Hey, here with your requested review!
Wow, this was really impressive! I adored how dark you went with Tom's characterization. You can see him spiraling into the bottomless pit, and I'm not sure he could turn back now even if he wanted to. I definitely picked up some good antisocial personality disorder (that's the formal name for what we call psychopathy) symptoms, namely his lack of empathy, his thrill-seeking nature, and his glib outer persona. For example, the thing with picking out his own birthday present - I got the sense that he would just steal from someone else if he saw something he wanted, and without a second thought about it. Clearly he was a thrill-seeker because he needed to up the ante every year, and sometimes (like with the Chamber) even that wasn't often enough. It was intriguing how he really lived in his own head, saying whatever he needed to and using others at will but pretending to be the "golden boy" so that no one would even suspect him. You wrote so many layers to him and I'm impressed with your accuracy and the obvious research here. For future reference, if you ever want to consult on mental disorder symptoms, I'm happy to help :)
Slughorn was great as well, very in character with his joyful attitude - and he's obvious beside himself to be spending time with a student as impressive and composed as Tom Riddle. The mention of politics was a neat touch as well, because I think Slughorn probably thought he'd get as much out of that career as Tom would, with favors and special invitations and whatnot. I love Slughorn but rarely see him written, and I'd love to read/write more about his complicated and regret-filled relationship with Tom.
I like the quotes and they clearly connect with the themes in each section. However, I had some trouble figuring out their significance. My first thought was that maybe they were from the books Tom was reading, but those were probably more likely related to dark magic or Horcrux creation, right? If you're worried that they clutter the piece, I think it would be okay to take them out. I also didn't feel that they detracted from the piece, so leaving them in would be fine too.
I was just really impressed by this. It's easy to see how you wound up winning an award in the duel. I will definitely recommend this if it's not already listed on the forums. Nice work!
I hope this review is helpful :)
Author's Response: Hey there, thanks so much for stopping by, Amanda! :)
Gah, thank you so so much! I'm so glad you liked him - it was surprisingly difficult to get inside his head and understand the way he thinks, simply because of the way I've always pictured him as having Anti-Social Personality Disorder (thanks for mentioning that - I hadn't heard the name change, for some reason :D). I'm so so glad you like his characterisation, because I really wanted to get it right and the internet is not necessarily the best place to get technical info :) I did like the idea that everything is for his own amusement, almost, like a thrill and he has to go after it, because it kinda makes him almost more understandable, though not more likeable.
Thanks! :) I really liked writing Slughorn and I wanted to include a sort of antithesis to how Tom actually is, and have someone who doesn't see him like that, so that it kinda emphasised the difference between how he views himself and how everyone else views him. So Slughorn fitted so well for that! I actually like writing him, too - he's an interesting character to me, because he's so pompous and self-absorbed.
Yeah, I liked the quotes because they kinda seemed to fit the general themes/feelings around the different sections, but they're not overly important. I dunno, really, I'm glad that it works either way, though - it means I don't have to worry so much about whether or not I should take them out, haha! :)
Thank you so so much for this - and for the recommendation! It was an amazing review to receive, particularly from you, given your expertise, and it really, really made my day! :)