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Review:teh tarik says:
Oh my gosh, Susan. Noo. Nooo. I am officially addicted to Tom/Minerva thanks to this story. NO. It isn't a good ship to be addicted to, because it's Tom Riddle and that means angst and pain and that gnawing feeling of lost potential and the overwhelming improbability of a happy ending of any kind :(((

Arrgh. OK. On a more serious note, this is a stunning piece of writing. There's that whole polarised conversation between Tom and Minerva, but it's also an intricate character study of the both of them, or at least of Tom, through Minerva's eyes, and how Minerva is defined in relation to him. Sorry if I'm not making sense; it's half past two in the morning.

There are just so many things packed into this story. First, there's Minerva. Goodness, I love her, or at least I love the way you've written her. You've put her together with such care and such detail. She's stern stuff, and while she hasn't quite grown into her older self as deputy headmistress of Hogwarts, you can see the path she'll take, her future mapped before her. Because Minerva for all her vulnerability and for her temptations and for all her attraction to Tom, is unswerving. She believes in absolutes; she has a strong moral compass, and above all, she displays a compassion and understanding and clarity of thought that is startling and beautiful and so admirable. Wait...what am I talking about? I love the little details you reveal about her - her strong Quidditch hands, the gold-rimmed spectacles, the tartan dressing gown, the jarring bones, the way she always keeps promises - these are the right sort of details; they're completely Minerva. Your characterisation of her is just akjhaiusfhas outstanding. ♥

And then there's Tom, who has always lived in the grey realms, and who may be just a little too close to the edge of The Dark Side - in fact he's probably three-quarters into embracing this increasingly amoral side of him, if he hasn't already done so. Already, there are clear signs of his arrogance and his cruelty and his seductiveness, which almost works on Minerva - almost. And Tom and Minerva together - oh my goodness. There's something so disturbing, so shockingly intimate between them, and that moment when he lifts his cold fingers to her chin just froze my blood with its awful intimacy. They're certainly alike in so many ways - brilliance, physical appearance (Black hair, black eyes, straight noses, carved cheekbones, marble skin.) - and I like to think that they're pretty much equal on the intelligence level (though Tom will never admit this, and Minerva will see through him and his condescension toward her). But despite all their similarities, like Cathy and Heathcliff, there's just so much discordance between the two; they're both such strong characters that they can never really get along without one compromising his or herself. Tom is simply too self-absorbed and concerned with power. Minerva is too compassionate, too clear.

I really love the symbolism within the story - the sun and the mountain. It's an extremely striking image, and it frames the two of them throughout the story, really accentuating their characters. Tom, the brilliant sun, the rising star who will not stagnate, who will peak (but also sink). And Minerva, the rock, the steadfast one. She is the one who will live to to see the end of the day (the day which, he has created). Sorry. I know I'm overanalysing things :P I just...your characters, Susan! They're so unbelievably fascinating. But despite all that about the symbolism, there are also some lovely inversions - like how Tom, spiralling into his darker side, is represented by the light. It may be a violent, blood-coloured sort of light, but it's still light. And Minerva, despite all her inherent goodness is the one who physically shrinks and remains in the shadows. It's a very lovely inversion of the classic good & evil light & dark concepts.

And of course there's the war outside - there's Grindelwald, and I suppose the Muggle world will be heading into the Second World War by now. With so much conflict and turmoil in the backdrop of their lives, it's no wonder that there's so much disharmony between Tom and Minerva.

Anyway, I'm not sure if this review made sense; it's past 3am now. But I just loved this fic. It's beautiful and heartbreaking and now I have to go trawling through the archives frantically looking for more Tom/Minerva stories a;osidja;kjlaskjfhauiuoasf (and it's all your fault). Favourited. You're an amazing writer and I hope you know that.

-teh

Author's Response: I don't know if I can manage a response to this review, but I'll try. Oh yes. It's an incredible review, not to mention that it was a surprise to have received it - thank you very much for taking the time to read and review this story in this much detail. ^_^

No, you're making sense. Because the narrative is tied to Minerva's consciousness, we see Tom Riddle through her eyes - and from this style of narration (as with first person) you can learn as much about the "teller" as about their subject. The way she describes him reveals her logic and skepticism - she doesn't blindly admire him, but instead pays close attention to all of the little things. This is why Riddle likes her, or is at least interested in her because unlike many others in the school, she questions his image and, to a small degree, sees past it. What she sees in him and how she sees it allow one to, in turn, see her - so this is how she can be defined in relation to Riddle. Hopefully this is what you meant.

What I think I like best about writing Minerva is showing how she is balanced between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, how she has this very left-brain way of understanding the world through logic and structure, yet there's this other side to her, rebellious and tartan-loving. :P I loved it in the books how she would enforce the rules, but only to a point, only when they actually made sense, and it takes a unique mind to be able to navigate that kind of moral/ethical/logical line. It's fantastic to hear that you enjoyed her characterization in this story - I'm glad that my idea of her still fits into canon because when one writes a character often, there's a lot of potential for that character to change and become more of one's own. But I really like to hear that she's still the McGonagall from the books (and that my headcanon hasn't taken over because that's a constant worry for me now that I'm moving toward writing more OF).

Oooh, your reading of Riddle! It's perfect! Your way of comparing the two characters is exactly what I was hoping emphasize - it's interesting how similar they might be in appearance, and if we extend it further, how JKR writes about these rather pale, dark-haired misfits who end up playing powerful roles in wizarding history. And you're very right that Minerva and Riddle could never work together because, whatever their similarities, their differences are on too fundamental a level. They could never be resolved.

You're not overanalyzing the characters - the whole mountain, sun thing did work out in that way. I can't remember if I intended it to mean that, but certainly by the time I got to the end of the story, the symbolism fit together in a way I couldn't resist highlighting in that last paragraph. It's wonderful that you liked it! I was worried that to use such symbolism was going overboard. That's partially why I used that inversion of Riddle-light and Minerva-shadows because it's not the obvious way of representing them - the darkness doesn't have to be associated with evil because it's also something that can be comforting, like shade, or like for the ancient Egyptians, black was synonymous with life and rebirth. Ack, there's so much one can do with these kind of things, and it's always exciting to explore them.

Thank you, thank you for this glorious review! It's fantastic to hear from you about this story, and even better that you've enjoyed it! This response feels inadequate, and I just want you to know that it was a great treat to receive this feedback from you. ^_^


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