Sorry for the delay in reviewing this, I've been absolutely swamped by finals and life in general, but I'm here now! (; It's late, though, so I apologize beforehand for any incoherency on my part!
I can't believe I put this off for so long because this was absolutely gorgeous, dear!
Your imagery is drool-worthy. There is no other word for it, I wish I could pull something like this off. Just the first lines, which set the atmosphere are breathtaking. I've never read something with this strong imagery, it felt as if I were there. You established the setting flawlessly and powerfully.
I loved the setting; a dark, looming night at Hogwarts. Very film noir - which was probably what you were aiming for, I'm guessing. And your description of Hogwarts was spot on. It's so different from how people usually describe the castle, but this description rings true, somehow. The ghosts haunting the place, bearing witness to horror and dark secrets. It's a different take on Hogwarts; a darker one. But it's also a more realistic take. I loved it together with Moody and the misty night. It created a spooky and mysterious atmosphere and it all came together rather nicely. Also, the lack of dialogue at the beginning was very powerful, so Moody in a way.
Your characterization of Moody was spot on, I couldn't tell the difference from JK's Moody and yours, I loved how it takes place just after he lost his leg. There are so many things that confuse me, though. The letter, McGonagall and her relationship with Tom Riddle, the last sentence Dumbledore says to Moody. This is a great opening chapter; I'm definitely intrigued and can't wait to read more. Every passage flowed beautifully as well. This was a joy to read.
I also loved the references to different events we've read about in the HP books. A lot of authors skip these things as it takes research and effort to make it all come together, so I was really pleased to read this. The references to Hepzibah Smith's murder and the various times Voldemort seeks the position as a teacher made this entire piece very believable.
Overall this is absolutely gorgeous. So great job, my dear. I loved Moody and I loved the imagery - gorgeous, gorgeous. Well done.
Author's Response: Oh, no worries about the delay. I'm always slow in getting through my reviewing list, for much the same reasons as you - school is meant to eat our souls, I swear. But anyway, thank you very much for reading and reviewing this story! I really enjoyed reading yours, and it's wonderful to hear that you enjoyed this one too! ^_^
I'm really happy that you liked the imagery and the setting. It was so much fun to write those and just go all-out with shadows and darkness - it meant for a very different perspective on Hogwarts, far darker than I imagined, but it helped get me in the right mood for the story. It's great that you found it realistic - I was worried that I was going overboard with the noir-ish imagery - but you're right that with the ghosts and the castle's history there's something real about this kind of description. Hogwarts can be a very scary place, and with this story, I want to explore that potential to see where it takes me. :)
It's fantastic that you like this portrayal of Moody. I've loved writing him for a while - it must be because he's a detective, and I read way too many mystery stories - so hearing that he's spot-on canon is a great treat. :D
Haha, so many questions, yes. That's the fun part (for me, not for readers, that is :P). Because this isn't going to be a long story, I have to pack more plot elements into each chapter, so there's very little introduction - the ball starts rolling as soon as Moody arrives. It is, however, a relief to hear that things flowed together to produce a strong opening chapter. I've got it right and just have to go on writing from here. :D
Thank you again for this review! These exchanges are wonderful ways of getting new opinions and reading new authors, and it's been a pleasure to hear from you. ^_^