Hey Laura! Here for our swap (and this incredible story).
So that first scene... Tom Riddle is so very creepy, oh my goodness. I had a feeling Tom was the one to come into the shop when it was closed--though I had little clue as to why he would or that Eileen Prince was somehow associated with him, but you soon explained that power dynamic. Ugh. Seeing the power he has over Eileen leaves a very bad taste in my mouth, which is only a testament to your excellent writing. Oh, and I feel like I should add that your description in this first scene is breathtaking--but so is that suspense behind Tom Riddle's power of manipulation. It's all so, so good.
The tension between Adelaide and Abraxas is so fierce in this next scene. It's never easy when a family member is dying, and it can be so frustrating trying to spend some quality time with them while at the same time trying to move on with your own life... You create such a complex dynamic between Adelaide (who I assume is the second wife here) and Abraxas. I'm curious to know more about this letter she receives at the beginning and to whom she's writing, but I'd wager that this will be revealed in due course... ;)
Ahhh, we've finally arrived at a very canon moment: Tom Riddle's employment at Borgin and Burke's. Once again, you display his manipulative powers brilliantly. It's so realistic, too--my skin was crawling by the end of it. I'm wondering how many Horcruxes Tom has and what is plans are to build this movement that eventually grows into a war... but right now, I'm going to appreciate his "humble" beginnings as a shop boy... and watch him grow in power...
And once again, that last scene, breath taking... the tension between the cousins, goodness me. And Cygnus is married to Druella aleady! Heavens, this is becoming more and more complicated as the story goes on. The world you're creating is incredibly vivid and interconnected, and I am here for it. I still have so many questions, there's so much suspense, and I am here for all of it! Another amazing chapter!
Hey Laura! Here for our swap :)
So, I absolutely loved this first chapter -- it's so immersive and intriguing!
Your protagonist, Tom Riddle, is instantly compelling. I love the way you introduce him, the contrast between the chaos of the ship and the controlled collectedness of Tom, and the contrast between his neat, youthful exterior and his chilling thoughts: "He felt his lip start to curl; so long being surrounded by ineptitude, by worthless, talentless lives, trapped in the same place for hour after hour -- his patience was frayed, singed." Such a great line! And his interactions with other characters -- with the officer on the docks, with Cygnus -- are so well done. He's a skilled actor and manipulator, but there's a snake lurking behind his eyes, and it comes out in flashes of hidden rage.
Eileen and Adelaide are both intriguing as well, and excellent foils for Tom. Eileen might be my favourite with her morbid, menial job, her (apparent?) submissiveness, and her flashes of self-loathing. I'm intrigued about why she's working at a funeral parlour, who the handsome stranger is, and what if anything is up with her legs. And Adelaide is so tragic, too young to be shut up in that mausoleum of a house with a dying husband.
Finally, it must be said that the writing is excellent -- your images are vivid and novel, and your scenes are richly immersive. Some of my favourite bits: the comparison of the sounds of the ship to the tuning of an orchestra; of the crack of Tom apparating to a nut being broken; of the coiling of Eileen's embarrassment and loathing to that of twins in the womb. This fabulous line: "On the bed, Tom breathed, a long drag of the cigarette on the inhale and a fine, long spill of smoke on the exhale, like white-gray ink into water, before he handed it back." And this other fabulous line: "Sometimes, she thought nothing could be worse than this: having a husband who was dying, always dying, endlessly dying, but who did not seem like he would ever die." I'm not sure I have anything insightful to say here -- your writing is beautiful, but it doesn't draw attention to itself in a way that detracts from the story.
Amazing work, and thanks for the swap! Yes, let's do this again soon :D
LAST POSTED CHAPTER! I’m Ready to do this but I’m not ready for this to be the end of what I can read, ack :(( But I should review this chapter before I get ahead of myself, so -!
Okay, so it really shouldn’t be any kind of surprise at this point that I really loved this chapter. I think I have really loved all the chapters so far -- maybe this one’s a little sweeter because I’m fully caught up, who knows :P But there’s this whole mood you have created so evocatively of things coming together, little threads of events being picked up and followed. When Hepzibah Smith introduced her treasures to Tom -- ! Goodness, I got shivers. Because we know what’s going to happen, but you pull the anticipation out like sticky taffy and it’s just as delicious. Your descriptions of that entire scene are, as always, absolutely gorgeous -- I loved in particular “a flutter of coquetry” and Tom’s reaction was SO evocative -- “scrub until it was red and raw to the touch, rough and aching and clean again.” [ chef kiss ]
Ugh, your descriptions of Adelaide’s grief is so visceral, I feel so bad for her :( She’s going through a Lot right now, that much is clear. You’re tackling the subject so delicately -- he wanted it, he was suffering, maybe this is better, but there’s still so much grief and pain there, and you capture all of that entire mess of emotions so well, aah. “It rang through her head, the noise, a sunbeam through storm-clouds” i am SADDENED! What is it with you and putting all your characters through the absolute wringer, Laura?? XD Adelaide, and Eileen as well -- she’s so nervous, so awkward even as she is trying to treat herself around people who pose no threat to her :( I just want to pick her up and wrap her in bubble wrap, or something. And Tobias :( he was looking for her :(
So many emotions, and Tom is behind so many of them! You really have to take a step back to look at how he’s truly the driving force behind the entire story, but he really is. He’s so prickly with the three Blacks -- I love the dynamic you have painted between them all, the lazy sniping way they are all kind of casually at each others’ throats, gosh. I REALLY love the line “sloshing wildly like a storm-tossed wine-light sea, gold-white and thin”. And “the same kind of crook...which made Cygnus beg and writhe like he was being tortured” is so DELIGHTFULLY terrible, I adore it.
And -- oh gosh, I’m so torn about who murdered Mother. Now I am thinking -- Orion? He is certainly acting suspicious -- that line about deserving it, about making it an execution, that seems almost like the kind of self-justification that comes after the deed, no? “The sharp, high splotch of a drunken anger pasting itself over Orion's face, shamed and secretive” certainly doesn’t help his case -- all that’s left is a reason, I don’t know why he’d do it. Ugh, it was either Tom and Cygnus together or Orion, and the fact that I am flip-flopping so hard on this only serves to underline your prowess here, so hats off to you XD
This was magnificent, Laura, as always! Gorgeously atmospheric and wonderfully written. I shall, as always, wait with bated breath for your next chapter ❤
Hello again Laura! I am here yet again to yell but further, as you probably expected :P
First things first, really: Oh No, Eileen?! (Insert Come On Eileen Refrain) She’s under so much strain, it’s not entirely a surprise that something would snap -- or hanging around Tom is having terribly adverse impacts on her state of mind, both possibilities which seem perfectly legitimate to me. Or possibly the Imperius? Only she seems to feel far too strongly for that… Something is definitely leaking out of her, and Saunders seemed to feel it -- God, I feel like I am just repeating “I am nervous” at you but oh GOSH I am nervous DX She’s on the way to Doing Something and I am dreadfully afraid of what Something is.
And Tom’s plans are -- finally starting to come to fruition? Maybe? Or at least one of them? :P He’s definitely juggling a few, but this seems like a rousing success on his part. And Dolohov following him instead of going to Rollin -- ack, but that’s chilling. Tom’s reaction to Cygnus also gives me pause -- I’d thought that it was Cygnus who killed his mother, before, but now I am almost suspecting that Tom did it? Or at least that he’s right in some unwanted way -- “something pinched about the way Cygnus could only breathe in stilted, thudding draws” is beautiful description and deeply uneasy in my chest. I still think that Cygnus had a hand in it, but -- I am too impressionable, and you are too good at casting doubt on everyone and everything :P
Oh, Adelaide ;-; I am surprised that she had his permission to do this, because somehow I was not expecting that, but it just makes everything sadder. Her devastation comes across so well -- the whole situation is so heartbreaking, but you have just added these perfect little touches that make my chest hurt. The way that she wears her prettiest dress for him! Everything is the last thing! Oh gosh, I’m so sad. And Jophiel is the one to do the deed -- what? What?? Another link, the web thickens, etc. I am so curious as to what role he plays -- he seems almost ever-present but ever-mysterious at the same time.
This chapter is full of good stuff, thank you Laura ;-; Can't wait to keep on reading!!
HELLO AGAIN, LAURA -- back again for chapter eight! And oh boy is this a Chapter, let me say that :P
Tom is just so -- so everything, holy carp. Just growing and growing in sacriness, really! So the Knights of Walpurgis are an organisation all in their own -- Tom’s indignation and resentment at not being included shine through so well and definitely do not mean good things for them, ack. The way that he pressures Dolohov, the way that he causes a man to turn against his friends -- ! I’m extremely shook. And the way he flips like a coin is almost as scary -- from pressuring Dolohov one moment to kissing Cygnus the next, utterly changed. You write Tom Riddle is at once totally different from the man we see in the series, who is -- well, he’s not at the height of his power but he’s pretty close to it, and this Tom is someone I can totally buy as someone who becomes that. I don’t know if that makes any sense at all, but -- I love your Tom, is what I’m saying. And he’s very scary.
Adelaide has so much going on, oh no v_v The tension is building up unbearably, I almost wish that she would just Do The Thing so it would be over -- which, I think, is probably a compliment to you and your very well-done torturously slow pace. I am Anguished DX And then -- to make things even more tangled Dolohov did say that Lycus was one of the Knights of Walpurgis, so I wonder how that’s going to impact Adelaide’s plan? So many questions, Laura DX
In fact it seems like everyone has a lot going on :P I really, really love how you write the Black family dynamic -- the way they care, but almost tentatively, stepping around it instead of admitting it. They circle around each other so deliciously, it’s very [chef kiss] just very good, in my opinion. The description of Alphard’s hedonistic trip around the world -- “tasting tipples and nipples” -- made me cackle.
But then. But then, of course, Walburga. That smooth well-oiled dynamic between the Black men seems suddenly much more sinister, the way that they all back each other up so easily, and possibly everyone in that room knows the truth, only some know more than others. I didn’t think I’d ever be feeling sorry for Walburga Black, but -- looks like your writing can do any number of things, because here we are :P The way that she is now, though, she seems like such a loose cannon! My teeth are already a little on edge as to how she’s going to proceed, what she’s going to end up doing.
Oh gosh, Tom and Eileen -- ! What’s he doing, what’s he making her do! The hopelessness she feels comes through so clearly, you get me to sympathise so strongly :( She follows him so blindly and I am so terribly intrigued. Are they looking for the poison in Cygnus’s mother’s body? Is this something that Cygnus has kept from Tom?? Oh NO, I am extremely nervous about this, Laura!
So much is happening in this chapter and I’m so nervous about all of it! I think this review is a little longer than normal because of it, ack. I shall most assuredly be reading on.
You shall get no points for correctly guessing who’s back :P
And oh nooooo, but we’re starting on another terrible note for poor Eileen ;-; Your descriptions of her and her fear are so gorgeous, so VIVID -- the image of something “translucent and light, on the back of her neck” is so shivery-gorgeous, as is “frosting over like a garden gnome” which makes me gently want to cry. Poor Eileen ;-; It does make me wonder why she gave up her magic, though, when she wants it so much now. I hope Tom doesn’t get her into too much trouble (but who am I to hope v_v)
Tom’s really getting around, between Eileen and Cygnus and his family and Borgin -- so he’s stolen the hand, but, but, but. Why. What’s he getting at. I don’t trust himmm. Something else I found really interesting was how Eileen saw Tom and Cygnus -- as equals, essentially, the two of them occupying each other instead of Tom being occupied with Cygnus. And she does seem like she would know about that kind of thing -- that she has a basic sort of knowledge about Tom, at least. It’s so interesting to think about how I started out thinking it was such an uneven relationship and now it’s -- not that, anymore! Interesting
Oh gosh, you write Adelaide so well -- her grief and her desperation comes across so well, and I’m so nervous as to what she’s going to try and do. That quiet resolve at the end makes me more nervous that anything that had come before DX Why must you do this to us, Laura DX
So Cygnus did kill his mother?? Oh gosh, what the hell, Laura? :P The more that you reveal to us about the Black family and their dynamics the more I Need to know about them. I’m happy to see Alphard make an appearance, since here is someone I can like now without feeling bad for what they’re going to do in the future xD I’m very curious to see what happens to Orion -- what do these terrible people have in mind, and will it succeed. Important questions! I await the answers impatiently, so expect me back very soon :’)
Hey again Laura! Guess who :P
And oh NO, immediately starting off on a bad note here! Is that -- is that Hepzibah Smith? Is that Hepzibah Smith? Laura, I’m so DX about this entire set up. Oh gosh. I’m SURE she will find him more satisfactory, argh. His descriptions of what are, uh, essentially vivisection are extremely beautiful, and I don’t know how I feel about that! I’m going to screech! You have reduced me to this and I’m angry about it (except for how I’m really, really not. Hmph).
Aw, Eileen is so down on herself v_v Poor girl. And -- I mean, I would be glad about Tobias cheering her up just a little, except for the fact that I know how that goes and I feel like I can’t be glad about this! I want her to get away and restart her life somewhere else ;-; Surely she could make another go of it v_v
I feel like I have so many Oh Noes for this chapter, good lord. Adelaide definitely doesn’t...seem like she’s in a good place right now! In fact I would venture so far as to say she seems like she is in a downright terrible place, emotionally and mentally! Her plan with regards to Lycus is not going to end well, I can see it ;-;
And, well -- I can’t say I know exactly what is happening in Cygnus’s section but I really cannot think it means any good, either. Jophiel seems so dangerous, such a loose cannon because I absolutely have no clue what he wants, from Cygnus or from Eileen. All I know is Cygnus has likely poisoned his mother (?) and Blacks don’t owe favours, both of which seem like very foreboding things to know!
Even when you are keeping me confused you are keeping me reeled right into the story, absolutely fascinated with what’s happening and what’s going to happen. I’m sure you know by now to expect me back very presently :P
I’m back again to bother you, hello Laura :D
I am SO CONCERNED for Eileen here, good lord. So her hiding is so very hidden as to hide her magic even from herself! That seems like an extreme, and yet with the letter -- it seems like a sensible extreme to go to! Which is horrible! The way that she thinks feels so indicative of something that she’s gone through -- how knocking on the door makes her jump, how she’s always wrong. Your descriptions of the flowers are so gorgeous, and that only makes the impact of the letter worse, argh ;-; I don’t know whether this is a threat from someone else for talking to Tom or a threat from Tom not to talk to anyone else, but either way I am HIGHLY unhappy and wish to thwap the sender on the nose.
The conversation between Tom and Rollin was so foreboding, good lord. And the poor rabbit! Why, Laura, why. That rabbit never did anything to you. Tom’s control over other people is so noticeable even in small conversations like this, and I can’t help but wonder whether he’s the serial killer. HE SEEMS THE TYPE, IS ALL, but his later attempts to dig up information seem to refute that. Unless, possibly, he is trying to get a gauge on how much people know about him? Everything is so twisted and my brain is spitting out possibilities like rain xD His possessiveness over Cygnus is also very interesting to me -- perhaps he can care, in his own way. He certainly seems touchy enough about it :P
And oh, Adelaide. Oh no, Adelaide. Her plan seems -- well, from what I can gather she wants to kill Lycus and then bring him back to life, which seems -- I try not to judge, but that seems unwise, on her part! Seems like a slightly foolish thing to do, I will say! I am dreadfully afraid that she’s writing to Tom, which seems even worse! Oh no, Adelaide DX
Things are ramping up! You are spooling tension liberally all through this story and I am breathlessly excited to see where things go from here.
Hey hey again! I shall have to think of new ways to greet you soon :P It’s only chapter 4 and my brain is running out of steam, it just wants to Yell. And who am I to disagree ?
I loooooved Adelaide’s section in this chapter, sdgksdgjksd. She’s holding a lot inside her, that’s for sure -- I really enjoyed the bitterness of her reflections, the way she tamps down so ruthlessly on the almost-resentment that comes when her husband doesn’t ask after her but a little bit just leaks through anyway. And her conversation with Antonin is amazing! They’re dancing around each other so carefully, I am SO into this. Little coded words and barbed remarks are just. Yes. I’m very very here for this :’)
And ack, you capture the atmosphere of the whole party so perfectly, as well -- Cygnus watching Tom command the room, Tom slowly wrapping everyone at the party around his finger. The toast to the Knights of Walpurgis was so chilling -- that brief moment of almost-realisation, of almost thinking about what they’re doing, and then the raucous cheer. And Tom has gotten what he wanted: he’s their king. It’s very quietly scary, that much I will say, and that’s even without the sinister little undertones you’ve got in the final section about who the Knights of Walpurgis might have been, historically or mythologically. If Tom is so interested in them -- I’m with Druella, they can’t have been much good :(
Oh nooo, Tobias Snape makes an appearance v_v Eileen thinks that everything has gone wrong but yet more will be wrong as she gets to know him and I’m sad about it. I am curious as to what exactly has already gone wrong, though - something about this section and the next tells me that Jophiel doesn’t exactly have Eileen’s best interests at heart, hm =/ I’m so curious to see what he’s up to, to see how his story is going to intersect with Druella’s -- and by extension, I suppose, with Cygnus and possibly Tom, too. This is what I mean when I say that you are so good at intertwining stories, aaahhh.
This chapter just ramps up the intrigue, ack. I look forward to reading the next ones!!
OH GOSH, LAURA, this chapter is SO -- [screeches]
Ack, I have to take a moment and calm down so that I don’t just spill all my thoughts right here and shove them at you, but -- this chapter is such a masterwork in slowly bringing together once-disparate pieces of a puzzle, slowly pulling your characters from the edge of the web to reveal that they are all connected or growing connected to each other in strange and perfect ways. The plot thickens!
Druella and Cygnus’s relationship was unexpectedly very nice -- I’m glad that they have something that works for them. Or rather, I suppose I’m glad that they have an understanding and that they seem to get along well -- I don’t know whether I can responsibly be glad for their arrangement because it does rather leave Cygnus vulnerable to the not-so-tender mercies of Tom :P
Ohh, more of Tom’s plans (or more elements of his one, large plan) are coming to light. You’ve really gotten his scumminess down so well, ha, I love how much plain contempt he has for these people who think they’re his friends. And the way he talks to Adelaide -- oh gosh, they’ve finally met and I don’t think this means very good things for poor Adelaide. She’s already in a bad place, I can’t imagine how much opportunity Tom sees in her -- and as he himself points out earlier, he’s a man who has conquered death. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this particular relationship goes [eyes emoji]
Aww, Eileen just wants to live her life in peace and now here she has two guys coming in and messing her life up. At least they’re both handsome? :P I love the little seeds you’ve planted at the beginning of this chapter and the end of the last one mentioning a Little Boots -- I got this delightful little thrill when he gave his name, like Ah, Yes, I’ve Been Waiting For You!
As I guess you have already gathered, I am extremely a fan of this chapter -- I can’t wait to see where all of this is going. Your writing, as always, is amazingly evocative and all-around wonderful, and I am happily along for this ride.
Hey hey Laura! Back again, because I couldn’t keep away xD
Goshhh, Tom’s really in his element in this story, isn’t he? I don’t know what he’s planning at all, besides the immortality that we know from the books, but he’s definitely got something brewing in his brain and I Need to know what it is. He’s so terrifyingly capable as he carries it all out, as well -- poor Eileen just can’t seem to refuse him, and that job interview can’t have lasted more than a few minutes.
Not to mention his relationship with Cygnus, again! Which probably deserves a whole paragraph on its own, so that’s what I’m giving it -- you’ve just shown so effectively how powerful Tom is in the relationship, the way that he toys with Cygnus. And I know that Cygnus says he and his brother grew apart in Hogwarts, but you (or I, at least) can’t help but think that Tom is probably at least somewhat to blame for that, with those little comments he made about Orion -- he doesn’t understand, he means nothing. He’s isolating Cygnus from his family so effectively, ack. Your Tom is shiver-inducing for sure (and not entirely in the fun way) (maybe a little bit in the fun way; Cygnus certainly seems to think so).
But I can’t ignore the ladies in this chapter! I’ve already mentioned that I’m concerned for Eileen, but she does at least seem to know what Tom’s doing, so I’m really interested to see their dynamic going forward! And Adelaide is...still hard to get a read on 8D I certainly get that sense of fatigue from her, that old retreading of the same argument a million times, but I can’t quite rule out Abraxas’s genuine-seeming concern for his father, how convinced he is that Adelaide is up to something. Whatever the case, I can’t wait to see how all these stories unfold and intersect, so onto the next chapter!
Laura! I have been meaning to drop by your AP for AGES now, and so I’m finally here -- and what better way to reintroduce myself than by reviewing the long WIP hanging out at the top of the page? Never let it be said that I make things easy for myself :P
Argh, you know how much I love your description and that has absolutely not changed, let me tell you. Gosh, but you introduce all your characters -- them, their world, their emotions -- so well and so vividly it seems as though I could be there. Emotions coiling in Eileen’s stomach like twins in the womb is [ scream ] :’) And your descriptions feel so wry, sometimes! I love the images of “miserable sunlight” and “helpfully dying” in particular, gosh.
You’ve written just enough of each character to feel like a proper introduction into their various lives and situations but not nearly enough to satisfy! I really enjoyed seeing Eileen making a small sort of life for herself in a place that deals in death, and the relationship between Cygnus and Tom was so vivid and makes me feel so sorry for Cygnus because Tom is just so in control it’s not even funny -- and of course, you’ve captured Tom perfectly, his careful preciseness and the way he never lets himself go. And all this is not to mention the fact that I’m already exceedingly nervous for Adelaide Macmillan and why she thinks she needs a letter of insurance, eek.
It’s definitely a good thing you’ve got a multitude of chapters up :P Three (?) intersecting storylines seems like an ambitious undertaking, and I’d certainly be scared to try it, but if anyone could do it I have faith it’d be you :’) I can’t wait to see how these characters interact and play with each other. I am SO keen to read on!
Laura! Here for our swap! I've had my eye on this story for a while, so I am thrilled to have a reason to be held accountable in reading and reviewing this FANTASTICALLY written story!
This is such an incredible opening chapter, introducing your characters with such depth and description. Your description is truly wonderful. How do you do it? Seriously. You have this way of painting the scene without it being spoon fed to the reader. You weave together images that all of a sudden come together into one, cohesive scene. You also have your characters interact with their surroundings--which only adds to the beautifully written description. Hats off to you, Laura!
Plotwise, I am so intrigued. A funeral parlor and then a dying husband--two interesting predicaments for what I assume will be your main female characters. And then Tom Riddle... wow. I've heard wonderful things about how you write Tom Riddle (even got to read about it during the House Cup opener, if you remember), but I am absoltuely floored. He is amazingly complex, and the way he thinks about things is chilling: being surrounded by his fellow travelers (talentless--so harsh, but so accurate to his character) and then with Cygnus (a foothold--well, I suppose so, and it's interesting that Cygnus is Bellatrix's father, so I wonder what happens there. It's so thorny and twisted, and I'm here for that!).
This is such a great chapter. I will continue reading it (though if you want to help me out, feel free to request in my review thread and/or pose more swaps with me and/or nag me until I'm caught up--whichever is easiest for you, lol). Thanks for the swap and I will be back sooooooon for more of your writing!
Hi, Laura! Here for our swap! Sorry if I'm a bit late...
I need to start from the end because... Alphard! :D I'm so excited to see him entering the cast... :P And I'm liking him already, he seems funny and easygoing (just as I like to imagine him) and it's refreshing to see that he and Cygnus have a loving relationship! (Looks like the same can't be said of Walburga... and I'm not particularly surprised... although, I would be interested in seeing your take on her, too...)
Oh, Merlin! When Alphard said those things to Tom... he doesn't know who he's dealing with, does he? I loved the way you wrote Tom's reaction. Really, your Tom is incredible and perfect and I don't know how you are so great at writing him... (well, you are great at writing in general, but we've gone over this so many times already...)
Back to the start... Eileen... the poor girl is in deep trouble, is she not? I feel so bad for her, she seems so uncertain and scared all the time... I was a bit shocked when she addressed Tom as "My lord", I didn't realize she was into it that much already... I didn't realize Tom had already that kind of control on people in general, actually... but I probably should have.
He didn't smile, didn't frown, but there was an edge in the way he sat, purposefully draped into the chair, hands splayed at the ends of the armrests, loose and relaxed and the tell-tale sign of the lie.
She knew what it meant, this kind of languid emotionless; she had seen it before.
Tom Riddle was furious.
This paragraph! This is once again so perfect Tom Riddle! And the way he got angry when she "implied" that he needed her help... so, so good! I'm wondering what exactly he wants from her, though... breaking into a grave? Whose grave? And what does she need the dead hand for? Once again, so typical Tom for stealing from Borgin, btw... the way he just stayed there while Borgin searched for it... I bet Borgin would be so incredibly frustrated, ahahah. I wonder if he does have any suspect... but probably not...
Adelaide... whatever you are planning to do, reconsider it! It's not good, it can't lead to anything good, and you know it! But I doubt she's going to listen, is she? I feel bad for her, but also... I dislike her a little... and I'm worried about her and her plans... but also, I'm so curious to know what's going to happen now...
As usual, I have so many questions and I can't wait for some answers.., we'll need to swap again, so I can uncover more of these mysteries (I had no idea I'd fallen so behind with this?)
Thank you so much for the swap, it was lovely, as usual!
so eileen purposely vanished after she finished hogwarts into the muggle world – i find that so strange because obviously, she doesn't have any real issue with using magic…so i'm definitely curious as to why exactly she wanted to disappear. and she knows tom from her hogwarts days – she's both afraid of him (why? i sit just his unnerving presence…or something else? it seems as if something might've happened in the past that would cause her to be afraid) and at the same time she seems to…like him? in a weird way, i guess :o i mean, she wants to look good in fron of him (but she fails as that) and all, so it makes me think she likes him but i might be wrong. i also think it’s wild how tom knew snape’s mother (in what way though?) that it gives a whole new level of intrigue as to how snape was so enamoured with the dark arts and how he followed voldemort. eileen was never able to fight him? why did she need to :o
adelaide is a very intriguing character – who is she writing all these letters to? how does abraxas even know what she does? (do the house elves tell him?) his worry about lycus is touching – i wouldn’t have expected it, i’m not sure why, but he does seem to care about him (not so much about adelaide but really…she could’ve written – does she have a good reason not to?).
i adore tom…you just have a way with writing him – i don’t even know what to say. the way he strolls into borgin and burke’s and just doesn’t even blink twice before basically telling burke he’s going to work for him was a great scene. for some reason i found it even creepier and more ominous than when he visited eileen and we saw that from her POV and how flustered and/or afraid she felt.
i almost managed to forget that cygnus is the eventual father of Bellatrix, andromeda and narcissa and actually has a wife because he’s so entwined with tom – i’m not sure if i’d call it love but on cyguns’ part it definitely seems like infatuation that the whole thing makes it hard to think of him being with anyone else besides tom. he’s definitely another fascinating character – he seems like…idk, something out of a dorian gray novel (i’m not sure where i got that but eh).
your writing is beautiful, as always, and i can’t get enough of it *_*
I’m here for our review swap! I know it’s been a little bit since I’ve been to your AP and I was excited to see what new treasures you’ve written! This story immediately caught my eye because of the characters listed and the summary. I was furthered joyed to see that it had 9 chapters posted!
The start of this was such a tease. I got just enough of each character to know vaguely what was going on and who they were, but I still very much want more. I suppose I’ll just have to keep reading.
I think my favorite section was Tom’s. I feel like you wrote him so brilliantly. The manipulative way he uses his relationship with Cygnus is so perfect. He is a narcissist through and through and you illustrated that flawlessly. It’s sadder still because I think deep down Cygnus knows that Tom has no true affection for him, but he still feels compelled to want him.
Ooh. I’m really curious about Eileen Prince. I love the idea of her working in a muggle funeral parlor and I’m so curious to see how she develops as a character. I hope we’ll get to learn more about what drove her away from the magic world.
And Adelaide seems very strong and determined. I don’t quite know what’s going on with her yet, but I’m glad she’s got that letter as insurance just in case.
As always, your description is breath taking. You have such a way with words that you really paint complete images. I can always imagine the scenes in great detail, which makes your stories all the more enjoyable. Seriously, could you write a tutorial on how to write description and post it on the forums?
Beautiful start! I’ll certainly be back to read more soon.
Hi, Laura! I'm here for our swap.
Always, always, always I find myself in awe of the lush, descriptive, evocative, beautiful style of your writing. It isn't enough to say that the way you cast a scene is fabulous. The very way that you use language is so unique and expressive. You create this amazing feel for the reader that is more than just the product of the words you've chosen. It's a matter of style and structure and... I just run out of words to describe it. Amazing talent.
I'm accustomed to your pitch-perfect Tom Riddle from Antebellum, so it was no surprise to find him elegantly captured here. I love the exacting manner in which he carries himself and the way that he chooses every action and every word, no matter how small, for maximum impact. This is a man who is capable of anything. This is the man who would become Lord Voldemort. His standards are such that nothing less than absolute power and control would ever suffice.
Next we find Eileen Prince, eking out her lowly existence after leaving her family behind. It wasn't a long scene, but the way she's subjugated to her obnoxious boss already feels like you're setting the stage for how she winds up married to the alcoholic, abusive Tobias Snape. Poor dear spent her entire life trying to get away from something, whether it was her family or her subsistence life on her own. I see that she's using magic, but not openly. And I'm left to wonder whether that was Tobias arriving at the end of her scene.
I know there are many who would find Tom's relationship with Cygnus surprising. Not necessarily the fact that it's a same-sex relationship, but more the fact that Tom is essentially bartering that relationship for Cygnus's patronage. Honestly, I don't find anything surprising about it. The longer you read, the more it's apparent that Tom is in complete control of the situation. He toys with Cygnus's emotions, casually but precisely. He's constantly giving up just enough to keep Cygnus enthralled while withholding the ultimate prize of his undivided affection. It's masterful, both in how Tom is playing it and in how you're writing it.
Adelaide is a little more of a mystery, at least in this first chapter. The others all have a known place in the wider tale of Harry Potter's magical world. Adelaide is something new and original. It's impossible to know how she and her dying husband will fit in. Will she wind up in the funeral parlor where Eileen works? That would seem a logical way to bring disparate threads of the story together, but I suppose we will see. For now, she seems to willingly suffer her gilded prison and play the role of the devoted widow-to-be.
As I was reading, I noticed a couple of things that might be typos:
"Eileen!" she heard her boss shouting, gruff and raw as it always was, as she finished up sniping the last of the flower stems -- snipping the last of the flower stems?
It spoke of want and jealous, of a control he had handed to Tom on a silver platter, willingly and wantonly. -- jealousy?
Otherwise, as I keep saying, splendid writing. Nice job! Looking forward to our next swap!
I'm here for our swap!
I read this chapter when you first posted so it's interesting to come back to it. Your description has always been amazing, there is no doubt about that. I really love the way that you use your description though, it's not just there as interesting or 'pretty' padding but you use every single word to create your narrative.
I thought the first scene was perfect at setting the scene for the stranger's arrival. I loved the contrast that you created between the craziness of the docks and the stillness of the man. I think it is really effective to build the mystery around the character. I love a lot of questions and my interest is really peak very early on in the story. It's a really good hook into the main body of the story.
I've taken an liking to Eileen. I found something about her very endearing in this scene. It is hard to know currently how everything fits into the plot but I think this chapter introduces characters very well. You paint your characters in such an vivid light and they all seem to get their own introduction which doesn't feel rushed. there is chance to appreciate them in their own right. It doesn't feel cluttered as a first chapter. it's neat little scenes but everything has a great flow to it. I'm looking forward to see more Eileen and finding out more about her personal situation. You always leave me wanting to know more.
I thought the scene between Tom and Cygnus was insane. All your description is completely exquisite but my favourite within this chapter is your description of their smoking. It just added so much mood into the scene. I thought you did just a wonderful job with the dialogue, there wasn't much but it was all really important. You've captured Tom's personality perfectly here. He is cruel and cold but enigmatic - his relationship with Cygnus is packed with tension. There is so much sub-context between the two. I'm interested to know why Tom needs him.
I'm in awe of how you managed to much some of the worse things seems so beautiful, reading your writing is like a masterclass in description. It's all so very beautiful no matter the subject. I remember you saying that Adelaide was your first major OC. From her introduction, she's going to be an amazing character because you've given her such a complex thought process that she already seems like such a layered character from just this short scene. I'm sure her development is going to be interesting.
such a wonderful meaty and vivid opening chapter!
- Abbi xo
well, let's just say that from merely reading a summary for this story it got me inspired to make a banner for it so i absolutely had to start reading it :D (i'm also just going to randomly throw in that you're basically perfect at writing summaries! and thinking up titles! and everything!)
okay so the chapter titles are roman emperors - i have to know the symbolism behind it?
i'm sure you get this a lot but your descriptions are AMAZING AND WONDERFUL and you should totally get published :o i mean, if you wanted to of course. but did i mention your writing is beautiful? i could gush about how good it is in this entire review :o
i love your description of tom - it's perfectly dark, his thoughts about the worthless lives around him spot on as is his whole characterisation. the little flicker of danger that quickly disappears and the (fake) politeness and charm just reminds me so much of the tom we saw in half blood prince. i'm always amazed at people who manage to write canon characters so well and not go OOC with them, it's truly impressive, especially with such complex people like tom riddle/voldy or snape or dumbles. and then when he's irritated with Cygnus for laughing at him - that's just the true tom riddle in those thoughts and i loved reading him (is that weird? loving to read about a psychopath's/sociopath's thoughts? but you write him so well....i can't help myself haha). and Cygnus is slowly dying? but i adore the way you write about how tom is using him, playing the long game, enduring the irritation that cygnus might cause him, all for his own purpose. and how he enjoys the control he has over cygnus - it's amazing how many things you manage to tell and imply in just a couple of sentences of them together.
eileen prince living a muggle life and working in a funeral home has me intrigued! why did she leave the wizarding world? obviously she still uses magic so it's only a matter of where she's working and living :o
adelaide is certainly a devoted wife - being quarantined with her husband and caring for him must be difficult. i had a hard time even reading about her surroundings and the way she took care of lycus. and who is she writing to?
okay so this first chapter has me asking all sorts of questions and also just staring in amazement at what i just read. i don't know how you do it, but your writing is exceptional. i'm really interested to see how these three characters - tom, eileen and adelaide come together in the story, to see their connections. i'm definitely coming back to read more!
Hi Laura! Here for our review swap – so sorry for the wait.
I’ve read the first three chapters of this before, and I remember thinking I couldn’t get enough of your prose – I could re-read the same chapter a million times and still appreciate every word on it. Coming back to it now, months after I first discovered this, it remains as beautiful and fresh as ever, and I can never tire of the way you build up a scene so meticulously. Not only do you painstakingly describe small details in a way that the scene is vividly built up, but your style of writing matches the pace or intensity of the scene itself, and this is so apparent in your first paragraph. I love how the long sentences and the verbs filled in the paragraph build up that sort of hurried feel, and there’s this fast-paced rhythm present throughout it that I absolutely adore.
And then it sort of slows down – the chaos is still present, but in the background, and there’s this whole mysterious air around your introduction of Tom, his appearance a stark contrast to his surroundings. The transition is so beautiful and effortless, I am in awe already, and we’re still just at the beginning of your chapter.
The way you describe Tom taking in his surroundings and feeling “his lip start to curl; so long being surrounded by ineptitude, by worthless, talentless lives, trapped in the same place for hour after hour - his patience was frayed, singed. He held his face impassive, though –“ is just… perfect. Omg. In two lines you managed to convey his sense of elitism, his condescension of other people and his own self-awareness. There’s so much intrigue built up here, I love it. Another thing that stood out to be was his composure, and the way he maintained this perfect image when his stuff was being checked, but then we get a glimpse of his more sinister side breaking through. “a flash of something amused and malevolent, dangerous, skittering across his face.” I love the way you reveal these little details which add to character development so much in such a subtle manner, like you’re sharing this secret with the reader in between an otherwise normal scene. I don’t know if that makes sense? Basically, your writing’s amazing and I fail at putting my awe into words. :P
Full disclosure: sometimes my attention wanders when there are long chapters with a bunch of new characters and description-heavy writing as well. It’s hard for me to keep track of names and what’s happening to each character. But I don’t face that problem with your writing – which is saying a lot, I’m honestly terrible – because like I said earlier, you have a knack of bringing in all these little details that build up characters into their own unique individuals. In Scene II, I love how we get to see more of the characters who are at play, and actually delve into their lives, form a sort of connection to them because of their personality quirks. Like Mr. Simmons trying to seem impressive when someone rich came around, treating Eileen in a harsh manner in the process. And Eileen being used to this kind of behaviour, knowing what to expect when his tone is such. It also shows us the class privilege and mindset that’s in play as well.
Laura, only you can make things like losing limbs sound beautiful.
“the horrible irony of it never failed to escape her: designing funerals for survivors.” The perfection of your writing never fails to escape me. Please teach me your ways.
I also love that you don’t need to mention Tom’s name at all but it’s so apparent that he’s the mysterious stranger. I mean, who else can cause such a reaction in Eileen?
Descriptions!!! <3 <3 <3 I love the heavy, mysterious air that’s built at the very start of Scene III and the way you introduce Tom/Cygnus with images like Cygnus’ lips and the rumpled sheets. I’m also in awe of the way you write dialogue – there’s so little dialogue but every line fits in perfectly, and holds so many layers of meaning. When Tom said “Instructive” it gave me goosebumps. Every time.
The way you brought in Tom’s cruelty and the grim nature of his visit to Europe through that description of his violence was such a contrast to his calm nature during this conversation, and shows us the various dimensions to his character, how far he’s come in his being able to control his outward emotions while manipulating a situation to fit his own purpose, how he’s able to hide his darker nature and put on this mask. Honestly, when I think of Tom in any context, the way you characterise him is all that comes to mind. He’s so, so perfect and I love him. (probably not how I should feel about Tom Riddle, but yeah :P) Tom/Cygnus is so twisted and filled with power plays and I want more.
Adelaide is another, super intriguing character. I love how you’ve introduced so many characters in this chapter while keeping them distinct from one another and I’m really curious to see how all the storylines intersect and what the bigger picture is. Adelaide brings up so many questions – who is she writing this letter to? Why is there this sense of uneasiness and foreboding? I also love the thoughts she has about her husband always dying, but never actually dying. The resentment and frustration she feels, combined with her despair of not knowing what to think, along with her reminiscing the past when he was healthy and handsome – the complexity of emotions you’ve explored through her character in just this single scene amazing and so real. She’s a character I definitely want to know more about.
Laura, gosh. How do you write like this? You somehow strike the exact balance between plot elements and stunning descriptions, and the flow in this chapter is impeccable. It’s what I’d expect from someone who’s planned out every single bit of the story in depth and is really getting into the heart of the characters after tearing them apart and putting them together. and (unless I’m mistaken) I know you haven’t really planned this out so much so howww do you write like this? This is such an incredible first chapter, honestly, I love it so much and I can’t wait to catch up on the rest of this fic.
Thank you so much for the swap and for getting me back to reading this gorgeous piece of art. <3
Hello Laura! Back for chapter two :)
I know you’re mostly asking about content here, but I can’t get past this paragraph without quoting something already - ‘the spires and juts of distant buildings’ I just love this. It’s a fairly simple description, but something about the word choice just hits all the pleasure centers in my brain.
Eileen Prince is such a fascinating character so far. All the glimpses we’re getting of her make me want to know more - why had she make herself untraceable after leaving Hogwarts? Was she hiding something--did she simply hate the Wizarding World? Does the reasoning tie into the awful childhood Snape experience? There’s a lot to wonder.
I’m on the edge of my seat during this entire scene with Tom and Eileen. I never considered that he may have known Snape’s mother at all, but they’d have been at school concurrently!
He is incredibly creepy in this scene, thoroughly feeling like the idea I have of him around this time before he’d fully scrapped his identity as Tom Riddle. ‘snake-like and lazy’ is good! It gives the impression that a part of him may already be missing and he’s well on his way to losing his humanity. I’ve got no idea what designs he has in store for her, but I’m excited to find out.
Oh my, I love this sentence about the letter - ‘thought that it wouldn’t be so flimsy, so small, so easy to misplace’ what an interesting observation to even think of!
Adelaide is difficult to get a read on. I can’t tell how much of what she tells Abraxas is the truth and how much is a product of her own benefit. He seems incredibly suspicious of her, and the callback to the weight of the letter when he calls out her constant owling is masterful. I am not so sure of what will become of this section of the story, but I really enjoy the suspense it provides as of now. Abraxas is one of the stronger personalities we’ve been introduced to yet.
You asked about the Borgin & Burke’s scene and it just happens to be the best scene so far in the story. Not only did the description of the shop literally immediately take me there, but Tom’s insistence that he can get anything he wants is chilling and in many ways true. I’m incredibly drawn to the idea of a book on blood magic he’s taken from a site of ruin. There’s an entire hook for another story in that one little aside.
There’s a great knot in my stomach after reading the couple of paragraphs on Vurenau, I’m not sure what to say. ‘columns of carved sandstone and Romanesque façades faintly visible if only you looked closely’ What in the world, where do you pull these things from! These locations you think of are so vivid in my mind, it’s as if I’ve visited them. I’d do pretty much anything to write that way.
Tom fantasizing about relegating Grindelwald to the back pages of history!! Oh my god, I love it. Of course he’d find himself in competition with him, of course.
Very much a perfect scene. To say the least, it fits.
Cygnus and Orion’s relationship is so very tense, giving the impression of a good number of years of distrust going both ways. It was ridiculously shocking that Cygnus skipped his own mother’s funeral, and I can only imagine what sort of things had to happen for him to be so cavalier about it. He doesn’t seem to hold anyone in his family in high esteem, including his wife.
Which, also, Cygnus has a wife! And yet here’s Tom. And also Tom was kind of mechanically flirting with Eileen before. He’s just digging his claws in everywhere he can. The ending dialogue is just amazing, and made even more so by the subtext we inevitably understand when it comes to Tom and the way he manipulates people. I love that we get to see it from the point of view of someone who is actively being used by him and can’t seem to pick up on it. Such interesting framing of interactions in this chapter--and the pace is certainly not too slow because I think I could bask in these stories this way, unconnected for quite a long while. I do think I’m beginning to see where they will eventually come together though, and I’m excited to see how you pull it off. I really just love this so much. Thank you for your request, I will be back before long!
Hello Laura, I’m so excited to be reading your work again. Here for your requested review of course!
I see that your prose is as beautiful as ever. (you’ve possibly even sharpened it somehow) You didn’t specifically ask for my opinion on the writing itself, but oh my. There’s just.. I don’t know how you do it. This reads like a published work that’s gone through like a hundred editors. It’d take me forever to even write just the first paragraph.
Onto the things you actually asked about, I do think the structure of the chapter works really well! I liked how you split up the perspectives and I also liked the ways you found to introduce us to which characters we’re following in each. That’s always the thing that trips me up about multiple pov chapters--I always find it difficult to differentiate them enough and not leave the reader a little lost as to who they’re following. It’s consistently crystal clear here though.
The plot had me hooked immediately even though this is mostly an introductory chapter. I’m in awe of the descriptions to start the chapter--I was able to tell who the character was just through the way you set the scene and wrote his appearance and manner. This is such a cinematic scene, and the way you describe the surroundings always draws me into even the simplest of actions. Just going through customs becomes gripping when you word it this way - ‘a flash of something amused and malevolent, dangerous, skittering across his face in the second the officer was looking elsewhere.’ - it builds him up to be hiding something sinister and establishs him as someone to keep an eye on in the span of one sentence. It’s the sort of sentence with utility enough to pull you into the plot effortlessly.
The scene of Eileen at her workplace is very good as well. I’ve no clue how she ties into things yet, but you’ve painted Mr. Simmons in a very vivid light, I feel that I know him quite well already despite only spending a small portion of the chapter with him. I think the identity of the person that asks her for help at the end of her section will end up being pretty important so I’m excited to see where that goes!
Tom’s extremely cold relationship with Cygnus is absolutely stunning so far. There is enough subtext here to last a long time, with the way he addresses him in that tone you get the idea that he’s got something in this for him. Some reason to be here. I think this is going to end up causing quite a bit of trouble for everyone involved. He keeps reminding himself of how useful Cygnus is and I am dying to know what that use will turn out to be.
Adelaide is just amazing! You’ve done an excellent job of introducing us to who she is and filling us in on her backstory quickly. I’d love to know what she wrote down in that letter, she seems really nervous about the whole thing. I don’t know what to make of it just yet!
To sum things up - I thought you introduced the characters and plot really well, and there was a good balance between those things and the gorgeous description you always offer. The plot hasn’t fully taken shape, but you’ve laid the groundwork for it and it is certainly interesting and makes you want to come back and find out how these seemingly unconnected people belong in the same story. Really great work, really. You know I’m a big fan :) Please request the rest of this because I am eager to see where you go with this mystery!
Hello once more! Another review rescued from the Nifflers! Hooray!
Ooh! Where there’s a murderer, there’s a murder mystery! At least, I hope there is a murder mystery. I was waiting for someone to be gruesomely murdered the entire chapter, but alas! No one dropped dead. Perhaps next chapter!
This was a wonderful introduction to your ensemble cast for this story, in my opinion. I got a good idea of who the likely major players in the story are going to be. It felt a lot like the prologue, rather than chapter one! I also thought it was an interesting choice to keep the first chapter about the characters, rather than the plot – unless there was heaps of hints about the plot that I completely missed, and will only make sense when I reread the finished piece? This leads me to believe that the story is going to be more character-driven, than plot-driven, about which I am really excited. Your ensemble cast has got my interest piqued. I am especially curious to see what the nefarious Tom Riddle is going to get up to. I love the idea of him being such a wonderfully manipulative sociopath, using his social skills and understanding of people around him to his utmost advantage. (I hope he isn’t the murdered. I’d love to see Tom have some competition in the serial killer category!)
I eagerly await the first appearance of a murder – and the accompanying murderer! (I may be too enamoured with the idea of this being a murder mystery. If I am wrong about this, OH WELL. I am still enthusiastic to see where this story goes.)
Hi Laura, so sorry this is a v short review from my phone at the airport haha, but just wanted to leave at least something! As always, your descriptions are incredible and so tangible nd I am in love with them. I have to point out this one:
'the word dropped into the air between them, heavy and laden with contempt - it sizzled. If there were anything more on it, any more scorn or condescension or disappointment slathered onto it, Cygnus rather thought it would have dripped onto the carpet, like oil from a lamp' --- This is amazing
Also I love the way you write Tom Riddle. His... interview, for lack of a better word haha, was so perfectly done, how he is calm and so in control and the tactic he used would work for absolutely no other people ever, but it's almost /easy/ for him to get this job just by saying that he will have the job. Also Tom/cygnus what an interesting pair, love it. I wonder if Cygnus has any idea he's just being used - I get the feeling that the idea has occurred to him but he just doesn't allow himself to think about it, pushes that out of his mind bc it's easier for him to believe that Tom is being genuine.
This is super good so far <3
Wow, that opening paragraph!! Your description is lovely, especially comparing the panic to orchestral noises. It builds tension and I can practically hear those discordant violin notes. Brilliant!
I loved this too: "...weakly bright, miserably sunny in the way that only British weather can be." The fact that you chose this setting, versus lashing rain, etc., that we usually associate with dramatic scenes involving a ship, adds a very realistic touch. It's also more of that lovely discord that we see in the introduction.
I don't know if this was intentional or not, but the fact that this scene takes place with what appear to be immigrants of some kind is very nicely done, especially in today's political climate. Tom clearly has a distaste for Muggles and non-Purebloods--again, I could totally be grasping at straws here, but the parallel is a nice touch.
Also I LOVE "with a crack like a nut being broken." How many times have we read descriptions of Apparating? Yet this one rings totally unique.
I cannot pick a favorite scene here. Eileen in the funeral home (I think?) was lovely, and the part where she wishes she was pretty--for some reason I'm 100% picturing Saiorse Ronan here, even though she is beautiful--and I cannot help but like this character. But then the scene with Tom and Cygnus, and in particular Tom stretching out his arm and feeling the tendons extend infinitely--wow. And Cygnus being so naive here, really. I see why this won an award for the best description!
"...the sweat that clustered there, beads gathered in a mockery of jewelled bracelets..." STOP IT. Your descriptions are insane! And the greenhouse, ripe with orange blossoms and moss and humidity, so lovely. I like how the two scenes with women feature so heavily flora and greenery and life, amidst everything.
This is so so SO well done, I wish I had more constructive criticism to give, but it's just very well written. I'm hooked!