troll who’s been hit by too many Bludgers, or something like that...”
Oliver winked and said, “Oh, so you think I’m a–,”
I laughed so hard at that. Argh, it was just SO good! So in character and added a lighter note to a story that had been very dark up until this point. It also backed up this line:
“I’m still sure that I owed a great deal to Oliver. I don’t really believe in lucky charms,”
Oliver seemed to walk into the room and take all the tension away with a wink and a joke. I can literally picture Oliver winking and making that joke. I think it is the cheeky wink that does it for me. I just wish we got to see Charlie’s response!
I know I came up with the pairing behind this plot, but I think it is a lovely idea. I thought this was a very very hard prompt to write to, and I thought you did it excellently. As I have said above, your style and structure fit the prompt beautifully and your characterisation is just superb. There are so many non-canon elements to this fic that seem so canon to me because they are written so well. Like Molly wanting Charlie nearer to home. Then, to go back to my comment on your analogy of him, you show him in his first job at the ministry and how miserable he was. Making Charlie miserable at a desk job seems to likely and then it makes it seems even better when he gets his new job, and meets Oliver and realises he is happy again. You seem to have thought this fic through so perfectly, every minute detail flows through to the next.
You write he conversations they have, like I could never imagine doing. You don’t use dialogue exactly, which again fits the newspaper style so perfectly. Because when you are recounting something you don’t really want to put into words exactly what was said, because normal people can’t remember every single word! But you sort of described what was said instead of actually using dialogue. I don’t know if you researched newspaper styles, or consciously made it that way, but if you didn’t hen W.O.W you have a natural talent for it :-p
Now, before I end this ridiculously long review, I just have to mention these two lines:
”And, maybe most importantly of all, I had a clean slate, and amazing people to help me fill it up.”
”He frowned at his watch, almost as though it was the small device’s fault that time had moved so quickly.”
You have such a beautiful way with words, Kara. These two sentences simply ooze ‘professional author’ . It was a wonderful first chapter, and I can't wait for more!
I shall begin at the beginning. :D
The first thing that got my attention was how you paid homage to the column. I don’t know if any of the rest of us did that. It was different and it had a great association with the prompt: The Stirring column used to be popular at one time.
Then, you took us to the Weasleys, my favourite family in the world of fiction. Normally, we don’t get to read much of the Weasleys before Harry entered their lives, and I was happy to grab this opportunity to experience that. Charlie being close to Bill is something we see in canon, but added a dimension to it: Charlie’s too humble to think he was as important to his older brother as it was the other way round. I found that interesting.
Your characterization of the mysterious Weasley brother was impressive; I think Charlie is the only one who the readers don’t know much about, who we don’t even meet that often. But your words breathed life into him. He always came across as an outdoor-type in the books, and it made sense to have him suffering with a desk-job. C’mon! A dragon-keeper would never be able to connect with a book-keeper’s life; and yet, there he was, because he was a Weasley, and for a Weasley, family comes first.
I’d have loved to see more of his relationship with Oliver, because I think that was the core theme of this fic. (Please correct me if I am wrong.) As a standalone, I am not sure how much justice it did to Charlie/Oliver, but as an introduction, you can count me as a fan who’s waiting for more.
Author's Response: I'm very relieved that you liked Charlie; he has always been one of the Weasleys who fascinated me most, because (as you said) we hardly know anything about him at all... he was a brilliant Seeker and a Dragon Keeper (and I'm a rhymer, apparently), and JKR never had him marry - but that's it. I've been a fan for a while now, and I thought it was time I wrote a story about him myself. I'm very very anxious to get everything right...
You're right - the first chapter is more of an introduction really. The relationship fluff and society angst are yet to come, but they will. I didn't want to make this first chapter too long though, for several reasons (one of them being that I still have something to write about in later chapters :D)
Thank you very much for your great review :)
OOOH! Damn, I need to rewrite my Aberforth to something much, much better now. I LOVE this story. There's so few Charlie-centric fics out there, and this is very touching.
OOOH, a little hint for me about my lovely Oliver too ... what are you tryingto tell me?
You know one of the things I like about this is that the friendship between them is so natural, and the way they met again after all the years isn't at all forced. You've portrayed Oliver as a much lighter personality than usual and that's also a delight (Personally I think his heart was broken after ... well you know .. so he deserves some fun).
And now I have to get on with my Oliver sequel. Tarnation, Kara, I feel guilty now!
Author's Response: Oooh thank you, Carole! I've been looking forward to your review, lol :D Ah, but then there are even less Aberforth-centric fics out there from what I've seen, and yours was heart-breaking (though I should leave that for another review)! I'm glad you liked Oliver here. I see him as much less grim in his adult life; now that Quidditch IS his life, he's much more relaxed about everything else. Also, yes, he does deserve some fun, and a happy long term relationship, doesn't he ;) YES! Write a sequel! :D Again, thank you very much. I hope I can put up the next chapter soon... Kara
Hmm, Charlie/Oliver. I'm definitely interested. :-D
Charlie is, without a doubt, the most overlooked Weasley in the Potterverse, and every time I read something about him, I learn a bit about him and what I think he's like, as well as the author's POV.
I really like the way you portrayed him, uncomfortable with a 'day job,' confined by a desk, when what he really wanted was open air and activity. When a person is grieving, the last thing he needs is to have too much time to sit on his duff and think about what he's lost, but the change of career was perfect for him.
Very kind of Carole to lend you Oliver, because I believe that he works extremely well here. Catching up with an old friend after many years, only to find that your feelings have changed about them, is a great way to move on from a tragedy. Friends have that unique ability.
Your style really fulfilled my own personal notions of Charlie - not a big talker, but when he does, he's very well-spoken. The way you wrote it made him seem real, and that was powerful in itself without the story. The story, though, is a complete gem.
All right, I think that's enough out of me. My brain refuses to spit out anything more coherent than this at this point in time, so I shall check in with you again when the second part comes through the queue. Happy writing, and good luck with the Challenge!
P.S. - I noticed a couple of odd bits that might need fixing. Feel free to ignore me if I'm completely wrong (it happens...a lot).
I, in turn, told him about my new colleagues and my boss: Frank Alderton, and the Roman Rampart, an Italian Quidditch team Frank and I were going to meet at the end of the week.
The colon looks sort of wonky used this way. Maybe a plain old comma would fit more. And just a question...was 'Rampart' intentionally unpluralised, or was that a typo? I have no idea, so...(this is the part where you are more than free to ignore me, lol)
One day he just came downstairs and told everyone that this wasn’t at all in Fred’s spirit, and that we had to lighten up. I was skeptic at first too,
I think you meant either 'a skeptic' or just 'skeptical' here. There should also be a comma before the word 'too,' as well. I'm a comma freak, so, yeah...
Anyway, I think that's all of the important stuff. I'm glad to see the queue finally spit out your story (yay for LJ). Take care and happy writing.
Author's Response: Oh wow Jess, that was quick :D Thank you so much! I made a couple of changes after I read your suggestions. I have NO idea about skeptic(al) though... My brain went completely blank on that right now, and Safari's built-in spellcheck only knows "sceptic" anyway. Anywayyy, I'm really glad you liked the story so far! I'm really anxious about this (and Charlie), so it's very reassuring to get a nice review (and concrit) :D Thank you!