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Review:Violet Gryfindor says:
This is a fascinating story, though I rather expected it to be out of the ordinary and beautifully done, seeing that you had written it. But I didn't expect just how you would combine the two challenges together. In my mind, because of the film noir influence, I pictured a black and white film, with, oddly enough, Voldemort as the femme fatale and Bella as the manipulated hero. While Voldemort isn't effeminate in any way, there's a sort of mystical allure to him in his youthful form, emphasized by your observation regarding his scent and the way that it draws Bella into his web. It was an interesting reversal and it worked very well, especially since you had framed Bella as a hard-working, isolated person, rather similar to the detectives of old noir, driven by her cause, which, in her mind, is a cause for the greater good. My brain is exploding from all of the thoughts your story has brought to life, so I'll move on before I get too distracted from my challenge's expectations. :P

Which you, of course, fulfill perfectly. I love the imagery in this story - there's a great sense of airiness and movement to this story, fuelled by the language and the dizzying dance. There's also an effective use of water imagery... well, it's not exactly imagery, but you use verbs that evoke the image of waves sweeping across the shore and the tidal wave that is Voldemort sweeping over Bella, easily drowning out her reason and practical mindedness. The use of darkness and shadows effectively accentuated the noir-esque atmosphere (and it's probably why I visualized this story in black and white). Your language is subtle, not overdoing the images at all, making them just enough to immerse the reader in Bella's state of mind and the power that Voldemort has over her. It's all very beautifully done, right down to that wonderful last night. You've hit my weak spot for dark/shadow imagery. ;)

Going back to the characterization, I am interested in the way that Voldemort reveals his secret of the horcruxes, showing that, to a degree, he does trust Bella more than anything else, perhaps because her has the greatest power over her. He has to use force with others, even his own followers, but she follows blindly, loyally, blindly, entirely under his spell by her own will. It's very canon because it highlights her fanaticism, but you take Bella a step further by showing that she is her own person beyond her loyalty to Voldemort - she has interests and ambitions, but she willingly puts them aside for Voldemort, partially because they are, she believes, heading toward the same cause of eradicating Muggles and Muggleborns. She prides herself on her strengths, but he is her fatal weakness, the only person she puts before herself. I can't decide whether she knows how much he is manipulating her - I don't think she does, of if she does, she has long ago repressed that knowledge. She plays right into Voldemort's desires, and he knows exactly how to get what he wants from her. It's an extraordinary relationship the way that you've portrayed it here, one that works frighteningly well for both of them. *shakes head*

Anyway, thank you for this story. It has been a delight to read and ponder over (not to mention analyze, sorry about that), and I wish you the best of luck in the challenge. As I mentioned in my comment, with the quality of the works being entered, it will be extremely difficult to choose a winner - all of you are interpreting the challenge so differently that I don't know what I'll do (perhaps cop out and give you all the prize? I rather like that option). Amazing work, once again! You are getting better and better with each story of yours I read. :D

Author's Response: This review. Wow. Okay... time to respond :)

As I've already mentioned to you, you basically read my mind. You saw the characters exactly as I planned them, even to the point of the noir-themed role reversal. Bellatrix is the anti-hero, the person who isn't wholly good or wholly evil, and ultimately the victim of Voldemort, the male femme fatale who seeks to manipulate her in any manner possible. I'm ecstatic to see that you caught my little twist on the traditional, and even more so that you enjoyed what I did with it!

I'm so, so happy that you liked the imagery. I worried when composing this piece that I was overdoing it and making it too intentional, but all the feedback so far has been great, and to hear you add to it just sets things in stone for me. The shadow imagery just played in absolutely perfectly with the film noir theme of the other challenge, and I loved using it to play around with Voldemort and Bellatrix and really try to delve into such a complex pairing.

You think it's canon? Oh, I might cry. So many others have told me that it's not canon, that they're really disappointed with it, and all I wanted was for one person to read it and say that they appreciated my tricky little move. In my mind, it fits with canon, because Voldemort did seem to relate to Bellatrix slightly more than some other Death Eaters, even though on the surface he really cares for no one besides himself. I'm also really happy that you liked how I tried to portray Bellatrix as an independent woman who gave herself up for love, because that, too, is how I've always seen her. She's clearly a powerful witch who is more than capable of taking care of herself, and yet her devotion to him is almost like that of a servant to a master.

I don't mind your analysis! Seriously, I love it. Thanks for issuing such a fun challenge, and I'm so glad that you're happy with my entry. Looking forward to seeing the outcome! :)

Amanda


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