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Reading Reviews for Unconfirmed Reports
10 Reviews Found

Review #1, by Aphoride [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

1st December 2015:
Hey there, Kevin! :) Sorry this review is so late - uni has been brutal so far this year, and I've been intermittently injured/ill on top of it, so everything's kept getting pushed back further and further, but I'm here now! :D

I was so excited to read this - the Unspeakables are one of those branches of the Ministry who sound so fascinating because they're so mysterious and so unclear, and it makes me so impossibly curious, haha. So I love the idea of a story about them and what they do, so, really, this ticks all the boxes - especially because I'm a huge action/adventure/mystery fan too :P

The characters you establish in this are great - I love how the bureaucracy of the Ministry even slips into the Unspeakables, and how Hatch hates it so much - and how the Speaker is both so mysterious and so oily (and I love the little mention of him strangely not mentioning that they'd been overfunded, haha, and using the money instead for something completely different - even if useful. So true to a number of governments, I think). It just so perfectly encapsulates the kind of mysterious-yet-still-governmental nature of the Department of Mysterious, I think, and it's just so good and so real and so tangible throughout the whole section with it all in. Hatch is probably my favourite, just because of his voice in this is so strong and so sarcastic, and just so well done. It seems so natural in your writing, which tbh, imo, is a real gift - it's like humour, one of those things I think either you get or you don't, it's so hard to learn, really.

I just wanna talk about the details in this for a moment - it's so full of brilliant things, and the way you use the details to paint such a complete picture, from the scene at the beginning with the Department of Mysteries, to the middle with all the runes and the house. The runes especially - they were so in depth (Saxon runes, I think? Though I'm not sure... I looked up runes once, ages ago, for the sake of it, so it's been a while :P), and so good. Seriously, I loved that!

Your writing in this was so great, too. I've loved other things you've written, and this really is no exception. There's something so visual about the way you write this - like, you build pictures for me to 'see' in my mind and so on (if I'm not making sense, I'm sorry, I'm tired :P) - and every word fits so perfectly in the sentence. I love the balance between the voice, the action and the emotions in it, too, it's exactly perfect for the story you're writing and it all works together so, so well.

I love the episodic feel of it, too - though I do like a lot of sitcoms, and fantasy series, so... :P It's so good and so clever - I don't think I've seen something in exactly this kind of style before ever - and I really love how you've gone through the whole thing, with the introduction of the main characters, their first 'task', so to speak, and then the end of that segment, with the hint at the end of the next. It's a great little hook to have in it, and I'm so curious to see where it'll go from here :)

Aph xx

Author's Response: Howdy Laura! Sorry for my egregious delay in responding to your awesomely detailed (and too-kind) review!

It's hard to answer it perfectly really because so much of what you've said is just hitting on exactly what I was going for, but it's really gratifying to read and see that it was coming across to you exactly as I intended. That starts with the weird secretive, but also still bureaucratic nature of the Department of Mysteries and the (oily is a GREAT word for him) Speaker. It certainly won't be the last we'll see of him and I'm intrigued to see what people think as his arc develops.

As for Hatch, TBH I was pretty worried people would find him TOO far - like TOO unlikeable, but so far I've been really pleased that his characterization has been well-received! Not least of which because if everyone hated him like I was afraid would happen, well...I'd sort of have to re-imagine the series... :p

Thank you so much for the all the kind words about my writing as well - I get a little...obsessive I guess is honestly the best way to put it...about the balance you mention because I'm just (for whatever reason) so convinced that in longer pieces being too imbalanced just destroys the work, but I'm glad rather than coming across as forced or formulaic (which I always fear a little given that quirk of mine) it came across as not just natural, but positive!

The episodic thing...WHOO...that's going to be an experiment. I was hoping to be able to regularly update last year, and then to fix a real schedule this year having finished Evolution, but as you may have heard, I'm nowhere near done with that. My plan as of now is to try and create 12 episode seasons (a season a year basically, with an update a month), though we'll see how that goes. I'm more committed to it now that it seems that everyone is pretty intrigued by the concept!

Thanks so much again for the spectacular review!

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Review #2, by FredWeasleyIsMyKing [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

2nd November 2015:
Hey Kevin,

Im so so so sorry for this being late.

So I've been pairing this story up for many months now and it's about time I finally came to read and review! I'm really glad I have.

So first off I have to say I really love the format you've picked. From the chapter title I got the impression it was going to be like an episode of something and from the off it felt very much like that. The way you introduced the story and the characters is exactly like a pilot episode of a tv show so a huge kudos to you on that. You've really pulled it off.

Now I also have to say that I love how you've delved into the department of mysteries here and the unspeakables. I found your take on the place and what they do really fascinating. I was drawn in from the start and didn't want the chapter to end. To say how long it is in terms of word count in most certainly didn't feel like it at all. It literally flew by because I was so engrossed.

I found your two main characters really interesting. I'll definitely be interested in how the dynamic between them changes. They're clearly very different people but as the chapter went on you could feel them start to accept each other more and their competence. Especially Sam being more accepting of Kellyn. I thought it was an interesting remark you made in your AN about it being unlikely there will be romance between them, as that's something you generally see in a series. However, I like their relationship as it stands currently but if it did build into more, I could believe that too. I guess what I'm trying to say is you can easily do it either way and I think it will work. I just look forward to seeing it build either way.

I also have to comment on the magic you brought into this. You really focused on the runes more than I've ever seen anyone else do and I found it all fascinating. I love that you picked out the specific words to use for them, details like that is exactly why I love HP and what JK Rowling did, so when authors replicate that, it makes me very excited! The seven stones were another interesting detail. Seriously, kevin, the planning you've clearly put into this is astounding and it really shows through and has paid off in this first chapter.

So, overall I really loved this! It's really different in terms of content and format but it works and I really can't wait to read more! Your description and story telling is fantastic, I felt like I could watch the whole thing in my mind as I read it. And I've already mentioned I like your characters too!

Now, can we have a second episode/chapter please! ;)


Author's Response: Howdy Lauren! I'm so so so sorry for this response being ridiculously delayed, but I'm determined to get myself back to zero by 2016 and I think with my son gone, tonight's the best night to do it!

First, I am THRILLED that you thought the story functioned well as a pilot and that the concept of a TV-style series interests you. Though I was hoping to be able to get more solely dedicated to this for 2016 by finishing Evolution this year, I've fallen flat on that, but the hope is that I'll be able to start updating this monthly next year so that 12 episode seasons can become a thing for it. Ambitious, I know, but that's the plan as it exists right now. Cross your fingers!

I'm also glad you liked the characters. TBH I was pretty nervous that Hatch would come across as too unlikeable to people, but so far most have seemed to enjoy him as a darker, jaded sort of MC. He's definitely very different from Landreth, who shouldn't be regarded as completely immune from some of his criticisms, but I'm hoping that people will enjoy the way that's revealed along with some of Hatch's own flaws AND some surprises he'll discover along the way that challenge his preconceived notions of who she is. We'll see how that develops as far as a potential romantic involvement goes WAY down the line, but I'm pretty committed right now to keeping this totally platonic (though I AM confident in stating that there will be some personal and not just professional connection between the pair).

It's also cool you liked the runes and seven-stones. One of the hardest things about making that happen is that JKR has crafted such a detailed world with so much revealed of how different areas of magic work and spells and such that it was a real challenge to find something she HASN'T explained. And though the TV-style series idea is the chief concept behind me trying this story out in the first place, I won't deny that another part is trying to reveal more fascinating unexplored areas of the wizarding world that haven't been covered in canon or supplementary materials and flesh out the world we love in even greater detail (at least according to how I see it :p).

How you continue to enjoy! And per that schedule I'm HOPING to have Episode 2 up by 31 January.

Thanks again Lauren!

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Review #3, by looneylizzie [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

18th September 2015:
(For the Sept Review Exchange!)

Hey Kevin!

I’ll admit, when I looked at the word count for this chapter, I was a little nervous. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to read it without getting distracted halfway through, but from the very beginning to the very end, I was hooked! I literally couldn’t stop reading!

This is easily one of the most fascinating stories I’ve ever read on this site! I absolutely love it!

Especially the TV-show style aspect of it. That’s really different from what I’ve seen before, but, surprisingly, it works! I’m getting a kind of X-Files vibe from this, which, as one of my favorite TV shows, makes me all the more intrigued.

Hatch and Landreth are also incredibly interesting characters right off the bat. Hatch’s sort of cynical look at the Ministry is quite amusing, and does a really good job of introducing us to him - along with seeing him working and doing what he does best. I like that the assumptions he makes regarding Landreth and the kind of person/Unspeakable she is are quickly squashed, in a way, because he is surprised by her so often while they are working. But she doesn’t turn out to be the complete opposite of who he assumes she is, but rather more capable and more three dimensional than he expected. Which in turn, allows us to see a lot more of the kind of character she is without needing to hear from her POV.

Also, I like the fact that you stated that there isn’t going to be (as of right now) a relationship between Hatch and Landreth. I think that really means we’ll be seeing more of the characters individually (and by that I mean, seeing the kind of people that they are), as well as the initial development of their platonic relationship - something that is often overlooked in both books and TV shows.

I think it also means that the focus of the story won’t be sticking to them and their relationship, because while it may be important to the story, the individual plots of each of the episodes are also incredibly important, and, in my opinion, VERY interesting.

Speaking of plots, the whole concept behind their mission in this episode is SO cool! How do you come up with this stuff???

The thing that really got me hooked was that even though you mention what the culprit is - the seven-stone, we don’t figure out what exactly that means until the end.

The bit about the runes was especially intriguing - I’m using runes in my most recent novel, so seeing how you incorporated them in your plot and how you described them was actually rather inspiring. :)

Since this is the ‘pilot episode’ I’m assuming that the details of this particular mission were shortened a bit just because of all the introductory stuff, which makes me kind of excited to see some more, because I’m thinking (read: hoping) that the next episode we’ll really see Hatch and Landreth really dig in and get their hands dirty during the next episode.

Because if you can come up with this as a sort of shortened/muted mission, then I can’t wait to see what happens when it becomes the major focus of each episode!!

I can definitely see how the missions they are sent off to work are different than other departments - it seems like they’re dealing with the unknown - things that are more complex and that are beyond the Aurors or MLE’s understanding/experiences/qualifications. Kinda like X-Files, except less alien, more mythological. I’d imagine that the DMLE deals with more straightforward cases, while Aurors deal with the more dangerous cases - or specifically -criminals, thus leaving the Unspeakables to deal with the more mysterious and unknown cases.

I really like that ‘Unconfirmed reports’ are their magic words. It’s absolutely perfect.

Anyway, I think I managed to answer all of the questions you asked in your a/n, and I just want to state again that I’m absolutely loving this story so far. You’ve written something that I would never have imagined would work, and you’ve written it phenomenally. This is something that few people would be able to do successfully, and you’re definitely one of them! I’d absolutely love to see more and will be keeping an eye on this in the future!!

Keep writing Kevin, because this is fantastic!

Author's Response: Howdy Lizzie, it's me, the delinquent who used to answer all his reviews in 24 hours but now has kept you waiting three months :(

Thank you SO MUCH for your incredibly detailed feedback! You are certainly right that there are quite a lot of similarities between Unconfirmed Reports and The X-Files, which I suppose it's good you picked up on since their later-cycle "Monster of the Week" concept was sort of what inspired this (in addition to wanting to, you know, see how a "TV style" fic would play out).

You're quite right about the nature of the work and the different missions they do as compared to DMLE and specifically the Aurors. I'm certain later on there will be room for some overlap as I think it would be a huge missed opportunity not to have Hatch eventually work with some Aurors and put his ideas about them to the test (kind of like we'll see a lot of in this first season with Landreth).

My aim really was to finish Evolution this calendar year so that I could then establish a firm schedule for updating this fic for 2016 (I'm thinking of monthly updates AKA 12-episode seasons - except for the first which will have 13 because of this pilot), but we'll see if I can still pull it off while also finishing Evolution. Wish me luck!

Thanks again for the stupendous review!

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Review #4, by Crumple-Horned Snorkack [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

18th April 2015:
Greetings from the Crumple-Horned Snorkack! I have ventured out of the wild boreal forest in which I normally hide from the Lovegoods, in order to read and review this story!

What an original concept you've got here - the Department of Mysteries is such an intriguing place and it's just fantastic to see a story exploring that in great detail. Of course, the Seven-stone is no great surprise to me, as I have met a few myself. Perhaps none of the mythical creatures the Unspeakables go searching for are that mythical after all. I do wish Hatch and Landreth luck in their pursuits. If it helps, I can without a doubt confirm the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, but they will still never find her.

You've done really well in introducing your characters as well - and I love that you've illustrated these kind of odd habits or nervous tics - like Hatch's tendency to rub his face, and his obsession with straight posture - or Landreth's shorter temper taken out on inanimate objects. She does seem good at thinking on her feet, though, which complements Hatch's more reserved, educated approach.

I am eager to learn more about the inner workings of the Department of Mysteries, and witness humans' reactions to the diversity of peculiar magical creatures and anomalies they are sure to encounter. Pardon me for slipping out of character for a second here, but THIS FIC IS BASICALLY HARRY POTTER MEETS THE X-FILES AND I AM STOKEDDD.

With that, I must take my leave for I promised Bigfoot I'd meet him for tea. Good day! I have greatly enjoyed your writing.

Author's Response: Why hello Crumple-Horned Snorkack! You sure do know a lot about the unexpected side of magical world! But then I suppose it's only natural. After all, no one expects the Crumple-Horned Snorkack! Perhaps one day you'll deign to appear in my tale? Hmm...

Regardless, I'm glad you've enjoyed the focus of the story and the characters - Hatch and Landreth certainly have distinct views of the world and separate skill sets, some pieces of which will be complementary and others of which will cause...tension. I'm interested to see what you think of their individual and collective progression throughout the series.

I hope you and Bigfoot enjoyed your tea! Do I detect a trip abroad for our dynamic duo? Hmm again...

In all seriousness though, thank you so much for this spectacular review! I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope once I get the next episode out you'll stop by again!

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Review #5, by MargaretLane [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

13th April 2015:
Wow, this is a pretty long chapter. It sounds like a really original story though, and I've always been intrigued by the Unspeakables. There are so many ways you can interpret them. Looking forward to seeing how you do.

Really like the introduction. The shoes clacking sort of create a bit of suspense. We wonder where he is going and why and who he is.

And you somehow manage to create a very formal and businesslike atmosphere straight off. Not sure how you do that.

You've also managed to give us an impression of the characters before we even meet them. Cuthbert is boring and rambles, Atwater is a born politician or high ranking civil servant. And when he does appear, he speaks in such typical "civil service speak". You characterise these people perfectly, important in an all-OC story. Or mostly OC; I don't know, of course, whether canon characters will appear later.

Hmm, sounds like Samuel Hatch has a unique role. I'm looking forward to seeing what it is.

LOVE this comparison: "this portion would undoubtedly be the mediocre bowl of pre-entrée tomato basil – ubiquitous, yet entirely devoid of substance."

I like the mention of the time-turners being replaced. And I'm now wondering when this is. Probably after 2000, because he refers to '96 as if it were quite a while ago. And I can't imagine replacing time-turners would be the priority in the immediate aftermath of the war.

I've a feeling Samuel will turn out to have underestimated his new colleague.

This might be a different versions of English thing, but "it's both yours now" didn't sound quite right to me. "It's both of yours" might sound better, unless, of course, you are trying to show his speech pattern.

And this might be personal preference, but the references to hair colour are starting to seem a little out of place. It's generally best to use characters' names or pronouns, unless there is some reason that the viewpoint character WOULDN'T describe somebody that way, like they are trying to distinguish between two people of the same gender whose names they don't know or they are attracted to somebody and thinking of them in terms of their attractiveness.

And since there is only one man and one woman present for most of the time, "he" and "she" are probably the best things to use. They don't stand out or sound awkward, no matter how often you use them, whereas words like "the brunette" and "the older agent" really do.

Hmm, he seems to have some prejudices against Slytherins, hardly surprising in the post-war period.

I like the reference to the lack of communication between departments. It's typical of the sort of bureaucracy between government departments and very believable.

Hmm, I wonder if the bizarre design for the age of the house is relevant in some way.

Hmm, I wonder what the owl's hooting is warning of.

Yikes, she must have read quickly.

Hmm, I wonder what a seven stone is. And I like the detail about how people said lethifolds were fictional.

Kellyn is pretty confident in herself. She's not afraid to speak up and disagree with Samuel, even though she'd only just started in a new job.

I would have expected them to use miles rather than kilometers.

Hmm, I'm probably being overly suspicious here, but I wonder if there is some relevance to her headache. I can't imagine why there would be, but I suspect you included it for a reason. I just can't think what the reason could be.

Hmm, these references to the Ancient Runes are pretty interesting. I've rarely seen runes play an important part in stories. And I have never seen such detail about the history of them. I really like the hint that in other wizarding schools in other countries, runes might be a core subject. English speakers tend to be notoriously bad at languages anyway and it seems to be the same in the wizarding world. Hogwarts teaches no foreign languages, yet all the visiting students and staff can speak English, implying they DO learn it. So that might well have an effect when it comes to the teaching of runes too.

I really like the difficulty they had getting the runes to work. It makes sense that it wouldn't work easily.

This sentence could do with a few commas: "In the Speaker’s office two days again she’d been entirely done up and even on departure she’d failed to entirely abandon cosmetics and well-coiffed hair." I'd be inclined to write it as "In the Speaker's office, two days ago, she'd been entirely done up and even on departure, she'd failed to entirely abandon cosmetics and well-coiffed hair."

*laughs at the comment at the end that "unconfirmed reports" are "their words". I'm guessing that's a hint as to what the next chapter will involve.

Author's Response: You beat me to the punch! I was totally planning on getting home tonight and being the first to complete the Prefect Review Exchange! Oh well...better luck next time I suppose.

First off, thank you for such a thorough and detailed review. And thank you again for not pulling punches. PART of why I've been delayed moving on is wanting to get great CC like this, so it's very appreciated.

To speak to the length of the story, I'll say that the vision of this piece is actually (as the title of this chapter suggests) to be an "episode" in a "series" styled somewhat after a TV series.

Since Hatch and Landreth and definitely going to be the main characters throughout, I'm glad you liked them and their dynamic well enough (though I'll pay heed to the whole hair color thing - I tend to do that in longer stories to avoid repeating names and pronouns so much, but you make a great point about it possibly being more annoying).

I'm also MOST glad that you liked the dynamic with the Ministry and the first "different" kind of magic that the duo were forced to deal with. The whole idea behind the plot of this story anyway will be all the different things they have to deal with with from phenomena, to spells, to objects, to creatures, to whatever (with some broader arcs and villains/antagonists in there too).

You're absolutely right about Hatch underestimating his new colleague though. He'll start to learn about that soon enough in a variety of different ways and parts of the remainder of the season will involve peering into each of their pasts to give a better idea of their true identities and how they came to be in their present positions.

Thanks again for all your thoughtful feedback! It means the world!

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Review #6, by Culpa [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

10th April 2015:
Hello Kevin.

I'm Culpa. I've seen you around the forums, and I felt a little guilty for not having reviewed your story so here I am to do it.

I really liked that you set the scene right away. Your description is close to flawless, and it was like I could see it all happen right in front of me. I'm not sure how you do it, but I sure would like to be as good at description as you are!

I liked the chemistry between Landreth and Hatch. Before you say anything about it, I do know that you don't plan on writing romance. I was not suggesting that either, just so that's clear. I just think they could partnership going on there, sort of like the partners on detective shows on TV.

Good job. I really liked it! I might come back with my real archive name if you ever decide to post more.

Anyway, I should get back to my common room. I'm neglecting to take care of our hangman. They won't like it!


(and I hope you know what Culpa means or this review is going to seem a little crazy. Culpa happens to be my favourite legal word, and it's also the name of my school choir)

Author's Response: Hello! I DO know what "culpa" means - though I'll admit that hasn't given me a clue as to your identity...hmmm...

I have to admit I'm blown away about the description, but it feels so good to hear. I used to really struggle with it (and sometimes still do), but I've been working on it TONS so it's really gratifying to hear you thought it was a strong suit.

I'm also glad you like Hatch and Landreth as they're definitely destined to be the leads for the life of the story. My hope is after my life dies down soon I'll be able to really hammer out two more episodes in time for the end of Camp NaNo. It would be spectacular if you came back, though I understand if you're busy!

Thanks so much again for reading and reviewing!

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Review #7, by nott theodore [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

7th April 2015:
Hi Kevin! I'm here for our review swap (and I'm so sorry that it's taken me so long to get here, but with everything that's been going on in real life recently, I'm still catching up with all of the things I've been missing out on and this was first on my list).

Also, I'm really glad that we got paired together because I've been meaning to read this for the longest time - since it first went up on the archives - and it's finally stopped giving me excuses to not read it :P

I really like the concept that you have here. Since you told me about this story, and the idea of an 'episodic' approach to a story, I've been so intrigued about how you were going to write it. I love the way that from the very beginning of this story, even with the chapter title, you make it clear that it's inspired by TV shows with the fact that this is a pilot. Since it is a pilot, I hope that you realise people want more of it and the rest of the series will come soon ;)

I love the set-up that you have here in the Ministry, and the way that we get to learn more about the way things work in the Ministry. I've always wondered what the Unspeakables actually do, and the fact that they - or at least some of them - investigate things that the Aurors and other people in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement don't was great! I definitely think that you did a good job of showing what they do as a job and how it's different to the other investigative roles we see in the series. One thing that helped distinguish them and their work from the Aurors et al. was the way that they actually thought about them in the narrative.

There are a few tiny points of CC that I'd mention to you. One of them is the way that you write the time - things like 1956. To me it looks more like a year than a time and I had to read it a few times before I worked it out. The other is I'd just read over some of Kieran's speech again - I feel like you've probably got his voice in your head when you're writing, but to me I'm reading it with a real mix of British accents and it sounds a bit strange. It's not a big thing but it just confused me a little bit.

The characters and the introduction to them was done brilliantly. Hatch and Landreth seem like very different people and I can definitely see the way that they reflect the sort of duos that you tend to get on a TV detective show. Hatch doesn't seem impressed with Landreth at first but she proves her worth and the fact that she's actually got a talent for detecting.

The mystery was really interesting, too! I'm so intrigued by it and I loved the way that it unfolded through the chapter, and that it got solved in the chapter too. I'm so curious about whether it will have links to other 'episodes' too!

This was a really great start to your story, Kevin, and I really enjoyed it! Sorry for the lateness in the review and the shortness (compared to most of my reviews, anyway :P) of it too. I'm looking forward to future chapters/episodes - maybe there'll even be some two-parters?

Sian :)

Author's Response: Howdy Sian! No worries. Life = mayhem right now for me too!

I was excited we were paired together too! It's been too long since I read anything of yours - let's not even start talking about how behind I am on Jigsaw...

Since you speak of "the rest of the series" it will certainly be coming. First, I wanted to gather some feedback on the piece, but my goal (if I can reach it at this point) is to clean up the end of this episode and then get through the next two for Camp NaNo. I'm pegging the whole project at about 25,000 words so we'll see what I can do (hopefully lots better than I have been).

I'm really glad you liked the intro to the Ministry and the two main characters. As the series progresses I think you'll find that the approach to making Hatch and Landreth seem in many ways like a stereotypical detective duo is a bit of a nod to the familiar that will erode over time. While their overall personalities will remain largely intact, they definitely won't stick to the veteran-rookie archetypal relationship for long - at least not the extent they seem to fit that mold in this chapter.

As far as plot I will say that there's a reason the end is rather abrupt here and that we don't get a lot of information. While it won't be developed immediately, it is actually the first cog in the first major arc of the series - indeed editing in some more tidbits toward that end is what I have to finish up before moving on in earnest. Two-parters is something I haven't schemed out so far, but it's definitely not out of the question. Once I finish Season 1 (hopefully still this year, though we'll see since I also want to finish Evolution and don't have loads of free time), My goal will be to have the subsequent seasons last a year, with an episode a month.

As far as the CC goes though, it's very valid and much appreciated. Part of the reason for Hatch expressing time that way is his background, that element of which will come to light later this season, but I will consider inserting colons in there instead. With the speech for Kieran...yeah...I actually modeled it after this hodgepodge accent I used as a mock trial witnesses that ended up sounding as a mixture of multiple accents (but I nearly won a witness award with it - and I was almost never a witness. Shows how gullible we Americans are about even quasi-British accents :p). Kieran's background is a actually a potential reason for that, though I'm not wedded to it (primarily because I'm not sure if developing a "hybrid" accent is realistic at all. Though I would honestly need SERIOUS guidance to tweak it really.

Thanks for this wonderful review, Sian! It was really helpful for me as I start to move back into writing the series again!

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Review #8, by TreacleTart [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

3rd April 2015:
Hi Kevin!

I'm here for the Gryffindor review battle! Go Team Red!

I love reading stories that explore the inner workings of the Ministry, particularly the department of mysteries and the Unspeakables. I think in regards to that you have a really interesting concept. It seems that the Unspeakables are dedicated to investigating obscure events that might be related to powerfully magic, but unusual creatures or circumstances.

I thought Hatch was interesting enough. He reminded me of the detective in a cop show who has a big chip on his shoulder. One thing that stood out to me and I'm not sure if it was supposed to or not, was that he was really itchy. You made like 6 or 7 references to him touching his chin, scratching his beard, scratching the back of his head, wiggling his ring finger in his ear to get an itch, etc. It was oddly repetitive and I thought it was a bit clunky to be honest. Otherwise, there's enough character built in this chapter for me to get a sense of who he is. I think as the story develops, I'll get to know more about him and can really form more of an opinion.

Hildreth seems like the young female rookie straight out of training that chip on his shoulder cop gets stuck dealing with. She shows up looking ridiculous for the job, but then proves her worth by being skilled, in this case at dueling. It's something I see in television quite frequently and since you're trying to make this seem like a t.v. show, you've hit your mark.

One thing I noticed about Kieran...and this might just be because I'm from the US..is that the way you wrote his speech made me think of New Orleans. I don't know if you've ever heard the phrase "Who Dat?", but every time you replaced a t or th with D, that's the first thing that popped into my mind.

All in all the plot was pretty exciting, but I have to admit that I got a bit lost when it started getting into the seven stones deal. I'm not quite clear on what the seven stone is or why this person was using it to kidnap muggles. I was also a bit lost when they were entering the house. Once minute they're checking things out. Next minute they're transfiguring books into rats. I had a hard time following it. It was definitely intriguing and there was a lot of suspense, but I think a bit more explanation might help clarify things.

The length seemed pretty daunting at the start, but in the end it didn't really seem to matter. It reads pretty quickly because of all of the dialogue and action scenes.

This seems to be a good start to your story and I'm anxious to see what you do with the T.V. show concept. I would just advise you to be careful about falling into cliches with your two characters.

Good writing! I'm looking forward to seeing more!


Author's Response: Howdy Kaitlin! Thanks for this very thoughtful review! I've kind of been waiting for someone who wasn't all positive to review this story before carrying on, so this is perfect timing since I'm supposed to carry on with this for Camp NaNo this month.

One reason I love reviews is the little things that get noticed like Hatch always touching various parts of his head. I will say that some of those reasons are for different purposes than itching, but your point is well taken nevertheless.

Landreth, I hope, will actually be a bit of a surprise. I tried to jump on that veteran-rookie cliche at the start, but I think readers will find out in the first half of this season how false the idea of her being any kind of rookie is.

Thanks for the thoughts about the explanation of certain things too. I have heard that from multiple people now - a previous reviewer about the mission itself and you about the seven stones (think much smaller form of Stonehenge, with runic magic, that served as an ancient means of magical transport, but that with minor tweaks to the runes can be used to transport people to it from anywhere within a certain radius). The WHY I will say is actually deliberately omitted. Though I do think the end is too abrupt (something I'm looking to edit before moving on as part of Camp NaNo), that's something that is left open-ended on purpose. The house was a little deliberately confusing too so as to help the reader appreciate Landreth's confusion through the third-person limited POV, but I had hoped it would be comprehensible in retrospect given the effect of the seven stone. Clearly the insufficient explanation of the seven stone undermined that though.

As for cliches, like the veteran-rookie thing, my goal is actually to start with people thinking that will apply to Hatch and Landreth and then seeing how they're different and evolve standing firmly on their own two feet. The chip-on-his-shoulder DOES apply to Hatch, I will admit, but not for the stereotypical "cop" reasons like burnout, anger at not being promoted or appreciated, that might seem to be the case at first glance. Hopefully his story will come to surprise you.

Thanks again Kaitlin!

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Review #9, by Slide [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

18th February 2015:
Here for the Gryffindor monthly review exchange! And first off I must say I am an absolute SUCKER for Investigative Duos and OC fics.

Very good scene-setting at the beginning, a nice slow build of the atmosphere and environment to bring us into the situation. I could very much see the Department of Mysteries being subject to bureaucratic demands, both internal and from the rest of the Ministry, not to mention getting diverted by their own research obsessions. I snorted pretty loudly at 'assiduously documented attempts at resurrecting amoeba'!

You're building a good degree of curiosity as to exactly what it is Samuel DOES. Obviously he's a field operative of some type, but I'm keen to know precisely where his expertise/purview lies.

Food-based metaphors about boring conversations is inspired and pretty accurate. And I got inordinately excited by the idea of magical microfilm. For all your gritty-and-yet-magical investigative needs!

I see Kieran is equipped with an official JK-esque accent. :D I get the impression Samuel is drawn more to the cynical and misanthropic types, based on their conversation? Aand the reference to the mysterious 'Cassie' kind of confirms that. So Samuel's a walking disaster of work commitment and emotional avoidance, I take it? And he's obviously winning Landreth over nice and quick with his manner!

I'm feeling very much we're seeing Landreth through Samuel's eyes only; he's immediately very dismissive of her, even if her offences are, 'Showed up to work dressed formally,' and 'sat in his chair.' Even that she had the foresight to dress appropriately for field work has him ruminating on how she's likely a carrier of vicious old pureblood beliefs. I will be curious to see how the layers of her are peeled back, both to Samuel and to us as readers. And yet she knows how to put up a tent without magic and how to dress in public. HMM!

I am totally on board with runic markings and runic magics; I love stories which extrapolate on the canon (which you'll have to do with Unspeakable stuff) and I think Anglo-Saxon culture has clearly had a huge influence on wizarding society; it's a logical place to start looking for inspiration.

Very much enjoying how the dynamic between Hatch and Landreth is developing; she's starting to show more of her merits and seems already to be figuring out how to drive him better. Asking the right questions which make him more effective at setting his experience and talents to the specific case. And, well, being pretty sharp at reacting to problems, like the barrier hurling them back.

Oh hoo, wooden cages. That is NEVER a good sign. So much, as Samuel thinks, for this being accidental. I do wonder what the wizard was up to? Likely nothing good with such abductions. And by the end of it, Landreth is showing her mettle and Samuel's actually acknowledging it! Progress. I look forward to seeing how the two of them develop in a partnership; this was very much an establishing sort of shot, but the dynamic is settling in nicely.

But, yes, thoughts on the main plot. It's very hard to develop stories like this, because you as the writer have to make up lore things and then immediately make them into mysteries, which can be a bit baffling for the reader. I'd put this case down into two 'halves' as it's presented; the sequence in the house, and the later sequence with the runes. The latter, I would say, stands up stronger for one simple reason: you introduce the basic pieces in play to the reader, and then have the characters figure them out while we, the audience, are along for the ride. Even if we can't figure out the mystery ourselves, because we have no way of grasping runic magic, the prose still very effectively led us through Samuel's thought process and I felt like he (and you) were bringing us to a solution quite sensibly.

So I think the first half would have been stronger with more of a 'briefing'; it's not until after the sequence in the house that we really get details on who's gone missing and what the situation is, and I confess I was a little lost on what Samuel was UP to with marking out the spot above the disappearance, etc. It's sometimes good to surprise your readers, but I'd suggest handling that kind of trick one of two ways in future: either equip your reader with more information on what the mystery is, so we can have our own little conjecture as to what Samuel's trying to figure out, or maybe put us in Landreth's POV, where she can be just as confused as us readers on what samuel's up to. Of course, I recognise that this particular story was more about Samuel than about Landreth, so I'm confident we'll get more of her being bewildered alongside the reader in the future.

But that's really my only criticism, and mysteries - especially fantasy mysteries about fantasy magic - are quite tough. I really enjoyed the rune magic elements, and how Samuel figured out that puzzle, and moving on to the obelisk; it's exactly the kind of lore extrapolation I love, so I will definitely be checking out future chapters.

Very much an enjoyable story, and I think a very worthwhile idea for you to continue. I love my episodic TV show-esque tales, and I really like the idea of Unspeakables X-Filesing their way across Britain!

I hear you on not necessarily making the relationship between Hatch and Landreth a romance. I think you're taking the right stance; if the story starts demanding it, listen to the story, but otherwise we're good with our mystery solving duo... probably complaining at each other for a little while longer, heh.

Great work. Oh, and I'd absolutely be up for bouncing ideas or the like if you wanted a sounding board with magic and mystery stuff; like I say, I'm a right sucker for the genre, and I was stoked when I realised what story I'd got in the exchange.

Rock on! (Oh God this is maybe my longest review ever)

~ Cath

Author's Response: Howdy Cath! Let me start by saying thanks a million for this long, thoughtful, detailed review. It's EXACTLY the kind of review I need before editing and then pressing beyond what is essentially a "pilot episode" for this story!

Ahh Samuel... Like Churchill said of Russia, both he and the Department of Mysteries itself are something a of "riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma" - naturally that won't ALWAYS be the case for the life of the story, but that's where we're starting. And you're quite correct about the type of people Samuel is drawn to at present. While I'm not certain it will happen in a big way this first season, we'll get to see more of why that is through a variety of different mechanisms.

The Hatch and Landreth dynamic is something that I hope to continue to develop into a complex one. For now Hatch definitely has Landreth under heavy scrutiny and that probably won't change soon for a variety of reasons that will also slowly be revealed. While some of his reasons are based in legitimate professional concerns, others lie a lot deeper and more at the heart of who Hatch is and his experiences.

I definitely understand what you're saying about the first half of the story and that's something I'm going to probably include in some way when I go back and edit. I originally had some of that included in an early draft of the duo's arrival in Pluckley, but cut it in hopes that people could look past that bit and be more intrigued. I think the total absence of it was too much though and that's something I'll look at for sure.

Like I said, I really appreciate all the detailed and thoughtful feedback you gave here. It's going to be hugely instrumental when I edit this bit soon - including a little more at the back end so the ending doesn't feel so rushed (which it honestly was to an extent because I wanted to get it into the January review exchange).

Now that I've beaten back some of my outstanding professional and HPFF obligations from even before the exchange pairings, I'll be by to check out your story soon!


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Review #10, by jessicalorewrites [S1:E1] Pilot/"The Pluckley Anomaly"

23rd January 2015:
Hi! I'm here for the Gryffie Review Exchange :)

First off, I remember seeing your plans for this story a while back on the forums and being indefinitely intrigued by the premise of each chapter being like a tv episode. I hadn't realised you'd started posting it already though! I'm happy to have the review exchange lead me here ^.^

The whole concept of the Department of Mysteries is very intriguing to me. It's open to so much interpretation and experimental ideas that I just adored getting such an in-depth look at some of the workings here. It seems so fast-paced, I wouldn't be surprised if I was way out of my depth too, poor Kellyn! Though, of course, she does turn it around.

One of the greatest assets of this piece is the astounding use of sensory imagery throughout, not only drawing on what can be seen but what can be heard and felt, too. Samuel has an almost sixth sense at some point and I found it really fascinating to read, as if I were hanging on his every description. I felt incredibly tense during a lot of the mid-to-late scenes, just waiting for things to happen. I love the sense of minimal mystery you have going on, and hope that it later develops into LOTS OF MYSTERY!

Overall, both of the main characters seem to be rather well-fleshed out. Of course, you had 9000 words to work with in order to do that but it was well executed all the same. There could've been more about Kellyn, in my opinion, but then again I understand that this is a limited third person POV and that more is sure to come. It adds to the mystery after all!

I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the length, if I'm honest. Not that the writing isn't great I just don't usually have the attention span for such long chapters - both in fanfiction and in fiction. Though I do like the idea of the tv episode style so I guess I'm a little conflicted!

All in all I thought this was an excellent first chapter to what I'm sure is going to be a tumultous ride full of twists, surprises and awesome DoM action.

- Jess, xo

(p.s. I don't really see romance on the table for Kellyn and Samuel, either!)

Author's Response: Howdy Jess! Thanks so much for the wonderfully detailed review.

I definitely get what you're saying about the length, in this piece I actually felt like the end was pretty rushed, but my hope going forward is that other episodes will be slightly shorter (like a lot of real pilots being an hour versus regular episodes being only 45 minutes). The episodic thing is experimental really so your thoughts on how the trade-off are interesting.

I'm definitely glad that you enjoyed the imagery and description, which is something I've really been working on since I started writing fiction again and it's great to hear that you actually felt the tensions and at least a little mystery (which was admittedly diluted a bit here because of the need to develop who Samuel is early and the rushed finish I think).

With Kellyn, you're absolutely right that there's more to come on her. In the pilot, Samuel is obviously just thrown together with her on the start date of an investigation, but he's not the type of leaves stones unturned and she's not the type to stay hushed-up in the backseat. The development of both of them and their partnership dynamic will be a big part of this season.

Thanks so much again for the really great review! It's my first feedback on the story and I really appreciate your honesty and detail about everything! It will be helpful as I think about how to go forward.

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