Reading Reviews for The Widening Gyre
  
11 Reviews Found

Review #1, by me:) turning, turning

5th February 2012:
Enchanting... looking forward to the sequel *hint* 10/10 :)

Author's Response: A sequel? Ha! Not very likely, I'm afraid. I've been working on a story with the same characters, but definitely not the same inspiration, so don't expect any miracles. :P

Thank you! :D


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Review #2, by socal turning, turning

31st December 2011:
"Her heart jolts. She has been struck by lightning.

The storm has come."

first of all. I just want to say how stunning your banner is! As are the rest of them ^_^. The quoted part of the story above, was very imagable and deep. I love reading things that I can feel, the meaning as I read them. Again a great story, you've become one of my favorites, I hope I can becomes as good and creative as you.

Author's Response: Thank you again for the lovely review, as well as for the kind words! It means a lot that you like this story, as it's one of my favourites. :D

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Review #3, by MajiKat turning, turning

5th September 2010:
i am so jealous of you right now
susan, this was incredible. i can't believe i haven't read it before. it was pure poetry in motion - the imagery you created through this story is...i am unable to put into words what i saw, but everything was moving, swirling, twisting. and i could feel it too - a physical sensation to accompany that imagery. that is something rare with me, that a piece affects me on that deep physical, almost spiritual level.
there is something about this piece, about your use of language and your wonderful description that is different from other pieces ive read of yours. i don't know what it is even, only that it held my attention from start to finish.
this is not much of a critique, is it? but i have nothing critical to say, at all. i'll try be at least a little constructive:
the characters - minerva was PERFECT. it deserves capitals because she was so real, so devastatingly real. i don't know if it was how you wrote her or how you told her story but as i was reading i had that feeling that i knew her, and for me, that is rare with fanfic.
dumbledore - also perfect. in a way, i almost felt repelled by him at times, simply through that sharing of minerva's almost-fear of him. very well done!
i love your narrative voice. love it. you manage to maintain a distance between the reader and the characters, that creates a closeness all the same. i wish i knew how you do that - its very effective!
the gyre metaphor was beautifully used!
and once again, your use of language devices is wonderful. polished, sophisticated and experienced.
i can't remember what else you asked for in your request, lol. i think i forgot the moment i started reading xD
all in all, this was memorable. i will remember this piece long after i shut down the computer for the night - there is something haunting about it that i absolutely love
so yes, extend it. there is great potential for more with this scenario and the core aspects of the characters personalities.
i loved it

kate xxx

Author's Response: Oh Kate, this is so wonderful to hear! This story, probably because of its less popular characters (and admittedly, the slash warning - it often puts people off :(), so although I love it very much, I've never been sure whether it's actually very good. To get your opinion on it means so much to me, and I really appreciate that you were able to read and review it. ^_^

It's fantastic to hear that the story had just the kind of breathless, swirling quality that I was trying to inject it with, blending Minerva's feelings with the actual narration. She was very interesting to write in this way, mostly because I was basing her on myself, moreso than I've done before. At the same time, Minerva has lost control of her emotions, and it makes her more distant from the reader as she struggles to grasp at memories and try to interpret them properly - but she can't succeed, leaving the reader to interpret as they will. I don't know how that ended up happening, but it became a really important part of the narrative. So while we're in Minerva's head, we're also outside looking in. Very strange.

Dumbledore was oddly easier to write; he suits the elusive, disturbingly comforting figure who haunts Minerva's flight - he's there at the end to comfort, at least, but throughout, she is fighting to repel him, yet ultimately can't because she has such a connection with him, something that she can't escape.

Thank you, thank you for this review! Reading it again (and again) has made me so happy. That I've written something so beautiful and memorable is just amazing, and I can't even put into words how amazing it is. ^_^


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Review #4, by WeasleyTwins turning, turning

15th March 2010:
Hello Susan, I'm here to review!

To start off I want to say that I really do not intend to hurt your feelings in any way or make it seem as if this is terrible. You said you wanted a critique and here it is. Before I begin I have to say that because I'm such an avid reader, I pick up on the inconsequential tidbits, the things that most readers don't see. However, with writers as experienced as you and whose styles are so well-developed, the little things pop out to me more often, if you can make sense of that.

Let's get right to it then. "She turns away, breath heavy, heart pounding (crying, sobbing, bleeding)." - Okay, to be honest, those last three words completely threw me off from the rest of the piece. They are disjointed and, in my opinion, do no justice whatsoever to that particular scene. I understand the usage of these words, but if you were to put them into an actual sentence, rather than at the end of that one, it would flow more smoothly. Now, this isn't my story, it's yours, but if I were you, I would cut them out all together and leave it as it is.

Another thing that I noticed. "A faraway smile lit his face. Ah yes, we need more good teachers. - This last bit, once again, jolted me out of your beautiful prose. I do not believe that Dumbledore would have ever said, "...we need more good teachers." It's too...uneducated. Even when Albus is conversing with a student younger than he, his vocabulary is far more advanced. Even if the character was no Dumbledore, if I'm being honest, I do not care for that particular phrasing.

Oh, now I'm worried. I do hope I was not overly critical of your story. I promise you, Susan, that this is one of the most fantastic one-shots I've read since my time on HPFF. The only reason I pointed out those small things is because your work is almost flawless and the little things stick out so much more! Why do you have to be so talented! The inclusion of flashbacks wraps the piece up perfectly. It presents the reader with enough background information so one is not totally clueless, yet, as a woman, one really connects with the piece and understand Minerva's pain. It's so much more than pain, but you have described the situation so flawlessly that I cannot possibly put it any other way.

As to turning this piece into an OF, the only thing I would think you would have to do is change some of the flashbacks. Not necessarily all of the content - they can still be teacher/student, per se, but not in the Harry Potter universe. You would have to turn that into something of your own creation. It would be in the same time period, perhaps at a private school...did they have military academies in which women attended back in the day? There are many a possibility. If you want to bounce OF ideas off of me concerning this piece, just shoot me an PM and we'll figure something out!

Once again, I hope I was not overly harsh, and I gave you a helpful critique. Oh, before I forget, the flow was genius! This was a true masterpiece and I have recommended it! The description and prose were beautiful hand-in-hand. Ah, I just don't know what to say! Such talent!

Shelby. 10/10. :]]]

Author's Response: Thank you again for this wonderful review, Shelby. I know that I already responded a little to it via PM, but it's very good to go over it again, especially since I've been continuing to think about how to transfer this to OF. The WWII/Holocaust idea seems to be the best suited to this story as it would take the least amount of change - JKR put a lot of the war into her stories, both with Voldemort's fascism and Grindelwald's connection to WWII. Most of the tweaking on my end will have to be in how to connect Minerva with the professor. I don't think it's likely that a male professor would be tutoring female students during that period. I might, instead, make the professor a private tutor somehow. It's something that I'm still going to have to work on.

I made the changes you suggested as they really did improve the flow of the story. Sometimes I go overboard with the poetical language and I'd prefer to have less than more. There's something wonderful in minimalism, especially for a story like this one. You weren't critical at all, but extremely helpful. There's no author who doesn't need help like this. ^_^

It's excellent to hear that the flashbacks worked. I keep playing with the use of flashbacks, mostly because they are such a challenge to integrate without confusing the reader.

Thank you for this review! I really appreciate hearing your opinions on this story. *hugs*


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Review #5, by Alopex turning, turning

1st January 2010:
Flow, understandability, style, and description are the four things you suggested for feedback in your review request. I'm going to skip over style and description very lightly, because I think they were both appealing. You may not have described Minerva's surroundings in great detail, but you did zero in and describe far more important things than the color of each stone and the name of each shop she passed, etc.

As for flow, that's slightly more difficult, as it can apply to more than one aspect of the story. The flow of the actual writing was fantastic. Very fluid and pleasing. I love your word choice and the way you state things. It's distinctive, and I find something poetic and slightly old-fashioned in it.

As you said, this story is rather complex, which makes the flow of the plot is more difficult. You do set it up such that each section flows into the next rather than having abrupt changes. I appreciate that very much. It is, however, hard work keeping up with the different sections and trying to mentally rearrange them. Therefore, the flow of the plot does affect understandability somewhat.

Overall, I did find the story understandable, but there was one exception. This may be due to having read more HP fanfics (or parts of them) than I can keep track of by now, but I was expecting Tom Riddle to pop out from somewhere. Until I got about halfway through the story, I was wondering if "he" referred to more than one person and if Riddle was one of them. I think it was the repeated references to "charm" that reinforced my initial Tom/Minerva suspicion.

The first segment of the story is not numbered, but am I correct in assuming it is part of number two? Actually, the present is sprinkled throughout the story, so perhaps it isn't really proper to give it a number. I may have attached too much importance to the numbers (and expended more effort than necessary), as they seem to put the flashbacks in order, rather than the present-day actions.

One more minor thing. The teachers at Hogwarts rarely seem to refer to the students by their first names. Hagrid does, and Dumbledore does call Harry by his first name at times, but for the most part, it's the last names. Therefore, I think it would probably be more proper of Dumbledore to call Minerva "Miss McGonagall" during the lesson, rather than by her first name.

In all, I quite enjoyed this story, especially the way you use words. I think you captured Minerva's schoolgirl crush very well. Also, you provided a fascinating glimpse at the young Dumbledore. I do think he would have been a popular teacher who enjoyed being popular, and that's a side of him not often explored in fanfiction. Furthermore, JKR makes much of his piercing eyes, so it was fitting that seeing them would trigger Minerva's memories.

Author's Response: This is why I love asking you for reviews. Not only are you thorough, but what you say always makes me think about the story in a different, more complex way, seeing it from a new perspective. I did change the formatting slightly based on what you said, as it seemed unnecessary to include the numbers - the order of the flashbacks actually doesn't matter, as what's important is how Minerva is reacting to each memory. Also, I change Minerva to Miss McGonagall for the classroom scene - I think in the first flashback, when the two of them are talking after the year's over, that Dumbledore would call her by her first name. He seemed to treat students differently in classroom settings, perhaps as part of the role of being a teacher.

It's wonderful that the flow of the story is smooth - with flashbacks, one can never really be sure how it will all piece together. It did help to have movement throughout the whole story, with Minerva running and hiding, both physically and psychologically. The setting is purposely vague, and I'm glad that it worked for the story (as some readers seem to prefer a more concrete setting, descriptions, etc.) - the focus is inside of Minerva, and looking at her from an outside perspective wouldn't produce the right kind of effect I was looking for.

Interesting about the Tom/Minerva thing - I knew it was inevitable because of my initial idea for the story, but the word "charm" as the key is curious (for me - I've been trying to pinpoint the exact reason why people have seen this as a Tom/Minerva). Because Riddle bases a lot of his persona on charm, and that's how he seduces people to his cause. I wonder if part of this story could be still read with Tom standing in the place of Dumbledore - it would be something to explore, how the two of them are somewhat interchangeable, both leading their own "groups" and using their charm and charisma to inspire others to follow them. So the "he" of parts of the story could refer to Riddle as well as Dumbledore - Minerva could be trying to suppress feeling for Riddle, and focusing instead on the "safer" adoration she has for Dumbledore. At the very least, it would show that, already, she has made the choice to follow him and remain on the "good" side.

The young Dumbledore is a fascinating character for me, and I find myself writing about him more and more. To relate to the connection you made between Dumbeldore and Riddle - their youthful selves are strangely alike (going back even further than this story for Dumbledore, when he was friends with Grindelwald). But with the way he acts as Headmaster of Hogwarts, I thought that, as a younger teacher, that he would be the sort of teacher who was everyone's favourite. He just has those qualities of a leader, I guess, and they make people admire him, just as they can make people despise him.

Thank you very much for this review! I always appreciate your opinions on writing. :D


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Review #6, by Gwenizzle turning, turning

29th November 2009:
I love it a lot. I love the flashbacks, I love the pairing. It's gorgeous. Thanks for writing it. Gwen x

Author's Response: And thank you for reviewing it! It's wonderful that you loved it so much. ^_^

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Review #7, by Lil lily71 turning, turning

13th October 2009:
Susan, that was amazing you always draw the reader in so well, and within a few sentences I was hooked.
Wonderful work as always darling, you write Minerva's character so well, and Dumbledore fitted in perfectly to this story. Well done!!

10/10

Lore

Author's Response: Thank you so much, Lore! ^_^ I appreciate hearing from you and am very glad that you enjoyed reading this story. Also great that Dumbledore worked out for this story - I've never changed a character partway through writing before, so it was rather awkward to make work. :D

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Review #8, by Elesphyl turning, turning

11th October 2009:
I've owed you this review for a very long time, and I'm sorry it's so late in coming. :( Life has been so hectic.

I shan't lie, at the beginning, when you first sent it to me, I was a little doubtful of how you would reconcile Tom with Dumbledore. You'd gotten this absolutely fantastic idea - a gyre, a never-ending spiral, which is why we all love Yeats - and you wanted to apply it to a real life concept. And what's this concept? Minerva in a crowd, emotions pressuring in about her just as everyone swirls and melds around her, feeling as though she is in a whirlpool or perhaps at some great height, hunted by something which doesn't exist.

It's a phenomenal concept, and I honestly believe that only you could have come up with it. I wonder, though, because in your Author's Note you mention that it was inspired by a real-life event. I sincerely hope that you didn't feel quite so dizzy as Minerva herself - because I rather pity her in this one-shot. All of her memories are clamoring in her mind, desperate to be heard, and as she moves in a circle they all are jolted into existence.

I have this odd image of Minerva strapped to one of those wheels on which they would torture medieval prisoners. It's a gory image, although she's alive, but that sentence, "the gyre turns once more", inspired it. Her impotency, her inability to make anything out of what's happening to her is matched in my mind by the fact that she's tied by leather straps to a wooden wheel. You know my mind works in very odd and convoluted ways. But there you have it. Minerva and her small torture. In retrospect, she inflicts it a little bit on herself. Masochist Minerva. It suits her, and it suits her most especially in this one-shot.

It's her last lie at the end that gets me, though. In a way, it's the perfect ending, the perfect reason why Minerva gives up the gyre, why the turning evaporates, but it makes me wonder. Does she wish so strongly to shine in Dumbledore's eyes? What is it about him that gets her so? Why did he spark the memories? You leave so many questions hanging, and I love that about this story. I don't need an answer, I can create my own. You play off of your reader's intelligence and their own imagination, and for that, I thank you. Spelling everything out was never condemnable, but it lessens the mystery in a story.

And we all know you relish mystery. :) This is a beautiful one-shot, Susan. You should be proud. Were you to change the names to that of OCs, I want you to send this off to the New Yorker. Sound good? Okay? Okay. Good. I shall look forward to seeing it. Because this is, in one simple word, astounding.

XOXO, Kalina

Author's Response: If your review was late, then my response is later. *hides* I have to first thank you for your help with this story, pointing me in the right direction and such. It turned out much better for going over it a second time - I used to just write-n-post, but it's amazing how much difference editing can make, and not just getting rid of typos.

It's scary because I didn't "come up" with the idea - it actually happened to me in less hysterical, twisting way - I added to it considerably to make it more dramatic. The lightning struck moment was there, though, and the feeling of that made me want to write about it because it was so intense. Wordsworth and his spontaneous overflow was very correct - emotion makes a story work. :P And Yeats fit, or at least that line or three did - after a professor explained what the gyre is and how it works, I was fascinated by the idea of a never ending spiral and how that related to time.

Minerva on the rack, yes that suits well for this story. It's the turning, turning bit and the way that she tortures herself over these memories and her feelings. She really goes through a lot during this story, which is probably what made it so hard to write - all that suffering was affecting me too.

I'm really really glad that you liked those ending words. I can't remember where they came from, but I loved the contradiction of them - and how often do people do that in real life? They feel awful, yet still say that they're fine - those little everyday lies. Why Minerva does it, I don't know - but like you said, there doesn't need to be an answer. The story isn't about answers, just this moment of feeling that makes her reassess herself. Perhaps, at the end, she's still afraid to admit that she loves him, knowing that nothing will come of it anyway.

The New Yorker?! XD Yes, haha, that would work wonderfully. I am working on a shortened original version, but I will make sure to save this story for something to publish in the future (if I ever get the courage to send anything out :P).

Thank you for this review, Kalina. It always means so much to hear from you and I appreciate that you wrote this out. ^_^


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Review #9, by GubraithianFire turning, turning

5th October 2009:
By now, you can safely assume that, yes, I've read your newest stories and that I only need some gentle prodding to actually review. Just so you know.

I'd actually been looking forward to your posting this ever since you mentioned at some point that you were writing a Tom/Minerva. But anyway, when I found out that this had morphed into a (Minerva)/Dumbledore/Grindelwald, I was actually more excited (and a little mournful, but I'll explain that in a minute). It's also a good thing that I had read this before I sat down to review, because I think this is one of those fics that requires a second, third, fourth read, just to absorb everything that's there.

I'm not going to lie: I kept seeing Tom in Dumbledore's place. I don't know why, maybe it's just my obsession with the ship, but I see where and how you replaced Tom with Dumbledore; this really happened the first time I read this, last week-ish. You see, I don't really like Dumbledore/Minerva because I think she thinks of him as, if I may use your words for it, "the great deity of her existence." I really did like the way you twisted that generally accepted idea into something of an unrequited love, a schoolgirl crush, almost. In that way, the idea of the "ship" worked really well, and that surprised me. I mean, I knew you would make it work, but I guess deep down, I was kind of nervous about Dumbledore/Minerva. Anyway, my fears were completely unfounded ^_^

I also really, really liked that Minerva isn't the only one awed by his brilliance. That other girl, who sat near him and answered his questions and everything, just helped the whole idea of the fic become believable in my head. Minerva wasn't the only one! And certainly, your Dumbledore is charismatic and, I guess... fanciable? Or something of the sort. He really does seem like that perfect adult, with the promise of knowledge and opportunity, that a girl like Minerva would find herself drawn to. And - maybe this was me seeing Tom there - but I felt the way you worded some lines gave an almost romantic tint to something that one would associate with a good professor. I'm thinking about this: "Only then did she realise that he had gotten what he wanted./Her attention." I read this in a sort of dark fascination, but now I actually see a professor trying to engage his student. But I think the romantic tinge is just me.

You said you were concerned with flow. Don't be. There was a quickened pace to this fic, and the constant mention of her heartbeat quickened mine, too. I really felt her panic, confusion, frustration, etc, so wonderful job with that. You were also considered with understandability. Well, as I said already, this is the sort of fic that can easily fly over one's head at first read. Not that this happened to me, but I think I have a fuller appreciation of the fic now than I did last week. For one thing, I see the Tom parallels less (but again, this is entirely me and not at all your fault - if I had never known this was originally Tom/Minerva, it never would have crossed my mind). Also, now that I understand the structure and the style, I can spend more time appreciating the fic itself. Not to mention the poem! The concepts of the gyre and the centre were weaved very well throughout.

So basically, although I am delusional and see things that aren't there, I really enjoyed the fic. Definitely an intellectual piece, but there's so much in it. Thank you for exploring an underappreciated subject in fanfic. Amazing, amazing job, Susan. ^_^

Author's Response: While I know I asked for this review, it's still like WHOA - even now, re-reading it for the upteenth time, I don't know what to say. Thank you for being so detailed in this - it was a very difficult story to write, and so hearing your opinion on it means a lot.

You probably saw Tom still not only because of the author's note, but because I did start writing Tom - I stopped because it didn't feel right. Although I did go back again to edit things under Kalina's advice, there's still a good bit of Tom there. Or, at least, something that terrifies Minerva in the way you'd expect Tom to. The author's note probably doesn't help at all, haha.

To be honest, I really dislike Dumbledore/Minerva, so it surprised me when it ended up being the focus of this story. Yet, like you've said, it is a very one-sided ship - I can see Minerva admiring him, something that turned into steadfast loyalty as the years progressed. DH was perfect for proving to the world that D/M would never work. :P

I'm really glad that Dumbledore's magnetism came across well. It seemed to make sense that he would have that sort of appeal, not only because of his charisma and kindness, but he seems to have been good looking as well. ;) Though Minerva is more drawn to his brain than anything - she has a bit of Slytherin to her, desiring more knowledge and a sort of power for herself.

What you've said about Dumbledore just being a good teacher is absolutely right, yet I hadn't thought of that while writing. Minerva's exaggerating things in her head, which is part of her fantasy - she wants there to be something romantic there, even in that last memory. But in reality, there's likely nothing there at all.

Thank you very much for this, Gubby. You've definitely quieted my concerns about this story. I can see why it needs to be read a few times to be fully digested, but at least it does make sense. XD I'll probably never put so much of myself into a story again. It made for a very strange experience.


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Review #10, by Sarah_Bee turning, turning

1st October 2009:
Susan, you just write so beautifullly! Your style/voice is unique and recognizable (as every writer has their own voice according to my creative writing teacher). This was stunning. The most original one shot I've ever read to the very core. It was beautiful, and almost made me cry. I love how you had flashbacks then present then back to flashbacks etc. I don't particularly read fics with same sex pairings but the way you portrayed Dumbledore's made me glad I did take the time to read this. It opened my eyes to how other people feel that they need to hide something because they're afraid of being judged, ridiculed etc. The ending lines were impacting 'but is she alright? no. No? "yes"' that was just the perfect way to end it. I loved it and I'm adding it to my favorite list. :)

Author's Response: Thank you very much, Sarah! Wow, the most original one-shot? I was thinking that it was weird, but original does sound rather better, and it's a wonderful compliment! :D

The slash warning was an afterthought, an "oh, maybe I need that" idea, though the slash itself is very subtle, hardly even hinted at. Perhaps Dumbledore's love was just as unrequired as Minerva's, and he has gone through the same pain as she does here. While his actual feelings are a huge question mark in canon, it seems that he did hide himself, never speaking of his family and Grindelwald. I don't think he did it out of vanity or because he feared ridicule, but because he blamed himself so much for Arianna's death. The part of him that loved Grindelwald was also the part that killed her, so to speak.

I'm glad you liked the ending. It took a while to find the right way to end this story, and having her lie to him seemed about right. She still can't give herself away, can't let him know what is bothering her (though he probably has already guessed :P). She's too much like him, keeping everything to herself.

Thank you again for this review! It really means a lot to me! ^_^


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Review #11, by Margravine turning, turning

29th September 2009:
Violet/Susan, you spin an absolutely magical web. I was completely caught up in the spell your words cast, almost literally dizzy until freed by the last words.

Anything to do with Minerva has always interested me and the term 'gyre' intrigued me as I hadn't encountered it before.
As usual, this piece is incredibly written, evocative and of the consistently high standard that characterises your work. Well done!

Author's Response: Oh wow, thank you so much! It was wonderful of you to review this story, and I'm really relieved that it turned out to make sense. It's great that you experienced a feeling of dizziness, just like Minerva was - I wanted her dizzying emotions to have a similar effect on the reader.

Gyre is such a great word - I didn't come into contact with it until Yeats' poem. It's a spiral that never meets in the centre, which is a fascinating idea (at least, I think so :P).

Anyway, thank you again for taking the time to read and review this story! ^_^


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