What a beautiful ending! I've just read this story all in one go and I had to review to let you know how much I enjoyed it.
The summary caught my eye and I was quickly dragged into the story within the first few chapters. I desperately wanted to know what James had done to his family that was so terrible. I wasn't expecting it to be what it was but it fit all the pieces of the story really well. I thought the way you shared that information over several chapters to find out the whole story was great and it gave me time to think about how it affected the family and what a big impact it had.
One of the things I liked most about this story was your style of writing. There was such finesse in your descriptions. They were short and simple but gave all the information I needed to know. You didn't overdo it with long paragraphs; it was perfect. I might re-read the story just for the descriptive writing. :P
I liked your portrayal of James a lot. He wasn't just some kid who got fed up of his family and the fame; there was a lot more to him. I felt that his character was a bit stilted around chapters 5 or 6, but I understood you had writer's block. The flow of the story was much better afterwards and I just kept reading until the end, not wanting to stop.
There was a lot of depth in James' thoughts and actions, and that, along with the visual descriptions, really made your story great. I felt that you got underneath his character, digging down to the roots of him to explain his actions, and I started to see James as a real person with depth and emotions and love.
I hated him when I found out what he had done to his family, and I could understand the betrayal and hatred that his family felt towards him. After finishing this story, I tried to think about how I might have reacted if I had been in Lily or Albus' position and I honestly have no idea, which is a little scary.
There was one point when I thought James' progression was perhaps going a bit fast but it didn't bother much and I thought the rest of the story was better. I really felt for James in the last chapter, especially when he spoke to Lily, and when he presented Dominique with the repaired present. I think I even had tears in my eyes!
Although the other characters, with the exception of Rose and Ella, had little screen time, their characters and personalities came across really well. The short narratives that you inserted between the dialogues helped with that a lot, as did James' memories about them as children and at school. It was a beautiful sentiment that Molly and Rose had faith in James that he could change and grown up but only if he really wanted to. Rose's behaviour and tolerance of him was admirable, as was her desire to help him, even if so that she didn't let her grandmother down.
As the only OC in the story, I was interested to see what part Ella would play in James' self improvement. When you mentioned in an author's note that you didn't intend for this to be a James/OC, I was glad because I didn't want a relationship between them to lessen the effect of the overall story. It didn't, I'm pleased to say, in fact I thought it showed further development in James' character that he didn't just use her as he would have previously.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and it made me think a lot about human character and our limits. Hopefully, I'll be able to read more of your work soon! :)
Author's Response: I can find no way to get this stunning review on one page to reply to. I don't think I've ever seen anything so long. Thank you so much!
I think I'm prouder of the summary than most of the story, actually. It's the only thing that didn't change whilst I was writing this and it came very naturally. Sadly it probably makes the story sound more exciting than it actually is, as do the first few chapters. It did change quite significantly once I got back into the swing of writing it. Originally what James did was going to be more serious but I thought I'd go for something a little less shocking!
I find it quite funny that you commented on my style in this. I started it with the intention writing in the style of my one-shots at the time but I don't think it really worked so it's quite interesting for me for you to mention it! The short but deceptively informative description appears to be a bit of a staple of mine :P It is something quite natural that I don't really notice when I write so it's nice for people to point it out as a positive.
I'm so glad that you think there's more to James than just a spoiled brat. He definitely has those elements in him but I have read stories before where he went off the rails just because of the fame. I wanted there to be something different to him, something a bit more human. You're completely right about him being a bit off in those two chapters. I'll go back and edit it at some point! The flow in the later chapters is definitely related to the fact that I wrote it very quickly and often 2-3 chapters a night which helps with the continuity.
I really did want to dig into him as a character as a way to prove to the reader, more than anything, that he was more than all those other takes on James as the prodigal son. I definitely wanted people to hate him and feel a lot of empathy for his family, especially before he starts to redeem himself. He doesn't start as a likeable character - anyone who thinks he did worries me! I'm not sure what I'd do either. My brother and I don't get on brilliantly anyway but I don't know what I'd do in Lily's position.
Again, you're spot on with the speed of the change in James. There is a slightly bigger time jump than there appears to be but it's not very obvious and honestly, I was just being lazy :P I wanted to get it over and done with rather than developing him properly! However, to know that the last chapter made you feel sympathy for him is wonderful. I may stick another chapter in one day to try and prolong the progression but I repeat, I'm lazy!
I am quite proud of the other characters, especially in the later chapters. Pretty much every Next Gen character gets their say, as well as a lot of Harry's generation, but I think my very firm idea of what each Next Gen character is like helps in situations like this. Molly and Rose are so important in this story and I do admire them a lot. I'm not sure I could have the faith they did in him.
Bringing Ella in was such a hard decision. I've got versions with and without her but I'm glad I put her in now. I really didn't want this to become a romance but I do love their relationship and what it brings to James' character.
Thank you so much, Sophia. I can't say it enough. This review is...wonderful and this story completely does not deserve it!
Thank you ♥