Hi, foolondahill. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on the first two chapters of your new story I Suspect Nargles. Each chapter seems to be focused on one person — first Draco, then Dean, and next will be Neville — but your stated intent is to look at Luna throughout the eyes of the people around her, defining her by a sort of negative space, so to speak. This is an intriguing approach. So far, in these first two chapters, you have told us a little about Luna, but so much more about your Luna-observers themselves.
All your actors are well-known, so their characters and personalities are already familiar, and you have been pleasingly faithful to those characters, expanding the details of favorite pivotal scenes at Malfoy Manor and Shell Cottage in perfect canon compliance. Even Dean, who is not a main character in the books, has been vividly brought to life by your clever use of everything we did know about him, such as his severed-hand boggart referring to a fear that an injury could destroy his artistic capabilities.
Of the three principal actors that we have seen so far, the one that impressed me most was Draco, trapped in what can only be called a waking nightmare of the worst sort, a nightmare that goes on and on, ever more horrible, from which there appears to be no escape. In this chapter are many inspired lines, such as ”His father was almost unrecognizable, like the house and the world.” (The definition of a nightmare, if I ever heard one.)
Another section I liked was ”Stupid first years who hadn’t sense enough to get out of the way. Stupid, worthless blood-traitors who had to play the hero, who hadn’t sense enough to know it was useless — Draco had realized it was useless long ago…”
I appreciated that you extrapolated the Malfoy Manor scene to show what was happening both before Harry and his group arrived and after Harry and his group had left, even though, after Harry left, Luna was not at Malfoy Manor any more. This first chapter was really mainly about Draco as a tragic figure caught in a horrible situation. It particularly struck me because I had recently finished writing a story about Draco’s son Scorpius (Dark Enough To See The Stars) and I had commented on the “continuum of decency” running from Lucius, through Draco, to Scorpius, so that the contrast between Draco’s life and Scorpius’ life was huge. I found myself wondering whether, when Scorpius was older, Draco would tell him anything about what his (Draco’s) life and experiences had been during the war. In general, how much do survivors of atrocities talk about their experiences afterwards? Not much, I’d guess. Perhaps it is untellable.
Of your first four stories on this site, I told you in previous reviews that my favorites were ‘Pat-a-Cake’ and ‘Bliss’ over ‘Bondage’ and ‘Innocents’, because the first two had more of a story arc, whereas the others were chiefly raw emotion. Yet many readers loved the latter two. In this story, ‘I Suspect Nargles’, you are capturing the best of both styles, the active story and the emotion, so all your readers ought to be pleased.
Your writing style is fluid and polished, with graceful sentences and apt word choices. The one thing that interrupts the flow is the presence of some editing flaws, not so much typos as homonym substitutions and a few grammatical bobbles. Another run-through by a beta knowledgeable in SPaG would put this story right up there with the upper tier of stories on this site. I see your story note that “updates may be sporadic.” Not too sporadic, I hope. I am looking forward to the upcoming chapters to see what insights you will present about Neville, George, and more. Very nice job.
Author's Response: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As a young, aspiring authoress who writes fan fiction mostly as a precursor to writing publishable material, having an intelligent reviewer like you, who delves deeper into my story and shares honest, in-depth observations about it is such a wonderful - and flattering - experience. Yes, the intention of this story will primarily to bring about insights about the primary characters of each chapter (Draco, Dean, Neville), using Luna and her unique ways of viewing the world as a tool to bring about their self-discovery/personalities. Luna will act as a secondary, even tertiary character in most of the chapters, weaving through the different story-lines as a common thread, little details about her own character and life after the war emerging periodically. That way I can still subtly make her the main character of the story. I find getting into Luna's head to be a very difficult thing to do without making her sound too “normal” or sweeping to the other end of the spectrum and blowing her character out of proportion. I thought using the observations of others would be an easier and more interesting way to write a story about her character. I’m very happy you’re pleased with my writing style. I’ll look into those grammatical errors. I don’t use a beta reader, so all of the mistakes are slipups I didn’t catch on one of my many read-throughs. I have an irrational fear of beta readers, mostly because I’m still a teenager and reluctant to communicate too openly with people I don’t know online, even under an alias. However, I can see very plainly that using a beta would be beneficial to my writing as well as my readers, so perhaps I will look into it. Thank you again. I cannot tell you how much your feedback is appreciated.
This is really good stuff. Deathly Hallows is my favorite of the books, so I love a story that sinks into that time and explores something new about it -- in this case, Draco's POV regarding Luna and the events that followed her capture. Your writing is vivid. I like your style... just enough description without bogging the fic down with scads of it. You captured both Luna and Draco well. Draco, in particular, is hard to get just right, I think, especially in this time, when we know what he was up to. I can't think how many times I've read the book and seen the movies, and yet, it never really struck me that Draco would have been on the train for Luna's abduction AND in his cellar by the time he got home on the same day. I absolutely love the way you explored that. Draco's reaction balanced with his own fear and survival instincts was just perfect. There were some powerful images here... Luna in the cellar looking like a portrait in a frame, Harry's frantic breathing in his ears, the Dark Lord's invading Draco's thoughts. Really nice writing. In fact, I know I've read and enjoyed some of your other fics, but this one is especially striking to me. Well done. I'll mention one thing and you can take it or leave it, as it's merely a suggestion. You frequently write "Draco felt sick" or "Draco felt empty nausea wash over him." It's fine how it is, but I think the word "felt" can deflate a sentence sometimes because you are telling us rather than showing us. Without the word, the latter sentence could be "Empty nasea rolled in Draco's stomach." Again, it may just be a preference of mine, but I think the second version packs a stronger punch. Great stuff. And now... on to chapter two. :) ~ Lori
Author's Response: Thank you for the review. I so appreciate the feedback, including your suggestion. I am constantly at battle with "telling rather than showing" emotion in my stories, so getting advice like yours is really quite a help.
I just discovered yor stories today. But you get in Draco's head perfectly. I am looking forward to reading more of your works.
Author's Response: Thank you!
Wow! Just wow!
Your writing is nice and descriptive. I like that not only did you care about the story, but about how you told the story.
You captured Draco's perspective very well, and Luna singing on Christmas Eve was so in-character, I'm surprised it wasn't in the book.
What a fantastic story. I hope to see more soon. =)
Also, the part of me that loves non-canon romance wants to see you write a Luna/Draco ;)
Author's Response: Aw, thanks for the review. I'm glad you like the story so far. Hopefully I'll be getting out other chapters soon. Lol, while I was writing this I could also picture a Luna/Draco romance, but, unfortunately, that won't be where I take this. Maybe another time :)