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14 Reviews Found

Review #1, by TreacleTart 

12th August 2015:
Hello again,

Back for some more of this Gryffindor Review battle madness. go team red!

So Laurel finally did it and overdosed on hexes. I knew this was going to be bad. And you wrote that scene really effectively. At firs it was a little humorous with what Isobel assumed was happening, but as the noise continued it took on a really ominous note.

The way you described Laurel as having hexed out was really interesting. The idea of her having her wand stuck at her temple and being completely out of it. It was a very vivid passage.

Then we see Isobel's eating disorder in full force. I figured that she was suffering from an eating disorder after seeing how she was analyzing herself in the mirror, but it's always a bit more real when the person is actually locking themselves in the bathroom to purge.

I was concerned about Tristan's spelling habits as well, but am glad to hear that he isn't in on the self-spelling. That seems like really risky stuff.

Hopefully, Laurel will be okay and the school will get her some help to get over her addiction. That scene where Isobel finds her is just burned into my mind.

Good work!

~Kaitlin

Author's Response: I'm glad you noted how there was almost a funny-if-uncomfortable lead-in to that. Def me trying to play Ominous in a novel way.

For the Hex Out, I did a lot of research into heroin overdoeses to get the details right. And I'm so glad that image with wand-to-temple was vivid! It was so terrifying and unsettling in my mind and I really wanted to convey that here.

One thing I need to do better, I think, is explain that she's not actually bulimic. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are completely different diseases that function in really different ways, but I included that because most anorexics, in their early days, will experiment with purging once or twice. But that's not the illness they have, so it doesn't really stick. (There are also bulimorexics, but that's another thing entirely). So yeah, that was there also to make a parallel with Self-Spelling and to offer an accurate and honest picture of the illness, but something that should be better handled in the revision.

These reviews are so helpful, thank you! I'm up to Ch5 right now with Pix so hopefully all the edits will be up soon :)

xoxo
Roisin


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Review #2, by Pixileanin 

23rd July 2015:
Hey, I always planned to come back to this. Today I asked myself why not now???


Ah, so Isobel suspects bad things. Okay, you know what? I have also wondered what the difference would be between Transfiguration and Alchemy. I suspect that one is more an illusion and the other is a permanent transformation. But I digressÖ

Laurelís disappearances are becoming very regular and disturbing. I think Isobel is right to worry, but yeah, what would she say? But then, SO MUCH TENSION!! Isobel reacts with sleeplessness and situps, things that she can control, oh dear. Things are going down. And then the forever aftermath with the whispers. Thatís the hardest thing to face in school. Everybody talking about whatís none of their business. I donít miss it.

Tristanís reaction to Laurelís self-spelling makes me wonder several things. I would love to believe him that he isnít doing the same, but having spent a lot of time with Laurel, I canít help but think he hasnít done it at least once. Though he does seem to draw the line at going overboard, there are these niggling doubts about how strong he really is. I guess we shall see. I appreciated his reaction to all the attitudes. Walking out of class seemed to be more of a statement of protest against everyone thinking so badly about Laurel, instead of himself. He does seem like that sort of loyal friend.

Back to Isobel and her issues. Seriously, this girl thinks her friend is in trouble, but she canít look in the mirror and see her own downward spiral. Youíve written her so convincingly that I donít feel sorry for her as much as I worry for her. She thinks, like all the other characters too, that sheís FINE and sheís NOT. And oh, how thatís going to kill her if she keeps it up. But noÖ sheís in control, so it must be okay.

KIDS!!

And I was right about the Alchemy. :P 10 points to Gryffindor!


Pix

Author's Response: PIX! Oh man I'm so glad this long-term swap is back on, and properly!

I really like your point about transfiguration possible being, like, more of an illusion. Which would explain why you can't /eat/ transfigured things. The appearance changes, but the actual matter stays the same. Hm. New headcanon accepted :)

Sleeplessness and sit-ups, oof. I'm glad you spotted the 'control' thing.

Hogwarts was always a rumor-mill in canon, so I def wanted to mirror that here (yet time Laurel's hex-out so that Harry would have been preoccupied and missed it. Also, I figured that since it was a drug-thing, it might have gone over Harry's head and people wouldn't have talked about it with the younger students.)

You're analysis of Tristan is really apt. This isn't really a spoiler, so I'll just tell you that you're right (it's confirmed later)--he has done it at least once. Because like you said, of COURSE he had. That was def written as a lie, so I'm glad you twigged it.

Hah, yes, Tristan's protest. Such a rebel without a clear cause, rebelling all over the place messily. All in all, a bad move on his part because it meant abandoning Isobel to go it alone :(

Isobel definitely uses anorexia as a method of gaining control when things are out of control--which is twisted, because obv that's actually her LOSING control.

YEE--thank you so much for coming back to this story and taking the time to review :D Sorry this chapter was so bummery, things perk up a touch after this, I promise!

xoxo
Roisin





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Review #3, by wolfgirl17 

15th July 2015:
Hey Buddy,

Me again with your next requested review, and I must say I see what you meant by the notion of this chapter taking a darker turn.

I was expecting that there might be some kind of fallout over Laurel self-spelling but I didn't expect it to be quite so sudden or so out of control. Obviously you've captured the notion of how easy it is to OD and how destructive such things can be, not to mention the guilt that wracks the friends who knew or suspected things might be getting out of hand.

I'm concerned too about this foreshadowing for the eating disorder/ self-loathing we're seeing from Isobel. Not to mention concerned over the idea that Emily might end up heart-broken if Tristan doesn't realise she loves him. And I'm worried about how moody he's been.

My goodness, woman! You've gone and gotten me all invested in these characters as though they are dear friends whom I want to shelter and nurture and save from themselves. Gah! I've never personally had to deal with anything like that from any of my friends. For the most part we're all pretty tame. The worst I've ever dealt with from them is one friend with minor self-image issues indulging in too many boys.

I mean, I've dealt with the occasional drunk-off-their-butt friend, (and been that friend myself once) but I've never known the agonizing guilt of having a friend suffer a drug addiction or severe self-image issues.

This story really is such a gem, Roisin. It's got it all. All the angst and the issues that come from being a teenager in a crowd where things have started to go a little pear-shaped.

I can't wait to read more and to find out how everything plays out for these wonderful characters you've created. Seriously such a brilliant story. You're a genius for thinking of it. I wish I could find things to con-crit for you, but this story is just perfect.

Keep up the fantastic work, my friend, and please do keep requesting. I'm hungry to read more.

xx-Ellie

Author's Response: You are on FIRE Ellie!

Oh yes--that guilt :( Since we get to see from all of their POV's, we get all the clues they each pick up individually, but each of them only has a third of the picture, so readers figure things out or understand things way faster than they all do.

A lot of worries there, and none of them unfounded :( But I'm so pleased these characters feel real to you, and like friends!

I don't think this group necessarily represents ALL teenagers, as you know, but I do think groups like these are pretty common. While none of these characters are exactly anyone I've known, a lot of their issues are pulled from RL things I knew people to go through--but my friend circle was sort of statistically predisposed to this stuff (urban, working class, inner-city, 'at risk' youth, and all that :P)

I'm sososososo glad you like this story, and your encouragement means the world to me!

Thank you SO MUCH for all of your consistently fantastic reviews!

xoxo
Roisin



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Review #4, by water_lily43175 

7th June 2015:
Well this is my favourite chapter so far. And, incidentally, I think Isobel is fast becoming my favourite character of the four. It's almost as though her discipline is both her biggest strength and her biggest weakness - because the moment she slips, she just comes crashing down. Poor girl. I think the reason I like her so much is that - aside from her moment of self-pity, almost, when she decides that if Laurel is allowed to crumble, so is she - she puts her friends' issues before her own. She really is a wonderfully well-fleshed-out character. (Pun not intended. Stop starving yourself Isobel, you are most definitely not fat.)

And the moment that we all knew would happen has arrived. Poor Laurel. What a horrifically vivid scene.

And, weirdly, for once Snape's almost don't-care attitude seems almost caring. And yet entirely in character too.

Poor kids. EXCELLENT chapter.

-Ellie

Author's Response: TWO REVIEWS IN A ROW?!?! I AM GRINNING SO MUCH RIGHT NOW!

Oh I LOVE your comment about biggest strength/biggest weakness! That is TOTALLY true. I actually suspect that that's true of everyone.

One thing that can definitely be said if Isobel: she is not self-absorbed. Possibly to a fault. She gets very invested in what's going on with other people (which runs the risk of overstepping or being nosy) but sometimes that HAS to happen. I mean, maybe things would be different if she'd been nosier and pushier with Laurel earlier?

As with all things, I think perspective is critical. Isobel and the rest have a dramatically different perspective on Snape than Harry (he might be unpleasant to other students, but he's not NEARLY as abusive with them as he is to him) so they have a bit less reason to loathe him. I honestly LOVE Snape (not in a shippy way, just as a character) so I really enjoyed giving him this moment of kinda-kindness. Canon characters are fun, because you can play around with drawing out of an established set of personality traits!

You are the best, thank you SO much!
xoxo
Roisin


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Review #5, by Charlie Darwin's Favorite Finch 

23rd May 2015:
sad chirp

I might be a vampire finch with a sharp beak and an appetite for blood, but I took no delight in the events of this chapter. Things just keep getting darker for these characters, and they can't fly on broken wings. :/ However, Windar is away, and so I have come to taste this story, which my fellow finches find so interesting. It will distract me from their fragrant lifeblood, at least.

If tragedy strikes, I am the first one on the scene. It comes with the name, really. But that doesn't mean that I enjoy it, and the graphic scene depicting Laurel's episode filled me with dread. What monsters does she carry within her? At the very least, I hope she can recover, although I can't say for certain if she will be able to kick the habit of mixing dangerous Charms.

Isobel, that poor little duckling, has suffered through so much in this chapter in particular. From the elevated body image issues--I find it all-too-appropriate that she would use a spell to cause herself to purge--to finding her friend in a state of dire emergency, she has experienced loss and trauma, and is probably in need of counseling. It is appropriately hypocritical that she should use a spell on herself in the very same chapter that Laurel's life is threatened because of self-spelling.

Is the purging spell categorized under Dangerous Self-Spelling like Laurel's Charms mixture was? If not, the irony still resonates in a big way.

Tristan and Laurel were both filled with this lagging, drowsing attitude in this chapter, and that makes me uncomfortable. If Tristan isn't self-spelling, he seems like he isn't too far behind Laurel. Especially by the way he reacted to his peers in Flitwick's class. Isobel, who doesn't self-spell (if we don't count the purging spell), did not lash out. Tristan, who has been under the influence of several Charms lately, did. This may be a product of his character, but I think that it is also due to the added stress on his body's systems from the Charms. At this point, it becomes harder to separate his actual character from the effects of the Charms, especially when viewing him from Isobel's eyes.

The reaction of the Charms class to Flitwick's lecture was appalling, and again, all-too-accurate. Teenagers, assuming that they are infallible, look down on their peers for being under the influence of substances without considering the circumstances or looking at the situation from a different perspective. It is a difficult thing to do at the best of times, but people can be very nasty when they think they have the moral high ground.

Oooh, and that Oliver Wood! If his neck were ever near my sharp, pointy beak, I would slurp up his blood in an instant. He's proving himself to be truly awful. :/

Windar is coming back now. I must fly.

xoxo,
Vampire Finch, or
Charlie Darwin's (Actual) Favorite Finch

Author's Response: Ah! Thank you so much for this amazing, fantastic review!

You are actually the first person to mention that Isobel ALSO did a spell on herself! And yeah, her purging was also dangerous in a few ways--self induced vomiting is already really unhealthy, but as hers was magically induced, she also wouldn't have been able to stop it if she couldn't do nonverbal magic and could have easily suffocated.

I imagined self-spelling with mind-altering charms to be problematic in a few ways. One, it is a warning sign of dependency on a substance (like drinking alone). Two, it is dangerous for someone to cast a mind-altering charm on themselves because, being altered, they might go to far and overdose ("Hex Out"). I also imagine it to be something of the wizarding equivalent to IV substance use (shooting up). So yeah, while Isobel's "self spelling" was fundamentally different for not being mind-altering, it is a parallel.

I really like your comment about Tristan's behavior being the possible product of his charm abuse. It's true that he already has some mood problems and has issues about lashing out, but it definitely doesn't help that he's messing around with charms that alter his already unstable moods.

One thing I really wanted to examine in this story is how issues of substance abuse get kind of complicated by weird ideas of morality. Drugs are bad for obvious reasons, but people tend to take it a step further and act like doing them is bad for some sort of moral reason, or that people are bad for doing them. You're right that it's absolutely more complicated than that. Tristan and Laurel's behavior has been a confluence of self-medication and self-destruction.

And oh yes, Wood can be a bit of a prat. He's not a bad person, I don't think, just a touch annoying at times. That was always an aspect of his character in canon, and I was interested to draw it out and see how he was around people his own age. I also cast Flitwick in a less than flattering light in this story, mostly because he was one of the more easily flustered professors in canon. Again, he's not a bad person, just a bit out of his element when it comes to dealing with these kids. He's really more of an academic than anything, and ill-equipped to handle the complex issues his students are navigating.

Thank you again for so many fantastic gifts and reviews! You are an incredible secret santa!

xoxo
Roisin


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Review #6, by Slide 

19th December 2014:
Yaaay, Isobel. Being right about Emily and cheating. Putting things together with Laurel and Tristan, though the theory that the two of them have hooked up is not an unreasonable one to reach under the circumstances. Oh, and then she seemed okay coming out of the bathroom? Self-spelling. Jeez. DISASTER in the air.

(It's 2 AM and I MUST read on so you're just going to get my sleepy ramblings for this review)

(I think the differences between Transfiguration and Alchemy sound interesting)

Poor Isobel and her weight! I bet she's perfectly healthy... er, aside from what she's cutting out of her diet... and could happily rock around with a rocking body, but noo, being a girl and being a teenager and being remotely curvy is time to have body issues. I want to grab her and tell her she's BRILLIANT already. Don't get an eating disorder, girl. Ugh, more catastrophes looming.

But for now she's noticing Laurel, and good for her by being too busy being concerned by her friend to be proud about her schoolwork. I mean, she deserves to be proud for it, but when her back's to the wall, we're seeing Isobel's priorities.

Aw, Ced. You're a good egg. I kind of like how Flitwick's becoming an 'antagonist' teacher here! In a very mild way, but like with the last chapter mentioning him overlooking the gang's skills in Charms because he knows it comes from some charm 'abuse'. It would make sense that he'd be a teacher a bit too disconnected from teenagers and their problems to understand the right way to deal with it, and to end up throwing around some mild disapproval and perhaps some power as an authority figure. Perhaps well-meaning, but not understanding and not being helpful.

ISOBEL. NO. BAD. 'The delicious feeling of it being empty'? No! You're going to kill me with these kids. No wonder she's getting worse with controlling her eating when the situations with her friends are spiralling out of control. This girl seriously needs a hug with her self-defeating; she's competing with Tristan for failing to recognise her own qualities.

Aaand this situation with her eating habits escalated 'quickly'. Not in terms of it not being seeded, because it absolutely was, but it's degenerated at a much quicker rate than I'd expected. This is painful to read, in the... satisyfing, well-written sort of HORRIBLE way. The way she still goes back to the same sort of habits - trying to out-do Laurel in knowledge in the corridor, committing to working on her essay a good while longer needlessly, is almost unsettling. We have the climax of the scene of her making herself vomit, but everything goes right back to that unsettled drive and struggling for control, which makes sense but is also really just like trouble's barely ducked back beneath the surface.

I like it.

And at the end of it all she still manages to pull through in this frankly HORRIFIC incident with Laurel, possibly saving her life by being smart and decisive.

Ack, you're gonna be the death of me with this story. SO GOOD. Aside from the tackling of sex, drugs, rock 'n roll like the books never did with hormonal teenagers, I think it's the differing perspectives on canon characters I'm enjoying... not the most, but a lot. Oliver being seen as something other than a good-hearted, Quidditch obsessed nutter, while still being sympathetic. Flitwick who obviously has no idea how to handle this. Oddly I'm not sure I take Snape's reaction as COMPLETE indifference, though Snape's a terrible and unsympathetic teacher. I suppose I'm used to him being outright HORRID if he doesn't like someone; mild indifference is practically affection from him. But he can't have a vested opinion in every student.

ANYWAY. Good stuff. The descent into darkness begins!

Author's Response: Going in reverse chronological order because I am a rebel! THANK YOU FOR THIS REVIEW FLURRY :D You have made my day!

Oh man, coming up with fake magical academia, or just generally having scholarly discussions was SO MUCH FUN.

One of the most exciting things about having this ensemble cast is seeing how different readers have their favorites! I really enjoyed making each of these characters, and it's amazing to see how they resonate with people!

And yes, her self esteem issues are particularly upsetting for me for incredibly superficial reasons. I just happen to think that her faceclaim (Kat Dennings) is THE PRETTIEST PERSON EVER ZOMG. It would be a TRAGEDY if Dennings ever lost her curves!

Yes about Flitwick! Ah! Your analysis is so on-point! I definitely don't have any bad feelings about Flitwick, but yes--he just doesn't really know how to handle them, and his sort of style just doesn't gel very well with them.

Isobel definitely sort of internalizes the problems that are around her. She tries so hard to stay in control, and definitely can't see that she's actually LOSING control to her eating disorder :(

[Also, so stoked that you found that scene 'horrific!' I rewrote it SO MANY TIMES to get the tone down!]

EE! I'm so glad you like these little different POVs of people! I never wanted to get too far off the reservation with any of them, or go OOC, but it was fun playing with whatever wiggle-room there was around more minor characters!

And you are SO SPOT ON about Snape! Yes, 'indifference' here is most definitely a calculated and intentional kindness! (There's so much dramatic irony available for writing Snape circa 1991).

BLARGH, thank you sososososo much for these amazing reviews!
xoxo


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Review #7, by TidalDragon 

7th December 2014:
Hello again!

Well, things have finally come to head with Laurel. I think the choice about timing of that was natural as I was wondering how long she could go without serious trouble and indeed it's struck. I'm interested to see how you handle her return and rehabilitation, as well as the effects of those things on the group and individual people. Challenging stuff that.

We've of course now segued more deeply into Isobel's own problems too. I thought you did a great job handling her own distorted thinking about her self-worth. I think many would consider her discipline a positive thing - she's overachieving really - but you've done well showing how someone with a problem would look at the other side of that coin. I'm interested to see if the purging increases on Isobel's part and if it becomes folded into her "discipline" thought regime.

What's also interesting about casting Isobel's demons more fully into the open is that it honestly feels like a lot. Naturally, everyone is going to have problems, and often people with issues seem to fall together, but on some level it feels like grappling with all these things openly in one fic may be a bit much. Obviously you have the writing skill to be up to the challenge and I'm interested to see how it develops, but it's just a thought I had.

See you on the next chapter for what (I think) will be your 200th review (CONGRATS!).

Author's Response: Oh yes, it will indeed be challenging. And your guess is spot on--it definitely ends up affecting both the individual AND the group.

Isobel isn't really bulimic, because it isn't something a know too much about. But I've known a lot of people to suffer from Anorexia Nervosa--it seems like for most of them, they end up purging out some point (sort of out of desperation). But AN is very much an addiction to starvation, so it usually doesn't become a habit.

I think you're right, because discipline definitely isn't a bad thing. I think peoples' greatest strengths can also be their biggest weaknesses. And especially when someone is young, they haven't totally sorted themself out yet, so many otherwise great qualities can also manifest as problems. (Like how curiosity and open-mindedness might also make someone more likely to experiment with drugs).

And your right, it is a LOT. It's very much a teen dramedy, and so in that vein, it's very ALL OF THE ANGST/ISSUES. I didn't do teen pregnancy, though! (a small mercy). I do try and pace things out, and pull certain things to the foreground, while others recede back. I hope you think that works out!


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Review #8, by Midnight spark 

22nd October 2014:
I'm finally here. Wow, that took so long, I've been dying to read this and I just didn't have time at all!

Woah, so that was what was up with Laurel! This chapter might be the most emotional yet not over-emotional one. You've sort of balanced out the frustration and sadness the gang felt because of the events that took place.

I particularly liked the part about the different reactions of the professors. And look, Penelope actually listened to Isobel! One funny scene for me was, when Penelope kept looking at Iz and she stuck her tongue when she wasn't looking. Little details like that make this story even more original!

And Tristan! The poor guy must be really affected by his friend's health! I liked that Isobel was doubting about something going on between Tristan and Laurel, that was a nice touch.

I loved this chapter and look forward to reading more!

Sana

Author's Response: EE! SO MANY SQUEALS! Thank you so much!

Getting the balance down for this chapter was a HUGE struggle for me - I really wanted to give it gravity, without veering into melodrama. I'm so glad you thought it worked!

And yes! The different reactions of the Profs! I was really interested in the space between what an adult might think is appropriate, and what a teenager would appreciate.

And just couldn't help but doing the tongue-sticking-out :D I happen to do that ALL THE TIME (I once stuck my tongue out at a sculpture I didn't like - Bird In Space at the Met, to be specific. I'm not a fan of the Futurists...)

xoxo
Roisin


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Review #9, by Gabriella Hunter 

12th September 2014:
Hello, lovely!

I am SO sorry that its taken me so long to get back to you but I was really busy and wasn't able to buckle down and get to my reviews. It was a major pain. ;__;

I was wondering when things were going to take a turn for the worse when it came to the group and here is this chapter, destroying my feels! I'm not sure what I want to talk about first but my mind is all over the place and I can't really get all of it out! Agh!

Isobel seems to be going through a stressful time and while I was reading I got the sense that she might be a bit tired of her group of friends. Perhaps it was just me but there wasn't really a strong feeling of companionship between them all this chapter and while she was in the loo, I got the sensation that those feelings had been bubbling up for a while. I wonder if she feels a bit artificial? She was talking about how much she put into her face and studies but that didn't leave her with anything very special. It really got me curious. And then...what?! Bulimia? Did I read that correctly?! That's a serious problem and I'm not sure what to even say about that, aside from the fact that you handled it brilliantly and have some MAJOR guys for actually writing something like that. I tip my hat to you madam because I would never have been able to do it without caving, its such a serious issue and I wonder when we'll see more of it--or if anyone will find out. How long has Isobel been doing this, I wonder? Hm...

Anyway, Isobel's concern about Laurel built up really nicely to give me a great punch in the bum later. I'm not sure how you managed to do it but I've been concerned for Laurel or about five chapters or so and I'm glad that we've finally got an answer. Tristan acted guilty of course but I'm not sure if he really understood the damage but maybe that's just me. Self-spelling is dangerous and such a unique thing to include in a fanfic, never seen it done before and its pretty fantastic. Well, your writing of it is but the actual problems are horrible.

I thought Laurel was going to die. I'm not even going to lie, that scene scared the crap out of me and by the time she was in the hospital wing, I was really shook up. :(

The remarks of the other students of course had me a bit riled as well but it seems to me that the Hex Head's days are nearing an end. I can't wait to see what you do next so stop by like...today because I'm certain that I'll be finished with all my reviews by then. Hahahah.

Much love,

Gabbie

Author's Response: Hello!

I don't know WHY you apologize for being "late" with reviews, when I am the LEAST timely person EVER!

Thank you SO MUCH for your analysis of Isobel's state of mind! You are absolutely spot-on. And as for her eating disorder--it was such a difficult thing to write, because I really didn't want to do that to her (and almost didn't). But then I really wanted to be realistic, and push myself not the shy away from gritty realities (which I think is sort of offensive or belittling, if you are handling heavy subjects at all), so I'm SO GLAD you thought I did it with tact! That was really important to me, because I think it's also sort of *irresponsible* to include a subject like that and then mess up how it's portrayed. Anyway, THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!

I'm not sure if I mentioned this in another response, but I sort of envisioned "Self-Spelling" as a magical cross between "drinking alone" and "shooting up"--as for its implications and dangers. I really fretted over the execution of that scene, and did a ton of research, so I'm SO relieved that it was affecting! It's just such a pivotal point in the story, I felt like I had this huge responsibility to do it well!

Thank you sososososo much for this review!

xoxo
Roisin


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Review #10, by crestwood 

6th September 2014:
So many things went wrong in this chapter! (in-story I mean. Not your writing. That's still beautiful) Isobel has now progressed from anorexia to bulimia and it's getting unbelievably bad for her. You write her eating disorders so well. You handle the thoughts of someone going through that with such care. You don't glorify it, but you don't condemn it. You treat it like what it is: a serious disorder and a mental illness. This is all SO realistic.

Seriously, I can't even begin to explain how well thought out this is. The plot points are all connected and slowly build, until one or more of them explodes and then they're replaced by a new set of things and there's just always something. All of the kids seem so real, like I could know someone just like them. Their personalities are more than complex. These very well could be real people with hopes and dreams and everything else that makes a fictional character seem not so fictional.

I knew Laurel's crash was coming, but that did not make it any less terrifying. I didn't realize just how terrible self-spelling could really be. I could just imagine the breathing and then finding her staring ahead, glassy eyed. That must have been traumatizing for Isobel to have to find her like that. The description of it all sounded a lot like a heroin overdose. I wasn't expecting it to get so serious, so fast.

I love that when they do schoolwork, they actually talk about the things that they are learning. It's refreshing to see someone really write about the magic they're supposed to be learning, even if it's not all wandwork.

Flitwick is a really nice guy for always trying to help, even if the main group doesn't necessarily want to accept it. I appreciate that he didn't point them out specifically, even though the entire class had no problems doing so themselves. I wonder if the rest of them will feel like enthusiastic about recreational magic after what happened to Laurel. This is getting even better now.

Author's Response: Aand that's the sound of those levies breaking!

Thank you SO MUCH for your comments about how I wrote Isobel's issues. Not romanticizing it was really important to me, but I also didn't want to make it seem frivolous or dumb. Like you said, a very serious mental illness! And I'd read an article about how eating disorders are *always* written wrong, by someone who suffered from one, and took as many points from that as possible.

And YEE, you noticed all the stuff! I'm doing a little jig right now. *I* could see how everything built and intricately connected, and I am SO SO glad that it came across! I was worried that, since there's no specific villain, or thing the characters want to achieve (succeeding in a quest, solving a mystery, landing a dream-boy), that it might just seem like a random series of events. But I guess one could say, the villain is "being a teenager blows" and the quest is "survive."

Aha, well spotted! I did indeed look up symptoms of a heroin overdose while researching for that scene, and then magicked it up with some canon for adverse spell reactions.

And the schoolwork: as a GIANT nerd, I couldn't help but have all sorts of philosophical curiosities, and really personally enjoyed writing their discussions about their homework :) Also, it is true in the real world, that sometimes the wildest/most out of control students at a school are also the cleverest. It is, I think, a combination of being under-stimulated, having a deeply carved sense of curiosity, and I predisposition towards open-mindedness and free thinking. As a result, these sorts of kids don't really listen when someone says 'drugs are bad,' are curious to try them and make up their own minds, and are bored enough to push it too far. Anyway, just something I wanted to explore!

And I'm so glad you liked Flitwick! I definitely wanted the adults to be dimensional--rather than antagonists *that just don't understand* and *are trying to keep them down, man.* At the same time, I wanted to write the realistic resentment that the kids would have, and then leave it up to the reader to interpret.

THANK YOU FOR INTERPRETING! THANK YOU FOR EXISTING! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

xoxo
Roisin


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Review #11, by AlexFan 

28th August 2014:
I usually write my reviews as Iím reading the chapter so if any of them end up sounding weird, thatís probably why. Anyway, Isobel needs to start getting some food into her and stop worrying about what she eats. I feel so sorry for her because sheís so young, there is literally no reason for her to watch her weight, as long as sheís healthy then thatís all that matters. YOU ARE PERFECTLY FINE THE WAY THAT YOU ARE ISOBEL.

Iím honestly not surprised that Laurel was the first one to crash. She was the most dependent on the spells and took them the most often. Being forced not to use it would be difficult for her. Itís obvious to me that Laurel is self-spelling but I guess if I were in Isobelís place I wouldnít be too sure of what was going on my friend. I think you wrote Laurelís behaviour and reactions really well when she was off of her charms. The snappiness, and how sheís easily irritated and barely pays any attention in class.

Thereís a real difference from how everyone was at the beginning of the year to how theyíre feeling and acting this time around. At the beginning everyone was having fun and joking around and now slowly all of the characters are losing control of themselves and seem to have lost excitement for everything going on around them. This is not a healthy group of people right now, they really need to take some time and think about the choices that theyíre making and how it might end up affecting them.

I think someone needs to talk to Isobel about her anorexia problem. Someone needs to tell this girl that starving yourself is not the way to get yourself to lose weight. Someone needs to tell her that not eating is doing her body more harm than good, if she eats healthy and regularly exercises then she should be fine. But Isobel isnít overweight, her body cannot lose weight that it doesnít have. EVERY INCH OF YOU IS PERFECT FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE TOP ISOBEL (just like that song All About That Bass says). That being said, I think you dealt with Isobelís anorexia (and by the looks of it, bulimia) really well, it was written realistically. I literally have tears in my eyes right now like no, my babyís, donít hurt my babyís.

Oh my God Laurelís screaming and her scratching and it scared me so much that I literally cannot even right now. Laurel completely losing it scared me more than the first episode of Supernatural that I saw this morning. Your description of her glassy expression and her difficulty with breathing sounded absolutely terrifying and I just kept thinking, ďNO NONONONONONONONONO!Ē

Terrence Higgs needs a good punch to the face. Just because he isnít doing recreational magic doesnít mean that he doesnít need to know about the effects that it has on someone. Like good for him that heís not hexing but that doesnít mean that he shouldnít educate himself on the repercussions of it. Thatís like saying, Iím not having sex so I donít need to know about the consequences of it if itís not safe sex.

Itís very obvious that you did a lot of research on the subjects that you talked about in the subject. And Iím especially really happy with how you didnít simply deal with the situation as if it were something that could simply be shrugged off. Iíve read a lot of stories where the author doesnít deal with the sensitive topics that they talk about well but you kept the tone serious, because drugs and anorexia are serious problems and treating them any differently is kind of like insulting the people who suffer from stuff like this.

Author's Response: Thank you so much for this review! It meant so much to me!

Yeah, there's definitely a reason I chose Kat Dennings as Isobel's faceclaim. That actress is, I think, superdupergorgeouszomg--and she's definitely VERY curvy. I wanted images of a girl who looks great the way she is for Isobel. (The other pro of Dennings is that she came to prominence as a teenagers, and has a good amount moody and artful photos--buried under tons and tons of stunning glamour shots). That way, it would be more sad to imagine her slowly withering away :(

An interesting note: there's a newly named eating disorder, Orthorexia Nervosa, that people didn't realize existed until recently. It's basically an obsession with healthy eating and exercising that becomes so consuming that it's unhealthy. Physically, Ortherexia Nervosa isn't very damaging, except the those suffering with it will sometimes not get enough calories/just be a little too thin. BUT, O.N. is REALLY unstable/unsustainable, and almost invariably leads to Anorexia Nervosa at some point (sometimes the act of losing weight is the trigger for A.N.) The disturbing thing is that MOST female celebrities suffer from O.N.--but everyone acts like they are awesome for it, when actually it's a mental illness that really affects one's life and relationships with others. I imagined Isobel as starting the story with Orthorexia, which then devolved into Anorexia (with an occasional foray into bulimia).

I conceptualized "self-spelling" as being the wizarding equivalent of "shooting-up"--a behavior that indicates a major severity of the problem. Isobel definitely starts figuring it out here, but there's a lot of denial involved as well for the first part of the chapter. I'm glad that came off!

"There's a real difference from how everyone was at the beginning of the year to how they'e feeling and acting this time around." YES!

And I'm really glad you thought I dealt with her eating disorder well! I read this article once about how anyone trying to write about anorexia will surely fail, because anorexia is, ultimately, tedious and boring. The author wrote that too many people try to make it interesting, and accidentally end up romanticizing it. I also think that eating disorders are too often thought of as something like an extreme diet, but really, they tend to creep up on people. And ultimately, they aren't about vanity, but about control. It's really more of a mental illness, like true OCD (rather than like "OMG I'm so OCD"). Anyway, I thought about it a LOT, and really wanted to get it right, so I'm really glad you thought it worked!

Ah! Laurel's hex out! I labored over that scene so much, and I'm so glad the effect worked! I did a lot of research into overdoses for some of the details, but since this is a magical thing, augmented it with the screaming/scratching/delirium. This was such a pivotal point in the story, and I'm SO GLAD it had impact!

Higgs needs a good punch in the face, just generally.

"kind of like insulting the people who suffer from stuff like this"--yes, exactly! There were a lot of sensitive topics that I knew I couldn't just leave out, if my story was to be about realistic teenage problems, and I really wanted to make sure I handled them appropriately, and respectfully. I think, the only way to be respectful about this kind of thing is to be ACCURATE. Sort of like how abled people generating fiction about disabled people is VERY likely to offend, because they just don't understand what they are writing about.

Anyway, thank you SOSOSOSO much for everything you said in this review!!!


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Review #12, by marauderfan 

12th July 2014:
Thank goodness Isobel has noticed Laurel's overdependency on charms. And after that DADA class, I'm worried something really serious is going to happen to Laurel.

Isobel's eating disorder is getting worse than I thought, too. But who is going to look out for her, since she is the one who really looks after people in a mum-like way? Everyone is too caught up in their own problems/feeling sorry for themselves. Wow, this chapter is really showing how none of them can keep going as they are, and they're headed for a crash.

Oh goodness, and there's the crash. That was such an eerie scene, like I'd seen it coming but still wasn't sure what to expect. Now I'm wondering if they're going to change any of their behaviour at all, if Laurel's situation will serve as a wake up call to them... but sadly I get the feeling it may take more than that.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised by Snape at the end. I think he actually helped by not drawing any attention to what happened in a time when they're all in the spotlight.

it's really late at night and I want to keep reading but I worry about what kind of gibberish I would be leaving as a review, so maybe I'll be back tomorrow haha.

House Cup Review 2014

Author's Response: What you said about Isobel's eating disorder is 100% on point. Unfortunately, she really doesn't have anyone around who's properly equipped to deal with it :(.

I'm really glad that scene came off as "eerie." I researched overdose warning signs for some of the details (shallow breathing/stopping breathing, fingernails turning blue, etc). It was cool to be able to add those real-life details, but also be able to invent some other creepy details (eyes open, strangled smile).

And oh yes, I adore Snape! I wanted to let him have a little good-guy moment in there. He could hardly be described as professional, yet he has his moments (remember him and Umbridge? That was some of the craziest character interplay!)

Thank you so much for more fantastic reviews!

xoxo
Roisin


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Review #13, by CambAngst 

10th July 2014:
Holy crap! So I think I mentioned something in my last review about feeling like something big was about to happen. I honestly wasn't expecting it this soon. Anyhow, one small formality:

House Cup 2014 Review

So it finally happened. You'd been building up to it for a while with Laurel. I really want to commend you on your pacing of this story. Your plot lines move in a nice, even, natural-feeling progression. I can't really think of anything that's come completely out of the blue in this story, but it isn't as though you telegraph every last development, either. Sometimes something happens and while you didn't see it coming, you realize that there were subtle hints.

I can't decide whether I think Tristan or Isobel will be the next to crash. Tristan doesn't seem to be as bad off as Laurel in terms of charm abuse, but I'm not sure how much more the kid can take mentally. If Isobel doesn't eat something soon, her body is probably going to start to shut down. Even Emily seems to fall off the wagon from time to time and take her substances too far. They're not a healthy group of individuals.

The Defense lesson was a great foil to keep drawing out Laurel's problems. It was interesting to watch all of the cognitive dissonance surrounding Laurel's reaction. Isobel and Tristan both should have figured out what was going on. At some level, I'm sure that both of them did. But they're also so caught up in their own problems that they don't seem to want to create even more difficulty and confrontation by calling her out on it. So the conspiracy of silence goes on.

Isobel's anorexia/bulimia is reaching scary proportions, as well. In general, I think you've done a very realistic and gripping job of showing the troubles that these kids are struggling with. You don't overplay it or blow the drama up to ridiculous proportions. All of them believe -- as I think most sufferers of such conditions do -- that they have things under control. It doesn't seem that serious to them, even though when we see it through another character's eyes, we definitely know it's serious. That's some really good writing.

The scene where Isobel finds Laurel in her bed had a very surreal, "this isn't happening" kind of quality to it, which was perfect. Everything about the rest of the school's follow-up reaction was also well done, from Flitwick trying -- and mostly failing -- to be helpful to the other Slytherins being complete jerks about it. Snape, oddly enough, seemed to be the only one who realized that sometimes less is more. Laurel is, presumably, where she needs to be now.

Second chapter in a row with no typos! Great job!

Author's Response: "Sometimes something happens and while you didn't see it coming, you realize that there were subtle hints." High praise, that!

Your "conspiracy of silence" comment was great! All these kids have stuff going on, but they only have eachother for support. And so their support systems are woefully inadequate. Kids go through these kinds of things at that age, even if they aren't at boarding school. But, I thought that in that context, it could be even more dangerous.

I'm really glad that you think her eating disorder was handled properly! I read once that people always fail when they write about that subject, because they end up romanticizing the stoicism and stuff. Which is irresponsible. The writer of this op-ed suggested that what eating disorders TRULY are, is boring and tedious. Now, since I'm going for accuracy, but also trying to write something interesting and engaging, "boring and tedious" is a difficult task to do in the right way. So yeah, really glad you think it's all coming off well.

And I'm really happy the overdose was surreal! It was such an important scene, I really wanted to get the tone right! And as for the fall out: YES. I lovelovelove Snape, and writing him from the perspective of students who hate him is really fun, but I also wanted to give him a moment to shine.

Thank you for these reviews! I can't say how encouraging it is to see all these little things I worked on coming through, and working out. It's an incredible luxury to get chapter-by-chapter feedback, so I thank you!


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Review #14, by emmacweasley 

6th July 2014:
House Cup 2014 Review

I think this chapter gives us one of the earliest, tangible pieces of proof that there's a reason Tristan is a Slytherin. It's when he casts Serpensentia. Your ability to create characters in this small way, to really build them up piece by piece into these great characters is amazing and essential to the success of this story. Now that I'm going back and re-reading chapters for the House Cup, I'm really able to see all of the work that you've put into making sure that these characters are realistic and fully-fleshed out! You've done a great job with that. :)

Author's Response: Wow that is incredibly high praise!

It really wasn't until I finished the first draft of this story that I really understood these characters--like I got to know them over the course of writing them. Then, I was able to go back and revise, really pull their personalities forward (also, drop in lots and lots of foreshadowing (; )

And I'm really flattered that you chose my story to review for the HC!


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