Hi, this is ElysiumJayne from the forums here to fulfill your request! Firstly, I should probably tell you that I've read House of Cards before, and that I absolutely adored it. I am going to try and see it through a fresh pair of eyes.
I've read a few of your other things in the past, and I think you made a wonderful transition into the murder mystery genre. I think one of the most important things in this genre is all the little details, and your descriptions fit in really well. I especially like how you staged the murder- rather than having it a few chapters in, it's happened right away and that really adds to the mysterious element. Your readers don't get a chance to develop a sense of who might have done it until after the actual event occurs.
However, you immediately start to develop and shape the characters in a way that makes them all seem guilty in their own little ways. You mentioned that you were worried that the characters were all too similar to one another. Personally, I don't see that. I like how there's this difference between Narcissa and Regulus compared to Bellatrix and Barty and again compared to Sirius. Narcissa and Regulus seem like the naive, innocent characters which sorts of takes the suspicion of them, and Bellatrix and Barty seem a bit more mischievous and unbothered by the entire thing. I think that shows the wide scale of difference between your characters- I don't think you have to worry about them being too much alike at all. I also like how you don't just focus on the younger Blacks, but you give other characters like Druella, Orion and Pollux, who are often forgotten, a chance.
Finally, you asked about the pacing and the flow. As far as first chapters go, I think the pacing is very well done. The murder has happened, we get to meet the characters and there's the added element of mystery at the end. I don't think it goes too slow or too fast in this chapter. I think it flows perfectly too. The way it's been paced means that there really is the sense of mystery that keeps your readers wanting more.
I'll be leaving a review now for your second and third chapters.
Author's Response: Hey there - it's so great to see you back on the forums and archives! :) I'll have to keep an eye out for any more of your challenges ;)
Gah, thank you so much! I was so worried about starting in the mystery genre, since I'm a huge fan of Agatha Christie, but this was an idea I just couldn't pass up! I'm glad you liked the beginning - it wasn't my original beginning, but that failed, so I used this one instead :P
Haha, maybe they are all guilty ;) I'm so glad you like the characters - it was a bit of a daunting task taking on the whole family, haha, so I tried to make them all seem different. Yeah, there's definitely a big difference between Narcissa and Reg, and Bella and Barty. They are a lot more innocent, in many ways, and more, well, delicate, I guess. Bella and Barty are a bit more mad :P and unstable. I'm so glad you like the older characters, as well, since I had to think a lot about how I wanted to portray them :)
Thank you so so much! I'm always worried that I write scenes which are too slow, since I put in a lot of description which tends to slow things down, so I'm so happy you think it's about the right pace :)
Gah, thank you so so much for the lovely review, and sorry about how long it's taken me to respond! :)