Reading Reviews for House of Cards
  
135 Reviews Found

Review #26, by Infinityx Ten of Spades

16th April 2014:
Whoa, what's with that elf? Really, that batty little thing was so suspicious. Maybe someone made the house elf do all the dirty work so that they would have an alibi! :o

Oooh, a Barty/Reg scene. Hmm, Barty certainly seems to have a romantic inclination towards Reg, but it's not clear whether the feelings are reciprocated. That was such a cute moment though!

Yeaah, you go Bella! Someone definitely needs to keep an eye on Barty. Someone needs to keep an eye on Bella as well...

Ohmygosh, what is that vial? :o The plot thickens and I still can't make heads or tails of it. Hopefully the next chapter will unravel a few threads. Great job once again!

~ Erin

Huffleclaw - Ravenpuff Eggstravaganza

Author's Response: Hey Erin! :) Ooh yeah, the elf thing... that actually is kinda important, strangely enough, so I'm glad you picked up on it - not all that many people have so far ;) But it's definitely something worth hanging onto!

Haha, I did love writing that scene, though it was strange to have something almost fluffy in this, tbh... felt a bit weird. As for Regulus maybe/not liking Barty... who knows? :P

Yeah, that is the problem with this lot, haha - they can keep an eye on each other, but really you need to be watching all of them... they're equally suspicious... :)

Ooh, the vial... yeah, that is pretty big. Haha, er, sorry in advance? :P Still, I'm just so glad you're enjoying this - and enjoying it enough to review - so thank you so much for following this, and for the great review! :)

Aph xx


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Review #27, by Infinityx Nine of Diamonds

16th April 2014:
Oh poor Sirius! The extent to which his family dislikes him is just heartbreaking. He always knew he was something of an outcast, he just never knew it went this far. I just want to hug him, the poor thing! :(

I love the introduction of Alphard into the chapter. He really changes the mood of the story to something a bit more lighthearted, although it's always layered with heavier overtones by the other members.

Hahahaha, he voiced out what, I'm quite sure, almost all the readers were wondering. And Bella, was priceless. I'm starting to like her character, with the way you've portrayed her here. :P

~Erin

Huffleclaw - Ravenpuff Eggstravaganza

Author's Response: Yeah, Sirius really is getting a rough time of it in this fic... it's not necessarily quite as bad as he wants to think it is, though - but I like the idea that he kinda wanted to be lonely, and then didn't want to be when he was, if that makes sense. And he's a teenager, so he's angsty, lol. But yes, hugs for Sirius! :)

Alphard... I actually wanted to include him from the beginning, but it was too many characters with him, and there was no real need for him to turn up until now, so here he is! He is something of comic relief, though ;)

Yeah, the readers probably wanna know the answer to that one! :P (It'll come later, haha) I couldn't resist... Ooh Bella, I'm so glad you like her, as I love writing her. You can do almost anything with her and have it be in character if you portray it in the right way. It's just so much fun to play with!

Thank you so much for the great review! :)

Aph xx


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Review #28, by Infinityx Eight of Clubs

16th April 2014:
That letter was really creepy. It was no doubt some sort of message. Why else would anyone take so much trouble to put it in an envelope and seal it and then leave it for Sirius to find? I can understand Pollux wanting to keep the family together, but turning a blind eye towards this seems over the top. Orion is an interesting character though. I wonder what he thinks about it. Maybe he's trying to solve this mystery in his own way...

Once again, the relationship between Regulus and Barty is extremely interesting. I have a feeling that Barty was trying to tempt Regulus into becoming a death eater. He's such a creepy character, gives me the chills.

Oh Sirius, you and your temper. Right when he was trying to mend his relationship with his brother. This is so sad. :( And Narcissa, I hope she's alright! This chapter was focused mostly on Sirius. I'm incredibly interested to see what the next chapter will bring!

~Erin

Huffleclaw - Ravenpuff Eggstravaganza

Author's Response: Hey again, Erin! :) Yeah, sorry about that ;) It is definitely a message, and there is a good reason for someone to go to that trouble - at least in their minds there is - but I couldn't possibly say anything :P Pollux... yeah, I get that - he's just trying not to allow panic to set in too much and that's why he's so sceptical. But to be honest, it's not the most terrifying thing in the world. Orion... ooh, interesting idea ;) Hold onto that one!

Factoid: Barty is not a Death Eater in this. Not yet, at least. Obviously he becomes one later, but not at the time this is set. So no, it's not that ;) He's definitely creepy, though - which is nice to hear, strangely enough!

I know, I know! But I think that's often how it goes with siblings - you're trying to make things better, but sometimes it really, really doesn't work out. And they haven't sorted stuff out for so long, there's a lot to go through. Narcissa... eh, maybe, maybe not :P

Yeah, a lot of Sirius recently... there should be a bit less later!

Thank you so much for the lovely review, as always! :) :)

Aph xx


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Review #29, by Infinityx Seven of Hearts

16th April 2014:
The mystery really builds up. I love the way you've begun the chapter with that unknown person burning the parchment. Your descriptions were astounding and they made me picture the entire scene in front of me. I love how you've lingered on the scene and taken the time to describe the setting and everything that's happening. The amount of detail you've put in is brilliant and it totally adds to the eerie effect you've got going on here!

That interaction between Sirius and Bella was interesting to say the least. That quip about Bella killing Sirius one day was just ksndfklsmfm. To him it's just her being Bella. If only he knew that it would happen one day. It was a great idea to add that there, and a strong indication to what happens in canon.

I love the way you've described the dinner scene. Once again, the amount of detail you've put in about the setting is fabulous. Also, with the way you've described it, I could almost smell the tension emanating from each of the table occupants. It was brilliant.

I love the way Sirius was portrayed here, as well as all the previous chapters. In this one, his Gryffindor spirit is so clearly seen, with the way he can't stay away from the mystery and him being the first one to take a bite to eat. I think it was a wonderful idea to focus on the family dynamics here, as well as slow the pace down a bit. Great chapter!

~Erin

Huffleclaw - Ravenpuff Eggstravaganza

Author's Response: Hey there again! ;) And thank you so much! It was more difficult to write than I expected, since I wanted to make sure I didn't give anything away as to the identity of the person, which was hard knowing who it is as I kept wanting to include some clues, you know? And write his name, haha. That would definitely have given it away! ;) Thank you so much, though, it's so nice to hear you liked it!

Haha, yeah, I couldn't resist not putting it in! It just seemed to fit in, like something they would say, and something which would happen, so I kept it in. I'm happy you liked it! :)

Gah, thank you so much! It was actually a real struggle for me to write that scene, and I'm so so glad you liked it - it still feels a bit extraneous when I read over it at times, so it helps a lot to hear that!

Thanks! :) I've always tried to portray Sirius as a Gryffindor, since I really think he is absolutely one beyond doubt, but he has some characteristics which also aren't nice and stereotypically seen as Slytherin ones. But yeah, it really had to be him :P I'm glad you liked the family dynamics - it's one of the best things about writing this fic, tbh, getting to explore those relationships and things, so I'm happy you're enjoying them! :)

Thanks so much for the great review - I'm glad you're enjoying it so much! :)

Aph xx


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Review #30, by Infinityx Six of Diamonds

16th April 2014:
Another gripping and completely intriguing chapter! There are so many elements at work here, but somehow they all fit together neatly, I'm sure of it. I am unable to comprehend how though, my mind can only be stretched to certain limits. :P

The relationship between Regulus and Barty is interesting. I'm sure Barty isn't up to anything good and I hope Reg doesn't get caught up in it. I'm a little confused though. The last chapter ended with Crouch being missing, and now he's sitting so comfortably beside Reg, with nothing out of place. Am I missing something here?

I love the whole build up as Sirius prepares to enter Regulus' room. It just shows just how strained their relationship is. But at the same time, we also know how much Sirius cares for his brother, with his concern toward Reg in both the previous as well as this chapter. I think Sirius has a great depth to him and you're exploring that wonderfully.

Lucius knows Barty's secret... I sense trouble brooding. My curiosity is unbounded. I hope there's more to this in the coming chapters!
Walburga seems to be close to telling Barty something about the books but holds herself back. Every small action of the characters seems to hold some kind of importance in this story and I can't help but wonder about the significance of that.

That interaction between Sirius and Narcissa was so sweet. I can't imagine what her feelings must be to know that her sister as well as her husband were killers. I like her character though, she seems really nice. Poor Sirius. The pin has dropped and his suspicions confirmed. It's like he's lost that bliss of not knowing.

I'm looking forward to the next chapters!

~Erin

Huffleclaw - Ravenpuff Eggstravaganza

Author's Response: Hey there, Erin! Thanks so much for stopping by! :) I'm so glad you're enjoying this, particularly enough to come back for more :P

Yeah, Barty is definitely suspicious! I think it's his default setting, lol. As for Regulus - well, we'll see ;) No, you're not missing anything, don't worry! This chapter is a while after the last one, so even though he went missing, and then came back later, they couldn't do anything to him, so they're just suspicious and keeping an eye on him ;) He, of course, is acting oblivious :P

Ah, thank you! I'm so glad you like it, as I love exploring the relationship between Sirius and Regulus so much! They are still brothers, and it does mean something, yeah, it's just... they don't get on. That was kinda how I approached it. I'm so happy you like Sirius, though - I'm really enjoying writing him!

Ooh, yeah, that is quite interesting ;) Not perhaps the most important element of the mystery, but still something of a clue! Yeah, I wanted to include Walburga a bit more in this chapter, so here she is! There is a lot of importance to things in this, but equally things (hopefully) seem important which aren't ;) Sorry about that! :P

I'm so glad you liked that scene - it was one of my favourites to write, but kinda hard because the characters are kinda, well, awkward in it, haha. Yeah, Narcissa is probably the nicest of the characters in this, tbh, and I kinda like portraying her as Bellatrix's antithesis, kinda sweet and innocent and outwardly fragile. Poor Sirius - definitely! :) I think he kinda always suspected, but having it confirmed is so different. I love the way you phrase it, though! :)

Thank you so much for the great review! :)

Aph xx


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Review #31, by Infinityx Five of Spades

16th April 2014:
Hi Aph! I already read this chapter before, but since I left off reviewing at the third chapter, I'm going to continue on from here!

This chapter was yet again, extremely engrossing and mind boggling! The mystery is getting so much thicker, and no matter how hard I try, I have no clue who the person responsible might be. Druella's death sure does seem like a murder, especially with the way it was described in the previous chapter.

You've got some fantastic imagery in this chapter and everything flows so perfectly without any hitch. Great job there!

Poor Regulus! I love that little familial, caring moment there with Sirius, Regulus and Orion. It's wonderful that you brought that in, in the middle of everything that was happening. It made things seem even more realistic and natural.

Bella really does seem distraught about her mother's death. It's a wonder that the crazed lunatic of a woman that we know could have once been such a youngster, with a shred of humanity in her.

Crouch's disappearance is really fishy. It does seem to suggest his involvement with the whole murder scenario. Well, only one way to find out! Onward to the next chapter!

~Erin

Huffleclaw - Ravenpuff Extravaganza

Author's Response: Hey Erin! Thanks so much for dropping by here - hope you enjoyed the Extravaganza! ;)

Thank you so much! I'm so glad you like it and think it's getting thicker - I'm really trying to build it up without throwing too much at it too quickly. Ooh, does it? Curious :P ;)

Gah, thank you so much! I'm always so worried about flow, since I know I'm generally quite slow, so it gets bogged down.

Reggie is adorable :P I love exploring the family relationships - one of the advantages of this story, tbh - particularly Regulus and Sirius. I'm so happy you liked it too and didn't think it was too out of character - I know the way I write Sirius is a little different to most people's, so it means a lot!

Yeah, I always figure she went crazy in Azkaban, haha. Making her too humane is always a worry, but I'm glad you liked it here and it wasn't too much.

Ooh, Barty Crouch... he is a naturally suspicious person. He just... seems to breathe it out, you know? :P Of course, I couldn't, possibly comment ;)

Thank you so much for the lovely review! :)

Aph xx


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Review #32, by Veritaserum27 Two of Spades

13th April 2014:
Hi!

Here for BvB review battle. Wow! This was so good! You are a very talented author and have done a wonderful job setting up a great story. I just can't wait to read on!

All of your details appear to be eloquently thought out. I love the characterization of each person - the way Bellatrix is always playing with her wand - so attached to it. Also, you've given the reader a lot to think about. I'm already trying to put together who the killer might be, but it is so difficult with the worst of the worst all in one room!

I can also tell you have some side plots going along - the part with the willl and Barty Crouch. I feel like they are all going to weave together at some point. Fantastic first chapter.

Beth

Author's Response: Hi there! Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

Thank you so so much for that! It's so lovely to hear, and I'm so glad you like it! :)

Oh gosh, thank you! I know I tend to give characters similar traits and habits and things, so I really try to make them different, you know - and here, I just had to make sure they were distinct characters, haha, since they're all Blacks and so likely to be similar in some ways! Ooh, the killer - yeah, it's a very suspicious bunch, lol - though I wouldn't immediately assume anything ;) Wait and see! :P

Oh gosh, I'm terrible at including other plots, haha, so I'm so happy you thought there were subplots and things going on underneath the surface!

Thank you so much for the lovely review - it was so great to get! :)

Aph xx


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Review #33, by TidalDragon Jack of Clubs

7th April 2014:
Well well. Seems I was wrong about Pollux, seeing as he's dead. Though perhaps the same could've been said about Orion...

This chapter, again including another death seemed to return you a bit to your strengths of earlier with the description of the various people and their actions in the room prior to Pollux's death being well done. This time though you also mixed it with some solidly done internal thoughts AND dialogue. It all came together nicely and you tied it up with a surprising little second death - that of Wipsy. Thankfully that death explains why Lucius would serve drinks, so I'll forget that bit.

I'm not sure if you are truly planning to wrap this up in the next three chapters, but in terms of where we are right now and the speed at which you've progressed to this point, I have to say I'd be surprised if you could do so while writing with the same effectiveness you have thus far AND avoiding it feeling rushed. Though you are obviously a very talented writer, so I suppose if anyone could, it would perhaps be you.

Nevertheless, to summarize my comments on the story as a whole: generally excellent descriptions and well-done, differentiable characterizations. Some of the dialogue is hit or miss, but it is largely good and you do a very nice job developing the overall mystery, including various sub-plots as potential answers or red herrings throughout, though the pace does suffer in a couple spots for it. In total, I have very much enjoyed reading it though and I think you're doing an excellent job with a complicated story about a very complicated family, so bravo!

Hope the reviews helped! Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.

Author's Response: Haha, sorry about that! :P It wasn't, er, totally intentional? But yes, lots more suspicious characters to get through, lol.

Thank you! :) I'm so happy you think it's coming together - if only for this chapter, haha! I did enjoy kinda comparing it back to the beginning, and reflecting what happened then to now - it was strangely nice to write. Yeah, Lucius serving drinks is perhaps a little out of character, but Wipsy's gone missing, or so they think at that point, so it was up to him... I liked adding in Wipsy, as well, it is important, but I also wanted to include the house-elves in this a bit more...

Yeah, it's a bit hard to write. I've got it all planned out how I'm going to do it, so hopefully it won't feel too rushed, but we'll see when we get there, I suppose! Thanks so much for that - it's a really lovely compliment! :)

Thank you so much - I'm so glad you've enjoyed reading this and you thing it's going well as a whole. It's been so exciting to write and so difficult as well, because it's completely unlike anything I've written before, so to hear that it's actually working is so, so great to hear! :)

Thank you so much for the brilliant reviews - they've been amazing and so helpful - genuinely - so thank you! :)

Aph xx


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Review #34, by TidalDragon Ten of Spades

7th April 2014:
More Regulus and Barty...interesting. Also, Pollux seems to be an incredibly sketchy character. With him being involved in every scene with the will except the one where what I believe was one of the wills he had was destroyed in the fire, I have to feel like he's the architect of some scheme involving them. I don't know why yet, but he certainly seems suspicious.

My only bone to pick with this chapter is Sirius's reaction to the vial. Wasn't the wax that sealed the letter with his brother's name white? Isn't that something Sirius would remember and take note of more about this vial? I would think so.

Still, its introduction is an intriguing bit. Is it the poison that possibly claimed the first victim or something else entirely? You've introduced a new wrinkle here and I like it. I'm interested to see where it goes since we seem to be nearing the end of your pattern of chapter titles...

Author's Response: Haha, yeah, a lot of people have commented on that ;) Pollux is pretty suspicious, but then I think most of the characters are, so... and yes, he's definitely doing something with the wills, involved with them and keeping them close to him. Though there are other reasons/motives for people to scheme with the wills, and other people involved... ;)

Ooh yeah, I kinda didn't mention it coz I figured white wax might well be fairly common, because it's cheaper, so it might be used on a lot of bottles and things, so that's why I didn't mention it because it's not meant to be that big a thing.

Ooh, I'm glad you like it! I always wanted to introduce something like it - a sort of magic-ified version of the little clues and things you get in murder mysteries, you know - to add some flavour. Whether or not it's important... *shrug* ;)

I'm so glad you're still (amazingly) interested in this, and thank you so much for the really lovely reviews - they've been so great to get and so helpful, so thank you! :)

Aph xx


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Review #35, by TidalDragon Nine of Diamonds

7th April 2014:
Well, apparently I must have missed something at the end of the last chapter if Sirius knocked Narcissa down. I thought I had read that he heard the scream and then saw her and didn't notice anything about impact. If I did, then sorry about that...

As for this chapter, I think the introduction of this new character (however brief it may be) was a nice change of pace. I wouldn't go so far as to say things had gotten stale with the old cast, but Alphard added a different element to the dark story by injecting some life and innuendo and it would appear his last bit certainly had an impact on Barty and Regulus. Perhaps the closeness Sirius observed really was more than friendship...or perhaps your poking us as authors so often do. I suppose we'll have to wait and see.

To dance away from plot (where perhaps I've been dwelling WAY too much the past few chapters) and back to things you asked about like characterization, I think you needn't worry about characters bleeding together. You have done a really good job so far at not just developing distinct character with distinct thoughts and personalities (dialogue a bit less so, but still fine), but keeping them consistent throughout a lengthy and deep mystery, so I think you're doing well there.

I do think we're getting a bit lost in Sirius's head recently at points though. Like I've mentioned, one of your biggest strengths throughout has been your description and when we get buried in your characters' minds, we lose as much of that. It comes in fits and starts here, but is not as consistent or impactful, so I think it would be helpful to have a bit of return to it soon or to intersperse it more throughout each chapter. Just a thought.

Author's Response: Haha, no worries! It's a bit I've been meaning to go back and look at again when I've got time, to check it over and make sure it kinda implies what I want it to imply, so it might well just be that it's not very clear ;)

Gah, thank you so much - I'm just glad you like Alphard and didn't find his arrival a bit out of place or anything. He is certainly, well, different to the others - and really pretty fun to write! :P Ooh... Barty and Regulus... would I do that? ;) Yeah, there may be something to say one way or another at a later date... we'll see! :)

No worries about dwelling on plot - it's totally cool with me! ;) And thank you! I'm so happy they're distinct - and yeah, the dialogue is hard to make different, particularly with the adults, who are perhaps a bit more similar to some extent. Thank you! :)

Yeah, I'm struggling to keep out of his head because, honestly, I find him such a fascinating character. I'll definitely bear that in mind for the future chapters, though, and when I edit, so thank you for mentioning it! I'm terrible at seeing things like that so I'd probably never have caught it!

Thank you so so much for such a wonderfully helpful review! :)

Aph xx


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Review #36, by TidalDragon Eight of Clubs

7th April 2014:
Hmm. Perhaps this chapter was mostly to set up the finish? I just didn't get a strong feeling from it, unlike previous ones. It was awful heavy on the Sirius and Regulus family dynamic which, while present throughout the story hasn't really seemed significant to the mystery.

I'll confess I'm also a bit puzzled about why Sirius seems to be getting accused at the end of the chapter. Given the distance away you seem to describe him being when whoever is behind him emerges and the incredibly short time period, it seems unlikely he would ripe for suspicion. I do suppose the scream preceded the person's emergence, but still...it just felt a bit odd to me, along with their apparent calmness about the incident. Shrug.

Just not my chapter I suppose. It happens to all of us. Still looking forward to the next one.

Author's Response: It was kinda to have both the first scene and the third scene, with the middle one linking them and while it's not especially important, it's kinda building up on things for later. Yeah, the Sirius/Regulus dynamic is heavy in this one, and it's not quite mystery-specific, but there are two pretty important things in this around that.

Ooh, yeah, I think it's not as clear as it could be, tbh - I think I got the mystery kinda thing a bit too heavy in it, without implying too much of what actually happens. I'll definitely have another look at it - I've been meaning too, just been busy - and it's meant to be a bit more obvious about why he's being accused, but the oddness is kinda intentional.

Yeah, there's always one in every story which just doesn't agree with you! No worries about it! ;)

Thanks so much for the great review, and I'll take another look at this one! :)

Aph xx


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Review #37, by TidalDragon Seven of Hearts

7th April 2014:
Okay! Excellent beginning and excellent ending for sure! You really injected some great intrigue back into (I think) the will bit and you left us with a delicious cliffhanger. Good on you!

As for the middle, I enjoyed the touch with Bellatrix alluding to the fact that she would kill Sirius in the future - another clever little nod to canon there. I did not terribly enjoy the dinner scene too much. I thought it seemed to be kind of taking us from Point A to Point B while providing little short of some tiny insight into Barty. Perhaps I missed something, but I just didn't find it incredibly substantive.

The mystery is back in full force though after a previous chapter that dragged a bit to me, so I'm happy to see that.

Author's Response: Hey again! Thanks so much for stopping by once again! :)

Ah, I'm so glad you liked this! Haha, yeah, I have to admit I did kinda chuckle to myself at that one - I liked being able to slip it in. Yeah, the dinner scene was difficult to write, tbh. I wanted to include something which highlighted the tension and could lead to the final moment, though I'm not sure if it was too long...

Thank you so much for that! I'm so glad you think it's come back and it's going well! Thank you for the great review! :)

Aph xx


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Review #38, by TidalDragon Six of Diamonds

7th April 2014:
Alrighty!

To focus on the high points here, I think the detailed descriptions of Narcissa and her movements in the scene with Sirius were a particular strong point. I also liked the touch of closeness between Regulus and Barty. And the revelations about Bellatrix and Lucius having already killed and their differing reactions were well done and supported the mystery in your plot by reinforcing that they could be the killers. Lucius's alleged reaction to the killing also seems in line with Draco's future reluctance to kill, so well played.

As far as things I was not as big a fan of, I think Lucius's character has put me off a bit. I can't put a finger on it exactly, but he seems...different. Obviously he's much younger here, but it feel like at times you've written him as a bit of an amalgam - cold as canon, but lacking composure and according to Narcissa, fearful. I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

I also was not a particular fan of Sirius in this chapter. He just felt a bit awkward. I understand that was slightly purposeful, in that he's in an escalatingly dire family situation, in a family he's barely a part of anymore, but some of his dialogue and thoughts seemed a bit much. Shrug.

See you next chapter!

Author's Response: Hey there again! :)

Thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked that - I like writing Narcissa. There's a nice fragile sort of strength with her, which I love portraying. Ah, Regulus and Barty... yeah, I love showing friendships and things in stories - they often seem to get neglected. Plus, I felt I needed to explain why he was there, hence closeness. Ah, I'm so glad you spotted that! :) I really, really wanted to include some references to the Death Eaters, so I popped it in here. It felt the best way to do it.

Yeah, Lucius is... well, kinda tricky to write. I wanted to show him as less put-together and perfectly marble/polished/cold/etc. that people normally show him and make him a little more fallible and human. I don't know if it quite worked, but yeah, it was kinda my intention. I don't know, I've never thought he's the bravest person either, so that was kinda coming through, too.

Ooh, really? I'll go back and have a look at it later - I know some awkwardness as intentional, as you say, but there might have been too much. I can go overboard sometimes... I never know how much is enough. Thanks for pointing it out! :)

Thank you so much for the amazing review, as always ;) :)

Aph xx


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Review #39, by TidalDragon Five of Spades

7th April 2014:
Well, this chapter was a bit shorter, but I think more powerful than the previous two. Another death gave you a chance to return to a lot of your strengths from the first chapter, which shone through again, particularly in the nuance with which you wrote the discovery of the new body and the reactions of the characters.

We also got people noticing who was "missing" at the time of this death, which is a good start to either honing in on the killer or sending us chasing a red herring. I think you've done a solid job of not tipping your hand about which this is so far, but I personally think Crouch is a red herring (based on particular aspects of your story so far).

Picking up the pace here and mixing up the flow with another death and the use of the house elf, Wipsy, to make certain things happen more quickly was a wise course as well I think.

Things are shaping up nicely!

Author's Response: Hi there! Yeah, I find it really hard to make chapters the same length, so they tend to vary a bit. Is it bad that I'm happy I killed someone else off? Probably, but ah well ;) I'm glad it made the chapter stronger, and I'm glad you liked it! :)

Yeah, I really wanted to use this to make certain people seem suspicious and to show some of the relationships, a little. Red herrings are kinda necessary, I think, so yeah I tried to focus on some people rather than others, without making it too distorted. Mm... Crouch as a red herring... possibly, very possibly ;) Couldn't say of course!

Gah, thank you so much! I'm glad you think the pace is a little quicker here - I know it's something I struggle with dealing with and doing. Omigosh, I never really appreciate how useful house-elves are before writing this - it really does help speed things up and make things easier.

Thank you so much for the great review - I'm so glad you think it's going well and your reviews are always so helpful and honest, it's amazing! :)

Aph xx


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Review #40, by TidalDragon Four of Clubs

7th April 2014:
Jumping right in, I like that you are continuing to prod the will element. It seems like it could certainly be a viable motive, though you do a bit to dilute it here (probably purposefully). Still, you have done such a nice job nudging us in a number of directions as to the identity of the killer, this seems to be really the only possible motive that has been revealed, which undermines some of the characters as possible killers (at least as I see it). Maybe that's on purpose though too.

I do think Pollux and Orion are starting to seem a bit similar for characters that you portray in this chapter as having a strong conflict, but perhaps that will change in the future if their interests diverge after this little disagreement.

What I perhaps appreciated most in this chapter though was the impactful end. You left it open-ended both as to the identity of the person and precisely what has happened to them and it was very well done.

The middle of this chapter seemed a bit sluggish in terms of pace, but overall I think it's moving nicely.

Author's Response: Hi again! :) I'm so glad you like the will element - I was really worried initially about including it since I thought it might be a bit dull, but it seems to have gone down fairly well. Yeah, I wanted to push a, I guess, solid sort of motive (well, potential motive ;D), since most of this is kinda less solid, particularly at the beginning. I couldn't say about on purpose, though ;)

Ooh, yeah, I worry mostly about them as characters - I'll definitely take a look at their interactions in this chapter, and see if there's anything I can do to make them a big more distinct. Hopefully it will get better in the later chapters! :)

Ah, I'm so glad you liked it! It was the scene in this which worried me the most - it felt very strange and odd when I wrote it, so it makes me feel so much better to hear that you liked it! :) Thank you!

Thank you so much for continuing to review - it's amazing that you have the time to review so much! :)

Aph xx


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Review #41, by TidalDragon Three of Hearts

7th April 2014:
Hello again!

So I thought you picked up right where you left off at the beginning of this chapter with strong descriptions. Their power came and went a bit more than it did last chapter, but I think much of that is down to your introduction of more dialogue.

In large part I thought that dialogue was much more consistent than last chapter in terms of its helpfulness and impact. While still not on par with your excellent talent for description, I felt less of a gap in effectiveness from piece to piece of dialogue this time.

As far as characterizations go, I think you're doing a good job so far keeping the characters distinct while still giving them common family qualities that make them believably related. I think Sirius and Bellatrix certainly seem firmly in character, which is also good to see. I'm not sure I've seen enough of the other characters aside from Barty and the grandfather to comment, but I'll keep my eyes on them in the future.

See you next chapter!

Author's Response: Hey there again! :)

Thank you so much! I really enjoy writing description, so I do try to improve it constantly, so I'm so glad you like it. I'll definitely see about things dipping here and there when I edit - thank so much for pointing that out!

Ah, I'm so happy! :) I think maybe it's coz there's less long speeches? I'll have a look over it and see what the difference was - hopefully I'm improving, but I wanna make sure! Thanks so much for commenting on that!

Gah, the cast is so irritating to manage! I always feel like I'm forgetting someone in a scene... but I'm so happy you think I'm managing them alright! I tried to work out all the connections and traits before I started, so I had it clear in my head, so I'm glad it seems to be coming through! :)

Thank you so much for the wonderful review - it really is incredibly helpful! :)

Aph xx


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Review #42, by TidalDragon Two of Spades

7th April 2014:
Howdy! Dropping by in response to your review request. I apologize for the delay - I've been absolutely swamped trying to wrap up a couple of pieces for challenges and preparing for and starting a new job. Still, I'll do my level best to finish reviewing for you by my promised 5-day deadline (tonight).

I thought this chapter started out lights out. Your descriptions of scene and mood were exemplary and really helped to set the tense, shocked, somber tone that you were going for. The descriptions of the characters were also very strong. You took the care that so many don't to point out things like expression, tone and posture that can make all the difference. This largely carried through the chapter in its entirety.

I initially thought the dialogue was also excellent, but ultimately I'd settle on very good. I think the sharp, short lines that marked much of the chapter were very appropriate, but some of the longer bits didn't match up as well with the lofty standard you set in the descriptions and internal thoughts you addressed. This was particularly evident in the first long speech in the drawing room.

I did like though how you set up some possible culprits and at least one possible motive with nuance and care.

As for extra commas, I'm afraid I'll disappoint you on that score. If I were notorious for anything as a writer, it would probably be excessive commas myself...

Anyway, I thought this was an exceptional start and I look forward to following as things develop.

Author's Response: Hey there! Thanks so much for volunteering to do this - it's honestly so nice of you, and I have no idea how you have enough time to do it all! Don't worry about any time lapse (hopefully you'll forgive me for how ridiculously late this response is - law school has been hectic the last couple of months) - I completely understand that sometimes RL catches up with you :)

Gah, thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked it - it took me so long to get the beginning right! Yeah, I kinda wanted to use different things to distinguish between them, mostly coz they're all quite similar looks-wise, really, haha, so I'm glad you liked it!

Ooh, yeah, I'm really not all that comfortable writing long speeches, so I found that really hard. I'll definitely look back over it and the rest of the dialogue, and look more closely at the bits of it I'll write in future. Thanks so much for mentioning it! It's always nice to hear where to improve! :)

Thank you - I'm so happy you thought it worked! I was so nervous about that bit - it's so hard to judge what is and isn't subtle...

Haha, no worries about it! Commas are incredibly tricksy creatures... *hides*

Thank you so so much for the wonderful review - it was incredibly helpful - and, again, I'm sorry for the late response!

Aph xx


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Review #43, by UnluckyStar57 Jack of Clubs

5th April 2014:
Oh my goodness. How much more death can this story hold?!?! Will it only end when they're all dead, having killed off each other out of suspicion and fear?!?!

I'm kind of in shock right now--Pollux AND the house-elf?! But WHY? Who's behind all of this? I can't even guess or make any predictions about who I think the murderer is because I don't even know!

But let's be real: My favorite stories on HPFF are the ones that are not cliche, and this one definitely isn't cliche at all. Your words captivate me-I'm sure I've said that before, but I just wanted to reiterate that. Every character is so mysterious and secretive, and it BUGS ME TO NO END that I can't know what's going on with all of them at every single moment. The Black family needs to have surveillance cameras trained on them at all times--who knows what they might be doing when the action of the story is focused elsewhere?!

I do agree with your statement that there was more action in this chapter, but as with the previous chapters, the main action is the act of dying. There were no violent scenes of accusation and duels to the death--no, the Blacks aren't about that life. What was supposed to be a drink with the men turned into an elimination of one of them. In this way, the story is like Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (it's the only memorable murder mystery that I've ever read). People just keep dying and the killer is still nowhere in sight!! I couldn't even guess ATTWN's murderer, so I'm sure that I won't be able to find the hand that holds the smoking gun in this story! D:

So yeah, Pollux has now snuffed it. So much for whatever he was doing with those wills in the last chapter... And the house-elf--her name was Wipsy, right? I'm almost positive it wasn't "Mipsy," but the Blacks have a bad habit of not referring to "lesser beings" with respect, so they've caused me to forget. :( But anyways, may she rest in peace--but why did she have to die?! Obviously, she knew something that the murderer didn't want her to know, so she paid the price...

As for Alphard, well, I think he's just as bad as the rest of the Blacks, but in a different way. Sure, he disagrees with some of the most treasured Black family beliefs and traditions, but the way he speaks about Sirius in this chapter really gets on my nerves. He's just as manipulative, just as prone to using other people to make his point or to get his own way. I hope that I'm right in assuming that he isn't the killer, but he's definitely one of my least favorite Blacks in this story.

I think that the pacing of this chapter was just right. It was pretty shocking when Pollux keeled over, but the flow of the action seemed to demand it. Of course, the Black way of dealing with sudden death is to pretend that it was totally planned and expected, so the action following it sort of buried the death, causing it to play second fiddle. (Hahaha, burying pun. Whoops, sorry not sorry.) :)

In my opinion, the most important things in this chapter are Walburga's confiscation of the vial and the death of Wipsy the house-elf. Why did Walburga take the vial instead of just letting Sirius show it to Orion? Of course, she's a super-control-freak, but since she told Sirius to hold council with the older men, couldn't she have ordered him to show the vial to Orion then? What is she up to? Is she really sad about Pollux's death?

And Wipsy's death bothers me a lot. The Blacks all assume that she is a dumb animal--they don't get her name right, and they refer to her as an "it." Surely they would also assume that she wouldn't be able to make sense of murder plots and things like that. So the killer is either: A) Not a Black, or B) A Black that doesn't think like the other Blacks do. I can't even say for certain which of those things would be more likely. And then Bella's being all "rational" about Wipsy's death--was she the one who found Wipsy, or was she the one who killed Wipsy?! There are so many things that I don't know!! D:

Perhaps (zany prediction time...) each man had a different killer. Maybe all of the Blacks have a motive to kill each other, and they all decided to enact their plans at the same time. Perhaps Pollux killed Cygnus and maybe Alphard killed Pollux? Or something like that. Perhaps Bellatrix killed Wipsy because Wipsy heard her talking about wanting to kill someone else. Perhaps I should stop making wild guesses.

In your review request, you mentioned that this story was nearing its end. Well, I guess we're on Jacks now... The only ones left are Queens, Kings, and Jokers (if you count Jokers as a part of the deck). However, I'm still waiting for the Ace. That's the one you're going to end on, right? I think it would be fitting, but that means that there are only three or four chapters before this whole thing wraps up! Oh no!

I can't wait to find out what happens! I hope that chapter eleven is going well!

~UnluckyStar57

Author's Response: Hi Mallory! :) I'm so so sorry this response is ludicrously late - there's really no excuse for it - but hopefully once I've got all this lot cleared, I should be better at it! :)

Haha, don't worry - there's not that much more! Maybe... hopefully... :P And sorry about the shock - two deaths in one is quite a lot, though :P

Thank you so much! I do try to avoid era and genre cliches - though I think the genre cliches are difficult to avoid with a murder mystery, imo - because I just kinda find it boxes a story in too much and gives an author less freedom to do things with it. Haha, yeah, they really do! They need someone watching them, to make sure they're not doing... well, anything, really :P

Yeah, it's a lot... quieter, in a way. A bit more stiff and sort of stereotypically English, haha. I kinda miss writing large, over-the-top reactions and action scenes, but it's kinda not the way these people work, tbh. Yeah, people just keep dying! It's almost a constant stream of it, lol. The killer will be revealed - eventually ;)

Yeah, it does kinda make it a bit difficult concerning the wills - and perhaps a bit more nervous, since Pollux was almost on top of that one a bit ;) The house-elf (funny story with that - the change was actually coz I just forgot, but it worked with the characters so I left it in... *hides*) yeah, her name was Wipsy, but Mipsy is kinda the Blacks' thought that they're not that bothered about her. And yeah, it is kinda sad that she had to die... though you may be onto something with that idea ;)

Haha, I'm so glad you liked (or didn't like?) Alphard! I really wanted to make him not the lovely, pro-Muggleborn uncle and all of that, you know, because he is still a Black and I like turning things on their heads :D And yeah, he's pretty rude, tbh... ah, don't rule him out, though! Could be the killer :P

Thank you so much! I'm always so scared about pace - I know I'm rubbish at it, haha - so thank you for saying that! And puns are always good, regardless of situation! :D

Ooh, you're right about at least one of those things! ;) The vial is very important - I'm pretty sure I can tell you that, haha! - so remember it! It'll come up again! It's definitely a question, though, what she's up to... whether she knows what it is, or suspects anything... ;)

Wipsy... yeah, the Blacks treat her really, really badly, tbh. They really aren't that bothered by her death, and only to the extent that they might have some trouble with getting the dusting and the cooking done :/ Mm... you may have a point there! ;) Maybe, though... Bella is very rational - which was fun to write, even if a bit creepy :P

Ooh, zany predictions! I do love zany predictions! :D Ooh, I really like that! I really, really like that one! Like a chain of murders, pre-planned and all executed one after another... it would fit with the House of Cards theme too ;)

Yeah, so close now! I am including Jokers - for a small-ish epilogue (small-ish because nothing I ever write turns out to be actually 'small' :P). So still a bit more to go! ;)

Thank you so so much for the wonderful review, and all the lovely compliments - and again, I'm so so sorry it took me so long to respond! :)

Aph xx


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Review #44, by Lululuna Jack of Clubs

3rd April 2014:
Hello! :) Ahh, sorry for taking so long to get here - groceries took longer than anticipated. :P

Hmm, the mysterious vial... poison does seem quite likely, and I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to seal a bottle by magic. And interesting, well I'm not really surprised that Alphard and Orion don't like each other, but it does make them seem perhaps a little suspicious. Walburga's comment about them not killing each other in front of Sirius seemed quite cryptic, as did the mention of the house elf (well, you know my theory about the elves :P). It's so sad how Walburga calls Mipsy an "it" as well, goes to show how cruel they were to their servants.

Haha, I love the comment about Lucius looking like a cat in a bath, it's just hilarious. :P

I really liked the fact that "Alphard wasn't as nice as he pretended to be." It takes him from being this possible saviour figure who will be there for Sirius, and shows how all of them are just so corrupt even if they are a little better. His comment to Sirius really made me sad, and it's quite depressing how even though Sirius' situation is so helpless and he hates being with his family, the idea of not being a part of it anymore still manages to upset him.

Aand another one bites the dust! Hmm, very suspicious about this poisoned alcohol, and how Sirius almost took a sip! I thought Alphard was acting quite suspiciously, assuming he might have a reason to kill his father. And oh no, the poor house elf! Well that diminishes my theory from above a little bit, though it could still have helped out with all the other murders. It was great to see Lucius acting a bit like a scared little boy, and I loved the way you described him - I think of him and Draco as being quite weak-willed and falsely polished for the most part, so it was nice to see him crumble a little bit.

Great chapter, I'm looking forward to the next one and finding more about what is going on! :D

Author's Response: Hi again, Jenna! :) And no worries about it - groceries are important things! You can't control how long it takes ;)

Yeah re-sealing stuff wouldn't be too hard; it could definitely be poison! ;) Haha, Alphard and Orion are definitely both suspicious characters - and they really, really don't like each other. Ooh, that comment isn't necessarily cryptic - Walburga might just be being sarcastic; she's not too fond of people irritating her, and that includes not getting on around her and being uncouth. Yeah, the mention of the house-elf is important, to an extent ;) And yes, it's so cruel - I liked being able to bring that in and show that they're not just cruel to each other, there's this sort of casual cruelty to the house-elves. It's very harsh.

Thanks! I did snigger to myself when I wrote it, I have to admit... :P

Alphard.. I'm so glad you like him, because I was so excited to be able to bring him in and gradually show more of his true colours, I guess. I never wanted him to be seen to be a nice guy, because the only reason people think he is is because he left money to Sirius, which doesn't really say much. And yeah, Sirius is in a really bad situation :(

Ooh, yeah, Alphard is suspicious. But then, isn't he always? :P The house-elf... yeah, it still could have... though unfortunately, you'll have to wait and see on that one! :) I'm so glad you liked Lucius in this - there were mixed reviews about him - but I liked, as you say, showing him as a bit less put together and a bit more scared and nervous. And really, I think, he had reason to be!

Gah, thank you again for the wonderful review, and thank you so much for following this all this way! And I'm so sorry for the really late response! :)

Aph xx


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Review #45, by LavenderBlue Four of Clubs

29th March 2014:
Mergh. What is UP with this tampered will?! Whether changed by Cygnus or an outside party, there is a larger story here that I am using all of my brain power to figure out. And alas, I can't, which is frustrating, but just the place I ought to be as the reader. You're dropping more hints, more info, and you're weaving back in plot points you introduced in the first two chapters--but at the same time, you're not giving too much away. I can't put together the pieces yet, which is good, because it shouldn't be that easy; but I don't feel as though I'm being cheated. You're walking that line--which I think is the hardest line to walk in mystery-writing--like a true pro.

Pollux and Orion's convo is chilling. The 'something else' bit... o.o That they don't even flinch when talking about illegal magic, that it's a cut and dry solution to a problem, nothing more--it's a creepy implication that got under my skin because it's woven so naturally into the narrative.

Ugh, REG. Interrupting this juicy conversation!! Why the request to go flying? I don't think Regulus is simply going out for a little afternoon zooming on his broom... Suspicious eyes.

I wonder if the latter part of this conversation between Orion and Pollux might benefit from a little paring? The pace got clunky here for me, and I felt as though I was reading information that I already knew or could infer from the surrounding clues. For example, the paragraph starting, "There is, after all, nothing they can do." Most of what follows in that paragraph has already been established. I think you could cut all of those following lines and keep it at that first sentence, period. The reader is smart enough to fill in the gaps, and they can get to the next piece of action sooner.

You continue to give Sirius such a strong portrayal. Something as simple as his little game of breath-holding and his morbid speculations add yet another facet to his character. Yet, for all that morbidity, he's no less empathetic.

This line is priceless: "Then again, he supposes his mother has already killed the silence; Bella is just making absolutely certain that it's dead, like the sadistic cow that she is." It's such a treat reading your fiction, because gems like this invariably show up. Yummy, yummy.

Baha, the magnificent contradiction of Walburga threatening to wring Barty's neck for accusing their family of murder. Lolz. Why so defensive, Walburga? Mayhaps YOU have something to hide! Seriously, though, this story has me thoroughly paranoid now. I've felt the increasing need to look over my shoulder...

Also, I should point out how much I love the way you've painted Sirius and Regulus' relationship. It isn't as though the reason they don't get along is because they go around spouting their ideological differences. It just seems like they simply don't connect as brothers. And sure, being part of different Hogwarts houses may have something to do with it, but the tension and distance between them is something that can happen between lots of siblings who just aren't close.

And that relationship is indicative of Sirius' place in his family as a whole. You can see how he does belong to this family, but you can also see all the myriad ways he doesn't click. It's nothing overblown and dramatic, just little things, like his annoyance with Walburga's tiresome rants and his jealousy of Regulus being the favorite one. It's subtle, but it gives an added depth of realism to the family dynamics. It also adds depth to Sirius' character. He's full of contradictions, several of which involve his family identity. "A part of him is disgusted; a smaller part of him wonders if he'll react similarly when his parents die." That line pinpoints that tension perfectly.

Excuse me while I salivate over that last Druella section. Such beautiful writing, especially the way you tie in Cygnus' own name to the imagery. Names are obviously a big deal in the Black household, and I like that you emphasize their importance here in such a pivotal scene because OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED, DID DRUELLA JUST JUMP, I CAN'T EVEN. YAHHH. You have totally won yourself a devoted reader, because I cannot simply stop the story there. Such a great way of pushing the action forward in a way that isn't gimmicky but that makes it impossible not to read on. And that's stellar in the pacing department.

At this point, I'm looking back over these first three chapters to assess big picture plot development, and I must say, things look watertight from where I'm standing. It's been a solid, gradual build-up so far. I say build-up, because I can only imagine that this rising action is leading to even more reveals and an eventual climax. Given that assumption, these chapters have been everything I'd hope for them to be. You've effectively set the scene with your imagery. You've introduced a cast of increasingly compelling characters--and done particularly fine work with Sirius. You've introduced enough clues to leave me feeling anxious and befuddled but not conned. In short, bravo, bravo!

Thanks again for letting me review this exquisite story. I'm hooked, and I plan on revisiting to read and review out of pure curiosity. I really hope the reviews have been helpful/close to what you were looking for in terms of feedback. You mentioned that you're writing the ending, and given everything I've read, I can only imagine that it is going to be mind-blowing. Yet more motivation to read on!

Author's Response: Hi again! :) Thank you so so much for reviewing three chapters - in a row, no less! It's a big task, particularly when the reviews are so long and detailed like yours! So thank you for that, first! :)

Haha, sorry about that! Unfortunately, it's one of those things you won't find out just yet - there's, well, another character, lol, who's involved in that, so that line will pick up a lot more pace when they get involved. Ah, thank you so much! I'm always so worried about that when I write this - I'm hopeless at telling what's too much and not enough to give away! So hearing that from you is so, so lovely! :)

I'm so glad you liked that bit - there's always this implication in the books that Dark magic is something almost normal to them, so I liked the idea of bringing that up for something almost trivial. More creepy than for the murderer, haha :P

Ooh, Regulus.. well, yes and no! I don't think it spoils anything if I say he is going flying, but not just flying, if that makes sense. There's definitely more behind that than 'he's bored' ;)

Ah, thank you for mentioning that! I honestly hadn't really looked over that scene since I wrote it, so you're probably right! I'll definitely go back and look at it and cut it down. I'll keep an eye out for it in future, as well! :) Thank you!

I'm so happy you like Sirius! And yeah, he's pretty morbid... It's kinda funny that you find him empathetic, since I vary between finding him empathetic and just... not. So yeah, I like that! :)

Haha, yeah, Walburga is a bit unstable. Kinda like Bellatrix... she has no idea of the irony of her own words. And maybe she does... *whistles* Haha, sorry about that! Don't worry, you're not in any danger ;)

Gah, thank you so much! It's one of the things in this I love writing so much, and I really want to get right, you know, so I'm so happy you like it! And yeah, that's kinda always how I saw them - just always missing each other. Never quite on the same page, kinda thing - except that sometimes they are, and then you get it, but often they're not. It's kinda sadder than if they were fundamentally ideologically different, you know, because there's almost this sense that they could have been close - maybe. Such a shame... :(

Thank you! :) I love writing Sirius - while writing this I've grown to love him so much more as a character, and grown to have a huge head canon surrounding him, haha. You're absolutely right about him, though - in everything! I kinda wanted to show sort of normal teenage feelings - jealousy and things - but it's just really exacerbating and exacerbated in turn by the relationship he has with his family, that there is grounds for it. It seems worse than it is, but it's worse because it's true... if that makes sense.

Gah, thank you so so much! I was honestly so worried about that section because it's a bit weird and a bit different from the whole rest of it so far, so to me it seemed to stick out like a sore thumb, so I'm so glad you like it! And yeah, with the Black love of names and meanings, I couldn't leave his name out now, could I? :P

I'm so glad you've liked it so far - and that you think it's been solid so far, too! It's completely new for me, and a real challenge at times, so to hear that is just great! Thank you! I'm especially happy you like the characters - and Sirius! - since I know they're perhaps a bit different to how people normally portray them and are used to seeing them. There's definitely a lot more to go until the end, don't worry - and I'm, er, glad you're feeling anxious? o.O :P

Thank you so so much for the brilliant set of reviews! They've been amazing to get and amazing to read (and re-read and re-read, because honestly they're just so lovely!), and you've been so helpful! Thank you so much! :)

Aph xx


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Review #46, by LavenderBlue Three of Hearts

29th March 2014:
BAH, Barty. I had great expectations for him based on chapter one, and you did not disappoint! I love your portrayal of him so far. He's irreverent, charismatic, and just the sort of catalyst necessary for a murder mystery investigation. He also seems to have a hidden agenda, which makes him all the more intriguing. You do a great job of using him and Sirius as foils to each other. I think their first bit of dialogue sums them up very well, indeed:

"Why are you doing that?"

"Because I want to."

This sets up Barty as the one who stirs the pot, who sticks his nose where it shouldn't be. And it sets up Sirius as someone who does what he wants for the sole reason that he WANTS to. It's a fantastic interaction.

I'm curious as to why, if Barty and Reg are so close, Barty is enlisting Sirius' help and trying to keep things hush-hush around Reg? Hmmm. Hm hm hm.

I love that we see Regulus through Sirius' eyes: how Reg's mannerisms remind him (unpleasantly) of their father, how Sirius knows that Reg's baby eyes are just a ruse to get what he wants (typical younger sibling move; I know from experience :]), and how he doesn't have any problem accusing Reg of being a suck-up to his face. This tells us a lot about Regulus, but it also tells us about Sirius and his relationship with his brother.

"Sirius can't decide if he's more annoyed with Regulus for lying to him or with himself for believing that his brother would actually tell him the truth." Wonderfully worded, and it delves even deeper into the obvious tension between the brothers without getting expository. Great!

Sirius' trip-up is another solid way of showing the reader his character. From a simple mishap, we uncover that Sirius finds his identity in the fact that he is both a Gryffindor and a Black; he doesn't want to show weakness; and he doesn't like pity. He realizes the ongoing need for familial support, yet he feels alienated in that family. And all of this makes Sirius simultaneously strong and vulnerable. You're beginning to paint a very empathetic picture of Sirius for the reader to follow.

Yeepsters, Bellatrix. Though she's only on the scene for a little bit here, you make great use of her. "Bella always did miss the balance between sugar and spice, wildly rocketing backwards and forwards between the two." Such a fantastic line! In so little words it tells the reader just what to expect from Bella--namely, that she can't be trusted. But who can in this story?!

To sum it up, excellent characterization here. You painted a good preliminary sketch in chapter one, and you've done nothing but color those lines in with finesse. It makes me want to read chapter three even more than I wanted to read chapter two, and that's always a good sign.

Omg, this line: "A cynical voice in the back of his head (which, when it shows up, he likes to call 'Remus')." And this: "Mr I-have-peacocks-in-my-garden-didn't-you-know Malfoy." Bahaha. Love it. You do an excellent job of incorporating humor into a dark story without throwing off the tone.

As far as plot/mystery development goes, I see nothing amiss here. Pacing is solid throughout. I never felt as though I was trudging through unnecessary detail or exposition. Also, I like the flashes of different characters who skirt in and out of this chapter, from Lucius to Cissa to Reg to Bella to Pollux. After Barty has planted his seed of doubt in Sirius' (and the reader's) head, each of Sirius' interactions seem suspicious. Why does Bella tell Sirius off? Why would Regulus lie to Sirius about the coroners? Why did Lucius seem so out of sorts as he hurried by? Early on, you're setting up an atmosphere of distrust and paranoia. There's no one strong lead yet, but there's the definite sense of hidden motives and untold secrets--clues dropped now for us to start piecing together later.

Just one miniscule typo that I caught: "Sirius pushes himself too his feet," change to *to.

Riveting read. I'm looking forward to seeing where the third chapter leads!

Author's Response: Hey there again - thank you so much for doing this! I know I write long chapters, so even two in a row is a pretty big ask! :)

Okay, so I have to admit that I love Barty Jr as a character, and always have done since he was introduced to us in the books. He's just so wonderfully complicated and mysterious - so that was really what I tried to duplicate here! He really is utterly out of place it's almost ridiculous, haha; you described him pretty much perfectly! :) He is definitely a little stirrer, too...

I never thought of him and Sirius kinda counter-acting each other, tbh - though they kinda do now you pointed it out :P Barty and Sirius are strangely similar, but not, if that makes sense. Like, they both do their own things just because, but how they do it is so completely different. They're so fun to write - apart or together!

*whistles* I can't say anything of course, but it is a weird thing for him to do... there is a reason, of course, and hopefully it'll make sense in the end... but not now! ;)

Omigosh, I love writing Siri/Reg interaction! I've always been fascinated by them as brothers, and so writing them in here was something I wasn't going to avoid even if I could. Haha, yeah, I have two younger sisters, so bits of their relationship are kinda based on mine with my sisters, like the puppy eyes thing, and Reg reminding him of their father... Their relationship is fairly big in the story - it will come up again and again - so I wanted to give a suggestion of it without outright saying anything, so I'm so glad you liked the bit of it here and thought it worked! :)

Okay, so while I love Sirius as a character I find that fics often paint him too light, almost. Like he's really nice and happy and always up for a laugh, and I wanted to focus more on the darker, perhaps more pureblood side of him, you know? So he's pretty different to a lot of Siriuses, I think, so I'm happy you like him! He's a teenager, so yeah, he's struggling with his identity and all - what's more important, being a Gryffindor or a Black, since he's proud of both, really. I really wanted to show, well, exactly what you said, tbh, how he wants his family - or a family - but feels like he doesn't quite belong at times. It's such an interesting relationship to explore so I'm so glad you like it! :)

Ah, Bellatrix! She's just... she's honestly a great plot device. If I need the tone of scene changing, I bring her in; or if I need something moving along, I bring her in :P Interesting that you say she can't be trusted - but yeah, they're all pretty suspicious! :D

Mahaha, thank you! I'm always really excited about putting in little bits of humour here and there because, honestly, I'm dreadful at full-on humour. Really terrible. It's Sirius, though, so there has to be some! And I couldn't not mention the rest of the Marauders, either! :D

Gah, thank you so much! I wondered at first if the continual cycle of appearances would get kinda annoying or confusing, but I'm glad you liked it! :) I really wanted to build the suspicion and confusion, so there's lots of things which would otherwise perhaps seem normal, but in this are really weird... :P I'm so happy you think it's going well so far, though! :)

Ooh, thank you for catching that - it'll be out in the next edit ;)

Once again, thank you so so much for the fantastic review! You are so incredibly nice and incredibly helpful! I always love reading your reviews! Thank you! :)

Aph xx


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Review #47, by Lululuna Ten of Spades

29th March 2014:
Hello! :)

This was such an amazing chapter, and I loved each scene and how vivid and descriptive they are. Your writing here is honestly beautiful. The first scene especially, with the boys walking outside, had this feeling of forlorn loneliness, and it was just so incredibly written, I felt like I was there. The mist, the wind... something I like is how you play with the words to make an ordinary action seem interesting and even haunting.

As the wisps of mist fly past his wand, they wind and merge to form a ghostly ship which sails off away from them. This was a gorgeous image and a really interesting use of magic. It felt very typical of Barty - everything he does seems so haunting yet deliberate, but I just thought this particular moment was so lovely.

The whole scene, with their flirtatiousness but Barty's fear of going too far, pushing Regulus too far, was really interesting. As you know I love this pairing, but the distance between them and how Regulus holds himself back while Barty is generally without inhibitions does a good job of how difficult it would have been for a boy to love another boy in this kind of family. It's bittersweet, in a way, and though I don't think either of them are necessarily redeemable characters all the time, your characterization is amazing.

and allows a sly smile to flicker over his mouth. Little lines like this show how instead of acting naturally, Barty really controls his actions and the way he is presented to other people. It's interesting, because I feel like his natural character is quite wild and very odd and quirky, but he holds that back and turns it into this charismatic yet manipulative person who is in control of something as minor as his facial expressions and very aware of how each word or movement makes him appear to others.

Barty's chin smacks into Regulus' shoulder, beginning to throb immediately. Okay, I just wanted to point this line out because it felt so realistic, how when things like this happen they're not just cute and adorable, but sometimes a little awkward. :P And hitting one's chin on something is really the worst, and this made me think of that feeling and how painful it is!

Hmm, I really have no clue what is going on with the mystery and the will. I'm not sure if I suspect Bellatrix or Barty, to be honest: they both just seem like too obvious murderers because of the Death Eater connection. Alphard seems a little questionable as well. For now I'm sticking with my house elf theory, especially with the house elf at the beginning who seemed to be up to something suspicious.

let alone his family's library where there are books which bite and scream and make you go blind... The descriptions of the library were really amazing - I liked how the Black library almost feels like the Restricted Section. And the creepy, hand-written children's books... and then the idea of there being secret passages behind the walls - those were some really incredible images and ideas and I felt like I could entirely picture it.

I have no idea what is going on with the vial - maybe it's some sort of poison which was used to kill Cygnus, or truth serum... I really have no idea, but I do think it must have some significance. The fact that it was in a crystal glass makes it all the more ominous.

Another wonderful chapter, I'm nearly caught up now! :D

Author's Response: Hey there, Jenna! :) Thanks so much for dropping by again! :)

Ah, thank you so much! It's such amazing compliment to get from you, because I know how beautiful your writing is, so it's so so kind of you to say so! :) I'm not totally sure where that scene came from, or how it sort of wormed its way into this, but I'm growing to like it. Haha, I love word-play and imagery and things, so I tend to use it a lot. I'm so happy you like it here, though! :)

Ah, that image really came to mind for me because I was thinking about having a moment of sort of childish-type thing with Barty, and at the time, for some reason, the image of Gandalf with the smoke ship through the ring in the LOTR films came to mind, so yeah, that's where it came from :P

I loved kinda taking them outside and them being allowed to be just boys, because they're only young in this, but sometimes they feel to be a little older, I think because of the murder element :P It is kinda bittersweet, because there is the whole forbidden element to it, which I like, and yeah, none of the characters are really necessarily redeemable, but hopefully they're not wholly evil either!

Barty is so fun to write because he is very manipulative and controlling of himself, but at the same time he is kinda so wild and unpredictable underneath the surface. He really wants to appear in certain ways to certain people, so he manipulates himself in ways to make that happen. Kinda sad, but cool. I'm so glad you like him, though - I love writing him! :)

Haha, I wanted something to sort of break up the kinda pseudo-fairytale feel, with the mist and the cold outside and things. So yeah... bumping into each other. It is so painful, always! And yeah, awkwardness is nice :P Almost sweeter, in a way, than if things had gone perfectly, I think, at times.

Haha, sorry about that! :P Yeah, it is sort of confusing, but everything will (hopefully) be explained at the end! Bella and Barty are kinda the obvious suspects coz they're both, you know, not totally sane :P And Alphard... interesting that you suspect Alphard. Not many people do ;)

Gah, thank you so much! I'm so glad you like the library - I had a bit of trouble writing it, and coming up with something which could be both warm and kinda comforting on the surface, but kinda creepy underneath. The books were mostly inspired by the screaming book in PS and other little canon mentions of cursed books and things, so yeah... I don't think I could say they're totally mine? Secret passages... ah, I couldn't resist putting them in! Every old-fashioned manor house has secret passages :P

The vial is significant, that much I can tell you :P Though I can't say anything more... truth serum... oohh, yeah, it's translucent too :P I forgot that for a moment, sorry! :)

Thank you so so much for the lovely review, Jenna, and I'm so so sorry for being so incredibly slow to respond! :)

Aph xx


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Review #48, by LavenderBlue Two of Spades

29th March 2014:
LavenderBlue here with your requested review! I simply adore a good mystery, not to mention the Family Black, so your fic is right up my alley. As requested, I'll be reading through the first three chapters. I thought it'd be easiest to give specific feedback for each respective chapter. I'll include my thoughts on overall development in my chapter three review.

For starters, may I just say what a gorgeous tone you have? Within the first few paragraphs, you've already done an excellent job of introducing a sinister, enigmatic ambiance. "The thud of his cane on the floor like the murmur of an extra, fading heartbeat." I love how you use imagery to enhance what's normally the most prosaic of sounds. It reads like something straight out of Poe. :] Again, a line like this: "the taste of rich red wine is replaced by shock, bland fear and the unmistakeable bitter flavour of death." YUMMY. You have a gift, and you use it so effectively for your story's purposes.

But enough gushing over your prose. On to pacing! You have a beautiful way with words. However, I noticed that, at times, your prose can weigh down the pace. I think that you can easily remedy that situation, however, with some paring. Example:

"It's a slow nod, a sure nod, a definite nod. There's no need for him to say 'yes', for him to affirm it out loud; his very reaction has confirmed it."

All the reader really needs is that first sentence--Pollux's action. The reader takes Pollux's nod for a "yes." The reader knows that Pollux's closed eyes and definite nod have confirmed Orion's suspicion. You've shown all you need to with that solitary nod; no need to explain.

I noticed other similar instances of over-explanation, but pace-blockers like this are easily fixed. In your case, you don't tell instead of show. You just show AND tell. Cut the telling, and you're golden! Storytelling-wise, I think the pace is perfect so far. It's just smaller, sentence-crafting changes like this that can give it some extra pop.

Lastly, a look at characterization. It's early on in the story, of course, but I think you've already done a good job of differentiating your cast of characters. That's no easy feat, either, when you're dealing with the Black Family. As you write, the Blacks work so hard to be "one family, one clan, one wand," and it can be easy to lump men like Orion and Pollux together in one nebulous, vaguely evil and aristocratic personality soup. But so far, you've done a great job of drawing attention to the differences in personalities present.

The best part is, you characterize through the characters themselves and not the narrator. This begins almost immediately, with the varying reactions to Cygnus' death. Narcissa is an emotional mess, Bellatrix is impatient, and Sirius is just uncomfortable. Druella is recovering from shock and Barty is grinning to the Funeral March. That's all it takes. The characters' reactions and their words--or lack thereof--speak volumes. I think that's a promising sign for the rest of this story, and I'm really looking forward to seeing (and giving more feedback about) how you continue to paint the various members of this household.

Strong closing lines. I can't wait to read on! This whole first chapter was chock full of mystery, and you've done a great job of leaving plenty of questions unanswered. As the reader, I get the immediate sense that present company is hiding something, that not all the cards are on the table (hehehe, card pun, couldn't resist). Accusation of murder, discrepancy in the will... Ooh hoo hoo, I'm already beginning to brew some theories. :]

Thanks for letting me review this lovely work, and expect reviews on chapters 2 and 3--with special attention to plot development--soon after this one!

Author's Response: Hey there - thank you so much for stopping by, and I'm so sorry this response is so late - RL has been very busy lately! :)

Gah, thank you so much! I'm so glad you like it - it took me ages to get the beginning right! I did three drafts, and this was the only one which felt right, you know? I actually haven't read much Poe... I should probably at some point - it'll have to go on the list of things to read! I know enough to know that's a huge compliment, though, so thank you! :)

Pacing! Can I just say thank you for being so honest? I know pacing is something I struggle with - even though I've got better, I know it's something I need to be conscious of when I write and something I need to keep an eye on - so it's so great that you've taken the time to go through this and pick up on it! :hug:

I will definitely, definitely go back through this when I have a bit more time (revision and exams, boo) and cut bits like that out! I'd never really thought of it that way - though I always try to show rather than tell... I'd just kinda missed that a bit, I think. Thanks so much for pointing it out! :)

Ah, thanks you! It was such a weird thing to think when I approached it - having to give them all distinct personalities and all, and developing the relationships between the different characters... yeah, they all can be kinda similar - particularly in looks! - but I'm glad you can tell the difference between them! Ofc it does become more obvious throughout, particularly with the less-known characters...

I do try not to have the narrator tell the differences, if that makes sense. I prefer using actions/reactions to do it... I'm so glad you like it, though! I wasn't quite sure if it would be enough as it was, tbh, but it seems to be alright!

Haha, don't worry about that - you have no idea how many I make to myself whenever I plan/write this! I find myself having to delete some occasionally because they're just terrible... I'm so happy you thought there was enough mystery - and yeah, there's really a lot of secrets floating around! ;)

Ooh, theories! Exciting! :)

Thank you so so much for this lovely review - it was such a gem to get and so incredibly helpful! :) Thank you again! :)

Aph xx


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Review #49, by Lululuna Nine of Diamonds

26th March 2014:
Hello! :)

Ahh, it's so bad but I actually did read ahead a little bit after the last chapter and didn't review - this last month has been insane between RL and school! :( But I'm really excited to be almost caught up, I enjoy this story so much.

Oh, poor Sirius. :( I'm not sure if I've said this before, but I really do love how you write him here. In so many stories he's this arrogant playboy, which is great, but this story really shows how vulnerable and mistreated he is, how his unhappiness comes from such a personal and private place. There is so much nuance in every action - kicking the floor to leave a mark, as if he wants to mark the house and prove that he was a member of the family after all while simultaneously destroying the fancy furnishings. The focus on Sirius leaving marks in the house reminded me of the tapestry which he was blasted off of - he wants to leave a mark to prove he existed since they are so quick to vanish him from the family history.

And then the comparison to James' father was quite interesting as well. I liked how Orion doesn't add "do I make myself clear" at the end of his statement - it was so interesting in showing how even though Sirius is the underdog (no pun intended...) of the family, Orion doesn't want to insult the family honour or pride in his own spawn or something by implying that Sirius is stupid. It's such a complex duality in their relationship.

Well I'm glad Narcissa isn't dead! :P Sad how everybody treats her so delicately, so preciously, while Sirius is both a possession yet also disposable at the same time.

The contrast between Regulus and Sirius is quite interesting. I like how Reg is so polished and held together, and how in comparison Sirius is a bit of a mess, both physically and emotionally. The moment where Reg woke him up was a perfect example of that, and who holds the power in the brotherly relationship.

Alphard! He's so funny, and I like how he's presented as a bit of a goofy character and the Sirius feels that he can safely laugh at him as well as with him. Seeing the exchange of wits with Barty was quite interesting as well - I love how so many people are hinting at some sort of more-than-friendship between Reg and Barty, and how it's a bit of a sensitive subject for Barty. Hmm...and Bellatrix is having a bit of a fit, it seems. She's never quite normal, but I'm very curious about how exactly her head is working.

I do love all the hints of Reg/Barty though, they're quickly becoming head-canon for me! I was actually quite sad that you guys didn't place in the Speed Dating as your stories were some of my favourites! :( (fan girl moment, haha).

Great chapter! :D

Author's Response: Hi Jenna! :) And don't worry about it at all - I totally understand RL getting in the way of things. I'm so guilty of reading ahead on stories and not reviewing, so it's not a problem ;)

I really, really love writing Sirius in this so I'm so glad you like him. He's very different from others Siriuses (Sirii? O.o) I've read, but I like exploring a different side to him, where he's not the cool, happy guy everyone wants to know. I didn't really think of him kicking the floor like that, but now you mention it it makes so much sense! :P But yeah, with him there's always this undercurrent of 'I'm still here', I think. Which is so sad for him!

I really wanted to show some kind of comparison between James and Sirius, and I like slipping in little mentions of the other Marauders every now and then :P Yeah, Orion doesn't say it because he knows Sirius knows it's clear. Orion is very authoritarian, but yeah, there's this idea that of course Sirius gets it. I'm so glad you picked up on that - it's so interesting to see people's different thoughts on it! :)

Yeah, Narcissa's alright ;) And yeah, it's kinda sad for Sirius, because it should be a compliment - that they think he's capable and can look after himself - but there's always the idea that he's not really part of the rest of them.

Reg and Sirius have one of the dynamic's I've loved exploring best in this. They're just so opposite. Sirius is sort of everywhere at once and Regulus is much more meticulous, and yeah, Reg is a bit annoying and knows can do almost anything.

Ooh, Alphard... he's an interesting character. Let me know if you still like him at the end :P But yeah, he's very much something of a comfort to Sirius, because they're both sort of on-the-edge of the main family group. Mahaha, I couldn't resist putting that in - it was so much fun to write! I just love puns... it was too easy to do :P Keep Bella's fit in mind - it might explains things a bit later ;)

Yay! Another convert! :P I'm so glad you like them, though - they're a little pairing I have such a soft-spot for, it's ridiculous. Aww, thank you, I really loved doing the speed dating and my partner was so great to go along with the idea! :)

Thank you so much for the wonderful review - it was so great to get - and I'm so sorry for the ridiculously late response! Thank you! :)

Aph xx


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Review #50, by MidnightBlue_x Seven of Hearts

22nd March 2014:
Hi again!

So, firstly. Very mysterious in the first bit there, that makes me think that maybe my theory could be right? Or that could be something completely unrelated...I really have no idea!

Secondly, I absolutely loved the interaction between Bella and Sirius in this chapter. I love how there's obviously feelings of hatred between them, but there's also something else. I really liked seeing that, especially as I think most fics seem to disregard that they are, ultimately, still family.

Even though there isn't much in this chapter, I love the small little interactions between Barty and Regulus. I especially love how Sirius picks up on them and what he believes is going on. So good!

I think the story itself is progressing very nicely. I think developing the family dynamics are just as important as developing the mystery. Well done!

x Ely

Author's Response: Hi there - thanks so much for stopping by again! :)

Ooh, maybe ;) As I said, it is a brilliant theory! But unfortunately, I can't say anything, you understand!

Thanks! I'm so glad you liked it! I've always imagined that Bella and Sirius might have been relatively close when they were both younger, since I always thought they're pretty similar in character, in certain ways, and so I liked having them in a room together and sort of 'ganging up' together. They are family, and I think in a family-bloodline-obsessed pureblood society, that would count for a lot, you know?

Barty and Regulus... yeah, haha. Little things ;) Sirius is picking up on some things, but he really is a bit oblivious, poor boy :P

Gah, thank you so much! I'm really enjoying developing the family relationships and the way they all interact, because it's something which I find really interesting, and really fun to explore so I'm so glad you like it!

Thank you so much for the wonderful set of reviews - they are always so great to get! Thanks again! :)

Aph xx


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