Hi, so pretend this is my review from review tag, and not the one on the prologue (but be prepared for me to continued to R&R my way through your collection. I am loving reading your work)
Firstly, thankyou so much for making Dudley human. JKR started the transition, she had Dumbledore hinting that Dudley's flaws were due in large part to his parenting, and Dudley actually taking an interest in Harry's life, so it is nice to see that theme being picked up and run with.
I really think the idea behind this story was an inspired piece of genius. You have been so true to life with the concepts in this story. The image of a marriage working based on the visitor/drinking correlations had me laughing (but it is so true). Harry say the success vs failure of his daughters birthday present as a measure of his own personal success or failure. I think a lot of guys (and quite a few women too) do that as well.
You have managed to explore these deep issues in such a light-hearted way. This story had me laughing in all the right places, and yet I spent the entire story recognising real human characteristics in your world.
You have stayed true to (my interpretation of) JKRs characterisations of the original people we already know and love - Molly in the kitchen, Kreacher is possessive and proud of his work, Ginny is fierce and blazing and protective of her husband, Harry is .. well... Harry. (and Arthur, and .. the list goes on)
I can see from your story set that you have your own head cannon about these characters too, which must make them almost natural for you to write.
The puzzle is really well done and kinda awful at the same time. My cat is currently killing a gecko. I feel awful, I want to put the poor thing out of its' misery but cannot bring myself to squish it, and don't know what else to do. It is currently beyond saving I think, but its not quite dead yet and the cat won't end it quickly.
As I was reading your story, I felt the same awful-ness welling up. Watching something/someone else suffer is almost unbearable, and reading about your poor puzzle figures was horrid! (In a good, that's the way you intended it way, of course!)
"And thanks for all my real presents"
lol. I cant help quoting you back to you. Did I mention you make your characters come alive by giving them realistic emotions? What I think is better still is that you convey those emotions mainly through dialogue and action, not paragraph after paragraph of navel gazing. It is a habit I am currently trying to kick, and have taken you as inspiration for.
Thus ends my review in fact!
Author's Response: Wow! Such a long, detailed review! I am very, very impressed!
You know, starting with the aftermath of the Dementor attack in OotP, I changed a lot of what I thought about Dudley. Before that, he was mostly just a foil. A character that JKR used only to show how the horrible parenting of Vernon and Petunia cut both ways. But just like she was able to do with several other characters (Draco and Narcissa come to mind), she turned him into something more meaningful in the last 3 books. This is the first chance I've really had to explore that.
I think it's almost *more* important to keep the characterizations believable in a funny story because if they vary too wildly from what you know then the story just isn't as funny. Maybe that's just my bias, but anyway I'm really glad that they worked for you.
This whole story actually started with the idea of the puzzle. I was working one with my kids and it dawned on me to wonder how puzzles would work in the magical world. It seemed rather horrifying, from the standpoint of the people in the puzzle. Everything sort of rolled from there. Poor Hugo definitely knows where you're coming from with your cat and the gecko.
Again, I'm really pleased that little lines like that one made the kids seem age-appropriate. Nothing worse than a story where kids are acting like a bunch of miniature adults with adult mannerisms.
Thus ends my response. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing!