Hello! I'm Danielle. I'm also a proud Ravenclaw and SBBC-ling (and newbie SPEW-er).
Also, almost all of my fics were written pre-DH so please check the date...I swear that I wasn't just ignoring canon :)
This is a great character study! I chose this one because I’ve written about Rita’s past too. Both my drabbles and “Becoming Rita” have found a consensus: Rita will use adversity to her advantage, even if it means becoming a monster in the process. I’m always very interested in different points of view, and this story is a great example. It is amazing how something as simple as a bit of back story and a change in perspective will illuminate and even justify a formerly hated character’s actions. I found this passage especially effective in conveying this duality:
Rita was no less surprised by the questions herself. However, she plodded on with them just to make the girl uncomfortable. “Nothing’s perfect,” she began dramatically. “In a group where there are so many students, things can’t always be hunky-dory. I mean, disagreements and competition must be there. It must be hard to survive all that, even worse to fail.” Rita finished her silly speech. It didn’t make sense to her; it was only an indication of how much she hated her life in general.
The brilliance of this excerpt is found in its ability to simultaneously elicit sympathy and loathing towards Rita. We can’t stand what she’s doing, but we have to agree it’s justified.
For me, the use of bullies was a very logical reason for her to turn into the monster that she becomes. I’m sure most people have witnessed bullying doing their school years, and I’m no exception. I know from personal experience that a person, however wounded by the bully, will do or say anything to hide their humiliation. It’s bad enough to be effected by taunting, it’s even worse to admit that it has hurt you. Rita needed an outlet for her feelings, and digging up dirty laundry was a perfect way to achieve this. I also enjoyed not only the emotional transformation into a monster, but also the physical transformation:
“You colored your hair and curled it just the way Margaret’s hair used to look like,” said Nathan mercilessly. “You started wearing all these showy clothes, painting your face and nails. You even changed your spectacles into those hideous bejeweled ones.”
Rita gaped at Nathan. Why was he being so cruel?
“You know what you look like? A breathing caricature of Margaret Thornton.”
The combined transformations really illustrate the change in Rita’s nature. With “Her own metamorphosis into a woman she donned rather than was” and her ability to become an animagus, the transformation was complete. I also love the beautiful metaphor in this line: “Henry was out of her life now, the fire had been extinguished – and all that remained were some charred wood and ash.” Overall, really nice character study. I especially enjoyed the transformation/metamorphosis metaphor.
Author's Response: Hey Danielle!
I can't believe I forgot to respond to this. >.< Anyway, thank you for such a fantastic review. And I really liked your drabble! :)
Yes, bullies. Bullies seem to play major roles in shaping people, and I do think in Rita's case, they were a good plot point to use. It's hard to imagine people go bad without reason, and I think Margaret was a good foil to Rita's transformation.
I am seriously happy you got what I was trying to write here. :) And your review is so thought provoking and amazing I feel like writing something right away. o.O
Hey Jess, reviewing you for SPEW. Typically I don’t read Next-Gen, but this one caught my eye.
First, I find your use of a very objective point of view very interesting. You tell the story in a very offhanded, matter-of-fact manner. Typically one would expect more bravado or emotion in a story such as this. Lines such as these:
After he emptied the contents of his stomach all over her shoes, a mere foot away from the toilet, he proceeded to knock himself out cold on the edge of the sink, falling into the puddle of his own sick. His shame did not stop there, however.
When he sat up, he realized that he was very naked, but that did not stop him. Like the foolish charlatan he was, he sloppily kissed her. After her head jerked away in shock and indignance, James realized his mistake as he saw her fist careening toward his face.
It caught me off guard a bit, but it does give the fic a kind of joking, tongue-in-cheek style that I like. I also enjoyed Harry’s mixed reaction. It seems in-character of Harry not to judge his son too harshly (he’d be quite hypocritical considering all of his own rule-breaking escapades) but it also shows his maturity. You’ve definitely characterized Harry as a mature father in this fic, although I’d be lying if I said that I’m not used to this kind of Harry. While he definitely matured enormously in the seventh book, as I don’t usually read adult Harry fics it still jars me. These lines particularly establish his characterization:
So, his oldest had discovered Firewhiskey for the first time. He was torn between relief that this one of many hurdles on the path to manhood was finally over and dismay, since the whole thing had taken place in Hannah’s bar.
Again, I also like your sneaky and humorous insertions, such as this line:
He made a mental note to himself to send the Longbottoms a thank you gift for not chucking James out on the curb, as he had probably deserved.
I also liked your characterization of James, which is appropriate to a young man, especially a young Potter. His anger at Harry’s laughter after finding himself naked is funny and reminiscent of his father and grandfather. I also enjoyed this cute and clever line:
Harry was incurably curious as to the identity of She-Who-Must-Be-Found.
The rest of the fic continues is a lighthearted, humorous fashion. I further enjoyed some funny lines, such as:
This was easily high on the list of stupid things his son had done. Of course, it wasn’t quite as bad as paying a First Year to fly a broom up the stairs to the girls’ dormitory in Gryffindor Tower to toss a Dungbomb, but it was close. Hannah was obviously not troubled by it, so Harry relented and chuckled along with her.
However, I did find the middle part to be on the slow side. The exposition with Harry and Hannah is unnecessary to the story, as it reveals what the readers already know (or have surmised). It’s cute to see old acquaintances talking, but it slows down the action of the story.
James’ brief bit about fooling with his haggard appearance was also cute, but seemed unnecessary as well. The story picks up again as Augusta and James finally meet again, and the dialogue is very cute and befitting of young wanna-be-lovers. I love that James can’t help himself from messing up so fantastically again, I did think that was quite funny.
You also showed off your descriptive skill when James and Augusta finally realize their feelings for each other, and this passage is very beautifully written:
When James touched her, Augusta felt like she had been burned. Fire coursed through her as if her veins were filled with lava instead of blood. She felt her whole body tingle, even in places she did not know beyond what the book her mother gave her when she was twelve had said those parts did. What were these feelings, and why wasn’t she still angry? He was touching her, and even after what he did last night, she liked it. That should not be possible. How was she supposed to stop it?
Finally, I love the last few lines and how you paralleled James’ attitude and behavior toward women with his namesake’s. Overall, a cute story a little inhibited by the dragging in the middle. However, I left satisfied!
Holy random story, Batman! I believe you've found my author page at its darkest. Eep. At least you didn't read my Gauntlet story. Crikey, it's really bad.
This story was written waaaaaaaaaaay back when I had no idea that head hopping was a no-no, and I suppose that I never bothered to reread it and make it better. I'm lazy like that. That being said, though, I do enjoy a story where not only one mind is being explored, and I think I did okay with making sure that the present narrative character was clear. That being said, from my extremely critical author's eye, this fic probably has more problems than strengths, but the parts you enjoyed are the ones I liked as well, especially the father/son chat part, hehe.
I never really considered it, but the part in the middle does drag on a bit. I might at some point go in and cut out Hannah and Harry catching up, though I wanted that bit where Harry surreptitiously paid a good chunk of James's tab, but it can still go. The part where James is trying to humanise himself by washing up is so going to stay, though, lol. It's so beautifully cliche.
Anyway, thanks for reading, reviewing and dealing with my rambling. I don't rightly know if you've ever reviewed me before, so well done! I'm glad you're getting some last minute SPEWing in and that you joined!
Hey Natalie! I was dutifully fulfilling my recommendation requirements, and I came upon this!
Wonderful job! I love the idea, to take a single event and turn it into a multi-character study. Very unique! The idea of death has different meanings to everyone, and you've applied this beautifully to the Marauders. All of them are spot on IC! The only weakness that occurs to me is the lack of overall action, it slowed down the pace of the fic a little. But otherwise, fantastic!
Author's Response: Hello there, one of my favourite people in the world!
(This has nothing to do with the review or the rec, btw.)
The idea this story was built upon - it neither allowed action nor dialogue. I had six characters to deal with in a single one-shot, and I wanted to show each of their reaction via how they deal with it individually. That said, I know how lack of action can become a bit daunting while reading something. :D Thanks for reading and reviewing!
First, I’ll start this off by commending you on your writing style. I’ve haven’t come across a style quite like this yet, and I really value unique writing very highly. It’s quite amazing, because you are able to take a very choppy style and make it flow very nicely. It is really almost poetic. Even in the opening paragraph, I’m reminded of poetry:
Smooth locks of auburn hair pulled away from her face, braided loosely down the centre of her back. Emeralds shine. Rubies pout. Elegant neck stretches, head tossed back in laughter. Friends surround her, watching her in pleasure, envy, love.
If you altered the format of this, it could very easily have been a poem rather than prose. I also enjoy the imagery here, it really pulls you into the story. It also establishes the rest of the work, and lets the readers know that this is about Lily. However, this fic is also very ambiguous, so you really have to search for what exactly is happening. For example:
This is my tree. No unwanted, unneeded boy in my tree. A hero lives here. He is braver than all the rest. He is strong and needs nobody else. They envy him.
I’m not sure who exactly you are talking about here. James? Sirius? I’m assuming it’s James, because obviously the speaker would be jealous of the one who Lily is dating.
Another example of ambiguity occurs here:
I look down. Grass, green shards stretch, each reaching high, trying to grow, outshine the others. No chance to shine; sun hidden behind long limbs that touch cloudless blue. My small, curved hand reaches out, touches green fringe like feathers, that whispers like silk, rustles like the wind. Curled fingernails grasp, tug. My hand retreats, uncurls. My line-marked palm, lines inked in with dirt, holds it close. In it I can see veins, lines, connections. Which one to take? The oldest? The fragile? The strongest?
I think you’re attempting to make a metaphor comparing a plant that receives no sunshine to the lack of attention that the reader receives. He never really “shines”. I think that this is a really beautiful and well-suited metaphor, but the ambiguity doesn’t let it reach the heights that it could.
There are a few moments where it is clearer who the speaker is, such as this: I don’t fit there; never have. Never as talented, quick, witty. Slightly different from the others, apart. Disposable.
This sentence is a clearer indicator that it’s Peter, as he mentions not being known for his talent or wit, and the fact that is he replaceable within the Marauders. This does help differentiate it from Snape, because Snape would not think of himself as lacking talent or brains, and he doesn’t seem to care for friendship as much as Peter.
I also enjoyed your frequent comparisons of Peter to a tree. It’s a comparison that I wouldn’t have thought of immediately, and it the way you describe it really does fit Peter.
And finally with this phrase it becomes clearer that Peter has been referencing James all along:
How can I measure up to him? He is perfect, no flaws. I am the hanger-on in our group, the one who doesn’t quite fit, like a puzzle piece placed into the wrong spot. He fell for her, I fell for her, but she didn’t fall for him. Certainly not me.
I’m glad that you don’t use clichéd details to describe him, such as noting his glasses or dark messy hair, but I think more clarification is necessary.
I also like your characterization of Peter as very simple and animal-like. I know that some think that Peter shouldn’t be trod on as much as he is in fanfiction, but I personally don’t see any redeeming qualities in him. I also like when you describe Peter in his rat-form. This part helped me realized that the speaker was an animagus, but then this bit confused me again:
Escape - soon. Howling, sounds of pain. They cannot find me, not here. They never did, never shall.
Worth it? He is gone, but she is too.
The boy, only the boy was supposed to die, not her. She would have been spared, treasured by our Lord.
She has been gone years. Only thing left is what should have been destroyed.
This part made me think of Snape again, because he was the one who bargained for Lily’s life. I don’t think it says anywhere in canon that any other Death Eaters knew that Snape was trying to save her life.
Also, towards the end I really love this paragraph:
He was no longer what he used to be. Change had followed his path, made him diver from what he had always imagined. Now he was the autumn leaf, frail, brittle, weak to the touch, breaking under slight pressure. The leaves would always change, season after season, year after year. But would he?
Beautiful imager, beautiful metaphor, beautiful characterization…everything. Again, I really like the nature metaphors/motifs in this fic. Combined with Peter’s animalistic/naturalistic characterization it all works really well together.
I really enjoyed this fic for its beautiful imagery. However, I do think this fic might have actually worked better as a long poem. The imagery and fragmented sentences would work better in poetry format. Also, I think the ambiguity hurt this fic more than helped it. I had to read your author’s note to know whose point of view this was from, and while I was reading it I thought that it was Snape. Maybe I’m just a little dense, but f you had added a couple more hints it could have helped a lot. That being said, I think that your writing style is gorgeous. Keep writing, Selina :)
Great job! I really enjoyed this. Like the other reviewers, I too was left wanting more. It was almost not enough detail at times, but I love that you took this plot line and turned it into a one-shot. I've never seen this done before, and it's a very cool idea. I really like the blunt nature of it, and the questions you raise about people's expectations/perceptions and really genetics vs. environment too. Great work!
Author's Response: I love that you liked the blunt style of it. Thanks for reading and reviewing. :)
This is me telling you that I will drop by again soon to leave you a proper review :-) But for now, this story was excellent! I love the different perspective on Peter's character (also indicated by nice use of the second person). You allowed Peter to be mentally equal to Sirius here, despite that he was well known for not being the social or physical equal of the other Marauders. This is a great example of a character shown in a different light while maintaining a strong sense of realism. The only weakness that comes to mind is that I would have liked to see a bit more conflict between the two, as I'm sure confessing their desires for each other couldn't have been easy. Otherwise, fantastic!
Hey Natalie (aka Wife), reviewing this for SPEW!
First, I was intrigued by the choice to make this a songfic. Thought the lyrics are lovely, I’ll admit I did feel a little alienated because I didn’t know the song.
I did like the style of the fic. I find that little anecdotes such as the ones that you used keep the fic fresh and stop it from being tired and bogged down by plot. Since the fic is constantly changing, it constantly peaks your interest.
The first bit has a very canon feel, and you seemed to communicate a lot in a few words. Lily’s prejudice against James and James’ hopeless lover for her are very evident in just a few sentences, which is a true skill. It’s very poetic, really.
The second bit seemed a bit corny, however. James talking so candidly about his undying love for Lily with Sirius seemed a bit strange to me. I’m just usually not a big fan when characters speak so frankly about their feelings. I’d rather be shown than told, or have the emotions take place inside the characters’ head. Plus, I don’t really picture Sirius and James talking about love like this. I see you make an attempt to insert Sirius’ womanizing and immaturity through the comment about snogging, but overall the conversation seems out of place.
I like how the third anecdote incorporates both Lily’s and James’ feelings for each other. I like how the focus shifts back and forth between them, which really indicate the state of their relationship. I felt that your beautiful imagery and shifting focus shows how confused they are about each other. I especially enjoyed the description here:
He was sitting with his three friends, basking in the glory of so many things – a paper excellently done, a series of perfect catches made on a stolen Snitch, the joy of being with his friends, and the simple fact that she was there in sight.
She was laughing, he noticed as he unconsciously ran his fingers through his hair. She was laughing with her friends. Her shoes were off and she was cooling her feet in the water. He knew he’d give anything for the world to disappear so that it was just him and her there.
I particularly enjoyed your characterization of James. I love that you communicated how happy he is just to have Lily feel emotion for him, whether it is love or hate. It is very poetic and even explains James’ teasing behavior in the books. I also enjoyed that you communicated this in few lines as well, like a poet:
It thrilled him to see he could provoke her, to see her eyes blazing in anger because that meant she wasn’t indifferent towards him.
It hurt him, too, no matter how much he succeeded at covering it.
It made him feel as though he was not quite right in the head, to even like someone so much he was okay with her disgust for him.
Beautiful description, and you let the readers know exactly how James feels without it becoming trite.
The further small anecdotes about James finally giving up on simply demanding Lily to give in is also nice, as it proves how James was finally able to swallow his pride and respect Lily as a human being. Again, you depicted an immense change in James in a small passage:
He decided to stop, found that it was near impossible to do so, then realised he’d never get her if he didn’t grit his teeth and say something other than demand a date. He succeeded after a few months.
I liked the second conversation between the Marauders better than the first. It definitely had the air of a conversation between young, immature boys and felt more realistic and less touchy-feely.
The anecdote in which Lily and James found out about their Head Boy and Girl status was also a wise decision because it gradually shows the transition from hatred to mild acceptance. Too many stories make the leap from hatred to love, so I’m glad that you’ve realized that emotions don’t suddenly turn overnight.
Your description of James’ mounting fears that Lily would turn him down for good, after she had finally come to tolerate him, also had me sympathizing with James. I thought these lines were particularly effective in communicating this:
As he watched her brewing her potion in the dungeon, he sadly thought how much he wanted to be near her.
Be a part of her life.
Have the right to peck her cheek and hold her hand and crush her in his arms and touch her hair and kiss her lips.
Have the simple privileges of waking up and finding her next to him, of being scolded by her, of having her give him a lover’s smile.
I also loved James’ blunt and heartfelt speech to Lily.
Overall, good job depicting the course of James’ and Lily’s love. Personally, I felt that the lyrics didn’t add much to the fic, but your writing was concise and poetic.
Author's Response: Danielle!
Hello! I really loved this fic, you definitely deserve the QSQ! It especially stands out because I've found that a lot of alternate fic relies on the alternate reality itself. That is, it focuses on the plot and ignores writing, characterization, etc. Certainly not in this case! Your alternate realities are fascinating (there are a few that I never considered) and there is so much wonderful emotion in it to. Great job!
Author's Response: Thank you very much -- I'm glad you found it worthy of the award! Yes, I think it's really easy to get caught up in an AU world and the logistics of it all and neglect the actual writing and characters, so I'm happy you think I managed to avoid that :)
He cannot bring himself to think the name. There is a glimpse of red. A laugh. A fumbled apology. A friendship.
How a death may change a life or two.
Winner of Best Non-Canon Romance in the Quick Silver Quill Awards 2010
Hey! I remember this very well from SBBC but I never left you a review.
Typically I’m not a fan of Harry/Hermione (at all) but something about your writing makes the pairing tolerable to me. You put so much passion and emotion into your prose, it’s hard not to feel for these two. Your whirlwind, choppy style is one that I’ve admired and would love to emulate, but I don’t think I could pull it off as well as you. You chose to become nonsensical and fragmented at the right moments. In short, you don’t overdo it and still maintain a firm control over your own writing. It’s sort of like a controlled chaos.
I also like how you’ve broken up the fic into different stages. It keeps the reader interested and allows the focus to be on the emotions rather than plot.
The fic is compelling from the very beginning, and the opening lines grab the reader:
Eyes flicker open. Flicker shut. Open. Open. Open. He sees her face hovering above, barely there, ever-changing. She is nothing but light, and yet she is everything. The pain undulates throughout his body, large swells and a dying current, but he pretends he cannot feel, and suddenly that is the truth. He knows what is wrong. He knows what happened, but it is impossible, and pretending that he feels no pain is easier than admitting his best friend is dead.
There are so many emotions in this opening passage it’s hard to begin. I also love how you smoothly transition from Harry’s lack of consciousness (“Eyes flicker open”) to deep understating (Pretending that he feels no pain is easier than admitting his best friend is dead). This, and the many emotions you touch on, such as love, grief, and denial, are all beautifully summed up in a paragraph.
Again, I like how you maintain a balance between fragmented sentences and fully-formed sentences. Too many fragmented sentences would be overwhelming and annoying, but you transition between the two quite easily. One example is here:
A flash of green. A scream. Death on the grass. No blood.
Her hand seeks his on the blanket. It is not a firm grasp, but it is enough. It is enough for now and now is all that matters to him. The past has gone, rushed by without a word of sorrow, without a glance of remorse. The truth is harsh, and it is unforgiving, but her hand is soft and warm and here.
I also enjoyed this particular description of Harry’s emotions. They seem very gritty and real:
He knows he is safe. He knows he is safe from deadly spells and evil tyrants, but his best friend is dead, and that doesn’t make him feel very safe at all. He looks up at the ceiling and remembers when he first awoke. He had thought it would be easier. He had thought every moment would see an easing of the pain, but the longer he lay awake the harder it became to pretend. He hates that every time he breathes in, something else seems to die. It is a miracle his heart is still beating, because it feels dead. It feels numb. He cannot feel that calm, comforting beating within.
However, I felt dizzy from the use of “he” over and over again. The use of the same pronoun over and over again cheapens the writing, I think. It would have made all the difference to simply include “Harry” a few times. Your writing is so beautiful that I think all of the pronouns take it back to being quite elementary.
On the other hand, some of your very short and simple phrases contain profound meaning. I think this line in particularly expresses Harry’s feelings better than a whole paragraph could:
He dips his head. She opens her eyes. Everything is on fire.
I also thought it was very nice that you brought the fic around full circle. The small anecdotes relating the pair’s grief are heartbreaking, but I love that you took the same concept (Waking) and made it positive in the end. Brilliant! And while I did become tired of “he” and “she” constantly, when they finally utter each other’s names it is quite gratifying. Overall, beautifully written and poignant, even for a Harry/Ginny shipper!
Author's Response: Hi Danielle! Thank you for such a detailed review. Sorry I haven't replied sooner but I kept putting it off since it was so huge! And then exams came and ate my life as they are prone to do haha. But anyway, thanks. Well, I'm glad I could make the pairing tolerable for you xD But in all honesty, this is more of a study on grief rather than anything shippy which is why I submitted it to Dark/Angst. Hmm controlled chaos... I like that! I agree with you on the overuse of pronouns in the fic and if I went back to change anything it would be that. When I was writing it I wanted there to be this sense of separation of self from what was real and what wasn't which is why I chose to write it like that... but it annoys me when I re-read it as well. Again, thank you for the lovely review. I really appreciate it. Julia :)
All Teddy Lupin had ever wanted was to be the kind of man his godfather was. He even followed in Harry's footsteps and became an Auror.
Harry wanted nothing more than to be the father that Teddy would never have, but work and obligations always seemed to get in the way. Before he knew it, Teddy was all grown up. How had he missed all those precious moments? He knew he had to make up for it somehow.
After all, they had all the time in the world, right?
This fic WON a 2011 Quicksilver Quill Award: Best Post-Hogwarts Story
It’s SPEW-in time. When scrolling down your author page trying to figure out which one to pick, this one caught my eye. Though I don’t generally read Post-Hogwarts, Teddy’s story has always touched me. Though I personally felt that JKR’s killing of Lupin and Tonks was unfair, it’s really poetic how it parallel’s Harry’s own story.
In order to add some semblance of coherence to this review, I’m going to comment on different aspects of the fic separately rather than rambling on about my thoughts.
First, I’ll tackle the plot. I thought you did a great job introducing the story. I love the opening anecdote; it perfectly illustrated Harry’s mixed feelings towards Teddy. All in all, I thought that Harry’s feelings of uncertainty and the desire to become a father to Teddy were communicated very well. It was very straightforward, but with a touch of heart to it. I thought that you covered Teddy’s childhood nicely. However, I was a little disappointed that it seemed to be more expositional than anecdotal. While the writing is very clean and there’s definitely heart in it, I would have preferred to have actually seen the interactions between Teddy and Harry. I hope this makes sense, but what I’m trying to say is that you seem to tell us that Teddy and Harry bonded more than show us. I am glad that you gave us a full interaction between Harry and Teddy in the Auror offices. I thought that it was very well done and poignant. I thought you did a great job with consistency, as you always reminded us of Harry’s conflicted feelings.
Continuing to comment on plot, I did grow a bit bored of the descriptions of Teddy’s growing up. I was a put off by the lack of action. However, I’m really glad that you added the murder plot. It kicked the story up a notch and brought my attention back fully.
Honestly, I was not expecting the story to end the way it did. It was quite sad and touching, but I’m not sure if I’m personally satisfied with it. I understand the point you were trying to make, but it’s hard to not feel a little cheated. His death felt unfair, just the like death of his parents felt unfair in the books. But that’s how it is whenever a beloved character dies.
Also, while I liked the addition of the murder plot I was a bit disappointed with the perpetrators. I understand that this isn’t a mystery plot and it’s definitely not a story about Yaxley and Rowle, but I was expecting something a bit more exciting than vengeful Death Eaters. However, this is a pretty small complaint in the general scheme of things as the murders were simply a device in the story.
On other note, I thought that the addition of Malfoy was interesting too. I’m a little confused as to why you chose to put him in this story, but I can’t say I’m sorry you did. I’ve come to like Malfoy a lot more after the seventh book, and I liked that you portrayed him as that “shades of gray” character. He wasn’t suddenly all touchy and sympathetic, but he was respectful of Harry’s grief.
Alright, now I’ll tackle characterization. I thought the characterization was nearly flawless. Harry was perfect. I’m glad you kept bringing up his desire to father Teddy and his guilt for not being able to be there all the time, plus the added guilt of feeling responsibility for Tonks and Lupin’s death. Harry did feel older and more mature, but he was still Harry. And he wasn’t ridiculously mature either, which was nice.
I also liked Andromeda’s characterization. I thought she came off exactly as she did in the books; she was no nonsense, not exactly pleased with Harry, but basically a good person. I like that she didn’t fall all over Harry for trying to be a father to Teddy. He did make some mistakes, and she didn’t let it go.
Finally, it’s time for Teddy’s characterization. He was appropriately courageous and virtuous. He loved and appreciated Harry despite not being able to spend time with him. He’s a great person. However, I think that he might have been a little too great. I understand that the point of this story is to evoke sympathy for his death, which you did, but I was a little bothered by the fact that Teddy seemed too perfect. He’s a great Auror, brave, and doesn’t harbor any ill-thoughts. I wish he would have been a bit more rounded.
Alright, writing style. Like I said, your writing is virtually perfect. It was pretty flawless, completely concise and lacking in grammatical errors. That being said, I think I would have liked it too be a little more messy, if you know what I mean. I think that would have made the piece more emotional. I’m sorry if that doesn’t make any sense, by the way. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what it means too!
Overall, this was a sweet and touching story. I hope you don’t think I didn’t enjoy it from my comments, but I truly did. Your writing is always in character and always flawless. I just thought this kind of review would be more helpful than “Oh my God, your writing is so good!” over and over again. Am I a good SPEW-er, O Great Queen?
I've been contemplating a response for this review, despite the appearance that I either forgot to or didn't care to respond. Honestly, though... I wasn't really sure what I should say other than you're pretty much right about a lot of it.
In terms of characterisation, I get what you mean by Teddy being too good, but he was meant to be a tragedy. While this story does feature shifting points of view, the entire story is coloured by Harry's POV. So, the audience is meant to see Teddy as Harry sees him — as a shining human being and the last person in the world deserving to die.
In my head, this whole thing is almost like Harry watching events in a pensieve, and we are watching his reactions to it. It was meant to be grafted with an air of melancholy as some of the pivotal interactions between them occur. While they might seem 'boring', they're meant to instill an air of foreboding, both in terms of the father/son relationship not turning out right and for Teddy's fate as a whole.
The murder plot is... yeah. It is what it is, which you pointed out, and that's a plot device. Not one of my shining moments, but the story would've been dull and fluffy without an element of danger. I want to change it, to give the plot a bit more plausibility, but to be honest, I'm not sure how I could do that and make it work. I'll take a look at it, though, and see what I can come up with.
Thanks for the insightful review. :)
First, I’ll start with the most obvious point: the use of second person. Generally, I am not a fan of second person. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Here, I thought that the use of second person was unnecessary. I don’t think it detracted from the story too much—I still enjoyed the fic—but I would prefer if you had used first or third person. I think part of the reason why you used it was to establish an immediate closeness between Theodore and the reader. However, I think that this cheapens the story. The writing is definitely strong enough on its own that second person seemed redundant. I would have felt the same intimacy with Theo with or without the point of view.
Furthermore, I think that this particular fic was too long for second person as well. And I’ll admit that scrolling down and realizing how long it was made me gulp. Fortunately, it’s a very absorbing read so it went by fairly quickly. Plus, I’m not quite sure how this would work broken up into chapters. I think that the flashbacks and jumping back and forth in time would have made it difficult to split up.
While the beginning pulled me in because of the immediate action, I do have a little problem with the beginning. At first, Theo’s character seems inconsistent. He talks about how he doesn’t join groups, but then we jump into the fact that he joined the Death Eaters. I didn’t like that the circumstances weren’t explained until much later, because when I first read that it took me out of the story. Foreshadowing that it would be explained would have been nice here, such as a line like, “He had no choice but to join the Death Eaters”.
The dynamic with his father was interesting and definitely added depth to his character. I really love that his characterization is far from black and white. He’s ambivalent about everything—right and wrong, good and evil, who he is and who he is not. He’s not even sure if he wants to please his father or if he is simply afraid of him. To further comment on characterization, I love that you continually established his personal qualities throughout. Even if it was just a little line or two, I think the consistency gave me a clear picture of Theodore Nott.
I also liked the going back and forth in time. It kept me interested in the story by creating unresolved tension through leaving the point of view of the battle and not knowing what happens next. However, at first I was confused by the italicized and non-italicized text. The italicized is flashback, but doesn’t always read like it because of use of “you”. Also, the non-italicized appeared to jump around a little too. Then again, maybe I was just slow on the uptake.
I also loved the scene where he is given the Dark Mark—it is tense and explains the reasoning behind Theodore being a part of the Death Eaters.
The writing of this piece was well done, and there were some memorable one-liners. I think my favorite was:
“Everyone wears masks, Theodore,” she says. “What matters is who we are when we take them off.”
I think that it works so well because it is both profound and simple.
Speaking of that particular line, I loved the masks motif. It was both interesting and introspective. It was a great way of explaining Theo’s character without having to say “Theo feels like many different people at the same time” over and over again.
I think that these lines also work in establishing Theo’s character really well. It’s clean and simple but still deep:
And you, Theodore, wear the most convincing mask at all. You wore one that changed to reflect back whatever anymore wanted to see. For your classmates, it was a powerful, pureblood Slytherin, so much cleverer than the rest. For Lisa, it was something better than what you really were. And for your father, you wore the mask of a Death Eater.
Continuing, I thought that the pay off of revealing the mother’s death was very good. Throughout the story I was kept on edge wondering what happened to the mother. Although it was easy to guess, the scene was so dramatic and poignant that the wait was worth it.
These lines really established my sympathy for Theo too:
Your world has ended three times, once when your mother died, once when Lisa Turpin fell, and now you are dying again—one last time. And each time it has ended with a flash of green. You see it now; it blinds you.
My heart definitely went out to him here.
I’m not quite sure what I think of the parallel to Lily/Severus, which is very apparent. The “mudblood” line seemed to walk right out of the books and into the story. While the story was absorbing and well-written and the character of Theo established beautifully, I think I would have liked the plot to be more original.
So, all in all I did enjoy it with some small qualms. It was a great “character study” of sorts, for sure! Keep up the good work :)
Great start! I love AU fics, and this one definitely caught my attention. I'm always interested in that what if...what if Voldemort won? But I see that you've added an incredible twist by turning the Wizarding World against Harry and in support of Voldemort. You're writing style is phenomenal as well. I really do feel the pain and bitterness of a battle-worn Harry. Great job, I look forward to future chapters!
Another great chapter! I am a bit put off by Harry's and Flitwick's OOC-ness, but I do love to explore the different sides of Harry. I hope to see a further explanation of not only how the plot came to this point, but why Harry has changed so drastically. But besides this, you are a fantastic storyteller. Despite the length of this chapter, every sentence had me hanging. Great work, I'm excited for the next update.
Hey Meg! I'm reviewing you for SPEW buddies.
Gorgeous little poem, first of all! Sometimes you read stories that almost sound like music, but your poem was like reading a painting. If that makes any sense! The use of color and words such as "blemishes", "flourish", and "billows" made me imagine a painter at their easel. I also liked the cool format, ironically the broken-up sentences make the poem flow. I'll admit, I was a bit confused by its ambiguity but it's so beautiful I don't mind.
Great job Meg :)
Author's Response: The ambiguity was somewhat intentional. I tried to keep the poem as short and concise as possible, and I found that adding words that would resolve the ambiguity made it sound cluttered. Thank you for the complements. While I was writing this, I had a picture in my mind, and it's lovely to hear that the visual-ness came across. I feel terrible about how late this response is, but I've been super busy with real life. -Meg
I told you I would read this, Natalie!
And it's off to a great start! I must admit, there are some characters that I'm simply not drawn to. And Theodore Nott is one of them. However, I must say that my mind has been changed! The character that you've written is very interesting. I love that he's easy to sympathize with, but doesn't ask for our sympathy. I also love the style of it...switching back and forth between the Healer and Theo. I don't think I've read another fic like it. The Healer is particularly interesting too. His (or hers?) insights are really cool. I can tell you've done your research on memory too, which really adds to the story. Finally, I think one of the reasons why I really like this is because I love the movie Memento. I don't know if you've seen it, but Theo reminds me a lot of the main character and that's a compliment!
Author's Response: DANIELLE!
Did I mention that another character I'm simply not attracted to is Parvati? But damn you, you keep mixing me all up. I have to say, I really like the mature Parvati.
But enough of that, I can't wait to see how this ends. And that last line was simply incredible.
Author's Response: Hahaha! I've to say Parvati is not my usual go-to choice for a rarepair. But I've grown fond of her. Glad you liked the story so far
Whoa. Amazing. Brilliant ending, and something I didn't expect at all! Great job, Nat.
Wishing I could come up with more words to describe this,
PS: Seriously, watch Memento. Reminds me of this a lot, and as I said, that's a huge compliment :)
Author's Response: Thank youuu! :) Thanks for reviewing till the end, and I'll have to see Memento some day.
This was a sweet little piece. I’m a big fan of missing moments such as these…although since the book ended before this interaction could have taken place I’m not sure this counts as one. Still, I love dreaming up small emotional fics like these. It gives us Harry Potter fans closure.
Before the seventh book, I never gave much thought to Harry and McGonagall’s relationship. I think the seventh book in general opened my eyes to many characters I’ve never given much though too or simply disliked. And I think you’ll probably agree with me that Harry’s attack on one of the Carrows for insulting Minerva really added a new dimension to their relationship. When you typically think of a teacher/student relationship, Dumbledore and Harry first come to mind. However, I think McGonagall deserves a lot of recognition for her bravery in protecting the students. I’m very glad that Jo showed us that Harry obviously does think a lot of his old professor.
That was my roundabout way of saying that I really appreciate what you were going for in this fic. Unhappily however, I do have a few critiques.
The first would be the opening paragraph. Personally, it didn’t grab me. It was too much exposition and not enough movement or emotion. Basically, it felt too much like “McGonagall did this” and “McGonagall did that”. It was too plain for me. I know McGonagall isn’t one to get emotional, but I felt like it could have been phrased better.
To be specific, there are a few sentences that seem quite awkward and appear to have comma splices. For example:
No one could read the cat's face clearly enough to guess her thoughts so she was free finally, to allow herself to feel.
I’m certainly not a grammar expert, but the placement of the comma seems quite awkward. I think the sentence would work better if it was phrased like this:
No one could read the cat’s face clearly enough to guess her thoughts so she was finally free to allow herself to feel.
Also, this sentence stuck out to me too:
She knew the title would likely follow him for as long as he did live, which struck her as odd now as she considered that he'd never really gotten the chance to be a boy at all, but somehow a full grown man even as an eleven year old.
As I said I’m no expert in grammar, but this sentence feels awkwardly long. I had to read it twice to make full sense of it. I think it would be better if you made “ She knew the title would likely follow him for as long as he did live,” its own sentence instead of putting it with “which struck her as odd now as she considered that he'd never really gotten the chance to be a boy at all, but somehow a full grown man even as an eleven year old.” I’m not sure if you used a Beta on this fic, but I’d like to throw in that they’re very good with this sort of thing. I know that none of my writing would be validated if it weren’t for the help of my Betas!
Moving on, I did enjoy the second paragraph much more. It was only a few sentences but it was very well written. The imagery was beautiful and made me interested in the fic again.
Overall, the writing style of this piece wasn’t my favorite part about it. While it’s still an emotional fic, I think that some tweaks to the writing (such as removing certain commas to give it better flow or adding more imagery) would have added to it.
Next, I thought your characterization was well done. McGonagall was her stalwart self. I like that you didn’t let her dissolve into a little weepy mess when she talked to Harry. It would be easy to give in to cheesiness such as that, but you did a great job staying away from it. I have almost no complaints about Harry’s characterization either. The one critique I do have is the “Minerva”. I’ve read your response to Gina’s review and I understand your logic behind it. I’m sure it would be feasible that Harry would call her Minerva one day. However, it didn’t jibe well with me. I think it’s a very significant moment in DH when he still calls her professor, even though the teacher/student relationship between them no longer exists. I can’t picture him calling her Minerva so soon. Sorry to rehash this, but it bothered me a little bit. It didn’t really detract from the fic overall though.
I also wanted to add that I liked your little insertion of:
"I'm not worried, Harry," she said simply. She smiled and looked over at him, and knew that he could see the mist in her eyes, "I'm with you."
It was a sweet touch. I’m glad that you didn’t dwell on it, as then I think it would have become sappy. This way it hits you just the right way. Good job on adding that one in there.
Wrapping it up now, my final comment is that I thought it ended too soon. It’s quite a short fic. I also felt like the conversation between the two was too brief—I felt like I had only seen the beginning. I would have really liked to read more of this but I was disappointed that it ended so quickly.
Anyway, this was a sweet little piece and I did enjoy it. The closure it gave me (and I’m sure others who have read it) was wonderful. But I won’t dull you with a further rehash of my review :) Hope you found it helpful!
Author's Response: Thank you for such a detailed review, and my apologies for my delay in responding to it. I agree with you about the depth the scene of Harry protecting McGonagall added to thier relationship, and I was immensely sorry it was not included on film :( I appreciate your comments about the writing. No, I did not use a beta for this piece, as it was a plot bunny I adopted and hurried to get on the boards. I wondered if some of the comma usage was the best way to go but did not see how better to phrase it, so thanks for your suggestions. I will make corrections. After hearing your response to Harry's use of her given name, as well as Gina's, I admit that part may be too rushed for this scene. I will redo it to correct it so that it flows more gracefully to more readers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. On hearing how much it is liked, and that more may be desired, I am looking over the piece with the eye of expanding it some more. Thanks to everyone who has shared their input, and please stay tuned for updates :)
First off, this is an interesting idea. I always appreciate it when authors explore new scenarios, and I don’t think I’ve read this one before. It’s certainly not implausible or without precedent, but I can’t recall reading another scenario like this.
Second, I like that you tried to focus on the emotional repercussions of this idea. However, I did think that it verged on being a little melodramatic at times. For instance:
“No.....No...NOOOO!” The man howled on the floor, the sound leaving his lips eerily animal-like. He beat his fists on the floor as if willing his excess of life to flow through the ground to his best friend. He gazed for a moment at the imitation of his friend cruelly mocking him before curling toward the floor once more, losing himself in his grief.
I’m not a big fan of all-caps words (I don’t like them in the books, either). It just seems like a cheap way of expressing emotion in your writing. You really don’t need it, and I think you sell yourself short when you do it. Your writing is passionate enough on its own without all the caps!
Also, I think it seemed like you were simply relating the grief to the readers instead of really feeling it. I also think that sentences like this seem a little trite:
Lily stared back at him, the tears streaking down his boyish face breaking her heart in two once again. He was too young to have lost his best friend. She was too young to have lost the love of her life. They were all too young for this. Hell, they were hardly out of their teens.
Maybe it’s because I read so many like them in fanfiction. I feel like I’ve read this paragraph many times in fanfiction. While it’s true, it doesn’t feel very original. You definitely don’t seem to struggle with writing at a basic level, but it doesn’t really stand out to me. To be fair, I have been on MNFF a long time. I’ve become jaded, and when everyone’s writing based around the same universe there’s bound to be lots of overlap.
I think the second problem with why I found the emotion to be a little hollow was the lack of build up. Obviously we know how this happens in the books (even though you tweaked it) and we have background knowledge on James and Lily. However, when you simply thrust a reader into an emotional situation it doesn’t resonate as well. I think if you had included a scene between James, Lily, and Harry before it would have worked better. I have to feel their love first to know how sad it is that it’s now gone. I realize that I seem a little cold-hearted; of course the death of James is terrible and tragic. However, I need the emotional build up.
Moving on, your characterization was suitable. Lily’s appropriately devastated but strong. Lupin’s his wise, tried and true self. And of course Sirius is his crazy, overly emotional self. I thought the characterization of the three was good, but it didn’t really give me any further insights into the characters.
I did like the ending, which I thought was poignant without being too dramatic:
Lily turned to Sirius and Remus, who had gathered beside her. They were both entranced by the little boy who so clearly mirrored their friend. “I can’t do this on my own. I’m going to need help. Are you two willing to be around and -- ”
Lily looked around at the two men and little boy that were her life now. She knew the future that lay before her would not be easy or pain-free by any means, but she had finally found her way home.
I love that they interrupted her immediately. It’s something I can picture clearly in my head and it’s significant but understated. Despite my critique I don’t find any huge problems with this, as the writing and characterization are fine. My main problem is that it doesn’t strike much emotion in me when it should, for the aforementioned reasons.
I hope you were able to find this helpful, and I apologize if it seems overly critical! I did like it, I just think it’s much more helpful to an author to over critique than under critique.
Author's Response: Thank you for this detailed review. I do enjoy any response from readers, but I especially enjoy when readers take the time to actually think about what they're reading and comment back. I do greatly appreciate both your praise and your criticism. The aspects you enjoyed were probably the parts I was most proud of. I like exploring new ideas. I truly enjoyed exploring the emotional consequences of that night. And most of all, I did really like the end. So thank you for noticing those things. Thank you, also, for catching things that I don't always catch. In reference to melodramatic scenes, I am not a huge fan, either. So going back, I can see how that would bother you. I'm guessing that I was too caught up in my own writing and the emotion I was feeling that I missed how it would translate actually written out. In reference to your comment about your lack of connection to the emotion because of the lack of backstory, I get it. I do. It was a choice I made that may not have been the best, but I was actually planning on a memory making it into the next chapter. So that's the reasoning there. I do agree that backstory gives us a reference point; seeing what once was makes it all the more devastating to lose. I'm trying to fit more backstory into later chapters. Again, thank you for all this criticism. I will try to take it all into consideration when continuing on with this. I hope you will continue reading, and enjoy it, if only somewhat. :)