Hi Abby! Here for our swap!
I've really missed this story and your writing, so I'm really pleased I got a chance to come back to it. Although, ugh, the first part of this chapter with Marlene's family broke my heart, because I remembered about halfway through the fluffiness and love that they're all destined to be killed along with Marlene, too, and now I'm really, really sad.
And that reminder is also making me wonder about the inclusion of the note and the wedding invitation... the way that the description beneath them is written, of how/where they were found, has made me think that they're possessions of Marlene's that someone has come across when they're going through her things after she's been killed. I don't know who it might be that's organising them yet, since the people we've seen in this chapter will probably also all end up dead, but if that is the case it's making me even more sad about why such a wonderful, vibrant character like Marlene has to be killed.
But for all my sadness about what's facing Marlene and her family in the future, I loved the opening section of this chapter... I loved how defensive Marlene was of Agnes and how ready she was to fight on behalf of her sister to make sure that their family knew she wouldn't be on her own dealing with the baby. And she's a lot quicker to jump in than Agnes feels the need to - I really loved the way that you portrayed her here as the protective older sister. Although I'm glad that she doesn't need to be like that, and that their family have accepted there'll be a new addition and are willing to support Agnes with it. Not everyone is that lucky when they spring news like that on their parents.
I also loved the way that you portrayed the family dynamic here, with the conversation flowing so naturally onto a different topic, returning to one of those old stories that keep coming up. I think people (I know I certainly do) often forget to include dialogue like that but it makes the dynamics so much more realistic and believable.
The fact that Marlene is the same person in every aspect of her life is kind of amazing, too. She's such an inspiring woman, someone who's not afraid to be who she is regardless of who she's with and whether they like it. That's so brave and impressive, and even though I have the feeling it could get her into trouble, sooner rather than later, I have to admire her for it.
Marlene getting up in the middle of the night to work on secret Order business is so in character for her, too - she never stops fighting, and that's kind of amazing, but I imagine it's going to become tiring at points for her too.
The scene at the Ministry... ugh. I thought that Rita Skeeter was going to be the worst thing that she'd encounter at that event, but the fact that Travers is there and he's getting a promotion as well is awful. She shouldn't have to live with that trauma and relive it all the time, but I'm so impressed with her response, wanting to do something about it to stop someone like that gaining power that he can abuse - she can't change what's happened to her, but she can try and stop it from happening to someone else, and that's really strong and brave.
I like that she's got Gideon to go to with something like this, and despite her passion and determination, I'm worried that he's actually right. I can completely understand why she wants to do something about Travers, and why she wants to do it now, but I kind of worry that something's going to go wrong if she acts to rashly and quickly. I hope I'm wrong on that one, but I'm looking forward to seeing what she manages to achieve against Travers, if anything, in the next chapter!
hey abby, i'm here for our review swap!
i know the whole situation with agnes being pregnant and the father of her child being dead isn’t particularly funny but i laughed out loud at marlene and agnes’ mum exclaiming how it’s ‘rather permanent now’ :P
marlene is such a wonderful sister – i’m sure i already said this but she is, i love that part of her personality. i know i would literally do anything for my brother (he’s older than i am but i often act like marlene and come to his defence when our own parents decide to badger him about his life choices such as not marrying or not having kids…) and i always enjoy reading about sibling love and protection. and their whole family is awesome with her parents and grandmother being surprised (obviously and understandably) but like…there’s no way they would let agnes down!
i felt so furious that travers was getting promoted and that not even gideon thought there was a chance for them to stop it, to do something…it’s like he thinks marlene isn’t right and always finds excuses not to do things. i understand her fury and panic and anger – i have no idea how she could even stand to see him and then when she goes to someone who she thinks will help her, she’s only met with…idk even what. excuses. so what if he’s a powerful pureblood?! he’s still a rapist and a death eater and people need to know, marlene obviously needs to do this thing for her own sake and sanity and gideon needs to man up and help her. the order…i’m doubtful they’d be interested? i mean, they would but they’d probably think it’s too risky…argh. so very frustrating!
but obviously a great chapter *_*
Helloooo Abby! I'm here (a little late - I'm sorry!) for our swap! I was excited to have an excuse to R&R more of this story.
I have to confess, I got all excited about the wedding invitation at the opening of the chapter, and I was hoping that we were going to get to a Jily wedding from Marlene's perspective. But alas, it was not to be. Although maybe in a later chapter? *eyes emoji*
Jily wedding or no Jily wedding, this was another really great chapter. You've created a really dynamic and wonderful character with your interpretation of Marlene. She's awesome! And I love that she is flawed, and that other characters see those flaws (i.e. she's very hot-headed and somewhat righteous, and clearly irritates Agnes with it), because it just makes for a much more real character.
The whole first half, with Marlene and her family, gave me the warm and fuzzies! The affection and love they all have for each other shone through really clearly to me. Also Marlene's Gran reminded me a bit of my granny, so extra warm and fuzzies there! Plus with the description of how she snuck to the library, the sense of safety and being home was communicated really well.
Her sneaking in the middle of the night to go work on stuff for the Order felt very in-character for her and was a great moment.
Ugh, the second half of this chapter is so well done, but also really upsetting. You captured Marlene's panic super well and I could feel her desperation (to get out of there without being seen, and to prevent Travers from being promoted) just rolling off the screen. I'm seriously so impressed with how well and how strongly you captured those really difficult emotions. Great work you! The scene with Gideon was so frustrating - he had some good points but I just wanted him to say they could try or that there was a solution! So I could really feel and sympathize with her frustration in that scene.
Great work, Abby! I hope there'll be a new chapter sometime soon? (No pressure though haha)
Thanks for the swap!
Hi Abby! Here for our swap, and because the first chapter of this was so intriguing that I was all too excited to come back for the second one.
So, because I’m predictable and absolute Jily trash, I looooooved that this chapter started with their wedding invitation? Are we going to get to see their wedding at some point in this fic? Because I’m 100% here for that.
Anyways, the McKinnon family is great. There’s a lot of tension at first, but it all dissolves relatively quickly - although Marlene really does have a tendency to jump the gun at times, doesn’t she? I just thought it was funny that she got massively defensive when it wasn’t actually warranted - no one had actually said they weren’t going to be involved in raising the baby, and she immediately went down that avenue. (I am exactly like Marlene in the sense that I get defensive way too quickly - it’s kind of weird/fun to see that trait in a character you’re reading about, because I’m much more ‘oh, you don’t need to react that strongly just yet’ when I’m *not* the one directly involved in the situation.)
But I love their family dynamics - the whole argument about goat vs. lamb (and the nice Aberforth reference in there, lol) was gold, and I really like how you’ve written all of them.
“Wasn’t the point of journalism to hold the government accountable? If the government had a say in what was and wasn’t published… where was the accountability?” *screams for five years at this because GOD DO I FEEL THIS* The whole point of having a free media is that you’re able to criticise the government without fear of rebuke, and it’s supposed to foster greater transparency between the government and the governed. When the people in power start taking down the people publishing the truth about them - either by altering their stories from the inside and turning them to a glorified propaganda machine, or by starting a whole thing about the news being ‘fake’ and creating your own ‘alternative facts.’ *steps off soapbox* Ahem. Anyways, Marlene’s doing great work by exposing this.
Lol, the note from Agnes is a nice funny little interjection here. And I love that Marlene held onto it and used it as a bookmark.
So this whole Improper Use of Magic party is a disaster. Because first, there’s Rita, who’s already obnoxious as hell and, as always, has the exact *wrong* opinion on things, but then there’s Travers. I knew he was going to make a reappearance at some point, but Marlene’s exactly right in that putting him in a position of power within the Improper Use of Magic office gives him a whole lot of power to cover up crimes and generally allow Death Eater activity to face fewer consequences than it should. And I don’t blame her for immediately getting out of there - given the events from her chapter in AWP, it’s entirely fair that she’d want to get out of any situation where she could run into him again. No interaction she’s had with him has gone well, really.
I admire her desire to stop Travers from getting the promotion - it’s definitely going to be a massive abuse of power and a dangerous scenario if he gets the promotion, but at the same time, she’s definitely demonstrating that same trait from earlier where she jumps the gun a bit? Like, Gideon’s just trying to help her figure out the details (which once again, I’m basically Marlene, I know how annoying this is when someone’s trying to deal with the minute when all you can think about is the big picture and taking action as soon as possible), and her reaction is just to assume that he’s entirely unwilling to help and declare that she’ll do it on her own. And that’s probably a little too rash? Gideon would definitely be a helpful person to have on her team, and the details he wants to know are kind of essential ones if she actually wants to stop this. God, this chapter is just turning into a giant ‘wow, so this is what people must think of me’ revelation, lol.
But she’s also really emotional right now, and frustrated, and I can understand why she immediately pushes him away when he doesn’t immediately jump on board with her exact plan. But hopefully she’ll cool down in a little bit and realise that she *does* need to think things through and that Gideon *could* actually be a valuable asset? I suppose we’ll see in the next chapter!
A brilliant second chapter, Abby - thank you for enduring this weird ramblyreview in which I yelled about political journalism for a hot minute and had a few introspective ‘jesus why am I like this’ moments. <3
Abby! I have finally arrived with your requested review! :) I really loved Marlene's character in A Woman's Place, so I'm very interested to see you develop it further in this fic.
The mixture of narrative and various articles/journal entries/etc. is really cool, and definitely gives the reader a broader perspective on things. And I love that you led with the journal entry that gives the piece its name; it's always fun to see where stories draw their titles from, and that childhood journal entry of Marlene's - and how the symbolism relates to her life now - is a great one. (Also #relatable on the whole 'cringing at past writing' stuff. I think we've all been there, lol.)
And then the funeral, which kind of ties in the things we know about Marlene from her chapter in A Woman's Place. I thought it was really interesting that you placed so much emphasis on the roses - and on the senses in general here. I think it works well; it's different from some of the later sections, but Marlene's also in a different mindset, and she doesn't care much for actually interacting with anyone else. Instead, she's just observing things, and her senses are heightened as a result.
The end of this section is a zinger if there ever were one - "The people at Jane's funeral shouldn't have been scared of the dead but of the living." That's just delightfully profound and I love it.
The scene starting in Marlene's room was kind of a fun way to explore her character a little more - get to know some of her habits and whatnot - before the thing with Agnes. But also, on my second read-through, it struck me that "Focus. Focus on the present." kind of serves as Marlene's mantra to herself whenever she starts to think back to that night with Travers. I feel like having that steadying phrase (or something else that feels familiar and repetitive) is a common way to cope with trauma, and while it's rarely enough to completely banish the memory, it does help put things in perspective - as it did for Marlene here.
I love the side of her that we've seen with Agnes here - between A Woman's Place and Actual Magic, we've seen a lot of Marlene's more outspoken, indignant side, but I really appreciate this glance into just how loyal she is to her sister and supporting Agnes' decisions and helping her raise the baby. (But also, this has now made me realise that the whole McKinnon family being murdered a few years down the line now quite possibly includes Agnes and her baby, and that is.... already massively heartbreaking to think about.)
But then we're back to super-fired-up Marlene, and I love her like that as well. She's definitely not afraid to speak her mind, and I appreciate that about her. The fact that the Prophet is purposefully twisting the story to make the Ministry look good is concerning, although not entirely surprising. From what we've seen in canon, the Prophet does often act like a propaganda machine for the Ministry (book five, anyone?) so it's wholly unsurprising that the same sort of thing was happening during the first war. But the work that Marlene is doing for the Order by collecting original articles and seeing what was edited out is impossibly valuable - there's so much more to a war than just the physical fighting, and public opinion can play such a significant role in how these things play out.
Also, good to know that Rita Skeeter was still a royal nightmare even in the 70s.
Anyways, I think you're off to a great start here, and I'm excited to see where the story goes from here! Thanks for requesting, Abby!
Abby! Hello! I'm here for our swap :D
HAH, Marlene's diary entry at the beginning is so relatable. That's how I feel when I look back at my old writing :'D And I thought it did a really good job of setting up Marlene's character.
The funeral scene was so poignant, and I thought your description of the scene and of Marlene's feelings was just amazing. I particularly liked the part where Marlene focused on the sounds around her in order to ground herself a bit, I thought that was really well-done. It also felt very true to life how you sort of... I'm not quite sure how to put it, but memories of Jane were interspersed with the present-day surroundings of the funeral.
The implications of what happened with the unnamed Death Eater are just chilling. And unfortunately a pretty common scenario. It's stomach-turning but I actually appreciate its inclusion. Plus the scene where Marlene was getting ready to go out and everything came rushing back to her because of the lip gloss was (again) really true to life and handled very well.
The relationship between Marlene and Agnes was absolutely wonderful, I loved reading them together and it was amazing how quickly and easily you were able to establish their sisterly bond! I also liked how that scene brought out the importance of their Scottish identity to both of them. I think we've talked about this before, but my family's Scottish, so I did feel a little spark of national pride hahahaha.
The last scene section was also great - I love Marlene's attitude! You've made her such a well-rounded character just in this one chapter, which is so impressive - and I have to say I really like her a lot!
(I wasn't expecting the inclusion of Rita Skeeter, but I thought it really worked. God I hate that woman lol.)
I really enjoyed reading this, Abby! Fantastic work, and thanks so much for the swap!
Hi, Abby! I'm here with your requested review! (And I'm sorry it's so late.)
This chapter gave me whiplash! It started out plesantly enough, with the wedding invitation and the comradery among the McKinnon family. It was warm and welcoming... and then came the second half. It got dark and dreary really fast, but I feel that it was important change. It was a fitting reminder that even when things seem to be going well, during a time of war, anything can change in an instant.
I really, really like the way you've written the McKinnons. While I understand Marlene being quick to defend Agnes, I do think she wasn't giving her family enough credit, as I think they just needed some to to process Agnes' news. I'm glad they're going to be there for Agnes. They seem like a tight-knit family over all, and are obviously all very close. Also, I love that they're arguing over something super minor that happened years ago; if that isn't a realistic depiction of the average family, then I don't know what is! :p The grandmother's concern for Marlene's well-being was very sweet, too.
Your description of Marlene's panic at the event (and later, at Gideon's place) was perfect. The idea of the room feeling as if it was tilting, the inability to breathe, the feelings of loss of control... it was completely characteristic of someone who's experienced some serious trauma. I... still have not yet had a chance to read Marlene's chapter of A Woman's Place yet (sorry! I'm so swamped! I'll get there eventually, I promise!), but given when the way Travers is described in this chapter, I can make some inferences about what happened to her. Assuming I'm correct, I can fully understand her panic at him being granted such a position of power, and her wanting to dive headfirst into stopping it.
Gideon seems like someone likeable. Perhaps it's the Ravenclaw in me, but I like his rational approach to the Travers thing. He's obviously just as concerned as Marlene, but he's right; solid evidence is necessary, and it wouldn't do to jump the gun and potentially make things even worse. Of course, Marlene wanting to solve it right. bloody. now. is classic Gryffindor, and especially considering her past with this particular individual, I can certainly understand why she's upset. I do hope she comes to an understanding of why Gideon was hesitant, though, once she's had a moment to cool down. I am concerned to where she's running off to, though, and what she plans to do in regards to the Travers situation. I just hope she thinks it through!
Also, I just need to take a moment to fangirl at the fact that Ron Weasley evidently has the same patronus as his uncle Gideon. XD I loved this little detail!
I'm beginning to wonder if you plan to take the canon route in regards to Marlene. We know she died during the war, along with the entire McKinnon family, and the way you're describing these random writings Marlene has crafted or collected (the wedding invitation, her diary entry in the last chapter, etc.) makes it seem like they're being found by someone piecing together her life. But, it could also be someone finding them as they're investigating her for something, which is equally unsettling. Or I could be completely off on this one. Who knows?! :p Either way, I look forward to finding out!
Hey hey, here for our swap! I love Marlene's character, even though she's woefully underdeveloped in canon, so I couldn't pass up the chance to read a novel focused on her :P
And considering the community here I'm pretty sure that you started off on just about the most relatable note ever -- I'm pretty sure we can all relate to having written little stories ages ago that we were self-inserts in, and that make us cringe heavily now, ha. I really love your Marlene and her diary-writing -- her wistful, uncertain tone when she talks about the eagle is so vivid, and I really like the attachment of the image of an eagle to Marlene, because it seems to fit her really well. You've done a really good job introducing her character in this chapter, even -- especially? -- for those of us who haven't read her chapter in the AWP collection (and now want to, but that's for another time).
Aw naw, Jane ;-; Again, you've really hit hard with Marlene's grief here, and then gone and hit her again with the car crash -- everything has to happen all at once, argh. War's a bad time, but Marlene and Agnes are going to get through it together. I really love the bond you've drawn between them. Marlene's a good sister and she's going to be a good aunt, I'm Emotional ;-;
And finally, I really really loved the portrayal of Marlene's job, the rejection of her article and hard work -- not that it happened, obviously, but it's such a good reminder that wars don't have to be fought physically. Misinformation is such a powerful tool, and the suppressing of information is a huge part of that. I'm really interested to see how Marlene's going to combat this going forward, because she certainly doesn't seem like the kind of person to take it lying down :')
This chapter was such good set-up, both of character and of plot -- I really enjoyed reading! Thanks so much for the swap
so little marlene who writes stories and self-inserts is adorable. i think it’s awesome to see that ever since she was young, she’s been writing and that it continued on into adulthood. i guess it’s something a lot of us who write fanfics can relate to as well. the description of the eagle and the feelings it awakens in marlene really show her character – she wants to be free, she envies the eagle its freedom. it sums up marlene perfectly, i think, at least from what i’ve read about her so far in a woman’s place and actual magic.
oh wow, so it’s jane’s funeral – the girl marlene first liked and that travers caught her with :/ did she live as a muggle (her government career is mentioned) or was that “job” just her way of camouflaging her true nature? it’s sad that she wasn’t able to be open about her sexuality but in those times…who could blame her? especially after the experience with marlene and travers – she ran away before anything major happened but still :/ and death eaters killed her…i wonder if travers was somehow involved. it would be totally creepy but i can see him doing that just because of marlene (and because he’s a death eater obviously but he’s creepy enough to add another layer of hate to the murder) – obviously, it’s the same thing marlene wonders.
marlene constantly flashbacking (not sure if this is even a word) to the night when travers found her and jane and raped her is so sad and so realistic – everything can remind her of her trauma (and especially jane’s funeral) and she tries to deal with it in her own way, trying to focus on the present but obviously, she’s still very traumatised.
marlene is such a wonderful sister, i don’t think agnes could have wanted for a better one. she doesn’t judge, she never would and she doesn’t blink twice before telling her sister she would help her with her child. you’ve made her with so much personality and depth, what an amazing character! she’s not perfect by any means, but she’s so real, i love it.
cuffe is absolutely infuriating but…knowing what the prophet was like in the books, i can’t say i’m surprised but i thoroughly support marlene’s outrage. journalists should question the people in power, not suck up to them. it’s also interesting that one of her tasks for the order is to smuggle original articles out of the daily prophet office to compare them – it’s something that wouldn’t have crossed my mind but it’s definitely useful to have evidence to show how the tides are turning and if the ministry had potentially been infiltrated (at least i think that’s the purpose? maybe i got it wrong :o)
i love that you included rita in this, i can’t wait to see more of her (i love to hate her! :P )
i loved this chapter, i love marlene, i love this story…………….so i’m just fangirling over here and i’m so glad you decided to write a whole novel about marlene *_*
Hi, Abby! I'm here with your requested review!
I think it's wonderful how right of the bat, this story engulfs us into an aura of mystery. A funeral for Jane. Who is Jane? Clearly, it's someone Marlene knew from school and they had some sort of history, but why was she killed, and who is responsible? I'm yearning to know, and I absolutely love that you haven't given everything away just yet. Now, of course, you do mention in your endnote that this is a companion to another fic of yours (which I'm certainly going to have to stop by sometime; I've been meaning to, anyway). So, some of this could have been revealed in that. But, having not read that story yet, I still didn't feel like I was being left out of the loop or was missing vital information; rather, I felt just as confused, angry, and uneasy as Marlene, and that's fantastic. It also showcases just how good you are at writing a companion piece; I definitely don't have to have read your other story to feel completely immersed in this one. (Though, again, I absolutely will!)
Your writing itself is beautiful. Everything just flows nicely, with a perfect balance of dialogue and narrative. Also, speaking of dialogue, I really must commend you for how well you've written the Scottish accent. I'm atrocious at writing accents (though usually it's Fleur's I'm attempting), so I really admire when someone can do it well. I didn't have to conciously read Marlene and Agnes' lines in a Scottish accent; my brain just naturally did it for because of your superb writing.
Marlene's relationship with her sister is exquisetly written. It's obvious how close they are, and even in this brief moment they share, it's clear that Marlene would do anything for Agnes. They're both hurting, for wildly different reasons, but it's wonderful that they're there for each other to help one another heal.
I think the angle you've taken in regards to Marlene's role in the ORder is very unique. I think when many of us think of the Order, we tend to think of everyone basically acting as unofficial Aurors and going into battle all the time. I liked this alternative look, how she's more of a behind- the-scenes member who uses her job at the Prophet to her advantage. It also seems like maybe it's her way of helping the cause while somewhat distancing herself from it? Maybe. I don't know. But it seems like that's what she's trying to do... and I get the feeling that if that's true, it won't work forever.
For only 4,000 words, you gave me a lot to think about in regards to Marlene, her ambitions, and her role in this world. Well done!
Whew. This is another packed chapter! (totally a good thing. I feel let down with watery chapters).
.... I'm still trying to work out the snippets of written information. Is it like her journal that she stores memorable written things? People do that. I'm thinking that's it, but the question is why? Why does she hang on to certain bits of writing? Are they connected somehow? Is there a common theme or element? Hmmm.
So, I feel like I need to know. How did you learn all that you know about Scotland and Scottish people and Scottish things? It feels like you've nailed the accent (I think?) because I'm like talking to myself in a Scottish accent after I read this haha. You are also using names that seem very Scottish. And for some reason -- though you haven't given much description -- I have this cliche image in my head of what her parents' house looks like: stone and wooden exterior, dimly lit on the inside, a thick oak table, and windows that reveal rolling hills and dense forests. That image is probably really stereotypical, but there you have it.
Marlene jumped the gun and assumed her parents wouldn't support Agnes. That's interesting. I'm wondering if because she was abused in the past, she worries and over-analyses and presumes others will leap at and attack other women who are in a vulnerable position? Maybe? Maybe I'm stretching things and that's just one of her character flaws. Still, I admire her courage and loyalty for sticking to Agnes. On another note, I think her parents took the news rather well. Sure, they were shocked and had to process, but they spent most of the evening talking about goats and not trying to plan for Agnes' future baby.
Travis. Ugh. One thing (there are more haha) that really gets under my skin is corruption. And clearly Travis has gotten this promotion because of connections. He doesn't deserve to be in a position of power. Those in authority should use their power to help others, to lead, to set an example. Any person in authority who uses their power for their own interests, whether that's put themself or their friends/family in a better position on the sly or putting certain members of society at a disadvantage is just WRONG! We know from A Woman's Place that Travis has already abused power: using physical strength to abuse Marlene. Abusing power is a frame of mind which thought patterns develop and it becomes a habit. Travis, since he already abused Marlene, thusly abusing his power, already has exhibited that he abuses the power he had. It's horrible that he's been given more power. Marlene's right: he should not not not be in power/have authority. He's going to abuse it.
But on the other hand, I do see Gideon's point. If Marlene takes on Travis gun half-cocked, it's going to backfire on her. If she somehow tries to take him on with not enough evidence, in a twisted way it could even solidify his power more if he refutes her claims. I do understand her frustration though. But since she's the protagonist and Travis is a douche, I'm assuming and hoping that Travis will see justice and that Marlene will play a large part in that.
Aubrey for your requested review and RvG February!
Hi! I’m here for review swapping goodness. Also for February 2019 R vs G reviewing, team Red.
I’m starting to get concerned that Marlene will not be making it through this story alive. You keep putting in artifacts and noting where they were found—a wedding invitation, a bookmark. Well, you’ve hooked me anyway, so I’ll have to keep reading. I’m bummed that this is the last posted chapter so far.
Marlene and Agnes’s family seem really wonderful. They are obviously shocked by Agnes’s pregnancy, but the are firmly supporting her and, to my mind, they process the news pretty quickly, especially considering the year this is set. I both love Marlene for being such an attack dog trying to protect her sister, and I want to tell her to calm down and give her parents and grandma a minute to cope with the news. She’s a great sister. I love how she brings up an old, light-hearted family quarrel to distract everyone. I also appreciate that she loves her family, even though she’s fiercely independent. As you can tell, I like independent and confident women :-).
The note from Agnes to Marlene about not eating the gingersnaps made me laugh. It’s so true, a pregnant lady not having her craving is sufficient cause for tears.
So, after the swift mood changes of the first chapter, I was very wary when I started reading chapter two. You started with a wedding invitation. Then the scene with Marlene’s family was relatively peaceful, and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Then, the nice scene between Marlene and her grandmother. And then a funny pregnancy craving joke. So, you had me lulled into a false sense of security by the time we got down to the work party. Marlene is set up to have a good night. She’s got the job she likes, she’s mixing with friends, she’s having a good time. Sure, that Rita Skeeter lady is there and that’s irritating but over-all we’re fine. And then, out of no where, Travers! No!! You totally caught me off-guard with that. Well done. I hate that guy’s guts and I really hope he gets his comeuppance.
Again, the description of the room tilting was excellent, as well as how she couldn’t breathe and needed to escape. I was glad to see Gideon again. I still feel like Gideon is basically a good guy, but he’s cautious. I really hope he is able to help Marlene through this story. I think he wants to, but he’s not totally sure how. And I think she wants him to help her, but she’s not sure how to let him. I LOVE her and I can’t wait to read more about her.
As always, I’m simply blown away by your writing, both its style and content.
Hey Abby! Here for your requested review! And for RvG February.
There was a lot going on in this chapter, with many different subplots I can see starting and developing. I feel like Marlene has a lot going on in her life. There's the funeral, past memories surfacing, her pregnant sister, and stuff at work. Not to mention that she's in the middle of a war and she's involved with a secret order. I like how you started the story out with the flowers. It's different. I always associate flowers with life and hope, but Marlene just seens death and decay. It's a unique perspective -- one, I'm sure, helps her in her line of work!
Reading Marlene with Agnes makes me wish I had a sister! I have one brother and no sisters :( Marlene and Agnes have a really good relationship. It's really sad that Agnes got pregnant from a one-night stand. I couldn't imagine raising a child without its father. But even worse is that the father of Agnes' child is dead. It feels like there must be more to this than you've revealed so far. I'm wondering if the five boys didn't actually die by a car accident while driving under the influence. I'm wondering if somehow their deaths were staged by Death Eaters? But no, that doesn't make sense. Death Eaters would be public about it... hmm. Maybe it will be a problem with Death Eaters down the road? My heart really warmed when Marlene said she'd stand by her sister. Like of course she would, but it's just nice to read her saying it, proclaiming it.
I like the layout of the chapter. First it's her personal journal entry. Then narrative. Then her rough draft for the Prophet, and then more narrative. It breaks up the chapter, but I don't think you need the narrative broken up; it's interesting enough. It gives a certain finesse to your writing though. Which I shouldn't be surprised at this! APNFFH also has the chapters broken up, but with time and a dual plot line.
Her work for the Order wasn't mentioned much, except for that bit about her sneaking articles. I'm curious to see more about her role to fighting Voldemort.
I think you did well with the accent too. Normally when I read, the characters' voices just have an American accent, not British like they should. But with Marlene, she has a distinct Scottish accent. So good job with writing it well that my mind just naturally voices her as Scottish!
What I noticed about this chapter, and overall story really, is that the war is both personal and professional for Marlene. It's both near and far. Being a journalist she's at scenes and gathering information and testimonies, and in a way that puts her close to it. but she's writing about other people, and that puts some distance between her and the war. However, certain events draw her into it. Even without her involvement in the Order, the war has affected her. Jane was murdered (which is also a nice mystery by the way -- was she killed because she was muggle-born or because of her sexuality? and who killed her? Marlene suspects, and we know she's right but she hasn't proved it yet). So Jane was murdered, and that lands close to home. That makes the war personal to Marlene. It's a lovely contrast -- the war that's close to home and the war that's just at her work.
Overall, good first chapter! It was engaging and it drew me in with the mystery. I'm curious as to how Marlene is going to navigate her personal and professional life.
Here for our swap, my dear! :)
This was such a great chapter (well, as always...)! I loved to get to know the McKinnon family, the whole argument about the goats was so much fun! :P And of course I love how they were all supportive of Agnes, once overcome the initial shock... not that I had doubts, but, you know... Marlene is such a hothead, but I love her for it, and I love how protective of her sister she is. I wonder how most discussions in the family went... I guess pretty much like this one went... :P
James and Lily are getting married! Yay! I know this is only a side thing, but you know how much I ship Jily, so that little note just makes me happy! :P
Travers... urgh... I can't blame Marlene for having a bit of a panic attack at that point... and for being so worried about the promotion... it's no surprise that Death Eaters are infiltrating the Ministry, and getting higher position within it... it's absolutely scary, but also sort of inevitable... and of course the Ministry is also controlling the press (where did I see all that happening already?) Not good. Not good at all...
Ah, Gideon! On one hand, I'm angry at him for not giving Marlene's concerns the due weight, on the other I can totally see why he would want to act prudently. They live in dangerous times, and they are dealing with delicate situations. Jumping into it without reflecting could do more damage than good, but of course they can't stand aside and watch either... I wish Gideon had made more of an effort in being supportive, though. Although I am a little bit scared about what Marlene's going to do now and I agree with him that they need more information and to figure out things... then, again, I'm no Gryffindor...
I'm super curious about what will come next! Let me know when the next chapter will be up, okay? ;)
Thank you so much for the swap, always a pleasure! :)
Lots of love and snowball hug,
Hi! I’m here for review swapping goodness. Also for February 2019 R vs G reviewing, team Red.
I have to start this review by screaming “Nooooo! Not Jane!!”
Okay, that’s out of my system.
I simply adore your writing style. It’s so beautiful and I was blown away by this first chapter. The juxtaposition of the diary entry with the funeral, with the getting ready to go out (and staying in instead), with the article, with the scene at work—it was a roller coaster.
The diary entry feels so full of hope, even though Marlene feels embarrassed about her writing. The image of freedom is so strong.
And then, you punch the reader in the gut with dear Jane’s funeral. I love how you used flowers to convey the idea of death. Usually flowers are so beautiful and symbolize life—but you talk about their stench and how they are decaying. It’s perfect and creepy and very effective. I love how Marlene realizes that everyone at the funeral is sad, but also so relieved that they were not the ones killed. And the way you showed Marlene dealing with her PTSD—-perfect.
I loved how you switched from the scene about death with the sentence “Marlene felt alive.” She’s so happy, getting ready to have fun. But, even here, she has to deal with her assault. When you have PTSD, no where is safe, because you’re carrying it around in your mind. And then you punch the reader in the gut again with the car accident and the bomb that Agnes is pregnant. I wanted to cry at how beautiful the scene is between these sisters.
The final sequence with Marlene’s article being rejected for telling the truth is a nice way to show us more about her character and her life. I loved Rita Skeeter’s cameo to. I can’t stand Rita and I’m glad to see Marlene can’t either.
What a powerful start! I can’t wait for more!
Thank you so much for swapping, dear! <3
This first chapter was so good (I didn't have any doubts), your writing is always stunning! I loved the diary entry you opened with, the descriptions in it, the image of the eagle soaring in the sky... it's stunning! But I think you showed me that bit on Twitter and I already told you that... (talking about the diary entry, I loved that she reread her writing from when she was a child and cringed at it... it's so very relatable... :P)
Jane's funeral... I wasn't expecting it... I didn't even remember her name from AWP, but it broke my heart... well, mostly, Marlene's memories broke my heart... it was really all falling over her again, wasn't it? And of course there is the general sense of fear and uncertainty of the war... Jane died because she was a witch born to non-magical people... it's horrible and it's unfair... and it's how the world works, too, unfortunately... Marlene's thoughts about the hipocrisy of funerals and flowers were maybe a bit cinic, but I guess with a grain of truth to them... either way, what happened is so sad, and the memories that it brought back to her even more. (I do wonder if there was more to her murder than just a random attack to a Muggleborn. I guess I'll find out later if that's the case.)
Poor Agnes... that's a lot to take... I don't know how would I feel in her place, I surely would feel so scared and lost. The relationship you are building between the two sisters is wonderful! There is so much closeness and affection between them, and I absolutely loved how supportive Marlene immediately was, how she didn't for a second try to judge or to push Agnes towards any choice. And the way they spent the night together sharing tears and chocolate... aww... I'm so in love with them already! (Side note, I loved the Scottish pride!)
Typical Prophet, trying to edulcorate reality to make the Ministry look good... of course Marlene wouldn't just bend to it. I love how fierce she is and I'm so angry at her boss for rejecting her article. But definitely not surprised... Rita is as unsufferable as always, too. I love to hate her, so thank you for always giving me more reason to do so. :P
I probably forgot to mention something, but it's quite late, so I guess I'll head to bed now... Thank you so much for the swap and the amazing read, you are wonderful!
Lots of love,
I can't believe you posted this but I'm so excited to see the beginnings of Marlene's story. You know I loved this chapter already but at least now I can break in down for you now.
I think the Marlene that you have created is already brilliant. The character development that you have already done is stunning. I love the time and research that is obvious that gone into this piece even without knowing anyway. I think the diary entry already has so much her personality in. The hints of freedom or what it is like to be free for Marlene in there. You can tell that she is a dreamer.
The imagery that you use from that first scene is really in contrast to the next scene that we see the funeral taking place. Marlene has so much thoughts going on in her mind at the point. It is odd thing but someone you were close to but not close to in a way dies. It gets you thinking a lot. One of the really amazing thing that you've done in the chapter is getting that repeating 'Focus' part because I think it really shows that hugely lasting effect about her experiences which I think would be in keeping of the real thing. You've made her experiences very much part of who she is which is the mark of some wonderful characterisation.
I like the way that Marlene is so driven straight out from the first chapter. Her pursuit of the truth is going so epic. I think I'm already rooting for her though it's not going to be an easy road for her.
The relationship between Agnes and Marlene is already just so beautifully played out. I love how supportive Marlene is and you've really created such a good chemistry between the two of them. I think they'll have some good banter together in slightly less emotionally distressing times. It's always so lovely to see good family ties as it can often be lost in fic. I'm looking forward to getting to know Agnes better in this as I know she'll be a key player.
Another thing that I like about this chapter is you're gone straight for the action. You've set up your main threads but in a practical way not just 'Marlene thought this' in her inner monologue but challenging it like in the scene with Cuffe.
I can't wait for more.
- Abbi xo
For: Magical Menagrie/RvG (mostly because you're amazing though!)
I've been following you developing this story for what seems like ages and the fact that it's finally up is SO exciting! Seeing our wee girl get her novel finally is amazing! We already know so much about her backstory and giving her a voice like this is wonderful.
As an opening chapter this was beautifully written. The theme of life vs death is going to be pretty big through this and you've showcased it so well from the start. The roses were such a powerful image to use, the perfect embodiment of cutting something down in it's prime, as Marlene points out. It's a perfectly ironic metaphor to use and especially personal given that Marlene obviously thought of Jane as something beautiful and young.
Marlene's thoughts at the funeral, through full of grief and paranoia, also tell us a lot about the other side of her character. She may be a survivor of something that has been and will continue to haunt her but she doesn't shy away from her sexuality as it seems Jane did. She is proud- proud as a scot in the rain ;) - of who she is and she doesn't shy away for it which shows us rather than obviously telling us how strong of a character she is.
I love the way she shifted as you moved through this chapter. We see her as a determined journalist, a mother/sister figure to anges (i love that relationship by the way and she's another character i need to get to know better!!!) and then as something else entirely - the Golden Eagle Marlene who, as you've said in another of her stories, just wants to be free. It's a beautiful metaphor and really starts to build up this complex character what we will be with through this story. She is so well written already and you're just getting started!!
Extremely well written opening. You are a wonderful writer my dear! I'm just going to go read the working version of chapter two now because I want MORE already!!!
All my love,
Your partner in crime <3
Hi Abby! Here for RvG and Magical Menagerie.
You know how excited I've been for you to start posting this novel, so yay for it finally being up! And the first chapter does not disappoint, not at all!
I'm really, really impressed with the fact that you've chosen to write Marlene McKinnon as a proud Scot, and using the Scots dialect (and even some Scots Gaelic!). It's much more than I could try to do and geographically I'm much closer. But I loved the way that you made that part of her identity obvious from the very opening lines of this chapter, with the diary entry that Marlene was writing, even using dialect words in that. I thought that contrasted really nicely to the newspaper article of hers that we got to read later on in this chapter, and the way that you're using the different epistolary devices to reflect on different areas of her life is really interesting and effective so far.
I also really liked the more whimsical nature of that first diary entry compared to the rest of this chapter - it kind of gives us this indication of another side to Marlene's character that she's not willing to share with the whole world yet. And, of course, the introduction of the title - I'm intrigued to see if that theme will recur through this story.
"The stench of roses" is a really striking description and I really enjoyed the way that you used that line to pull us in and then go on to describing the funeral. Marlene's status as a mourner there was a really conflicting, awkward one, and I really liked the flashes of insight that we got into her character. Of course, I've read her chapter in A Woman's Place, so I know the events that this refers to, but I think this chapter really made the lingering trauma - the constant nature of it, and the way she's constantly trying to fight it - clearer for the reader. I wanted to reach through the screen and give her a hug.
I found the contrast between the funeral for Jane and the more throwaway lines that are written about the five boys who've died in a car crash through drink-driving - almost as if, to the people giving the news, the lives aren't worth the same because of the way that they died; I think that's a really sad but true reality of the way that young deaths are portrayed in society, and Marlene is seeing that first-hand. I felt so sorry for Agnes when I realised that the father of her child had been killed in the crash, but I love the sibling relationship that you captured in this chapter, the fierce sense of love and protection that Marlene feels for her sister, and her determination to help raise the child - that's very much a Marlene (and Gryffindor) trait.
It was only subtle but the shift in the dialect used between that scene and the one at the Prophet was really effective, and I liked the way that we got to learn more about Marlene's job there - not only as a journalist at the Prophet (dealing with a form of censorship AND Rita Skeeter, is she a saint?) but also her role in the Order, trying to make sure that they have copies of the articles that weren't published that tell the real facts. That was really intriguing and I'm looking forward to seeing more of her in that role, too!