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Review:Gryffie Secret Santa says:
Happy Holidays! This is your first Gryffindor Secret Santa review!

I like the premise of your story. I'm sure many children suffered the same tragic fate as Phoebe during Voldemort's rise to power. Parents who were terrified and wanted to place their children out of harm's way. It's very sad but it rings very true. The night that her mother drops her off at the Smiths' home was nicely written and I liked the way that she used the noise of disapparition to alert them to what had happened.

Moving ahead eleven years, Phoebe seemed like a realistic eleven-year-old girl. She has a comfortable life with parents who love her but are also honest with her about the questions surrounding her past and her mother. It's an unconventional take on this type of story; most adoptive parents, I think, would have been tempted to hide the truth from her until she was older. It suggests an unusual level of maturity and a somewhat different relationship.

Her older brother was difficult to get a sense of in this chapter. According to the narrative description, he's protective of her, but his actions in this one scene don't exactly reinforce that message.

I liked the descriptions of her small accidents with underage magic. She's clearly a little on the precocious side for a witch, apparently able to sometimes apparate herself out of uncomfortable situations. That particular detail seemed a bit much, to be honest. I'm thinking that a child who's demonstrated such abilities would attract a lot more attention than just a mention of the event to her parents.

McGonagall's appearance definitely marks a turning point in Phoebe's life. I thought you wrote the professor's dialog well. Her very proper and no-nonsense approach to her visit rang true to the character. I felt badly for poor Phoebe, trying to internalize so much at once. I'm certain that she's known that she was different, but having it laid out so plainly mush have been overwhelming.

As far as constructive criticism, my biggest suggestion for this chapter would be to slow the pacing and let things develop more gradually and naturally. For instance, you introduce us to eleven-year-old Phoebe, her parents, her brother and her life-to-date in about six paragraphs before McGonagall arrives at the door. It's a lot of information and I feel like I'm going struggle to recall it later due to the lack of context. First chapters are always tough because there's that temptation to throw in every last bit of back story that you want the reader to know. In this case, I think you could have benefited from making the chapter longer and delivering Phoebe's back story more slowly.

The other thing I noticed is that you briefly slip into McGonagall's point of view when Phoebe is asking her questions. Since everything up to that point had been told from Phoebe's point of view, it was a little jarring to suddenly be inside somebody else's head.

Overall, I think you did a good job with this. You've created a realistic main character and set some interesting events in motion around her. I'm excited to see how her life changes.

Author's Response: Hi, and thank you for the review! I wrote these chapters nearly two years ago now, so I should edit them because its cringe worthy looking through all the mistakes I've made. However I do remember having a lot of fun writing the part with her mother because it's the hints that really get me working as hard as I can.

As far as the adoptive parents are concerned I just thought to myself I want Heather to see her as their child, but not. So on some levels its great they've been honest with Phoebe about the fact they aren't her biological parents, but it'd make Phoebe feel a bit distant from the family and like she didn't belong. Hopefully I got some of that across but I do need to edit this, badly!

Ugh her brother, can you tell I can't write minor OC's well at all? He was a gap filler but he's sort of grown on me whilst planning this story more and thinking about how he can be re-introduced but we'll have to wait and see.

McGonagall is my favourite character from the series so she was definitely a lot of fun to write and will be recurring in this story more and more. I tried to remember what I first thought about magic when I was 11 and how I'd have reacted, being confused, in denial and all in all shocked.

Again thanks for the review and the constructive criticism has been altogether very useful and made me think about editing these first two chapters.


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