Reading Reviews for Down the Burning Ropes
9 Reviews Found

Review #1, by Lululuna she's overboard

28th April 2014:
Hello! :) I'm here for the TGS review exchange - sorry for taking so long this month! :(

I liked this a lot! I think it's the first story I've read which takes into account Minerva's Pottermore history, and that was so interesting especially with how you tied it in with the Riddle pairing. I liked seeing her relationships and how she interacts with the different men in her life, from the cautious, eerie mystery of Tom to her slightly amiable and joking friendship with Moody.

Urquhart's proposal just made me laugh because he was so awkward, yet it felt authentic for how proposals might have been in those times. He doesn't court her, but instead just lays it out on the table as an option for her to consider - it was very stiff and old-fashioned, but that suited the characters very well. The only thing which came to mind in that section was that I would have liked a little more description/context on Urquhart and Minerva's position in the office, as had I not read the Pottermore information I would have felt a little confused about the history behind his proposal. And you write very lovely description, so of course it would have been nice to read more of that! :)

As she grew older, she realised that the universe did not like to share. I really liked this section and how the changing of the seasons and nature reflected Minerva's inner musings and how her perspective was changing and maturing. The moment in time which this story captures was so unique, with how she's realizing that the world and her place within in isn't as innocent as she thought as a child, and that somebody who she knew well, like Tom, can go down darker paths. It was very interesting to see her as a younger character, and how she's a little less self-assured and more easily disconcerted than her older and wiser self. I especially liked the detail which said that her friends came to her for her wisdom, as it suited her canon character nicely.

I really liked the way you wrote Tom here as well, and he felt very in character from what we see of his younger self in canon. He had that cold, yet calculating character, and his seductiveness and manipulation over Minerva worked very well in contrast to his other forms of manipulation, like when he's very quiet and polite with Hepzibah Smith. It seems like he uses physical attraction to gain power over women and bring them to a vulnerable place, not for his own physical pleasure, and that was a very interesting way to portray a pairing. The scene where he picked out her thoughts of Urquhart and used his Legilimency against Minerva were chilling as well, and I liked how you mentioned her looking into his eyes, since eyes are used in canon for Legilimency to take effect. That was a really great, subtle detail.

I really enjoyed reading this, and it was a very unique take on a pairing which I think is tricky to write, and I loved how you kept the story canon while having that Minerva/Tom moment. Like I said above, my main thought was that I would have liked to see more context and description, both of the physical setting and the characters, and the background information of who they are and why they're in this particular place. I'm not sure if that's helpful or not, but perhaps something to keep in mind if you are ever in the editing mood. :)

This was a great read, and I'm so glad we were paired together for the exchange this month. It was a lot of fun! Well done with this story! :)

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Review #2, by The Misfit she's overboard

12th March 2014:
Hi Lia! I'm here with your review -- so sorry for the delay!

You've started this one-shot off splendidly with your description of Minerva in her office, and Urquart's proposal. In just a few short paragraphs, you've emphasised the detachment between them -- how Minerva likes the man, but is rationalizing marrying him to get over Dougal, instead for love -- and explored some of her characterization. Immediately, you've presented a Minerva with traits that we know from canon while emphasising her youth and freer nature. I loved the contrast here between the Minerva in this one-shot and the Minerva in the books, because while they share many similarities, the youth and innocence of your Minerva really shines through your writing.

Your descriptions of the men in Minerva's life were breathtaking. You showed the differences in them beautifully -- Elphinstone Urquart with his unexpected proposal, Alastor Moody with his ambitious nature, like Minerva herself, and Dougal McGregor, the man she still misses and doesn't want to think of.

And of course, Tom.

Your description of Tom was the perfect balance of creepy and terrifying. You truly emphasised how he was the unobtainable man, in a way, for Minerva. He's changed to some extent -- certainly he's no angel now, and clearly he enjoys manipulating Minerva's mind -- but there's still a way to go before he becomes Lord Voldemort, and yet he's still not someone rational who fits in with her sensible world. You've described wonderfully the appealing, ravishing Tom that Slughorn and Dumbledore remember from his schooldays, and yet there's this dark element to him that's beautifully canon for this point in his timeline.

I really loved the flow that you've established here, it felt very smooth. Your characterization was excellent, particularly of Minerva, and your description is wonderful. The only criticisms I can offer is that I spotted a small typo here: He's had this affect on her before, but not as pronounced. (Affect should be effect) and that occasionally, you switch to present tense instead of past, so you may want to have a re-read of this, but those barely detract from the overall beauty of this one-shot.

Although the last line was heartbreakingly sad, it was quite fitting for Minerva, and connected very well to the woman she becomes in later years.

This was a super one-shot, and definitely a fabulous piece of writing! You're a very talented writer, and I'll definitely have to check out your other stories some day! :)


Author's Response: Hey Isobel,

It's always fun to read what others interpret from my writing…or anyone's writing, for that matter. They are often different from what was intended.

I think Minerva was trying to be sensible. Fresh out of Hogwarts and she hadn't spent a full year in the Auror Department yet. But her boss wants to marry her. That can be a lot to take in. She admires him for sure, but I think she needed more time to really know him before she gave an answer. Besides, her feelings for Dougal still lingered.

Everyone sees the men as a comparison of one another. It's funny, because I never thought of it that way. But now that most reviewers brought it up, I can see it. I think I liked writing Moody the best. I agree, they are alike in terms of their ambition. I actually wanted to build a friendship of sorts between them. Dougal - while not present - was the most important in Minerva's life at that point. He was the one who showed his serious, no-nonsense young woman what love was. For a character like Minerva, when she loved, she gave everything.

Ah yes, Tom.

He's such a deliciously disturbing character. At this point, you are right. He is beginning his transformation into Lord Voldemort. He has travelled and learned certain arts. The war is over, but that doesn't mean the world is less dangerous. I think he appeals to a darker side of Minerva, if that can exists. And part of him sees her as close to an equal as he can find. So, the attraction is mutual.

Gah, yes. I have a huge problem with that and I never can tell. I will re-read this when I have more time to focus on it.

You know, I think that last time summed up her biography on Pottermore. She has loved, but she lost much more because of it. After years and years of turning down Urquart, she marries him only to have him die a short time later. She gave in with Dougal, but called it off. So, I felt that I should allude to all that here.

Thank you so much for your kind words! And thank you for taking your time out to read it :)


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Review #3, by Unwritten Curse she's overboard

31st January 2014:

Random comment before I start: that banner... GORGEOUS. Seriously, I stared at it for at least 2 minutes before clicking to enter the story. Just wow.

I love your characterization of Minerva. She's soft and kind and quite wise, even at this young age. As she ages she becomes more prim and hard, so I think I prefer her younger. You've inspired me to read more of her as a young woman. :)

I'm not entirely sure what purpose Urquart serves in this story. Is this canon? Did he propose to her? If so, then ignore me. If not, he seemed a bit... extraneous. His character is never really developed, and it's clear here that the story is about Minerva, first and foremost, and about Tom also. Mostly it's about Minerva's attachment/struggle with love, but I see Tom directly fitting into that theme, as he echoes the inaccessibility of the Muggle man she loved.

Anyway, your writing is lovely. It's so simple and concise and clear. I didn't skim even a single line, which I tend to do quite often with both ff and the books I read in real life. You write with a purpose and that's refreshing. Oh, and that last line. Perfect. So sad and meaningful. And once again true to Minerva's character.

Now I'm rambling.

I'm glad the pairings worked out in such a way that we were paired together, because I haven't read nearly enough of your writing. This has inspired me to do so. I also hope we can chat soon. :)

xx Gina

Author's Response: Hey Gina!

I'm sorry this response is so late :(

Ah, the banner. It made the perfect image of Minerva in my mind. Then I watched Stoker with the same actress and unwittingly found my Tom Riddle. So whenever I watch the movie, I think of both of them. I got it from the UFG section.

I think there were a lot of things in Minerva's live to make her the way she turned out. Most of it due to her family situation, the other, her love life. I actually like her this way, before she became so tainted, and cynical - in her eyes, she probably considered it to be guarded.

Urquart is a Pottermore spoiler, actually. JKR wrote McGonagall's biography and included it on that site. If you plan to go read it, take some tissues with you. He proposed to her several times throughout her life, but only when she started to teach at Hogwarts did she say yes, but he died a few years later. I should also mention that Dougal was her actual fiance.

This was supposed to be a Tom/Minerva story, yes. But for me, it was a tricky pairing. I thought it best to include him at a vulnerable part of her life to show up more of his character...and possibly hers. You're right in that the story is about Minerva's difficulties with relationships, which is where Urquart again comes in. As I mentioned, there's was the most difficult because she refused him so many times.

I honestly thought Tom would have been more difficult to believe. Haha. It's funny that you say he's inaccessible. A representation of what she secretly craves, but shouldn't really have. Perhaps he appeals to the more ambitious side of her. The thought of them having something though...sounds very passionate.

The last line sort of killed me. It ties back in very well with how everything else in her life turned out. :(

I'm really glad you liked it! Thank you for such a lovely review, Gina! *squishes*


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Review #4, by WeasleyTwins she's overboard

8th December 2013:
Hello Lia! I'm finally here! I should be ashamed of myself, I know.

God, this oneshot. This. I really love how you portray Minerva's love life - her memories of Dougal, her situation with her boss, and Tom. You hint that Minerva has a passionate, loving heart, but time, experience, and life seem to have gotten in the way. She tries to rationalize love - rationalize getting over Dougal by marrying Urquart, rationalize her feeling about Tom - it's all very purposeful and sly. I really like what you've managed to do. I've got so many questions. You've answered some and left me to ponder much, more more. I love, LOVE when writers let me do the thinking instead of explaining every little detail. That's what a true writer does, and let me say, you're brilliant at it.

I do want to suggest that you take a quick look over the story because I saw some tense switches. There weren't too many and nothing really to worry about, but I thought I'd point it out :)

You've mastered a delicate balance of description and dialogue. Something I really admire about your style is the lack of fluff. Here, you don't throw all these metaphors and figures of speech down our throats. You simply tell the story, letting the emotions drive the plot. I really like that. Personally, I'm the writer who likes to write fluff, but when you write it for so long, you want to read something fresh, and well, modern. Your writing has this very twenty-first century glean to it. You're to the point and I like it!

I want to go back to Minerva. In the book, we see her as caring. Tough, but caring. And yet, I keep coming back to the fact that you've characterized her as a lover. I think we HP nerds forget that Minerva was a human being too and wanted, like all of us, to love and be loved.

Overall, I think this is a wonderful story! You've got so many great qualities as a writer and storyteller. I can't wait to read more of your writing. The title, by the way, is perfect!


Author's Response: Hello Shelby,

I am awful. I've tried so many times to respond to this review, but the words never came to me. So it is I who should be ashamed of myself.

We often see her as the stern-looking Professor who yells at Lee Jordan during Quidditch matches, or makes you want to find a corner and cry from her sharp tongue. There's never a thought that she might have been young once. She might have been in love once or twice, or done something completely insane and had a good laugh afterwards. So, this was a learning experience for me as well in an effort to understand her much better. I had no idea so much had happened in her life. She loved hard and lost so much.

At the root of it, she is trying to be sensible. Dougal was important to her, perhaps for years on. But, she's thinking about moving on because it has been a while. She should be happy without having to feel guilty, and maybe she could find that happiness with Urquart. As for Tom, well…that's another can of worms, I think. I live by "you can't help who you're attracted to". There's something about him that makes her pay more attention, and for him it's the same. She almost gave in too. Almost.

I love questions, Shelby. I really do. I love feeling the same way when I read other authors' works :) I'm game if you put them in my MTA page. I love anything that makes me discuss my writing and the characters. I think it's the whole point.

I'm glad you think so. I'm not one to make things too flowery - though authors can pull it off really well. But, I like simple things with elements of subtlety, so I hope that's what you've found here.

I definitely must re-read this. I never pick up my mistakes…ever. Never mind I printed the document out and went through it with a red pen.

Thank you for such a thoughtful review, Shelby. I'm sorry I haven't gotten to this sooner.


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Review #5, by academica she's overboard

27th November 2013:
Hey Lia! Finally here for our review exchange!

I really like Minerva's characterization in this story. She's quite sensible on the outside, and yet I can see a romantic longing inside that she only lets out in private, only to herself. She's clearly desirable and yet not quite within reach of any of the men pursuing her, sometimes by her own accord and sometimes because of difficult choices she had to make. I love how you use her as a reference for contrasting the personalities of the men she encounters, lovers past and potential. Most stories I read focus on just one romantic pairing with her, and this survey was intriguing.

I liked the delicate nature and detail of your imagery, like this line: The chill she felt earlier seeped through the wood of the bench and through her skin. The effect really comes off the screen and seems quite palpable to me. Your focus on minute expression changes and interactions drew me in and made it easier for me to see from Minerva's point of view.

This is a really nice exploration of a character who is often undeservedly left out of the spotlight. I think you handled her very well. I noticed a few small typos, but nothing that really pulled me away from the piece's beauty.

Nice work! :)


Author's Response: Hey Amanda :)

Oh yes. I agree with that for sure. I think her sensibility is based around caution and a bit of fear which ultimately crushed her inner romantic. The world is changing and she has to keep herself from becoming lost in the chaos.

It's an awkward little quadrangle in this story and rather difficult for her, I'll admit. Her heart lies with the one she left behind, but her head tries to steer her into the direction of someone new. Her friendship with Moody is the only one that makes the most sense to her at this point. For me, there was never a question of there being anymore than that because they were far too alike. I felt that in this confusion, she needed a friend.

As for Tom, that's been gnawing at her for a while and his presence served to bring it up to the surface. So much so that she slips into his trap. I won't deny his interest is genuine. I mentioned to someone else earlier, that the reason for this is because they are equals in his eyes.

Thank you so much for your review! I'm sorry my response took so long.


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Review #6, by navyfail she's overboard

4th November 2013:
Hi, I'm Sama, here from the review exchange. So sorry for the major delay.

First off, I like the beginning. Your words give a good feel of the environment and a proposal is definitely interesting and gives me a reason to continue reading.

And oh, Moody is in here too. The interaction between him and Minerva seems more natural than her and her boss.

"She wasn't sure that she could love anyone." Aww.

And Riddle is makes an appearance. Why is that I get bad feeling about this? She is right though, he is too charming. ;)

Hmm... he is too interested in her for comfort, haha. :D

And she refuses. I kind of wanted to see her happy. But McGonagall has always seemed lonely and wise.

All in all, this was a nice one-shot to read. I really liked your portrayal of Tom and the Tom/Minerva in this. It was mysterious and dark in a way but sweet.


Author's Response: Hi Sama,

I think the reason she gets along so well with Moody is that they are quite similar and are closer in age, compared to Urquart. Remember, Urquart is about 20 years her senior and on top of that, he's her boss. I imagine she may feel awkward at his advances.

Hee. Whenever Tom Riddle makes an appearance, the outcome is never a good one ;) That's how he lures people in - the charm.

Me too. I'd love to see her happy. I think she deserves so much of it, but not at this point. She's a romantic at heart, but age has taught her to be more sensible.

Thanks for reviewing! I'm sorry this response is so late :(


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Review #7, by patronus_charm she's overboard

19th October 2013:
Hi! Im here for the review exchange. :)

Your balance between description, dialogue and action was commendable in this one-shot. Each one worked and merged together so well that I was left feeling very jealous of the way you could make the ratio so equal. This also meant that the pacing and flow of the story as a whole was really great, with no stilted sections or ones where I just wanted to read on.

Minerva was really great! I could tell that she had matured from her Hogwarts form of herself with the way she still strived for things and wanted the best for herself, but there was that hint of innocence with her being surrounded by all these men and not really knowing which one was the right one or whether any of them were. Then her closing thoughts had this firm conclusion about them which I recognised from her later years.

The way you used minor characters such as Moody and Urquart was really glad. If I had to pick a favourite, it would have to be Moody as you got his character down really well, and the jesting between him and Minerva was just how I imagined it to be and added a small humorous element to an otherwise angsty story.

I thought the way you painted Minerva and Toms relationship was great. Ive always been a fan of this pairing so when I saw that your story contained it, I was a little over the moon. The hints about the past, present and future was really what made it for me as you showed what he formerly was like, what he was now and his future form. I could sense Minervas silent horror of this progression to the monster like form when she finally looked at him and that was written really well.

The conclusion of their relationship was really wonderful. It made me wonder whether anything really could have happened between them, because your Minerva had this silent bitterness burning away inside of her and then the way they duelled in DH made me wonder whether it could have been more. I thought the way you tied it in like that was really great.

I really enjoyed this story! ♥


Author's Response: Hey Kiana,

I'm sorry for such a late response!

I'm glad you think so! Most of the time it does not feel that way when I write it.

I am a fan of the Tom/Minerva pairing and considered writing a story myself for a while. When I came across her bio on Pottermore, I felt crushed on her behalf, and then this idea formed.

There is a lot of awkwardness between Minerva and Urquart compared to her and Moody. I just wrote this in a response, but I think they are very alike. In his own way, Moody has a lot to prove just like she does. They are competitive and ambitious, trying to make it up the ranks. For Minerva, it's the 1940s, the war's just ended and it's a bit unheard of to have a woman in such a field.

Urquart is much different. For one, he's her boss. Two, she'd feel a bit awkward at his advances. In her head, she does not see him that way, but there's the innocence there. She probably found his bumbling endearing (in retrospect).

I tried to make their relationship as intense as possible. I wanted to create some background, so that it wouldn't seem out of the blue that she suddenly falls under his spell. She was curious about him while at school, and certainly he was interested in her. In her state now, there is a lot of vulnerability which he sensed and tried to take advantage of. And, there's that part of her that wanted to get past the walls he put up.

I thought it best to catch him in this time before he disappeared for a longer period. This was before his transformation, and he probably was in the process of putting things together. The man she saw was not the boy she knew well at school. In this way, it put a definite rift between them.

Though I wonder how she would feel 50 years later if they came face to face again. Like you said, perhaps in canon, there was more than what we assume. Maybe they duelled like wronged lovers. That's an interesting idea.

I'm glad you liked it! Thank you for such a detailed and thought-provoking review!


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Review #8, by Sunflower she's overboard

23rd September 2013:
Hi dear! I'm here with your review :)
I really enjoyed this.
First of all, you have a subtlety to your writing that is envy-worthy. Sometimes, writers go all in on description or on dialogue, and the story-line gets lost in it all. This wasn't like that at all. The description sets the setting perfectly, the one-liners come at an even pace, your dialogue flows smoothly. It was such a pleasure to read. It was almost like being guided gently through the story, I hardly noticed the passages. Very, very well done.
What's more, I love the dynamics between the characters. Minerva is perfect in all her independent strive for recognition. Tom, too, was perfect. It's an interesting thought to picture the two of them together. It seems quite plausible. I can't help but feel sad for Minerva. She had such a lonely and disappointing life.
One of the things I liked the most about this piece, is how the memory of her mother and her past mistakes follows her throughout the scenes as a memory of her childhood. It gives great depth to the story, but also characterizes Minerva even more. It's really a sad life; sacrificing everything in favour for her ambition. I think it's absolutely spot on, but just. Very sad.

So all in all, an absolutely wonderful story. Very sad, but great. I'll leave you with a few paragraphs that I loved:

Oftentimes she found that he watched her with interest. Some of her friends were a bit jealous at the fixed attention she received. She brushed it off as being nothing, but almost two years later, she couldn't quite say the same.


In the end, she felt that being alone might serve her better.

She would come to find, in her later life, that it usually did.


Author's Response: Hey Emma :)

I think it's a constant battle between too much vs too little in terms of dialogue. That's been a problem for me for a while now, but I'm glad you thought it was enough.

I think she's the best character to portray in that time period. From the sharp, no-nonsense Professor we met in PoS, I tried to draw some of those qualities in a much younger version of herself. Being in this department is a huge deal for her, even if it's among men.

I thought about this pairing for a long time after reading a couple, well-done one-shots about them. It was best to catch him in transition, back when it was okay to call him Tom. There was still some humanity in him left, I suppose - enough for him to show affection for another human being. Maybe in Minerva, he found an equal.

When I read McGonagall's bio on Pottermore, I felt so much pity for her. We were all caught up in Harry's world and we never gave much thought to the other characters until fanfiction.

I think her parting with Dougal cast a shadow on everything she could have accomplished - relationship-wise. I'm sure Elphinstone would have made her very happy and she would have grown to love him. What's more, is that they would have had more time together.

Maybe we can oonsider this a reference point about those who choose ambition over happiness. This isn't a slight against the character, but something to think about.

I liked those last two lines you posted. They are incredibly sad and do a good job at summarising her life.

Thanks for reviewing!


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Review #9, by Hagrid21 she's overboard

19th August 2013:
It's really hard to picture Voldemort as the charming, good-looking Tom Riddle that was actually free to walk out in public without a problem. I found this really interesting to read as it points out an aspect of Voldemort I never considered before. We know he's good at charming people to get what he wants, but I never thought about how he would use that skill romantically. Even if he feels nothing towards these girls, it's kind of creepy to think that he gets a sick pleasure out of knowing they want him.

I'm glad Minerva can sort of see through his act. Sure she's attracted to him, but she's able to realize there's something off about him. Its sad to think she decided to be alone at such a young age, but at least she found joy in teaching.

This was very well written and I think you'd be able to turn it into a Voldemort/Minerva story if you wanted. There's definitely something there to work with. Good luck!

Author's Response: Hello!

Thank you so much for stopping by :)

Oh, I understand what you mean. This story was set in the mid 1950s before his major transformation and disappearance. He was described as very good-looking in the books, and considering his nature as a student, I didn't think it would be a stretch to say he used it to his advantage. As I think about it, I realise this story is much darker than I first thought. Putting things in the context you've given me, things between him and those girls border on the lines of consent which can spur on a whole other debate.

Minerva, even as a young woman, considers herself to be sensible. But this often goes without saying that even the most sensible can be fooled. I tried to include as much as possible, her previous (and current) attraction to Tom Riddle and her notice of his attraction for her. In the end, she was strong enough to push him away, only to find he was toying with her. There's a lot to say about that scene and how much I could have added in, but in truth, her feelings were not there.

When I read her full bio on pottermore, I felt sad. She had such a rough life, she probably felt that she was better off in a place where she enjoyed what she did and could not get hurt.

Aww, thank you! I could, possibly. But to me, it wouldn't be right.

Thanks again for reviewing :)

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