Hello, Blonde. I've read the prologue and the first two chapters but I'm just posting one big review. Hope that's okay :)
Prologue - I really like the way you started this off. I think you made a great choice in selecting this moment as an opening. It's a very specific scene, where you don't try to do too much, just ease the reader into the story. Julienne is likable and pitiable and because of that I'm inclined to feel for the child, who at this point I assume will become the main character. My main criticism thus far is that the chapter is a little wordy. Many of the sentences are rather long (I think there is even a point where you use two semicolons back to back). Also, there are repeated words and/or words that aren't really necessary. Here's an example:
Julienne Macnair glanced down at the newborn child and started to bounce her up and down in her arms, thinking that the constant motion would ease the newborn's cries to silence. But the action did not help the exhausted mother any. For the tiny face of her daughter was still scrunched up in anguish, and her tiny hands and feet did not stop squirming from underneath the pink blanket.
This could be tightened up for better flow, I think. Newborn and tiny are both repeated. Also, "easing the cries" implies silence, and the word beneath could replace "from underneath." These are just a few examples of how you might be a bit more picky with the amount of words.
Chapter One - I thought the opening of this chapter was very strong. I think you selected the perfect moment to launch the story. The chaos and commotion in the hall and the common room was very realistic. I think you also did a great job with Pansy. You wrote both her dialogue and attitude very well. I like Illyana thus far. It's great that you didn't try to push too much of her on your readers at once. We'll get to know her better as we go. Two areas I felt were a little weak were the relationship between Daphne and Illyana and the funeral at the end. I got the impression from the rest of the chapter that Illyana is a loner so I'm surprised to see Daphne so emotional with her. I like Daphne's reaction to the stress - it makes a good contrast - but that she turns to Illyana for comfort seems odd. As for the funeral, the scene felt too short, just kind of tucked in there. I would have either drawn it out or skipped it all together. I didn't really feel it added much in the way of leading us on to the next chapter.
Chapter Two - Overall, I thought this was another good chapter. Again, I really like the way you stay in the moment and don't jump around scene-to-scene. I thought it was very clever how you commented on the empty house, comparing it to what Illyana expected to find. It set the scene visually without simply being a list of the items in the house. I particularly liked the bit about the kitchen. The secret room was also very clever. Again though, the ending felt a bit rushed. You built and built the tension but it didn't really peak for me at the end. It felt a little bit of a cookie-cutter response to the stress - a shaking hand, a single tear. I would have liked to see more confusion, disbelief, an insistence to find more clues. She just seems to instantly accept that her mother is gone. If it were me, I would have run through the house, ran outside to see if I could catch up to her...any desperate measure to better figure out what was going on.
Phew, okay, this is getting long so I'm going to stop here. I hope I was able to provide some helpful comments. Please feel free to poke me again sometime for more reviews if you like. Best of luck with the story!
Author's Response: After almost a whole year, I'm responding to this review. It's taken me awhile to have the guts to reply to such a response to my story. I think I even stopped writing it, so that I could deal with the kinks that you mentioned above. The constructive criticism was amoung the best I've received and I am wholeheartedly grateful for the time and effort you put into this review. I only wish I responded to it earlier so that you could've known sooner how much I appreciated everything you wrote. I took all the concrit and, finally, made the necessary edits. Some changes were directly due to your response. And other changes, like the ending of chapter 2, were changed because of other reviewers' echoing your thoughts about the unfruitful nature of Chapter 2's ending.
Hopefully now I've achieved some of the things you mentioned. A tighter word range and a better grasp on the characters' interactions. You were right about Daphne, I just didn't want my character to come across as heartless because she isn't. But I suppose I will have to get at that characteristic another, better suited, way. And hopefully no more "cookie-cutter" endings; I don't want that at all.
Again, thank you so much for all the helpful words and I hope that I will be a better writer in the future from them :)