Reviewer: Crazy about Draco Malfoy
1942: A Rhapsody in Riddle
cool good awesome brilliant fantastic
1942: A Rhapsody in Riddle
I’m a bit of a sucker for stories about Tom at school, and I thought that this was brilliant. What really stood out to me the most was your superb characterisation.
I thought that your characterisation of Abraxas was very good. He was easily recognizable as a Malfoy: his snobbery, a family characteristic, was clearly and realistically shown in his disdain of everything, and yet he also had that sense of regret which we see in Draco in Deathly Hallows. I could see a dramatic change in character when he attacked Tom as well, as in class he appeared to be in every sense a model student. However, I felt Abraxas’ pureblood background and pride justified this enough to make it plausible. I found the way he observed people's characters and therefore knew what Tom was like is interesting.
I liked how your Tom was as snarky and secretive as Rowling’s, with a creepy sort of omniscience (his observations) but also a charm that makes you feel immensely sorry for him. I thought that using his unpleasant past and his outcast status to play on the reader’s empathy also worked really well. His command to Abraxas about not touching him below the waist clearly demonstrated, in my opinion, that he was the private teenager Rowling wrote him as.
Slughorn was very well characterised too. The way Abraxas saw him as a doddery old man was true to both characters. I especially liked how you used physical descriptions of Slughorn to develop his characterization. When he called the newly formed Death Eaters his ‘darling boys’, it really reiterated how unaware and easily swayed he is. He didn't console the girls very well: he achieves some awkward measure. I found this very in character because he is often portrayed as a bit of a fool and someone rather socially inept. It also showed that people perceive him as someone who you can’t really completely listen to and trust. As Abraxas says, Slughorn does not have the wit of Albus Dumbledore.
I really felt that Dumbledore was also characterised brilliantly, both in the ‘biweekly Dumbledore and Riddle show’, as you called it, and in his concern for his students. Dumbledore’s recognition of the relationship was touching, and you stayed true to the Dumbledore we know: the man who offers advice and gives help to those who ask for it. Also, we already knew that Dumbledore and Riddle did not get along, but I had never really thought about it that much. I think that you got both Riddle and Dumbledore spot on in their ‘bi-weekly show’ as Riddle would never be upfront about something and start a fight, but Dumbledore would stand his ground and not let him get away with anything. Your result of this is perfect. I think you did a really good job on picking up Dumbledore’s little behaviours from the books and subtly inserting them into your fic. You can tell that he is a Gryffindor, as he stands his ground against Riddle.
The Gryffindors were good forerunners of those Trio Era characters that we know so well. The use of lesser known knowledge of the Black family tree and genuine canon characters certainly backed up your characterisation, as you were able to use known family characteristics. Charlus Potter was the oogler we see in James, and Septimus is certainly a Weasley: reasonable at work, but a bit of a joker too. I did find it a little bit too similar to James and Lily when Dorea Black turned down Charlus Potter for the ball when she canonically ends up marrying him, but perhaps the Potters all start off as annoying prats and turn into charmers?
The plot itself was a very interesting take on the formation of the early Death Eaters. The underhand simplicity of it was very in character for a Slytherin group, as well as the surrounding legend. I almost laughed when Abraxas said his thing about orgies and virgin sacrifices. The natural progression to the creation of the Dark Mark was well incorporated too.
In its own way, the sub-plot of this story was a sort of zero to hero story, in which Tom Riddle goes from being a Half-blood upstart to being a celebrated Slytherin. The actual act of saving his fellow Slytherins accentuated the hero part of this. This was a little bit cliché in the basic ‘zero to hero’ terms, but the fact that the plot was not focused specifically on that made it less of an issue.
I commend you on your excellent storytelling. Abraxas and Tom’s relationship is well executed, and all in all, the fic is very good.