Hey, I'm here with your review! As soon as I saw the summary, I knew I was going to enjoy this - I love other era stories like this.
Description: Absolutely lovely. It's well suited to the time period and the setting, I think, and as you go from scene to scene, you always paint a strong picture without getting bogged down in too many details. Excellent, excellent work.
Characterization: This is terrific. None of these vignettes felt repetitive, and all told me a lot about the characters you were introducing in a short amount of time.
Camille may only have a short scene and no actual lines, but she made a major impact nonetheless. You communicated so much in so few words - I got a great sense of the atmosphere, her frame of mind, and her history. From the barren streets to her disliking heels to the soldier, it was quite clear that this was not a peaceful time. She's clearly ruthless, but I'm still trying to figure out to what extent that is.
Astrid is really interesting. I feel like she's a bit more straightforward right now than Camille - I know where she's coming from and what side she's on, and seeing her transformation indicates to me that she's not as jaded as Camille seems to be. That said, if Apolline is the same Apolline that is Fleur's mother, the letter intrigues me.
Johanna is great, too, in part because she and Camille both feel so similar and yet so different. She plays on her supposed innocence and appearance to get soldiers' guards down just as Camille seemed to - and, of course, because they're women the job of appearing weak is easier in the first place - but unlike Camille, she doesn't appear to be leaving bodies behind. In the last section, when you drew them all together, I liked the way she cut through the excuses about why they couldn't rescue Simon. She's not wrong.
Xavier intrigues me because he's the first character who isn't clearly magical. Camille and Johanna both use spells, and Astrid mentions vela heritage. However, since Xavier is focused on weapons, that makes me think that he isn't. I didn't get much more of a sense from him than that, but that's okay - I didn't need to.
Simon's section sets the desperation of the era of the story in a slightly different context. While the other four sections have all been about overt resistance, war-torn streets, and soldiers, this is much bleaker and sadder. His mother is probably dead, and his father is clearly going that way as well. My interpretation right now is that he's a Muggleborn, but that could be off.
Jean: I got a bit less of a sense of Jean's character than the other five from his section, but I'm okay with that, because you used his situation to answer some important questions in an elegant way. I also got a better sense of him in the last section, which tied all of them together, so that was definitely okay.
Flow: There was only one thing that didn't quite make sense to me. In the second section, when Astrid looks in the mirror, you say that "the gorgeous Veela is gone." I wasn't quite sure what that meant - cutting her hair doesn't change her identity that much, surely. It's not a huge deal, and I understood what you were saying, but it felt a tiny bit awkward.
Other than that, I have absolutely no complaints, and that's ridiculously minor. You transition between scenes beautifully and you didn't give me a chance to get confused while still keeping me very intrigued.
Amazing work, Val. Please feel free to rerequest.
Author's Response: Hi, Beeezie!
Ahh, you like my descriptions - it's an aspect of writing I'm super uncomfortable with so knowing they're not too bad is great to hear.
Camille, my favourite brainchild - I don't know if ruthless is quite the word to describe her? She's definitely pragmatic and dutiful, but - as future chapters will show - it's not a "whatever the cost" attitude.
Astrid has straightforward motivations, yes, but for how long? So many trials to put these characters through, I cannot wait.
Ah, I'm glad you picked up on Camille and Johanna being both similar and different! One thinks with her head, the other with her heart, and unfortunately it'll affect their relationship (I'm crying already).
You're not the first to pick up on Xavier being non-magical, which wasn't an intentional portrayal but is something to ponder as I continue editing these first chapters...
Simon. Well. It was unthinkable to me to write a story about WW2 and not bring in the Holocaust - doing so is a form of erasure I don't even want to consider.
As to Jean, more on him in the next chapters!
Thank you so much for this review and for being so thorough :)