Reading Reviews for Black Sands
  
142 Reviews Found

Review #51, 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 #52, by Alopex In the Blink of an Eye

14th March 2010:
I was so excited when I saw this update a few days ago! I know you've a busy person, and you also have other stories. I'd nearly given up hope that this would be updated. Obviously, it has been some time since I read the previous five chapters. It's been long enough that I have forgotten many things, although you reminded the readers of some of the more important things in this chapter.

Maybe it would be interesting for you to hear what I DID remember? First off, Helen's name. Also Moody's name. I also remembered a particular description: that other man she meets (I had forgotten his name) you described as looking like a crane. I found that quite memorable. Oh, and I also remembered that there was a fight by the temple.

So what did I think of THIS chapter? Ah, well, the opening scene was superb. I just love Helen's voice. I can just about hear it in my head. She is a unique character, and I'm quite taken with the way she thinks. I very much enjoyed the way she walked away quickly from dinner so that Cadogan would have to make something of a scene to follow her.

It figures that she'd bump into Moody again. He's a puzzling character; I can't figure him out (I can't figure Cadogan out either). I admit that I enjoy Helen's awkwardness around him--around everybody, really--just because I think it would be something I'd find funny in a movie.

Ooh, the sinister elements you're injecting. Now who possibly could have been spying on Helen and seen her Apparate? If the worker really was killed by magic, why? And what about that boulder? The last word gave me chills. Things are getting stranger and creepier all the time.

I enjoyed this chapter very much. Thank you for updating. :-)

Author's Response: It's the story I keep meaning to update, but either lose confidence or just can't be satisfied with the idea I have for it. It's only after writing a chapter that I start to love the story again, and maybe updating more with keep that love for it alive and make it stronger. Probably the reminders of what took place in the earlier chapters are also evidence of me trying to remember what happened, and re-working my way through the various aspects of this story.

The crane description! I remember reading it somewhere and thinking it too perfect, so I borrowed it for Cadogan, as I wanted him to look as odd as he was, like something wasn't quite right about him.

It means so much that you liked this chapter! I had no idea how it would sound in relation to the others, if Helen's voice would remain consistent, or whether the pacing would be right. I've come to love writing Helen because her narrative voice is so natural, as though she's talking to the reader, but it's also biting and sarcastic in a very amusing way. I'm glad that she's a unique OC, especially since she's a Black and I'm trying to both make her fit into the family, but also not be a stereotypical member, if that makes sense.

Moody's taking shape more easily now that I have a mental image of him (a face, a voice), so I can flesh out his character more and make him more realistic. There's a lot of different sides to him, but Cadogan's the same, so Helen's awkwardness around them both grows with her curiosity about them.

The one thing I'm worried about with these sinister elements is that I'll forget about them and leave them around as red herrings. It's perhaps the hardest thing about the mystery/suspense genre because it requires so much detail in the plot. I'm very glad that the ending had that great suspenseful feel to it - I had a lot of trouble writing this ending and figuring out the right point to stop, as I still had ideas for the plot and wanted to keep going, but the chapter could have gone on forever then.

Thank you very much for this review, Alopex! It was a great surprise to hear from you without requesting, and it means a lot that you took the time to read and review this one because you always have a lot of others to do. ^_^


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Review #53, 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 #54, 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 #55, 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 #56, 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 #57, 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 #58, 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 #59, 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 #60, 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 #61, 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 #62, 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 #63, 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 #64, 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 #65, 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 #66, 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 #67, 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 #68, 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 #69, 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 #70, 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 #71, by Alopex In Conversation with Madmen

12th June 2009:
Hm. Very interesting chapter indeed. I am quite puzzled by Mr. Emile Cadogan so far. At the moment, due to Helen's suspicions, I am also leaning toward thinking he is a wizard, or at the very least a Muggle who knows about the Wizarding World. He's most likely a wizard, though. And he just might know more about the tomb than he lets on. I can't decide if he is good news or bad news. I really enjoyed your description of him, though, how tall and awkward-looking he is. However, his mannerisms are nowhere near as awkward as his appearance. Interesting. I am particularly intrigued as to how he found out about Helen. My first idea was that Moody had let slip that he knew someone who could do with a job, but that impression seems incorrect.

Helen was, as usual, delightful. She is a strong female character, yet she is completely human (or I suppose I should say she's not a "Mary Sue"). And for once, it's nice to see a story with a fantastic female protagonist that doesn't revolve around romance. There's the potential for it to develop, but it doesn't seem likely to be central to the story. I really have to laugh at Helen sometimes . . . she reminds me a bit of Tonks! She certainly gets into some interesting predicaments, and that interaction with the Muggle girl was so funny. And naturally, Moody had to make an appearance. That man is everywhere! It would be supremely irritating if it wasn't so amusing.

You mentioned that since you are re-writing this story, you were worried that there might be some rough patches or discontinuity with flow or plot, but I have not noticed that. On the contrary, you seem to be very much in control of your story. Your descriptions are fantastic, and I feel that I am just being swept along the Nile as events keep rushing past (I mean that in a good way - that your story isn't dawdling along but you are also developing scenes adequately).

Author's Response: He is a puzzling character (to be honest, I'm still working out his role in the plot), and it doesn't help that Helen is more than a little suspicious of everyone around her. She seems to see spooks at every turn, whether they're there or not. Though it's funny that his description is enjoyable because I based it off of someone I know, so I have a real life image to work from. ;)

Romance is definitely not the centre of this plot. Some may arise later on, but it's still up in the air. I don't want it to get in the way of the mystery/adventure surrounding the tomb. It's refreshing to write something that's not a romance. Helen like Tonks... yes, that would fit (I wrote this chapter while writing my last Tonks story - guess I can't keep all the stories completely separate). Helen does get herself into hilarious predicaments, though, and those moments are a joy to write. And Moody just has to pop up when she's trying to avoid him. She's probably so obvious in her dislike that he might be getting suspicious of her.

Thank you very much for your reviews. It's really fantastic to know that the story is coming along well, both plot-wise and character-wise. I didn't want to go further into the plot if something was going the wrong way. I've loved reading and responding to these reviews, and will definitely ask for more when I update. :)


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Review #72, by Alopex In the Temple of Luxor

11th June 2009:
I always feel so petty pointing these things out when the rest of the story is superb, but . . . this chapter actually had a few minor errors in it. In particular, I would recommend that you take a closer look at the paragraph in which Helen talks about taking food from carts in Cairo. There are several been's that should be be's, I think. Also, you've used the wrong discretely/discreetly. Discrete has something to do with being separate or different or something like that (I remember it from math class) while discreet means being quiet or prudent. The second one is what you're looking for. Somewhere in Helen's conversation with Moody, you write everyday when it should be every day. And just before Helen is attacked, you use the word hinder, which should be hindrance.

I'm starting to repeat myself, but I again was struck by the voice you have given Helen. It is wonderful and so distinctive. It really brings her character to life. She feels like a real person to me, which may partly be due to the use of the first-person, so great job on her characterization. She's so proper and yet so improper all at the same time. She's really delightful.

Ah, Moody makes another appearance! He's an interesting character as well. I can understand why Helen finds him so infuriating, but as a reader, I like him. The interactions he has had with Helen so far have been very amusing to read since they are both so witty. In this chapter, I have to confess I felt a little stab of delight that she took advantage of him (though he knew she was doing it) offering a meal. As for the new characters here, Hassim was a unique presence, and I am quite suspicious of Mr. Cadogan.

So far there have been a few things in your story I'd never considered previously. For instance, the part about ancient Egyptian magic being lost. Well, of course that seems obvious now you've pointed it out. Naturally they wouldn't have used Latin-based incantations!

Author's Response: Please don't feel petty at all! Those are some of the things I need pointing out. Usually I'm good at catching the errors, but sometimes, I get lazy and they slip through. :( I do really appreciate you informing me of them.

Haha, it's nice to hear multiple times that Helen is a well-developed character, and that the first person voice is working. It's not one I use that often anymore, having found it so limiting, but it works for Helen. She's perhaps the most amusing character I've ever created. No chance of her getting angsty anytime soon. ;)

Readers are sort of meant to like Moody, even with Helen's negative mediation. He's a bit on the slimy side, but there's nothing wrong with him. Helen's dislike of him stems mostly from her upbringing, and from her past experience with an American wizard (it's an undeveloped event, only hinted at).

About your last paragraph, yes, that's what I was thinking too. The Rosetta Stone would have affected more than just Muggle understanding of the Egyptian language. It would have been just as impossible for wizards to keep track of a forgotten language, especially with all the destruction of Egyptian culture by the Greeks and Romans. I wish that the books had talked a little more about Bill's work as a curse breaker, just to get a bit more insight into how much wizards know about the ancient culture, but oh well. Leaves more for me to imagine. :)

Thank you again for the amazing reviews! They're a delight to read and give me a lot to think about. :D


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

10th June 2009:
"Screw the tomb" --> this seemed a little out of tone for Helen, considering how stiffly and properly British you'd written her dialogue and actions during her encounter with Moody. Could this Alexander Moody be the father or grandfather of Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody? Or is the name merely a coincidence? I very much enjoyed Helen's reaction to him. I could just picture the look on her face . . . it must have been priceless! I bet we haven't seen the last of him.

Helen is very delightful, by the way. You have given her a fantastic, dry/witty, funny, and distinctive voice. I just loved that part where she says she left Hubert when his needs grew to include her! Also the part where she says she hopes she doesn't need to elaborate on the profession in which women are usually in demand. So far I am really enjoying her characterization. She has this matter-of-fact tone that is very pleasant to read.

Ah, and the plot thickens! At last we see Helen in Egypt! (I say "at last" when it is still early in the story, haha.) I like how she briefly touches on the various jobs she's had without lingering overlong on them. That helps explain her present interest in the tomb without distracting from the meat of this chapter: the appearance of the tomb guardian, or whatever it may be. I'm finding I can't predict what will happen next with the guardian, but I don't suppose it will be something nice.

Oh yes, another thing. I enjoyed the first paragraph as well, where you write about the "romance" of a bunch of tombs in a ditch in the desert! That was really funny! I liked also what Helen thought about men always naming things . . . I'd never thought about it before, but she has a point!

Author's Response: That line does seem off, not necessarily because it doesn't fit Helen's character, but more that it doesn't suit the era. I don't think the slang definition of that word was in use yet. So I ended up changing it to "damn the tomb" - same connotation, better word. :) Helen is a bit on the rebellious side, particularly when faced with "not lady-like enough" comments, which is why I originally wanted her to use "improper" words, but "screw" isn't quite the right word either. Arg. Thanks for mentioning that.

The name is not a coincidence, but that's all I'll say for now. :P It's not that significant to the main story, but more to the reason why Helen is telling this story in the first place. And if you can imagine the most disgusted expression possible, you've probably pictured Helen's face at that moment. :D

It's so wonderful that you like Helen. I used to really dislike her (when writing the first version of this story), but now she's more quirky and fun, wanting to stand out from the crowd. It's also good to hear that the backstory section did not disrupt the narrative flow. I felt like I was telling to much there, and not showing enough, yet all that information is necessary to show how she's matured since leaving home.

Haha, that first paragraph! I re-read it after first seeing your review, and it is funny, but so true. Another reviewer described to me what the valley looked like, and it's so unromantic! Lots of rocks and rubble and all the tombs are hidden in the cliffs. I do wonder who named it, though.

Anyway, thank you very much for this review, and for all of your reviews! They're astounding to read and are definitely making me feel a lot more confident about this story. :)


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Review #74, 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 #75, by Alopex In the House of Black

8th June 2009:
I am not at all well-versed in HP geneology, but I can't imagine you not doing your homework. The way you introduced various Black and Malfoy ancestors (I did recognize a couple of the names) sounded completely natural, not like a boring list of "so-and-so was my granfather's second cousin, and so-and-so is my first cousin once removed, and . . ." like I sometimes come across. I also liked the way you worked WWI into the story. You have such a richly detailed backstory! That is sometimes lacking in fanfiction.

The very beginning of this chapter was excellent. I loved the way Helen was talking about different ways to tell the story and then sequed into her own history. It was a real gradual easing in that I enjoyed. However, there were a couple of paragraphs where she is talking about her history - how she wasn't raised to be normal and then had an alteration of thought - that sounded a little too self-aware or something. Almost as if she's been asked to write a page about herself as a school assignment.

Overall, though, the flow of this chapter was excellent, in my opinion. You covered a lot of material here, but it all seemed to move seamlessly from one part to the next. I didn't even realize I was being moved from one thing to the next until I finished reading and stopped to consider. Often when I read fanfiction, I wonder, well, how did the character really come to be in this situation? Why didn't the author explain X? I didn't find that at all here. It all seemed very well explained and thought out. Impressive.

Author's Response: It was a challenge to get the ancestry right since the Black Family Tree was released after I'd written this. Some manoeuvring was necessary to make this family a "separate branch" of Phineas Nigellus's Blacks. I'm glad what I have here sounds natural, though, and that the backstory interested you. I like putting a lot of such detail into a story so that it does sound more realistic, that the characters have had lives before the story starts and after it ends.

It's great to hear that this chapter turned out well, narrative-wise. I can see what you mean about Helen sounding too self-aware, and will look out for that in future chapters. The self-awareness does fit into how I'll be ending the story, but I'd hate to have too much of that going on, as it can be annoying to read. Thanks for mentioning that. :)

Thank you very much for this review! It has the best of all worlds: critique and uplifting words. :D I really appreciate you coming in to read this story.


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