Reading Reviews for Black Sands
138 Reviews Found

Review #51, by morgana67 Prologue

17th April 2010:
Great start. You have picked a fascinating period in history as a backdrop for your story. I love ancient civilisations but unfortunately I don't know enough to spot any obvious historical inconsistences, however, I note that momotwins has given you various theories to play with. Of course, a lot of the details will perhaps remain a mystery forever and you're involving HP magic, I assume, which is by the way, a very interesting mixture. I was just thinking, for instance that Bill trained in Egypt in canon, which cannot just be coincidence. I think JKR intended it to be so for a reason (even if this was only suggested but never developed in the series).

You present the ancient characters really well and I'm very intrigued as to where this story is going. I assume we will be back to the present time soon.

Very good start!

Author's Response: It is a really interesting period to work with, and while I won't be doing too much more with the ancient magic idea, I still think it's something that more people should try writing about. There's a lot more to magical history than just the Founders. Bill's work in Egypt as a curse breaker has become a significant inspiration for this story. JKR has left it open as to what goes on in Egypt, which leaves a wide area to be explored. ;)

With historical material, momotwins has been hugely helpful, as have library books (including Howard Carter's journals on Tutankhamun's tomb). It's too much fun to research for this story, and very easy to get lost in the reading for it.

Thank you very much for reading and reviewing! It means a lot to hear from you and I really appreciate it.

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Review #52, by onestop_hpfan18 In the House of Black

25th March 2010:
Hello again, back to review. I like how you've drawn up the character of Helen Black as a stubborn, headstrong young woman, who can stand her ground for what she wants and doesn't want. Her reactions to being sold off to marry Canis Malfoy were realistic, especially since she didn't have any interest in marrying at all to begin with.

Also, I like how you've written the relationship between her parents and her; it seems as though she's definitely more of a daddy's girl than a mama's girl, well that is until her refusal to wed Canis, and thus cause her father and mother to argue. The whole disagreement seemed natural and flowed well with everything else in this chapter. All the characters' reactions sprang up from the screen, and I was able to imagine how everything happened like a movie playing in my head (that's the best part about reading in my own personal opinion).

And then the closing of this chapter where Helen decides she will go to Eygpt on the spur of the moment just to escape her mother's attempts to marry her off to Canis. I can't wait to see where this story goes. 10/10

Author's Response: Thank you very much for this! You're so wonderfully detailed, which is extremely helpful. I wasn't sure about a few things in this chapter, starting with Helen's odd reaction to marriage and men in general, as well as her relationship with her parents, which could be too cliched, especially in comparison to other Blacks (that family seems to have trouble in that sense :P). That the conversations and reactions were natural means a lot and I'm so pleased that you thought so. ^_^

Even better is that the chapter played out like a movie. I think I've written this chapter at least three times so far, but I must be improving on it each time for it to be that good. :D

Thank you so much for your reviews! ^_^ I really appreciate hearing from you!

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Review #53, by onestop_hpfan18 Prologue

21st March 2010:
Hey, here for the review exchange at TGS. So far I'm intrigued as to where this story is heading in as it's different than any other stories on the archives. So far the characters that have introduced seem to be taking shape nicely already. The originality so far is fresh and exciting; can't wait to see what direction this is going.

Author's Response: Thank you very much! It's surprising that there aren't more stories about ancient magic on the archive because it's a fascinating thing to write about. There's a lot about Egypt in the books, too, hinting at how they used magic.

I'm really glad to hear that this is an original idea and that you like it so far. ^_^

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Review #54, by momotwins In the Blink of an Eye

4th March 2010:
I was so excited to see an update for this! Especially since I was just watching an 18th Dynasty special on tv a few weeks ago and ranting at Dr. Hawass, so this time period is sort of in my head right now.

I have to say, I'm a little freaked out! Claws? An attack in the valley? zomg. I have a feeling one of these main characters is going to die, and probably soon. Obviously not Helen, but Moody or Cadogan? Oh my.

Someone saw Helen Apparating? That can't be good. I'm dying to know who Moody and Cadogan really are, both of them don't seem to be who they seem to be, if you know what I mean. And I'm really dying to see Howard Carter make at least a cameo!

Can't wait for the next installment. And hey, if you want to talk 18th Dynasty at all, hit me up on the forums :)

Author's Response: It was so great to see a review from you for this! :D I probably will come to bother you with some questions, as the next few chapters will probably require more historical and geographical detail than this one did (I purposely skimped on this chapter a bit in that regard, but it did allow me to focus more on the action).

This is just the beginning of the suspenseful action-y bits - I'm hoping to make those aspects of the story wild and fun, rather like The Mummy or Indiana Jones (specifically those because of their unrealistic aspects). This is the part of the story I've been waiting to get to for a long time (five years!), so I feel more motivated to write this story. :D

Haha, you might be surprised by what happens to Moody and Cadogan, but who they are is crucial to the plot, and I can't give it away. :P

It's the archaeological info that I need to get back into (watching Discovery or History Channel might help, though I get annoyed at Dr. Hawass as well XD). I'm not sure yet how I want to include Carter, but it couldn't be more than a "Helen watches him walk past" moment.

Thanks again for coming to read and review this! I really appreciate hearing from you and, if I need help, I'll definitely ask you! ^_^

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Review #55, by jman7693 In the Valley of the Kings

22nd February 2010:
I really liked this chapter. Hellen's in a tight spot, eh? I'm really excited to see what happens next, so, I suppose, I'll read on now. :)

Author's Response: Haha, she's often in a tight spot. XD She's just the type to always be getting in trouble.

I hope that you enjoy the rest of the story! Thank you very much for reading and reviewing! ^_^

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Review #56, by jman7693 In the House of Black

22nd February 2010:
I love this. Your Helen character really draws you in to the story and really allows the reader to understand her conflicts. You're such an amazing writer. Have I already stated that I love this story so far? ;)

Can't wait to read on to find out what happens next!

Author's Response: It means so much that you love this story, as it's one closest to my heart - definitely my favourite story idea of all time. It's just a lot of fun to write, and while I used to dislike Helen for being my polar opposite, she's hilarious to write with her deadpan one-liners and generally cynical view of the world.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and review! It's wonderful to know that you're enjoying this story! ^_^

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Review #57, by jman7693 Prologue

22nd February 2010:
I can already sense that this story is going to be quite unique and entertaining. I love the detail and the history you put into it so far, and how you made the proloque a glimpse into the past. It was amazing.

Going to read on now. Great so far!

Author's Response: Thank you very much! It's wonderful to hear that you've enjoyed it so far, and I hope that you enjoy the rest as much. :D

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Review #58, by _hermione_jean_malfoy_ In the Valley of the Kings

11th August 2009:
i liked the other chapter so much, i had to come and read this one! this story is soo great, i cant keep from reading it! please get chapter 6 up soon!

also, i just wanted to say, im hermionejeanmalfoy from the forums, remember? i posted that comment on your page, about how much i love your stories! and i do! i don't know where you get all the good ideas.

Author's Response: Wow, great, thank you! :D It's really wonderful that you're enjoying this. I'm still working on how I want the plot to move. I've written the next chapter twice already, but aren't quite satisfied. Once I get out the chapter of another story, I'll probably come back to this one. :)

Yes, I remember! Haha, I'm not sure where the ideas come from either. They seem to come out of nowhere, sometimes. o_O

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Review #59, by _hermione_jean_malfoy_ In the House of Black

11th August 2009:
great great story! im sorry its taken me so long to review this chapter. but if you've seen the amount of stories in my favourites, then youll realise how hard it is to read them all! but i promise i'll carry on reading this as soon as possible!

Author's Response: Don't apologize! It happens sometimes. What I appreciate is that you came back to read more. :D I don't have a quarter of your favourites and still find time to keep up! Thank you very much for coming in to read and review!

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Review #60, by _hermione_jean_malfoy_ Prologue

28th July 2009:
wow! i dont normally read stories like this, but it sounded so awsome that i just HAD to read it!

Author's Response: Thank you very much! I hope you enjoy the rest of it. :D

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Review #61, by Jessi_Rose In Conversation with Madmen

5th July 2009:
This story is so entertaining. It's not just a simple read through and be done kind of thing - which is refreshing. It gives a lot of information, while still keeping it light. You don't make the mistake of trying to feed the readers knowledge of Egypt, which is probably best for your story. Reading a fic with history such as Egypt's can be daunting because most authors will water down the plot with an excess of details. You, however, provide just enough for me to understand, but not enough to give away your story completely.

You really should write an OF, Susan. You're such a talented writer and you give such a voice to all of your characters. It's impressive.

I'm going to follow this story, because I'm really curious how Helen, Cadogan & Co., progress. I love the characterizations, the progression of the plot and, well, everything. Please, please, please update this story. Often.

And thanks for pointing me over here. I love it!

Author's Response: Oh gosh, Jessi, now you\\\'re being way too nice! :D I don\\\'t know what so say! It\\\'s really awesome that you like this story so much. I\\\'m glad that I asked you to take a look at it (and not just for the compliments - it was because I respect your opinion so much).

The slight downplay of historical information is in part to help readers get through the story without being bogged down in things. But it\\\'s also for my own benefit, as I want to do a bit of research, but not too much. I like to have a bit of imaginative freedom. ;)

This story was originally OF, but I thought it\\\'d be interesting to add some fantasy aspects. It still can be adapted to OF, and I might do that someday. :D If only fanfiction wasn\\\'t so addicting to write!

Thank you again for reading and reviewing, Jessi! I really appreciate that you took the time to do this! :D

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Review #62, by Jessi_Rose In the Temple of Luxor

5th July 2009:
Helen is my new favorite OC, I think. Her thoughts are so much fun to follow; she's funny, witty and dry. I love it. I think that something people typically forget when developing a new character is that the readers can learn a lot from how they interact with other characters in the story - even minor characters. Seeing the way that Helen interracted with Hassim (I'm assuming he's minor at this point =P) was what truly made me fall in love with her a little more. She was just so real then.

I like the way the story is progressing, too. It's not at all slow, and yet you are giving us such a foundation. I'm not sure how you pull it off - normally this sort of build up is rather tedius to read through... but this... Learning about the different characters is really fun, especially since you give them all their own voices, even though the narration is Helen's.

Oh, and best line in a fanfiction ever belongs to you. "So I took the lady-like way out. I pretended to faint." I giggled so much when I read that!

Author's Response: Oh yay! It\\\'s wonderful that you like Helen so much, Jessi! I\\\'m really getting into her character more with this re-write and she\\\'s fun to write with her dryness. I do worry that she might be going overboard, but I\\\'m glad that you like her - it means a lot. ^_^

Yes, Hassim is pretty minor - he might appear one or two more times at most. But it is interesting to see how Helen interacts with various people, high and low on the social scale. She has pretencions of upper-class, yet at the same time despises their snobbishness. It makes her more fascinating, at least for me, to watch how she responds to people - it\\\'s very unpredictable.

The best line! *cheers* I do try to be funny with them. :P Thank you so much for reading and reviewing this, Jessi! It means a lot not only to hear from you, but to hear such great compliments. ^_^

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Review #63, by Jessi_Rose In the House of Black

3rd July 2009:
I'm not sure who I'm more intrigued by, Cygnus or Canis. Cygnus is the doting father, obviously. And it seems that he has a lot of pent up frustration at his family... But the way that you portrayed Canis in the background, intrigued by Helen - and quiet! I will love seeing how he plays out (assuming, of course, she ever comes back fom Egypt).

I think that you write this era very well; the time frame really compliments your writing technique. Or, maybe it's just because you're such an awesome author... =P

Usually, I don't read first person stories. Especially not first person OC stories. I find that they lack the ability to help me connect to the main character. But Helen is very well fleshed out as a character, and you write her so well in this point of view, that I don't have any trouble at all connecting to her. Actually, I like her quite a bit!

Author's Response: Canis is definitely a character I want to explore more, if only because he causes Helen so much distress. There\\\'s something between them in the past that even I\\\'m not sure about yet. XD The quiet Malfoys are the scarier ones. Even though Helen won\\\'t be going back to England in this story (it\\\'s not a spoiler, really :P), Canis, or at least the threat of him, will come back to haunt her, and it\\\'s something she has to deal with.

It\\\'s more the time frame than any aspirations of awesomeness. :P I\\\'ve read way too many books that take place in the early 20s, so it just feels comfortable to write in it as well.

First person isn\\\'t normally my thing either, though it works in certain cases, like with Helen, who is far too amusing to miss out on. ;) It\\\'s great that you like her so quickly - it took me longer to warm up to her, haha.

Thank you for the wonderful review, Jessi! I really appreciate hearing from you, and it\\\'s fantastic that you\\\'re enjoying the story so far. :D

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Review #64, by Jessi_Rose Prologue

3rd July 2009:
Susan, my God. In 900 words, you've not only completely captured my attention, but you've made me feel so compassionate for a character I don't know at all. I'm glad that I know a bit about Egyptian mythos and history, otherwise I would have been a little bit confused. =P I loved the beginning and I'm sure that when I'm done reading, I'm going to be mad at you for not finishing it yet. :P

Author's Response: Wow, thanks, Jessi! :O This is definitely the basis of a case to keep the prologue - something I\\\'ve been hemming and hawing over for a bit. The historical stuff is harder to write because there\\\'s a lot to it. I can see how it would get confusing for those who were unfamiliar with it.

It\\\'s great that you\\\'re liking the story so far. :D I hope you enjoy the rest! And thank you again for coming to read it!

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Review #65, by Spar In Conversation with Madmen

20th June 2009:
I adore creative ideas and different ways of thinking. It is a great setup and choice for a story. Rather sorry that I can't give you an indepth review- I lack the time. Great characters and plot line. It has realism in it, like the hardships Helen is going through. Rather interesting, intriguing and brilliant.

Author's Response: Thank you very much for this! It helps just to know that the characters, plot, and idea are turning out well so far. That the story has realism is almost best of all - it's not something I tried to put into the story, but it's great to know that it's there! :)

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Review #66, by Inti In Conversation with Madmen

18th June 2009:
So who is this mysterious Cadogan? He's fantastically described. The line 'towering over me like a crane, all angles. ' was perfect. Paints such a vivd picture. I'm curious about him now, pasty and red-headed yet named Emile? Judging by that little incident at the end of the chapter it would appear that he too is magical. Possibly a pure-blood as well? Although then she might well have known of him. Would have been a fairly tight community.

The magic's starting to build. Really quite exciting to read. Although, that's me assuming it is magic making the sand do funny things and not just Helen's imagination playing with her again.

The cat-and-mouse game she's playing with both Moody and Cadogan is intriguing to read. It's quite humorous to read how they're tailing around each other through the valley.

Sorry I've had to make this review rather shorter than the others. Exam tomorrow and all. Just wanted to say thank you for requesting. It's a fantastic story and I hope you find time to keep it up =]

Author's Response: It's definitely a good guess, though just being able to recognize magic doesn't make him a wizard. However, he does have the poise of a wizard, even if in a stork-like way. ;) He's fascinating to write, and it's great that he comes across so well from the picture in my head to the words on the page.

No, it's magic doing things. :P Helen is imaginative and paranoid, but what she's seeing is definitely magic. What form that magic will take, though. who knows.

It's a bit cliched of me to make the three of them chase each other around the Valley, but I couldn't resist. It does make for a humorous scene, and it's great that you liked that.

Thank you very much for the review! No worries that this one was shorter. What you said about Cadogan has given me a few ideas as to what to do with him in the future. :D And I hope your exam goes/went well!

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Review #67, by Inti In the Temple of Luxor

17th June 2009:
Even though maybe it wasn't intended to be, the most interesting chapter of this chapter was Helen in regard to the Winter Palace. She's still very much a Black and still expects to be able to maintain her previous lifestyle. Her pride isn't letting her accept the reality of her situation. She got saved in this instance by Moody showing up and being his normal slimy self.

As you mightt have noticed from that little comment, not a huge fan of Moody. It's that that slightly greasy, slippery, slimy edge to him. As a character he's very well crafted, appearing both genuine and slightly dodgy. It's an interesting paradox.

I actually googled the Winter Palace after reading this. Staggered at the depth of this story. Not only was it 'the' place to be, seems as though Howard Carter spent a good deal of time there himself. Possibly he will slide into the picture soon?

The action scene was well done. Helen's character adapted well to action, especially considering all we've seen of her so far is a snobby elitist with a dry sense of humor.

And a new character enters. Sounds like an interesting type already. Very English, upper-class ever. Not just the name but the writing. Already have an idea about him, even though have only seen a single letter from him!

Author's Response: The Winter Palace is a gorgeous place. When I've heard about it in descriptions or seen pictures of it, it seems so stunning. Just the perfect habitat for a pureblooded witch, perhaps more so for a Black. ;) She hasn't entirely left her past behind her, which keeps her from sounding like Sirius or Andromeda.

Haha, Moody. I'm actually glad that you don't like him because he's not supposed to be likable. He is slippery and dodgy, which makes him more fun to write. Like Helen, he has his own secrets.

Adding a scene with Carter is a possibility. I'm just not sure if I want to or not. Helen is so obscure on the archaeology scene that there would be no reason for him to associate with her. She might see him from afar, but that's it. But that's still on the drawing board. :)

Wow, that's great to hear that Cadogan came through so clearly, even just from the letter. He has a strong persona (it helps that I sort of based him on a real person, allows him a more developed personality).

Thank you again for the wonderful review! You're very detailed, which is extremely helpful. :D

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Review #68, by Inti In the Valley of the Kings

16th June 2009:
Brilliant continuity here. The way three years have simply slipped by. There's a hint of detail to those years, broad brushstrokes if you will. The reader understands what Helen has been doing, what she's been dealing with and most importantly how she's dealing with it.

She's an interesting character, Helen. She has a dry, almost cutting, sense of humor that's refreshing. She gives off a sense of wanting to stand out from the crowd, really be her own person. Which, I'm sure, is driven by a desire to prove herself right in running away from her past.

A past that appears to still be haunting her. Is it just paranoia or is the dreaded Malfoy actually tracking her down? Or possibly one of her 'prophecies' will come true. Certainly has a vivid imagination.

Moody? Any relation to Mad-Eye? To me, it represents the way you tie in the Potterverse to the plot rather than the other way round. This could very well stand alone as original fiction, but it's even better with the little hints of magic.

The daemon [love that spelling] is one such hint. She's manages to persuade herself it isn't anything, even though she almost wants it to be. A very complex character.

Then the way you cut up the tension of the daemon scene with the neat little "Shut up, you ass" pun, simply showed off the control you have over your writing.

Author's Response: Your description of Helen is spot on, though I'd also add that standing out from the crowd is also part of her breeding, not only in that she's a bit vain, but that she's also proud. I'm glad that the three years squished into three paragraphs worked out, though. I'm very uncomfortable with "telling", so it could have gone very wrong there. ;)

A vivid imagination! That's the best way to put it. She's paranoid, which is hilarious to write, and while suspicious things do happen to her, she does tend to blow them out of proportion. And with the daemon, she is looking for something adventurous, if only to give her something to do. ;)

A possible relation, though I guess it's a bit obvious - just using the name does that. But thank you for the compliment! This was an original fic initially, but then was switched into fanfiction, so a lot of little things had to be changed. But I do like having the magical stuff in this story, as it makes it more interesting to write.

Thank you again for the review! You've picked out really insightful things about each chapter, and it's great to read them. :D

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Review #69, by Inti In the House of Black

16th June 2009:
Apologies if this review is a bit all over the place. Have cold/flu type thing so head is a bit fuzzy.

The way you weave in the magical and Muggle worlds is fantastic. Your idea about young wizards going off to fight in WWI is just stunningly original. There isn't much nationalism in canon, so it's super exciting to see the world being built onto.

The narrative of this chapter works well, has a nice easy flow to it. Doesn't feel rushed or hurried, or even too slow. Just... works.

Helen, despite being a bit too, what's the word... self aware? Okay that's a phrase, but still. She just seems incredibly in control of all her thoughts and emotions. Actually, that's probably deliberate on your part, ignore it. She's a Black, which is fantastic to read. By Black I mean a 'real' Black. Not some renegade one, but a proper one, prejudiced, cunning and proud.

The whole backstory you're building around this is fascinating. A spurned Malfoy, vengeful mother and a father who's not quite sure who's side to take. No wonder she moved to Egypt!

Author's Response: The cold/flu-type thing didn't harm your review at all. It was easy to follow and mentioned some very helpful things, so thank you! :D

Helen's self-awareness was also recently mentioned by another reviewer, and now with two mentions of it, I'm starting to re-think her narrative style a bit. While it's really only in this chapter that she talks about herself so much, it's a flaw in the first person narration that might come back to bite me. I might edit it a bit in this chapter to tone it down. While Helen is aware of herself and pretty self-confident, I don't want that to get in the way of the story, either. The self-awareness was sort of deliberate, but I'm less sure of it now, if that makes sense.

The backstory here was mostly an excuse to tie the story into canon - the Black family and the lives of purebloods in the early 20th century. The historical stuff about Ancient Egypt and WWI wasn't as difficult to write as was making this solid fanfiction. :P So I'm very glad that the backstroy turned out well, not only in content, but in style/technique. :)

Thank you again for the wonderful review! I appreciate how detailed each of them is. :D

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Review #70, by Inti Prologue

15th June 2009:
Hey, finally here to review, really sorry it's taken me this long to get to you! Life's just been doing its whole life thing. Actually quite intimidating reviewing you actually. Have never read one of your stories before, so have only heard the myths :P
Quite frankly though, you live up to the hype.

Fascinating start to a story. Honestly don't know enough Egyptology to be able to comment properly on that, you seem to have a very solid grasp on the topic, so I'll just assume it's all right. There is a powerful fascination about Ancient Egypt though, don't know what it is, seems to draw everyone to it.

Obviously this will be quite different to the story itself, it does give a good indication of what things will be like however. The description is fresh and tight. Lines like this, 'tears dripping down her copper cheeks and falling into the sand below,' really capture the emotion of the moment.

The way magic was tied in was slick as well. Something of enormous power, yet not to be trusted and kept carefully under control.

Really good start to a story, looking forward to reading on =]

Author's Response: Don't be sorry at all! Admittedly, I'd half-forgotten that I'd requested you, so these were a lovely surprise to receive. One for each chapter, too! I'm excited to go through them and see what things you've pointed out. :D

Haha, yes, there is something about that era that's captivating, but I don't know what it is either. There's so many interesting aspects to the history and culture of that time, and the curses always attract attention. I've had an interest in Ancient Egypt since grade six, I think, so this story was a long time coming. ;)

I'm glad this prologue sounds good language-wise. That's what I was more worried about than even the historical aspects. I had been trying to go for a historical atmosphere, trying to get an Ancient feel to this. It's also great to know that the magic was slipped in well. I wanted it to be recognizably similar to the Potterverse, but also with its own distinct quality. :)

Thank you very much for this, Jack! I look forward to reading your other reviews!

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Review #71, by Romina Stephanie In Conversation with Madmen

14th June 2009:
I can't tell you how happy I was to see that you had updated - and the general story was much, much better than I'd remembered, which means I loved this chapter. Helen is both likable and unlikable, but even so, she's incredibly interesting and I can't wait to see where you'll take her in the end. I love the connection she seems to share with Moody (hm... Moody, eh?!) and I'm really hoping he will be able to thaw her heart, because she is still a bit cold toward him. And now I can't wait to read more about Emile Cadogan and how things will play out on that side. As for the mysterious events occurings, with the sand and all - well, it's amazingly described. I know I've already said it, but I love Egypt and its mysterious nature, and I think you've done a great job in capturing that particular essence. Anyway, enough of me rambling. I loved this and keep up the great work (:

Author's Response: It's great to finally have this story back in motion again. I missed writing it. ^_^ I'm really happy that you enjoyed this and the revised story, Steph. It means so much that you like how it's turning out.

The way you've described Helen as likeable and unlikeable is so the way I feel when writing her. She can be really fun at times, then really annoying at others because of her Slytherin qualities. But she is interesting for that reason, and a bit unpredictable. :D She might thaw a bit toward Moody, it depends how the next chapter goes. ;)

So the sand descriptions worked? They're awkward to write for some reason, and I wasn't sure if they were actually successful in getting across the atmosphere I wanted. :) Thank you very much, Steph! It's wonderful that you're enjoying the story!

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Review #72, by HogwartsGirl618 In Conversation with Madmen

8th June 2009:
Hello! =) I'm HogwartsMarauder over at the forums, and I am so sorry it has taken me so long to review!

First off- I was struck by your writing style. I love it. The way you write is positively incredible- I truly haven't seen many first person narratives this effective. It's descriptive, it's sarcastic, it's brilliant. "Small talk. The death of intellectuals everywhere." Pure genius =)

Helen is really quite intriguing. She isn't a Mary-Sue, and you've done a wonderful job with characterization. To me, it seems as if she can be profoundly astute- but at the same time has the potential to be overly dismissive. I hope that's a correct reading- very much like a Black.

And Moody is also fascinating! The whole plot is fascinating! And I loved the details of the way you described Cadogan- as a foreigner- the details were so vivid- it really added a richness and complexity to the plot. I wonder if he's a wizard *ponders* I see him as similar to Sir Charles- from the Golden Compass (I don't know if you've read it, but I thought I would draw the comparison anyway =)

And your grammar was wonderful. Kudos to you.

If I had to make one critique- and that's not easy to do with such a wonderful story =)- I would say that your sentence flow can be abrupt- and in places choppy. Perhaps adding a couple of longer sentences in between the shorter ones you use for emphasis would not go amiss.

But it was brilliant! I really, truly did enjoy it. I haven't read something with a plot this complex/connected in a really long time. It's wonderful.

Author's Response: Don't worry about how long it took, I know how busy all the reviewers are and this wasn't the shortest of stories. :) I really appreciate that you were able to come and review this for me. ^_^

So the first person is working? I have a love-hate relationship with that style of narration because it's so limiting. It helps that Helen's so opinionated - without her character, I don't think I could pull it off. But I do see what you mean about using too many short sentences. It's a bad habit I've gotten into that needs to be moderated more. Thank you for mentioning it - I'll definitely keep it in mind for future chapters, adding in more longer sentences to even things out. :)

And it's wonderful that you like Helen. The great thing about writing a Slytherin character is that they can say all the things about the world I never could. XD Cadogan is very much like Sir Charles - I never realized it until you mentioned it, wow. An unconscious influence, I guess, since I love Pullman's books.

Anyway, thank you very much for this review! It was wonderfully helpful and insightful. :D

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Review #73, by PenguinsWillReignSupreme In the Valley of the Kings

1st June 2009:
"Hopefully I do not need to be more specific" - I enjoyed that line :P I've just realised that you're not using contractions in Helen's voice, which is a nice touch giving us a better sense of her social class - even if the majority of HPFF writers and readers already know.

I will say that the beginning confused me a bit because something was repeated and I was unsure whether you were talking about the same person or two different incidents. It was the two paragraphs framed by: 'Yes, freedom...' and 'Dear old Hubert'. Are you talking about Hubert in both paragraphs? And some of the sentence structures in the first were a little strange and I wasn't sure at all at what you meant by 'Being also accomplished' - at what? Anyway, I felt these two paragraphs were getting at the same thing and it seemed to mess with the flow for me. That could, however, just be me reading it badly and missing something important!

Anyway, aside from that I loved the ending of the chapter. The appearance of Alexander (calling him Moody will confuse me) was funny, especially Helen's reaction. It was light-hearted and takes a little away from the otherwise quite dramatic and mysterious aspect which can sometimes get a little heavy.

I love the mystery of it all. Your description towards the end was just to die for, it sent shivers down my spine, it was amazing. I'm jealous :P

Helen's character is developing well and I really enjoy reading her. The complexity of the story (in historical and plot terms) is well balanced with you having limited the number of OCs. It's not an overpowering rush of them in one go, and it helps to give us a better sense of all the characters.

I loved it - you're an absolutely amazing writer and it was a joy to read these 3 chapters.

Please re-request for the next couple of chapters when you get chance (preferably after the 12th when my exams finish, though, so I'm not distracted :P )


Author's Response: I've worked a bit on those paragraphs you mentioned - trying to straighten things out. By "accomplished" I meant that she had all the skills of a proper lady, rather like Jane Austen or anything 19th century-esque. I also clarified that Helen had two jobs before the story took place: the first at a souvenir-making shop and the second with an old professor. Hopefully that works better now, and thank you for letting me know about the issue. Sometimes I get so into the prose that it gets bogged down with incoherence. :P I have a bad habit of using Yoda-speak at the strangest of moments.

It's great that you like both Alex and Helen. I love writing OCs too much, and these two are exciting characters because they can do humour or drama well (mostly the former). :P I'm looking forward to trying out action scenes with them because I think they'd be well-suited to it. :)

I'm really glad that you liked the description near the end. This is like the second or third try I've had in getting it just the way I want, and it's great to know that it's effective. ^_^ That it sent shivers down your spine is exactly what I wanted. :D

Thank you again for these reviews! I'll be sure to request you again later in the month, and good luck with your exams! :)

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Review #74, by PenguinsWillReignSupreme In the House of Black

1st June 2009:
First things first, I love Helen's persona. Everything about her is fantastic. She's showing no signs of ever becoming a Mary-Sue, which is a breath of fresh air. Her independence and self-belief is fantastically portrayed and I loved reading every little thing about her. You brought across her family's history really well, without it feeling like I was being lectured about her. It really gives the reader a good background.

The fact that she's not afraid to speak her mind, and not be submissive and weak is also good to see, and her departure was written very well. Yay, Liverpol! Quite a random place to go, I thought, but perhaps you know something about it that I don't. Unless it's for the docks which would make a lot more sense. I'm rambling. Sorry.

Backtracking to her family. I think you've kept very well to the traditional Black family attitudes, though toned down a little maybe, which is good to see since I'm sure most people exaggerate their actions, myself included. I quite like the relationship between her and her father, but the recurring thing that her mother will eventually win out. I know the feeling!

I really like the last paragraph. It wasn't really anything in particular, but the concise nature of what Helen has taken with her gives me a good sense of what she's about and what is important to her.

I really enjoyed this chapter. It was a great way to see into Helen's mind and that of her family.

Great :)


Author's Response: It's great that you like Helen. She annoys me to death sometimes, but at the same time, she's often easy to write because she's so different, very much her own person. I wanted her to be a Black, not one of the rebellious ones, but a "true" Black, all proud and prejudiced. The only thing she won't fall for is duty - she'd rather make her own choices. :D

The choice for ports was Liverpool, London, or Southampton - so Liverpool was my own random choice. I think I meant for Helen to be avoiding places where people who knew her might go - she was trying to escape without notice. Haha, so it was for the docks. :P

Yes, with her family, I didn't want to have another Mrs. Black, crazy and inbred. Helen's mother is very strict in her purebloodedness, but it's part of her cunning Slytherin personality more than insanity. ;) I agree that the Blacks are probably exaggerated, especially because they're always described by those against them, namely Sirius.

Thank you very much for this review! I'm glad that you liked this chapter, and the story so far! :D

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Review #75, by PenguinsWillReignSupreme Prologue

1st June 2009:
Well I haven't done Egyptian history since I was about 6, so I have no idea if there were any blatant errors there. I may have to go and read up on it, though, because it sounds interesting. I also think by taking someone as well-known as Tutankhamun, you're probably increasing the number of readers, since everyone has heard of him.

So, I donít know if there's a great deal to comment on, really. I think this prologue serves its purpose well. I'm interested to see where the story is going. Your writing is ridiculously enviable. I loved the first paragraph in particular. It really drew me in and got me interested straight away, which is always a good sign :P

Obviously I have no idea where the plot is going exactly, and that makes me all the more intrigued. I'm sorry that this is on the short side and that it took so long for me to get around to doing this.



Author's Response: *feels guilty* It does work as a draw, doesn't it? I was more looking for the time period than the pharaoh himself, but I see what you mean as well. If one must use any pharaoh, it has to be him. :P

I'm still not sure what I meant to do with this prologue - there was something of the plot I was going to get more into, but have since forgotten - but I'm glad that it serves its purpose and draws in the reader well. The historical aspects of it are crudely skewed by me, but it is fun to play with history a bit, especially when adding in fantasy elements. :)

Thank you very much for doing this! When doesn't matter as long as it happens eventually - you are busy with exams, if I remember. I really appreciate hearing from you. ^_^

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