I'm 19 and a college student, which means that my writing tends to be produced very sporadically. I discovered fanfiction a few years ago, and have found it to be a wonderful place to grow as a writer. I'm a member of SPEW (Society for the Promotion of proper Evaluations for Writers, by readers), which provides all kinds of writing related (and non-writing related) support.
When I began reading, I knew that I would never get through your story if I left reviews on every chapter, or every other chapter, or every third chapter - so I decided to save all my reviewing until the end. Obviously I changed my mind - this chapter was too good to pass up without a review.
First of all, I have to say that I love the quality of your writing. By quality I don't mean how good it is (though it is exceedingly good, of course), I mean the personality of your story. Because your story has a personality of its own, apart from Maeve and Snape and the others. Your writing style throughout is very warm, very...I can't even find the right word. It reaches out to the reader; you have a very friendly story, if that means anything. Very fitting for something about the Daughter of Light. I guess I really noticed it here, because the style of your narrative has changed over the course of the story, in keeping with the events. Chapter one is colder and more introspective; we start out watching from a distance, separated from Maeve. The horse and rider moved slowly across the landscape. They were clearly in no hurry to get anywhere, giving the impression of having all the time in the world. Viewed from a distance it would be impossible to gauge the sadness that emanated from the young woman or to decipher the reason behind it. We're set back from the beginning, reserved in our judgment, isolated from the life you are describing...just like Maeve herself. As Maeve comes out of her isolation so do we, and by chapter fourteen your narrative has become warm and alive, changed in keeping with the setting; we watch the students in their costumes from a place amidst them. Does that make any sense? I'm not sure it does; what I'm trying to say is that you've done a very good job at keeping the tone of the narrative along the same lines as the tone of the story. Does that make even less sense? Ah, well...
I loved the description of everyone dressed up in their various costumes, especially Snape dressed up as Snape. And speaking of Snape, I thought the foray into his thoughts was exceedingly well done. The paragraph in which he wonders to which part of his life he wants to return to, and realizes that he cannot return...*goes into raptures* And then there was the scene with her father; I think the description of her father is responsible for the entire confusing paragraph I wrote on your style...you did such a good job of communicating the mood even in the small bits of description. "Severus nodded mutely." I have a really vivid picture of the entire scene in my head, of Snape's realization that he is powerless, of the confrontation with this being of such great love... beautiful job!
I did find one typo: the possibility that she had been wrong to do so was no insinuating itself into her brain. Should 'no' be 'now'?
I know this review has been overly rapturous and underly critical, but I didn’t have anything really critical to say. Not to mention that I’m feeling a bit daunted about criticizing something this good, especially since it is already finished and has over two hundred other reviews. Maybe I’ll work up more courage when I get to something unfinished. Anyway, I'm going to stop rambling on now, because I really want to go back to reading. I'm really looking forward to reading the sequel; I can't wait to see how you've worked in the events of HBP.
Wonderful story! You left me such detailed, thought-provoking reviews for my story that I figured your own stories must be incredible. So far, this is the only one I've read, and it's absolutely beautiful - I can't wait to read your others. What attracted me to this one first, as opposed to all the others, was the title. Evocative by itself, and filled with other meanings - it adds so much meaning to the story. Without the title, the story is a pretty one-shot, well written and thought provoking; with the title has so much more depth!
First Corinthians 13:13-13: "For now we shall see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood." Ginny, looking through the glass, cannot see clearly nor understand - yet it leaves hope that there is a future, a time in which the glass will be taken away, and she will see things as they really are. Beautiful imagery! You must know, from my story, that I’m fascinated with mirrors; there is so much in this story that I can relate to.
Aside from the mirrors, I loved the recurring image of carrying other people’s burdens for them. Ginny struggles with the idea that she would like to help Harry, but she is afraid she is not big enough to handle them. When Hagrid cannot help Harry, she wonders if anyone is strong enough to do so. I found myself waiting for a conclusion which didn’t come.
The one thing I thought could be improved was the ending, and that is merely a matter of personal preference. I would have liked to see Ginny realize that she can make a difference without trying to shoulder Harry’s entire load. Throughout the one-shot, you’ve managed a surprising amount of character growth for such a short amount of time, as Ginny realizes that even Hagrid, who seems so strong, cannot make things better. I felt as if this needed a conclusion in which Ginny found something she could do, some way in which she could help. She’s left almost hopeless, as if she has to wait for Harry to grow before she can help him – I’d like to see her help him grow. But then again, maybe that’s just me hoping for happy endings! Obviously the one-shot doesn’t take us to the end, and a respect for Harry’s need of solitude is important as well.
All in all, I think it was a wonderful story, beautifully and poignantly written, and I can’t wait to read more of your work!
Author's Response: Wow, thanks for all the insight on my story. You're the first reviewer who's ever remarked on the title, and you got its source. As for the lack of conclusion, I'm afraid canon has restrained me there. This story was meant as a sort of an outtake, and we haven't seen enough canon development of Harry and Ginny's friendship for me to have taken things that far. I feel confident, though, that JKR herself will point us in that direction, hopefully in about a month or so. ;-)
The more I read of Marauder fiction, the more I find myself fascinated by it – especially by the relationship between James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter. I love what you’ve done with them – what you’re doing with them – and I feel very privileged to have watched this chapter evolve. I don’t really have all that much to say in review, I’m afraid, since I’ve already told you most of my thoughts, so this is just going to be a few random comments.
You have a real knack for witty comments, a knack which I’m quite jealous of. I love friendly banter with a passionate love, and you have some extremely memorable lines. “I'm bigger. But I'll give you meaner.” “Drinking before breakfast? Remus Lupin, you're a bad influence.” “He’s mean when he’s bald.”
It’s exceedingly difficult to find a good balance between the right amount of detail and too much; you want the reader to understand what’s going on, but at the same time you don’t want to bombard them with technicalities. This is something I’ve been struggling with a lot lately in my own writing – description is hard! I really like what you’ve done with the entire middle section; adding the banter really toned down the medical/magic jargon, and made it interesting to read. I think as a whole – if I may make sweeping generalizations – still tends to be a bit heavy on technicalities. I don’t mean technical details of spells, but sometimes the narrative gets bogged down a bit as you describe specific actions in detail. But the key to this story is the relationship between the boys, and that comes out a lot more now.
I really like that you’ve added more action from James during the healing scene – I love the way he’s protective of Sirius. Also, his vanity amuses me. And you write one of the best Peters I’ve ever read – I love his running commentary on life!
Aw, poor Remus with Lily. I have a terrible weakness for ‘two friends fall for the same girl’ stories; not the stories where they end up destroying their friendship, but when one friend suffers from silent, unrequited love… *sigh* No idea why, but it gets me, every time. And Remus trying to distract Madam Pomfrey? Absolutely hilarious.
All in all, I enjoyed the chapter even more this time than last time, and can’t wait for chapter ten.
So I wanted to review chapter nine, but it’s not up yet – instead, here I am back at chapter one. In general I don’t like reviewing things that were written a long time ago, just because I think the reviews often are no longer relevant to where the author is currently, but I wanted to read this anyway, and I thought it might be kind of fun to see where you’ve come from compared to where you are now. So I’m going to try and keep specific nitpickiness (which you know I tend towards) to a minimum, and look instead at general things.
I have read perhaps too much of Sirius as the handsome object of girls’ desires, and at first I was rather skeptical at the Ravenclaw girls giggling over him, but I Love what you did with Peter. Seriously, if you’re going to have his friends react like that, feel free to have girls moon over Sirius all the time, because you had me laughing out loud. And as for Peter – he’s really a hard character for me. I’m dead set against the stereotypical Peter as annoying little follower/brat/ignored character/insert something here, but while I can acknowledge that, I have a lot more trouble actually liking him even as a teenage character, and my interest in the Marauders is definitely centered around the other three. That said, there are all sorts of possibilities to explore with him, and I really like what you’re doing.
“Anyway, Remus,” continued James, “even as a werewolf, you’re only half as destructive as Sirius, and he was over all the time. Even when he almost blew our house up practicing hexes, my mum still couldn’t get enough of him.” In a high voice, he mimicked, “Oh James, why can’t you be more like your friend Sirius? So I said I was going to avoid nitpicks, but… I can’t help myself. I’m a hopeless cause. Two things about this section; one, they have just cautioned Peter for speaking about the full moon with the door open, and then James refers to Remus as a werewolf. Also, there should be a comma after “oh” and before “James.”
And by the end, you’ll be able to transform into some wild animal and maul them all.” Interesting that they already seem to have the plan to become Animagi. I’d like to see a bit of Remus’s reaction to this idea here, as it’s the first time it has been brought up – foreshadow later events, have Remus already starting to have doubts. Also, some background as to where they got the idea/how long they’ve had it might be nice (though I’m aware that there are seven chapters in the middle that I haven’t read yet, so…).
A great beginning to a great story, and I can’t wait to read more. (Nice to start it after the hiatus, so I shouldn’t have to wait toolong. Right?) *hugs*
Author's Response: *hugs* Thanks so much for reviewing! I know what you mean about reviewing chapters written so long ago, but I still love the feedback. :) Hee, I\'m glad you liked Peter\'s reaction to Sirius, and you don\'t need to worry, because that\'s about all the female attention Sirius gets. The more I got into it,the more I realized the cliches to avoid. ;) And thanks for catching the \"Oh, James\" thing; I\'m going to go edit that. As for James referring to Remus as a werewolf, Peter closed the door after he got called on it, so James considered it safe at that point. (It\'s still probably not a good idea, but that\'s as cautious as they get.) That\'s also a good idea to have more background on their Animagus plans. Although doubts are coming into play currently, it would have been good to plant those seeds from the beginning. Maybe I can sneak some in for future readers. ;) Thanks so much for your comments and advice!
Wow! I’m blown away – wonderful story. The quality of your writing is extremely high, and you have a real gift for mixing humor with more serious matter. I laughed out loud several times as I was reading – and I don’t usually laugh out loud when I’m in a silent room by myself! I particularly enjoyed the idea of Harry stalking OotP members in his invisibility cloak, but I loved the mention of Tonks in the elevator (she’s my favorite, and an important character in my own fic – I have no end of fun writing about her clumsiness, but I’m afraid mine don’t come off as well as yours). The Dursleys, Uncle Vernon in particular, were portrayed wonderfully – you definitely have a flair for character as well.
One of my few qualms is with Dudley, though. He was very well-written, and fun to read – but he didn’t seem as in character as your others. He came over as a bit too talkative and analytic, if you know what I mean. I’m not sure I know what I mean – I just feel like he’s too smart for himself. Though I just went back and looked his lines over again, and I can’t define anything that’s wrong. Maybe I need to go back and read the books again! Just remember (and you seem to do this for all the other characters): the point a character is making is not the only important thing – how he makes the point is just as important. Word choice, syntax, sentence length, ect. – all these contribute to how the character comes across.
The reflection seen at the end of the day, when Harry is thinking about Sirius, is also nicely written. I usually don’t like this kind of scene, because they tend to get rather sappy and all sound the same, but yours was definitely a good read. There was something discomforting about the transition from the predictability of the day and light to the simplicity and solitude of the night and the dark. Beautiful statement; true and written using lovely words!
One other minor quibble over logistics – because I can’t find anything else to critique: I’m not able to picture the seating arrangements in the car that would make Harry between Dudley and Uncle Vernon so that moving aside would cause Dudley to hit Uncle Vernon instead. (That was rather confusing – sorry!) It may be my imagination at fault, though – I’m bad with spacing. Feel free to ignore that, though – it’s a very, very minor thing, and the only reason it bothered me was that I tend to picture everything in my head very vividly, and get caught up in whether things happen on the right or on the left, and the like.
I have to say that this is already one of my favorite fics, and I’ve only read the first chapter! It’s rather late, and I was going to stop after one and finish the rest later – but your cliffie is forcing me to revise my plan. On to the next chapter! (Though I’m afraid I won’t be able to write reviews like this for every chapter – my carpel tunnel simply won’t stand for it!)
Author's Response: Thank you for your in-depth review. As another author, I'm sure you appreciate as much specific feedback as possible. I modeled Dudley after his and Harry's conversation prior to the Dementor attack in OoTP (p. 18-19 British version). This is my absolute FAVORITE opening chapter of all the books thus far; I love that Harry finally gives Dudley a taste of his own medicine! In that passage, Dudley is really antagonizing Harry and mocking him for his nightmares...acting horrid as usual. If you still think my portrayal of Dudley comes off as more articulate than the JKR's Dudley in this passage maybe we can just attribute it an extra year of 'maturity' *snickers*! Moving on...I'm actually impressed that you picked out that particular sentence about the light to dark transition. I put it in there on purpose because it forshadows Harry's issues that are the central components of Part II. The car thing...I had to think about that myself when I wrote it because in Britian the drivers sit on the right-hand side of the car. Harry is sitting directly behind Vernon, Petunia is in the front seat, and Dudley is stuck behind Petunia next to Harry. When the car begins to veer left and right it would seem counterintuitive if you were picturing Vernon sitting on the left-hand side of the car as we do in North America (in never say which side of the car Vernon is sitting on). Thanks for the review. I very much appreciate you comments!
Author's Response: I just re-read your review and realized that I mis-read your comment about the seating arrangement in the car. Maybe I should've been more descriptive there and said something about Dudley throwing a right hook. So Harry flattens himself up against the window as Dudley tried to hit him from the side with his right hand, but (obviously) misses and instead hits Vernon in the back of his head (who is sitting in front of Harry) as he follows through. Conveniently, head rests are not a problem here!
Congratulations! You are the winner of my spontaneous, spur of the moment prize, for the best written Neville-centric story I’ve ever read. I’ve always liked Neville, and I am adamant in my belief that JKR has plans for him. I definitely believe he’s going to play a large part in the fulfillment of the prophecy – why else show that it could have been him or Harry? Erm, anyway, that belongs in one of the forums, so I’ll move on now . . . This is going to be somewhat of a general overview, not just for the last chapter, because I just started reading it, and the comments I want to make are not that specific.
Just to warn you, I am a very harsh critic, and I find stuff to criticize in everything I read – so please don’t take offense at the barrage that is about to follow. I’m sure you’re a good enough writer to handle it, so I’ll leave the grammar and syntax and diction alone – while I noticed a few mistakes, that happens to everybody. My main sticking point in the story (when I say sticking point, I mean something that I think detracts slightly from the whole, but doesn’t stop me from reading and enjoying the rest) was the way the others reacted to Neville. I love the idea of Neville coming into his own . . . but somehow Harry’s (him especially) treatment of him didn’t seem to fit with canon. While it might have worked after the first three books, in the fourth book Harry’s opinion of Neville undergoes a distinct change, as he finds out about Neville’s parents (who, by the way, I think you’ve shown very well, particularly Alice). In the fourth book he learns to pity him, and in the fifth book I think also to respect him, after watching Neville interact with his parents, grow in the DA, and fight at the Ministry, and finally when he learns that Neville might have been the one the prophecy applied to. I have trouble with the idea that Harry will suddenly turn around and laugh at him like that, as if he doesn’t recognize him as an actual person. Um, I’m getting back into essay mode, sorry – what I’m really trying to say is that though I could understand Harry resenting Neville, or pitying him to the point where Neville is bothered by it, but not blatantly disregarding him or assuming that he’s worthless. Although, I suppose I should take into account that this is third person limited, so it’s how Neville feels, and it may not be exactly true as to Harry’s feelings. Nevertheless, I’d feel better about it if there was some incident in particular which caused Harry and the others to revert to their earlier view of Neville – maybe he could have done something which seemed to them stupid and pointless, or something? Sorry, I’m just rambling now . . . I think I’ve made my feelings clear. However, feel free to ignore this – character development is a very opinionated thing, and I can see that others among your reviewers have thought differently. And your story is still a fun read, even if I don’t agree with what you did with Harry.
I loved Gran, by the way – I thought she was portrayed wonderfully, and really enjoyed how she was shown as being strict and rough, but also someone that Neville was deeply attached to. One more character quibble, though. While I found Harry and Hermione’s relationship understandable, I was confused by the breakup. I know that it is still unresolved, and a resolution is probably waiting in the distance, but I feel in need of some explanation. Judging from what we’ve seen in the past about Harry’s relationships with girls, he likes to turn to his friends for advice. Obviously he’s not going to go to Hermione for help in this situation – but I definitely expected to hear it brought up in the dormitory that night. Otherwise it feels sort of pointless – a chord left hanging so you could go on to another melody – and by the time you return to it we’ll have forgotten that we were waiting for it. Rather convoluted metaphor there, but I think you get the picture – I’d like to see you keep that thread going while waiting for the end, or provide a resolution now.
Wow – I’ve probably completely overloaded you. I found your story on the review game thread . . . and I didn’t expect to write this much, but I found I had a lot to say! I actually had another point to make, but I’ll save that for later. Let me emphasize one more time – I like your story a lot, so don’t assume that the lengthy character quibble means that I didn’t. I’m definitely coming back for more Neville!
Oh, by the way (this is sort of off topic) – I love your Les Mis quotes. They really fit into the story, and I like the parallels between Neville and Eponine. You’ve found a great way of integrating it into your story through the quotes; I once read a story that was a Les Mis direct parallel, and the teachers burst out into song, and the characters kept on saying lines directly from the play . . . it was good writing, but I like your way much better. Keep going, and great job!
I have to start this review with a disclaimer, by saying that I usually don’t read stories from the romance section, and I will very, very, very rarely even click on anything that has to do with a romance between Sirius and an OC. I have not had good luck with stories about Sirius, and avoid them very quickly. That being said, I obviously didn’t ignore yours, seeing as I am reviewing it. I ventured into the romance section the other day while feeling angsty (for some reason feeling angsty makes me want to read romance), and stumbled across your story. I saw the name Sirius and was about to move on, when something in your summary caught me. To be precise, what caught me was: “And I’ve had to think about you everyday. For fourteen years,” said Miriam, darkly. Her voice trembled. “I win.” “I win.” There was something so strikingly pathetic in that that made me stop and give your story a second glance. Such good characterization in so short of a space! You’ve captured something that seems (for some odd reason) to be part of human nature; we like to boast about our suffering, and see who suffered more. And Miriam of course does win; how terrible to think about the person you loved as a traitor, day after day, year after year. That pulled me in despite my abhorrence of most Sirius romances, and I resigned myself to reading your story.
I wasn’t at all disappointed by what was inside the story. That happens far too often for me; I like a summary, start the story, and give it up after the first chapter. What kept me attracted to yours was not only that you have an enjoyable, readable style of narrative, but also your original elements and your wonderful characterization. I have to admit that I was initially disappointed when I realized that chapter three was a flashback, because if there’s anything I dislike more than Sirius/OC romances, it’s Sirius/OC romances that happen at Hogwarts. However, I very quickly changed my mind – in fact, I soon found myself looking forward to the flashbacks.
What I liked most, as I think I already mentioned, was the characterization. Lily has just the right amount of spunk when compared to what we know about her from the books, and her perception of Sirius and protection of Miriam is fun to read. Her interaction with James is done just right – sweet and fun, but not overboard, and not sickening or annoying; you included just enough to let us know how they feel about each other, but not so much that it took away the focus from Sirius or became cliché. As for James, I loved the way in which you portrayed his concern for Sirius. His voice had a rough edge to it, as though there were something large caught in his throat he couldn’t quite manage to dislodge. I love this quick reference to their friendship, and the beautiful way in which you catch James’ disguised emotion.
The comradery between the Marauders is also portrayed wonderfully. I’ve seen far too many stories which announce in the beginning how good friends the marauders are, and then back away from that fact and expect us to stick their friendship in for ourselves. You didn’t flaunt the Marauderness of the story, but instead constantly gave us little references, allowing us to see their friendship in action. James and Remus laughing at Sirius’ expense, Sirius heckling them back…you gave us an excellent example of showing rather than telling. Perhaps my only major problem with the chapter, however, was related to this; not once, as far as I can tell, have you mentioned Peter. Where is he? Why is he so mysteriously absent? It’s a dreadful cliché in marauder era stories that Peter is left out of the picture all together, or more often depicted as that plump boy over there who ‘looks like a rat, and no one really likes anyway.’ You’re too good of a writer to fall into this trap, and I’d love to see you include Peter in your story as an actual character with a personality of his own, and a reason for being part of the marauders. I know your focus is not on the marauders themselves, but on the relationship between Sirius and Miriam…still, I think it would be a nice touch.
For a few nitpicks: her voice rising a few octaves with each word… I had to pull out this sentence, much as I enjoy the imagery, for its sheer impracticality. An octave is a long distance. I’ve been singing for years, and finally resigned myself to the fact that my range is only a bit over two octaves. Also, it seems to present too drastic of a change. A few octaves per word? That’s a pretty steep slope. While I have a very vivid picture of what is going on, I’d prefer it in different terms. Of course, this is a miniscule point in your well crafted chapter, and as an author you’re perfectly entitled to use hyperbole…this sentence just rankled a bit in my mind.
I was also confused as to why you referred to his friends as James and Lupin. It felt odd to me, that Remus was distanced by the use of his last name, whereas we were allowed to be more personal with James. It might make more sense if this was from Miriam’s perspective and she never became as close to Remus as she did to James, but since the narrative seems somewhat objective in other ways, this stuck out and surprised me.
Lupin bit the inside of his cheek, and stared determinably at a crack in the ceiling. Should determinably be determinedly? I suppose you could mean that the others can see him gazing at the ceiling; it seems awkward, though, and I think determinedly would make more sense. Also, you might want to be a bit careful with commas. James snorted derisively, and covered his mouth with his fist, his shoulders shaking with laughter. While I don’t think it’s wrong to have both commas, I think the sentence would read better without the first one. This happened in a couple places throughout the chapter and I thought I’d point it out, because it’s one of the things I get faulted the most for by my English teachers (I’m sure I’ve been doing it all through this review, but we can both ignore that). It’s so easy to allow sentences to become longer and longer by tacking on commas, and also easy to imagine pauses where they are not really necessary. I don’t think this is a major problem at all in your writing, but I thought I’d point it out anyway. Just passing on the love from my English teachers! ;)
Other than the lack of Peter, I love the way in which you took things that I’ve seen far too often. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read that woman loving Sirius, having been injured and taken to the hospital wing, falls in love with a girl (or someone who comes to visit him, or someone who is also a patient, or whatever). However, you took these events and made them your own. In the case of him meeting Miriam, I love the way you played around with her appearance. She is obviously not breathtakingly beautiful, or Sirius would have noticed her around in classes. However, he sees her differently in different parts of the chapter, and you show us the fact that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” When he looks upon her as the person who is saving him, you describe her almost angelically, especially with ring of light around her head. And then we find out that she doesn’t look like an angel – and then he changes his mind again…but I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s in the next chapter. Perhaps I shall have to go review that too! Anyway, I think this is getting long enough (my reviews are obscenely long – sorry), so I’ll stop rambling and merely tell you that I have really enjoyed your story (and have I already mentioned why that is unusual?), and can’t wait for more.
Okay, I’m back with more. Sorry, random author is deluging you with feedback. It’s because I like your story, though, so I hope you don’t mind. I’ll make this one shorter and more manageable, I promise! The reason I chose this chapter to review rather than chapter eight, which fascinated me as well, was because I got hooked on the subject of appearance, and wanted to finish what I started in my last review. Anyway, I love the way you change show that Sirius’ perspective of Miriam’s appearance changes.
She wasn’t beautiful. He now realized the aura of light surrounding her now as it had before, giving her an angelic resemblance, had been nothing more than the sunlight draping the whole infirmary. Sirius saw Miriam the first time as an angel, someone saving him, but now that he’s saved, he looks on her with a much less romantic light. Her halo is stripped away, and she becomes just an ordinary girl. Point number one in your favor – she isn’t beautiful! (Though there is something.) However, the moment she responds to his comment with a smile, she blossoms in his eyes. Smiling down at him, Miriam looked utterly bewitching. Sirius had the unsettling idea that he would do anything to make her smile again. I love the fact that she’s not beautiful all the time, and that it is what she does that makes her beautiful. I’m also hoping (though this may just be me making random interpretations – I do that a lot) that it has something to do with the fact that we’re seeing this particular scene from Sirius’ perspective, and that she has just responded to him. He sees her once again in light of what she has done – and she becomes beautiful.
Moving away from appearance, I have to come back to your characterization. In my opinion, at least, characters are what make a good story – and yours are something special. Sirius is so cocky and ready to accept a challenge that I can definitely understand why Miriam is attracted to him. I would like to see a bit more of him, and his insecurities with respects to Miriam, though I can understand why you’re holding back, in light of the events to come, which we see from Miriam’s perspective. I suppose it makes sense – it would ruin things a bit if we knew exactly how he felt about her; I do hope, though, that sometime in the future you give us some hints as to how Sirius’ own insecurities factor into chapter eight. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Back to this chapter. Miriam, I love. She is a wonderful, well rounded character. I’m delighted to see her in Hufflepuff – a perfect house for a healer, someone who must seek to serve and be oriented with people. I also really enjoy her personality. She’s so acerbic, so ready to answer, and yet so unsure of herself that she cannot believe anything good would come out of a relationship with Sirius. She staunchly refuses, putting up a front of a girl who is not convinced by his charm and who is not going to be budged by his pleading; and yet she remains uncertain, and you’ve given us a few choice hints that make me think her feelings towards Sirius are not so neutral as she pretends. Remembered the way her stomach had dropped when she had wiped away enough blood to recognize the mangled face. I love this…you so sneakily imply that finding this face is more dreadful than finding another. You reinforce this in Miriam’s parting shot as well. “Charms,” she said again. “We’ve never had a Divination class together.” Wonderful characterization here again; you’ve not only shown her acerbity and her unwillingness to be taken into hand by Sirius, but you’ve managed to show us that she pays attention. She, whether she admits it or not, knows exactly which classes she has with Sirius Black. Very tricky you are! Wonderful story yet again…I’m definitely signed on to see what happens!
One of the things that always rankled with me about the first book was the end of term feast. It always bothered me that Dumbledore gave Gryffindor exactly enough points to win, as if he had planned it out to make sure that his favorite house got the cup. And it did seem hard on the Slytherins, that they had it snatched away from the them at the very end, when they thought they had it won. I found myself sympathizing very much as you described Pansy’s reactions, and her decision to turn against the Gryffindors makes perfect sense. She raises a lot of valid points, including the one that the reason the Slytherins have to be so aggressively ambitious is because everyone else, assuming that they are out to get the others, never give them anything. You had some memorable lines in there, too: The day the Gryffindors had their goodness handed to them on a silver platter was the day I stopped caring, probably was my favorite.
You did a very good job of characterizing Pansy, getting her point across without making her out to be a perfect person shoved into an unforgiving world. She’s a Slytherin, and it shows – she tells her own version of the story, as it befits her. But even though she’s only giving one part of the story, neglecting all the times the Gryffindors are picked on by Snape, she still makes valid points. Gryffindors have no sense of subtlety… Stay low and you may not get hurt. What a realistic thing for a Slytherin to say, and at the same time, very revealing, as is Pansy’s admission that she and Draco will probably get married and spend the rest of their lives ignoring each other. She’s blunt, and concrete, and takes the facts of life and deals with them.
One thing that threw me off a bit was Pansy’s firm resolution not to be pitied, even to die rather than being pitied. While I know that she is an individual, not the characterization of the traits of Slytherin house, it seems to me that pity can be a valuable tool that an ambitious person can put to use, as does Draco. I can picture her disliking pity, and resenting the idea that people might pity her – but I imagine that she’d be willing to undergo pity if it would serve her purposes. Then again, she might be somewhat of an atypical Slytherin, for all she seems to think that she’s not.
Life’s lonely when everyone hates you. This, coming at the very end, surprised me – especially after Pansy’s hatred of pity. It made her seem suddenly vulnerable and alone. Though it seemed a bit out of character, I can understand her feeling it – it makes a nice touch, even if I think she would never even allow herself to think it aloud. Perhaps it’s the summation of all her feelings, only she can’t admit it.
Lavender’s perspective, following Pansy’s, came as an interesting change. You could see the self-righteousness that Pansy loathes coming out in the way Lavender describes the same events. (I was a bit confused about exactly what year you describing, since you seem to be talking about the End of Term feast at the beginning of the first book, but you also refer to the Heir of Slytherin, to an incident which occurred during Divination in the third book, and to the Triwizard Tournament. I’m not entirely certain, and my copies of the books are several states away, so I can’t check, but I believe the feast you’re talking about happens at the end of the first year, not the second; towards the end, you begin making definite references to it as having happened in the second year.) You also show very well the way Lavender views the Slytherins, which just goes to substantiate Pansy’s feelings. It was interesting, though, that you showed both Pansy and Lavender as finding comfort and security in anonymity. Ironically, you follow this with Susan’s admission that she admires the Gryffindors and Slytherins because they have the courage to be seen. You’ve done a very nice job of showing the way perceptions change from different perspectives: though Lavender and Pansy may think that they’re unobtrusive, Susan thinks otherwise.
To be a good reviewer and say something constructive, the one thing I’d really like to see more of in this story would be a change in narrative style between the different sections. Apart from the subject matter, the person speaking in each of the sections could really be the same person. They have the same vocabulary and the same tone. You’re headed in the right direction, showing Lavender’s pride, Susan’s humility, Cho’s resentment, and Pansy’s bitterness, but I think you could do more by varying the actual style to show that they are four very different girls with different upbringings. You could do wonders by looking at their backgrounds as you decide what words they should use; for example, Pansy’s presumed pureblood heritage might mean that she’d use certain phrases and analogies that a Muggleborn might not use. Of course, we don’t know for certain the heritage of any of these characters, but that’s where you can take artistic license.
For all their differences and animosity, you show an awful lot of similarities between the houses, especially the way you end each section with a profession of loneliness. Each house thinks all the others are out to get them. Though I’m not sure I got this impression from the book, it’s definitely an interesting idea, and you make a good point. You have a very thought provoking one-shot; congratulations!
This is a long overdue review, but I finally had a chance to read your last chapter, and I’m afraid I’m feeling rather rambly, so prepare yourself. First, though, I have to make an admission. I’m not really a romance sort of person. I mean, I’m a romantic at heart and I love romance from a distance – people who love each other, separated lovers, unrequited love, all that. I love to read about love, but when it comes down to reading about actual physical contact, I get a bit iffy. I know this is a dreadful thing to admit, especially when reviewing this story, but when things start getting physical I tend to start skimming. That being said, (and I’m feeling very stupid after saying it) I want to tell you why I’m so intrigued by this story despite the amount of skimming I do.
It’s the characters, of course. Siobhan, Lucius, Draco, Narcissa – four different characters, each with very different interests; all Slytherins, all manipulative, all willing to use other people to get their own way. Their interaction is fascinating. You limit us, by only giving us Siobhan’s point of view and keeping us guessing as to what everyone else is thinking. I can’t come up with any helpful criticism whatsoever, so I’m just going to go through the characters and tell you what I think, and hope that it will be at least somewhat helpful in showing you which of your hints are coming across well and being picked up on (by me, at least). So I’m sorry if I project my own thoughts onto your characters and make up things that really aren’t there; in that case, just know that I love this story.
Siobhan is in control, that she has everyone pegged into their proper places; she knows what she wants, and she’s going to go for it, despite the consequences. Or so she thinks. I love the way you show us that she’s not quite the same person as she imagines herself to be. She would not do herself the dishonour of believing she could not lure him back into her bed once more.She sees herself as a seductress and a manipulator, a true Slytherin. However, though she is constantly reminding us (and herself) that she has exactly what she wants and that she is doing what she set out to do, she shows us that though she does not realize it, she wants something more. Siobhan imagined warmth and laughter and sincerity, and for a moment, felt a twinge of loneliness, wishing that she could be with her brother Liam or someone else who loved her. . I loved this sentence, because just for a moment she reveals that despite the fact that she has succeeded in her plan and is getting exactly what she thinks she wants, she’s still not content. Her desire and lust are great enough that at this point she has not yet realized that the dream which she is following will not satisfy her in the end (at least in its current form). I can’t wait to see what happens when she does realize this, and how her world will change when she realizes that she’s chasing after the wrong thing.
Everything we know about Lucius is colored by Siobhan’s interpretation. As she (in my opinion) tends to be overconfident, I’m very, very curious about what is really going on in his mind. I find myself undulating wildly concerning his character (which, I suspect, is your intention). The fact that he showers her with expensive gifts seems very suspect to me; men tend to give lavish gifts to their mistresses shortly before ruining them, and no, of course I have not been reading too many eighteenth century novels. The parting kiss on the cheek that excited Siobhan didn’t do much for me in terms of changing my opinion on his character. I still think he’s merely using her and allowing her to think she’s manipulating him. What did make me wonder if he’s beginning to change was his reaction when she saw the Dark Mark. If he really cares nothing for her, he can have no reason to be worried over her reaction; the fact that he seems upset that she’s seen it provokes interesting new questions. Siobhan, of course, completely misinterprets his reaction, furthering my impression that she really is less in control than she thinks. But the implications of her coming into contact with Lucius’s beliefs is fascinating. What will happen when she learns that he is a Death Eater? Will she have to make a choice between her desires and her beliefs? Will she be able to push morality as neatly to the side when she learns that it’s more than a matter of seducing someone else’s husband? Incidentally, I loved Lucius’s response when Siobhan asks him about the mark. “It's… you might call it a birthmark.” Is he implying that he is merely following in the steps of his father?
And now I’m back to wondering about the title. I know I’ve speculated on this before, but it really raises a realm of possibilities by itself. Is it the sins of Lucius’s family, being visited on him in the form of his beliefs and allegiances? Will he come to love Siobhan, only to be separated from her because of his beliefs? Or is it the sins of Lucius, to be visited on Draco? Or is Siobhan going to have a child? (That idea just popped into my head now and totally surprised me.) Or is it something from Siobhan’s family? Or something completely different?
I don’t really have anything to say about Draco, only that you’ve promised that there will be developments with his character in the future, so I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. I feel a bit sorry for him, as he gives up hope on Siobhan. (Though I have to admit, my first wild thought as he offered her chocolates while disinterestedly doing something else, was that he was giving her a love potion.) Narcissa, on the other hand – I think Siobhan underestimates her. Absolute wench, that woman, Siobhan cursed, before amusing herself with the thought of how Mrs Malfoy would react were she to learn what Lucius had been up to with their young guest. She always (even from the first chapter) refers condescendingly to Narcissa in her thoughts, and yet I wonder if Narcissa knows what is going on. “Do what you like, girl,” Narcissa muttered dully, standing up and waving her wand over her presents, which promptly vanished. I may be making things up, but I could see that as a sort of admission that she knows what is going on and isn’t going to contest it, either because she has given up or she doesn’t care or for some other reason. Her vanishing of the presents might go along with that as well, even if she’s only sending them off to some other place – it seems to hint at the idea that she doesn’t really care about them.
I’m sorry, this review is much too long, and is more of a rambling than a true review – I did warn you. I’m currently taking a break from writing two papers, and I’m very much in “literature analysis mode,” so I’ll use that as an excuse. Anyway, I can’t wait for more, so I can find out if I’m reading the clues right or if I’m totally off base with my speculations, or (more likely) a bit of both.
You have Siobhan pinned so perfectly, that I can\'t really comment on anything, except to say you\'re wonderful, and I particularly liked your observation that she\'s \'chasing after the wrong thing\'.
Your observations of Lucius intrigue me, because -- I can hardly be sure anymore -- I\'m pretty sure you\'re seeing him exactly as I want you to see him. And exactly how Siobhan sees him. I mean, she may not be concerned, because in full honesty, she doesn\'t care for his emotions. Even if he were using her, what\'s it to her? Because she\'s using him. [Gah, I actually touch on this in Chapter 12, hee!] I won\'t directly respond to what you think of Lucius though, as to say how close or how off you are, because the mystery of what\'s going on with him is half the point ;)
I will touch on the \'birthmark\' thing though, as it goes into your next comment on the title, and sins being relayed from father to son. I am utterly unconcerned with Abraxas in this story, so the \'birthmark\' has nothing to do with him. I see the Dark Mark that way, as Death Eaters are born with them. When Lucius got his mark, he was born as a servant of Voldemort. And, as to the Title and paying for your father\'s sins... I haven\'t touched a lot on Siobhan\'s father in this, but... I will. Everyone in this story commits their own sins, but it is Draco and Siobhan that pay the most, because they are affected by what their fathers have done, in one way or another, and they are the ones that pay. And though I will completely ignore some of your other questions/musings to avoid spoilers, I will say this: Siobhan does have a child. And, while the situation is not what you might think, there are obviously complications and Siobhan will have to save her own daughter from paying for the sins of her parents.
As to Draco and Narcissa... *smirk* Well, I\'ll just say neither of them realise what\'s happening, as it\'s only been over a week that Siobhan has been there, and it wouldn\'t be a common guess that she came looking to get into bed with a 43 year old man. [For those who don\'t know Siobhan or the author of this story, I mean *wink*] Narcissa might have noticed Lucius playing with Siobhan, but just for his own amusement. It is rather boring at the Manor, after all, for those who don\'t see what goes on behind each closed door. I will just say that Narcissa doesn\'t require fidelity of Lucius, but she also doesn\'t like Siobhan at all, and she would be very mad to find out she was being played behind her back in her own home...
You\'ll have to excuse the long response, but -- \'twas a long review ;) And, anything I didn\'t respond to, I probably didn\'t mention for a reason... *cough*
Jenna, you’ve shamed me into reviewing, so here I am. ;)
First of all, I have to say that Siobhan is one of the best OC’s I have ever read. What caught me most was the difference between the two sides you’re showing us. There is the Slytherin!Siobhan, an ambitious girl determined to win Lucius at any cost, no matter whom she has to use. She is determined and well crafted and believable, and would be a good character by herself. However what makes her really wonderful is the way you mix in the other Siobhan, a dreamer who is desperately longing for fulfillment. The last scene, in which she imagines Lucius taking Draco’s place, really projected this side of her across. The way you went back and forth between reality and imagination was beautiful…and it really showed Siobhan’s sensitive side. This is the first I’ve read of her, since I haven’t read your other stories, and I’m very intrigued by her character. I want to learn more! She seems so sure that her happiness rests in the success of her plan, so convinced that she can achieve it…I want to see what happens if she fails, or especially if she succeeds and find that it doesn’t bring her the happiness she is seeking.
Draco is …well…despicable. So slimy. He moved closer to her, wearing a much mistaken look of satisfaction at his skills of seduction. I can just picture him, so smug and sure of himself, without a clue of how Siobhan really feels. And you’ve portrayed Siobhan’s repulsion very vividly. … deciding she didn't have the patience to bother patronizing him. I almost feel sorry for Draco; he’s so obliviously inept, while Siobhan is so superior and lofty. Once again, I’m back to marvel at Siobhan, contrasting her superior attitude and her surety that she can manipulate everyone with her dreams and almost hero worship of Lucius.
And, since I didn’t review Chapter One, I’ll comment about the title here. Sins of the Father. Very intriguing. Exodus 20:5: …for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of these who hate me… Siobhan’s attraction to Lucius and use of Draco coupled with the title…very interesting speculations. I can’t wait to see how Siobhan’s relationship with both the father and the son develop, and how one effects the other.
Wonderful story, Jenna, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it, because it’s definitely worth it. *eagerly awaits chapter three*
Thanks for complimenting Siobhan. It's important to me that people find her well-developed. And it upsets her if people think otherwise ;)
'I almost feel sorry for Draco'. As well you should. After all, children are often punished for the sins of their fathers, eh? *is cryptic*. Hold onto your curiousities and speculations, Nan. It will make the process all the more satisfying for me! :D
Thanks one billion for reviewing!
Nice beginning. You obviously have a plot worked out and know where you’re going – that is evident even in your summary. Far too many stories ramble along without a specific plot and climax, so I’m glad to see you have a plan of action. To start out with, I'd suggest some more variation in your sentence structure. Look at your sentences in the beginning. "It was . . ."; "Harry, Ron, and Hermione were . . ."; "It was . . ."; "Harry was . . ." Do you notice some similarities here? They all begin with the subject, immediately followed by the verb. Try to vary your structures more. Instead of "Harry was walking . . ." try "while walking, Harry . . ." or "passing through Diagon Alley, Harry . . ." or something of the sort. It will make for a much more interesting read. Be careful to avoid unnecessary description. For example, when the trio goes into the store, you don't need to tell us exactly what each of them does. Likewise, when you introduce a new character, don't feel as if you have to describe everything about their personal appearance all at once. It's okay to leave some things to the reader's imagination and avoid flooding him or her with details. If you really want us to know exactly how your character looks, spread it out over a space of time, not all at once, unless you have a specific reason. Most characters will not be that observant - Harry certainly has never noticed anyone else in such detail before. If you do include a lot of information all at once, make sure there is a reason for Harry to notice it all. Some of the dialogue is a little stiff – try saying it to yourself, and see how it sounds out loud; that should help you keep it realistic. Other than that, I’d say it’s pretty good. I’m a very critical person, so don’t be offended by all my comments; you have the makings of a good story here. Changing a few technical things will make it flow better, and it looks like you have a good plot going – I’m interested to see what happens next. (Personally, I always find plot the hardest to do, so I commend you for that!) And I was very happy to see Bill – he’s one of my favorite characters (ever since he first appeared in my own fanfic) and he doesn’t appear all that often. Keep writing – I’ll check back for updates!
I like chapter two better than chapter one; the dialogue seems to flow better, and the characters seem more realistic. You’re doing a pretty good job of keeping the book characters in character; just be careful that they don’t become stereotypes, which is really easy to do. Don’t let my criticism offend you – you’re off to a great start by being accepted in the first place. Remember, criticism is meant to help; I’m interested in your story, and think you have potential as a writer, so therefore I’m criticizing and trying to point out places you could improve. Feel free to reject whichever of my comments you think is wrong; I do that all the time myself. Good luck, and keep plugging away at the story!
To start with, I really like your ideas. Something about your summary caught me – it stood out as unique and interesting, a story that would develop original ideas such as a friendship (sort of) between Harry and Snape, and some characterization with Dudley.
I was disappointed when Dudley made the decision to leave the story. I have yet to read a story that gives a good development of Dudley, and I was hoping to see more of him. While I was skeptical of his magical abilities, I thought you started out well with him – you didn’t, as many writers do – immediately disregard him, but gave him the beginnings of a character. Characterization is my favorite part of writing, and I’m sorry that you won’t develop him further. If you ever choose to have him walk back in, you have my full support . . . judging from what I’ve read of your writing, I think you could do a very good job.
On the subject of characterization: In general, I think you do a pretty good job. Maclaggan has a nice, strong personality, Dumbledore was fun, and I’ve already told you I liked Dudley. I do think your dialogue could be improved somewhat; it’s not bad, and what your characters say is usually in character – my one qualm is with how they say it. Remember, characterization is shown not only by the point they get across, but by every move your characters make. You seem to have a good grasp of the characters – try to transfer it over to their actions. Snape in particular seemed too long-winded and defensive; try going back to the books and reading sections in which he speaks. See if you can catch his style, language, and mannerisms. Again, your content is good – I really like what you’re doing with the characters – but I think it should be portrayed differently.
Technically, you’re quite strong – you have your spelling and grammar under control. That’s a great first step – good job! Beware of the sections which you seem to be copying things straight from canon. Just small things – for example, the place in the first chapter when Petunia tells Vernon not to eat anything Lupin gives him is very similar to the scene in the hut with Hagrid, and the place in the third chapter where Dudley is worried about Hagrid due to the incident (so many years ago) of the pig’s tail is similar to the scene at the beginning of the fourth book. These things in themselves weren’t bad – indeed, I agree that Dudley is likely to still be wary of Hagrid – yet you need to remember that your readers have already read the canon version; if you’re going to restate something JKR said, make sure you’re adding an original twist.
Overall, though, I think you did an excellent job. Good plot, good characters, good writing – it was fun to read! Keep working on it – I’ll check back for updates (though I’m still hoping for more Dudley!).
Wow! It’s a beautiful story, HermioneDancr; I can’t believe no one’s reviewed it yet! It’s very evocative, and your writing fits it perfectly; I love how you’ve done it all in a reflective tone, that nevertheless is still Hermione. A very different explanation for Hermione’s third year – I’ll read the books differently from now on. Isn’t it strange, how fanfiction can do that? One thing quickly, and it’s not even about your story so much as the site: there should be a place to categorize it as a one-shot, so it won’t be marked as unfinished.
Technically it’s close to perfect; good grammar, good spelling, all that . . . What really stands out is the quality of the writing. You really have shown the scene with her grandmother, instead of telling it. You picked a dangerous theme, the death of a family member; it’s so easy to get sappy and melodramatic. There’s a fine line between beautiful and sappy, and you stayed on the right side. There were a couple of passages which stood out for me as being particularly well-done: It was a beautiful day; the air was hot and still. Or maybe it was the house that was still. Or maybe neither was still at all and it was I who was still inside. First of all, your diction here is wonderful – the repetition is very well done. But aside from that (I’ve read passages that flow well and sound wonderful, until you think about them) it makes perfect sense. It’s very evocative, and really gives me a clear picture of her mood. The other passage which really got to me was: I couldn't even look at you. Instead I stared at the dresser and its rounded wooden knobs. I spent precious minutes staring at those knobs. They were red. Or white. I don't remember. They were there. It captures the mood of incomprehension wonderfully; I was going to try and say how, but I think the passage itself says enough. Beautiful!
The one thing I would like to see more of is the result of Hermione’s finally coming to terms with her grandmother’s death. You’re so close to saying it; you’ve told us that it’s helpful for her to write it, and that now maybe she’ll be able to tell someone. I’d just like to see a little more of that transition between thinking and writing and speaking, and a little more of how this is going to change her. Although, on the other hand, that may be a job for a longer story, not a one-shot.
All in all, I thought it was wonderful – in case you haven’t already picked up on that message, lol! Keep writing – I look forward to seeing more of your stuff!
Lian…this is such a moving story, I really don’t know what to say in a review. I think that’s why I kept on putting this off. I feel like analyzing it will only take away from all that is beautiful and moving, because the story by itself is enough. It’s the mark of a good one-shot, I suppose, that it comes, says what it has to say, and leaves you speechless. Nevertheless I promised to review, so here I am.
I have to start by making the obvious comments on the style, though I’m sure everyone else has commented on these too. Present tense (a tense that is rapidly growing on me for one shots) fits the mood perfectly; it goes along with the mentality of the story. Parvati and Padma take their lives one day at a time. You concentrated mostly on Parvati, as she struggles to convince Padma to take a single bite, but the idea could extend to Padma as well; there is an immediacy to not eating and the need to come up with an excuse for every meal not eaten. Present tense catches this all up together, because the reader is drawn along with the characters into the story. It changes the entire mood and makes it much more intense, because there is a prevailing feeling of expectancy. If a story is written in past tense, the events are over and done with. (Obviously.) Present tense leaves much more room for the urgency of the events; if Padma doesn’t eat, she will die. It’s not over and done yet – there is still time. But not much time. In past tense, all the time in the world might have elapsed between the events and the reading. Present tense makes it happen now, and any time now Parvati might break and cry in front of Padma, or Padma might give up the pretense altogether, or… there’s an urgency pervading the entire thing.
The recurring theme of “for Padma’s sake” only furthers the urgency. Besides being a beautiful and haunting line, it is a reflection of the situation. No matter what happens, no matter what else is going on, Parvati must be strong for Padma’s sake. There is no break and no respite; it is a constant state. It is also an unnatural state, one that should not occur, which is why Parvati must constantly remind herself. Despite the beauty of the repetition, the things which Parvati must do for Padma’s sake should not have to be done. You did a wonderful job of showing the way anorexia caused them to lose the relationship they might have had, and distorts their role. Instead of being sisters, they become an unequal pairing in which Parvati must always give and must always sacrifice her own wants.
One of the (many) things I love about this is that you chose to show us Parvati, not Padma. When people think of anorexia, they tend to focus on the ways in which the anorexic person is hurt, rather than the ways in which the people around her (usually her, at least) are hurt. Seeing things from the other perspective was very eye-opening for me; I guess I never really thought that anorexia can cause just as much pain to the people around as it can to the person who develops it. However, I was very glad to see that you gave a brief nod to Padma’s perspective, giving us some idea as to why she doesn’t eat and how her struggle started. Padma does not let herself cry. She has to control it, control herself. She has to control something in the uncontrollable world. I’m not going to delve into the subject of anorexia (which we’ve already discussed exhaustively), but I love that your one mention of Padma’s feelings deals with control, rather than weight. And I also love the fact that both of your characters are driven by what they must do. Padma must control herself. Parvati must be strong. Neither of them do this by choice.
The body Padma sees does not exist; it is no more real than the pudding she never ate. I love this line! I could gush over it for a couple of pages, and probably could manage a passable English essay, on the implications of this line alone. I’ll refrain myself, but the imagery is so beautiful, and the idea that this entire matter is based on something that does not exist. The anorexia, the lies, the body…all those are merely Padma’s attempt to create something out of herself, to find some way to deal with her pain, to in some way control herself. Anyway, I’m gushing…I’m not sure if I’ve said anything constructive this entire review. I don’t really have any criticism, not a technical quibble or a thematic suggestion. I guess the point of all my babbling is just to let you know I really liked it and show you my response to certain things you wrote. I hope something I said was moderately helpful…*feels unSPEWish for being so gushy and unanalytical* Anyway, I loved it. But you knew that.
:: huggles Nan some more ::I'm glad you picked up on the urgency, because the story would be really flat without it. It's good to know that it came across.
Frankly, your opinion of this story matters a lot. Not only as a reader, but as a person. If this particular story rings true for you, I've gotten it right. You would know if I had missed it. And I trust you enough to know that you would have told me. Thank you so much. Your opinion means more than I can say.:: huggles Nan even more ::
O.O (And no, I’m not an owl. I don’t think.)
How is it that for all that I’m listed up at the top as your beta, I didn’t even know that you had written a second chapter? I just stumbled on this as I was looking for a story to review, and happened to notice that it now has two chapters. I’m so happy to see more of this – you know how much this story means to me, and though I thought the first part stood up perfectly on its own, a second part is a wonderful addition.
To start with, I love the way the two girls are interconnected, and this second chapter really emphasizes their relationship. “For Padma’s sake,” is about Parvati, and “Because of Parvati” is about Padma, and each girl defines herself as she talks about her sister. Padma even implies that she is able to continue existing only because of Parvati. Whatever choices one makes will totally and completely affect the other, and we learn that Parvati wasn’t exaggerating in the first chapter when she said that she had to be strong for Padma’s sake.
You also did an amazing job of capturing Padma’s descent into anorexia. Of course the background was all realistic and understandable – the constant scrutiny of her parents, the pressure to be special in a house where doing well is expected – knowing you, I would have been surprised if it wasn’t. But what made your description really special was some of the simple, understated sentences you included. “She loves the strength she feels when she sits at the table and does not eat, loves the freedom of refusal.” You’ve captured, within a sentence, a huge piece of what it means to be anorexic – that it’s not about food, or about weight, but about control. And I find myself thinking about the first chapter in another light, as well; Padma thinks she is gaining strength for herself, even as Parvati carries more and more of the burden. “The body she has yet to conquer.” There you do it again – both the idea of control, and the thought that Padma sees herself as fighting a battle and conquering her body, while Parvati sees her as slowly destroying herself.
“She has been crying since she departed Hogwarts, but she hadn't shed a tear until today.” I love this line. Enough said.
“She believes in a sister who is the embodiment of strength and resolve —— a sister who does not truly exist.” Just like she believes in a body that doesn’t exist.
I meant to write some sort of comment on the amount of repetition you use – it seemed a bit too heavy to me at first. The more I looked at it, though, the more I realized that the repetition is essential to the tone and the mood. It’s the repetition that makes it so heavy and weighty, and it reflects the idea that they are going in circles around each other.
So, since I can’t critique the repetition, I’ll critique the ending instead. ;) From one standpoint, I liked it a lot. It’s very dramatic, and it drives home in a final and terrible sort of way how dependent upon her sister Padma is. And you’ve built up to it very well, with the references to the world built of illusion that has been stripped away. At the same time, though, as much as I hate to say this because maybe it’s just me feeling literal and unimaginative, learning that “Padma shatters” isn’t quite enough. It’s very poetic – but I find myself wanting to know what it means. As it is, there are so many things that you could mean by shattering. Maybe she just crumples, maybe she completely loses her will to do anything, maybe she screams like Parvati. Perhaps you’ve left it ambiguous because it doesn’t matter what she does; what matters is that she can’t go on without Parvati being strong for her. I can convince myself of that explanation, and if I was writing an essay on your story I’d delve into it from that perspective, yet as a reader I found myself wanting more description. Then again, the reader shouldn’t always be given what she wants, and I’m really just rambling and exploring possibilities, and I may think something completely different in the morning.
I’ve always looked at eating disorders very much from one point of view, the perspective of the person who has anorexia. Your first chapter was a huge part of really driving home for me something I had never before realized, of how much eating disorders effect so much more than one person. Putting these two chapters together really drives that home for me, how much the two are interconnected, and I think that that (even aside from all the great lines in here) is why I love this story so much.
Author's Response: Hmmm... no clue why you\'re listed as a beta for this story. But... I don\'t think I\'m going to change it. Honestly, I wrote this second chapter in part for you, so it seems fitting to have your name attached in some way. Does that make sense?
I really wanted to explain Padma\'s control and its central importance. I\'m glad it was believable to you –– you know how incredibly much I value your opinion.
About the ending: the ambiguity is extremely important to me. Whether she recovers or not is, in a sense, immaterial. Possibly a separate story, though it\'d have to be a chaptered fic, I think –– recovery cannot be captured in snapshots, at least not adequately. But... I won\'t say any more because I don\'t want to breed any more plot bunnies. >.< *tuggles*
I’ve never reviewed one of your stories before, Seren, because I’ve always found myself intimidated both my your reputation and the quality of your stories. Each story stands alone by itself – what does it leave for me to say? This story, however, asked an inherent question and seemed to require a response. "The only question that remains for us now," she says resolutely, and Blaise feels the fierce heat dancing in her voice, "is whether we wish to wear masks, or not. I," she continues, "do not." First of all, to be merely technical, I have to comment on the wording. It’s amazing what syntax can do to change the way we read a sentence, and I love the way you chose to break up the quotations here. Pausing after “now” forces us to anticipate what is coming, and leads up to the key question of the piece. Likewise, the break after “I” allows us to hear the heaviness of her words, the choice she is making. “I do not,” can be casual, flippant, hurried, unconsidered. “I…do not,” on the other hand, gives weightiness. She is thinking about the problem, and she has made a decision. It’s not something to be made lightly, but she has thought about it and she has chosen. I know this is a mere technicality, and being a very technically proficient writer you’re probably more interested in other things, but I thought I’d comment because you used syntax so well throughout the story.
I am always fascinated by titles. They are (obviously) the first thing we see when we start a story, and I am constantly trying to relate the story back to them as I read. I thought I had yours figured out when I came to the comparision between the Death Eaters and the KKK: "And the funny thing is, they wear masks too." I paused for a while, and thought through it, and anticipated the rest of the story. Your point was going to be, of course, that though some people hide their faces as they commit despicable acts, whether or not we wear masks and torment others, our prejudice is still despicable. Mask it though we will, it is nevertheless something that eats away at us and others, and must be rectified. That sort of thing – I thought I knew exactly where you were going. But you didn’t.
"The only question that remains for us now," she says resolutely, and Blaise feels the fierce heat dancing in her voice, "is whether we wish to wear masks, or not. I," she continues, "do not." You tell us, instead, that we can choose whether or not to be prejudiced, or to act upon our prejudices. We can choose to make a difference, instead of going along with the nameless masked ones. We can choose. Then, to make things even more interesting, I noticed that the title does not reiterate the question. The question is whether or not we wish to wear masks. The title seems to go a bit farther, asking only whether or not we wear masks. It implies that perhaps we do wear masks, without knowing it. Perhaps we allow our judgments to clothe us, to hide us, to keep us protected by putting up barriers between ourselves and our victims. That we must make our choice not only about the masks made of cloth, but about those more insubstantial but no less real ones which we make ourselves. Or alternatively the title makes a statement – whether or not we wear masks does not matter. We are, as Hermione taught Blaise, all the same.
Um. Sorry, I didn’t mean to go overboard with that one point about the title. I’m in analytical mode right now, because I’ve just come from writing a paper. I’m not sure how helpful a review that was, because I just sort of rambled along, but I really don’t have any criticism to make, so I thought I’d just give a reaction and tell you how I felt about what you wrote. All in all, I think it was wonderful. I love the idea of teaching about racism by comparing the two cultures. "Over something he had no control over," she says neutrally. "His parentage." I also love the way you’ve shown Blaise as being delicate and sensitive. For all his assurances that he’d be proud to be a Death Eater, a single comment from Hermione sets his mind reeling. He cares about the truth, and he cares about people. Looking at the pictures makes him physically sick. In such a short story, you’ve given him a real and definite personality, of someone who pretends to be tough – who thinks himself to be tough – and yet is so immersed in life, so innately caring, that he cannot help but react to the mention of prejudice when he sees it in new forms.
It was Blaise’s sensitivity that made the last point come through. For someone as empathetic as himself to prejudice and cruelty, it is astonishing that he could be so callous about his original prejudice. Yet it is believable; he has been taught this prejudice from birth, and so he has never thought about it. He has always assumed that the Muggleborns are less human, are innately different. And because of his sensitivity, the moment he sees his prejudice from a new light, the moment he realizes that his prejudice depends on percieved differences rather than real ones, he reacts with all of his self, both mind and body.
It’s a wonderful story, Seren, and it really made me stop and think. As you can probably see from the amount of wandering my thoughts did above. I love your writing style and technique, but even more the points you make. Thanks.
I have to start out by saying that I’ve only ever read the short story version of Flowers for Algernon, and that was at least six years ago; I remember the main points, and certain details, but for the most part I’m coming to your story without knowing much of the story which inspired it. That being said, I think you have a beautiful start. Sometimes I find myself saying that when I mean that the story is good, or that I like the plot – but here I mean the word beautiful literally. Your words are so smooth and deep that this chapter has an almost poem-like quality, the feeling of a reverie, which goes along perfect with the way you’ve depicted Sam as reserved and withdrawn from the world. It was as if death crouched menacingly on its haunches, patiently waiting for him at the end. I loved that sentence, and the entire paragraph before it about death. You use such evocative imagery! The ominous feel of the hospital, Sam’s feelings of being out of place and overwhelmed – all made clear by the lurking presence of an imaginary beast. But for Sam, want was a strange, eluding temptress, who circled him, never reaching him. She left her scent and muddled his thinking, and refused to ever really be caught. More personification here, and equally well used. Your diction and word choice is absolutely beautiful – I find myself reading along just enjoying the sound of the words – but the images you are creating are even more powerful. I love the idea of “want” as a temptress, because it fits in so perfectly with the character you have been creating. Sam is so vulnerable – we’ve seen almost nothing of him, but he is so obviously in need. Want is his temptress, because he cannot even grasp it, cannot even decide what it is that he wants. So different from the usual idea of want as something consuming, of lust, of driven need – he is so much in need that he does not know what he wants, only that he wants something.
I am very curious about the atmosphere in which Sam was brought up. You’ve given such intriguing hints, mostly by showing us Sam’s mindset. He was a disgrace to the lineage. A horrible thing to happen to such noble blood. An abomination. A letdown. What has gone on to give him such ideas? What must his mother, seeming so polite and kind in the small glimpses we have had of her, have said to him? He obviously believes that he needs magic in order to be a worthwhile person. Without magic, he is nothing. Magic is the defining point of his being – only he doesn’t have it. It almost reminds me of Toni Morrison’s book, The Bluest Eye, in which Pecola Breedlove is convinced that if only her eyes would turn blue, she would be happy. If only Sam could gain the use of magic, he would be happy. Knowing the little I know of Flowers for Algernon, I’m very curious to see what will follow when (if you choose to follow this part of the plot) Sam gains magic. Will he find that his happiness and acceptance of himself must be based on something other than such a quality? Will he realize that his identity is not determined by what he can do?
The biggest difference I can see so far between your story and Flowers for Algernon is that your character, a squib, has no hindrance on his mental capacity throughout the story – only on what he can do. There is so much room to exploit this, because Sam has a continuing capacity for development, even if the experiment doesn’t work, or after its effects pass away. This gives your story a very different scope from the novel, because where Charlie was limited in the beginning and end by his brain power, Sam has the potential to explore the question of identity all throughout the story.
Sam is already a fascinating character, but you’ve left us with a lot of questions. (I’m not saying that as a bad thing.) Why is he so submissive? Why is he so unsure? He acts almost as if he has no control, almost as if he does have a limited capacity for understanding. I find myself wondering if his parents treated him as if he did; if they consider someone who cannot do magic as being mentally disabled. I also am left wondering how old he is. He has passed the defining age of eleven years, but is he still young enough that it is natural for his mother to do everything for him in this way, or has he been treated as helpless all of his life do to his failure in the magical world?
I only found one typo in the story, and it seems as if it might be left over from an earlier draft. He was asked to look at pictures that were meant to make me feel emotions. The “me” should be “him.” Other than that, though, it was practically flawless technically; or if there were any other errors, I was too busy enjoying the reading to notice them.
A million names they could have used, and yet they instead opted for the more polite, gentle ones, that displayed a greater respect for one another than for Sam himself. Another beautifully crafted sentence, that holds many implications. The syntax of the sentence itself is smooth and pleasing. We are shown Sam’s understanding, that his “condition” is not acceptable to society, even as you show us that he knows what is going on. And I love the implied idea that sometimes ‘polite’ euphemisms can be more insulting than the more clear-cut terms – and that Sam understands this, even though he seems to be treated as ‘simple.’ He was prodded, pinched, and stretched, examined from every angle, as if the word “Squib” could be found tattooed somewhere on his body, written somewhere in his blood. Here you show once again his inherent mindset, his feeling that his incompetence is irrevocable, that he is unfit for the world since his birth, that it is an unavoidable blemish that he cannot fix.
As for the end, the note he wrote is pathetically sad, given what we have learned about these feelings. What Sam wants, though he cannot see it, is to be accepted for whom he is. Instead, he is undergoing a medical experiment in hopes of making him ‘acceptable,’ an experiment which he must force himself to be grateful for, until perhaps he believes that it is what we wanted all along. Add this to the chapter’s theme of ‘want’…you have crafted this chapter so well. Everything ties together, though we haven’t yet learned the answers.
I don’t really have any specific criticism, other than the questions above, which weren’t even criticism but probing. You’ve done a beautiful job (and yes, I’m using beautiful again, because that’s the way this story is coming across to me), and I can’t wait to see where you take this.
Wow. I'm just...blown away. I truly am. I don't know how many times I've already read this review, and I only came across it a few minutes ago. You're wonderful, Ennalee! I'll definetly fix that typo (and I laughed when I saw the "earlier version" comment--of course!), thank you for pointing it out. I've never read The Bluest Eye, but I'd say it sounds a bit more like Sam's mother than Sam himself, really...but I'm not going to go into that yet, there's much more to come. *seals lips* This is just...unbelievable. I can't imagine anyone wanting to spend this much time thinking about my story, but I'm so glad you did! I hope I left you with plenty to speculate about, and hopefully I'll be able to create a story you'll enjoy. Although really, I don't think you have too much left to speculate about--you were able to sum up almost all of the elements I wanted to create in this chapter very effectly. =) Suddenly, I have this crazy urge to start writing! *opens up fresh Word documents*I cannot thank you enough. This has brightened my entire day--or maybe week--or even month! *huggles Ennalee*
Another chapter! I thought it would never come! I’m definitely not one to criticize you for updating slowly (it’s been months since my last chapter), but I am very, very happy to find this – just in time for my spew reviews, too.
I love that you differentiate Sam and the experiment, showing them as two separate entities, and at the same time show that for everyone else, he and the experiment are the same thing. He describes it as “sucking away;” it’s distant, something superficial, not really him. However, at the same time it’s also very near to him, because it completely changes his interaction with his mother. The fact that he has become a completely different person in her eyes is extremely telling – he can only be ‘real’ to her if he can do magic. The experiment was important because of her. She’d have what she’d wanted for all these years. To him it’s something superficial, something to be feared in that it might make him into something he’s not. To her, on the other hand, it will make him real and a part of their family. She’d never called him ‘dear’ before. You use such little observations to show us his and his mother’s mentalities; your story is a wonderful example for the idea of showing instead of telling.
Going along with that, another theme that ran through the chapter without ever being explicitly stated, was the idea that everyone is so caught up in the wonder of the experiment that they don’t even notice Sam. The Healers seemed too enraptured in their own grand plans to notice who was following along. It goes back to the first chapter, when everyone is continually asking Sam if this is what he wants, until he finally says it is in order to give them what they want.
I can’t help wondering, though, since this is all from Sam’s point of view, if all the emotions he is ascribing to the people around him (and especially his mother) are true. He is so convinced that that he is a disappointment, so convinced that he can only upset her, that perhaps that is all he is able to see. He is ashamed of himself for being a squib, and he is sure that shame is his “God given duty” – maybe the shame is on his side alone. I can’t wait to see more development in further chapters, and learn whether these are his mother’s real emotions, or only the ones he is ascribing to her.
Sam’s decision to just nod, no matter what, is heartbreaking. He is such a broken person; he has totally given up. He is convinced that he can’t be anything and that no one sees him, and he is willing to let them do whatever they want, perhaps in some last misguided hope that if he gives himself up, they will see him. Or perhaps that if he gives himself up, he won’t have to care anymore. If he doesn’t think, if he doesn’t know, then maybe the fact that he’s not a functional member of society won’t hurt anymore. Just like he didn’t want to know what was said behind closed doors, or what he was going to grow up to be, or what children at Hogwarts were like, this was one more thing that Sam simply had no need to understand. Lovely sentence! Again, you seem to have mastered the art of showing us, in a simple statement, what Sam’s thought process is, and it’s incredibly pitiful.
The “Log Entries” are pathetic as well, in the best of ways – poor Sam! There is such a huge contrast between what he feels and what he expresses, and it’s all summed up in the chapter of his thoughts, followed by the three short sentences in the log entry. You use such beautiful imagery as well! The idea that his face can’t conform to their expressions, that he’s afraid they’ll open him up and find nothing – I could make a list of all the little quotes I absolutely loved, but I’m afraid that it would make this review very long, and quoting yourself back to you isn’t very instructive, is it? Not that this review is much more constructive anyway, but I’m hoping that by giving you my reactions to what you wrote, I can let you know where you succeeded in getting your points across, and where the little filler sentences you put in because they were necessary became suddenly important. This is a lovely story! Can I hope for more (relatively) soon, please?
Author's Response: Nan...I think I had a tear coming to my eye reading this. I really do. Because the fact that you have put so much thought into analyzing and reading and being so gracious towards my story means more to me than I could ever even tell you. You seem to pick up on everything I hoped you would, and more. It\'s incredible, and I\'m positive that you are one of the most comprehensive readers I\'ve ever met in my life. Really, you\'re absolutely incredible.
One thing in particular that you mentioned that made me smile is when you talked about Sam\'s POV as compared to the POV of others in his life--I was so very close to writing this chapter from his mother\'s POV. *eyes Nan suspiciously* You weren\'t using ESP right there, were you?
In any case...I\'m completely, one hundred percent blown away. You\'re incredible Nan, you really are. I don\'t deserve half the attention and flattery you\'ve given, but holy moley, did you put a smile on my face. And as to hoping for more...I do in fact have a rather long segment that I almost included in this chapter, that will now be a little more than half of chapter three. So consider Chapter Three half finished. :)