Hey, Renny -- here for the exchange! I have seen this pop up in several review exchanges over the past few months, and I've finally had the chance to read it for myself, which is very neat. Right from the start, the premise for this story is extremely original. I've heard of a few (but not many) fic set in other countries, but never one in Japan, and never one that really world-builds like you've already done here. If you were hoping to make your story stand out from its counterparts, then you have by and large succeeded!
I think probably the thing that struck me the most about this chapter is the depth of the research you've clearly put into it. I really appereciate that as a reader, because it goes with what I said above about world-building: It creates an atmosphere, and it's nice to know that you care enough about your story to put that sort of time and effort into it. I love feeling like I'm there when I'm reading, original fiction or fan fiction, and this was one of the stories that made it easy to picture exactly what you wanted to reader to see.
There was a lot of description in this, too, which contributed to that (I know I'm kind of stuck on that, broken-record style, but that's truly what I got out of this story, how thorough it was!). One of my favorite lines:
The purple, clove-scented smoke flew away from him to join the final great puff of steam -- I have a thing for smoke and mist! And that was really elegant, somehow -- I enjoyed it. The description of the smoke as being clove-scented puts that smell immediately in mind, too, which was great.
Your tying in Pottermore and the cherry-and-dragon-heartstring wand, and the Japanese magic school, and Snape's ancestors... That was perhaps what impressed me the most. Again you ground your story in such thorough realism, and again I'm blown away! I know it's been ages (let's not calculate how long) since I've read The Dream of One Night, but of course your love for Snape isn't ever far from you, and I think you're doing your AU Snape storyline much credit here.
Anyway. I think this was a bit more rambling than I intended, but I hope you'll forgive me for that. :) Great job with this, and do keep doing what you're doing! I'm glad I got to exchange with you at last!
Author's Response: Yaaay! I'm so glad we got to exchange finally too! Same here... it's been, ugh, FOREVER since I last read "In the Black" :( I can't believe you're almost DONE with the trilogy! (way off topic, but one of my favorite bands, the lead singer being the guy I base my own Severus's appearance off of, came out with a song called "In the Black." I always think of Beth when I hear it :D) I wish I had had a tenth (no pun intended) of your dedication and creativity when I was in school. I cringe when I look back now at all the time I used to have and how I spent most of it playing video games or something stupid. Anyway, I'll always appreciate the reviews you left me for my own story :) I more than anyone know sometimes you just can't get back to a story to finish it. I have so many amazing stories here on HPFF, yours included, that I started in the past and know I just probably won't ever get to finish, especially since we'll probably be adding to our family again in a couple years, just when the first one's in school.
Anyway, thanks for this review :D I think the sheer amount of research and time I put into this first chapter is what's taking me so long to get back to work on the second one. I'm pretty familiar with modern Japanese pop culture, but know almost nothing about this specific time period. So it was literally write one sentence then spend twenty minutes researching the next sentence.
It would have been nice if I could have done a canon-Snape, but then I wouldn't have been drawn to make up this whole other magical tangent. I can't see the Princes as being people who had enough money to travel the world, unless Eileen Prince married WAY below her station. So that's been fun, doing an almost completely OC story with a nod to canon here and there.
Ok, I'm finding myself growing rambly. Is rambly a word? Google Chrome seems to disagree with me. Thank you again for the review, and I'm stoked we got to be paired up! Good luck with your many, many writing projects!