Hey Susan! I'm here to initiate the first of our swaps :) Since I've read the first five chapters but only now just started reviewing, I'm just going to leave some comments on what I read prior to this chapter first.
I've really enjoyed getting to know Helen. She's plucky and cynical and yet totally aware of the social conventions expected of her. She seems willing to conform as long as it suits her purposes, just as you would expect from a Slytherin; at the same time, she doesn't dull her sharp tongue in conversation, particularly with Moody. I think you've broken convention with her in a couple of different ways. For one, a lot of pureblood female OCs wind up pouting in their parents' homes or suffering as newlyweds in their arranged marriages. But Helen just went for it, left and carved out a life for herself, and with her struggles, the journey feels realistic. For another, you've done a good job of building up her character so that it doesn't feel forced or contrived to me to see Helen engaging in so much internal dialogue and sarcasm. It makes sense for her to reason with herself a lot, given all that she's trying to hide.
Oh, and Moody! I like how he's got that spitfire personality, as well as the contrast between his disdain of Helen and his fascination with her. I love it when a line of his dialogue pops up, because I know it's going to bring out Helen's worst. Hehe.
The premise for the story is obviously original, and I like the idea of there being this curse that isn't quite obvious to everyone but with which your main character is very in tune. It'll be interesting to see where Pharoah's wife comes in, and how she'll react to her husband's tomb being desecrated.
Anyway, on to the chapter at hand.
Helen is just full of contrasts, isn't she? She knows she's beautiful, and yet male attention seems to make her exceedingly uncomfortable, at least until she finds a way to use it to her advantage. I have to wonder if she's only pretending to be so perturbed by the glances she gets from Moody and Emile. I guess it makes it all the better that Moody pushes her buttons, to challenge her image making.
I loved the suspense in this chapter, too. I have to admit, when you first started describing the body as being without marks, I immediately thought of the Killing Curse. I wonder if this Egyptian curse is some kind of Avada Kedavra ancestor? Anyway, I like how you went from the confusion over the man's death to the incident with the boulder. The tension remained high throughout and pulled along readily to the end of the chapter. Great flow there. Same thing with Helen's realization from earlier in the chapter that someone had seen her Apparate. I wonder if it's the Pharaoh's vengeful spirit?
Nothing to critique in this chapter, or so far in the story. I'm afraid it will be challenging for me to critique anything of yours, but I'll try to be helpful where I can.
Very excited to continue. Nice work so far :)
Author's Response: Thank you very much for coming in to read and review this story, Amanda! Your feedback means a lot, and it's wonderful that you had the idea for the long-term review swap. Maybe I'd do better with reviews if I updated more regularly, but with this story, the idea has developed so slowly that it doesn't even resemble my original idea. But it's strange how I keep returning to this story, even after setting it aside for a few years.
It's fantastic to hear that you like Helen and Moody. Writing them again has been a treat because they have this potential to be cliched, yet their speech and actions overturn the stereotypes of the action/adventure hero and heroine. After reading your review, I went back to the first chapter to add more references to the fate of most pureblood Slytherin girls. You're very right that Helen's choice differentiates her from other such witches - Pansy and Narcissa come to mind - because she's been dissatisfied by the idea of "settling down" from the beginning. It's not that she doesn't want to settle, but rather that she wants to settle on her own terms, not as an ornament and brood mare.
Looking back at what I've written for this story, it seems like I've spent more time building the characters than the plot. This isn't new for me - it's just amusing to realize that I'm only getting into the plot by chapter 9 or 10.
Moody is the more interesting character of the two, probably because we don't see into his mind. Although Helen keeps information back from readers, her narration is still very revealing. I love your point that Moody both feels disdain and fascination for Helen - I hadn't seen that, but it's the perfect way to describe him! A lot of this has to do with Helen's defiance of expectation - the juxtaposition of her appearance and her personality confuses him. Half of the time, I don't know if he says something because he means it or because he knows it will get a rise out of her. There's a fantastic tension between them. :)
There was a time when I had forgotten about the prologue, and another period when I wasn't sure if it was even necessary, but I've found a way of re-integrating those characters and "origin story" back into the plot. the problem has been finding a way to do it without making it sound corny, and it seems that with these kind of stories, everything has already been done. Oddly enough, my new inspiration for this story has come from my dissertation research! There are some very strange books about Ancient Egyptian mythology from the late-Victorian period, and I'm going to see how much of that I can incorporate here.
Just to return to Helen's character, she isn't pretending to be perturbed by Moody and Cadogan's attentions, or those by any man for that matter. She dislikes being seen as a sexual object because she knows that there's a lot more to her than that - she wants people to see beyond her appearance, and she only grows closer to the two men when she believes that they respect her as a person. It's one reason why she didn't want to be married off to whichever wizard came froward - if she's going to commit to a relationship, it has to be based on something more meaningful.
I hadn't thought too much about that curse (oops), but I like the idea of it being the ancient precursor to Avada Kedavra. Since it's the daemon who cast it, I'm not sure if it's a "spell" per se, but it has much the same effect as the killing curse.
Thank you so much for this wonderfully long review! ^_^