Reading Reviews for Porcelain Marionette
  
6 Reviews Found

Review #1, by ScarletEye158 Dance

20th June 2014:
Hey Kevin! We haven't actually met, but I see you around the CR all the time and wanted to come review your Writing Challenge story :)

This was a brilliant story! I was a little bit confused at different parts (probably because I'm a slow person) but as I read on I realized what was going on and I wasn't too confused anymore :p I really liked how you showed Pansy as a young girl and all of her memories. Those are real memories, right? I thought they were through the whole story, but then at the end I was kind of left wondering if those were real or made up ones from having her memory erased.

The courting part with the two families was perfect in my opinion! Pure blood families and their traditions are always so interesting to me so I really really liked what you did with it! It seemed like a very realistic situation :)

Wow, the ending really got me! I didn't expect Astoria to have wiped and changed her memory! I'm assuming the time in St. Mungo's wasn't the first time, right? I think there was at least one other time and that was when Astoria told her the Draco had called off the engagement? She must have had to change Draco's memory too, then, huh?

I usually only see Astoria portrayed as a really nice character, someone who isn't a typical cunning Slytherin, so I really like that she was different in your story! It was really refreshing and nice to read her that way! And in contrast, I only really read Pansy as being an evil, cunning character, so it was cool to see them flipped! I felt really bad for Pansy (Which is something I never thought I would say! haha) I thought it was pretty cool that her memory started to come back after her head injury and Astoria must have been livid because she thought she had wiped her memory for good!

All in all, I really liked this story! I might have to read it again so that I can go back and look for all of the foreshadowing and clues because I bet it'll all make a looot more sense then :P

Nice job on using a lot of the prompts, too! They all worked really nicely with your story!

-Amanda

Author's Response: Howdy Amanda! Thanks for the thoughtful and kind review!

You are definitely not the first person to be a little confused on the first read. Part of that was deliberate because I wanted to keep people unaware of what exactly was really going on, but I think looking back perhaps in some cases the transitions were too sharp/abrupt and that contributed to the confusion. I wanted a bit of that vibe, but maybe it just went too far at times.

As for the childhood memories though, those are absolutely real memories. They were born out of one of the purposes of the story, which was to explore how Pansy became who she was. Originally that's all I intended the story to be about, but when I saw the Remembrall as a prompt, I switched things up a bit to include the memory element which gave rise to...

Dark Astoria! That was another thing I wanted to do with the story once I settled on the overall plot idea. Since I was exploring Pansy (who because of who she represented to JKR was left very one-dimensional in canon) I wanted to make people think about her more and decided with the other elements (like memory) I could also turn what seems to be a common view of Astoria on its head for fun. You should be proud of yourself for picking up on Draco though! Yes, Astoria also modified Draco's memories. And this modification on Pansy DEFINITELY wasn't the first time. I decided not to explore this more, but the reason for Pansy's memory problems is actually that she's had her memory modified by Astoria SO MANY times. My idea for the WHY of that was two-fold: (1) Astoria wasn't very good at memory charms and (2) despite possible evidence to the contrary with Hermione's modification of her parents' memories (depending on how you look at that), memories tied to love are "harder" the modify (this is just my head canon :p).

Because of the confusion though, I may actually write a companion piece from Astoria's POV as either a one-shot or short story which will explore some of these things on a deeper level.

Thanks again from reading and reviewing! I'm glad you liked it!


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Review #2, by Pretense Of Perfection Dance

18th June 2014:
Ahh Kevin, I've finally come around and read one of your stories!! I really have no idea what all the fuss over your writing is about. It's terrible (can you sense my sarcasm? I love it!).

I'm totally being a brat, but for some reason this sentence stuck out as strange to me. "I never thought Id see the day the name Weasley opened doors at the Ministry. It makes sense, and is definitely a valid point in your story, but for some reason I had to read it over a few times to make sense of it. Maybe if you added in a "could" or "would" before opened? Grammar isn't my greatest strength though, so just kick me if I'm not making any sense.

When Pansy wakes up at her parents house, the phrasing of this sentence struck me as odd. "Still lying, she shook her head." Obviously it's pretty clear that she is still laying down, but without the laying down part, or anything further, it almost sounds like she is lying, as in telling a fib.

I really liked your take on how Draco and Pansy ended. The scene about him courting her felt so...right, for lack of a better word. I totally picture both family and the Malfoy's being super traditional, and partaking in some bizarre and out-dated ritual to signify the potential union of their houses.

I found myself sort of confused as to what was going on with pansy's memories, but that's a good thing for this story! I honestly had no idea, and really didn't see Astoria wiping her memory clean coming. The dynamics of their friendship seem ridiculously complex, although I'm sure that's no surprise. I definitely see Pansy as being head over heels for Draco, and him just sort of not really caring one way or another about her. He always seemed sort of indifferent toward her, but I like to think that he was different with Astoria.

It's not often that I feel bad for Pansy, but you definitely made her a more sympathetic character in certain instances, while remaining true to who she is and what she believes in. The parts about still hating half-bloods fit in quite nicely, and overall I must say that this was seriously well written work! I'll have to check out some more of your stories (:

Author's Response: Howdy Fae! I'm glad you liked it!

Yes...certain things about this story ended up a bit wanting in the end - grammar and spelling being a couple of them. I'm sort of ambivalent about the first thing you mentioned, but I know what you mean about the second for sure. Captain Obvious about the laying, but then I also messed up "laying" vs. "lying" so erg.

I definitely wanted things to be a bit confusing with Pansy's memories on first read and then hoped once people read the ending they would go back and see how the clues were there, but I'll confess I found myself dissatisfied with how I did at getting across exactly what happened (since the wipe was not a one-time deal and she actually wiped Draco too, which frankly, just probably didn't come across great). Basically, I might have to do a short-story now from Astoria's POV so that I can be happy about this whole thing. Maybe some relevant challenge will come up so I can justify doing it before finishing Evolution...

I'm glad you got some duality from Pansy though! That was definitely one of my varied goals for the piece. Pansy was one-dimensional in canon because of who she represented to JKR, but I don't imagine any person being that one-dimensional (maybe I'm too nice), so I wanted to do something interesting to give her some depth and then also turn the whole good Astoria idea on its head, all while exploring memory and how a pureblood Voldemort loyalist might have suffered after the war.

And it would be awesome if you checked out some other stories! Your feedback was honest (which I always appreciate) and any more you're willing to give would be super!

Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #3, by monstrosity Dance

14th June 2014:
Hello Kevin!

I'm embarking on a 'review all the writing challenge entries' quest, a bit late considering when the rest of the reviews are at least ten days old. Oh well, I'm here now, right?

I've actually just finished reading Sian's story and took quite the double-take when it came to yours. Still, Pansy being the main character is really all you two have in common when it comes to plots. Oh, and forgetfulness, that's a big one.

What was really new about this story was how you incorporated those lessons Pansy and Astoria learned...and how they followed them to the end. Even Astoria, a much weaker character than Pansy did embrace her weakness, just not in the way most people would expect her to. Those sentences in italics really provided the backbone for the story to be built upon. In fact, seeing that Pansy is the Porcelain Marionette, those lessons are the stings that suspend her, control her every move.

Come to think of it, the pureblood society is a Porcelain Marionette, dancing to their ideals of blood purity and cold courteousness. Especially Pansy mentioned that everything Blaise did was so predictable. It's only until someone like Astoria cuts the stings that the reader realizes just how fragile the entire system it. Underneath all those jewels and presents, everyone's just a plain backstabber in the end. Ah, what a wonderful thought of reducing the highest in society to petty criminals, fighting over the commonest issues. It's like the kings and queens actually just peasants in disguise.

John Green once said, 'What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.' and I think it best applies to this story. I mean you have Astoria and Pansy both consider Draco this embodiment of what an ideal pureblood husband should be when he's nothing more than a really self-absorbed idiot. Then the entire community considers purebloods high in society, the epitome of power and control, when in reality there just like everybody else with their own insecurities and wishes.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned queens somewhere in the middle of this rant and that brings me to the topic of Pansy's personality. She's this perfect pureblood, following all the rules and thus when Astoria implies that Pansy is so strong, it threw me off for a moment. Yes, Pansy's very opinionated, but she's never come across as strong to me. she's always more susceptible to what other people say. She's bowled over by that crown, stumped by Draco calling her the best thing in the house and generally coming off as very inexperienced when it comes to matters of the heart.

Then I wondered whether it was her determination to follow every rule no matter how painful it was that made her seem to resilient. Or to not lose her cool when Astoria was waving her wand about and crying. Really, I did find some respect for Pansy after that. Also, the moment when she wants bigger things in her professional life than posting letters. You kind of showed two different sides to Pansy's personality, and two definitions of strong, that while she's this majestic queen of a girl, she's also young and unaware of certain things about life- that love isn't always as sugarcoated as it seems.

*Takes a breath* To sum it up, it's a very well written story. I feel that the conversations were especially good, managing to change pace in accordance to the story. From idle chit-chat, to massive confrontation, you kept me glued to the screen. Awesome job and good luck for the challenge!

-Sathya

Author's Response: Sathya! Thank you for the very detailed and well-thought out review!

Isn't it crazy that we ALL wrote about Pansy?! I couldn't believe it. And they all turned out quite different in terms of plot and style and everything, but were all so well done. Wild.

My main aim with my story was to give Pansy more complexity, partly by addressing WHY she is the way she is - which of course is where the exploration of pureblood society came in first.

I'm definitely glad you liked the little "lessons" aspect. They were a bit challenging to incorporate as the story progressed, but hopefully I pulled that off. I wanted them to be fairly short, almost cult-like mantras that Pansy and other pureblood witches would have been indoctrinated with (though in my head canon there are similar mantras for pureblood wizards).

I also loved what you took away from the title. My hope was that someone would find how Pansy's character and the last bit about strength tied in with what is really a larger fragility. In terms of strength, I have actually always viewed Pansy as strong in the sense of how I think purebloods would consider the word. She's very determined to further their culture and ideals (and herself) but also SO proper in their circles because she's so confined by it. Hewing to tradition, suppressing displays of emotion (other than cold ones), etc. And indeed the crux of it is that she has achieved this ability to endure suffering while maintaining her determination to excel and to control her emotions when most others would break. Yet at the same time, as you say, Pansy is still naive in the sense that she still doesn't understand that these lessons and her upbringing and traditional pureblood ideology have controlled and are controlling her life. That while she appears perfect, like flawless porcelain, to herself and her insular little world - she is really just a puppet.

The thing I do still hope came across despite leaving their coming-together out of the story, is that as she did to Pansy, Astoria manipulated Draco. My vision for that aspect, left unexpressed because I wanted to focus more on Pansy, is really that Draco never actually broke up with Pansy. Astoria engineered it so they remembered each breaking up with the other in what they would view as the worst way possible - preventing them from ever discussing things and uncovering her elaborate scheme, which was itself based on her decision to embrace her weakness. Perhaps there's room for that in an Astoria POV that is a sort of companion to this. Who knows.

Above all though, thank you so much again for the review! I'm glad you liked the story!


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Review #4, by MissesWeasley123 Dance

3rd June 2014:
Hello Kevin! I read this a while back and have only just found time to review this, so I'm sorry for the delay as my MTA questions seemed to give out some mixed feelings about this piece :P When I said, "Wow." I meant, "WOW KEVIN THIS IS SO BRILLIANT TEACH ME HOW TO WRITE."

Seriously seriously siriusly unique. My brain exploded/mind was blown when the whole Obliviate scene happened and then the ball turned clear and then it almost makes you feel bad for her, right because like aw Pansy! I've rather liked Astoria because of this one story I read and you showed her in this dark, jealous light which was freaky but so different in such a complex and thrilling story that it's really great.

You did such a good job with the prompts that we provided and again, LOVED the use for the remembrall! This will be a story I won't be forgetting.

Great work Kevin!

Author's Response: Howdy Nadia! Thanks so much for the kind words! It was not mixed in retrospect :p I just never want to jump to conclusions - especially the part about writing female characters.

I'm glad I surprised you with the reveal of Dark Astoria! I wanted to it be a big surprise (because most people seem to make Astoria good - like she helps redeem Draco) and I kind of wanted to inject a little HAH! Not so fast! bit (though it all started with wanting to explore Pansy originally).

I'm also really glad you liked the remembrall! I thought it was a neat object as a prompt and so I definitely wanted to do something a wee bit different with it and I was really pleased with the image it left at the end, so I'm glad it rang nicely for you!

Thanks again for reading and reviewing! This story took A LOT of energy, but I really really enjoyed the challenge! I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!


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Review #5, by nott theodore Dance

29th May 2014:
Hi Kevin! I actually read this earlier and was hoping to get the first review, but sadly revision had to come first and someone beat me to it :( well, I got here on the day it came out and I'm quite proud of that, at the moment! I've been looking forward to reading this since you told me what you were writing about!

First up, just a few typos I noticed:
'raising her wand as reached - I think you need a pronoun in here somewhere...
'the Pansy's eyes' - I think this should just be Pansy's, unless it's deliberate?

I was really intrigued when you said that you were writing about Pansy and memory, and couldn't wait to see your take - it turned out so differently to mine and I love the fact that you've taken the same character and done something so different with her!

This was a really powerful story. I actually had to go and read it through a second time once I got to the end, so that I could work certain parts out in my head, and that just reinforced how intelligently you'd written this story. There are lots of hidden clues that don't come together until you reach the end and are able to look back and work it out.

The opening was really interesting and pulled me in completely to the story. I liked the parts in italics, those constant reminders of the way that they'd been brought up and the way they had to behave. Everything was so rigid for Pansy and it's little wonder that she behaved as she did in the books if her life was like this, if she was coached purely to be the perfect pureblood witch from her youngest memories.

I definitely think that you got the hints about her faulty memory in early enough. The transitions between times were very smoothly done, and I noticed straight away that the Pansy at the Ministry, being told off for something she'd forgotten, was a change from the Pansy we see in the beginning.

The development from there, with Pansy forgetting where she was supposed to be meeting Millicent, was believable and more noticeable, something that made me wonder if Pansy had early onset dementia or something along those lines... I certainly didn't anticipate such a sinister explanation! And then for her to mention about Pansy being coupled with Blaise, only for that section to be followed with the meeting between the two families, and Draco being very much present in her life. I was a little confused because I just couldn't work out what had happened and why Pansy didn't seem to remember, but it was really clever the way that you kept me guessing till the end!

I definitely think the idea that head trauma could cause Pansy to remember what had happened before her memory was modified, especially the way that it happened here. I have to say (again) that I wasn't expecting the ending at all - the way that Pansy felt so comforted with Astoria's presence, I genuinely believed she was a friend to her!

The Remembrall was used brilliantly, too. I think the magic of it could definitely mean that it knows when someone has forgotten something, even if the person isn't aware of it because of their memory modification (which makes me wonder, what would have happened if Bertha Jorkins had held one? Hmm, plunnies..)

Ah, the ending was so dark and sinister and completely unexpected, but it was really fantastically written. It came from nowhere and hit me that Astoria was the bad guy all along, and has some crazy reason for having separated Pansy from Draco - it brings a whole new perspective to Draco and Astoria as a couple, one that I'm not sure I like too much :P

But it was really brilliant, Kevin - great job! Apologies for the rambly and confused review (exams are melting my brain, I swear)!

Sian :)

Author's Response: So glad you dropped by! And that you enjoyed it!

The typos...yikes. I actually re-read through it today (I never proofread...) and noticed those and a number more. Embarrassing really, but I was absolutely intent on finishing it (and frequently really tired when I was writing it), so poor excuse, but yes.

Thank you so much for answering my A/N questions too! For some reason I was very nervous about it. I think part of it was a realization that it got a bit confusing at some points and I was concerned that would prevent it from really coming together as I wanted, but I'm glad it didn't.

As for Draco/Astoria, this was actually part of my other reason for writing this. People are always writing about Astoria "saving" Draco after the War (or so it seems - I don't read a lot of Draco fics), and I wanted to turn that idea on its head in a big way.

The other part of course was wanting to write Pansy. We all know now what/who inspired Pansy from JKR's perspective, but for me it made her rather one-dimensional in canon and I wanted to get at her origins and give her a bit more complexity and even evoke some sympathy (maybe a little?) for her.

I think after this (and with the next novel I have planned) I may need to edit my niches in the CR and be a bit more honest about how dark a lot of my stories are...

Thanks again for your super-detailed, super thoughtful review! It's always a pleasure reading them!


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Review #6, by kenpo Dance

29th May 2014:
Hello! This seems like a really cool story... I'm growing more and more interested in Pansy.

The first section offers so much insight into her childhood. I loved your descriptions and portrays of her emotions. Pansy seems closer to the one we know during her scene at work. Still, it's an interesting perspective. It does seem like post war, there was a lot of potential for prejudices to reverse, making an old family name a liability.

The dinner is... Weird. I can't imagine living in a world that formal...

I love love LOVE your descriptions when she's waiting to go in for her interview. The paragraph about her energy was fantastic.

WHOA. I didn't see that coming. Whoa.

I was a little bit confused during it, with the jumping between Draco and Blaise, and clear and foggy. But I'm currently really really tired, so my reading comprehension is probably suffering.

This is a really cool idea. Brilliant plot, even though I was a little confused. Better than the plot, though, was your fantastic prose. You write description well, and sprinkle enough in so that it's there, but not so much that the narrative feels bogged down

This was really fantastic! Great work!

-Georgia

Author's Response: Thanks for the kind and thoughtful review!

I'm glad you liked Pansy's portrayal and that you're a bit more interested in her! Part of the reason behind this story (aside from her being an optional part of the challenge) was that I felt the reasons JKR created Pansy made her rather one-dimensional in canon and I wanted to explore her more.

As for the twist, I'm glad I surprised you! That was another reason for my story. Astoria seems to be often painted as this girl who helped salvage Draco, but I wanted to turn that idea on its head just for fun and so we got this.

As far as the confusion, part of that was planned because of the whole memory issues and endgame for the story, but I hope it was too confusing. I worried when I published it that there were definitely points where it would be and I tried to feather it a bit, so hopefully you didn't have to do too much re-reading (I always hate having to do that).

Thanks again though for reading and reviewing! It is very much appreciated!


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