I'm an American, have been married for "a long time", and have a son and a daughter, so to me the characters are like sons and daughters. I like to study history and science, and I usually don't write (or talk) unless I have something to say, so I tend to be serious. I try to stretch my writing skills by entering challenges and forcing myself to write to prompts that I would otherwise not write, such as romance or vigorous action, and am surprised to discover that it can be done.
It’s always a treat to see a new story by you; they are always so imaginative. I enjoyed this clever link of the wizarding world to the forever-unknown detail of who fired the first shot at Lexington; now we finally know the answer. Were you studying American Revolutionary history for some other purpose and then saw the possible connection?
As a story, this one is pretty short, only 870 words, but it tells the whole tale succinctly, with no wasted words, and the action moves along at a good trot. I had to read it over twice to understand that you were switching back and forth between two scenes, the rooming house where Jack Potter lived and the Lexington Green where the Battle of Lexington took place. Inserting a string of asterisks at the two major scene-change locations would have been helpful for me. But I figured it out quickly enough anyway.
Too bad that Jack Potter’s adventurous life was cut short at an early age. I presume that he was a distant relative of Harry on a collateral line that emigrated to the colonies.
As for the spelling of the Imperius Curse, we can say that the third time’s the charm. Neither Imperious nor Imperuse but Imperius.
Thanks for writing.
Author's Response: I was browsing Wikipedia, ran across the article on this incident, and suddenly had the idea. That is what I had in mind for Jack. You're right about the scene changes, I suppose I should have denoted it better. Also, to answer one other question, one of the other wizards in the colonies came and removed his body just after the regulars had continued toward Concord. His wand, if found, would have looked like a random stick.
Hi, foolondahill. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on the first two chapters of your new story I Suspect Nargles. Each chapter seems to be focused on one person — first Draco, then Dean, and next will be Neville — but your stated intent is to look at Luna throughout the eyes of the people around her, defining her by a sort of negative space, so to speak. This is an intriguing approach. So far, in these first two chapters, you have told us a little about Luna, but so much more about your Luna-observers themselves.
All your actors are well-known, so their characters and personalities are already familiar, and you have been pleasingly faithful to those characters, expanding the details of favorite pivotal scenes at Malfoy Manor and Shell Cottage in perfect canon compliance. Even Dean, who is not a main character in the books, has been vividly brought to life by your clever use of everything we did know about him, such as his severed-hand boggart referring to a fear that an injury could destroy his artistic capabilities.
Of the three principal actors that we have seen so far, the one that impressed me most was Draco, trapped in what can only be called a waking nightmare of the worst sort, a nightmare that goes on and on, ever more horrible, from which there appears to be no escape. In this chapter are many inspired lines, such as ”His father was almost unrecognizable, like the house and the world.” (The definition of a nightmare, if I ever heard one.)
Another section I liked was ”Stupid first years who hadn’t sense enough to get out of the way. Stupid, worthless blood-traitors who had to play the hero, who hadn’t sense enough to know it was useless — Draco had realized it was useless long ago…”
I appreciated that you extrapolated the Malfoy Manor scene to show what was happening both before Harry and his group arrived and after Harry and his group had left, even though, after Harry left, Luna was not at Malfoy Manor any more. This first chapter was really mainly about Draco as a tragic figure caught in a horrible situation. It particularly struck me because I had recently finished writing a story about Draco’s son Scorpius (Dark Enough To See The Stars) and I had commented on the “continuum of decency” running from Lucius, through Draco, to Scorpius, so that the contrast between Draco’s life and Scorpius’ life was huge. I found myself wondering whether, when Scorpius was older, Draco would tell him anything about what his (Draco’s) life and experiences had been during the war. In general, how much do survivors of atrocities talk about their experiences afterwards? Not much, I’d guess. Perhaps it is untellable.
Of your first four stories on this site, I told you in previous reviews that my favorites were ‘Pat-a-Cake’ and ‘Bliss’ over ‘Bondage’ and ‘Innocents’, because the first two had more of a story arc, whereas the others were chiefly raw emotion. Yet many readers loved the latter two. In this story, ‘I Suspect Nargles’, you are capturing the best of both styles, the active story and the emotion, so all your readers ought to be pleased.
Your writing style is fluid and polished, with graceful sentences and apt word choices. The one thing that interrupts the flow is the presence of some editing flaws, not so much typos as homonym substitutions and a few grammatical bobbles. Another run-through by a beta knowledgeable in SPaG would put this story right up there with the upper tier of stories on this site. I see your story note that “updates may be sporadic.” Not too sporadic, I hope. I am looking forward to the upcoming chapters to see what insights you will present about Neville, George, and more. Very nice job.
Author's Response: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. As a young, aspiring authoress who writes fan fiction mostly as a precursor to writing publishable material, having an intelligent reviewer like you, who delves deeper into my story and shares honest, in-depth observations about it is such a wonderful - and flattering - experience. Yes, the intention of this story will primarily to bring about insights about the primary characters of each chapter (Draco, Dean, Neville), using Luna and her unique ways of viewing the world as a tool to bring about their self-discovery/personalities. Luna will act as a secondary, even tertiary character in most of the chapters, weaving through the different story-lines as a common thread, little details about her own character and life after the war emerging periodically. That way I can still subtly make her the main character of the story. I find getting into Luna's head to be a very difficult thing to do without making her sound too “normal” or sweeping to the other end of the spectrum and blowing her character out of proportion. I thought using the observations of others would be an easier and more interesting way to write a story about her character. I’m very happy you’re pleased with my writing style. I’ll look into those grammatical errors. I don’t use a beta reader, so all of the mistakes are slipups I didn’t catch on one of my many read-throughs. I have an irrational fear of beta readers, mostly because I’m still a teenager and reluctant to communicate too openly with people I don’t know online, even under an alias. However, I can see very plainly that using a beta would be beneficial to my writing as well as my readers, so perhaps I will look into it. Thank you again. I cannot tell you how much your feedback is appreciated.
Hello, BehindTheVeil. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on your wonderful story The Summer Outing. It is an excellent elaboration of the events mentioned so briefly in Half-Blood Prince, and you have perfectly achieved your goal of being true to canon.
The structure of the story was quite effective. The first third of the story was from Mrs. Cole’s point of view. This allowed us to see how Tom’s nature and behavior appeared to other people, a set of observations that were diagnostic of a serious personality disorder. You included some vivid metaphors that described him precisely. “Like the wrong end of a magnet, Tom Riddle had repelled the other students…” when no other children would sit next to him, and “..the bitter cold of that night had in some way managed to penetrate the womb and leave its indelible mark upon the child inside,” describing Tom’s cold-heartedness, were two of my favorite examples.
The central third of the story, from Tom’s point of view, included a fascinating number of references to things that we later knew were characteristic of him. His use of Parseltongue appeared for the first time; he tortured the mouse as a prelude to torturing human beings (a step beyond pushing Billy out the bus window); and he encountered the cave where he would later hide a horcrux. Your line in this section, “He excitedly looked from one frightened face to another, adrenaline still coursing through him unlike anything he had ever experienced, and considered the options open to him, was a gem. This was the moment when Tom realized he could do infinitely more than simply bully people around. And I appreciated your explanation, sorely needed, of exactly how Tom had used magic instead of ropes to descend and ascend the cliff face with the terrified children, as Dumbledore explained to Harry many years later; that had always been a sticking point in my mind.
The final third of the story, from the point of view of the police officer Pete and secondarily the doctor Henry, showed a glimmering of understanding on their parts that went beyond that of the long-suffering Mrs. Cole. You gave us the line, full of foreboding, “…the men, now both united in the possible knowledge of an unexpected horror,…one they would have preferred and been happier not knowing at all,” suggesting that they were not going to tell anyone about their suspicions, losing the chance to do anything about it. And thus the story ended, with the menace still looming over the wizarding world.
Your characterizations are strong: Mrs. Cole, Tom (of course), and the police sergeant and the doctor; even Mr. Willis, the bus driver, had a bit of personality to him.
Your writing style is very fluid, with no awkward sentences, so it is enjoyable to read. The only thing that gave me pause was Tom’s first glimpse of the cave, where the story says that the cave entrance had ”…raged rock resembling sharp fangs all around the sides.” I figured that the rock was probably ragged rather than angry.
This story filled a gap that probably many Harry Potter fans have been feeling for a long time. Tom’s discovery of the cave and his activities there are important points in the story, and yet J. K. Rowling gave us virtually no details. You have shone a light on this crucial episode in the development of the darkest wizard the world has known. Thank you for writing.
Thank you first and foremost for taking the time not only to read my story, but also going to such lengths in response. In particular I appreciated the help with the typos. After living abroad for a while and jumping between languages, I have started to notice a certain decline in my spelling abilities.
When it comes to literature, I have always believed that what a writer chooses to omit can often be of equal importance to what was written. Certain horrors are much worse when left to our imagination rather than committed to paper. J. K. Rowling knows this well and it is precisely these omissions that have driven many of us to write fan fiction. In retrospect this was the reason I opted to change perspective and narrator and, most importantly, why I didn't describe what happened inside the cave. There are other examples of these "omissions" that I have written and may upload here if I ever deem them up to standard. Lord knows when that will be.
I am relieved that my efforts to be canon compliant haven't backfired (so far). Had I known when I started what a minefield it can be, I probably would not have started at all. I enjoyed the experience, particularly creating parallels to the events in the books (the disappearing glass was a pretty obvious one), and will continue.
The line ("He excitedly looked from one frightened face to another, adrenaline still coursing through him unlike anything he had ever experienced, and considered the options open to him.") initially lacked the information between the commas and was therefore more about the options available to get out of trouble rather than your interpretation. This is how I imagine Tom Riddle at this age, constantly causing trouble and then evading the consequences by hiding the evidence. I am going to hold up my hands and admit that the other meaning was unintentional and ... I couldn't be happier.
Hi, Neil. I am enjoying your story, as I do with all your works. Just wanted to let you know that you have done me a favor. I am writing a story for my creative writing class here in Oregon, based loosely on some hpff ideas I have had, but with all the names changed, of course, and I have a scene in which members of the police inspect a skeleton that has been uncovered in the course of an excavation. I didn't know what title to call these policemen, but I saw that you had characters who were identified as Detective Constables, so I googled that term and found much information on the British police; that turned out to be the very title that I needed. So thank you.
Author's Response: Thanks Vicki. I try to keep the "Muggle police" aspects of my stories (particularly the MIT stories) as accurate as possible, to the extent that I've even noted the date the Metropolitan Police's specialist firearms unit stopped being SO19 and became CO19 (2005). Now, they're SCO19. I'm no expert, but if you need any information, just ask. -N-
Hi, Ken. I’m so glad you got this chapter posted, sad though it is. Poor Jeffery, he loses everyone who is important to him, his family whom he had to leave behind in England, then his Army buddy Clay, then the woman he loves. He must be wondering what is the point of going on.
I am looking forward to your next chapter, and so is my daughter, who said she hoped you intended to finish the story, but I am sure you will, because that is your custom.
Hi, Laura. This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I have just read your story, and I really enjoyed it
. I like the characterization of the three Next-Generation kids, showing the influence of their families but definitely not just clones of their parents. You show them as eager, optimistic, and well-adjusted, but still like children, as seen in the delightful scene of playing make-believe with pretend twig "wands" and in their awe at seeing how big the lake really is. We can see the changes that have developed with the passing of time: Scorpius speaks freely of the damage to the Slytherins' reputation because of the events of the war, and there seems to be less stereotyping in the children's minds based on House affiliation.
The sudden arrival of their parents and Professor McGonagall at the lakeside seemed a little fortuitous, since I wasn't sure why the parents had realized that their children had left the tour or that the lake was where the children had gone, so I would suggest including something to indicate how that came to be. Since the whole story is from Albus' point of view, you can't just suddenly cut back to Harry or Hermione, so maybe you could have one of the parents say something on the dock, such as saying that the tour had ended and they had asked somebody where the three kids were, and someone had said they saw the kids sneaking toward the lake or overheard the kids saying that they were going to the lake. If you edit in a few sentences of that sort, then the transition point where the parents arrive on the dock would be a little clearer.
Your idea of some children being able to visit Hogwarts before their initial enrollment is a good one. It always seemed to me that it was a bit of a shock for eleven-year-olds to come to Hogwarts for the very first time on the night of their Sorting, and then be thrown into classes the very next day in such an unfamiliar environment.
You have neatly tied the beginning and the end of the sort together with the theme of Albus' learning about the Second Wizarding War, so that your story has an arc. Interesting that you didn't deal with Allbus' siblings; since James had already been in school for at least a year, James must have known something about the War, but apparently he didn't pass that knowledge on to Albus. I wonder if this was a secret between James and his parents, that they had told him not to tell Albus or to tease Albus by saying "I know something you don't know," as kids so often do. :)
Nice job. Thanks for writing.
An interesting idea, to have Harry playing with and against professional Quidditch players. We tend to think of him as the boy wonder of Quidditch because of his youthful start on the Gryffindor team, but he did not actually play for several of his school years, and you remind us that the caliber of school-yard play is less than that of the professional leagues. And the unique setting makes this game less ho-hum than many of the other games we've read about.
Thanks for noting the 10th anniversary of MNFF. It deserved to be mentioned somewhere. I enjoyed your story.
Author's Response: Thanks Vicki.
A reviewer on another site wasn't happy about which side won, so I'm glad you can see my reasoning. Even if Harry is a good amateur, he's likely to be a little out of his depth against professionals. He missed at least one (possibly two) of the three games in his sixth year, and didn't play at all in his seventh. At the time I've set this story he's a few days shy of his 22nd birthday.-N-
Nagini, I loved this poem. You have such a vivid image of these rotting corpses rising up from the graves. Every little detail is so perfect and so spot-on. I loved the dirt in their unhinged jaws. Your choices of words never falter. All the line are imaginative but keenly observant and perfectly clear. Very, very good job.
Author's Response: Thank you! I really liked this one, too. :) If only more people had entered the challenge... Then it might have won a place!!!! Keep reading. ;) ~Nagini
This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I have been following this charming story, and it is hard to believe after all these pages, that the story has covered only a few days in time. You have included lots of good detail, and in many places there are delightful little observations, little flashes of imagination, that make the story fun to read.
Your writing style is plain, simple, open, artless, simply good storytelling, and your story line marches forward briskly. Tonks, as you portray her, is clever, resourceful, brave, loving, and always optimistic. And I enjoy how you have pulled so many well-known canon characters into your story.
I am looking forward to reading more of the Adventures of Tonks and Remus, as we might say. Thank you for writing.
Author's Response: Thanks for the great review! :)
Hi, Kylee. This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I have read your first two chapters, and so far you have some interesting scenes that are enjoyable to read. The Marauders at the end of Chapter Two are well characterized. I hope that your main character Cera will not be a “permanent chip on the shoulder” type of person, and that we will see other aspects of her personality other than the whiny one in the upcoming chapters. I have read fics in which the main character (almost always female) is whiny throughout the whole story, and it got pretty old pretty fast. But there is plenty of room yet for exciting things to start happening which will show her particular strengths of character and reveal sides of her personality not immediately apparent. I am looking forward to reading more. Thank you for writing.
Author's Response: Hey, thanks for dropping a review. It is 1) nice to hear from a fellow Slytherin and 2) wonderful to hear that my characterization of the Marauders is good. Writing the Marauders means that I have to worry if I'm doing them justice. As for Cera, I do worry about her a bit. I mean, she has to make the choice to be happy, and sometimes, we make the wrong decision. In the end, though, it's my job to entertain even if my main character is a whiner who holds grudges and wants nothing to do with forgiveness, hope, and reaching out to people. So hopefully you'll enjoy the story that surrounds the annoying main character. And maybe she'll stop being annoying at some point.
Hi, Andria. this is Vicki from Slytherin House. I'm really enjoying this story. It's imaginative and different, and I am always pleased to read about the Second World War. You seem to have a good handle on the culture of that time period. The writing style is polished and there are just enough details to set the scenes well without being overstuffed or draggy. I am looking forward to the upcoming chapters.
Author's Response: Thank you for the review. I was born in the wrong period. I've always been fascinated by WWII (and WWI and the Persian Gulf and the Bosnian War...) and I felt that Rowling dropped the ball by not doing more with Grindelwald and his potential influence on Potterverse politics. Heck, IRL we're still dealing with the fallout of WWII, so it made no sense to ignore such a big chunk of history. Also, I really really like Big Band music. Hellzapoppin!
I am really enjoying the complexity of this story, all the story threads, and the strong historical background. Plus you are an excellent writer. I really appreciate the clear, straightforward style and the fine characterizations of all your characters. Looking foreword to more chapters!
Author's Response: Thank you! Flattery will get you everywhere, I'm a total Gryff that way.
Hi, Marissa. This is Vicki of Slytherin House commenting on your interesting story. I liked it and am interested to read further. In your second paragraph you stated, “Draco felt ashamed and isolated,” and I wondered if we readers were going to hear more narrative that illustrated his shame and isolation, and yes, we did.
I was interested to read the third paragraph, the listing of Draco’s sins. At first I thought it was what he was thinking, that he was reviewing his faults in his head, but then in the fourth paragraph you reveal that it was a synopsis of what the members of the Wizengamot were discussing aloud. A neat touch.
It’s true that there is a lot of reflection in this opening chapter, and not a lot of dialogue (well, Draco didn’t have anyone to talk to in prison and wasn’t allowed to say much in court), but that’s okay for this opening chapter that sets the scene and the situation. In fact, an entire story done this way can be successful: read Vanishing Green by Armagod 679 in these archives for a good example of that. And I’m sure that, this story being a romance, there will be plenty of action and dialogue in the chapters to come.
But you have a good start here. There is some unusual development, in the surprising testimony of Hermione, and some mystery: what will the Wizengamot’s decision be, and why? How will Draco be changed? What exactly happened to the members of the Malfoy family after the war ended, and how they coped with their terrible situation, has always been a source of great speculation among us readers. Thank you for writing.
Hi, EmmaGM. This is Vicki of Slytherin House, commenting on your interesting and imaginative story. It has lots of nice, clever touches. I like the way you take so many of the details of the first book and turn them all, neatly but believably, upside down. There’s a lot of imagination here to make the plot flow so well. The bits of dialogue, although completely opposite to what is in the original book, are quite in character for the people being portrayed.
What is the favor that the Sorting Hat is going to extract from Harry later? (How clever, to include this idea.) And what will Snape’s relationship with Harry be, now that Harry is a member of Snape’s own house? You have set up a lot of intriguing possibilities here, and that is what AU is all about —familiar characters being themselves in very unfamiliar circumstances. Thank you for writing.
Hi, Neil. An interesting idea you have here, a formal funeral ceremony which is unique to the Black family and which suggests that their custom of choosing star names for family members is based on something more than a consultation with a celestial encyclopedia.
I liked your portrayal of 'Dora as a six-year-old girl. My granddaughter is also six years old, and you have hit the right note of young but not babyish.
Thanks for continuing to write (and for that kind plug you gave me, much appreciated).
I'd like to think that the Blacks have a system. Bellatrix the warrior, Andromeda the chained woman (shame about Narcissa's lack of a star name).
My kids are no longer little six-year-olds, so I had to rely on memory. I need to keep the memories of their youth alive for Strangers at Drakeshaugh.
I am enjoying your story immensely, and I certainly should have not let so much time go by before reading chapters 2 and 3. Your background material makes this story immensely rich; I almost feel inspired to write something historical myself. All your characters come to life for me, and I can easily envision all the Grecian scenes. It is a pure joy, among all the travails of life, to spend a few minutes reading your story. I hope that further chapters will be coming soon!
Author's Response: Thanks, Vicki. I did spend some time on background material for this one: the idea was to add the Potterverse to another culture where magic had rather different connotations. No need for a Statute of Secrecy here: everyone in the ancient world knew that magic was real, although it wasn't always respectable.
Hi, Geoff. How nice to see another story from you. I presume that your young Ollivander is a distant ancestor of the Ollivander who sold Harry his wand. Interesting to see your use of the word 'mugloi'. I had always thought that 'Muggle' sounded derogatory, but 'mugloi' does sound as if it could be a Greek word, so it is more satisfying simply to think of 'Muggle' as derived from the Greek.
It will be fun to see a magical story played out against the sunny Mediterranean scenery instead of the darker, damper climes of northern Europe. I look forward to your subsequent chapters. Thanks for writing.
Author's Response: Hi Vicki. Yes, I'm imagining an unbroken line of descent: 24 centuries' worth of Ollivanders. I'm afraid I didn't invent "Mugloi": the Ancient Greek translation of Philosopher's Stone (which I'm sadly unable to read) uses "Mugaloi", which the translator says means "field-mice". Hope you like the story; there's another chapter already in the queue.
You have certainly left us with a lot of unanswered questions in this teaser of a prologue, such as who T.M. Riddle's mother was, who his wife was, who his pursuers are, and why. I will keep my eye out for your second chapter, curious to see why you are going to do with this baby girl.
I wonder if, in your original manuscript that you posted on this site, you accidentally left off the final after "Avada Kedavra," because right now everything on the right-hand side of this screen is in italics. :) It might be a good idea to use the Chapter Edit feature to check your manuscript, and if indeed that tag has been omitted, restoring it will make the right-hand column of the screen revert to normal type. Thanks!
Hi, Isabella. This is Vicki of Slytherin House. I read this chapter one when it was first posted, but neglected to write you a review then, so I will do it now.
Your chapter end note suggests that you have a long and extensive exposition in mind, so I will be looking forward to many chapters full of detail and complexity. So far we see a boyish Salazar and then, apparently skipping forward a decade or two, Godric as a young man. We see that Salazar loves books, and that his father is a teacher and a bookstore-owner, and that Godric has come back to see his old teacher because of some kind of dark trouble brewing. Their personalities still seem tentative to me, but doubtless there is plenty of space in upcoming chapters for them to reveal themselves more fully.
Your sentences flow well, and you have delightful turns of phrase here and there. I will go on to chapter two now, to see if we meet Helga and Rowena, or see more of Salazar and Godric.
Hi again. Even if you thought this chapter wasn’t your “best”, I still enjoyed it and appreciated that the action was picking up a bit in the latter half. We are beginning to see some of the pillars of the plot, and the personalities of your characters are coming more into focus. Being a Slytherin myself, I appreciate seeing Salazar in a good light. One never sees stories about his boyhood, only about his adulthood when he is this sinister, cold-hearted guy, hard to feel affection for. Perhaps your story will reveal the early experiences that ultimately made him what he was.
Sorry about your losing your first edited version of this chapter. My daughter is a computer engineer, and when I totally lose something or mess it up completely, she can usually get it back again for me. I am in awe!
Looking forward to the next chapter.