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Reviews by Fantasium

We are Who we Choose to Be by LadyAlesha

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Minerva is going through a rough time. First she lost her mother, then she lost her friends. Will she risk losing her father as well in order to live the life she wants to live?
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 11/21/06 Title: Chapter 1: Making Choices

Hi Ilka! *huggles her SPEW buddy*

Let’s see if I can turn my incoherent notes into a review for you. =)

The first thing that strikes me about this one-shot is unfortunately a formatting thing. I can’t call it an “error”, because it’s not technically wrong, but I think the beginning of your story would look better and read smoother if you had a line or some kind of marker between the initial Author’s Note and the first paragraph. There is a specific html tag for inserting a line, or else you can just put something like “~~~” centred between the things you want to separate. It’s not a big deal, but it makes a good story even better and more pleasant to read.

I really, really like the first paragraph. It has such nice imagery and your words create the perfect mood for the setting. I know already that it was about Minerva since I read the summary, but it struck me that your words could just as well have been about Hermione. I like that, because I think making Minerva subtly similar to Hermione helps your readers relate to her, and not just see her as Professor McGonagall.

Which brings me to my next point – it really made me giggle when I saw her being addressed as “Miss McGonagall”. I’ve read her as “Minerva” in a few fics, but otherwise the “Professor” part is so closely related with her name that anything else makes me look twice. “Miss McGonagall” - *giggle*

Professor Dumbledore, the Head of Gryffindor House was walking towards her, carrying a candle.

- You have a small comma error there. There should be a comma after “House”, since “the Head of Gryffindor House” is a subordinate clause to “Professor Dumbledore”. (I just felt very odd about mentioning that, but I’m sure that you know what to do with the information. ;))

“He’s so sure I will get Os in every subject…”

- Here I would suggest using the words “an Outstanding” instead of just “Os”. I can’t give you a real reason, other than that it sounds better when I read it to myself out loud. But as I said, that’s just a friendly suggestion. ;)

I just have to mention how much I like your interpretation of Dumbledore in this one-shot. To me he is perfectly in character, yet you’ve used his part creatively and he’s not a “stereotype Dumbledore”. Very well done, Ilka!

—that she would get up in the morning and her mother would be there, cooking breakfast while her father read the paper.

- Personally I would put a blank step after that dash (before “that she would” etc), especially since you have one before the dash. Then I want to comment on the rest of the sentence; because I don’t think it quite lives up to the rest of your lovely one-shot. Cooking breakfast and reading the paper seems very stereotype, or cliché even, for someone to connect with their mother and father. It’s not a technical fault, because I can well imagine that Minerva’s parents did precisely that, but I’m not so sure that’s what she would remember. I would make it more detailed, like have Minerva remember the pattern of her mother’s apron, or a special bowl she used, or how the sunlight looked when it fell through the kitchen window and onto her hair. For her father, you could perhaps mention something about his hair, tousled from sleep, or at least that the paper he’s reading is The Daily Prophet. Again, this is not a fault per se, but it differs from the high quality of the rest of the fic to make me notice it.

The ending is very good. You could have had Minerva simply realise that she wanted to do things for herself, without any help from the outside. But her you let her discover friendship and recognition, and it makes your story more powerful. Lovely!

Lastly, I would like to say something about your language. Being a non-native writer of English myself I know how tricky it is, and that makes your story worth so much more than a similar piece written by a born English speaker. You have a very good flow and pace, and your words are captivating. But best of all, by writing and publishing this on MNFF, you make me believe that I can do the same thing, and I’m sure you serve as inspiration for several writers with English as a second language.

Author's Response: Anna! *huggles* Thank you so much for that brilliant review! I changed about everything you pointed out. I hope there\'s something dividing the Author\'s Note from the story now, those always mess up my formatting if I write them into the box on MNFF and not into the story box... Dear, you have nothing to be ashamed of, what I have read of your writing so far is superb, so don\'t you go telling me you need encouragement to submit to MNFF, everybody should be honoured to get the chance to read your stories! *loves*

Fragmentary by Noldo

Rated: 1st-2nd Years • Past Featured Story
Summary: It's all in the stories, and the way we tell them. (Regulus)
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 09/24/06 Title: Chapter 1: Fragmentary

*giggles* Noldo really doesn’t do summaries, does she?

Anyway, I was going to review, not giggle at barely-existent summaries. It’s been way too long since I read anything by you, but I was happy to find that I only had to read one line of this before I was caught by your rhythmic words again. I never really know how to describe your writing; it truly is unique and extraordinaire. I’ve learned to love your long sentences, how they start and then flow along, letting me flow with them, increasing in intensity at each comma or semicolon to finally erupt or dramatically die. *happy sigh* And… Well, forgive me for being odd now, but there is something decidedly mathematical about your writing. In a way, your sentences can be compared to equations (or something), long ones, that end either in glorious, satisfactory solutions, or in total confusion (on the reader’s part, I mean). *chuckle* In any case, I love it.

Guess what? I actually found something to point out, and I’ll get it over with while I still remember what it was:

…unalike and alike in unyielding pride, and he’s watching the way his mother’s face twists and watching his brother, the way he shouts, shaking in impotent fury, the way laughs…

- There seems to be a “he” missing before “laughs”?

You have created some wonderful confusion and uncertainty here, I think. The words telling us of the relationships between the Black brothers and their mother are well chosen; not just beautiful but also thought-triggering.

It’s something foreboding, certain and inexplicable; the harbinger of the storm.

- See? I like your shorter sentences too! Or perhaps I just happened to fall in love with the word “harbinger”. ;) In any case, its effect is stunning, and that sense of foreboding isn’t just on the screen, but in the air around me.

So, that was easy. Most of the time you make reviewing so much more difficult, just as in:

But while he’s watching Sirius go, he’s thinking about the way that brilliance goes with rashness (and that’s the way Sirius is, all intelligence and explosive temper and quite possibly madness), and the way he looked, paused for a moment and framed in twilight at the very edge of the threshold; and he’s thinking about the way the blue-grey sky and clouds and rain make the slow-moving figures in the street waver into nothingness, seeming less substantial than their own shuddering afterimages.

- Yes, I just quoted an entire paragraph. And it was NOT my fault. *chuckle* Noldo, I can’t chop it up and analyse it in smaller pieces than this. It’s the way the entire sentence works that makes the magic. But, “brilliance goes with rashness”, “framed in twilight at the very edge of the threshold”, “seeming less substantial than their own shuddering afterimages” – those are the words that make my heart beat extra hard. Bravo. Very bravo!

And now I’m going to do it again, almost:

And he’s standing in a city square, half the world away from everything he’s ever really known or understood or loved (or perhaps he’s standing in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and sometimes it’s exactly the same thing and sometimes not at all; but he tries, he honestly does, to see the interest in the ordinary and the excitement in the superlatively commonplace, and sometimes he can and sometimes he can’t and it’s always different)…

- Ooh, I can see this! The anonymous city square – or really, is he there? – and the honesty in his attempts, and how it’s always different because nothing is ever the same. And, “superlatively commonplace”? Your word-juggling skillz blow my mind.

Really, dear, you could write your stories in Elfish or a made-up language of your own. Yes, I do care about the content, but what stays with me the longest is the feeling of your words. They open up something in my mind; they let me think of New Things, and Old Things in a different way. And not a lot of texts do that to me, so… Well done, you! :D


The Faces Unforgotten by AlexisTaylor

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Hermione is faced with an onslaught of feelings as she walks down the altar, completely alone with her thoughts. It has been very hard since Harry died. How will she ever start a new life when she has no idea how she arrived where she stands?
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 10/23/06 Title: Chapter 1: One-shot

Finally I get a chance to sit down and write a review for this one-shot. I hope I thanked you for sending me the link to it, because I would probably never have come across it otherwise and that would have been terribly tragic for me. =)

The introduction is very emotional, and you’ve done a great job of writing Hermione’s confusion and uncertainty. There are always a lot of feelings connected with weddings, and having Hermione thinking back when walking down the isle really gives the story a chance to be great.

As for the wedding, I think it’s very interesting that you chose to set it in the ruins of Hogwarts. I think I like the idea… though I’m still curious why a Weasley would get married there and not at the Burrow. And speaking of interesting, what at unusual detail to let the Forbidden Forest become a regular forest after the fall of Hogwarts. I would rather have expected it to turn even wilder, with the various creatures starting to spread over the old grounds. But I suppose it would have been a bit complicated to hold a wedding there if that had been the case. ;)

Oh, you make my heart bleed for Ron, sweaty alcoholic or not.

She stared at Ron, wondering where her love for him went. She felt betrayed, ridiculously betrayed, by his mortal love for Harry. It was not even a romantic love, but so obviously stronger than the one he held for her.

The first sentence there is so horribly sad, because it shows that Hermione’s been there for Ron as a friend long after she stopped loving him as a man. The two following lines are heartbreaking as well, and they make a lot of sense to me. I got me a real thinker when reading it, if canon!Ron actually loves Harry or Hermione more.

He faced her, shoulders sunken in, red-faced and sweaty. “He gave it up for us, and all you can do is whine and say how we should move on. Well there is no ‘moving on’! […] We are supposed to be stuck here!”

Evil, evil Lex! How can you paint such a scary version of Ron? It is praise for you, I guess, the fact that I’m shuddering and that I’m desperate to rush to his aid when you tell me what he looks like. Though… when I hear his words, it becomes clear to me that there is nothing I can do, nothing Hermione can do. Very scary. =(

The dress, if to be correct, would be as drenched with the blood of the dead as much as her virgin blood, so long gone to the boy with the dead eyes.

Oooh, mighty vivid mental images in Anna’s head! Bravo!

She, covered in dirt. He, covered in God-knew-what. But his kisses were sweet, pecking, gentle. He was not overwhelming. He held her left hand in his right as he cleansed her soul.

The first two sentences make me chuckle, but then I’m lost awww:ing at the wonderfulness that is Charlie Weasley. Oh, he’s just the perfect man for this kind of rescue mission. I love how he is tender and supportive, and how he holds her hand. The ‘as cleansed her soul’ is so… gah. It’s something about the fact that their bodies are covered in dirt (and God-knows-what), but he’s not doing anything about that; he’s busy cleansing her soul. Oh joy.

There were a few things here and there that did perhaps not disturb me as I read, but that could be removed to make this story perfect. They are just little things; I’m sure you could sort them out yourself with another read-through, or else have a beta to do it. For example:

“That’s right!” he shouted right back. - it looks a little off with two ‘right’ so close to each other.

Then, Charlie had come home for the Christmas holiday, looking healthy and happy….or happy enough, anyhow. - there’s a full stop after the ellipsis.

So, Hermione never told Charlie about the baby? And he still noticed the signs? Oh, that tells me of how he must have watched her, how he cares for her and really loves her. *happy sigh*

The end makes me love Charlie even more, and I think you made a good decision to have Hermione still confused and not entirely happy, but also gave us plenty of hope for the future. You have a wonderful fic here, Lex, and with some beta nitpicking it could be truly perfect. =)

Author's Response: *Squees!* I am blessed by a SPEW review! Thank you for taking the time to look at it! You are right. I need to get rid of the second \'right\' in that sentence. I am very pleased that you enjoyed it, and I hope to provide you with worthy reading material in the future.

Where Light and Shadow Meet by Ennalee

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: All his life, Percy has built and gathered, painted and carved, and now everything is falling down around him.

Standing in the shambles of the Ministry, Percy questions the life he has built for himself.
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 10/23/06 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

*small sigh* Nan, you’re not making this easy for us. This is probably my favourite story from the SSSSS, but it’s proving to be very difficult to review. I think it’s like Leslie said – every single line is beautiful, so how on earth am I supposed to pick out a few to comment on? But I’ll do my best. =)

First off, I’m delighted that you chose a canon pairing (or what used to be one, at least). Some might think this is not so important, or that canon pairings are generally boring, but I think that by writing Percy/Penelope you prove that the pairing doesn’t have to be scandalous or rare to make the story great. That said, I don’t think the pairing is all too important here, but that the greatness of the story has everything to do with your magnificent use of language.

In a way, this is a character study of Percy Weasley. I think it’s fantastic how you manage to show us important part of his life, but without telling us how to feel. I especially appreciated that you showed us what Percy thought of his brothers. The first words about Bill and Charlie:

Charlie and Bill lived in an in-between world of golden days and peaceful nights. Though Bill was taller than his mother and Charlie’s voice was beginning to break, they still wrestled in the yard and chased each other around the kitchen table and unashamedly made themselves sick eating apples from the orchard at the bottom of the hill.

- they leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. In canon we have come to know some things about the adult Bill and Charlie, and I think that most of us are very fond of them. Your picture of them as young boys match canon perfectly, like, how should I say… well, just boys. “Normal”, relaxed and simple boys who will grow into sensible men. Percy, in your story, becomes their opposite, thoughtful and complicated.

When Bill came to dinner that night his face was smudged. There was a secret quivering at the corner of his lips, and Percy thought that this, perhaps, was how one became a grown up.

- this is just so precious. I can see the image of Bill in my mind and it is wonderfully clear, but what’s more important is Percy’s reflection. Yes, definitely some of my favourite lines.

These three parts:

Their kiss then was something new and unfamiliar and extraordinary, a shared moment in which they discovered each other.

She is soft and sweet and honest as a child, and he wonders how she managed to escape the empty façade of the adult world.

…her body so different — golden, dark, mysterious, beautiful — from his own.

- oh, Nan, I love what you have done with the adjectives there. You know what they say, never to overuse adjectives and adverbs, to limit them to three, preferably four, per sentence. But in the lines above – they work. And not only do they work, they make for something very, very special, matching the rhythm and flow of the rest of the text perfectly. Bravo!

“Let’s go home,” Penelope says, and the taste of forgiveness is apple-sweet upon his lips.

A spot-on ending. We all know when a chapter or story is about to end, and all of us have expectations on the wrapping up, and we are always more or less satisfied with it. I often worry a little when I read something great, that the ending will not be good enough to match it. But not this time. For some reason I knew that this story would be complete, perfect, and I was right. There are three glowing words in that last line – “home”, “forgiveness” and “apple-sweet”. All three connect to the whole story, tying it up and leaving me breathless.

[Note: This is where my critique would have been, had I had any. As it is – sorry, Nan, all you get is gushing.]

I thought I should tell you that this one-shot was what finally made me go and read A Road of Shattered Glass. I had thought about doing that for a while, having heard so many great things about it, but the ballet part held me back; I have a very troublesome relationship with dancing. But after Where Light and Shadow Meet I would not have cared if the story was about Umbridge getting her pedicure – I just had to read more of your writing. Believe me when I say this, Nan, because your language and style are extraordinary. Reading your work is like reading something by a published author. Or, lol, perhaps that wasn’t a good comparison seeing with all the crap that’s been published. No, it’s rather like… ha, I don’t even know what, but like reading something by one of my favourite authors. After reading your stories I felt like I had strolled around in the library, tripped upon an unexpected gem and would not be happy if I couldn’t keep on reading the author’s words forever.

So, yes, that is me saying that you should write, Nan, longer and more often. I don’t care what you write about, because I’ll read it all. =)

Author's Response: This story actually started with the idea of BIll kissing a girl in the orchard surrounded by apples, and it grew into the idea of someone watching Bill kiss the girl, which was the origin of the entire section on Bill and Charlie. I wanted to show something about innocence and innocence lost, and Bill and Charlie stood for the innocence. It was probably my favorite part in the story, so I\'m really glad you liked it. I usually have very conflicted feelings about my stories, hovering between affection (because I wrote it) and dislike (because of all the faults). This story is perhaps the only thing of everything I\'ve written that I am really confident about - I can say unashamedly that i am proud of it. While I was writing it I found a rhythm that I usually have to struggle very hard to produce artificially, and it flowed in a way I have never had a story flow before. I value your opinion very highly, and I can\'t say how happy your compliments make me. Thank you!

The Man from Adian Avenue by Aelan Greenleaf

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: There is a strange, emerald-eyed man who lives on the corner of Adian Avenue, forever alone and anonymous. That is, however, until a young boy on the cusp of entering the magical world visits him and reveals, for a time, the true secret of the hermit of Adian Avenue. [one-shot]
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 10/28/07 Title: Chapter 1: The Man from Adian Avenue

*grins* Oh, I love this. This is why I read fanfic – so that once in a while, I will stumble over a gem like this one.

I’m not sure of where to begin. This is an exquisite piece, and I’m afraid that the only criticism I could provide would be to check some typos and missing blank spaces, but I won’t waste your time with that. If you wanted to correct such tiny details, I’m sure that lots of good betas would be willing to work with the kind of story you have here. When randomly browsing through categories I have learned not to expect too much – and then this appears, and it’s pure quality.

Well, let’s begin with your language. I glanced at your profile and there you tell us that your first language actually is French – well, then I can only compliment you all the more for having, and making such spectacular use of, such an extensive vocabulary. You write with an incredible flow and I didn’t spot a single sentence that didn’t merge seamlessly with the next. Reading this was almost like listening to a piece of instrumental music; the basic tones are so excellent that a song, a story, is almost unnecessary.

That said – I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on this story! It’s simple, but in a good sense. Some authors might have been tempted to go into lengthy explanations about why Harry has been cut off from the magical world, but you just let us wonder, and I will confess that I’m mightily intrigued! :) Instead, you not only focus on Malcolm Talbot (what a well-picked name, by the way), but you actually tell the story from his point of view, giving us a very interesting picture of Harry.

Ah, your descriptions, of both characters and settings – I feel like I could go on reading them forever. For my taste, you provide the perfect amount of detail to paint a shiny picture of scenery and emotion. You never overdo it, but manage to let me see, feel, and be a part of what you’re writing.

The ending is surprisingly well done, too. Not that I didn’t expect it to be good, but it can be difficult to pull off a satisfying ending to something like this. But you’ve put Malcolm on the Hogwart’s Express, excited as he should be and with a new-found friend next to him. Sort of a full circle there, and it’s a nice feeling. That is, until you let Malcolm learn what has happened to Harry – but not us! It’s frustrating, it’s mysterious, I’m longing to know, and yet the story feels finished and complete. I’m not sure how you do it; I might have to read over your story a few more times, but in an case it’s very, very well done.

Now, there’s nothing left for me to say but thank you – thank you for sharing such a lovely piece of fanfiction!

When The Church Bells Ring by TheVanishingAct

Rated: 3rd-5th Years • Past Featured Story
Summary: What no one else could do, she will, when the church bells ring.

Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 09/22/06 Title: Chapter 1: One-Shot

*stares at Patrick*

You… You… OMG! Teh brilliance!

*mumbles incomprehensible words of admiration, and beats keys at random, then erases, and repeats*

Where do I begin? Yes, yes, I know exactly where to begin. Do you know what this reminds me of? The style, I mean? There is something decidedly Seren-ish about it. Now, I haven’t read near enough of her work to be allowed to say that, but it was what I felt and thought when I read it. And in case it would be at all unclear – that is some mighty praise. ;)

When the church bells ring, it is a sign that service has started in the abbey nestled in the Scottish Highlands.

I love it from the first line. Yes, perhaps the thought of Scottish Highlands has something to do with my attraction to this line, but I adore your choice of verb - nestled. Really, you could have let this one-shot happen anywhere, but by placing it in the Scottish Highlands you instantly give it a special atmosphere, a special scent to the air my mind pictures. Also, I think the title of the story is very well used there, already in the first proper line.

She taps her fingers on the table as if she is nervous, but she knows she needn’t worry. The Devil has no power there.

Still, she bites her lip.

*ogles at her own mental image* I can see it so well! Oh, you’ve picked the perfect words for triggering the paintbrushes of my mind.

He has lost his pride, dignity, and stature. His arrogance, she notes, has not quite left him yet.

*shakes head* You do NOT need anyone to teach you the ways of Lucius. I know that I have developed a tendency to see him as a good guy; well, not exactly “good”, but at least a lot less icy-hearted than my original canon image was. Here, you manage to bring the complete devil back before my eyes, completely believable. And what is even more amazing, you still allow him to love Siobhan (which, btw, was entirely OMG*DIES*AHH!SONOTEXPECTED!-inducing), still allow him to be human enough to almost pity. Gah. Amazing job.

He leans back, the chair creaking as if a thousand troubles had found themselves being supported by the intricately designed back. She notes, again, that this is not just her imagination.

I did not just quote the very next lines there, did I? If so, it’s your fault, not mine. ;) Anyway, this was just delicious. *nibbles words*

Okay, the whole sequence from “You think of it as a game --” to “And now you expect me to show the mercy that only God can bestow.” - it’s… (Can you tell I’m running out of adjectives and adverbs here?) It’s bone chilling. I read it out loud to myself, and the rhythm of the words is fantastic.

There are so few pureblood families left in the world, and it’s because you cannot contain your bloodlust!

Excellent work with the words “pureblood” and “bloodlust” there!

“How a person with so much sin and ice in their heart is capable of love is uncomprehensible.”

But you, Mr Author, does tell us that he is capable of love. (Or loving?) And then it’s true. I’m back at the subject of Lucius again. I admire Jenna because she has turned him into something more than just a killer or a sexy Slytherin man. And now you do the same thing here, and I’m just in awe. An extra spoonful of Tiramisu to you for including the word “sin”, of course. :)

She stands strong, for she has one to guide her, to make her bold in the light of fire.

This is my very favourite line, especially the last bit of it. It’s so poetic, so full of emotion, determination and faith. “…to make her bold in the light of fire.” – I want to quote it, iconise it, banner it, print t-shirts with it on and wear it always. *loves*

I found a couple of things I’m going to bother you about. :)

- Few wizards even dare test its limits. Only one cloaked wizard does not rush out of the forest…

You’ve done a great job with intentional repetitions in this one-shot, but here it doesn’t seem intentional and then it annoys my over-sensitive brain at once. I think that the second “wizard” could simply be replaced with “man”, or “figure”, because the fact that he’s wearing a cloak instantly tells all HP people that it’s a wizard you mean.

- …somewhere over to the left of one particularly menacing Death Eater.

She slumped in a ditch and was feigning death. She watched one particularly menacing Death Eater…

I’m not sure what your intentions were here, with “one particularly menacing Death Eater”? I love the phrase, but I’m not sure that it works if repeated this way. What do you think?

- “You killed her. You never got her to a Healer, you never saw that she would be okay….”

There’s a small formatting mistake there at the end – it should be three dots instead of four. Also, I’m not entirely comfortable with the word “okay”. It doesn’t sound as “Lucius” as his other words do. Perhaps something like “cared for” or “get help”, or if you didn’t have “Healer” earlier on in the sentence, “healed” would have looked good at the end. Just something to think about. :)

Now I’ve got some more general comments for you, m’dear. To begin with: the chess references. They are so well used, and tie all the moves together in the last part of the story. As you have probably figured out by now, I know shag all about religion (shame on the Viking), and have probably missed a bunch of cleverly inserted references here, but that doesn’t matter. The chess parts are more than enough for any reader.

When I read, I reacted on how Cho uses Lucius’ first name. At first I was going to point this out and ask if it was really appropriate, but then… you know, it didn’t feel wrong. I mentally tried to insert “Mr Malfoy” there, and almost snorted at it. By using “Lucius”, you imply that they know each other – as enemies or as something else (But she keeps her enemy closer.), and my imagination is allowed to run wild. And wild and far it runs. ;)

The ending, of course, is superb. For obvious reasons I knew before I started to read that the woman in question was Cho, but the readers who don’t know this will undoubtedly be surprised at the last line. You really do have a thing for giving credit to the HP women whom some look down on, don’t you? *chuckle*

I know I have quoted a lot of stuff above, but really, this piece is finest in its entirety, without being chopped up and analysed. The overall impression is stunning, and shows both what a great writer you are now, and how much potential you have.

*bows to her first mate, and adds story to favourites*

Author's Response: O.O You. YOU LEFT ME FABULOUS REVIEW OMG I HEARTS IT. It took me a billion tries until I got Lucius\' character right, and I looked at Sins as a reference, but OMG thank you for the MASSIVE compliment about likening my style to Seren\'s. That\'s like comparing an art student to being the next Leonardo, or a music student to Mozart. OMG ANNA, total love for you and your amazing review. *hug* [I also fixed everything you suggested :)]

Noir House by electronicquillster

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Isabelle felt a chill run down her spine and whipped her head to the left, looking at the mirror in the hallway. She could’ve sworn...

A young woman is employed as a governess in a very daunting house: The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. (Orion Black/OC)

Written for Anna Fantasium as part of the SPEW Spooky Story Exchange.
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 11/26/06 Title: Chapter 1: One-Shot

Any character’s loose resemblance to persons living, dead, or in SPEW is entirely intentional but not quite accurate.


Okay, to actually begin this review – Mar, those two first paragraphs are simply amazing. I would usually say that characterisation, dialogue and development in scenes are the best features of your writing, but here you prove that you have some MAD description and mood creation SKILLZ!

The man had been questioning her for a short while, and she was ready to be done for better or worse.

- I love you introduce your new OC, Isabelle, at once. And not just by putting here in the scene, but also by showing us how she thinks, what she wants and how she reacts.

“He is a strong-willed young boy and very bright. He may not like you. Regulus is nine and also very bright. He is quiet and he’ll try not to like you until Sirius does.”

- it feels a bit superfluous telling you that your description of Sirius and Regulus is spot-on. But, yes, it definitely is. And there is of course your interpretation of what they were like as youngsters, and I think it is very convincing indeed and fits well together with what we know from canon. Yay!

Oh! A question before I continue – does Orion care about the purity of Isabelle’s blood? Because you didn’t bring it up in the first scene, so I’m curious whether Orion already asked, or if he found out about that before he even contacted her for an interview, or if he really doesn’t care?

Neither Orion nor Isabelle noticed the eerie flutter of the drapes as they passed.

- *shudder* Anyone who has read the HP books will know what drapes you refer to here. But the word ‘drapes’ also made me think of veils… and of course, the veil, that would one day lead to Sirius’ death… You create some seriously scary association there, my dear.

Oh, and I must mention that I love how you’ve included the detail of the missing quills! It’s so traditionally ghost story-ish, yet it’s wizardy and something I can personally relate to, being addicted to pens.

And then, speaking of me - I AM IN THE STORY!!! :D And so are Aska and Sirius, and Teddy even! Squee!

“Why not?” her mentor cried. “Theodore and I met in the most unexpected of places. And Orion Black is not a balding fool.”

- *giggles* I just love this. Anne is encouraging her to something scandalous, and I adore the description ‘not a balding fool’.

I really appreciate how you made the first scene with Sirius and Regulus in to be something else than their first meeting with Isabelle. If you had done that, you would mostly have been repeating yourself. As readers we’ve already had an introduction and a first impression of her, and the boys have also been introduced through their father’s words. And YAY, do I love it that you included French on their curriculum and in the fic!

“You’ve sent me a formal invitation to your Summer Solstice Masquerade?”

- I simply LOVE that you chose to write a Summer Solstice Masquerade! And much laughter at Orion for sending a formal invitation to her.

“Make sure you send your reservation back promptly.”

- *giggle* Yes, because it would of course be very inconvenient to say yes or no in person whenever they happen to bump into each other, wouldn’t it?

In the next part of the story, you have mixed the excitement about the Masquerade with Isabelle’s fear and worried about the happenings in the house in a very effective way. You could have focused more on either of them if you wanted to, but I think the brilliance is in the mixture of feelings you’ve created here.

“I need you.”

- O.O

Was he really being drawn to this young governess? He was so much older than her.

- Oh, I ADORE Orion for asking himself this. One would think that it’s not unusual for British pure-blood wizards to wed younger women or have affairs with them, and it would have been so easy for your interpretation of Orion to just take it for granted, but here he is actually thinking about whether it’s really possible, and even if it might be wrong.

The walls were covered with honeysuckle, enchanted to grow and bloom before its audience throughout the night, giving off the most delicious, sweet scent.

- *is a description whore and licks lips greedily*

Instead of quoting the whole thing (especially the Orion/Isabelle parts) of the Masquerade and putting a great big ‘squeee’ after it, I’m just going to say at once that I think it is brilliantly written and completely captivating.

Isabelle, Sirius and Regulus came tumbling into the house, eager to get out of the heavy rain, but laughing all the same.

This is one of my favourite lines of the story, actually. You don’t tell, but show how Isabelle and the Black boys have gotten close. And that is, of course, love.

There was a smattering of blood on the mirror, but she closed her eyes quickly, not allowing herself to read whatever morbid message was scrawled there.

- Ma-ar! Don’t do that! What did the morbid message say, what did it say?!

He wouldn’t leave the house, either; all Black heirs were bound to the house.

- Firstly – HA! You have no idea how wrong you are, mister Black!! And secondly – awww, poor, dear Orion! Yes, perhaps he is bound to the house, and perhaps it’s hard but not impossible to break away, but surely it must be worth it.

She’d had her scores of men that hadn’t been more than sex, and he’d had his one woman who had been so much more.

- *deep breath* Oooh, Mar love, that ending was perfect! And so… *SIGH* Poor Orion/Isabelle! *hearts ache a little*

And then there was one single little error that I found:

She could’ve sworn...but it was only the two of them, no one else.

– There should be a blank space after the ellipses there.

Mar, this story is truly wonderful. When I wrote the prompt I did not even have the Black family in mind, but I was sooo surprised and pleased when I began to read this and figured out who it would be about. And Isabelle is just wonderful – as a character of your creation, and as a person in the fic.

So, once again – THANK YOU!

An Irreplaceable Gift by Lurid

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: It's Christmas, and Colin has done something awful to Harry Potter. Suffice to say, he's feeling horrible and would like to crawl into a ball and spend the Holiday Season with his head between his knees.

Harry was his idol... Colin finds out now, that to 'idolise' someone is dangerous - very dangerous indeed. Colin is squirming with guilt, until such times as it will consume him...

Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 12/29/06 Title: Chapter 1: An Apology

Wow, Steph! I don’t know what I was expecting from this story after your words, but certainly not this. You’ve talked about the story as if it would gross people out, but clearly that was just your way of being modest. Because, Steph, this is not gross, it’s beautiful.

Still, I’m going to begin the actual review with shaking my finger at you. ;) There are very few things to remark on about this fic, but formatting-wise, I think it would look better if you put a few blank lines between the A/N and the beginning of the story. As it is now, they kind of float together and there is no pause, no chance to settle down and take a breath, before the story starts.

Already in the second line I’ve found something I want to praise:

It balances on the side of his desk usually, but today it has decided to fall.

I adore what you have done with word order here. I think most authors would write Usually, it balances etc, or It usually balances etc, but you create a much nicer rhythm and pace to your story by putting ‘usually’ at the end of the clause. Lovely!

You play very nicely with the temperatures; one moment it is hot and sweaty and Colin is angry, and the next it’s absolutely freezing and he is in despair. This returns later in the story when he is walking through London and then enters the pub. It is such a sharp contrast and it keeps your readers alert and always aware of what is going on.

It is interesting with little stories like this one, how they can make you look at a character in a whole new way. You really got to me with these two sentences:

He is haggard, old inside. Too many thoughts have worn down his body until he really just feels like an empty, guilty shell inside.

I have never connected the word ‘old’ with Colin before. Even when I’ve pictured him as an adult he has always had something youthful about him, something very energetic and enthusiastic. Seeing him like this is something new, but it also makes sense because I believe that everyone feels like that sometimes. You’ve developed Colin’s character further than I ever could have, Steph.

He is constantly thinking, will this action discount me from ever being loved by Harry? If I do this, will Harry hate me?

Oooh. I really adore this part. I think you’ve captured a very real emotion and realistic thoughts here. I know it, because I always think it about people I admire and/or love. Excellent detail.

And then it gets a little difficult. I see that you have chosen not to put a line between the paragraph containing the last quote and the one beginning with He doesn’t know how he comes to be on the streets of London. In one way it works, because you keep the reader in Colin’s mind and we focus on him rather than the surroundings. But on the other hand, it feels like a jump between two scenes, and then it would work better with some kind of separator, like a line or a bigger blank space.

The grass is wet, heavy with the evening dew, and the street lights flicker on and off ominously as he nears the pub that he used to call his home.

Guh. That sentence is pure description lust. Go Steph!

About this:

His feet walk numbly without assistance from his brain; it’s too far away.

*giggle* Perhaps it’s just me, but I’d like to suggest that you change ‘brain’ to ‘mind’ there. Because when you say that his brain is too far away, one could actually interpret it as though his brain was too far away from his head/body. (Insert shocked eyes here.) If you use ‘mind’, it’s less confusing for people like me. Or, alternatively, you could change ‘it’s too far away’ to something like ‘his thoughts distracted with guilt’.

Tomorrow, he decides, will be the day he goes to Harry and asks for his forgiveness, and possibly, his love.

That line simply made me go ‘Oooh!’ So, I’m sorry, Steph, but you completely failed to gross me out, but instead you made me hope for Colin.

Okay. Having said that, I’m also surprisingly relieved when Colin has his little I-don’t-love-Harry epiphany. It’s just, you know, so much easier that way. It’s easier than having to make a Harry/Colin relationship plausible, and easier than having Harry reject Colin. So really – clever move there, Steph!

But then you confuse me again. Firstly, I couldn’t really see that Colin would give Harry a hug if they don’t share more than their time on Hogwarts that we know from canon. But perhaps they know each other from after they both left school? And then you have Colin chatting merrily in one paragraph, and in the next (which appears to be in the same scene) he hangs his head in disappointment. For the story to make more sense, I would suggest that you skip the hug and the chat about the Nargle infestation. Instead you could just have Colin approach Harry, perhaps say his name to get his attention, and then follow up with the forgiveness-in-Harry’s-eyes bit. Because, I really like the very last lines, where you have managed to describe Colin’s new feelings so well.

Before I finish the review I would also like to compliment you on how you have used Colin’s camera in the fic. It’s such an essential part of his character, and you’ve managed to make it his constant companion in a way that all photographing readers will be able to relate to. Very well done!

Overall, Steph, this is a lovely little piece. Your language is stunning, and you have such a lovely flow to it. Keep it coming, girl! =)

Author's Response: OH, poo. Way to ruin my fun!

Anna. Anna. Anna. *gapes* You are so completely wonderful, I\'m typing with two hands, and have just taken pictures of SQUEES.

I think the choppiness of the scenes is because I wrote the end at the start as food for thought. The feelings/thoughts changed as the story progressed, and you\'ll find in places that I may have said what I intended to be put across twice, but in a different way. I really need to stop doing that. It\'s those little imperfections I think that make me want to go in an edit it all away.

Heee. Do you know how many times I wrote \'Brian\' instead of brain? But indeed, I shall change that to mind. Always happy for a SPEW opinion!

He is constantly thinking, will this action discount me from ever being loved by Harry? If I do this, will Harry hate me? - I particulary love this line. it\'s perhaps my most dwelled on line, so I\'m very glad you pointed it out. I think, when talking or writing to people that we want to admire or love us, we tend to be hesitant to express what we really feel, and I\'m so glad that I got this across.

I\'ll work on this. This... makes me so incredibly happy, Anna, because it makes me feel like I\'ve written something finally worthy of a good review =) I will definitely edit this, and heed your advice. Oh! *hugs you*

Happiness is a curious thing by Barnabus_the_Barmy7

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: We experience four stages of the second war, in the eyes of women who experience happiness, love, worry and grief.
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 01/29/07 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi Barnabus_the_Barmy7!

It’s a nice little one-shot you have here, and I thought I would leave a review. I like your basic idea for the story, to tell it in four parts, from the point of view of four women we already know. Each quarter of the story is important, and I think you have done a good job of keeping the characters true to JKR’s work. However, if you were ever to revise this story, I think you could win a lot by trying to add a bit to each piece. There isn’t anything technically wrong with your writing, but some of your sentences are a little short and it gives the story a rushed feeling. I would advice you to try and slow it down a bit – let us know a bit more about what the characters think, how they feel, what their facial expression look like, if they are making gestures and what the atmosphere is like. Try to vary your words as much as possible and watch out for repetitions. One of my favourite things about writing is to sit and ponder on different words, to find ones that sound nice together, or just appealing in general. Every story you write should be worthy of the most wonderful words you know.

I see that you have decided to start each piece of the story with the name of the person it focuses on. I actually think that you can remove this, because it is still quite obvious who is the man character of each part, and adding the name before the text then is, I think, to be a bit too obvious. It doesn’t hurt to let your readers guess a little, in fact, it can actually help to get someone’s attention. ;)

Watch out for typos and misspellings. For example, you have written “Delacor” as Fleur’s surname, where it ought to be “Delacour”. In Hermione’s part of the story, you have written “alter” instead of “altar”. Have you considered getting a beta reader for your stories? Even though your writing is good, a beta can give you a lot of help by proofreading your work. Check the MNFF forums, and especially keep your eyes open for a PI (Perfect Imagination) accredited one.

My favourite part of your story is the surprise at the end. Because you started out by writing three weddings, I thought for sure that the last part would be a wedding between Harry and Ginny. But it wasn’t! And I thought that was so good of you, to change the direction there. A lot of authors might have fallen for the temptation to make this a story with a completely happy ending, but by having Ginny visit the graveyard instead of attending her own wedding, you give the story a much more solemn and thoughtful feel, and the hopeful mood you try to create at the end works much better than if the rest of the story had been altogether happy.

Thank you for a pleasant read, and do keep writing!

Author's Response: Thanks for reviewing Fantasium, your critisicms were welcome and your praise even more so ;-D! Although I see where you are coming from when you talk about the short sentences, I did alot of that on purpose to give the fic a simplistic quality that I thought suited it. However if I was to revise this story I would certainly take into account what you have said. I apologize for any spelling errors I make, but when I write I have a tendancy to spell phonetically because I am wrapped up in my own little world! sorry about that. I am glad you liked my twist at the end of the fic, and that you thought the piece of writing as a whole was enjoyable. Thanks again~ ash

Comparisons by Meryl Montgomery

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Two girls reflect on a friendship based upon labels and titles. [OneShot]

Don't Read and Run, leave a review! =D
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 03/25/07 Title: Chapter 1: The Friendship

Ooh, look at this! How unexpected and lovely!

To begin with, your writing style is very tidy and easy to enjoy. It seems that you use mostly short sentences and don't bother with using pretty words just for the sake of it - and I like that combination. It's clear that you had a purpose with this story, a message, and I want to congratulate you on conveying it so well.

You have created two believable original characters, which is not an easy thing to begin with. But what is even more special is that with Jacqueline you have created a character who would be called a Mary Sue by many people, but through your writing she becomes real.

Regan is excellent with her sarcasm, and the sensitive side she’s hiding. You know, she reminds me a great deal of Tonks, both from the books and from Ennalee’s fic A Road of Shattered Glass where a young Tonks is one of the main characters. I think you’ve stirred together a perfect mix of Tonks and Lupin, and you manage to show us so much of her through relatively little text.

The next thing that impressed me is how your style is different for the two parts of the story. It is like you, as a person, can identify yourself with both of your characters, and by putting a little bit of yourself in both the parts you give such life to the story.

A seventy-six year old had keeled over at the sight of her in Diagon Alley once. They pretended it was a coincidence, but Regan knew better.

- I simply had to quote those lines, because I actually snorted in my teacup when I read it.

No one knew what kind of rebellious thrill she experienced when Regan referred to her as 'Jack'. It was silly, how much a name could mean to her. Especially a boy's name, but it did. Always. Because that one name made her feel more human. More relatable. It was nice.

- This is my other absolute favourite part. That ‘rebellious thrill’ is something I long to see in every female character, no matter what causes it.

I guess some people would say that Jacqueline and Regan wouldn’t be likely to be best friends, but I disagree. Not only are their families close, but two people don’t have to be alike to be friends. And yes, I believe that it’s possible to feel the way they do about your best friend. Even if you love your friend, it can be hard to be compared with them. It’s the same thing with sisters and brothers, really.

I’m afraid that this review isn’t very constructive or helpful at all, and I’m now going to finish it in the same horrible fashion. I really like the end of this one-shot. You give us the two sides of the story, and that’s it. You don’t offer a solution or conclusion, but only the facts. To me it seems that you want to say that yes, perhaps it’s possible to overcome these comparisons in specific cases, but that’s not the point. The point is that this happens all the time, and is a real problem.

Wonderful work, Kate. I’m definitely going to check out more of your writing at some point. =)

7 Years by callmehermione

Rated: Professors •
Summary: Taking place over the course of seven years, this story is an exploration, from their first encounter onward, of the relationship Ginny and Draco develop and grow to understand. Written for SPEW007.
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 02/25/07 Title: Chapter 1: Asphyxiate

*smiles* Delaney, Delaney. Do you know what you do? You tell your stories with such confidence. The first two paragraphs of this SPEW 007 story are not just a thoughtful introduction, but you telling your readers the way things are. And not for a second do I think to question that. It’s something that brave authors do, those who really know what they want to say. They say, “Look, this is how it is, how it works.”, and readers nod and go “Okay.” – not because they’re ignorant or gullible, but because what the author says makes sense.

(Did that make sense? *cough*)

You’ve done a good job of weaving your first chapter into canon, and admire that when it comes to non-canon pairings, especially a complicated one like Draco/Ginny. It would be so much easier for you to turn things completely AU, but no, you settle the anchor of your story firmly in canon, and can I only hope that your following chapters will continue in the same style. It takes skill, to find the little lapses where you might fit these moments in without actually affecting the canon turn of things.

You put Harry in a very prominent position, just like he would have been in Ginny’s life then, which I also appreciate. Not because I happen to like Harry/Ginny, but because it makes it more real. I don’t think it would be that difficult to write a decent Draco/Ginny story, but to me the whole point of the relationship is the fact that they have so many obstacles to overcome before they could be together. And in this chapter you don’t force them closer to each other like many authors might have been tempted to do (or at least so I imagine), but you cleverly set up an encounter. Perhaps some people will read this and think, “Eh, so what?”, but I can simply feel that this will matter later on, and that you’ve got things in store for us.

There isn’t a lot to suggest improvements on here, but I’ll point out this sentence:

A seemingly endless room had presented itself, full of what looked like simply ‘things’.

Hm. The ‘simply’ there at the end looks a little out of place. Put right in front of ‘tings’ like that it seems like it’s supposed to describe that word, when it is in fact meant to describe ‘looked’. I would suggest that you write either ‘…full of what simply looked like ‘things’, or ‘…full of what looked simply like ‘things’.

The very last paragraph is delicious and the end sentence had me nodding at my screen, agreeing quietly. To miss something that she really doesn’t want to know or feel again – a very powerful mix of emotions you give to her there, Delaney. This is all very well-written, and I hope you will have as much success with the coming six chapters.

Author's Response: I think I thanked you for this in some other venue, but seriously, THANK you. I go back to this review all the time when I want to remember this story (and continue it), and I appreciate your commentary very much. I also fixed the bit you suggested changing, in case you were curious.

Comfort Me by joybelle423

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: HBP missing moment. While Harry was off talking with Scrimgeour after Dumbledore's funeral, what were Ron and Hermione doing?
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 02/25/07 Title: Chapter 1: Comfort Me

Well, Abigail, what do you know? Here was I, browsing through the Recently Updated stories to find something to review, and what did I find? This!

I should start by telling you that I used to be very fond of Ron/Hermione. Well, I suppose I still am, but it has been months since I last browsed that category. But you’ve made me remember why I like this pairing so much. I also like the ‘missing moment’ concept, because since the time in which the author can set an event is limited, and so they seem to put more thought and feeling into that very moment – just as you have done here. Every step of the scene seems to be carefully thought-through, and there is nothing about Ron’s or Hermione’s character that contradicts what we have learned from canon. Your personal style is quite lovely, and the only criticism I’ve got to offer is some boring nit-picking. Well, I shall try to get it over and done with quickly. =)

I’m not sure about your use of ellipses. You seem to always have a blank space before them, even when they mark the end of a sentence. I was taught that they should always follow straight after the last word, without any blank space. But perhaps both are correct?

‘When did you get so smart, Ron Weasley?’ she asked, her mouth curving into a trembling smile.

It seems to me that you have aimed to write your story with British spelling, judging from the fact that you spell ‘criticising’ with an s instead of a z. And while I know that it’s common to use ‘smart’ with the meaning of ‘clever’ in England these days, I think that Hermione is very aware of her language and word choice and that she would probably use ‘clever’ rather than ‘smart’.

You’re fulfilling your own prophesy that way.

At first I thought this was another issue of British/American spelling, but then I realised that ‘prophesy’ with the s is the verb, while ‘prophecy’ with a c is the noun. I’m assuming that you meant to use the noun here?

‘I’m not sure, exactly,’ she said, dodging the question.

‘Oh, yes, you do,’ he countered, pulling away so he could see her face.

Ron’s ‘you do’, doesn’t really make sense here. Hermione says that she’s not sure, so a natural response from Ron would have been ‘yes, you are’. But if Hermione had said ‘I don’t know, exactly’, then Ron’s reply would have worked. I suggest you change either of the lines.

Okay, now I’m done with the boring stuff. Let me point out a couple of things that I really liked:

He knew he wasn’t brave, and he knew that anything he said to her, she’d probably find an argument against, anyway.

I would perhaps consider removing the first two commas from this sentence, but the actual content is absolutely wonderful. You’ve managed to show us Ron’s self-doubt and his complicated relationship with Hermione, all in one sentence. Great work!

Her hair tickled his arm, but he didn’t mind. It was her hair.

This is what love is all about, isn’t it? The things that can annoy you, or even drive you crazy, when other people do it, can be the things you love most about the person you belong with. I love how you have included this, because the tickling of hair on an arm is the sort of thing that not all authors seem to have time for in their fics, but that I think gives a story flavour and originality.

All in all, this is a well-written little story, and I can see why Mar has such great things to say about you. I hope I will be sensible enough to take the time and read more of your writing in the future. =)

Author's Response: Anna, I am so thrilled and honoured to get a review from you! Thank you so much -- especially for the nit-picking. We authors never catch our own mistakes, do we? You are right about the word \"prophesy\" -- I actually didn\'t know about the different spellings/meanings. And you\'re also right about that dialogue. I was really tired when I wrote that scene, and I think I cut some dialogue and never checked it!

Your review has brightened my whole day, Anna. *hugs* Thank you! I admit I was worried about the believability and characterisation. It\'s so wonderful to hear that it worked!

~ Abigail

Where Luna Lives by Ennalee

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Sometimes Luna remembers the explosion of sound against her eardrums, the blast of hot air (throat raw, the insides of her nostrils burning), the shower of tiny sparks like fireflies, but flaming. Sometimes she just remembers running through the damp grass, feet bare, her mother dancing on the lawn before her, white dress and shining hair, singing.
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 03/25/07 Title: Chapter 1: Where Luna Lives

Nan, dearest Nan. Your stories are always so difficult to review, because I can’t ever find anything to critique about them. Not even a single typo to point out! But I shall do my best anyway, because it depresses me to see a beautiful piece like this with only four reviews.

It seems that you have a thorough understanding for every character you work with, and Luna is no exception. I have never seen anything written from her point of view that made so much sense. She is a bit of an enigma in the world of Harry Potter, and, if one wants to put it that way, a real oddity. But here, you show us that to Luna, it is the rest of the world that is odd, that doesn’t make sense. But there is always more to your writing, and you make me feel not only for Luna, but for every ‘unusual’ and eccentric person out there who isn’t accepted.

Having read quite a bit of your writing, I know that you have a real knack for repetitions and patterns, and I’m glad to see that you use this gift well in this fic as well. Both the returning ‘Luna lives in’ and the size/space concepts are genius, and as another reviewer said, it gives that poetic flow to your writing. Well, that, combined with your excellent descriptions and word choices.

She is happy because sometimes her mother looks up from the potions and smiles at her, a special smile,

- I think this is wonderful. I can see Luna’s mum before my inner eye, deeply concentrated at her work, but taking a moment to look up from her potions to look at her daughter, to know that she is so loved. And it’s true – little things like that are what matters to a child. Attention and interest, not fancy things or big castles.

Their hands fit together nicely, fingers wrapping around each other like toes wiggling in warm boots that are just the right size of too big, because they’re her father’s, and anything that is her father’s is just the right size for her.

‘just the right size of too big’ – Nan, you make me smile. You really know how to write affection, and true love.

I really like how you mentioned the names of her friends throughout the story; it is a nice way of including them without spending paragraph upon paragraph of telling your readers about them.

…even the ghosts have left them.

- Oh, that is so powerful. To a ‘Muggle mind’, ghosts would typically haunt a ruin, but in the Harry Potter stories we have learned that they quite like interacting with people who are still alive. A Hogwarts without ghosts is truly a Hogwarts utterly and completely deserted.

The ending is excellent. We know that Luna is a curious witch, always searching for one unbelievable thing or another. I think it’s a beautiful thought that after looking for the unknown and unseen for so long, she finds the way back to her own home. To herself, I guess.

Nan, you know I will never forgive you if you don’t publish an original novel, right? ;) Wonderful work, dear.

Author's Response: Oh, Anna, do you have any idea how happy your reviews make me? Somehow you seem to have a tendency to pick out the bits of my story that I like best and comment on them. How do you do that? The \"just the right size of too big\" was actually the first thing I wrote in this story, and the rest sort of came out of it. As for the idea that to Luna, it\'s the rest of the world that is odd, that\'s something I was planning to write another story centering on. Very interesting, that you caught it here! An original novel? My goodness, that\'s a tall order. In my dreams, yes. In reality, well, we\'ll see. *hugs*

A Note of Joy by expecto_patronum_this

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Sometimes, the most difficult part of love is accepting you are in it.
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 03/25/07 Title: Chapter 1: A Note of Joy

Beckham! I was out searching for a healthy dose of my Guilty/Pleasure pairing, otherwise known as Harry/Ginny (you know, Harry/Katie being my OTP and all, *cough*), when I stumbled upon this. So now you shall have to endure an Anna-review. =)

To begin with – I like this. Actually, I like it a lot. It’s such a simple scene you have created, and yet so important. Of course, it also helps that you have used an abundance of beautiful details, which I’m an absolute sucker for. You know, the way you tell this story greatly reminds me of Periwinkle-Anna’s style.

The desk she is sitting at seems to sag with an added weight when she comes closer to it, almost as though it can sense the burden she is carrying.

- see? That, there! Detains like that just make the surroundings come to life (not literally, of course, I meant non-fictional), and you paint such a complete and vivid picture in my mind. Well done!

Then the other side of her mind retaliates against the first, like it always does.

- ! Yes, an exclamation mark. It’s for two reasons. One – so that doesn’t just happen in my head? Excellent. Two – what a wonderful way to tell your readers about what’s going on in Ginny’s mind. And the way you compare the two sides of her mind with fighting dogs is, if I may say so, very creative and original.

I think that single word, Harry, had the desired effect on me. It wasn’t that I expected something else, but I was so focused on your Ginny that I had completely forgotten that Harry was also supposed to have his part in all of this. When I read his name, a shiver of excitement rushed up my spine.

And… then I actually did expect something different. I thought for sure that Ginny would begin to write a letter. But no. It’s just the I love you. And that was all that mattered.

Hm. I’m sorry, Beckham, I have no critique or suggestions for improvements to offer you, because there is nothing in this fic that needs correcting, nothing that I would want to change. I also don’t really know how to end my review, because it feels like I want to say something more. Perhaps someone would say that your story seemed short, and perhaps someone would wonder about its purpose. But I think it’s just long enough for what you want to say, and that the purpose is to give us a wonderful, entirely plausible glimpse of Ginny. I have seen a few ‘reunion’ fics around, and although this hasn’t got any Harry/Ginny interaction in it, it has still got some important thoughts of Ginny’s, and the proof (written proof, even) that she really does love Harry.

And to someone on the hunt for guilty pleasure Harry/Ginny, that is all that matters. =)

Author's Response:

Ooh, an Anna!Review! No way!

First off, thanks so much for reviewing in the first place. Secondly - Harry/Ginny is what you consider a guilty pleasure? I find that funny, seeing as most are usually non-canon. ;) Still, to each his own.

However, I am disappointed in your lack of nit-picky comments. Can I do nothing wrong, for you? Jeeze, Anna. That hurts. That hurts a lot. *giggle*

As for the comment on \'purpose\' - thank you a million times over! Lately I\'ve gotten a lot of people in real life commenting on my work saying that, while they enjoyed it, it had no purpose. I was afraid that someone might say the same to this piece, and the fact that you saw a purpose to it - however small - makes me completely ecstatic! If only more people could appreciate the plots and ideas which do not stare them in the face, oh what a world it would be!

In any case, that completely made my day. Thank you again - and again and again. And also for the compliment on Peri-Anna!style. I admire her writing skills very much, and to be compared to her is an honor. :D

Many hugs from the Beckham-department, and I hope to see you in a SPEW chat soonly! xoxo

From the Water's Edge by whittyleah

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: Harry has lost those closest to him and he is drowning in his grief, can anyone help pull him out? One invitation to a dance may help him move on, if he lets himself open up.
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 03/25/07 Title: Chapter 1: One-Shot

Why hello, Leah. I thought I would review one of your stories, and my choice fell on this one.

To begin with, I want to compliment you for picking such an original pairing. Eloise is really an interesting character; someone who has only been mentioned in passing, but who clearly doesn’t live an easy life. It’s wonderful that you chose to have closer look at her person.

The start of the story seems a bit abrupt to me. It is good that you give your readers all of the necessary information, but I would have wanted a little more. Harry is back at school already? Was he allowed some time to heal before he returned? Why did he go back? Did he feel like he owed it to his friends, somehow? And, Ginny was his girlfriend again? All of these questions and more pop up in my head, and it feels like that when so much has happened, a longer introduction might be in place. There is nothing wrong with what you’ve written – I’m just inquisitive and greedy and want more.

When Eloise first appeared I found myself nodding in agreement – I also think of her with a soft, timid voice, and as someone who would easily blush. I’m curious about how she find the courage to ask Harry to the ball, being so shy and all. But my hopelessly romantic mind is telling me that of course it was because she really, really liked him. She probably spent at least a week working up enough courage… *cough* I’m sorry, I’ll stop my pointless speculating right now. ;)

Hm. I thought about this:

“Sure, what is it?” he tried to sound as nice as possible, but he wanted her to leave so he could be alone.

It sounded a little strange in my head. I would either start a new sentence at ‘He tried’, or rewrite it to ‘Sure, what is it?” he asked, trying to sound as nice as possible, although he just wanted her to leave so he could be alone.'

You’ve written Harry just right when he decides to agree to going with her. The more Harry experienced in the books, the more considerate he has become of other people – him taking Luna to Slughorn’s Christmas party is an excellent example of that, I think.

I’m a little hesitant about the whole ‘summer ball’ thing, especially if combined with a memorial service. It seems a little too festive, and McGonagall doesn’t strike me as the type of person who would restart something like that just for fun – I believe she thought the Yule Ball was just a change to interact and for the Hogwarts students to be at their best behaviour. I think a solemn memorial service would seem more proper to McGonagall, don’t you? But, on the other hand, I do realise that it is a good opportunity for Harry and Eloise to get together. But maybe it wouldn’t have had to be a ball? Perhaps a formal dinner? I don’t know, but balls and dances are also rather common in fanfic, and not only do I think, but I know that you, Leah, could have come up with a more original way for Harry and Eloise to meet up. =)

Oh, yes, I wanted to talk about how the other girls hid Eloise’s shoes. That just rings one big Luna bell in my head – remember how people hid her things and she put up notes that they were missing? I’m not saying that this needs to be changed, but perhaps Harry should at least react on it, and think about Luna for a moment? By the way, now I’m curious again, but what about Luna and Neville? We know what have happened to Ron, Hermione and Ginny, but Neville and Luna are also very close to Harry. If they died as well, perhaps Harry should be reminded by it when Eloise tells him of what happened with her shoes? Or, if they are alive, I think it would be great if you mentioned something about how they tried to comfort him, but he just wanted to be alone, or give us a glimpse of them at the ball or the memorial?

“What are some of the things you enjoy, maybe you can figure out what you want to do from that,” she explained.


- ooh, I just thought this was so Harry! And I thought it was very plausible for Harry in the situation you set up – uncommitted, and only wanting to end the conversation, but still polite. I’m not sure what it is, but that point in the dialogue was just perfect to me.

I must confess that I have never been a fan of the breaking/sobbing Harry that appears quite often in fanfic. It just… it’s not Harry to me. It’s not that I think he wouldn’t cry, but I think that even when Harry cries it’s with a certain strength – if that makes sense at all? That said, I really like the general idea of Eloise comforting him. I just don't think it needs to be so dramatic, but that Harry's pain could show through a deep, deep sigh, or some slow tears he tried to fight back at first.

I'm going to go back one step, and look at the paragraphs in which you wrote about Eloise's parents. To me, that is the very best part of your story, because it's so realistic and written as if it was self-experienced. I can relate to it as well, as I have thoughts almost identical to those you give Eloise. Leah, it's just a wonderful piece of writing, and the reason I decided to review this in the first place. =)

The scene on the platform is lovely and nicely written indeed, even if I think it comes a bit soon. I don't question the fact that Harry might be attracted to Eloise, or even that he is thinking about a future with her. But you also stated that Ginny was his girlfriend when he died, and I would imagine that if he was already thinking about sharing his life with someone else, he would also feel a little guilty about it.

It's such a sweet, happy ending you're giving us. Did I ever tell you I was a sucker for happy endings? Well, if not, now you know. ;) This is all very satisfying, and I want to thank you for ending your one-shot like this.

I almost feel like I want to apologise for all the critisism in this review, but it was very well meant. You have a lovely, straightforward style, Leah, and I do enjoy reading your work. Again - thank you!

Author's Response: I am finally leaving a response for this! I actually wrote this for Mar\'s romance class. We had to find rarepair fics and review them. Harry/Eloise was on the list we could choose from, I was intrigued. If we couldn\'t find one of the pairings to review, we could write it, so I did. I wrote this whole thing in just a few hours...so I don\'t see it as my best writing. I am fine with critiques, I wouldn\'t be a mod if I didn\'t like it. It just makes me a better writer. Thank you. Yeah, it is a bit abrupt. I think I need to sit down and add lots to this fic. I was on a deadline when I wrote it. I will keep your critiques and what you wanted to see in the fic in mind when I do! Er...I think I am connected to this fic a lot. That is why I like it. Eloise is a lot like me. Not as goofy, but a lot like me. When she is talking about herself and her past, that is self-experience. That is pretty much my dad. I love happy endings too! :D I had to make it a happy ending, both Eloise and Harry deserved it! Thank you for the review, I think it is longer than my fic. :D Thank you for the ideas as well. *hugs* ~Leah

I Don't by Elissy

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: The one thing that he knew what hurt him the most is the one thing he did. Watching her from afar was the only way he knew to feel close to her.

A Severus/Lily fic.

Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 08/21/07 Title: Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Hi Elissy! I spotted this story in the SPEW Category Patrolling thread over at the forums, and thought that I’d write a review for it. =)

To begin with, it seems that you have a nice, large vocabulary. You make use of it most of the time, though sometimes I think you type a bit too quickly and forget to think about your words. One example of this would be how you quite frequently repeat words in a sentence, such as in: An echoed charm came through the air, and Severus identified it as a drying charm You have a close repetition of “charm” there, but I think that if you would have slowed down a bit, or re-read your own text, you would have picked up on it. A different way of writing that sentence could be: “The echo of a spell reached him through the air, and Severus identified it as a drying charm.” By not repeating the word “charm”, you give a better variation and flow to your text.

I get a feeling that you are really close to writing a fantastic text here, but that you need to think a bit more about what you’re writing. If we look at this sentence:

The thick leaves and shade shadowed him from the glaring afternoon sunshine, as well as the eyes of the other Hogwarts students.

“shade” and “shadowed” are very similar words, there. And by telling us that “thick leaves” are blocking out the sunshine, we already know that Severus is in the shade. But your intentions with the sentence are ever so good – that the leaves can hide him from both the sunlight and the looks of other students. See, if you put it like this: “The thick leaves were protecting him from the glaring afternoon sunshine, as well as eyes of the other Hogwarts students.” – then you escape that repetition completely, and the sentence reads more easily.

I have another example here: Her red hair was slightly damp from splashing and swimming,

- was her hair only “slightly” damp from splashing and swimming? If she had been out of the water for a while I might agree with this, but it seemed in your text that she was still in. I have long hair myself, and if I’m swimming then it’s more than just slightly damp – it’s absolutely soaking. ;) But my point here is that perhaps it would be a good idea for you to visualise the scenes before you a bit more. Try to see it in your own head, what Severus sees. Try to feel it – he must be horribly warm, wearing black robes when it’s warm enough for people to be swimming in the lake?

I don’t quite agree with your characterisation of Lily when she first sees James – I don’t think she would “spit” words at him without being provoked. And it didn’t quite make sense to me when you made her say, "Pity you showed up," she spat. "Because I was just leaving." If Lily was just leaving, why would it be a pity that James showed up?

You told us earlier that Lily was drying something with a charm, so I was very surprised to see her punching her fists into James back when he carried her off. If she had her wand close by, I would have expected her to use it while trying to fight him off. It’s one of my favourite things with writing HP fanfiction, how we have the possibility of including random pieces of magic here and there. Same thing when Sirius threw water at Severus – wouldn’t it have been cool if he had used his wand to soak Severus? And again, when James dragged Severus towards the water, it would have made more sense to me if he had used his wand, skilled a wizard as he supposedly was.

Sirius laughed. "Sorry, Evans. No can do." He shrugged and gave her a mischievous smirk.

- this is an EXCELLENT line of Sirius’! Completely in character - bravo!

"Ah, but Lily, we could just have a little bit of fun," he answered, laughing, leading Severus to the lake and feigning throwing him in.

- In OotP, when Harry talks to Remus and Sirius about what he saw in “Snape’s worst memory”, they tell him that after his parents got together, James stopped messing with Severus when Lily was around. I think that at this point in your story, James would have figured out that throwing Severus into the water would be a bad idea if he wanted to stay in Lily’s good books.

"Look, Mudblood, I don't need your condolences! I could care less about you or your pathetic boyfriend. Now just leave me alone before you make me do something I regret!" he snarled, leaving her standing on the grass blankly.

- Elissy, this is a very, very good piece of Severus Snape. It reminds me of what he said to Lily in “Snape’s worst memory”, but it’s all in your own words. Nice!

I’m aware that I’ve offered quite a lot of critique in this review, but I hope that you feel that it was constructive and helpful. Your style is good and you have an excellent grasp of grammar and spelling; it’s only, as I said earlier, that you have to think a bit more about the words and sentences that come out of your fingertips as you type. Thank you for sharing your story!

Author's Response: Um, wow! I feel like I\'ve been beta\'d all over again. :-P But that\'s a good thing, of course. Thank you for your critique; I really appreciate honesty in reviewers. I can\'t thank you enough for everything you pointed out in this. I\'ll definitely remember it when I write more in the future. :-) Thanks!

Belle by wendelin the wierd

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Bellatrix was pretty, Narcissa was pretty and Andromeda never was anything.

Written for S.P.E.W 007
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 06/24/07 Title: Chapter 1: Belle

Hi Wendelin. How about a SPEW Buddy review? Yes? Okay, then. =)

I find stories like this one – that describe a short moment, with lots of feelings and back-story told through obscure but poetical words – easy to enjoy but hard to review. There isn’t really a lot of “plot” to talk about, but all the more of the atmosphere that you manage to create.

You have done a good job of describing the relationship between the three sisters. I’ve always been curious about Andromeda, and I wonder if she will appear in DH? Of course, she’s Tonks’ mother, but Tonks could just as well have been a random person – why did JRK create a third Black sister? We’ve seen a lot of Narcissa and Bellatrix – but why is there an Andromeda? Her very existence is intriguing, I think. Personally I think of her as a very, very strong woman, who managed to break away from her family and marry a Muggle-born wizard. But perhaps she possessed a great inner strength like you showed us in this one-shot, rather than the strength and courage to stand up to Bellatrix? In any case, I think your Andromeda shows strength.

Now, some nitpicking:

her sisters’ eyes light up in triumph and it s a silent victory.

I think you meant “it is a silent victory”, or “it’s a silent victory”.

and the kind of face that nobody would ever remember and just as well she thinks, she never wants to be remembered.

This sentence is a bit confusing. I think it would flow better if you put a full stop after ‘remember’, and then added something like, “But that’s just as well, she thinks, for she has never wanted to be remembered.”

“It was only Ted,” she slowly tells herself. “and perhaps, that was the way I would have wanted it to be.”

Here I think you meant to put a comma, and not a full stop, after ‘herself’. But I think it would be even better to put a capital ‘A’ at the beginning of the second sentence.

‘Where will you go? You have nowhere left to go to.’

This sounded a little odd to me. By saying “You have nowhere left to go.”, it suggests that Andromeda has tried to escape to other places or something. I think that “You have nowhere else to go.” would sound better. =)

And then a few lines I liked very much:

She opens her mouth to scream at them, to wipe the smug smirks off their faces

I admit it. I’m such a sucker for alliteration, and the “smug smirks” part made me grin.

It’s her long strides and dangerous dagger-like heels and somehow that whole air of always being in a hurry that intimidates Andromeda

Alliteration again! “dangerous dagger-like heels” – sweet! Plus, combined with the “long strides”, it’s an excellent description of Bellatrix. Well done.

The most surprising part of this one-shot, in my opinion, is this line of Narcissa’s: ‘What will I do without you?’ I would have thought that Narcissa would be of the same opinion as Bellatrix – if Andromeda chooses Ted, she’ll be disowned. But here you tell us that Narcissa is going to be a bit lost without Andromeda, and I think that’s wonderful. It makes Narcissa so much more human. And it’s not at all unbelievable – we saw how Bellatrix cared about Narcissa in Spinner’s End, so why wouldn’t Narcissa care about Andromeda?

All in all, this is not a bad one-shot. I think it could be improved with some beta reading for mistakes like the ones I pointed out above, but the tone of the story and general flow of the text are very nice. =)

Author's Response: Spewers and their long, fantastic reviews...*sigh* I didn't even notice these errors when I was proof-reading and it looks as if I am going to be revamping most of my fics soon! Many squishes for pointing these out! Anna, Anna, Anna...you know how much I love thee.

Butterbeer and Beaches by joybelle423

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: It's been two years since Ginny and Harry broke up, and Ginny is now playing Quidditch for the Wimborne Wasps. When her teammate Dan Bristow invites her out for a Butterbeer, Ginny can't help but say yes, even though she considers dating a waste of time. Can Dan change her mind?
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 06/24/07 Title: Chapter 1: Butterbeer and Beaches

Right, Abi. I am absolutely determined to review this story even though you already have several excellent reviews. Just you try and stop me. ;)

Wow. Where do I begin? Perhaps with Ginny. I agree with some previous reviewer that she’s perhaps not very feisty in this story, but I don’t mind the slightest. She reminds me more of the Ginny we saw at the very end of HBP, and that’s also the Ginny I like best. And the version you have written here is absolutely not boring – she’s perfect for the story and the story is perfect for her.

I really admire you for writing something so innocent, that is still so exciting and gives me such a thrill when reading it. Really, if written this well, a single kiss (and the scenes building up to it) can offer just as much enjoyment for a reader as something much more daring and Professors-rated.

At first glance, Dan seems like an average type of guy. But you promptly remind us that he’s a professional Quidditch player, and the strong arm he puts under Ginny’s certainly doesn’t make it worse. Also, I think it’s interesting that you don’t mention what House he was in, even when they talk a bit more over the Butterbeers. That seems to be very common with OCs in fanfiction, and I found myself wondering what House he belonged to. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing that you left it out, just that I was curious. =)

And the Side-Along Apparation – absolutely genius! I never thought about it before, that it could be such an excellent opportunity and excuse for close contact. Sweet.

Right. Some nitpicks, ahoy!

I’m the youngest and only girl in a family of seven.

Hm. I don’t know, if you use the phrase “in a family of seven”, is it then implied that you mean seven children and two parents? Otherwise it’s a little confusing, as the Weasley family consists of nine people, parents included. Unless you killed someone off? *shifty eyes*

‘I’m not very interesting, either,’ Dan said, shrugging.

Hm, again. That didn’t sound right to me. Ginny didn’t say straight out that she thought she wasn’t interesting, so if Dan is interested in her, I don’t think he’d imply that she wasn’t interesting. Perhaps he would say something like, “There’s not much to say about me, either.” How about that? Then he’s at least not indirectly insulting Ginny. ;)

Ginny found Dan extremely easy to talk to — she felt she had known him for years.

I think you meant to write “she felt like she had known him for years.” ?

‘Sweet dreams, Ginny.’

‘I’m sure I will,’ she said softly, smiling.

The two lines of the dialogue don’t really match. Ginny’s answer sounds like a reply to “Sleep well”, as opposed to “Sweet dreams”. Perhaps it would be a good idea to either change “Sweet dreams” to “Sleep well”, or else, which I think is even better, you could change Ginny’s answer to “I’m sure they will be” – a little bolder, perhaps.

That’s the boring stuff over and done with. Now I want to gush some more. Because, you see, the dialogue here is very well-written indeed – I really like the playfulness and the subtle teasing. It’s easy to tell that these characters are very interested in one another, and that something is happening here.

As the youngest, Ginny hated being babied, but Dan’s concern for her was different, somehow.

!!! Yes! Excellent! Of course Ginny hates being babied, but it’s such a difference having a parent or a sibling be worried about you, compared to a charming man. I think all women want to be independent, but at the same time, deep down, we want to be taken care of. A wonderful thing to include, Abi!

And I know that I already mentioned the kiss, but I’m going to do it again. It is very well-written – I’m grinning and tingling and cheering inside.

I went back to have a look at Comfort Me and the review I wrote for that, and I can definitely say that you have improved with this. I must congratulate you, and hope that you continue in the same fashion. =)

An Ordinary Man by msmoocow

Rated: 1st-2nd Years •
Summary: Suddenly, a broken wand seems inconsequential compared to other things.
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 04/22/07 Title: Chapter 1: An Ordinary Man

Hi msmoocow!

Oh, what an excellent idea for a Neville one-shot. I agree with you; the conversation about Frank’s wand must have been a very special one for Neville and Augusta, and, seeing as Neville wasn’t disowned or something, I think it’s entirely likely that this conversation caused some bonding between grandchild and grandparent.

Before I forget about it, I wanted to mention the formatting of your story. At the moment, there is no blank line between your Author’s Note and the first line of the story, which is a little confusing. I would suggest putting in a couple of blank lines, and perhaps even a stroke, to make it easier to read.

Your writing style is quite lovely and your language is varied and colourful. I only noted one repetition, but it’s nothing to worry too much about. In the paragraph that begins with She rested her hand on his shoulder, you have both then led him briskly and after a long, brisk hike. I know it’s not exactly the same word, but I think it would look better if you replaced one of them. Your story has a lovely flow, and I have nothing to add on either grammar or spelling. Well done!

I want to compliment you on writing such a lovely Neville. He’s perfectly in character in the beginning of your one-shot, even if I think he’s a little too open about his feelings at the end of it. His words there are more what I would expect from a slightly older Neville, perhaps in his mid-twenties, and maybe when he has had a girlfriend and learned to talk about feelings.

My thoughts on your Augusta are similar. While her dialogue is flawlessly written, I don’t really believe her when she says that she has always been proud of Neville, and that she doesn’t want him to be another Frank or Alice. Seeing her so kind and friendly towards Neville, all of a sudden, is a little out of character to me. I agree that she is perhaps not as disappointed in Neville as he believes, but I also think that saying “They would be very proud of you, you know.” and "It amazes me how much you are so very like your father." is about as far as she would go in a conversation like this. It’s not that I think she is unkind, but we have never seen any canon proof that she says nice things to Neville, and I find it hard to believe that someone as old as her would suddenly change and start praising her grandson like that.

To make Augusta, and hence the whole one-shot, more believable, I would suggest you make her a bit more taciturn and grumpy. I think that even only one of the lines I just quoted would be enough to make Neville’s mouth drop open in astonishment. If you wanted to give her another chance to show her affection for Neville, perhaps you could end the story with her suggesting that they should go and look for a new wand for him.

And to finish this review, I want to say again that your style is very nice, and I hope you continue writing and sharing your stories on this site. =)

Author's Response: Thank you for you detailed and helpful response! Yes, I did realize that there\'s no blank line between the author\'s notes, but I didn\'t know that the site would smush them together. I\'ve kind of been too lazy to fix it, lately. Heh. Thank you for the complimetns on Neville, too. I do think he has the potential for conversation, though. I always thought that by fifth year or so, being around his peers would have loosened him up a bit. Not to mention facing down all those Death Eaters. :) Plus, this is more of an outburst than a real conversation, since he\'s been holding these thoughts in for how long now? As for Augusta...sigh. I was already aware of my shortcomings with her character, due to a lovely constructive review when I\'d first published it on my LJ, but I failed to revise due to a wish for consistency. I am revisiting Augusta soon, though, and will definitely grumpify her. Wow. I\'ve turned into one of those indignant huffy writers who respond to constructive reviews with novel-length replies of their own. Sorry \'bout that! :D Thanks again!

All At Once by electronicquillster

Rated: 3rd-5th Years •
Summary: As the Final Task approaches, Cedric Diggory begins to doubt himself. He knows he’s not perfect, and he knows he doesn’t have all the answers. Afraid of failure and disappointment, he questions his relationship with Cho Chang. Sure, she’s the ideal girlfriend, but is she right for him?
Reviewer: Fantasium Signed
Date: 06/24/07 Title: Chapter 1: The Maze

*shifty eyes*

If you want critique, please scroll past this review. Just a fair warning.

First and foremost, I know that this story is dedicated to a whole bunch of people… but for some reason, when I read it, I get that wonderful feeling that it’s somehow written for me. And I won’t lie to you – I kind of like that. *cough*

omg, where do I begin?! I know, I’ll start at the beginning. That makes sense. And the beginning is KATIE. Mar! She. Is. Perfect. Like, She wasn’t meant for flipping pages and collecting notes at a table in a stale, quiet room. And… It’s just the little details, like with the paper cuts and Katie being close to hexing people for blinking, *giggles* - it makes her come alive. And oh, how I love that she’s off to the Quidditch pitch! I mean, you send her there because it’s a part of the plot, but… at the same time, it’s so her.

After an eternity,

I’m sorry, but using the word ‘eternity’ in a story that features Katie Bell is just going to make me squee. Even if the story isn’t at all about the pairing that I connect with that particular word. (I never said this would make sense.)

The lovely pitch, her pitch, was seemingly overgrown with thick, monstrous hedges. How could this be?

Her pitch! Of course it’s her pitch! I mean, *cough*, I love that you remind us how important Quidditch and flying is to Katie, and that it’s about freedom and power. By having Katie call it “her” pitch, you show us how strongly she feels about the sport, and… I’m not sure what I’m saying, but… gah, this Katie that you’re writing, she’s real from the very first to the very last word of this chapter.

Okay. Sigh. I was just about to quote the first part of the dialogue where Cedric whispers in Katie’s ear, but then I realised that I wanted to quote the next line too, and then the next one and the next… so I guess I had better just write about it without quoting anything at all. See, when Cedric whispers in her ear, my knees grow weak at once. And then Katie elbows him! And he exclaims her name in agony! And she mimics him and calls him a prat! And I’m just giggling and grinning because it’s all excellent! And it continues. Oh, Mar, I’m definitely not comparing your styles, but this is how I feel when I read Jenna’s writing. It’s a pure thrill because it flows so wonderfully and the dialogue is… well, Katie and Cedric just belong.

Speaking of which, I love the history you created between them, which is entirely believable and puts them in such an excellent position for the upcoming events. I won’t lie – I have a certain fondness for boy/girl friendships (well, boy/boy and girl/girl too, of course) that evolve into romantic relationships. Like, you know, Sirius and Lucille. *grins*

Okay. Now I need to quote:

“I came out to fly, not plant-watch.”


Katie whacked his leg with her broom, before mounting it.

You see, I printed this chapter and read it and made review notes while I was a sub teacher up at school, and next to those two sentences, I have drawn great, big XD’s. Which, *giggles*, I thought you needed to know.

“Sure, I’ll be your knowledgeable tour guide.” Cedric took his place behind her, holding onto her shoulders.

“I’m rolling my eyes at you again.”


Here it says *DIES!* in my notes, not sure what I meant with that? *coughs* A lot of things, I daresay. Firstly, Cedric’s line. It’s just – Mar, I don’t know why it’s so brilliant, it just IS! And then Cedric, sitting behind Katie, holding onto her shoulders? Ma-ar! You can try to make it sound as casual as you want to, I’m tingling all over anyway. And then the eyerolling and Cedric’s reply? No. No, I’m just grinning.

Gah. I’m just going to give in to this pressing need of constant quoting that I’m suffering from.

Katie thought for a moment, then began a swift descent into the heart of the maze. “Sounds perfect. I’m in need of a good adventure. Besides, I hardly see you around, Mr Champion, who is too busy for anything but the tournament.”

They hit the ground with a light thud. Cedric held out his hand, silently offering to carry the broom. “Indeed, I am much too busy,” he answered in a lofty tone, barely keeping a straight face. “Legend speaks, however, of a girl who has been chained to her books, consumed with flipping pages, and-”

“Oh, stuff it,” Katie laughed, shoving Cedric as they began their course through the hedges.

*shakes head* “Mr Champion, who is too busy for anything but the tournament” – the way she says it, teasingly, but still openly admitting that she’s missed seeing him around. Then there’s Cedric, silently offering to carry the broom – a gentleman, just as I imagine him. And I don’t mean an uptight gentleman, no, but just someone who knows how to behave, and it’s natural for him. Someone with self-confidence and good manners that comes from a good upbringing and a good life. And, *giggles, his line, and how he can barely keep a straight face – Mar, I can see it. And Katie with her “Oh, stuff it”, and shoving Cedric (yay for more body contact), *happy sigh*

And then Cedric gets all honest and serious and non-jokingly when he tells Katie that he’s missed her, and I just melt from the wonderfulness. I fully expected Katie to blush or something, but instead she looks up into his face, straightforward and just as honest, and tells him something just as nice. It’s all so open - they know each other, they like each other, and at this point it’s all so natural and there’s nothing they need to hide. Aw.

“Worst case scenario: you grow an extra nose because it has cursed pollen,” he said as he tucked it behind her ear.

“Cedric!” She swatted him away and laughed, but she was smiling and she didn’t remove the flower.

“Can you imagine the kind of superior smelling you’d get with an extra nose?”

“You’re ridiculous.”

Lolol, here I have an even bigger XD in my notes. And I’m giggling again when I read the “superior smelling” part. *giggles* BRILLIANT!

Now, of course, we come to the part where you’re really trying to kill me through Fangirl Overload. I don’t think I need to explain why, but I think it’s beautiful that you’ve written “a different feeling”, instead of trying to describe what it is that they feel. An explanation would have been superfluous – I think every reader knows the feeling.

*takes a moment to breathe*

Oh, yes. I wanted to compliment you on this:

It was probably a related plant - hedges that move, vines that try to grasp and suffocate you.

Good thinking! I like that! And I’m curious if it was something you’d put in the story before starting, or if it popped up as you were writing?

Okay. Onwards to Further Death by Complete Fangirl Overload. It’s not just that the kiss is über-brilliant, but the scene leading up to it? It’s such a serious subject, but you’ve managed to find a natural way for it to come up in the conversation with the tasks awaiting Cedric, and by doing so it doesn’t sound at all forced or pretentious – it sounds real.

Now to the kiss, and this is the Ghost of Anna writing as I have passed away from previously mentioned cause. It just… happens. And he captures her mouth in a kiss. *dies again* But my absolute favourite part is how their hands find each other and entwine. So beautiful. And the forehead against forehead? It made me think of a certain Mr Darcy and a Miss Bennet, and that only made it more wonderful. I’m all tingles again when I read about Cedric moving his hand up and down her back. *sighs* In fact, in my notes I have a x.x next to that sentence.

“Katie, I really like you.”

“But are you going to do anything about it?”

After a moment’s pause, he squeezed her hand and asked her what his heart needed to know. “Should I?”

“I can’t tell you,” she said simply.

Here my notes say “MA-AR!” (thrice underlined), which I think is a rather appropriate reaction to the utter torture you put your readers through here. When did a little AU hurt anyone?! Why did there have to be a Cho?! Ma-ar, WHY?


Ahem. Yes. My notes end with three giant exclamation marks after, He had to make a choice: Katie or Cho. They were a feeble attempt at describing the absolute excitement I feel about this story. Mar, I can safely say that this is the best thing I’ve ever read by you. I’ve always considered you to be a talented author, but when I read this I was actually surprised at the pure quality of it. Not because I didn’t think you could produce something like this, but… it’s just such a huge improvement even from the wonderful things you’ve written before, that I simply wasn’t expecting it. Everything flows. To me, this is simply one of those stories that were meant to be written. And I’m delighted that it was you, my friend, who wrote it. I would have adored the story no matter who wrote it, but now it’s even better. I’m so proud of you.

There is only really one thing left for me to say (for now, I mean). Quidditch couples are HOT. And, wait, there are a couple of more things as well – AU never hurt anyone, nor did some Professor-rated writing, or even more-than-Professors-rated-posted-elsewhere. *shifty eyes*

Mar, I bow to you. Absolutely bloody spiffing.