Hey there, it's Whiskey from the forums with your requested review.
When I saw that this was an AU involving madness, I feared it would be one of those (obligatory for every fanverse) there-is-no-magic-its-all-in-your-head trips to the loony bin to visit all of our favourite characters in straightjackets. I don't like those stories.
What I DO like, though, is an eery and precise resurrection of an entire HP BOOK in zombie form! I don't know how you did it, but somehow Harry Potter came back to life...very real, but different in such a subtle, unsettling way. I had no choice but to be drawn to him, like to the ghost of a dead lover.
Basically, what I am trying to say is your stylistic loyalty to cannon was incredible! And I believe it also contributed to the unsettling effect of the story. Harry was not the only one trying to discern fantasy from reality. We, the readers, were caught in the same dilema as well, trying to figure out whether the Harry before us was an imposter, or if he was more real than the one we knew in the books.
Needless to say, your imagery is mindblowing. Its poetic in a cold, detached sort of way. It's not emotional imagery, but it creates emotion, if you know what I mean? Like good art, its gives you associations, but lets you decide yourself how you will connect them. One of my favorites was this:"Rain was pouring off the castle in great torrents, sheeting down the windows like melted glass." Subtle yet conflicting. So...good...
There were many other things I loved about this one-shot. Leaving Harry out of the ending was a great move, and so was the decision to structure the story in cut -off bits, mirroring the disconnectedness of Harry's inner world.
But since this is supposed to be a helpful review, I must come up with some CC and so I managed to think of a few things! It was quite a challenge though! XD
1) There are several sentences that seem odd and break the flow. For example:"Harry whipped his head around, trying to see what his mind had deemed appropriate for his dreams tonight." It's weirdly self-aware compared to the rest of the story. It's also not necessary, since we find out we are in a dream soon enough without it. Or another instance, when Ron said this: “I've been calling your name for a while, Harry!” the entire sentence just seemed very odd. I can't imagine anyone ever speaking like that, excpet maybe a needy and tired grandmother? I don't know, something is weird there...
2)It seemed to me that Harry's illness didn't really progress or develop throughout the story...All of the episodes seemed to be of a similar level of intensity (except the ones involving killing, of course). This is a very subjective thing and I'm sure many others would not see it this way, but I became quickly numbed to Harry's suffering because it was a constant. I was hoping to see him in moments of clarity where it seems like everything will be fine and then BAM an onlaught of psychosis. Or him just coming to terms with some of his symptoms and then something new and terrible shocking him into a new wave of fear and confusion. Basically, I was hoping to see some contrast that would intensify the significance of his moments of insanity
That's it! 10/10 for sure. And don't be surprised if you suddenly find me reading ALL of your stories! ;)
Author's Response: Thank you for taking the time to leave this for me! It's super appreciated. :) I love writing about mental illness (as weird as it sounds to say that), and I'm so glad that you enjoyed this and found it to be rather in canon -- those are, perhaps, the two things I was most striving for in writing this!
I think Order of the Phoenix is one of the most interesting books, in that it deals so much with the mind, and what's real versus what isn't. There's Legilimency and Occlumency, and Voldemort sort of lurking about in Harry's mind, and I knew instantly when I sat down to write a second one of these stories that this would be the book I'd set my plot in. :)
I love the words you used in your review -- cold, detached. Because I think those are the sorts of things that Harry is experiencing here, and to convey that and to hear it's been conveyed is very gratifying. This is, of course, an alternate year in some aspects, but I wanted to have it feel like all the books before and after this one, and even parts of this one, happened exactly as JKR wrote them. If that makes any sense at all. ;)
I actually used a few discordant sentences on purpose for stylistic effect, but I am rather glad you pointed them out anyway! I'll look at Ron's sentence and see how I might re-write it, too. :) As for the progression of Harry's mental illness, it really isn't supposed to progress /too/ much here, just because Voldemort doesn't really progress, either. You know? I feel like I'm typing really confusing things right now. :P But I honestly do appreciate both of your points of constructive criticism!
Thank you once again for taking the time to leave me a review on this story! ♥ I can't tell you how much it means to me, and would love to see you back soon!!