|Review:||Violet Gryfindor says:|
I really can't express how excited I am about this story! This will be a short review because there is too much to say and far too much flailing would occur. So to save you from the squees and flails...
What you have here is fantastic. The style feels very 19th century in the rhythm of the sentences and your descriptions - it's hard to put words to what exactly that style is, but you've captured it very well. I was looking forward to seeing how you'd approach the period after your topic on the forums, and there's a lot of important aspects you've included, from the decorum and rituals of society to the wondrous fashions of Bathilda (her hat made me laugh even though I'm sure someone back then actually had a hat like that). Two things in particular stood out in regard to the setting/atmosphere.
The first is Albus's performance of the proper Victorian gentleman in contrast to his brother, who pretty much stepped out of a Thomas Hardy novel. It fits perfectly with canon, but it's also a major concern of the Victorian period, the idea of the natural person versus the person constructed by society. Albus tends to live by the book - even Gellert acknowledges this, and calls Albus out for it. It's at once his strength and his weakness - he represses too much of his feeling, and thus loses both Ariana and Gellert, but it also gives him the strength to fight against Gellert (despite what he feels for him). Aberforth is easily the happier brother, more at home in nature, separating himself from the complexities and contradictions of human society. I really like how you've characterized both brothers so far. There's already so much one could say about them, dissecting their characters to one's heart delight, and I'm excited to see how you'll develop them from here.
The other thing that stood out was the wonderful Gothic atmosphere you evoked in the section with Ariana. It has shades of "Turn of the Screw" in it for sure, as well as shades of the Brontes' novels, but it's also very much your own. I loved the way you described Ariana's magic and her "affliction" and the way it burned in her veins and filled her mind, making everyday things seem supernatural. And that last line. ^_^ She could have been a victim, but she doesn't accept that role - that image of her fighting the blanket being wrapped tightly around her again and again is excellent for symbolising her struggle against the barriers her family and society have placed upon her. Not only is she a young girl, but she's different (dangerous), and in that world, it makes her almost worthless. But you show that she's strong. Despite their weaknesses, the three Dumbledores are strong people.
Okay, this review is starting to get long, and I haven't said enough about the letter. The voice of Gellert Grindelwald was haunting. It came across so powerfully that I could hear it in my head - in a rather Moriarty-ish voice - but the best part was when the flow of his words began to break, revealing how overwhelmed he is by hate. It is the betrayal that angers him most, and in revenge he attacks Albus with the best ammunition he knows: Albus's guilt. Ugh, it was perfect.
This is the kind of story I wish I could have written. The subject matter is fascinating, multi-faceted with plenty of grey area to explore. These characters are complex to the extreme, where all of them are victims and villains in their own way - they all destroy one another, no matter how good their intentions may have been. And of course it's also a period piece, for which you've done excellent research. The resulting chapter is brilliantly-put together - it's an amazing introduction to your story!
(And yes, this review did get long although I tried to hold back.)
It's an automatic favourite - I knew even before reading it that it would be perfect, and it's even better than I imagined!
Author's Response: Hello Susan! ♥
Oh my goodness, what an amazing and detailed review! I'm sitting here, reduced to a pile of squees, but I'll do my best to coherently answer all the wonderful and very perceptive points you brought up.
First, thank you SO MUCH for your comments on the style! When I was writing this, I honestly didn't think I could accurately employ a 19th century style of writing; I'm very much a contemporary writer, and I think my usual style is quite informal. With this fic, I pretty much decided to be a little more formal with my sentences and with things like dialogue, but otherwise to write as I normally do, so my writing won't be completely unrecognisable to myself. :P Your comment really means a lot to me, and it has definitely made me feel more confident with how I'm approaching the story.
Young Albus Dumbledore is indeed a very restrained character; he does keep up a very clean public appearance, and I think I was a bit influenced by Aberforth's story in DH, about how Albus was brought up with "secrets and lies", which he learned at his mother's knee, or something like that. He is very much the responsible gentlemanly figure, and he did do his best to help Kendra maintain the Dumbledore family image. I'm so, so glad you picked up on how he lives "by the book"! I intend to explore this characteristic of his a little more; he is certainly going to be a bit of a contrast to Gellert (and to Aberforth as well). I think I'm going to enjoy exploring all the flaws of young!Dumbledore and make him less of the lofty, brilliant tactician and teacher which we are so familiar with in the books.
As for Ariana, I had a lot of fun with her. I find Ariana a rather undeveloped and useless character in canon. :P She exists solely to illustrate the flaws in Albus' character, and has been relegated to the role of a tragic figure in Albus' troubled past. I was influenced by the whole 'mad woman in the attic' concept, and I'm glad you thought the atmosphere was Gothic enough to have shades of the Bronte sisters! There most certainly is a dangerous aspect about Ariana; in many fics I've read about her, she seems to be this sweet, innocent, tormented girl, and I find that sometimes writers overlook the fact that her magic is very powerful, powerful enough to cause a fatal accident to her own mother.
Grindelwald's letter! Ahh, I'm so happy that his voice had some impact on you! I have a very soft spot for Grindeldore, though admittedly, this ship is a doomed one, filled with nothing but angst and tragedy. All your comments on Gellert's letter are spot-on; he is indeed very bitter and taunting - he does feel that Albus has betrayed him, and he knows the latter well enough to be familiar with all his weak points. Grindeldore is a very complex ship, and I'm a little nervous trying to write this!
I love your comment on the character complexity, and how they're all victims and villains; they most definitely are, and I suppose one of the things of this story I'm most excited about examining is the interactions between the characters, and how they act and react to each other!
Ahh, thank you again! ♥ Thank you for the favourite, and I do hope you come back to this fic! I'm a slow writer, but I'll get there! :) ♥