Reviewer: Oregonian
Date: 01/08/14 23:44
Chapter: Chapter 1: A Dog's Day of Freedom

Hi, Isabella. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, and I must say first of all that I am feeling a little apologetic that none of us readers has yet written a review for this fine story It certainly deserves to be commented on, because your work shows talent.

What strikes me most strongly is your talent for seeing things we all sense but don’t put into words. If I wanted to know how a dog felt on a warm beach, I might have to actually go to the beach with a dog and observe how it feels and what the dog does, but I’ll bet you wrote this completely out of your head, no beach trip required.

All of your scenes include the sensory details that bring the scene to life. For example, when the dog stands on the edge of the cliff, you include the line “…sending a few scarlet-specked stones falling over the edge into the shifting gray foam below..” Now you could have written nothing, or you could have said “..sending a few stones falling over the edge…” but with every added detail (and none of it extraneous), you make the sentence, and the scene, a little richer. There are examples of this kind of thing all through the story. I get the impression that you outline your story’s action as if constructing a skeleton and then go back and fill out all the bones with descriptive details as if adding flesh to the skeleton. I was almost sorry that your narrative jumped immediately from the dog’s impact with the water to his washing up on the shore of the mainland; I would have enjoyed seeing how you would describe his long swim through the frigid sea.

You put yourself very perceptively into the mind of your character. I particularly noticed how neatly you fit his backstory into the narrative as the dog waits and hesitates at the top of the cliff. Now sometimes we writers just have to stick a backstory in because we need to provide the information, but the backstory seems to be just hanging there like an extra appendage. Not so with you; you have inserted this information at a realistic point in the story. It is normal that the dog would hesitate ” that’s quite a jump ” and it’s normal that in this situation the dog would review what has brought him to this point, as if to convince himself that jumping is the right thing to do. His thought at this time Both choices held danger, but only one held hope, is a neat summary to indicate how his internal debate with himself was finally settled. And the next morning, when he notes how alien the sound of the seagulls seems to him, it is perceptive of you to remember that everyday sights and sounds which we ordinary folk take for granted would seem alien to someone who had been in prison for so many years; again you are seeing through his eyes.

The dream sequence during the night after his first day of freedom was informative for letting us know what was in the forefront of his mind. (And thank you for clearly indicating that it was a dream.) However it dragged a bit for me during the section when Sirius, James, and Remus belabored the point of whether Sirius should blame himself; it seemed repetitious. It could have been covered more succinctly, or conversely, some of the repetition could have been replaced by a further development of the idea, so that the same space on the page could have contained more ideas. But this is a small thing. And I like the descriptive sentences about the dream fading away.

You have a good development of Sirius’ thoughts in this chapter, from being focused on a primary goal of revenge against Peter to being focused on a primary goal of finding and protecting Harry and reconnecting with Remus, and only secondarily on taking revenge on Peter.

So you have a good cliff-hanger ending. Goal #1 is good and noble; goal #2 is understandable but full of the possibility to cause a lot of trouble (and ultimately it didn’t happen anyway). Of course if Sirius did eventually murder Peter, he would become a murderer for real and would throw away his chance at a new life, so I am left puzzling “Would he have done it if he could? Would that be the real Sirius?” We shall never know.

I hope you will get reviews from other readers also, especially as the story continues and the action continues to ramp up. It is always fun to read pieces of the Harry Potter canon written from the viewpoint of someone other than Harry Potter, so I will be on the lookout for chapter two.

Author's Response: Thanks for the review, sorry it took so long to respond as I haven't been on a while. I thought that about the dream scene as well and am hoping to fix that soon. I'm been in a bit of a writing slump the last few months and am hoping to get back to this piece soon, but it's giving me a lot of trouble. Life seems to love messing with me about these things. All I get when I try and write chapters are one-shots (which I will hopefully post on here soon. Thanks for reading and hopefully this will continue at some point. :]

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