So... About me. I'm a... college student (defined in Fantastic Humans and Where to Find Them as a strange breed of nocturnal creature drawing life force from the computer... sounds about right).
I am a strong believer in constructive criticism. I'd like to know what you think of my stories, whether you love them or hate them. I want to know what I can improve on in my writing. That's what being in SPEW is about.
First two banners by the amazing Queen Hal, Until The Dawn banner by the wonderfully talented Noldo.
I've been saying for months that I'd review one or the other of your epics, and seeing as how I stayed up until 3 am a week ago to catch up on this, I think the time has come.
I could go through the chapter and comb for small grammatical errors as I usually do when reviewing, but if I had any grammatical disagreements with you it would probably be about commas, and I doubt you want to hear about commas. My biggest quibble about anything is Draco thinking to himself that Eastwrithe is the perfect name for the village. Somehow it didn't seem to me a very Draco-like thought.But enough of quibbles. I've been following this plot for over fifty chapters by now, and I want to gush about it. The writing is beautiful. There is enough imagery to paint vivid pictures in my mind, but not so much that I get swamped in it. I love stories that manage to walk that fine line, and you've done an admirable job with it. Combine good writing with an excellent plot, and you already have me hooked. But that's not my favorite thing about this story.
What I love most about your stories are your characters. You write one of the most believable Dracos I have read. He is not a good person, but he is thoroughly believable. He looks out for himself above all else-quite the proper Slytherin! He has some attachment to his parents, but not a great deal. He has motives and motivations. He's not always incredibly smart or cunning, which is another pitfall I often see in Draco characterizations. In the context of the story, he is real.I also quite like your Voldemort. The idea that he hides himself away and lets almost no one access is both interesting and in keeping with what we know of him from canon. It's wonderful to see an author take a canon character and expand on what we know of him or her, and you do it beautifully.
Then, of course, there are Severus and Maeve. I'm a Snape fan (*gaspshockdie*), so I don't know whether it's that I read more Snape-centric fics or that the quality of writers who write Snape is better than average, but I've read several Snapes who are really quite excellent. Yours is certainly one of them. You write the best “Snape in love” I have read. I love reading your descriptions of his actions and mannerisms, and I constantly smile or even chuckle at the dialogue you write for him. Maeve is … Maeve. I don't think I can say more than that. I absolutely love how you write the interactions between the two of them. The tenderness is sweet, especially given Severus' acerbic personality. Their mutual frustration and worry makes their relationship real. When they interact, I feel like both of them are in the room with me (or maybe I'm in the room with both of them). They make me smile. They make me bite my lip in apprehension. And most concretely, they make me keep reading.This story (along with HPDL) is one of my favorite fan fictions. Thank you for sharing it with us!
First of all, I can't tell you how glad I am that you haven't stopped writing. When I saw your response to HBP it made me very sad. I'd still like to see you finish Of Socks and Sherbet Lemons, but this new story seems excellent! I don't often actively appreciate poems or lyrics at the beginning of each chapter, but in this case I think it's wonderful. The poetry is beautiful and it fits well with the story. Please keep doing it!
I like how you've written Ursula. Often the "good Slytherin" is nothing more than a painful cliché, but you've managed to make her believable. We don't know what her motives are, but it's clear that she has them. She's a complex and well developed character. I also like how you've written Harry. He's not Angry!Harry from Ootp, but we can still see that side of him. He's still jumping to conclusions, especially about Snape. He's still very Harry, complete with his faults. I'm dreading the influx of Post-HBP Harry-Is-Now-Perfect fics, so I was very happy to see how you'd written him. I love your plots, but the main reason I read all of your stories (and I do, even if I haven't reviewed every single one) is your characterization. I love reading your characters.Now to the nit-picky. Are you sure Evanesco would work on glass? I was under the impression that it only vanishes liquids. I was also puzzled that Ursula called Aberforth "Abe." Do they have some past history together, that she would be this informal with him? If so, I'd like to find out about it at some point. If not, this doesn't make sense to me. Aberforth seems to me a very distant character (not to mention a strange one), and the way you've written him I don't think he'd like being addressed so informally. Also, Ursula seemed very quick at deducing that "some sort of vow" was the Unbreakable Vow. Are there so few types of vows? It seemed a little strange to me.
The plot so far is superb. You've done a nice job of building tension and suspense, and I'm hungry for more. Luckily for me you seem to write fairly quickly. I'll be watching for the next update!
Author's Response: WOW! Thank you for your incredible review, I love getting stuff like this! I really like the way I've written Ursula too. Don't think she's too nice, though, she was a role model and mentor for Snape, as you'll find out in a future chapter. For the Vanishing Spell, Evanesco, I checked the HP Lexicon (I don't know what I would do without it, that website is absolutely indispensable!). It only said that Evanesco was the incantation for a Vanishing Spell, I wasn't able to find anything regarding what it can be used on. Regarding Aberforth...Ursula was an Auror, and she is the type to know everything about everybody. She'd most likely know Aberforth on a personal level because so many of the patrons to the Hog's Head are, well, dodgy. I am considering writing a companion piece to this fic, a backstory to Ursula, but I haven't decided upon that yet.
Author's Response: OK, I meant for this response to be all in one go, but I was rudely interrupted mid-response by a phonecall. Anyway, regarding the Unbreakable Vow, in a future chapter you'll see why Ursula jumps to that conclusion so quickly...I can't give away too much, it would spoil the plot! :) Like I mentioned, I'm working on a companion story for this, just about Ursula's past experiences, which are quite complex in their own right. The next chapter for this story has been submitted already, it should be up in a few days at the most. The fic is already complete, I've just been fixing a few minor details, so you won't have to wait long between chapters.
First of all, I love the premise. The idea of lost witches and wizards is both logical and original. It's a lovely little plot bunny, and you're doing it justice.
The opening is brilliant. It's very Ron, and it sets the tone for the chapter. The repetition of Ron constantly wishing he were somewhere else serves as a motif and unifies the chapter. This chapter is not a collection of scenes but a cohesive chapter, and this motif is part of what makes it work so well as a chapter.In the third paragraph I found myself having to go over one of McGonagall's lines of dialogue for clarity. “… there is an important operation underway. Not," she continued, fluttering her hands at the trio's protesting faces, "anything that has to do directly with you, or even the war...” What you have is grammatically correct, but I had to go back to figure out that 'anything' refers to 'operation.' Maybe my brain is just tired from reading too much bad grammar today, but maybe it could be clearer. Maybe it's just that “not anything” would be pretty strange in a continuous sentence, since usually it is usually compressed into “nothing.”
Another small nitpick is on the term Codex Nominis. Your capitalization is consistent throughout, but I think it's incorrect. The Romans were weird about capitalization, but I think that if they capitalized codex they would also capitalize nominis. Together they form the proper noun, so together they would be capitalized. Also, it's usual to be consistent in capitalization between English and Latin. If it's The Book of Names in English, then it should be Codex Nominis in Latin.You're characterizations are superb. You've managed to focus the story on Ron while still keeping Harry and Hermione's characters strong and true. Copper is your baby, and you've done an excellent job creating her. She's a wonderful character and I look forward to watching her grow. My absolute favorite of all your characterizations is Professor McGonagall. She still speaks, acts, and thinks like the Professor McGonagall we know from canon, but she is also tired and worn. Through her you show how the war has taken its toll upon the old as well upon the young. A slight droop of the head from the witch who always stands tall and stern speaks volumes both about her and about the intervening years. It's slight, yet powerful.
Seren dear, this is beautiful. And as I often find myself saying when I've read one of your stories, thank you for sharing it with us.
I think, Seren dear, that you know that I try to find some constructive criticism for every story I review. Even yours, even Jenna's. For everyone. No matter how good they are. And while I still think you should take out the parenthesis around the flashbacks (I find them distracting), I don't really have any to offer. Not for this story.
It makes me ache; it's so beautiful. I've read it at least ten times, and it still gives my chills up and down my arms. Hermione's regret is tangible. She is very much in character and yet very much in pain-quite a feat, and one many authors cannot manage. The descriptions are both beautiful and moving. “As they turn her slowly, she begins to tremble. From between tear-laden lashes, she can see the northern most point of the lake, where a friend died, years ago.” Beyond the strength of the prose, you manage to convey so much meaning. Her reliance on Harry and Ron is completely believable, compelling, and in keeping with canon (or should I say cannon just to make you laugh?).The flashbacks are so well-written they leave me almost speechless. The battle is so vivid it makes my heart stop. I can see it happen in my mind so clearly… I can see them fall. I tried to find a favorite line from the battle, but I can't. I really honestly can't. They're all so well done. And as is often the case with good writing, the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts. You've built it so well. The tension, the rhythm, the tone… they all combine to make a vision so powerful it knocks me down (except for the fact that I'm already sitting).
The end... I can't even begin to describe it. The pain of memories and the desire to start over and be a child again are so overwhelming. They resonate so strongly with me… I told you about seeing a hillside completely golden with flowers this summer, didn't I? That hillside and this story are both beautiful, and linked in my memory. The last sentence in particular has found a resting place in my heart. “And for a moment, the memory of an echo of whispers rose to touch the sky; a little bandy-legged blonde girl, a chubby boy, and a flamed-haired girl ran beside the kids, their laughter vibrating with that of the three children who sped along through fields of gold.” How can I even describe the beauty and hope and poignancy in those words? I can only humbly repeat them and allow them to speak for themselves.
First of all, m'dear, I have to say that I love the idea for this story. How very original! I've seen (by now) a couple of different drafts of this chapter, and I have to say I really like what you've done with it. I know you've experimented with person and point of view, and I think that you've made a good decision about how to tell the story. :: showers with love and adoration ::
Moving on… Time for… constructive criticism! I've spotted a couple of typos and words that don't quite make sense. The honest answer held as little weight with the Healers as they did with Sam himself. Your subject is “the honest answer,” which is singular, so you should have 'it' instead of 'they.'Only one thought fought its way to the surface as he had sidestepped disease and shrieks of death at every corner. While the imagery and rhythm of this sentence are lovely, you have a small issue with tense. 'Fought' and 'had sidestepped' happen simultaneously, yet they don't agree in tense. From the context of the paragraph, it should be just 'sidestepped' instead of 'had sidestepped.'
One thing I really love is how you use the time. Sam is acutely aware of how much time has passed since he has entered St. Mungo's. For one thing, it shows us how momentous the experience is for him, and how strange. The motif of precise time lends a sense of urgency to the story, which works really well. It also adds focus to the story, which really highlights the quality of the writing. This is really excellent. I know you're busy, but please do keep working on it when you have the time!
Author's Response: *squee* Thanks Lian. I know I troubled you with my fretting and sighing over this chapter, and you\'re a dear for putting up with me in the first place. :) But I\'m so thrilled that you liked it, and that you took the time to give me the concrit--which is particularly wonderful in this case, because I didn\'t take a beta, and had only had myself for grammar. Goodness knows it\'s not my favorite thing in the world. :P But I\'m so happy to have you to pick up on things for me--who knows where I\'d be without you?! Thank you so much love, it really does mean a whole lot to me. I certainly will keep working on it--especially for you. :)
I decided to go hunting through the contest submissions to see what people had written, and I was oh so lucky as to discover this! I think what you did here was really fascinating and I'm very glad I read it! I am an insane nitpicker, so I'm going to nitpick. Let me say first that I like it very much and I'm commenting on really minor details. The overall polish of the story is excellent.
In the first paragraph, you have No one's laughing, no one's smiling. While it's technically perfectly proper English, the contractions are distracting. You start out with bare, punctuated phrases, like a somber drum beat. The colloquial English takes away from that mood. No one is laughing. No one is smiling. would fit better with the mood. This is of course no more than a suggestion, and you shouldn't feel compelled. But I believe it would heighten the effect.My speech was submerged by my sadness. This is incredibly nitpicky, but technically her speech should be submerged in her sadness, not by it. And a few paragraphs above that, you have I breathed noisily, trying to quell my tears but with no avail. I think (unless British English takes different prepositions and I'm not aware of it), that it should be to no avail rather than with no avail.
Beyond nitpicking, I really truly loved this story and I should tell you why. The descriptions are wonderful: descriptive in all the right places, but not so many that they are distracting. The balance is excellent, and the imagery sigh worthy. The characterization was also great. I've seen Susan Bones used in many different ways, and I have to admit I was skeptical at reading the summary. However, you wrote it so believably that by the end it seemed only natural that Susan should have loved Cedric.I also like the storytelling. You cut back and forth between Dumbledore's speech and Susan's memories very effectively. You also left enough of it at both the beginning and the end that I as a reader was able to remember where I was without any difficulty. You really did an excellent job with this story, and I'm glad I found it!
When Harry’s quest for the horcruxes turns desperate, he leaves the security of his homeland to seek out the advice of an ancient and most unusual Council – one whose allegiance is only to themselves but whose knowledge is so vast it may be his only chance. What Harry discovers there will change everything. Soon, he comes to see that this is all so much bigger than just he and Dark Lord – his role, though pivotal, is terribly minute compared to the challenges the Wizarding World must now face.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean, a young witch uncovers the truth about her bloodline. But only when catastrophic events begin to unfold, does she realise her importance in the greater scheme of things...
It is a tale of epic proportions: bringing in the truth behind Slytherin's betrayal, and the choices the Founders had to make to ensure the longevity of their world. Enemies must unite, lines must be crossed, and children must forgo their innocence. And behind it all, fly the Spirits of the Storm, waiting, watching, scheming. Welcome to the greatest epic war the Wizarding World has ever seen.
Chapter 11 is posted.
Well, Haal, I have to tell you how absolutely gripping this story is! I meant to be a sensible person and read and review the first chapter, but no, that wasn’t possible. I couldn’t stop myself, and so here I am reviewing the most recent addition to this lovely story!
Now, I am the queen of nitpicks (:: points to tiara on head ::), so it’s off to nitpick land we go! In the fifth paragraph from the beginning, you have It now lay in shambles; grey piles of charred wood, brick and debris lay strewn across the cobbled main street. While technically what you have is not incorrect, I think you should change it either to a colon (:) or to dashes (––) because you are providing description and expanding on the statement given in the previous clause. Technical, I know, but that’s me for you.My only other nitpicks come towards the end of the story, six paragraphs from the end. He stared at the child, feeling pride and pity for here all at once. It’s just a small typo, but that should be her rather than here. Then in the final sentence of the same paragraph, you have He knew for a fact that he could have never watched his friends suffer like that, and still be around to relay the tale. While it’s kind of a long sentence, it’s grammatically incorrect to have a comma there.
All right, enough nitpicks. I have a lot of good things to say about this story, but to keep this review to a reasonable length I’m going to talk about what I specifically liked in this chapter. First of all, I really liked your characterization of Ron. Ron’s a tricky character to write well, but you did a great job with him. You captured both his almost naïve innocence and his iron determination very well. His character really leapt off the screen!The other thing I really liked was how you wrote the little girl’s dialogue. You did a really excellent job of capturing what had happened from the perspective of a muggle child who doesn’t know what Death Eaters are. It’s a real challenge for you as an author to make the descriptions really come from her perspective while still giving the reader enough pertinent information to figure out exactly what happened. Well done! The girl’s descriptions felt very childlike and her terror was completely real. I think the way you used “An’ then, an’ then, an’ then” to tell the story really worked.
I absolutely LOVE this story so far! You have me totally hooked. I may get behind on it sometimes because my schoolwork does tend to pile up like that, but I will certainly be reading the rest as it comes out.
It may seem strange to get a review on this one-shot so long after posting it, but I hope it’s a nice surprise. I have a habit of perusing the challenge submissions from time to time and I came across this.
I had trouble following the opening paragraph, and even after finishing the story I’m still not quite sure who the other woman and the man are, though I’m guessing that they are Lucius and Andromeda. But I could be totally mistaken about that, because it’s not clear. True, it’s not really all that necessary that I as a reader know their identities, but it would satisfy my curiosity if later in the story Narcissa’s thoughts drifted back to the memory. You get your reader interested with a mysterious opening, but you never go back and capitalize on it. So despite your strong ending I finish the story still feeling unsatisfied.My other problem with the opening is that it’s very difficult to know who is saying what. Is the conversation between Narcissa and the man only? Or is it between all three of them? I’m not quite sure. You can leave out some of who is saying what in order to make it flow well, but you leave it so unclear that I spent a lot of time trying to puzzle out who was saying what. It would help if you gave us more pronouns (he, she, and I differentiate the three characters), even if you don’t want to reveal the speakers’ actual identities yet.
I really liked the later part of the story, the ending especially. You did a good job weaving back and forth between the italic and non-italic sentences. It was very readable, which is difficult to achieve with that structure. The short, simple, and yet powerful italicized phrases worked very well. I especially liked how you stripped her identity: “Narcissa no more. … Malfoy no more. … Black no more.” Very powerful, and very well done.The last three lines my favorite. They mirror the three lines that open the body of the story, bringing the work full circle. It’s a dark ending, but poignant. A strong ending to a good story. Keep up the good writing!
This is Lian, reporting for reviewing duty. First of all, I can't tell you how happy I am that you wrote another story. This is, in terms of what you take on in the chapter, a major step up from the things you've written in the past. Reading it, I can see why you felt the need to chose a new penname. Congratulations, beta dearest, you've reached a whole new level.
In general I like the idea of this story. You set a big challenge for yourself, which you should, because you're that good a writer. I'm warning you in advance that my comments on this are very extreme in both directions. Please bear with me through the criticism and don't take it harshly. You know how honest I am. And rest assured, my criticism will be followed by praise.However… on to criticism: My biggest (and pretty much only) complaint is one issue--clarity. The first two-thirds of the story are incredibly difficult to comprehend. I've seriously read Faulkner that was easier to decipher. As a reader, I had one major problem and one minor problem.
The major problem is the dialogue. I talked to Nan about it and she affirmed my guess that you had purposely left out quotation marks. While I can see why you would want to do so stylistically, it doesn't work. You could use italics instead, but I see your point (also conveyed to me by Nan) that you were using italics in a different way. I agree that italics won't work here; the ending would not work nearly so well because it wouldn't be clear that it was meant differently. I'm guessing that you wanted to leave out the quotation marks to create flow and contrast with the “present” time. Whatever your reasons, I think they are outweighed by the need for clarity. Maybe I'm just ridiculously tired, but I had a difficult time figuring out what was being said out loud and what was being thought, and sometimes even who was speaking. I found myself going back to the beginnings of some paragraphs, which is not a good sign. I know you purposely did not use quotations, but I think you should reconsider. You as the author know who is meant to be speaking what aloud, but without quotation marks it's difficult for the reader, especially the first time through. It makes sense when you go back, but one of your goals as a writer is to write clearly enough that the reader can figure it out on the first read.The minor clarity problem was distinction between different sections and different times. Have several lines gap helps, but as a minor thing it helps to have some marker (# # # separated by a few lines above and below is fairly standard) to signal to the reader that you're moving either backwards or forwards. This didn't actually cause any problems for me, but I can see how it might for some readers, especially as you are telling the story achronologically. It's not a pressing problem, but it is something you might want to consider.
There were also a couple of sentences that didn't make sense to me (again, maybe I'm just tired). She once thought magic was only for faeries and unicorns and mermaids . . . yet, seven years later, she has seen each with her own eyes. Her eyes of magic. Of Hermione. The last two fragments don't work for me. I don't mind fragments (obviously, as I use them in my own writing consistently), or rather I don't mind them as long as the author has a good enough grasp on grammar to use them properly, which you obviously do. I think my problem is “Her eyes of magic.” I'm not sure if it's the 'Her' or the 'of' that's bothering of me, but it doesn't work. I know we're talking about Hermione's eyes here (at least I believe so), but something about how it's phrased bothers me. Maybe Her magical eyes? I'm not sure. But you might want to look at it.Moving on into insane nit-pick land: But she is Hermione, one who must leave to save the world, and she will be forced to have another priority; the fate of the world. It would make a lot more sense grammatically if you had a colon after priority rather than a semicolon. Really minor, I know. How I even find these things… :: cough ::
Okay. Now it's time to shower you with praise. The opening: wham. It has beautiful imagery and impact, dear. What makes it even better is how you come back to it. I really like things that come full circle, and you do it quite nicely. In the beginning it is unified and compact. In the end, it is fragmented and drawn out, which really builds the emotion and heightens the effect. It's both beautiful and difficult to pull off effectively. My love, you are blossoming.“On her knees, sobbing. The ground, hard. Two arms, pulling, supporting, saying more to her than words ever could. Down, then up. Spiraling down, then drifting up. Down, darkness. Up, light.”
The rhythm and cadence are extraordinary. The parallel structure, punctuated and bare of verbs, enhances the power of the emotion. It is at once barren and rhythmic. The structure conveys Hermione's pain and shock very well, and the imagery is also powerful. It's lovely, m'dear.The last section is by far my favorite part. You come back to it with the doorknob, and immediately we know where we are, and we take in the symbolism of the doorknob. We know what it meant to the eleven-year-old child. It's heart wrenching. The symbol of the wall is also extremely powerful. The wall has crumbled again, but this time at a harsh price. Such a powerful line. And once again, you use a motif (this time of the wall). Really good writing, dear, with multiple levels of meaning. How you have grown up…
:: huggles beta ::
Lian! This was so wonderful! *happily goes on squealing about her review* Even if I got hit on the head with clarity and spacing, which I knew someone was going to say something on. Ah well. :PFirst things first: clarity. I saw no quotation marks in a book I read and loved it, so I tried it out in this one. I was trying to put in indicators of who was speaking by adding sirs, ma'ams, Mr and Mrs, etc. Thanks for commenting; I'll go back and try to fix that. You're right about the spacing, though. I'll try more lines between each section, because I still want it to flow and not be interrupted.
On the "her eyes of magic," I was trying to convey how nearly tangible magic is, not just an adjective in describing her. I tried to set it apart and make it a little more independent, and I'm just addicted to fragments. Hehe. And yes, I will go back and change that semicolon. I was unsure whether to use it or not, so I left it be.And oh, the lovely praise. *eyes get misty* . . . hehe. ;) I love symbols and metaphors. Sometimes random things flow out: the doorknob was not planned at all and I just liked the phrase "cold but inviting" so I plugged it in. Thank you much, dearest. This review was beautiful. :: huggles ::
Before I say anything constructive at all, I’d like to ask why your stories always seem to make me stay up until 4 am or later. I don’t mean to get sucked in like that, but I do. And then I can’t stop. And suddenly, it’s always 4 am. Is that the undead hamster haunting hour or something?
As usual, your writing is so clean that it’s almost impossible for me to find anything to nitpick. So the only suggestions I have to offer are matters of personal preference that you should feel absolutely free to disregard. They’re just the things that bother me very slightly when I comb through for the third time. At no point did I think she was playing a game with me. And some might say I was foolish in this. I’m not against starting a sentence with a conjunction, but in this particular instance I don’t think it really gains you anything in terms of flow. In favor of removing the And which begins the second sentence, the statement is stronger without the conjunction at the beginning. Katherine seems like a character who thinks in fairly strong statements (she’s rather strong minded), so I think it would be better to remove that And.And beyond that… I don’t really have anything to add. The entire story is very cleanly and tightly written. The characterization is excellent. Of the three characters in the chapter, two are your OCs, both of whom are very well developed. I’ve waxed about Maeve elsewhere, so it would be excessive to repeat my praises here. Katherine is an interesting character, especially in terms of her relationship with authority. I’m really interested in watching how you continue to develop that aspect of her character. And of course, I can’t talk about characterization without mentioning Severus. He’s excellent. I’m something of a Snape-aholic (in terms of my reading choices, if not my reviewing choices), and your portrayal of his character is one of the deepest and most intricate I have found anywhere.
I’m not sure if I’ve said anything really constructive in this entire review, and for that I apologize. This story is so excellent that it really deserves better criticism. But my brain isn’t doing that right now… so how about I go all gushy and say I love it instead? Because I do. It’s absolutely wonderful.
Since this summer I've read quite a few stories about Draco and his private (and often, in this context, remorseful) thoughts, and I've taken a liking to them. I liked your use of first person. I think it was very effective in drawing me in as a reader and getting me to feel empathy for his character.
I really like the opening paragraphs. They do a great job at setting the tone. However, the second sentence isn't entirely clear. We each have won and lost. I had to go back and reread that to figure out what you meant. I think it would help if you added a 'both' to emphasize your point, and possibly switch 'each' and 'have' for readability's sake. We have each both won and lost. might be clearer.I also found myself getting slightly tripped up in the second paragraph. How I have wished for that - so long has it been since the only battles in my head were which hex I should use on Potter. In general your slightly nonstandard phrasing works well and fits in with the tone, but here it tripped me up. The 'that' is so far away from its antecedent (last word of the previous paragraph), so it took me a minute to figure out what you meant. 'It' is common pronoun in context, so changing 'that' to 'it' might clarify. Or alternatively you could also replace 'that' with 'redemption.' Normally you might not want to repeat the word so soon after you used it, but as you started a new paragraph (very appropriately, too) I don't think it would seem redundant. Or of course you could leave the 'that' as 'that' if you prefer it that way. The 'so long has it been' right after the dash didn't trip me up so much as bog me down. It's an older style of sentence structure, and combined with the dash it got me mired in the mechanics rather than the meaning.
I really liked how you used four paragraphs that are one sentence each, scattered throughout the story. I've seen this technique overused in some fics, but you avoided that pitfall (and it CAN be very tempting, can't it, when you discover just how lovely it sounds…). All four of the sentences you chose to highlight were excellent choices, and setting them apart like that really let them ring.Overall, this was a nice piece of reflective Draco angst, which as a genre I really like. Keep up the good writing!
Your stories were recommended to me by several people, and I have to say I’m very glad they told me to read! I am a great fan of Minerva, and I like Snape too (and this take on him), so I was extremely pleased to find a well-written story about two of my favorite characters!
I have to say I never pictured Minerva as a night owl, but given her late-night appearances in several of the books it occurs to me that it fits into canon quite well. Bravo for getting me to notice something new about the books!I am an extreme nitpicker, so I am going to nitpick (as nitpicks are one of the reasons for writing and receiving reviews). I hope you don’t mind it. First of all, the last sentence in your second paragraph reads: She would have to speak with someone else, but she had no knowledge of where to find him, or how he would react if she did. It is debatable, but I think this sentence would read better without the comma after ‘to find him.’ It’s not grammatically necessary and I think that the sentence flows better without it.
In the eleventh paragraph, you have: Unnoticed and unremarked, Minerva passed through the village to the quiet spot by the Shrieking Shack, then Apparated. There is, in my mind at least, more than one quiet spot by the Shrieking Shack, so it might make more sense to say that she went to a quiet spot rather than the quiet spot.A bit later you have: Minerva tried to guess the age of both paint and drapes, decided on a minimum of four decades and shook her head, then knocked. This sentence struck me as being a bit awkward. Perhaps it would read better if you tried splitting it into two separate sentences. You have four actions crowded in here, and even with commas and conjunctions it isn’t quite as clear as the rest of your writing. In my opinion it might be best to make the knocking into a separate sentence, but that’s just how I would do it. It’s not that it’s wrong as it is, just that you could smooth it out a bit. You might want to take a look at it.
I think that was enough nitpicking even for me. The mechanics of your writing are excellent, in general. Even better, you have a delightful plot and excellent characterization. I particularly enjoyed your use of the chess game. It was very much the sort of thing Severus might do, and also very elegant symbolically. The chess game was of course also very much in fitting with canon, given the chess game in the first book. I’m guessing that you at least thought of the chess game in book one, yes?Above all, my absolute favorite thing in this excellent story was the characterization. I very much enjoyed Minerva’s sharp thoughts and mental notes, and I thought they fit very well with her character. The interplay between her and Severus was marvelous. It fit both of them, and it went well with the many interesting moments between them we have witnessed over the first six books. As to Snape, I particularly loved how you depicted his facial expressions (and Minerva’s opinions and impressions of them!). I love imagining Snape’s facial expressions, and you really brought him to life for me.
Thank you so much for providing me with such a delightful read!
Author's Response: Nitpicking and praise both appreciated! I did indeed think of the chess game in book one, and wondered who kept McGonagall's skills sharp. And she and Snape do have some interesting moments together, don't they?
Oh Anna dear! This is such a wonderful story! I can’t believe I didn’t get around to it before! :: squees at the talent that Anna possesses ::
I really like how you’ve taken Rodolphus, a virtually unknown but hated character, and transformed him into something entirely human. It doesn’t surprise me, because you of all people have an amazing capacity for empathy, but it’s so well done that I feel the need to comment on it. Your Rodolphus is certainly a Death Eater, but that is only the beginning. He’s wearied by years of hardship, disillusioned with the darkness of his world. I really like how you used the walls of the passageways to reflect his state of mind –– brilliant. Perhaps most compelling at all, Rodolphus is a bit lost. He’s doing what he has always done, compelled by forces he does not understand. He’s neither nice nor good, but that feeling of confusion, of meandering through life without control, is a feeling we can all relate to. It’s part of being human, and it’s very compelling.
I also really liked how you further highlighted Rodolphus’s humanity by emphasizing the inhumanity of the other characters. Lucius is a silver snake, Voldemort is a spider, and Bellatrix is inhuman in her insanity. It’s very subtly done, yet extremely effective. Both excellent and … dare I say… slightly Slytherin in its sneakiness? :: giggles and runs ::
Now, my dear sweet Anna, it is time for a bit of nitpicking. Just minor things, really. The first sentence of the sixth paragraph reads: It was only the training they had all undertaken that kept the jump of fright inside him. While nothing about this sentence is actually incorrect (so don’t fret, darling), it’s a bit confusing. Partly you have been referring to Rodolphus so far as an individual, and making him part of ‘they’ throws me off balance. Also, it’s simply more information than we need in the given situation, if that makes any sense? Also, while poetic, “the jump of fright” is rather odd syntax, and compounded with my confusion about “they all” makes the sentence difficult to read. I would rewrite this sentence to read something like “It was only his training as a Death Eater that kept him from jumping in fright.” Maybe you want to keep the image of the jump being contained inside him, but I think you should do something to make this sentence clearer. Wonderful imagery is wonderful, but if it’s not communicated clearly to the reader then it is not as effective as simpler, less beautiful writing.
A few paragraphs further down: At once he wished he had not, feeling how an invisible web of evilness spun around his hand. It should be a web of “evil,” not “evilness,” I think. Clearer, simpler, and darker.
One more little nitpick: His gaze was eventually torn away from the scene of dawn, by the box he was holding. The comma is grammatically incorrect, I’m afraid. It also cuts into a beautiful, beautiful sentence. The image is lovely, and the comma is a confusing distraction. So please, allow us to enjoy the beauty of the imagery and remove that comma.
All right, that’s enough nitpicking, even for me. :: hugs Anna :: Now it’s time for me to gush about my favorite part of the story :-P
The ending. It’s beautiful, in a dark sense of the word. I love the irony of Rodolphus being the one who first came by the knife. Rodolphus’s recognition of the irony of the knife and his realization that Voldemort planned the irony are, metaphorically, the twist of the knife. I also love the poetry of Rodolphus’s last (and only) defiance. It means a great deal if a person can, knowing they are about to die, face death with dignity rather than crumpling in fear. Even though his fate is inescapable, even though he dies at the end, the ending is still hopeful. It is hopeful because in the last hour he sees very clearly where and what he is, because he learns to refuse Voldemort, and because he finds the beauty of the sky. And truly, Anna, it is a beautiful ending. Like the haunting beauty of a dying rose.
Hello again! I said at some point not too long ago (and murmured to myself many times before that) that I should read your longer work, and recently I got around to it. I am not a reviewer who sits down and reviews every chapter as she reads, rather I read as far as is posted and review whatever is most recent. Any story that is good enough that I would want to review every chapter is also good enough that I cannot conscience stopping to write reviews. Since I have very recently devoured forty-six chapters of this and am sadly left with no more to read, now seems like a good time to stop and review.
First off, please tell me there’s a sequel on the way. You give us a tantalizing taste of Severus’s reaction to seeing Harry at school, and it leaves me wanting to hear it all through his eyes. Throughout the story there have been so many moments that explained various actions, reactions, and personality quirks that a careful reader will recognize as explaining various moments in the canon stories. I’d like to see the actual books through your Severus’s eyes as well, to see how you explain Snape’s moods entering various situations, and on a broader level see how Severus interprets the intrigues of each school year.
A couple of other things that really made this special for me… I really liked the whole “Saint” and “Prince” thing; it was very believable. You had Lily literally popping out of the screen. She was so real, so vibrant, so human. She fits everything we’ve heard about her in canon, but she’s something more than just the sum of those traits. I generally avoid any and all marauder era stories because I find that the characterizations are so often just that, so this was a really refreshing change. I really liked Lily, and of course I worship your Severus, who I think, in this story, ties for one of the best two Severus characterizations I have ever read. If you are interested, my other favorite is Duj’s Severus in Who Lives In Disguise on Ashwinder (which is an odd place for it since it contains no romance).
The other specific touch that was like the frosted roses on top of the icing for me was the number of times Severus ended up in the Hospital Wing. For one thing, I was fascinated by his relationship with Poppy. For another… I’ve always imagined Severus as extremely sickly. It’s an especially effective plot device because his frequent illnesses allow us to see Severus vulnerable and in pain, which makes him much more sympathetic as a character. And you’ve done it in such a way as to make his frequent extended stays in the Hospital Wing explain a great deal about his bitterness towards Potter and the rest. If you were to write a sequel (:: tries very hard not to make puppy eyes and fails miserably ::), I’d be curious to see you work it into a version of the “Harry at Hogwarts” years, because it could really put some interesting twists on familiar events.
Hmmmm… I’ve been blathering for a while here, and haven’t really gotten to constructive criticism yet. The story flows very well from chapter to chapter, and there aren’t really any discontinuities between chapters, even reading the story all at once. Your writing is so wonderful that I’m afraid I can’t offer any useful comments on how anything major could be improved… maybe that impossibility is helpful feedback? I’m not going to scour the full text for nitpicks, but I’ll have a go at this chapter.
Several paragraphs down: In the minds of everyone who knew him, he was Professor Snape, defined by his black garb, particularly the cloak, and the glower of a perpetual Hogwarts-induced headache. I think you might want to change the comma after “Professor Snape” to a colon, since what follows is a description of his persona. Though that’s more a matter of preference than anything else.
Close to the end, you have: After all, they had seven years ahead of them in the safest place in Britain. I found the ‘they’ and ‘them’ rather confusing; it took me a while to realize that “they” refers to Harry and Severus, together. Since the last noun before this sentence is “the boy,” it might make more sense to say ‘he’ and ‘him,’ both for grammatical clarity and because it makes more sense as a thought coming from Severus. Does that make any sense? I feel like I’m being monstrously unclear about explaining it, but hopefully you can read the paragraph and see what I’m getting at.
I have to admit that I was incredibly disappointed when I came far enough out of the story to realize that this chapter was the end, but the ending is amazing. It brings the story back to Lily and the motif of eyes, which you seem to have a thing for. It also speaks volumes about how painful the coming years will be for Severus. Even more than the 45 9/10 chapters that precede it, the ending is incredibly poignant.
Author's Response: What an absolutely lovely review! *more blushes* I\'ll have to pull my lovely beta Slian Martreb up for bows, too, as she\'s the one who told me when the chapters didn\'t flow, when the sentences didn\'t make sense, and so on.
You\'re going to think this is weird -- but the \'they/them\' there near the end really was deliberate. For all Harry\'s opinions, Severus is thinking of the two of them as potentially getting along at that point (As I\'ve said elsewhere, he scowls at everyone like that.) Now I just have to wonder how the transition from \'the boy\' to the conjoined concept can be smoother. Thanks for reading, reviewing, and the tip!
I really liked your creativity with the potion. What an interesting poison! I thought the dream scene was slightly cliche, but the imagery was powerful enough to paint a clear picture in my mind. I absolutely love the last line!
Author's Response: Thanks a lot for the review. This was my first attempt at something like this, and I'm glad you thought the imagery was powerful enough. Also, the idea came suddenly, and in order for it to be submitted to the challenge, I could only use two characters and only had a short time to write it (as the idea was a little late in arriving :) and had to be written out quickly.) Had I had more time, I hope I would have been able to lose some of the dream's cliche-ness, so to speak. Again, thanks for the review!
Please read and review.
This isn't a SPEW review, I'm afraid, but I had to leave something. Perhaps I'll review it properly later. But this was a lovely fic, and a lovely tribute to someone you love. Love in the present tense, because even when they're gone, you never stop loving them.
:: huggles ::
Author's Response: Thanks.
There are stories which one loves for story, and they are not uncommon. But there are other, rarer stories, which one loves simply for the beauty of the writing. This is one of the later variety. The mechanics are excellent –– a necessary foundation for beautiful writing. The sentences are constructed not only logically but so that they flow easily from one to the next, pleasantly rhythmic. The vocabulary is rich, but not forced. Taken simply as words regimented into sentences and paragraphs and laced with imagery, without even considering plot or characterization, this story is pleasurable to read.
At one point Hermione muses: Removed from his sphere after only a brief stay, she had doubtlessly had a less forceful influence on him than he had with her. To make the comparison balanced, it would be better if you had “than he had on her” rather than “with her.” It’s more logical, though what you have does work. Whether or not to change it is up to you, of course, but it seemed worth bringing to your attention.
My one general criticism, relating to the story as a whole rather than this final chapter, is your characterization of Hermione. I love the woman you’ve painted, and by the end especially I see the Hermione we know from the books shining through. But early on especially I had some difficulty reconciling the two characters. Music can be equated to magic, I suppose, and given that transposition it would make sense that the most magically gifted would be the most musically talented, and you definitely showed her as an incredibly talented musician. What seems missing, particularly in the beginning, is the extreme logic with which Hermione approaches life. We see her passion, her perceptiveness, her determination, her vulnerability, and her talent, but it would be even better if we could see more of her rationality shining through.
The one major thing that didn’t ever seem clear to me (and pardon me on this one if I’m being exceptionally dense) was why Remus lives on the fringes of society in this alternate universe. He doesn’t seem to be a werewolf, since this world is no more magical than our own reality. Is he gay? Or does he have some disease? Maybe my eyes skipped over it or something, but it never came clear for me, and I kept waiting for it to be fully and clearly explained.
Beyond that one little caveat, however, I love how you’ve personified Remus. For some reason, I really can imagine him playing violin. You’ve captured his gentleness and his suffering so completely, and most of it through Hermione’s perceptions, moreover! You’ve done a great job of exploring the depths of his character, and I especially appreciated how you conceived his relationship with the moonlight.
The moonlight. The ideas of light, shadow, and night were very powerful motifs throughout this story. I really love them as motifs, especially when they’re well used. And you did an excellent job with them. The imagery in this story is just superb. You use color and light very effectively, which makes everything feel much more real, to the point where I can almost here the music.
I really enjoyed this story, as a reader of Harry Potter fan fiction, as a musician, and simply as a person. I understand why you chose violin as an instrument, though personally and sentimentally I would have liked to see Hermione playing my instrument, which is the French horn. But that’s neither here nor there, really. Anyway, thank you for writing such a lovely story for me to find and enjoy.
Author's Response: First off, thank you for reading and leaving such brilliantly composed review! It was such a nice surprise to find one so lengthy and filled with truly constructive comments. I hope to edit the story sometime, now that I\'m finally finished with it, and this is just the sort of feedback that\'s most helpful.
Thanks for catching the incongruity \"with/on\"; I think I\'ll use your suggestion. I vacillated about that word when I wrote it the while back, but reading it now it does seem to upset the general flow of the passage. =)
Hermione! The funny thing about writing this story was trying to render Hermione\'s - bookish Hermione\'s! - magic into something as artistic as music. I tried to show her rational streak in the way she has trouble loosing herself and her emotions, when the technical aspect so appeals to her. I definitely see where you\'re coming from, still, and this helps because it\'s the sort of thing that needs a readers\' perspective, as Hermione always seems Hermione in my head. =)
And as to Remus\' \"condition\" (I don\'t know if it\'s a weakness in an author to admit this sort of thing, but as you noted it I want to answer and trust you won\'t think the worse of me =)): he\'s meant to be afflicted with a misunderstood disease, but painting anything more specific than that was something I had to leave to the reader, or else never finish the story. Lycanthropy is so utterly reprehensible in the wizards\' world and werewolves themselves are generally a wicked crowd. Beside hinting at a stigmatized disease, I didn\'t feel within my discretion to compare a real condition with lycanthropy. Until I find an analogical match, I can\'t well hint that he\'s, say, gay or consumptive, in which case the ostracism would be unrealistic, or I\'d be hinting by extension that others like him are bad company. I\'m not the best person to tackle big themes, so think it better to leave it out until I know I can draw parallels *rightly*. Unfortunately it leaves a big hole in the story, but it\'s one I hope to fill as I learn more about these issues. =) (It did just occur to me that perhaps a prejudice against culture or religion would be more plausible than a disease, and when I rework the story I\'m definitely going to try to delineate this more clearly).
And as for the rest, I\'m all in a dither that you liked the words and the motifs. For me, ever since the time in PoA where Jo uses the moon to symbolize Lupin\'s fears, the moon and sky have been wonderfully evocative as symbols that relate to Lupin. I\'m so pleased that you pointed those out. It\'s all just made my week, and I am sincere about that. =) (And I think French Horn would be fabulously fitting - wish I could\'ve worked in an orchestra\'s variety of instruments!)
Congrats on winning QSQ.
*giggles and runs away*
I stumbled on this story about twenty minutes ago, and after reading what you've posted so far, I'm going to keep reading this one. Personally I don't see Hermione becoming a Healer, though as a career choice for her I think it's much more believable than becoming an Auror. However, you managed to keep Hermione in character, especially with the last paragraph of the chapter. It was just the sort of tart remark I can see her making when exasperated.
I don't write Snape very often myself, but I read a lot of Snape-centric stories on a regular basis, and by now I can say I've read the whole range of Snape characterizations-- from completely callous to completely mushy. Your characterization of him, while slightly towards the acidic end of the spectrum, is very definitely believable. Thank you for writing him well!
In the second paragraph, you have “Well, well, Mr. Snape,” the oldest one of the Healers said in an over-hearty voice. It's definitely a choice of style/formality, but I think the Healer's voice should be described as "overly hearty" rather than "over-hearty." A small difference of syntax, I know, but "overly hearty" is more grammatically correct, especially for written English.
When Snape first responds to Harry, he says I am confined to bed, and I don’t have a wand. While there may be a natural breath there, technically the comma is incorrect and unnecessary. The sentence also reads more smoothly without it.
I'm a little too tired to give you constructive criticism right now, but I wanted to leave you at least a short review to let you know that I took the time to come back and finish this and that I liked it very much, especially the ending. I love how you tell the future through Hermione's perspective, know that it will happen without it happening. It gives the reader a delicious freedom to fantasize about what happens next while still creating a sense of completion. Excelllent story!
Author's Response: Thank you! I think some things the readers\' imaginations can supply a whole lot better than I ever could!