Here for the review swap!
I was initially just going to review the first chapter (me being the laziest person in the world) but I started reading and I er, how do I put this politely? I WANT MORE!
I just love the whole grey situation in the story. You have two young people, both in a world where they are supposed to become adults and face horrors so soon. Yet they are smart and are able to think for themselves and question the values they are made to conform to. Astoria is obviously a more independent and renegade person than Draco due to the death of her mother and the ideals that her mother instilled within her. Draco initially comes across as a devout follower of the Dark Lord as well as a highly talented wizard.
However, within the short span of six chapters I can se character development in both of them. Astoria becomes a bit more relaxed after Draco reads her mind. She's no longer as well maintained and rigid as before. We get to see the real Astoria in action, with her guards somewhat lowered. As for Draco, he sort of develops a spine and us readers get to know a bit more about the things he thinks about. He's scared and a tiny bit confused as to what he's doing. He also hates people treating him as a weakling because of his age and demeanor. I can only imagine what a blow not being able to kill Dumbledore must have been for him, although I doubt he could have been able to live with himself if he had carried out the task.
Moving on from your brilliant protagonists, I really like how you introduce characters really subtly. For example, Snape coming in to heal Astoria where all you had to mention was the oily black hair and I knew who you were talking about. Your writing style is brilliant, it flows wonderfully. The use of high and polished language between Draco and Astoria clearly shows how forcedly civil the conversation is. The descriptions are gorgeous, my favourite one being the one of Draco's eyes *snickers*. Comparing Astoria's to water (first the Lake then a tide and so forth) are unusual and absolutely delightful for me to picture in my head. Sigh, you are so good at this. Please tell me that you write or are planning to write professionally. The world really needs to read stuff like this.
Oh and before I forget, thank you for making Astoria not the perfect spy in the world. I mean, I've read stories where these young kids are just brilliant at spying and know exactly what to do when. They're like these super sleuth robots or something. I really liked the whole wand mess up and the fact that Astoria does get scared for her dad's life. It makes her more realistic and relatable.
I sincerely hope that the next chapter will be up soon. I'm going to favourite the story so that I don't miss any updates. Thank you so much for writing such a wonderful story for me to read and review!
Author's Response: Hey! Sorry for the long wait on this response. Honestly, I appreciated your review so much that I wanted to really respond to it properly, and I fell into the "perfect chapter" trap. You know, when you put off writing your chapter because you feel like you're too tired/other excuses to write it well? I don't know if it happens to you, but it definitely does to me. Anyway, eventually I was like, "Okay, now I'm just procrastinating. Have some coffee and answer your reviews, child!" So, I did.
I am SO excited about this review. I couldn't stop smiling :D No, literally, my face is tired from excessive grinning. First off, the fact that you ended up reading it all the way through? That's like the best thing that you could tell me. Thank you so much!
I am delighted that you like the "greyness" of the story. That's what I really wanted to write--a story where people were complicated, where you don't always know what the "right" choice is. And I definitely wanted clever protagonists who would be aware of the nuances of their situation and could critically think about the difficulties they are navigating.
Astoria definitely comes into her own in this past chapter, and I'm glad that you made a note of it. I'm excited for people to see the real Astoria, which so far we've only caught glimpses of in flashbacks. But you're exactly right. Before, she was very controlled. The fact that she could maintain her composure and lie cooly says a lot about her, but not as much as her subsequent actions will, now that she's freed from having to pretend.
And Draco DID grow a spine! A little bit! Aren't you proud? ;) I really enjoy writing him, because he's interesting. We know the things he's done, but why did he do them? There's a lot of room for interpretation and exploration there that doesn't exist when writing the main trio.
Yay! I think you are the first person to mention Snape's cameo. I love including those little easter egg details.
And thank you for liking Astoria, even though she isn't a perfect spy. I mean, I love Astoria, and I wish she could always win at everything, but you're right--it isn't realistic. She's a better spy than anyone else her age would be, but she's also human, and 16, and dealing with some very difficult challenges. Plus, I wanted to really drive home that, beneath the often-icy exterior, she truly cares for her family.
Also, thank you for the myriad compliments sprinkled throughout this review, which have left me with ALL the warm-fuzzies in the world. I feel like a bunny slipper that's just come out of the dryer. :D Thank you so much for taking time to write this, which is definitely one of the loveliest reviews I have ever received. And just more thank you's, in general. Imagine thousands of them being tossed at you like handfuls of confetti. That? That miniature party right there? Those are my thanks ;)