Way back in the beginning, after one of the earlier chapters, I started a planning a review, filing away things I would say about the story. With the last few chapters, that plan is now in tatters. I had in no way anticipated the direction that this story would take- from a complex character piece to a part-fantasy, part-adventure, part-mystery tale about different myths and different worlds; your excellent writing has, of course, carried me with it. I can only imagine the effort you must have taken to imagine, and write, it.
I love your Victoire. She's so believable and relatable, and the absolutely stunning detail you inserted about her always leaving a window open in case Gidget ever does come back-is an indelible image. Whenever I think of her, I'll of that and everything that says about her. Lovely thought; lovely character. And this eye for minute detail is what I appreciate most about your writing. I wanted to burst out in song every time I saw the word 'rug' in the text! You took a small line from Fleur and fleshed that out into a series of moments, into a thing- and it was great. Scorpius as the first year who summoned Victoire in the forest, Albus' (whose portrayal I absolutely love) history with Teddy: all small points, but beautifully done.
You've accommodated a large cast of characters while giving each a distinct role and voice. Bill, Andromeda, Albus, Phineas, Owen- am I allowed to have so many favourites(Victoire, of course, towers above them all)? Bill especially- I can see him and he's just the kind of man, and father, that I expected him to be. And Teddy! Again, I can see him so clearly, both Teddy-of-the-light-eyes and Teddy-of-the-dark and you've worked hard enough with his characterisation that it isn't easy to dislike him, despite his actions. The scene where Victoire walks in on him and, er, Ick (I can't get that name out of my head now) is powerful and chilling. And there's more: you've written Ollivander! With a heart! And the basic conceit of Victoire as an Adrenalin Animagus is wonderful. With such an intricate story, there's much to praise.
But- and this is the only constructive feedback I have to offer- this great strength could also be a hindrance at times. Owen's geneaology, Victoire's condition, her dynamic with Teddy, BIMAS, the fairies, Micah: although these various threads seem to intertwine more and more as the story goes on, I sometimes find it difficult to keep up. I feel that the chapter with the boat incident divides the story into two sections, each with a very distinct tone and scale: the first is more character-driven and allows us to 'locate' Victoire properly while the second introduces the larger fairies/wandlore plot. To be fair, you wove a lot of the elements of the latter into the former, but I still felt unprepared for the shift when it happened. After settling in with the world of BIMAS, meeting superb characters like the Pauls and getting behind Owen's search, I was suddenly somewhere else and it was too new somehow. Consequently the boat chapter, the fiendfyre, the meeting with the fairies, the new information about Teddy's wand, had/have me a bit overwhelmed. I'd suggest that either the transition between the two halves (although the 'halves' are in my head) be made a bit smoother with a clear privileging of one story thread over others and/or more anticipation. Or that the break is even more clearly defined, with chapter 19 (or 20) beginning a new part or section. Does that make sense?
But I don't want to sound like I'm not enjoying the story because I really am. I'll re-read it once more to understand the later chapters better and it speaks volumes that I'll do this gladly. Your style, your ideas but most of all your wonderful, sympathetic characters make for rewarding reading, so thank you- and I look forward to the rest of it! And sorry for the obscenely long review!
Author's Response: Patroni! Wow. This is one of the most amazing reviews I've ever gotten. I'm not even sure how to respond. Thanks for the time and for the lovely comments. I'm just still staring.
I'm unbelievably happy you mentioned the details that you did. They were all very deliberate and to have someone pick them up and make note - that's truly satisfying.
Bill is love. He and Fleur were extremely fun to write as parents. Teddy's characterization was absolutely the most difficult I've ever tackled because he is so not himself for so much of the story, and yet, he needs to be enough that readers don't despise him and other characters don't pick up on the change enough to challenge it immediately.
Teddy-of-the-light-eyes and Teddy-of-the-dark! That is probably how I'm going to think of him now :)
The best part of this review (beyond the lovely comments that have me dancing) is that I really do get what you're saying about the flow and the transition. There ARE many moving parts and I want to get them right, so hearing where things don't flow in a reader's experience is vital. This comment is perfect in that respect.