Hi! Maggie here with your review! Thank you so much for swapping with me, I really appreciate it :) And I'm so glad I got to read this! It's a really intriguing start to your story, and I've definitely never read anything like it before.
I'm really impressed with the thought you put into the traps and the detail you give about that aspect. It's such an unsettling thought, waking up suddenly in a house that's out to get you, and I thought you wrote that first escape scene very well. The pace is quick and urgent, which helped me really get into the action. And I liked the little mention of James's palms sweating because he was so nervous. I just thought that was a great touch; a good physical way of showing us what was going on in his head without spelling it out for us. Awesome job!
I also loved the comic relief you threw in here and there. You don't know how much I wish "My Patronus is You" was a real song! I laughed out loud when I read that! And the little bit of banter between James and Valerie was cute too. I have to agree with James; toilets are very important in my opinion as well :)
The one thing I wanted out of this chapter was more buildup at the beginning. I sort of felt like I was just dropped into the action without warning, and it was overwhelming at first. And hey, that may be the effect you're going for here. But personally, I like to have at least a little time to ease into things, to get comfortable with my narrator, and get my bearings. Having that connection with the main character helps me become more emotionally invested in things, and I didn't really connect with James right off the bat. By the end I really liked him, though, so I know you've created an enjoyable narrator. Why not bring some of James' personality in at the beginning? The mention of the party was a great start, and I wanted to see you build on it. Maybe go into more detail about his memories of the event; tell us what he said and did, who was most important to him, things like that. That would help give your readers an immediate connection to the story.
I really like Valerie a lot so far! She seems really down to earth and smart, and I love the vibe between her and James--even if he didn't remember her from school at all! Hate it when that happens :) But anyway, I think you have two solid, likable main characters, and that makes me want to read on. And not to mention the suspense factor! How did they get in that place and why are they there? You do a great job of keeping the mystery alive, which is something I'm really bad at. I love getting the chance to learn from authors who do suspense well :)
Great start! I'm so glad I got to read it. Thank you again for agreeing to swap with me! I've been looking to start getting back into the swing of reading and reviewing, and I really appreciate you being willing to help. This opening chapter was a really fun way to break my HPFF hiatus :D
Author's Response: Wow! Thank you for such a long and lovely review!
I'm going to try and keep that intensity up, although the pace will slow a tiny bit as they get more into the swing of things. The one thing I always have trouble with is showing rather than telling, so I'm really glad you liked that touch of the sweat!
I want this to be dramatic and intense, but humorous too. Partly because humor is how James tends to deal with stress I think.
I see your point. I do want it to feel like the reader is just dropped in on the action and the story takes off running, but it makes sense to give a little more connection to James. I'll see if maybe I can work in a little more without taking away from the pace of the chapter. Thanks!
Suspense is the greatest! Both to read and write! I'm glad you've got a lot of questions, because curiosity keeps people reading right? ;)
Again, thank you so much for this review! It is super helpful and I'm definitely going to be keeping it in mind when I edit. I'm glad that you're getting back into HPFF again! I'll see you around the forums :)