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Reading Reviews for The Fifth House
  
61 Reviews Found

Review #1, by MargaretLane The Choice

7th May 2017:
*grins* That portrait seems a little like Sir Cadogen, only a more recent version.

I always found it strange that the students at Hogwarts and their families were so matter-of-fact about going to boarding school, especially the Muggleborns,for whom it wouldn't be expected.

Hmm,that means there's STILL a mystery about how they escaped the crash. I assumed it was like Harry ending up on the roof of the school- managing difficult magic at a time of crisis, but it looks like there could be more to it.

I can see a lot of people opening the blue envelope. Magic means closing a lot of doors as well as opening them. Witches and wizards are not qualified for any Muggle careers, have to hide a good deal of their lives from Muggle friends and relatives and take a whole load of new subjects they know nothing about while dropping all those they are comfortable with, including those they enjoy. As this is not a boarding school, the change is not as huge as Hogwarts - they can still see their friends after school, but still, having none of them attending the same school as you is a big deal when you're 11.

I like the names of the schoolbooks.

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Review #2, by MargaretLane Ilvermorny

7th May 2017:
Hmm, so Mr. Puterschimdt is an Animagus. I guess he will teach Transfiguration.

And Willow already appears to have some degree of control over her magic. Interesting.

The idea of having a nom-magical parent to help explain things is a good one. It seems like there are less Muggleborns at this school than at Hogwarts, where there were two amoung the Gryffindors alone. I wonder if there is a reason for that or if it's just a case of it not being the exact same in every group.

I think it's sort of sad that by the age of 8, Willow already had the impression it was bad to be in any way different.

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Review #3, by Shinicha The Fifth House Reinstated

26th April 2017:
I immensely enjoyed reading your story! it was really unique and captivating, especially since there are so few stories set in the US. thanks for writing it - maybe one day you'll continue?

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Review #4, by an old friend The Choice

26th September 2016:
Hello Drew :)

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to review this. I've been reading and enjoying this story for a while and while I'm going slow I think you did a great job at it.

The oportunity to "discover" Ilvermorny with your characters is incredibly exciting and is kind of taking me back to the time when the whole potterverse was still that new and strange and magical to me. I have a similar feeling to the one I had reading the philosopher's stone for the first time and I savour it.

But it's not only that, you plot reads to become very exciting too. So many things I'm curious about already The swimsuit of course, but also what let Willow and her mum apparate out of the car if she couldn't have done it herself…? questions over questions.

And can I just say I absolutely adore the chance to experience how a muggleborn student would be introduced into magical society if their miserable home life were not a plot device. I mean I respect what JKR did and it certianly served her purpose, but the way you tell the story I can actually believe it could be done without causing the unsuspecting muggles/momajis a severe anxiety attack in real life.

And it's so very useful to have someone introduce them to magic who once had to get acustomed to it themselves. A person like that WOULD be more sensitive.

I like your writing style and I love that I don't have to think about it while I read. There are not too many descriptions, but enought to paint a good picture. What I'm trying to say is I find it easy to read and well written in a way that doesn't distract form what you're saying. Just as it should be.

I'd also like to relay the regards of some of your friends, we miss you over at hpfanfictalk . com. Maybe you want to come over one day :) Thank you for thinking of such an exciting tale and for sharing it with us.

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Review #5, by NPE The Fifth House Reinstated

5th August 2016:
Hello Drew,

So, finally I am here at the final chapter.

First off, apologies for the three month wait. The uncertainty over the forums, combined with a hectic summer, writer's block, and general fatigue meant I hadn't been able to give the justifiable amount of time to your work until now.

Sorry about that, I have really enjoyed the swap, and I shall be posting chapters more frequently now. Feel free to contact me on twitter if you have any questions or want to do furthers swaps.

So - to the story at hand. This was a perfectly fitting finish to what has been a very pleasant ride. You have laid the foundations here for the next stages of Willow's life in a very effective way. She has her limitations and Pathfinder house is still diminutive in size, yet she has a trusted circle of friedns to help her on the way. She may not have warmed to the school entirely but we have established that she can do magic, and has the agency to solve mysteries. This book is very much in the spirit of JKR's early novels in that sense - so kudos to you for that.

I think that in the future, your work could maybe include more introspection from the characters but I did enjoy how you pronounced their quirks, foibles and flaws through character actions. Furthermore, the actual resolution of the mystery does feel somewhat rushed, but the actual setting of the finale and the idea of a buried Pathfinder school are fascinating.

I love your humour sense, the knowing references and the jokes. I still think the initial sections of the story are caught at something of an impasse between wanting to be pastiche and wanting to be a completely different world. That said, the set up itself is very original and Willow's mum remains a really interesting character.

You certainly did a lot of things right, when doing this and I applaud you for engineering (like you job :) ) such a well structured and readable novel. For a first timer it's very impressive indeed.

I am really looking forward to see where this takes Willow.

Sorry for the wait, I hope to hear again from you soon.

Best,

Nick

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Review #6, by NPE Finals

16th May 2016:
Hey Drew,

So, I shall write a full story review in the next chapter. It will take me a little longer and I intend to write chapters 21-23 and edit chapter 20 of Rise over next couple of days as a gap emerged in my schedule - so maybe in about 10 days time will you see that :)

It really has been a pleasure swapping. As I have said before, though Rise is 38 chapters in my head, I will pause after the first 23 to assess the situation concerning HPFF's future.

Ok now the "housekeeping" is out the way on to the review of chapter 28.

This was fun.

That sounds disparaging as compliments go but frankly a lot of stories fail to achieve a sort of "jelly and ice cream" catharsis which this achieves.

As a reader I feel a sense of joyful reward at seeing the Hunter's grove resolve their magical quandaries.

On reflection, I do think the troubles with the Hunter and the dreams were perhaps resolved a little too quickly and readily. Shepherding a ghost to his death as a method of narrative climax is unorthodox, but as I have said, I kind of liked that. It didn't try for a fizz bang whallop of an ending but one that felt almost poignant and the suggestion of greater conflicts and ordeals to come.

Instead all the "fizz" as it were is in this segment of the tale.

The elements with Felicity's face, the success of their magic, and Mr Zolock's appearance as a ghost were right out of genre fantasy, of traditional schools as magical hells concepts.

I really think towards the back end this diverged tonally and structurally from JKR and personally I prefer that to your admirably good pastiche and efforts to pay homage.

There is a lot in this chapter to like.

Is it a bit fluffy? Yes.

Is it a shoe-tier of plot threads? Definitely.

But I read it all smiling.

Picture that, a Generation Y British randomer you never met before in your life picking up your FF after spending 80,000 words reading it and just cheerily, merrily enjoying the prose for what it is .

After 28 chapters, it all just has this feeling a narrative hug that I like.

And it is such a ferverishly rabid contrast to the previous chapter which is unusually dark but fittingly so for the story.

So I liked this a lot. It was like candy.

You couldn't write every chapter like this but once in a while when used sparingly it's simply a darn good time.

Nick

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Review #7, by NPE Another Way

12th May 2016:
Hey Drew,

So after an awfully long delay I am back again.

It has been close to three weeks since I last reviewed a chapter of yours. Sorry about that, however I have been really busy and wanted to give the right amount of time to review your work properly. Furthermore, I have been struggling on Chapter 19 to the point that I had to withdraw any FF distractions from my mind.

I just published it by the way; it’s currently in the queue.

Ok, so to the chapter at hand:

I really like this story, and though there are two chapters left, this is sort of the narrative denouement. Whilst 28-29 have more of a feelgood aspect to them, this chapter is meant to have a more revelatory nature. It isn’t especially epic, but it isn’t meant to be, rather it is a dramatic but contained conclusion that leaves questions for the reader.

The nature of Pathfinder house is somewhat explained, and the reveals are both credible and grim in a way that defies the 12+ rating of the story. The elements such as the grove, the repentant ghost and your depiction of spiritual death are fairly novel and commendably don’t add some gloss of sugar or “wrapping things up” to the tale.

As I will explain when I leave an overall review of your story on Chapter 29 – I love how there are still plenty of open ended issues concerning prophecies, quidditch, the nature of houses at Illervorny (by the way there are rumours JKR has given the houses names and they appear in FB film so I’d give that a check).

Specifically within this chapter, I think you do a very commendable job at the satisfying the reader by rewarding their observations. Things such as the alarm, who was watching Willow in the corridors and the details of the Hunter are well handled here. Though personally, I do think you could have given us more on the Hunter or Bones before this chapter, as it does mitigate some of the impact the execution scene should have.

In terms of CC – This collection of sentences is awkward, and repeats the word floor to the point of repetition. I also couldn’t visualise it well enough. I wanted to feel some terror or shock or thought trail from this development. Instead it reads like someone writing a match summary of a sporting event.

“She turned to continue down the stairs toward the first floor when Lef tripped and crashed into her. Willow fell to the floor and her legs dropped off the side of the ledge, dangling over the sixty foot drop to the hard stone floor of the second basement below.”

Again this sentence below is far too matter of fact, it needs greater exploration. Also why is she randomly sobbing?

“I’m so sorry,” Lef sobbed. “I almost got you killed.” Willow stopped and hugged her.


Ok – hearts pounding is like doors slamming. It is a phrase that I can find in half the novels off my shelf.

“The ghost was waiting for them outside of the kitchen, and Willow’s heart was still pounding in her chest when they reached him”

I did really enjoy this chapter however, and this revelation below of the gullibility of first years is great. I also love how you almost break the third wall by stating how obviously dim it would be to put a death trap like that in a school. On another level, you’re sort of addressing the books with its obviously ridiculously dangerous whomping willows, floating stairs and trick steps.

“Hmmph,” grunted the ghost. “First years were always so gullible.”

“You mean we can jump down the center?” asked Incheon.

“Of course,” said the ghost dismissively.

“You mean I didn’t just almost die?” said Willow, casting the ghost a disbelieving eye.

“Do you really think the Professors would allow a gigantic death trap to exist in the middle of the school?” he replied.

As I said – I enjoyed the conflicted ghost.

“Except I am not. I am afraid that what I have done is unforgivable and that I will never escape this curse of undeath,” said the ghost.

I do wish however, this was explored better.

“They all turned and stared at him.”

It makes them sound like dimwits. ^

I did however, enjoy the greys of morality you created:

“The Hunter reached behind him and pulled his bow off his shoulder. “Let the Great Spirit judge you!” he cried and pulled the string on the bow back. A glowing transparent arrow appeared in the bow. Sib jumped in front of the ghost and waved his arms in the air.

“Wait!” he cried. “He’s asking forgiveness, don’t you see? He’s helping us!”

A couple of other things - “Avada Kadavra!” should actually be “Avada Kedavra”.

And this bit is great:

“Exactly. So what do we have to lose?” Turning to the pool, Willow tightly gripped her wand and plunged it wrist-deep in the water. The pool started to glow and then, just as in the dream, Willow’s wand began to warp and bend, twisting back on itself in both directions, the wood swirling to make strange shapes. She loosened her grip on the wand and held on with just two fingers as it formed a complete circle. Inside this circle was a smaller circle on top of a triangle on top of a horizontal line. A long string extended from the top so it formed a talisman that could be worn around the neck. When it stopped moving, Willow pulled it out of the water and held it up. Red sparks flew out of the face of it.”

-

So a lot to like, definitely intend to keep swapping until the end.

At Chapter 23 there is a natural break in my story before the final 15 chapters. I am unsure whether I will post them on here unless the future is resolved concerning HPFF.

What I will say is I have three action chapters (20-22) back to back and will upload considerably more frequently.

I will try and review 28 this weekend before I mull over a final review as it were.

Pleasure swapping,

Nick

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Review #8, by marauderfan History

30th April 2016:
You come up with the best names! Mr Diatomungi :P I always thought it hilariously convenient that the Hogwarts Herbology professor's surname is Sprout. I mean, her future was basically determined for her. I guess Mr Diatomungi could have gone in a number of different directions but it was always going to involve autotrophic life forms. I assume his surname is a combination of diatom and fungi? If not, sorry about this nerdy tangent and now we're back to our regularly scheduled review :P

Wait, no, one more comment about names. Marigold doesn't know anything about Herbology. I love the irony :P

Why doesn't Willow want to talk to Lef? They ended up working together in class and Lef was her first friend, but now Willow acts like they don't know each other. I hope she learns at one point to not trust the older Gryffindors because they seem to say nothing but lies :(

I loved the way you approached the history of magic lessons. Just because Professor Binns is as boring as cardboard doesn't mean history is boring, and I've always felt that the best way to get people involved in learning is to get them involved in it rather than just listning to a lecture or reading a book. Mr Zolock's method for teaching history is brilliant and I like how he's encouraging his students to see both sides, because history is always written by the victors and all that and it's so easy to skew it, but he seems to be not only taking a broad perspective of it but also making it interesting. His class sounds cool.

I wonder what the dream was about! So weird. I think it's going to be important later!

Awesome work on this chapter!

Author's Response: Kristin,
Thanks so much for coming back to the story and posting a review.

I found almost all of JK Rowling's names to be convenient. Lupin? (Latin for wolf); Crabbe and Goyle (evil); Lovegood (good). But I can't claim credit for any of the names here - it is absolutely a combination of diatom and fungi and I got the inspiration straight from her series.

Ha! I didn't even realize that I put the funny about Marigold not knowing herbology in there. Thanks for pointing it out - my subconscious works in mysterious ways.

Why doesn't Willow talk to Lef? Because she's been told that all Slytherins are evil...Lef is a Slytherin, so she must be rotten inside. It's going to be a while before Lef can learn to trust anyone...

I'm a history nut, so I definitely wanted history to be taught in a way that would interest the students rather than boring them to death. I thought about how I would interest a bunch of 11-year olds in history and my first thought was to have them participate in a bloodbath (troubling - yes; effective - also yes).

I'm glad you're enjoying the story!

-Drew



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Review #9, by TidalDragon A Trip to Narrowway

30th April 2016:
Once more I enjoyed the care you've taken to establish both similarities and differences between the canonical culture we know and the wizarding culture in this part of the world - from currency to law to shops to textbooks, you've really thought it all out nicely and I think it makes your world that much more believable AND accessible. I also liked the end where it got meta with the Hermione reference ;)

To answer your question from my thread, I will say that it hasn't lost my attention at this point, but I would caution you that I think you're reaching a point where you could start to lose people if there's too much more "pure" exposition. I imagine based on the quality on display so far that if I read on, you'd be moving forward substantially with the plot in the next chapter or two, but since you asked, I did want to answer.

You're obviously very dedicated to the story based on what you've written so far and how much you've posted so I would leave you with words only of encouragement - keep on writing and stay true to yourself and your concept. You've got a good thing going!

Author's Response: Thanks for the compliments on the story. I originally had Narrowway be essentially identical to Diagon Alley, but some early reviewers convinced me to branch out a little more. In addition, I've had to make some changes based on the posts on Potterverse. For example, I use galleons in this story, but JK Rowling has pointed out that the US uses 'dracots' which I'll have to change when I go back to edit. I'm sure as soon as 'Fantastic Creatures' or the next post on Potterverse comes out, I'll have even more changes to make.

Thanks for your feedback and response to my question. I did want to jump into the plot sooner, but there seemed so much world-building I had to do first to get there. Yes - I do get into the plot soon...but it's actually two chapters away (the next one is getting to the first day of school, and then the chapter that introduces the main plot picks up from there.)

I really appreciate your feedback and thanks for coming back to do these reviews.

-Drew


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Review #10, by TidalDragon The Choice

30th April 2016:
Hello again! This chapter was a very effective demonstration of the differences between American and British wizarding culture - though some of it was only pointed out through historical references, I thought you obviously took great care in coming up with the different names of subjects that Ilvermorny uses. I enjoyed the nods to D&D schools and spells.

I also enjoyed that you didn't try to take this decision-point (which is very serious) too seriously, tossing in a little Matrix-style choice which injected an element of humor in the situation before it was later complemented by the bemused acceptance of the situation we see from Willow's mother.

See you in Chapter 4 for that extra review...

Author's Response: Thanks for the review. I'm glad you appreciate the D&D references - there are plenty more in the story where those came from. I grew up with D&D, so many of the ideas, monsters, spell names, etc. are borrowed from there. To be fair, I took the spell names from 'The Elder Scrolls' video games - which pilfered them from D&D.

As I mentioned in the response to a previous review, I really needed to think about what would be the same and what would be different about an American magic school. I wanted to give uniqueness to what would be here while still having an anchor for the HPFF reader to feel connected and a part of the same universe.

I'm glad you also saw the matrix connection with the blue and red envelopes. I even went back to the film to make sure I had the colors right. I've tried throughout to keep the tone light and fun. My intent was that this is something I could read to a 10-year old.

-Drew


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Review #11, by TidalDragon Ilvermorny

30th April 2016:
Hello again! I enjoyed this deepening introduction to the characters in your story - particularly Willow - and the American magical community. For Willow's part I see the potential in her and I like the patient development you're giving her. It's much more in the spirit of an OC-driven novel than what we often encounter in fic and you should be praised for that!

On the dark side of Willow though, I do recognize what appears to be some inconsistency between Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 (and arguably between the story and Potter-verse canon). The internal inconsistency is, for me, less concerning because it's possible you're trying to set Willow up as particularly special and uniquely talented, but the way it has come across so far is that she had no control and no idea what was going on when she apparated herself and her mother away from danger in Chapter 1, and yet reveals here that she's been able to control her magic to the extent that she can braid her own hair magically for three years. Hmm. In the end I think it's the control that's more worrying though because it's been a fairly clear feature of canon that underage witches and wizards can't really direct their magic, and more specifically that it can't be directed well period without a wand. Something to think about - especially when injecting this isn't particularly necessary.

Otherwise though the handling of the tour was nice (following the American tradition of parent-tour guides was a nice touch) and the descriptions of the grounds and the magic and accompanying sensations on the way there were done excellently.

On to Chapter 3!

Author's Response: I hear your concern about an apparent inconsistency regarding Willow's control (or lack thereof) over magic. Without spoiling a later reveal - it's intentional. There is supposed to be this divergence between what the reader perceives she just accomplished (spontaneous side-along apparition without a wand) and what she appears able to do (braid her hair without using her hands.)

I'm glad you enjoyed the tour - I saw it as a necessary function to 'sell' the parents on a magical school for their child. This chapter was the origin of the story for me. When I was thinking about the original stories - I kept coming back to Hermione's parents - what were they thinking? How was magic introduced to them and what convinced them to send their only daughter away to a 'magical world' that they didn't know existed. The whole thing had an air of implausibility about it, so I wrote about how I thought it might work here in the 'States.

Thanks for the review and the cc.

-Drew


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Review #12, by TidalDragon The Invitation

29th April 2016:
Well, I'm WAY behind on my review thread owing to perhaps the most grueling four months of my professional life, but I've finally made it here so here goes!

First of all, the story immediately stands out as the first post-reveal story set in Wizarding America that I've read. Rather than being excessively different or disappointingly trope-laden however, this has been a well-crafted tale thus far with nods to the canon we know (apparition, acceptance letters), but unique characters and a modern era (the latter of which remains pleasantly unobtrusive).

Though this chapter was merely an introduction, I do think the story holds a lot of promise and am interested to read more. Seeing as I've kept you waiting a ridiculous amount of time I think it's only fair I give you some more reviews too...

Author's Response: No problem on the wait. Thanks for following up with the review.

When I sat down to write a HPFF story, I wanted to stick with 'what I know' rather than try to dive into the sticky world of Britishisms and canon, so I wrote a story set in modern-day America. At the same time, I also wanted to pay homage to the source material - I always intended this to be HPFF - so I've included as many common references as I can where they are plausible. If readers were going to read a HPFF story with original characters and an original setting, I needed to provide them some ties into the series to make them feel more comfortable. I've scattered those throughout while still trying to maintain some level of originality. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far.

-Drew


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Review #13, by NPE A Trojan Dragon

26th April 2016:
Hey Drew,

As I said in my response, can't believe it had been a week between both your reviews as time has gone so QUICKLY. RL has been kicking my butt.

So I am back with a review, of course.

You manage to weave us into the story with this chapter really effectively. You get absorbed into it straight from the bat which I really like. I think the fact you seamlessly brought us from one chapter to the next, but fed us with information about the chancellor/plot was really effective.

The intrigue surrounding Felicity and the exams may sound like minimal plot elements but the fact you have plotted it so well throughout the stories is great. Also the anxiety about her exams is legit for a 12 year old.

Furthermore, how you develop the chapter with the carving and Sib is so economically done and admirably concise. You convey a reeling effect on the reader in such a short collection of sentences.

I also found the conversation with Willow and her mum very rewarding. It all makes sense.

I get that I have left you a little confused in ROTP so I hope you get the feeling I got from this chapter of things clicking. I feel like my attention as a reader has been rewarded.

Oh I love Mr Zolock, all I can say on that. Take my lack of words as a compliment.

My favourite chapter of this book so far.

Sorry, I havent got any CC.

Best,

Nick

Author's Response: Nick,
Thanks for the review. No problem on failing to find any cc. I think there might be a few places where I can add in Willow's monologue, but for the most part, I'll leave this chapter untouched.

This was the start of the 'a-ha!' moments in the book, and the scene with Willow and her mom was one of the very late adds (I mentioned in one of my previous responses a plot hole you could drive a truck through: if Willow's mom is magic, why couldn't she see the signs all the way back at the entrance to Narrowway?)

From here on out, it'll be a quick ride (perhaps too quick) to the end, so hopefully I manage to keep the ride fun - and throw in a boatload of 'a-ha's along the way.

-Drew


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Review #14, by NPE Consequences

16th April 2016:
Hey Drew,

Interesting affair this whole corridor business.

What I took from this chapter was the interesting adaptation of the head. The Chancellor sounds very empty as a term, like a cowardly university head, so I think it is appropriate. I don't understand why he is so agitated aside from the prophecy, but I like how he is a force that represents the recidivist, colourless side of magic. He is an abrasive presence, that the staff side against. The involvement of both teachers and Willow's mum are literary stamps you have pressed onto the work. I like both these twists very much.

Mr Zolock and the scene with the Quidditch scene was well done.

From a point of ideas, I also agree that like History of Magic, Divination has a negative reputation in the Potterverse, even with the prophecies. I still have no time for it, but I like how Miss Pyx has agency and cunning about her, and how she actually tries to help them.

You also very cleverly put some intrigue up about the Hunter. The dialogue remains to a high standard.

The Chancellor really is a faceless and toxic force at play here. He is as paranoid as Scarface in all honesty, though I hope he doesn't end this with a "Say hello to my little friend" shootout!

The only bits that could be improved for me where the following.

1) Remove the repetition of the word "office"

After a cursory look down the hallway, the Chancellor had escorted the four of them to his office and then had Mrs. Scheunemeyer assist Sib to the Nurse’s office. He left them and went into his office, closing the door behind him. It was understood that they were to wait.


^ It's ok, we all do it as writers without realising. Maybe you were trying to point out the higgledy piggledy nature of them al being in different rooms etc but it disrupts the flow

2) The scene at home

I like how you incorporate Heather Carter into the story. I like how clearly there is more to her than meets the eye. I also appreicate her concern and confusion/exasperation/disconnect to the wizard world that exists even in a day school

What would have made the scene more substantial would be an exploration of Willow's thoughts, vulnerabilities and uncertainties as she lay on her bed upstairs.

If you gave her such a fragility I think she'd be a genuinely great character.

On with more reviews.

All works fine here, I think this is a very good follow-on from the aftermath of the chapter before.

He really wants them expelled. I am intrigued.

Nick

Author's Response: Nick

Thanks for the review here. Cheers for pointing out the sections of repetitious dialogue (office, etc.). As I mentioned before, this chapter is (essentially) unedited from the original and there are bound to be quite a few errors that I need to go back and correct. Yet again, you've also identified some clear areas where adding in Willow's monologue would drastically improve the narrative.

I've really enjoyed creating these characters, so it's encouraging to see that they've played out as I intended (the undercurrent of malice from the Chancellor, Pyx's clandestine assistance, the Mom's thoughtful confusion, etc.)

I'm curious to see what your impression is of the denouement - whether I've adequately wrapped up all of the loose ends - or whether they leave you hanging...

Thanks again for the review.

-Drew


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Review #15, by NPE Through the Gate

16th April 2016:
Hey Drew,

I realised that now you are on Chapter Sixteen of Rise of the Phoenix (an unwieldy 14,000 monster that was more resistant to cuts than the hydra), that I probably should supplement you with a few more reviews.

I really appreciate the effort in reading it and doing the swap, in consolation, all I can say is the chapters I am working on now are quicker and very dramatic.

So, this chapter plays to the strengths of your writing. When you spend say, 50,000 words or more with an author you tend to appreciate their various characteristics and the bits that work for them.

For me the dialogue here is really en pointe, and it is through the dialogue that you have created pretty sophisticated characterisations of the children at play here.

I think John Lennon said a band can only have four members at most to work, or three and a drummer (as he disparagingly said) but the five here do feel authentic. I use that word a lot, but its hard to create five interesting characters and you have achieved it for sure.

I also remember vividly in the first dozen chapter that I wasn't convinced by Willow and that she felt like a narrative vessel. I feel a fool now though. She had a great line in the corridor and the whole aspect of her being scared really worked for me.

From a plot and structural perspective, I think this chapter highlights is the brilliance of good planning. I don't have good planning. Hence my typos, continuity errors, erratic pacing and plot holes. I basically try and redeem myself through description, drama and prose to varying levels of success (not that your story lacks drama or action - just realised how that came off). So I recognise masterful attention to detail in preparation.

The reveal of this forestry, this sanctum within the school is such a terrific concept. The devil's snare homage was terrific, and I really like where you took Sif and Leb in the story.

The ghost of the Hunter and the portal were clearly built up as well, so it was rewarding to read.

The areas that didn't work quite so effectively for me was the action sequence which to me was written too sparingly. Their attempts to flee from the Hunter, the arrival of the Hunter in the first place, and the emergence of the Chancellor were skated over a little in my review. They are the most important bits of the chapter and I wish I had more subtlety and specifics in how Willow felt. I wanted a better sense of how she ran away, what went through her head, of the tells her senses gave her. Also the monologuing was flat/non-existent which was a shame.

None of this made your chapter bad - but to me it would elevate a good chapter which succeeds through the build up through the tale into being one of the best in the story.

In particular these sections read a little bland and the reader glosses over the terms, like running quickly! These bits of the chapter are supposed to be the most dramatic with the greatest literary heft to them. Yet they feel breezed over like the mist of the portal.

Case in point here- the pool is finally on the page. I want more detail on it, more of a focus on how Willow felt, on the characteristics of the water, how it was in comparison to the sanctum. I got a bit on the leaves (which was a nice touch and plays to your strength of information through character actions) and in the fact the rest of the place was covered in vines but it was almost an aside. I need to visualise this to care as much as I am supposed to and I can't. My gateway to the tale is the kids which means you pull it off, but it could be an iconic literary scene:

“Watch out for the pool,” she called to the others. “It might be acid or something.” The image of a wand splitting and curling back on itself came to the forefront of her mind.

“It’s not,” called back Lily. “We put a couple of leaves in and it didn’t do anything. It’s weird.”

“It’s creepy,” muttered Willow and looked over to see Incheon squinting toward the other side of the circle of stones. “What do you see?” she asked him and she turned to look where he was peering. It was then that she saw it for herself. The Hunter’s ghost was standing in the shadows on the far side.

^ OK - I get that this is 12 plus in age rating. I also get that the short sentences here work, but there could be more horror elements after or more expressions of her fear.
The stammering is very cliched in my view.

“The gh..gho...gho” Willow stammered, pointing to the shadow. She couldn’t speak louder than a whisper. Her heart was beating in her chest and the adrenalin was screaming for her to run. The ghost moved quickly, floating from the shadows on the edge of the circle of stones toward the pool in the center where Lily, Lef and Sib were still staring at the water.
Willow dropped the torch and took off as fast as her legs could carry her back toward the stone archway. She crashed through branches and tripped over logs. Her chest was heaving as she struggled through the underbrush, scratching her face and snagging her hair on passing branches. She glanced over her shoulder to see Sib, Lef, and Lily right behind her, but couldn’t see the ghost anywhere. She turned back around just in time to slam her shin into the stump of a fallen tree and she fell over onto the ground. Her left leg screaming in pain, she tried to struggle upward and was limping through the woods toward the clearing ahead when Lef caught up and helped her the rest of the way."

^ This is over way too quickly.

Sorry - I do really like this story and this is a good chapter - and a rewarding one to read. My CC is probably a bit harsh but its just this a whisker shy of your very best chapters between 18-22 because of a couple of reader frustrations.

Very encouraging stuff in here though. Moving to the end at rapid pace.

Thanks for doing all these swaps.

Nick

Author's Response: Nick

I'm glad I was able to pull off five characters - and I think that's my limit. I think the key for me in creating five characters and having them all be distinct was to work out voices and aspirations for all of them. In my early drafts, Lily and Lef were indistinguishable - their dialogue could have been from the same character, so I dove in deeper to understand how they would react in any situation. The same is true with the others.

Willow has characteristics from three of the four houses - but not the bravery of Gryffindor, so I couldn't have her be brave in the corridor. In this case, I wrote my own hesitation in stressful circumstances right into her.

I appreciate the praise of the planning - this story had plenty of it. I see that your story is developing as you write it, but for my story, I actually didn't write it from beginning to end. I developed individual pieces of it and then started filling in the gaps. The story you're reading is the product of five months (Aug '15-Jan '16) of planning, drafting, editing and re-writing before I ever posted it.

Thanks for the cc about where I can improve the chapter. You're spot on and (as I mentioned in my response to your previous comment) I hadn't edited this far into the story to add in Willow's monologue. The forest chase is the perfect opportunity to add detail and expound on the experience. I'll also pay attention to the narrative - avoiding the tired phrases and cliches and applying some more colorful prose. You're absolutely right that this climactic scene is over far too quickly...

Thanks for the great review.

-Drew


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Review #16, by NPE Return to the North Woods

14th April 2016:
Hey Drew,

Feels weird that I am so close to the end.

This chapter, from a thematic perspective, touched on some really provoking matters. In particular, Willow's reaction to Miss Mercana's revelations. Though Willow is no divine being, she is broadly a good person throughout the story and an alien to the wizarding world. Yet her shift in attitude to Miss Mercana, followed by her softening at her words shows that even if we don't like to admit it, we all have prejudices. How relevant her condition is to the story is yet to be seen from the reader p.o.v but in isolation I think there was some real literary substance to that exchange.

My bit of CC is that the unmasking of Lupin as a werewolf is considerably more dramatic. Obviously this scene owes something of a debt to it, and I think the fact we aren't overly invested in Mercana, and don't know her that well means some of the extra shock or interest that should be there isn't there.

She's a decent character on the page and I think she should maybe have been incorporated into the story more frequently across the 22 previous chapters.

This is almost a script, and I really like that. The chapter is plot essentially, but you disguise it through dialogue and load us with enough information.

I think some more from Willow's specific p.o.v wouldnt go amiss in terms of interior monologue. I also would argue that the prophecy remains a little confusing - but maybe that's the point.

I also have enjoyed this bit of Willow's thought process:

Willow remembered back to that lesson with Mr. Puterschmidt. He had transfigured a book into what she thought was the most ugly looking rooster she’d ever seen. It didn’t have any feathers and where the chicken wings should have been looked like bat wings instead. Several students, upon seeing it yelled and covered their eyes. In their natural state, cockatrices turn people into stone with their gaze, but since the book wasn’t inherently magical and couldn’t turn people into stone, neither could the transfigured cockatrice.

SO - I definitely am still on track and happy to keep going. This was a really thoughtful chapter, and symbolises the gap between the fast pace of the previous chapters, and the re-acceleration (is that a word) to the end.

Some good stuff in here.

Nick

Author's Response: Nick

I'm really encouraged that I managed to pull off the scene with Willow and Mercana and also glad you were able to see through to the idea of the innate prejudice - especially from a nomaj point of view. Willow sees Mercana being something other than a 'person' now. You made a really good comment to incorporate Mercana more throughout. I think there are several places where I might replace a 'stock teacher' with Mercana to help make the reader build more connections. I could also incorporate her more into the Care of Magical Creatures Club.

Yes - Willow's interior monologue disappeared...it's actually because this is where I stopped when I was adding it into the story based on one of your comments from the beginning. I'll definitely add it back in when I edit the whole story in the coming months.

Glad also that you enjoyed the third exception to Gamp's Law. I think it's better here where it's directly applied than expounding on it ten or so chapters before when it actually happened.

Thanks for the review - and sorry it took me so long to get this response up - don't mistake my inattention for unappreciation.

-Drew


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Review #17, by NPE A Rare Condition

5th April 2016:
Hi Drew,

A very disciplined chapter that slickly kept the engine of the story going.

Though there was a gateway element to it, as if a bridge between more narratively substantial chapters, there was a lot here to like.

There was a reminder of the relationship between the muggle and magical world and how you have scrutinised and examined it. I think the fact the HP series was set in the 90s was sort of helpful in the interactions between wizards and witches. In many respects, with wi-fi and modern medical advances (quite a few since 1998 when the books ended) means the dynamic is different intrinsically. A segue I should point out is I am not sure I'd trade being a muggle for being a wizard these days, and being muggle-born would be so jarring. In willow's case, using a computer and typing with a keypad and using paper, but also going to school and using quills and looking after pseudodragons is quite an interesting juxtaposition.

You sort of explored this, and I think the dialogue at the beginning had a knowing humour about it I enjoyed. I also enjoyed the put down of MsMcCracken.

The revelations concerning the school's histry were lightly touched on, but I suppose adding heightened drama to it might have been a bit off and wonky.

Then the next "bit", "segment" as it were, with the sorting hat was really smart. I don't have much interest in Amrose to be honest, but the way you incorporated him with the device of the lesson was great. The lesson seemed very credible and magically backed up with both your invention and the canon.

The way Willow has developed autonomy has really impressed me, and her interactions with the hat were great. I think you told us enough but kept enough hidden with the legitimate explanation of the hat being used in a lesson.

I could tell I am invested in the story, as when I first read this chapter, her mother's use of the potion was frustrating. A breakthrough swallowed up by a clumsy muggle :) Though clearly, there is more at play here, and as usual she was pretty funny. My reaction when I read this first time was, "I guess we'll see where it goes."

The final section effectively uses the established characters and Incheon trying to get the group to where he was in his trail of thought was amusing. I love how they all thought he was hardly going to be in the know and barked up the wrong tree with such gusto whilst he tried to explain it was a werebear.

A werebear is an interesting concept, not new to fantasy but I think it could be a thought provoking one. Makes sense with Miss Mercana so your long development has made sense and I guess that is satisfying for you.

The last bit is very Rowling-esque in that I am interested in the characters and like the way you reflect on the day before engaging with dialogue sections.

So, I think this is all good evidence of how effective great foundation building is.

I always liked your story, but I think at the start you had to slowly move pieces in place and it didn't work all the time - but enough was there to pique my interest. I really liked it, and enjoyed the satire/tribute of it.

Now though, I am super engaged in the narrative. I think as I said before, this is my favourite part of your story, in that is so satisfyingly chugs along.

Occasionally, your descriptive terms read a little bland here, and I could have done with some more visceral detail.

Also I could say that in isolation, this chapter does seem to be a bridge between other chapters. It constitutes a lively section of a greater whole.

So, this is all very promising :)

Nick

Author's Response: Nick,

I'm glad that you're picking up on the satire I included about the limitations of the magic world that are addressed by modern technology. Although it's only my lack of cleverness that causes this odd situation. I've read several other stories where the author invented an 'iMagic Pad' to provide them with instant information. Why magicians couldn't have invented that a thousand years ago is beyond me.

At this point in writing the story, I had definitely switched gears to more action and revelation than exposition, so perhaps I did miss an opportunity to linger on the mystery a little more. We're getting close to the climax, so I'll read through it again to see whether there's more I can add here.

Unlike the Hogwarts sorting hat (which has character), Amrose is just a literary tool. I appreciate the positive comments about that scene. Like inventing the other three exceptions to Gamp's Law, figuring out that there's magic that can be dispelled and magic that cannot was pretty fun. The bonus is that it plays right into my storyline, so I can justify keeping it in the chapter.

The dispel potion was a very late add (meaning after I had already posted the entire story). I found a plot hole you could sail the Titanic through and literally bolted upright in the middle of the night thinking that I had completely messed up (even more noticeable than Pettigrew and the Marauder's Map - which you discovered but I completely missed.) After I figured out how to solve the problem, it ended up being one of my favorite parts. Anyway, plot hole plugged now.

Werebears - yes, another item borrowed from D&D, and yes - glad to know that it is an 'a-ha' moment for the reader too. There is a huge amount of foundation in this story...all leading up to the next seven chapters. All of the suspense and mystery that has been winding up for 22 chapters has to unwind...quickly. Knowing that you're invested in the story is great and means that I've done a good job developing the characters and the story... but I'm wondering if it's too much development and I'm losing readers before they ever get this far. I know for some readers, it's the length of the novel that prevents them from digging in. I know that if I do end up writing a follow-on to this that I'll have to get the action moving much quicker than I did with this one.

I apologize for the taupe descriptions...did I mention that descriptive and colorful prose kills me? Again...descriptive and colorful prose kills me.

Thanks for the reviews - and your patience. I'll tackle Chapter 16 of Rise this week.

-Drew


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Review #18, by NPE A Part of the Prophecy

1st April 2016:
Hi Drew,

So here with another review. Hope you're well.

Right, this segment we are in is in my view, the most interesting and well written part of the story as there is a momentum from former parts of the tale you have set up, yet there is still plenty of intrgiue left.

Stories are about timing sometimes, particularly stories with such a mystery element to them. On a broader note, I think it should be pointed out that you did a very good job with the orchestration of the entire piece. Which is why this chapter works.

On a cosmetic note, the spacing is a bit off in this chapter, sometimes there are three line gaps other times none and it isn't seuqnetual or implying another scene, it just appears there for some reason.

But that's a minor bit of CC.

On to the bits of this I really liked:

Ok - Willow has developed a real sense of agency. She was never a potato, but in the first few chapters she lacked defining character or narrative lines. Now however, I think there is a lot more to her and her investigative desires and consequent "leader" position in the group are coming to the fore here. Which I really like in all honesty.

The plot elements concerning the ghosts is really humorously played. One thing, I love this section...


“I wouldn’t,” said Lef. “We spend most of our time avoiding him. He’s fine as long as you don’t set him off.”


“What sets him off?” asked Lily.

“Talking to him.”

“I guess that might put a damper on our plans to ask him then,” said Incheon.

* However, is it an americanism to say damper, as I'd always say dampener.

Anyway that is a curiosity rather than CC.

The understanding of the prophecy and its inception into the tale strikes the line fine between homage and derivative but you carry it off really well and I like the revelations we have had so far from it. The idea of banning the Defence against the Dark Arts is both a bit creepy but also testament to a concept of fear about the prophecy.

The idea of salamanders lighting fires is a really cool mental image, though I imagine they all look like Pokemon Charmanders due to my diet of 90s television as a kid.

Furthermore, the confidence to set a dialogue set piece over a game of chess, which can be tricky, was really impressive and I thought the conversation felt natural, interesting but also necessary to the plot. There were no blind alleys, yet it also didnt feel forced.

I am always happy to see Mr Zolock return and enter the fray again, I think you have a really well written character there. In all honesty his interactions with the kids are always a highlight to me.

I have to say Incheon, though originally felt a bit too much like a Woody Allen character, has come into his own and I love this segment, it is funny and summarises him really well, in all his beahviours. Yet I couldn't put my finger on why I laughed so much:

“Why fake an illness when you can suffer through a real one?” said Incheon. “Here, I’ve been wanting to use these forever.” He pulled a small box from his bag and set it in front of Willow. She looked at the lid which labeled it as a ‘Skipping Snackbox’. “I got it from my brother for Christmas,” Incheon continued. “Luckily it wasn’t in my bag last week when the Chancellor pilfered all of my best stuff. It’s from Weasley’s. Do you want a terrible nosebleed, a raging fever, or uncontrollable vomiting?” He raised one eyebrow in expectation of Willow’s response.

The interactions with the kitchen workers at the end felt a little Twilight Zone, but I enjoyed the wird intrigue over where they came from and how it makes no sense. There is something off about this school.

Illvermorny is less attractive as a school to me than Hogwarts, and there is something very mephitic in the air. We'll see I suppose.

As for CC - The stuff about Indians in the school, from a continuity point of view, I don't get how it is such a revelation, maybe I missed something?

At times this chapter drifts into feeling a bit sequential with abrupt ends to various segments of the chapter. It does appear to be a sort of collection of bits at times. I do like that in some respects, but I got a little lost for a few lines midway through.

But I really am enjoying this part of the story. It is all paying off so well.

Thanks for agreeing ot the review swap. I hope Chapter 15 of Rise didn't overwhelm you with its length.

Best,

Nick

Author's Response: Nick,
Thanks for the review. I did have a problem on spacing in a few of my chapters - an odd effect of cutting and pasting from 'Pages' I suppose. I'll go back and edit it to fix the breaks, so thanks for pointing it out.

I'm a firm believer that leaders are made - not born - and are a product of their environment. I'm glad you are on-board with me developing her leadership slowly through the story.

Yes, 'putting a damper' on something is an Americanism... I have no idea where it comes from. Now that I know it's not a common expression, I'll think about changing it to something more universal: 'throws a wet blanket on', or maybe just 'ruins'. I have to keep reminding myself these are 12-year-olds.

I was also concerned about the 'prophecy' trope coming off as a rip-off. It was about this point in the writing of the story that I began thinking about the next one: what is the connection? How do I tie this story to something bigger that will develop in the next novel? I ended up deciding that the prophecy can carry me through. We'll see how that goes.

Salamanders in the fire? Yes - I'm a product of the world of Dungeons & Dragons (which is partly why I pilfered so much good stuff from there) which is all well before Ash and Pikachu.

Writing the chess scene was hard - it was originally just the chess scene and then the dialogue, but the game is just a 'set' piece (for comic effect) and doesn't have anything to do with the story, so I couldn't let it stand alone. I integrated in the dialogue, but I had no idea whether it would be easy to follow. It's a huge relief to see that it works.

Incheon... For me writing that section, it was the eyebrow raised in anticipation that had me laughing as I envisioned it.

As for the cc: You bring up a really good point about why the American Indians at the school would be so shocking to them...especially after their dream-visits from the Hunter. I can improve that section to clarify the key points - they didn't use wands; there is no record of American Indians at the school...ever; and they disappeared at the same time as the library fire.

Also, thanks for the cc regarding the flow of the chapter. Did I mention transitions kill me? Again...transitions kill me.

Thanks again,
-Drew


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Review #19, by SunshineDaisies Remedial Lessons

31st March 2016:
HOW IS IT ALMOST APRIL ALREADY

Goodness, I'm so sorry it took so long for me to get over here! It's been a crazy month and I have to be careful when I pull this up because I honestly am just so captivated by this story! I love the way the story is developing. You're doing an excellent job of pacing it so we're learning about the new mysteries at the same time Willow is, but you're also giving us some tidbits where we know more than Willow does. It's a really great way to keep the reader pulled in. I'm interested to know what is happening, but am invested because of the things I recognize from canon. The plot is certainly coming along nicely!

I realize that I just said the same thing like five times, but I don't have a ton to comment on! (And honestly I just want to keep reading before I review but I'm LATE for the review exchange and it makes me anxious.) (but now that I've got it done I'm going to keep reading :))

Author's Response: Katie,

Sorry I'm just getting to these responses now. I took a couple of weeks away from HPFF when RL came calling, but I'm back now. I mentioned that I would review the remainder of the chapters in your story and I've drafted the review for chapter 3 already, so my plan is to have the last few chapters reviewed and posted by next week.

Since this story is so different from most others on HPFF, I struggled to make as many connections between this story and the original series as I could (knowing that the setting, time, and characters would all be different). I'm glad to know that those canon connections are doing their job to keep you interested in the story.

Thanks so much for your review!

-Drew


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Review #20, by NPE Ashes

30th March 2016:
Hey Drew,

Weird to think eh, only nine chapters from the end of this tale now :)

Yeah so the story is hotting up. To use an utterly vacuous expression, that I am adopting to suggest there is some merry momentum at play here.

There is something refreshing in how much you cover in 2550 words. It is so tight and well structured that I am completely envious.

I enjoyed the detective element to this and how through their actions and agency you developed the plot. The dialogue is great it all feels really on point with the characters having distinctive voices.

Incheon has three (at least) great lines, and the uncertainty about Felicity and the seeing a blur in the corridor is really good story development.

The unusual behaviour of the head, and knowing he isn't on your side is a refreshing take. As is being overheard in class, I never get how Harry, Ron and Hermione got away with discussing their plans/life so easily.

The stuff with muggle kitchens is consistent with your developed canon and there is a good sense of intrigue.

I like how the chancellor and his discovery of them in the kitchen is swift. It feels jarring in a good way, just cutting from the door, to "busted", to him yelling at them in about 100 words.

That poor, abandoned sandwich. :(

I think in term of nut-and-bolts well old storytelling of a sequence with clear build up and a fun ending, this is great.

I might go as far as saying its my favourite chapter.

I have no CC.

Nick

Author's Response: Nick,
Thanks for the review. Just getting to responses now, but I appreciate the time you took to pull this one together.
When I wrote this chapter, I was actually struggling with how to get them to find what they were looking for on the first try - thinking it was 'too convenient', but I ended up going with it to keep the action, plot, and storyline moving. I'm glad to know it worked and didn't seem contrived.

Incheon has a few more good lines before the end of the story - I think you mention a few of them in the other reviews you put up. I've mentioned that I really enjoyed writing his character. If I ever write something for 'real', he's coming with me.

Also glad that the abrupt ending works for their time in the kitchen. It's actually Hendershot that busts them (not the Chancellor) - but I think that it would be better if it was the Chancellor...I should change that. (BTW, another reviewer mentioned that the 'Chancellor' reminds them of Emperor Palpatine and that they felt they shouldn't trust him...I'm definitely keeping it.)

In an earlier response to a chapter you appreciated very early on, I was apprehensive because I didn't think that it was my best work and that my better chapters (in my opinion) were further on. Well, we're here. I'm relieved to know that what I thought were good chapters are, in fact, good chapters.

-Drew


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Review #21, by marauderfan The Fifth House

26th March 2016:
A monkey's aunt. Haha.

What a difficult first sorting experience, just getting arbitrarily stuck in one of the houses. She must feel so lost and confused. At least it's nice that there were four of them and she wasn't the only one - but I did notice that the four were split up, one into each pre-existing house, so that they can't talk over it. Intentional? Which brings me to my next point:

I don't trust the Chancellor, mainly because due to his title I envision him looking like Emperor Palpatine and in the back of my mind I imagine he's trying to get the new students to join him in ruling the Empire? but maybe I'm judging him unfairly :P

And Felicity - ugh. I'm half expecting her to tell Willow that she CAN'T SIT WITH THEM and that on Wednesdays she wears pink. She's just awful. And also reminds me a lot of Draco Malfoy. "Oh my faaamous father gets me all these privileges and I can't believe you don't know who I am, nomaj." (Sidenote, the fact that Felicity simultaneously makes me think of Mean Girls and also Malfoy, is making me want to write an absurd crossover parody involving Malfoy meeting the girls from Mean Girls bc they're so alike :P okay, tangent over, I promise)

I do have one point of CC and it's quite particular:
the Asian boy with the unpronounceable name -- this struck me kind of oddly, because Willow literally just heard his name pronounced. I'd argue that many of the other student names are much stranger, anyway (like Oliver Q. Snipplewicket haha - that is about the most wizardy name you can get)

It's not even just Felicity, it seems to be ALL of Gryffindor house that's mean! How did they get so mean? They're all such awful bullies :( I do like that you're not sticking to the stereotype though. The Slytherins have been helpful and kind based on what we've seen of them, while the Gryffindors are all super into hazing. It's too bad she didn't end up in the fifth house, but maybe while she's a Gryffindor she can make some change in the terrible way things are done around there.

An interesting twist on things here. Great chapter!

Author's Response: Kristin,

It's interesting to read your perspective of everything that's going on. Of course I know all of the characters and exactly what their motivation is so how these same characters are perceived by the reader is really helpful. I won't spoil anything that's coming up, but your concerns about the Chancellor are not out of place.

Yes - Felicity Trueworthy: the girl with the 'good' name and bad attitude. She's Maleficent's opposite.

Great point on Mabeobsa's name. You're absolutely right - either I have to have Miss Mercana stumble over it or remove the comment. There's a couple mentions of this in the story so I can go back and fix it.

Thanks for the comment on the names. I had such a tough time creating them - I appreciate JK Rowling's gift for them much more now. I do have a few good ones scattered throughout like Oliver's.

The twist on the houses is intentional. One of the themes of this story is bullying and its many forms...but more on that later.

Thanks so much for coming back to read the story. I really appreciate your reviews and shoot me a PM if I can return the favor on a story of yours.

-Drew


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Review #22, by marauderfan The Sorting

26th March 2016:
:P You know, I really do have some things to do today but I can't just go do them now. You've introduced the fifth House! I'm so excited! I have to know more! If your goal was to write a thoroughly engaging, addicting story, you have succeeded sir. :P

The boat tradition at the beginning does seem a bit more involved than the Hogwarts one. As in, it's basically a theme park ride :P I pity the students who aren't fond of rollercoasters and things, who go through this first year ritual and are probably scared out of their skin! At least they do seem to have a pretty good sense of control over the boats (as opposed to Hogwarts - e.g. Dennis Creevey falling out and meeting the giant squid up close and personal) in that the students who fall out of the boats don't actually land in the water (imagine the suing that would happen) and the school trunks don't actually get wet despite being in the water.

I also want to give you major props for writing the full Sorting Hat song. So few people do that (because it's really difficult) and I love that you put 110% effort in there. And that this Sorting Hat has a name! It doesn't seem to be overly fond of Gryffindor though. I wonder why.

When Lef first mentioned she wanted to be in Slytherin, and I realized that the houses would be kept consistent, I was kind of sad as I'd really been hoping to see what the American houses would be called. But then with the story of the Sorting Hat coming as a gift from Scotland, and the idea that the founders of Ilvermorny may have modeled that wizarding school on Hogwarts, I can see it. After all, probably the #1 symbol of the USA is the Statue of Liberty, which was made by the French as a gift. So, you've gone with historical tradition there, and it works.

The fifth house! Why did the hat decide this was the year to bring it back? What's the story behind it? A story that's been hidden for a thousand years aaah this is so exciting and I can't wait.

Author's Response: Kristin,
Thanks for the review. The sorting hat song took forever (okay, maybe not forever - but it did take the better part of a week). I noticed that JK Rowling had Harry 'conveniently' miss the sorting in several of the books. After writing the song, I'm tempted to do the same thing if I continue this story. I'm glad the song worked. (Ilvermorny was not the name of the school when I wrote it, so I'm also glad I was able to change it easily.)

I was extremely tempted to create uniquely American houses (or no houses at all). I kept the Hogwarts ones for several reasons:
-At Pottermore and every other Harry Potter site, the first thing everyone does is sort themselves into one of the houses. Being a 'Puff, I wanted to find a way to be both an American and a 'Puff, so I had the original founders bring the houses with them.
-This story is different from almost everything else related to HPFF. I can't connect with any of the characters or the locations - so how do I give HPFF readers a connection to the original series? I decided that having the same houses could offer that link to the original series and make readers feel more comfortable about being in a different place, a different time and with different characters.
-The next release at Pottermore - which has the details of Ilvermorny - is probably going to kill this story, but it if it doesn't then I can change the houses to fit whatever Ms. Rowling releases.

It might take a while to answer all of your questions, but I promise all of them ARE answered in the end. I'm so glad the story is still engaging and thanks again for the great review.

-Drew


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Review #23, by marauderfan A Bumpy Ride

26th March 2016:
Heya! I'm back for some more of this story!

They start on September 4th! Thank you for this, actually, haha - it always annoyed me that Hogwarts starts EVERY YEAR on the 1st - like, what if that's a Saturday? So, tiny detail, but I loved it :P

I love the TARDIS Knight Bus! (Well, that's not what it's called, I'm sure - but I like it anyway.) It makes a lot of sense that America would have something akin to the Knight Bus to get to school. It can jump all over the place whereas if they used trains they'd need several, just because people would be coming great distances from all directions.

Poor Lef - I can see why she uses the nickname instead of the name Maleficent. It's like her parents are just asking for her to become a an expert in Dark Magic. I guess magical folk are the same either side of the pond in terms of the terrible choices they make in naming their children. Maleficent on one side, Albus Severus on the other :P

I like the boat tradition - similar but just different enough to make me wonder along with Willow what's about to happen! And I love that you included the reality of some obnoxious older students hazing the younger ones. Brings me back to the first day of seventh grade, haha.

Wait a moment, WATERFALL? This is a literal cliff hanger. Except they're about to go over the cliff! Great chapter - this is such a unique story and I'm really enjoying it!

Author's Response: Kristin,

Thanks for the review and I'm glad you're back!

I appreciate all of the positive feedback you left - yes, September 4th. Specifically September 4th, 2017. In working out the story, I used real calendar dates to figure out when everything happens. Having that 'real' background actually helped when I was writing the story to keep track of the days.

Boarding schools are pretty much gone here in the states, so I brainstormed how something like Ilvermorny would work here. I came up with the (multitude) of Knight busses to get everyone there. (Interesting comparison to TARDIS too...I didn't even think of that until now.)

I gave Lef an 'evil' name on purpose. I always thought it strange how you could tell a person's character from their name in the series (Lestrange, Goyle, Malfoy vs Lovegood, etc.). I wanted to have each character's name be completely independent of what kind of person they were.

Throughout this story, I struggled with what to keep the same and what to change relative to Hogwarts. I wanted to keep enough so that the reader familiar with the series could instantly connect with the school - but make it different enough to stay interesting. Also, the US borrows everything from other cultures, so it's not too far of a leap to have them emulating some of the traditions of Hogwarts, which their founders would have brought over when they came.

Thanks again for the great review!

-Drew


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Review #24, by NPE A Former Chancellor

22nd March 2016:
Hey Drew,

The momentum you have built up here is really remarkable. And from a macro-sense I am impressed with both the quality and direction you took this story in.

Some of the more Rowling-esque summaries appear here, and from a subjective viewpoint, it feels a little more referential than the previous chapter. Particularly the fact that they have sort of developed into detectives in the same way Harry, Ron and Hermione were across the original two books.

The whole anti-no maj element and the characterisation of Felicity, being talented but sneering is quite a good addition.

I also like the intrigue about the ghost and short lived Headmistress. Clearly some big event happened in 1764 and it is a healthy speculation that you have pushed the reader towards.

Always good to see the mother get a cameo. I loved her line about eating the dog, to the point my black humour wants it to happen.

Sally Bedford's relation to the oft neglected Hufflepuff House, and how she rose to prominence through it was really fascinating.

Nimmick is pretty imaginative as a concept and the dialogue/interplay between the characters remains at a high standard.

I can't think of specific CC here. Like with a lot of the chapters I have reviewed in this middle section, there isn't much critique I can offer that has a focus on your technical skills.

What I can say is that I think it is interesting to observe how densely weaved your story is becoming. This isn't a criticism at all but an observation I can now make from afar.

In the first ten or so chapters, if I had wanted I could have missed one and still picked up the tale. Now however, everything feels structured and weaved together into a story. That isn't a problem per se, it is a good thing, as everything is linked together and ha caught pace in the way it should. I just think it is worth noting the change, in a good way, read this chapter in isolation, the plot revelations would be gibberish to me. Now however, with the 17-18 chapters behind me it is nicely built up.

Ok, if I was being nitpicky, I think the stuff with Sib's brother possibly deserves more attention in the story. It seems pretty harrowing rather than funny.

But that's very subjective.

So I thought this was great.

Looking forward to reading more,

Nick

Author's Response: Nick,

Thanks for the positive feedback on the story. Just as I'm sure you are managing with Rise, keeping track of every clue, every character, and every plot/subplot/diversion was a very interesting challenge. As you've noticed, I spent the first 10-15 chapters building the story and introducing all of the pieces and then I had to start putting them together one by one before the end of the story. It was much more challenging than I ever thought it would be when I started writing. For every one plothole I covered, I'd quickly find two more that I had to fill.

This definitely turned into a mystery story at some point along the way - which is interesting because I don't typically like reading mysteries at all (with the exception of Mr. Holmes, of course), but it certainly ties back to Rowling here. Hopefully my 'tribute' doesn't devolve into 'hackneyed' as you continue.

Thanks for the praise on Willow's mom's black humor; NMMC (the idea for which is stolen from the National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland); and for the cheers on pulling in Hufflepuff. Being a 'Puff myself, I had to pay tribute somewhere, and Sally seemed a good person to do it.

Your comment on Sib's brother is right on - I hadn't intended it to be funny - merely an expansion of the bullying theme. I wanted to show that all of them were experiencing bullying of some kind or another from all different directions - Willow from her house; Lef from other houses; Sib from his brother; etc. It's one of the things that drives them together. Maybe I should elaborate on that a bit more to help make that point clear.

Thanks for the review. I've read Chapter 14 and I plan on writing up the review tomorrow night.

-Drew


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Review #25, by Felpata Lupin Ilvermorny

20th March 2016:
Hi, Drew!
I'm on a reviewing spreed today, so I thought I'd stop by (should've come back here a while ago, actually... well, better late than never...)

Wow! Ilvermorny seems so cool! I want to go there!!! (I suppose Hogwarts would be more practical for me, though... Or maybe there is a wizardry school somewhere in Italy? Why didn't I ever receive a letter?)

Anyway... I loved this! Your descriptions were just wonderful!!! And I loved how you handled Willow's mum shock and everything else! So very believable!

A stroke of genius that you brought in a muggle (erm... I meant normay...) parent to help them accept the incredible new reality. I love it!

And Willow had been magically combing her hair for years and never said anything to anyone? Aww... poor girl... I loved the last scene, where her mum hugs her like that! That, too, is such a natural and relatable reaction!!!

I absolutely need to keep reading... It might take a while, but I'll be back here, promise! Keep up the wonderful work, this story is amazing!!!

Lots of love, honey!
Chiara

Author's Response: Chiara,
Thanks so much for the return visit and the wonderful review.

It was fun imagining how Ilvermorny would be...what things would be similar to Hogwarts and what would be different. Of course, this will only last until Pottermore releases their own version of what Ilvermorny is like - then I'll have to go back and completely revise this if I want to stay canon.

There has to be a wizarding school somewhere over there...after all, there are wizards and witches in Italy - how would you get trained? Homeschooling?

This chapter was the origin of the entire novel and was the first one I wrote. I imagined what it would be like to experience this for real...if my own daughter were to get a letter from a magic school - how would I react to it? I would think that any magic school would also have to work to convince the nomaj parents that this is for real and a nomaj parent of another student seemed a perfect ambassador.

I'm so glad that you liked it and that the story continues to work. One of the challenges I had was writing how an 11-year-old girl would think and act (having never been one myself - surprise!) and I'm glad to know that it seems natural and believable so far.

Thanks again for reading and reviewing!

-Drew


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