Reading Reviews for Tea & Poison
9 Reviews Found

Review #1, by Aphoride Ella

12th August 2014:
Hi Isobel! So, I know it's terrible - I've been meaning to read this for ages, so as soon as I saw you post for a swap, I jumped on it! And now I'm just so so sad I never got round to coming to this earlier, because, honestly, this was amazing.

You manage to build this wonderfully creepy, dark atmosphere so easily, with the voice (of the dead boy? I'm not totally sure, but if it is then it's even creepier...) and the woman being so weird - the room being empty when she looks around, thinking things happen and people do and say things and then finding out they didn't. It's just... gah. I don't know how you do it, it's just so strange and confusing - in a good way! :P - with all the twists and turns, and differences in reality.

I love Elladora's character and the way you portray the whole family, too. I love how she doesn't seem to really like them, but feels in a way sort of oddly obligated to them nonetheless - it's a very strange, detached sort of attachment, if that makes sense, though it works so well with her and the times and everything! It adds so well to the spookiness - there's this sense, particularly at the beginning, but even at the end, that Elladora's on her own with everything that's going on, with the voice and what-have-you. It makes it so much worse because she can't ask for help and doesn't expect any help or for anyone to understand... Phineas is... well, not very nice? But I suppose he wasn't necessarily going to be, given who he becomes (albeit in painting form!) :P Her mother is terrifyingly haunting, too - she reminds me of a slightly more hysterical Miss Haversham, in Great Expectations, you know? Only sort of darker...

All the little details, like the rumours surrounding Ursula Flint and her mother were so good - I loved all the little things about society and how they were supposed to act and things. It was just so good! :)

Your writing was phenomenal in this. Seriously. It's just amazing. This is one of the best horror/dark things I've read in a long time, and I've almost fallen in love with the whole setting... even though it's creepier as anything! :P

Loved. To bits. Favouriting. Can I kick you to update this one too? :P ;)

Aph xx

 Report Review

Review #2, by EnigmaticEyes16 Ella

10th July 2014:
Hi! This is a HOUSE CUP 2014 REVIEW!

The premise of this story is really interesting. I really enjoyed the fact that the characters were all hearing the same voice. Except maybe Phineas, I suppose. I hope you cover more on it in later chapters. I'm especially intrigued that the voice says Isla will die. That must be a terrifying thing to hear from some phantom voice that you will die.

I also have to say that I think you write the second person POV very well. And I'm saying this as someone who pretty much hates second person. But as I was reading, I didn't even think on it until I got to Elladora's letter. So, I think you did a really great job with that.

Anyway, I hope you post again soon, I'd really like to see where you take this story in the next chapter!


 Report Review

Review #3, by Lululuna Ella

20th June 2014:
Hi Isobel! :) I'm here for the TGS review exchange - by the way, partly because the story I submitted for the exchange was such a beast but also because I love your writing, expect at least one more review on another story before this month is over! :D

First of all, can I say I'm just really excited to read this? I saw some posts around the forums about it and also the name is amazing and so cryptic. I loved the way "the woman" also talks about tea and poison, and the impact of bringing the title into the story.

You are her gift, a possession to be handed over to your father so that he may boast of having a daughter. I thought this was a really brilliant interpretation and one I wouldn't have assumed from the meaning of her name. But it's so clever, how Elladora analyzes it, and fits with the old-fashioned, misogynistic view that women and daughters are possessions and bargaining tools, not persons in their own right. The fact that the women in the family actually participate in this as well was also very effective in building her resentment against "the woman." I also liked the explanation of the names and the significance they each had for the family, as it's a very pureblood thing but also adds a lot of dimension to the characters.

Elladora is such an interesting and flawed character. I know you've written unreliable narrators before, and she has those hints of madness and coldness which make her both a little unrelatable in how she's so distant and unbothered, but also very real and fascinating. I'm so curious about how her brain works, and all the other characters and family dynamics, especially Sirius and his death, and how that impacted the family. The idea that accusations of Sirius and Isla being illegitimate and how that both separates the family but also adds to their madness is so intriguing and I can't wait to learn more.

Am I scared? UM. YES. Ghosts and apparitions and spooky, personalized voices are pretty much the most terrifying thing EVER. At first I thought Elladora must have inherited her mother's madness, but if Isla and her are hearing the same thing...hmm. Maybe it's a curse of the women in the family?

I'm also excited about who the voice was saying was going to die. My first assumption was that it would be the mother, but the way that the women in the family are paired together and paralleled in a way makes it more ambiguous.

This was such a great, suspenseful start, Isobel, with a really bewildering but fascinating main character. I can't wait to read the next chapter! :D See you again soon! ♥

Author's Response: Jenna, hello again! ♥ Confession: the more I respond to your reviews during this review response marathon (!!) I feel awful for not answering them sooner but I'm also reminded how fabulous your reviews are! ♥

Woah, thanks! Yeah, I was worried about the summary so I posted in the thread, and thanks so much! In my opinion, decisions made in politics at the time weren't openly discussed but fell under the jurisdiction of the "nudge nudge wink wink here's some bribery money" club, so while men were a part of the old boys' club, their wives used tea and poison to manipulate their husbands. It's great to hear that you were excited to read this!

I came across Elladora's name meaning when I was looking up her date of birth and those of her family's and since she's the eldest daughter, it was too good not to include. I honestly do think Elladora's analysis is correct, since her parents were unlikely to have married for love. As for the others' name meanings, I felt since I included Elladora's it would be wrong to not include the others, so I decided to take advantage of that and explain some of the underlying issues in the family.

I utterly love unreliable narrators, and I love the fact that you find Elladora so interesting. I'm really pleased as I wanted the reader to be able to connect with her and judging from what you've said it seems like I was successful. Her brain's workings are sadly spoilery so I can't comment further, but it's fabulous to hear you're enjoying the family dynamics and the questionable paternity of Sirius and Isla!

MUAHAHAHA! Not to sound really horrible, but it's great that you're scared because then I've clearly written this chapter well! I'm afraid that due to the sensitive nature of spoilers, I can neither confirm nor deny your theories. ;)

Thank you so much for such a fabulous review, Jenna, and I'll do my best to get the next chapter up as soon as possible! ♥

 Report Review

Review #4, by Josette_Phoenix Ella

17th June 2014:
Hi there :)

I saw this in the Peter and Wendy challenge thread and thought I'd check it out. I'm so glad I did!

For starters, WELL DONE on the second-person POV! That's a toughie to pull off, but you did it marvellously and it suited the mood of the story so well, connecting how mental Ella is - or not, depending on the source of the voice :P - to how the reader receives the story. It pulled me in right away!

I love how you depersonalise the mother from the get-go, calling her "the woman" and "the woman who calls herself your mother". It sets the scene of a cold home life straight away, and when you went on to depersonalise the whole family, calling Isla "the girl" and Phineas "the man", I felt as distanced from them as Ella did. It's particularly heart-wrenching when she has memories of playing with Phineas before he became a cold-hearted douche, when they used to all be happy kids together!

I love how you've constructed the family dynamics too, how Phineas is the controlling one, Isla is the troublesome one, and Ella is the obedient one, and how insanely deep-seated their duty to having an impeccable social standing is.

Great use of etymology too, again used to reflect on the character dynamics. The depersonalisation of Ella, how she is nothing but a gift to be passed on; the surety of Phineas's right to be head of the family; Isla's outlandishness.

Gosh I could just go on commenting on every part of this chapter, but I'll finish by saying that Ella is a great character, a Slytherin through and through - devious and cold. Loved the "voice" and the creepy mystery of Sirius. Big twist when it turned out her mother wasn't in the room with her at the debutante ball!! And what a good way to end the chapter! Can't wait to see how it all turns out!

Congrats on the win and honourable mention, and good luck in the Peter and Wendy challenge! Sorry for the LONG rambling review, I swear I didn't mean to make it this long, but it's late and I've had too much caffeine :S

PS: I love how you called it "parchmentwork" instead of paperwork! May I please have permission to plagiarise that somewhere down the line? I'm broke, but I can pay you the royalties in cookies if you like :P



Author's Response: Ooh, hello!

Thanks for checking this out! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to complete this story before the deadline (the quote is in the third chapter) but I will be incorporating it regardless. It's great that you're glad you clicked on this!

Ahhh that's great to hear! I've written second person before but this is the first time I've written it in a multi-chaptered story so it's fantastic to hear that you think I did it marvellously. Hahaha, you'll have to wait and see if Elladora really is mental rune not ;)

I wanted Elladora to be emotionally detached from her family, to not have the compassion that most people would. To her, they're just strangers because the way society dictates their behaviour makes them completely different to the carefree children she remembers. I love that you felt I did this effectively and that you felt distanced from them because that was absolutely my goal!

Ooh, thanks! Canonically, Isla was disowned for "marrying Muggle Bob Hitchens" (note that JKR's family tree says the same thing about Ted, so the pure-blood supremacists consider Muggle-borns Muggles) and of course Elladora is mentioned in Sirius' reminiscing during OotP as "Aunt Elladora" so clearly she was very much integrated into the family despite her emotional detachment. As for Phineas, I felt he couldn't be anything but controlling since he was a former Headmaster and his portrait gave off that impression.

That's great to hear! I know that a lot of people aren't overly familiar with the Black family tree so I decided to incorporate the tree into this chapter to help clarify who the people were, since it was something Elladora probably knew given that Sirius was knowledgable about it in OotP, and so I looked up the dates of their births. While I was doing that, I discovered the etymology of Elladora's name and thought it too good not to include, so I researched the others and included them too since the story's about the whole family.

I'm really pleased that you enjoyed this story and that you liked her characterisation! I love plot twists, so including those were fun indeed! Thank you so much for your lovely review, and don't worry about the length -- I had the same issue writing this chapter, because the words just kept flowing and I couldn't find a natural place to stop earlier. Thanks for the congrats, too!

Haha, you're more than welcome to use parchmentwork -- no permission needed! (Although I won't say no to cookies -- double chocolate chip, please!) I felt parchmentwork would be called just that because we have paperwork, but the wizarding world doesn't use paper, it uses parchment, so yeah that was pretty much my thought process!

Thanks again!


 Report Review

Review #5, by lumos_knox Ella

18th May 2014:
Ooh, spooky! I can't wait to see more horror in here, it sounds great, especially that cliffhanger at the end. I think you've portrayed the Blacks quite well and THAT VOICE. Gosh, THAT VOICE is sort of freaking me out right now. She's going to die. How scary is that? Unfortunately, I think my battery is going to die so this is all the little grey box is going to get fed for now:)

Great story, thanks for sharing!

Author's Response: Oooh thank you so much! That Voice is definitely rather a mystery to the characters! I'm really pleased you enjoy my portrayal of the Black family! I'm kind of glad that you're freaked out (please don't take that the wrong way) because it means that I've written this chapter well! And oh dear, pesky batteries. Someone needs to invent an everlasting battery 😉

Thank you for reviewing!

 Report Review

Review #6, by patronus_charm Ella

14th May 2014:
Hi Isobel, Im taking a break from revision and coming to review your entry so whoo!

Can I just say how glad I am that you managed to get an entry in for this, as everything about it is just so great and I love it, and yeah its fab, Isobel! ♥ You caught the dark air of the Black family so well it was really fantastic, and I just couldnt get enough of it. I mean, usually chapters over 4K scare me a little, but this just flew by so Im really hoping there is another lurking away somewhere. Anyhow, back to the Black family, everything about it was great, the importance of children being legitimate and not someone elses child, and the Elladora knew the family tree so well. All the names in the family in general just fitted in with the Black mystique really well too!

Another thing which was just really great about this story was how you included so many cool contextual details. I think my favourite thing was the mention of the debaunte ball for Isla, and I really cant wait to see how that turns out because Im sure there will be a lot of intrigue there. Also, the way you subtly changed their speech was really fantastic too. It was enough to show that you had done research and taken care over it, but not too much that it overpowered the story and became distracting.

Ok, so lets talk some more about the characters! I really like Elladora so far, and the use of second person with her is really great as reveals this different side to her, as shes still recluse in a way but we know more than the average person and it will be interesting to see how this effects the story throughout. Another person I loved was Phineas, well more loved his characterisation than himself as the person was far from nice :p I have a feeling that this all relates back to their fathers death and suspect parentage of the other two children so I wonder if thats right.

Finally, the voice!! Ahaha, that was great twist especially towards the end when we found out that Isla could hear it too and that it was planning to kill her. I have a feeling it might be the ghost of their father, I dont really know why, but it just seems to be my gut instinct right now so lets see if its right. Also, one final thing but I love Isla, shes so sweet and unassuming compared to Phineas, I cant wait to read more about her!

Thanks for such a great entry, Isobel! ♥


Author's Response: KIANA HELLO! ♥ Yay for revision breaks!

Ooh thank you so much, it's great to hear how much you like this! I was really worried about the horror aspect so it's good to hear that you found the darkness fantastic! And haha, I didn't mean for it to end up so long but I couldn't find a natural place to end the chapter earlier. Half a chapter is lurking away but Phineas is being quite pesky to write, sadly! Haha thank you, I felt that since Sirius seemed to know quite a lot about the family tree in OotP that family history would be something that's drummed into the Blacks when they're children so Elladora would know all about her family tree!

Wah, thank you so much! I was actually using movies and TV shows based off Jane Austen books to give me an idea of how the characters would behave and speak while putting my own spin on things since it's my story and it's great that you enjoyed it! :D

I love Elladora too -- I don't particularly like her as a person, but writing her is so much fun because she's just so calculated and reclusive which is completely different from most characters I write! I agree with you about Phineas too and I'm glad you like his characterisation! As for your theories, I'm afraid that due to spoilers, I can neither confirm nor deny either of them :P

*cackles* Elladora really needs to communicate with her family more because then she wouldn't have spent so long worrying about her own insanity with this mysterious Voice that's supposedly in her head! I actually have a sequel planned for this story that's told from Isla's perspective so I hope that fulfils your desire to read more about her!

Thank you for such a fabulous review, Kiana, and for the honourable mention! ♥

 Report Review

Review #7, by Lostmyheart Ella

9th May 2014:

First, I'd like to thank you for entering my challenge :)

This chapter was very long, and I usually don't read chapters this long - as I often have a hard time to concentrate and do other things while trying to read the story. But this story... I stayed throughout the whole story (which is a HUGE compliment for you) and it was very intriguing to read.

At first, I had trouble remembering the characters. You've picked an era I've never read before, so I had to try and remember who they actually were. But luckily you expleained the family tree on the wall and it all clicked for me. Sirius' family. Just a hundred years ealier, so that would make them his... grandparents siblings? I'm not sure. That's just my guess :)

The way you wrote this story was so brilliant, I don't really know how else to describe it. You're extremely talented. And there are so many favorite lines that I don't know which to pick, so I can show you. There are simply too many.

I can't imagine this being written in any other POV. It fit it so perfectly, that we got to experience the world of Elladora in her second point of view. It was just perfect.

It scared me, that she seems to be the only one hearing this voice. And that it sings the way her mother used to, is even more disturbing. I like that you kept it so formal, it fits the era very well. How she desides not to tell her brother, and her mother. But then later finds her mother talking to no-one? The chills ran down my spine when I read that part.
And the even more scary part, was your incredible plot twist! I had not seen that one coming! I mean... WOW. I was mind-blown, and I still am. You ended the story in a way that the reader (me) had to read the next chapter as well. Which I will, as you so voluntarily entered my challenge! :)

I loved reading this entry, and since it's also for another challenge I will wish you the best of luck!

- Avi

Author's Response: Hi Avi! No need to thank me for entering -- I wanted to challenge myself, and this is my first ever horror fic!

I'm sorry to hear that it was long for you (is it bad that it's not actually the longest chapter I've ever written?) but I'm honoured to hear that you were pulled into the story which of course was my goal! I didn't intend to have such a long chapter, in all honesty, but I just couldn't find a natural stopping point before then. And thank you for the compliment!!

Oh dear! That's actually why I incorporated the family tree, so that readers who weren't familiar with the Blacks wouldn't have to stop reading and go and google the family tree. They are indeed Sirius' family -- Phineas is his great-grandfather, so Elladora would be his great-great-aunt. I'm glad you found the tree section helpful! :D

Wow, thank you so much! I'm so honoured! I'm really happy that you enjoyed it -- and not just because of the challenge :P Careful, I'm blushing now! It's fabulous that you enjoyed the second person POV too, since this is also my first multi-chaptered story told in second person.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I'm insanely happy that you were scared because honestly, it's horror so if you weren't scared then I wasn't writing very well! I'm looking forward to posting the next chapter, and yay for the plot twist! I love plot twists!

Thank you so much for the amazing review and for awarding me first place, and thanks for the luck -- it must've helped, since I won a honourable mention!


 Report Review

Review #8, by Ravenclaw333 Ella

7th May 2014:
This is an amazing piece of writing, intriguing and terrifying in its subtlety, and I can't wait to read more! I love your depiction of the 19th century wizarding society and the darkness that seems inherent even within the house - it's incredible stuff, well done and keep it up!

Author's Response: Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for your lovely comments! I'm really pleased that you felt that my depiction of 19th century upper-class society and the darkness was incredible, and I definitely will do my best to keep it up! :D

 Report Review

Review #9, by BookDinosaur Ella

7th May 2014:
Hey there Isobel! I saw the title and the summary and just had to have a look at this. ;)

All I can say right now is wow. I want to start off by saying I think you did a really good job on the horror aspect of this story - it's none of the cheap thrills and not even expensive thrills but something much more subtle and I can't imagine how difficult it'd be for me to pull off, so major kudos to you there! I really want to know what/who that voice is now, haha. But it was creepy, how th voice sang her name with nobody there and how at first she thought she was going insane and how she thought there was a way to quiet the voice, and the whole thing with Elladora and her mother, plus that last scene where she and her sister both heard the voice, it all just fit together so well and just gah. My best guess right now is something to do with a house-elf becsue Elladora was the one who started that beheading house-elves thing. :P

The second person that you wrote in here was perfect, I think, for this kind of story. The Black family automatically comes off as really not-bothered and standoffish but you made me feel as though I actually was Elladora, which is really amazing. Sometimes second person can feel relly clunky but you pulled this off really well and it seemed so natural that I didn't notice anything that sounded even a little off. The rest of the language was really nice as well, ofrma as befits the time but not so formal that it sounds awkward, if you get my meaning?

You wrote the Black family so perfectly as well! You completely brought them to life in my eyes, that pure-blood supremacy and all of the fancy do's, even a coming-out part for Isla. Their dynamics as a family were perfect as well, Phineas taking control - I never thought about it much, but I suppose the Wizarding world was as sexist as our own - and the rebellious Isla, the sneaky Elladora, even the mother who's going a little insane it seems to me, you wrote hem all really well and you got them to interact with each other perfectly as well. That moment where Phineas yelled at Isla was so realistic, and how he orders Elladora to address her mother by an 'improper' title, it was all perfect.

I loved Ella Max/her illusion and the whole rant about tea and poison - it would have been so true though, the politics in a world like the Black family's must have been super intense, almost like being in the Ministry or something haha. It's so interesting how Elladora is fully confident that she's one of those people behind the stages pulling the strings, she's either really arrogant or really sly or both. Probably both. ;)

So yeah, after all that senseless gushing, everything really was perfect here Isobel, I so enjoyed reading this! :D

Author's Response: Hahaha Emily! Of course you did ;) Thanks for stopping by though, since I wasn't expecting a review from you!

Oh my god oh my god THANK YOU ♥ This is actually my first attempt at horror so I was really, really worried about it since I don't consider myself very skilled in horror. I much prefer to kill people off and cackle evilly... And unfortunately, I can't tell you who or what is causing that voice because spoilers ;) I love that you found it creepy though, that /Elladora, Elladora,/ over and over again, and the scene with her mum had the impact I wanted so that's fabulous to hear! As for the house-elf theory, that's something I can neither confirm nor deny...

Wow thank you! That's such a wonderful compliment to hear! Thank you ♥ Does this mean you're going to start hearing a mysterious Voice now? *hides* I'm really pleased since this is my first multi-chaptered story in second person POV so it's wonderful that you feel it enhances the story! And yay for the language -- I was worried about that, but you've reassured me now -- and yes, I do get your meaning!

Ahhh that's great to hear since I'm a big fan of the Black family! I'm so happy that they were alive for you, I was actually thinking of movies and TV shows based off Jane Austen's books to dictate their behaviour. I've looked at the Lexicon timeline and there did seem to be quite a few women in high positions but not that many, however none of them had recognisable surnames like those who were on Voldemort's side, so my guess is that the feminism concept would have been considered "improper" by the pure-blood supremacists and reserved for Muggle-borns, half-bloods and blood traitors. I'm insanely happy you enjoyed their characterisations!

Yep, that's what inspired the title really because I presume in those days, the bigger decisions politically were not made in an open debate but in the "nudge nudge wink wink here's some bribery money" club ;) You are quite correct about Elladora's confidence though, she is quite arrogant but her deceptive nature means that it's very much deserved!

Thank you so much, Emily; I'm really happy that you enjoyed this and thank you so much for such a fabulous review, I hope you'll come back for chapter two! ♥

 Report Review
If this is your story and you wish to respond to reviews, please login