Jingle bells, jingle bells... I'm back again for another lovely chapter!
You really outdid yourself with the vivid, intense details in this chapter. Based on the title, I expected there to be a lot of descriptions and a fair measure of excess, but the lengths you went to in order to convey the lavish, luxurious lifestyles of the Selwyns and Ravenclaws were really impressive.
The opening scene left me feeling a little bad for Venn. Pity isn't quite the right word for it, but I felt like he's struggling to live up to his father's legacy and not really getting there. The coat was a great sort of physical metaphor for the larger problem. His mother's comments only add to what I imagine he's feeling. It's hard to say, I think, whether the problem is even genuine. We never see Venn's father, so there's no way to know whether the standard he's trying to match is real or inflated. Regardless, I think it all left him feeling somewhat inadequate.
I really liked how you managed to write this journey taken by these two privileged, noble, magical people and sort of reduce it to the long care ride that I think we can all relate to from growing up. So far, you've made it seem as though a lot of the magical conveniences that witches and wizards take for granted in the more modern eras (floos, portkeys and apparation, to name a few) either haven't been discovered yet or aren't commonly used. I like the effect. It harkens to a simpler time where visiting and courting were much bigger endeavors. It also leaves me wondering whether there's a difference for really powerful witches and wizards like Salazar and Rowena.
I can't decide which I thought was lovelier, your descriptions of the passing countryside or the way that Edeline describes Helena to Venn. She really builds her up, but strictly in the sense of her appearance. It definitely shows what she thinks of as being important.
I thought it was a great touch, making Venn slightly jealous of the Ravenclaws' majestic home and then having him pick at the details in order to compensate for his own feelings of inadequacy. Feeling inadequate seems like it's becoming a frequent occurrence for him. I'm really curious to see how he reacts when it becomes apparent that Helena is, at least intellectually, way out of his league. You've planted some very interesting seeds and it's going to be so interesting to find out which ones ultimately contribute to the end of their doomed romance.
I thought this chapter was brilliant. The only thing I could possibly suggest to add to it would be a little more of Venn's inner reaction to the way that his mother measures him against the standards of his father. It seemed like an interesting vein of thought for him, considering how much he wants to don that crown and ascend to the throne.
Author's Response: Hi Dan! Sorry this response took ages!
I'm pleased to hear that you liked the imagery in this chapter! I had fun describing the little date arranged by the two families and Venn and Helena's separate reactions to everything.
I liked writing the part with the coat because I felt like it exposed a very human side to this great mythical figure of the Bloody Baron. Not only does it foreshadow a long history of wearing expensive jackets (including the one that will eventually become bloodstained), but as you pointed out, it also was used as a symbol of his hesitant attitude toward actually taking steps to claim his father's throne. He's very childish in his behavior at times, and here I think he sort of acknowledges that. I hope it served as a nice contrast to his proud, confident nature in the second chapter. A lot of people seem very pro-Helena, and I want there to be some support in Venn's corner, too :)
You know, I didn't even really think about the fact that the Selwyns probably could have just Apparated to Ravenclaw Castle. Let's blame it on the fact that magical forms of transport would leave them looking a little mussed and not ready for fine company, shall we? Haha.
Feeling inadequate is a big part of Venn's character. Naturally, meeting with a girl who is smart and unconventional will probably throw him for a loop! I'm really having fun taking their courtship slow and just toying with the ideas they have about one another.
Hmm, that would be an interesting addition. Perhaps I'll throw more of that in later on. Thanks for the tip--always looking to improve!
Thanks again for this very kind review :)