Reviews For The Bench
Reviewer: Oregonian
Date: 05/08/14 20:12
Chapter: Chapter 1: The Appointment

Hi, Jenn. I beg your pardon for not reviewing sooner, but my winter/spring has been filled with other obligations; now I can get back to reviewing stories written in early 2014.

I read this story slowly and carefully, reading between the lines and thinking about the implications of the words in your sentences. As usual, your stories are not quick reads, but they are understandable, and I think this one flows more easily than some of your earlier works did. Your story is not plotty; it is a slice of life, difficult life, a glimpse of conditions that prevailed during the first wizarding war, hints of the politics and intrigues within the Ministry and particularly within its judicial arm, canon characters who flit momentarily onto the scene and then off again, a general feeling of secrecy, anger, and dread. You give nothing away easily; the reader must have done his/her homework to know the background, such as the fact that Edgar is Amelia’s brother.

You show us an Amelia who is a fighter in difficult times, who refuses to allow herself to be manipulated, and who doesn’t have patience with people who are not open and aboveboard. But things are happening beyond her control. Her appointment to the bench is complicated by illegal and underhanded attempts to steal the position from her. Her husband is mixed up in something mysterious and dangerous and will not tell her what it is. Even expecting a baby turns out to be complicated and ambiguous. In the end her brother and his family are murdered, her husband is murdered, and an attempt appears to be made on her life by the nameless woman at the front door.

I do not see a causal connection between the dangerous societal conditions and the fact that Amelia’s baby is eventually stillborn, but perhaps it is meant to show that she has nothing left of her husband, her family, or her security. The only thing she can do now, as Mad-Eye points out, is to testify against the murderers and send them to prison. You end your story with the question: will she do it? I don’t see why she would not do it; she is tough enough to rise from her bed of pain and sorrow in order to put those criminals away. Ironically, you have Mad-Eye say, “…I will personally make sure nobody touches you ever again,” but we know that during the second wizarding war the Death Eaters did manage to kill her.

In this fairly short story you have taken Amelia through a transformative period of her life, referring to her first arrival at the Ministry as a new member of the legal staff, through her development to the role of a judge, and finally her loss of her family and almost of her own life, as the first wizarding war closes in about her and society begins to crumble. In your usual fashion, you choose little glimpses, little moments in time, to represent the whole story arc. I am always intrigued by seeing which little moments of history you choose to shine your light on. An enjoyable story.

Reviewer: Dad
Date: 01/21/14 11:42
Chapter: Chapter 2: The Witness

This feels as though I have started reading it half way through. I am not sure what is going on.

Author's Response: Hello. I thought about your review and meant to reply this morning. After looking at this again as a reader and not a writer, I realize that stepping back was a good thing because you are right. I was carefully watching what I was doing here and I missed that I started this in the middle. I hoped that I had filled in the gaps with a short story. I missed the mark again. I do plan to rewrite this and try again, perhaps through another point of view to go to the beginning to the end. That way, I hope that I get this out of my head and onto paper. I'm sorry this was confusing and thank you for calling this to my attention. Thank you for reading.

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