Kaitlin! Here for RvG and your wonderful, wonderful writing! :D
This has been on my To-Read list for a while. Oh my goodness! In 1500-ish words, you have built this incredibly beautiful world. I feel as if I am really in Oaxaca. The sights and sounds and smells, you do a marvelous job at transporting us to this world. It's amazing that you have captured your experiences into a fan fic like this. I am so looking forward to what you have in store!
Isabella seems like a delight! I love the connection she feels to nature and her family. It reminds me of some of the happiest moments of my childhood and the many daydreams have came as a result. I also love how the storm is rolling in on the eve on of thirteenth birthday, bringing suspense and mystery to the whole tale. I already like the old woman, from her first mention to her final act of destroying the front door in the middle of the night. I cannot wait to explore the magical world in Mexico!
The sheer amount of detail: from the language, the food, the landscape, is admirable, Kaitlin. Well done. I have never been to Mexico, and I'm stoked for this opportunity to learn more about it through this fic and to see your interpretation of a fandom we both know and love. Will Isabella go away to school? Is this older woman a witch? How will Isabella's life change? These are all great questions that you've elicited from your audience, inviting into the story and encouraging us to continue--both good traits of a talented writer! I'll be back for more soon! :)
Hi, Kaitlin! Back for chapter 3.
I can definitely understand the surreal feeling of waking up the next morning. Did that really happen? Probably similar to waking up in Vegas when the last thing you remember was ordering shots in San Diego.
To answer the question in your author's note, no, I didn't find anything confusing. You did a good job in this chapter of explaining the cultural history surrounding the story and of doing that within the context of the narrative so it didn't feel out of place. Relative to the last chapter, I thought you did a better job in this one of sticking to your... ugh, I can't find the right words. "Narrative flavor"? That isn't quite right, but it's the best I can do at the moment. You didn't drift into an Anglicized speech pattern in your dialog very often.
I really enjoyed your cultural twist on wandlore. It seems natural that every magical culture should have its own wand woods and magical creatures to draw on when crafting wands. On top of that, you introduced the gemstones and the symbolic carvings, which were a great touch. Don Julio probably had the most issues with drifting into Anglicized dialog, but it wasn't very distracting. You avoided the trap of turning him into the Mexican Ollivander. I was holding my breath, desperately hoping that he didn't start going off on how the wand chooses the witch.
You made some other neat choices. The magical community in Mexico seems more tightly integrated with the regulares than their British counterparts, at least when it comes to things like food and their economy. That was always a place where it felt like JKR went overboard to try to come up with unnecessary idiosyncracies. I dearly hope we won't be seeing "fire tequila" at any point in the story.
This was my favorite chapter so far. I'm excited to see where you take things next!
Hi, Kaitlin! Back for chapter 2!
Again, I'm seeing lots of interesting parallels to Harry's story, only in a very different place. Doña Marisol fills the role of Hagrid, albeit in a much less comical and oddly more threatening way. She's very intimidating, and the fact that she obliterated the door is only the tip of the iceberg.
Juan's reactions are initially similar to how Vernon and Petunia took the news, but ah, there's much more to it than that, isn't there? Poor guy. Horrible, what happened to him. No wonder he's not excited to be pulled back into the world of magic.
As she reveals the secrets of Juan's past, I thought that you drifted in and out of your narrative flavor a bit. At times, people are speaking as residents of Oaxaca might and at other times they're fading more into expository English. My suggestion would be to make it more uniformly ethnic, because I really like that feel you get. This line, in particular, read really strangely: "All my life I've been here on this ranch in this tiny town in the state of Oaxaca. I've never even been to another state."
Part of me wants to think that her mother's reaction is very disproportionate, but then if I put myself in her place, this is obviously a heck of a lot to take in. Your husband is a wizard. Your daughter is a witch. Your neighbor is also a witch. It's not hard to see how she's feeling like her entire life is a lie. She must be pretty freaked out about the younger siblings by this point. Here's hoping she doesn't do anything rash that puts Isabel in an even worse position.
I love Isabel's spirit of adventure. I'm excited to find out what's waiting for her in the big city. Onward...
You wrote a beautiful first chapter. Your descriptions of the scenery were lush and detailed and they appealed to all of the senses. So very easy to place myself there and take it all in. And I'll add, very cool on occasion to read a scene that isn't set in Britain.
Love that your main character is a farm girl. Fan fiction could use more of those. Again, you nailed lots of the small details of farming cattle. The sounds and smells and the way cattle behave... perfect.
I'm feeling a parallel between the crazy neighbor lady and Mrs. Figg. Perhaps there's more to your main character than meets the eye. And maybe, just maybe, the crazy neighbor lady is watching over her. Can't wait to find out!
On to chapter 2...
Hey there, Kaitlin, dropping by for our review swap! :)
So I remember seeing this around the forums when the diversity challenge was running, though I don't think I ever stopped by then (or, if I did, I don't remember?), so it's great to finally get to stop by :)
I really, really love that this is set in Mexico. There's something so lovely and so fascinating about getting such an in-depth glimpse of another culture - and a culture which is so different from any I know. It's rare in both books and in fic, so it's so great and you write it so well, explaining just enough that I understand everything that's going on, with the food and the cattle-ranching and the traditional ways they celebrate things like birthdays. It's so intruiging and so different and I love that about it.
There's something so sweet, as well, about seeing someone having a very... normal life, yk: distinctly unmagical, ordinary, every day working life, with her riding out with the cows, herding them back and putting them in the barn, looking after the horse and hanging out at home. It's not massively plot-intense but I actually like that about it: it means you can set it all up so well for the plot to them come in - and leave the end of this chapter on such a cliffhanger - and it really gives us an idea of what, if anything, will change for her.
Your writing in this is so lovely too. A lot of your pieces I'd read before tended to be more dialogue heavy, so finding out that there was so much description in this was such a lovely surprise, especially with how lush and vibrant it all was and how carefully you painted the scene.
I'm so so curious as to what happens next. I'm assuming Isabella finds out she's a witch - but how does her family take it? Who is the crazy old lady from down the road really? How does magical learning and education in Mexico work? I have so many questions! :)
This is such a great start - thank you for the swap! :)
Hello again! Here for February's RvG!
This was such a fascinating chapter - I know that you said in your author's note that it got a bit meaty in terms of cultural history but you probably know by now that all of that was my favourite part of this chapter. I don't know enough about Mexico at all, and I'm loving learning more about the country, its places and culture and history, and seeing the way that you're incorporating those into the magical world in Mexico in this story.
The description of Rosa as a hurricane at the start of this chapter was really effective. You only focused on her briefly but I got a real picture of her character from that and the fierce sort of woman she is. It's certainly not how Isabella was planning on spending her birthday - nor what her parents had planned - but I hope that things settle down with the family soon enough, before Isabella goes off to school, anyway.
The description of the witches' market was so fascinating - I really loved the way that you built up the details around the scene so we could picture it just as vividly as Isabella did. And I think you got a real sense of the wonder that she was feeling here, too, which was probably even more effective for us than fics that introduce their character to Diagon Alley for the first time, given how familiar we all are with that.
I absolutely loved all the little snatches of Spanish in this story, but my favourite part of the chapter was the discussion of the wands, and the way that they're filled with so much more detail and links back to heritage and history. Those details were so incredible to read and I loved seeing the thought that you've put into this chapter and the way that you're incorporating indigenous traditions and beliefs into the magical world. It's so amazing to read all of that - and I'm intrigued to see that Isabella has a very special and individual wand, as well, especially given the fact that she's not displayed any magic before. And does her Zapotec heritage mean that she's also got magical ancestry on her mum's side?
I'm really enjoying this and I'm looking forward to seeing what adventures Isabella's going to embark on through the course of this story!
Hi Kaitlin! Here for February's RvG and also to leave my 600th review, woo!
This chapter was so interesting! I really enjoyed the way that we got to learn so much more about Isabella's family and started getting our first glimpse into the magical world in Mexico, too.
Marisol was so interesting! I really liked the way that she just came in and made herself at home - there are definite parallels here between the way that Isabella learns about her magical abilities and her family's background and the way that we see Harry does in the Philosopher's Stone. I think those parallels are really effective, especially with the way that this is set in a country and culture that I (and probably most readers) are unfamiliar with. I'm intrigued about Marisol's background, too - is she just someone of importance in the local magical community, or is she connected with the school itself? She's definitely determined and fierce, and she doesn't abide by rules that Juan tries to lay down - but she also seemed to know a lot about his background and story so I'm intrigued about the links there.
Speaking of Juan's story, that was so heartbreaking to read. There was a slightly detached feeling as he spoke about it, and I wasn't sure whether that was deliberate as he's trying to remove himself from the scene to cope with it better, but nevertheless it was tragic to read. I can definitely imagine him abandoning magic completely after watching that happen and believing that it's his fault (which it wasn't, but I can still see why he'd blame himself). This must be really awful for him now.
I loved the details about his ancestral line, though! It's fascinating that you've made this connection between magic and the indigenous Aztec population in Mexico - I wonder whether that's more specific to Isabella's family, or whether it's a general rule for most people in the area? And whether Isabella will discover any long-lost relatives at the school... I'm really excited to see how you're going to incorporate some of the Aztec history into this story, too, and deal with the tensions between the colonising and indigenous populations that I suspect will play a role in the history of magic (please tell me that the Mexican school doesn't have a Binns equivalent teaching that).
Rosa's reaction was very believable. I hope that this revelation doesn't break up the family completely, but I don't think my reaction would be particularly understanding if I'd just learnt that my husband had been hiding a massive secret from me and my eldest child was about to be taken away to a magical school without me getting a say in it.
It was really interesting to see Isabella putting her foot down at the end of this chapter, too, and deciding that she wants to go to the school! It's a spark of boldness and determination that we haven't seen fully before and I'm really intrigued to see how it plays out!
Hi Kaitlin! Here for February's RvG.
So I'm sure I read and reviewed the first chapter of this back on the old site but I clearly never transferred that review and so I'm back again. You know I love the concept of this story - it was a perfect fit for the diversity challenge because it's fascinating to read a story set outside of the UK and the other countries which are more commonly written about in fic, and I'm very intrigued to see how you're going to build up the world of magic in Mexico and craft the lore and traditions behind that.
I really liked your choice of first person narration for this story - I think it works really well and I instantly have a soft spot for Isabella as I learn about her life and the tasks that she regularly has to complete at home, and you did a great job of building up a picture of her home life and family without just overloading us with information.
Your description in this chapter was brilliant, too - the opening few paragraphs were stunning, and I could see the mountains and everything that you described so clearly. As if I needed any more encouragement to add Mexico to the list of places that I want to visit. But I really appreciated the way that your description didn't just focus on what Isabella could see in this chapter, but the smells around her and the way that her different senses were engaged; it really helped to transport me fully to the scene, even though I'm completely unfamiliar with it both in person and in fic.
I shouldn't be surprised that your descriptions of food are incredible, either, but now I'm really, really hungry - and pretty jealous that you're going to get to spend the next few days eating all this sort of food :P
The ending was so intriguing! I really liked the way you built up the picture of normality throughout this chapter, even with Isabella on the brink of her thirteenth birthday. There were hints of excitement which I think are usual for a child of her age, especially with the extra effort that she knows her parents have been putting in for the celebrations, but then everything changes at the end and I'm so intrigued! The woman from down the street definitely made a dramatic entrance - it reminded me a little of Hagrid in the Philosopher's Stone. It seems like children only learn about the magical world at the age of thirteen in Mexico? I'm looking forward to finding out more in the next chapter, anyway!
Oof, I already don’t like the coldness that comes from Isabella’s mama. It makes me nervous. At the very least, her papa seems to be… well I don’t want to say calm, because her mama certainly wasn’t acting hysterical. I think I mean to say that at least he’s not taking it out on the children.
Isabella’s faith in her mama is amazing, but her papa doesn’t seem to think so, if his half-hearted smile says anything.
This whole world sounds so interesting despite me not knowing a word of Spanish. Particularly, I’m picturing this piece of fanart that I saw that someone drew, and it was just of wizarding marketplace of Mexico—I remember it being very colorful and beautiful.
The choosing of the wands ritual seems very similar yet different at its core. The carvings and gems are all very new to me, but it makes sense that Mexico would have its own customs. Doesn’t have to be Eurocentric.
It’s also interesting to me that Mexico would call its muggles regulares.
The amethyst as a gem for Isabella clicks with me easily—throughout the story, you’ve made her have some sort clarity with the environment surrounding her, and it was made apparent in her very narration.
There were a lot of details mixed into this chapter, and while I still don’t fully grasp what’s going on, I’m still very interested to see what Isabella’s story might be like.
I might have to do some more research on Mexican customs and culture!
Hopefully, I will see you in the next chapter! x
Okay so, I was curious and I looked up images of Oaxaca on Google, and the state is really very beautiful, but it also looked really familiar to me. And then I realized! This is the state that Coco is based off of! I remember thinking to myself when I was watching the movie that I’d love to go there one day and the urge has only increased!
Anyways, onto the story! So, we’re here with the old woman, and when Isabella asks what’s going on, the woman only smiles. Kind of creepy, not going to lie.
So, she’s got info about something, but was it really necessary to tell this to Isabella the moment she turned thirteen? Literally?
This is really starting to sound like a fairytale. You know, maybe Isabella’s papa sold off his first born to local forest witch Marisol and the moment she’s of age, Isabella is whisked away from her family.
It’s really starting to worry me.
Oh, so. Being a witch isn’t really seen as something to be proud of in this household. Everything makes much more sense. I’d get why, but also… what is Isabella’s papa afraid of? Isabella leaving him? Or perhaps its more personal, maybe something to do with their practice of faith?
So, is Isabella’s papa a squib? Did the genes skip him? Hm…
No, that’s not the case at all; I was way off the mark. Maybe he gave up his magic? He’s ashamed of it?
STILL WAY OFF THE MARK.
And man… that part about Juan Carlos’ little sister really caught me off guard, I just wasn’t expecting it. It sounds kind of funny but it shocked me to the point of me tearing up.
The image of a little girl bleeding out and dying will never be a good one.
Oh no. Keeping secrets for this long never has good results, but it’s still really disheartening to see a family break apart like this. I genuinely hope that things get better, but Rosa’s language seems to say otherwise.
I’m glad that Isabella stood up for herself, and I’m more than happy that she chose to explore magic, but sincerely I want her family to be better again. A bad home life spells nothing good.
On to the next! x
Hello there, I’m here for our review swap! I’ve been meaning to read Isabella for a while now, so I’m very excited to finally review this! :^)
Already, I’m entranced by your descriptions. I have no idea what Oaxaca looks like, but I have a very vivid image in my mind right now.
A trailblazer, huh? I think it’s really cool that Isabella found a beautiful and secluded place like the one she’s one—those are always the best ones. It always feels like reality is a little bit altered each time you go there.
Your description of the cows and their earthy smell really brings back old memories; I remember that my extended family actually owned a farm and I used to help tend to the animals, so this is like really nostalgic for me.
Why is thirteen such an unlucky number? From what it seems to me, thirteen is to Mexico what eleven is to wizarding England.
The description of the mole is making me really hungry—it sounds really good right now (never mind the fact that I’m really hungry).
Isabella’s reflection of her mother is really nice and it kind of mirrors how I feel about my own mother. Not necessarily in how I feel about what she does in the kitchen, but more like the fondness that seeps from the reflection itself.
Chocolate? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that used in a recipe before—however I’m willing to try!
That ending had me really curious. Though I’m no stranger to being terrified of strangers at the door, this particular old woman seems to be indicative of something far bigger.
I shall keep reading! x
I'm baaaack for a swap!
Seriously, I was supposed to call it a night but I needed to know who the crazy lady was and it was sooo worth it. I love how nonchalant Marisol is. She literally could care less that Isabella's mom and dad are decreeing 'I forbid' this and you loca' that. It's so funny and I already like her. You seem to be able to present these incredibly three dimensional characters who every reader can't help become intrigued by and root for on the spot (myself included!).
I'm cracking up at how she straight up tells them that Isabella is magical. The best people have no filter and I thoroughly believe this statement! I really hope they all expand upon the laws in the later chapter because I need to know more. I really enjoyed the detail you put into Isabella's family history, it provides some more interesting background and makes her character all the more appealing!
The story with Isabella's father was so sad to read. Unfortunately being harassed is a very harsh reality that a lot of women go through and I really like the way you conveyed Isabella's anger and her father's turmoil in that scene. Isabella's mom reacting that way was so relateable because that's absolutely the same way my mother would have reacted if some lady plopped down in my living room and said she was going to take me haha. I can't wait to see how Isabella's journey progresses. Well done!
Back for another review swap.
I can't believe I was grumbling about lack of POC representation in my response to your other review and here you are with this complex and interesting piece. You've got me hooked from the first line itself; your descriptive prose really present the most vivid imagery. Your character has her own personality from the get go and I love that! I love the way you've shown her world; the relationship with nature, her house and even the spices. I haven't really read a fic where the main character lives in another country so this was absolutely refreshing to read. I find myself wanting to know more about her with every sentence I read, you've done a great job at building suspense. The pacing is quick but adds an extra layer of dimension to the story.
You have this great ability to set a mood; the first half starts off almost serene, making the reader feel as though a breeze is literally wafting through a window. The second half explores Isabella's world in the midst of a hurried and urgent atmosphere. Every emotion felt palpable and so so real. I hope we found out more about this old lady because I'm certainly intrigued. Also side note I'm still cracking up over your review and slightly cringing at how immature my characters seem compared to your mature and insightful 13 year old. I can already tell I'm going to like Isabella and can't help but root for her, even though there's soooo much left to know about her. I'm really interested to see where it all goes from here!
Well, I have read the first three chapters now. What a great idea, to write a story set in Mexico. After reading these chapters, I am captivated by your characters and setting, which you describe so skillfully. Doña Marisol is quite the lady, and the family dynamics in Isabella's home are nuanced, believable, and well developed. As always, your prose flows so smoothy that it is a pleasure to read, and the careful copy-editing is a gift to your readers.
I have never been so far south as Oaxaca, though I did spend time in Mexico City and the surrounding area in the winter of 1961-62, and more recently in Yucatan, so it will be fun to read about Isabella's adventures in Mexico City and compare what she sees there with what I saw so long ago.
I am looking forward to learning what is unique about the Mexican magic school. Surely it will be full of Mexican culture and history, with the basics of magic thrown in.
A couple of typos that auto-correct didn't pick up because they formed real words: Chapter 1, line 6 --"...markets that team with people..." Amend 'team' to 'teem'. Later in the story -- "Doña Marisol walks through the isles of pews..." Amend 'isles' to 'aisles'. Again, at the beginning of the story, "Quickly I spur my horse around the cows in a quick, tight circle." You can delete one of the quicks.
That's the only ConCrit that I can find in these many thousands of words! I'm sure that this is going to be a great story, and hopefully the upcoming chapters will appear soon.
Hi, here for the second of our swaps!
Marisol immediately is a great character, I was laughing at her just sort of taking a seat and ignoring the very valid concerns of the parents.
I really was not expecting for one of her parents to be magical as well! I don’t know how someone could feel up to hiding it for so long, that’d be such an exhausting secret to keep. I’m shocked that he’d try to keep it from Isabella herself even after her thirteenth birthday. I actually don’t know what happens to people who never received a magical education as they get older. I wonder if their magic would get less and less stable as time goes on.
Omg, when she yells out ‘you’re a witch’!!! Amazing. Just rip that bandaid off right then and there. Oooh, the mention of ‘you know the laws’ makes me want to know the laws very badly!
Aztec warriors that pass down magic, oh wow. This is one of the coolest premises ever, I maintain. The stories that Juan starts to tell about his childhood magic surfacing are really good! I love seeing the ways magic manifests in young children, it’s one of those random topics I get super excited about.
Wow, okay so his backstory is the saddest thing. It makes a lot of sense that he’d hide away from that world after something like that happened. I knew that he must have a good reason, but my, I didn’t see that coming.
I understand Isabella’s mother and her reaction to all of this. Most wouldn’t react well to their entire world getting flipped inside out like this, especially when your daughter you’ve always kept close is apparently going to be just leaving all of a sudden.
This is one of the most unique fics I have ever read, there is quite literally nothing like this anywhere. And luckily, someone as skilled as you is taking care of the premise and making sure it reaches its full potential! I cannot wait to go on with the next chapter, this is just phenomenal and I know your worldbuilding is going to further impress me! Thank you so much for the swap, it was a pleasure.
KAITLIN! If we were together in the flesh right now, I would be grabbing your arm and shaking your entire person because that's how I express excitement for something when I don't have the words to express myself.
I love history and I'm a total nerd. And one of my muses is the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica. Mostly Mayan and Aztec. I know some about Olmec and Zapotec as well. And this story just makes my heart so happy. I'm not like an expert or anything, but I am at least familiar with most of the references here.
I like how the carvings on the wands have Mayan, Aztec, or Zapotec roots. I think that's different and interesting. Are they just carvings or hieroglyphs?
Ehecatl. When I read that Ehecatl was the wind god, I was like, "Umm... pretty sure that Quetzalcoatl is the wind god, or at least the Aztec one...?" But then I looked it up and it's just another name for him. Which leads me to ask, is Ehecatl the name for Quetzalcoatl in Zapotec culture? (I'm not as familiar with Zapotec and Wikipedia was unhelpful). Or is it a two-part name? Wikipedia seemed to suggest that, but that's not what I have learned. :/
The quetzal feathers. Wow. I can't remember what they were used for, but I remember that they were special and precious and expensive, yes? And the jaguar symbol! Yikes! Can't wait to see what that develops into! Her wand sounds awesome, and she's going to do amazing things with it, I think. How can she not, with such a unique and powerful(?) wand.
So, the wand proved that she has Zapotec in her. But she's confused because she thought she was Aztec, from her father. Could her mother be descended from Zapotec somehow? That's my current theory ;)
Okay, so if you're worried that the history makes it too meaty, well. Maybe for others that is the case, but I am loving it. You could layer up history and culture and I would dance in the rain for it. If I could give this chapter a 20/10 I would. Looking foward to chapter 4! Really!
Aubrey/Alwynse. RvG February.
Yes yes yes! I was hoping the magic would be Aztec related! And the school is in Mexico City which was Tenochtitlan! Ahh! I'm super pumped for the history and aculture that you might potentially include in this story!
Who is this Marisol? "You forbid me? You know as well as anyone that I do not operate under the same rules as you." She's someone of special status clearly. It feels like a parent should have say/control over the decisions regarding their child's future, but apparently Marisol's authority supercedes that.
I thought the parallels to Harry were interesting. Both Harry and Isabella have someone break down their door at midnight to tell them that they're a wizard/witch and their guardian hadn't told them and was insistant that they weren't going to the magical school. And of course both Harry and Isabella wanted to go despite their guardian not wanting them to go.
Okay, but the thing is is that Isabella hasn't performed any magic yet. I feel like this could be a good plot point? Like, if she's descended from powerful Aztec warriors, the assumption would be that magic runs strong in her. But what if it doesn't and all the other kids mock her for it? Could be interesting!
Anyway, I'm hooked. As I mentioned in your spooky Ecuador story, I recently learned on my own about Mayan and Aztec civilizations. So a fanfiction that incorporates Aztec history, culture, and mythology. Bring it on! I'm so excited to see what you're going to use!
Alwynse. For our review swap and for RvG February!
Hello Kaitlin! Finally able to get around to starting our double swap. (yesterday was my mother’s birthday and I wasn’t able to sneak away long enough to type this up)
I see why you were so excited to upload a new chapter of this story because we were both in this challenge together before my hiatus, so you must have started this one quite a while ago. Congratulations on continuing on with it! Always exciting to get back into something after some time.
So, to start, I have never read a fic set in Mexico before, or really any country outside of Europe or the US. I’m literally giddy to keep moving on with this one because from the very beginning you can really /feel/ the tangible proof that the story is very much tied to where it takes place, rather than being diverse in name alone.
Your descriptions really lend a sense of the location, with these small details that paint such a beautiful picture of the surrounding area - and tying it in with culture--the way the storm clouds tie into the growth of the grass that will feed their cattle.
I am assuming that the lady that says that the thirteenth year of her life will upend what she knows is a witch. At least that’s what I gathered.
I appreciated the emphasis in parts here on the sense of smell. That’s something that I tend to struggle with; I can never quite figure out how to incorporate it into my description, but the earthy smells of the cows and the chilies and spices do a lot of work to transport the reader to the place in question, much how smells can really trigger a certain spatial memory in real life.
(The mention of tres leches cake brought me back to my childhood, unexpectedly)
It’s interesting that children get introduced into the magical world at thirteen. I imagine that plenty of things would be different about the whole process surrounding this stuff, since there’s no real reason the Hogwarts way would become some sort of standard. I really liked the mental image of this elderly lady standing in the debris that was formally the front door. A wonderful scene to end the chapter on that makes me feel so eager to move on to the next one and see what’ll happen from this point on.
Hearing in your author’s note that you’ve spend a good amount of time in Mexico doesn’t come as a surprise--this feels very lived-in so far in a way that makes it clear that you are writing at least partially from experience. It’s such a delight to read this, and it truly is a breath of fresh air on the archives--in its genuine contribution to diverse reading and its clean, beautiful prose alike. I liked this quite a lot. I will get to your next review as soon as possible!
Hi Kaitlin! I’m back for more reviewing for our swap and for the February Gryffindor Red vs. Gold; Team Red.
Well, it looks like Isabella’s mama is still pretty angry about the revelations of the night before. Her papa doesn’t look to happy about it either. I am impressed that Isabella is bold enough to seek out Marisol to take her shopping for school supplies while her parents are too upset to help her. I like Isabella’s spunk and that she’s willing to make things happen.
It seems very fitting that the entrance to the magical market is through the village church. Great job again with your descriptions of the church and the magic market. I felt I could really picture the places while I was reading about them.
I particularly liked the wand store. The Mexican wands sound so much more interesting than the English ones. I would rather have a wand with awesome carvings and powerful stones on them. I’m very interested that Isabella picked such a special wand too. I expect exciting things are going to happen to her. Nice job working in the back story about the Cypress Tree and the quetzal bird. These details are making the story very interesting, so keep them coming!
I was amused that even though Isabella and Marisol are in a magic market, they eat tacos and drink coca cola. I agree heartily that things like food and (in my opinion) music transcend the magic/no magic boundaries. I also think it is sweet that Isabella is nervous about starting school.
Looking forward to more of the story when you get to it!
Hi Kaitlin. This is Downbelow from the forums :)
I must say, your descriptive writing is amazing. You're able to illustrate an entire environment in a way that makes the reader see it in their mind. Not everyone can do that so bravo :)
The symbolism of the atmosphere in relation to her emotions is amazingly mapped. I'm from a tropical country where the majority of the population depends on harvest so I can tell you confidently that you've captured the feelings towards rain and the smell of the animals really well. And the superstitious mind of the third world country? Spot on!
Ah spices! You definitely didn't forget that one :D And you've added most of the stuff we out in our food! You've done your research!
And I definitely did not see the ending coming! Wow wow ww. Amaizngly written! I get the feeling that you're going to align this nicely to Mexico! Can't wait to read the rest :D
Hi, Kaitlin. Finally you updated my favorite story. One of the best things to read stories, is that you can travel the place you've never visited with the protagonist. I felt like you guided Mexico for me. :D
As you thought of weighing the wand in your other HP fanfic, TNGA, I think the scene how they chose Isabella's wand is fantastic, too. The contrast between her parents' confusion and the shopping scenes is also great. I feel for her parents, out of the blue, they had to part from their daughter, especially for her mother, as a regular. (I also think it interesting you named Mexican Muggle as 'regular' ).
The episode about the background of the holy tree is interesting, too. All Aztec things sounds cool. I wonder how powerful they were, the indigenous people at that time. My image is that the unidentified flying object is visiting the relic in Azteca. No wonder those indigenous people could use magic! If she inherited the mysterious magic from her father's side, she would be a great witch.
The Mexican wands are engraved uniquely and attached with gems. It also sounds cool! The purple gem makes me imagine a powerful warrior. I expect there will be some duel scenes near future...
Hey Kaitlin! Here for our review swap and for RvG February.
I appreciate the fact that you intentionally write stories that are set outside of Europe. I'm remembering the story you wrote that was in Ecuador with the spooky baby-not-baby monster. It's refreshing, and I feel like I get to learn about other cultures. Speaking of other cultures, I'm curious, will the magic be Aztec based or modern Mexican culture based? Or something else??
Our girl seems like a free spirit. She's out in nature, by herself. She's a trailblazer -- literally. She can tell when the rains are coming. And she has a horse. Any girl who has a horse has a call of the wild in her or something ;) Just from this first chapter, I can tell she's also hard-working and family-oriented. The girl just rounded up a herd of cows by herself! And she is excited about the traditions her family does and participates in.
So. Who is this old lady. Or rather, who is our girl? What's so special about our girl that this old lady busts down the door? And why thirteen? And how can an old lady break down a door? Magic? Probably. I'm curious as to what sort of world you've built for this story. What happens when a girl turns thirteen, and why is that unlucky? Is magic the thing that's going to uproot her life?
Hey Kaitlin! I’m here for our swap!
Okay, so no I didn’t read this chapter previously, but I definitely read the first one. I’ll have to find my old review and transfer it. But Kaitlin, your writing is so pretty. Please, show me your ways? *begs* The descriptions in that first chapter, god I felt like I was there.
This was super interesting. I like how you changed the age that a witch would attend school in a different country. I’m sure it’s probably not 11 everywhere, so I like how immediately this isn’t going to be just a Mexican knockoff of Hogwarts. And the fact that it’s in the middle of Mexico City, and not hidden in some remote area. It already feels entirely different, and entirely it’s own thing. And the lure behind Isabella’s family, and how she got her magic it something special and different, too. I love the originality of this already.
I felt so bad for her father. It’s totally understandable that he would have lied about that part of his life, by keeping it secret from his family. How heartbreaking that his sister was killed, and he felt like it was his fault. Obviously it wasn’t. He was just protecting her. Such senseless violence. Really tragic. :(
Her mother’s reaction, at first I was like, “well that’s a bit harsh.” But thinking more on it, no, it’s really not. If I found out that my husband kept a secret like that from me, for all of these years, and that now by some magic law I’ve never been heard of, my child was going to be taken away by strangers to one of the largest cities in the world, yeah I’d flip out, too. Hopefully she comes to terms with it, and their family doesn’t break up.
I have to admit, at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about Marisol, but by the end of the chapter I loved her. Feisty lol. I hope we see more of her.
Im glad that Isabella put her foot down, and said she wanted to go. Yes, she may be young, but it’s still her life, and this will impact it for the rest of her life.
I’m really interested in seeing this Wizarding School. And where she has to go shop for her school supplies. Honestly, I’m interested in everything about this, seeing what the Wizarding World could be like outside of the UK and the US. Really amazing story you have here so far, love. I’ll 100% come back for the next chapter, after I’m finished with my other swaps.
Hi Kaitlin! I’m back for chapter 2 as part of our review swap, and also for the February Gryffindor Red vs Gold; Team Red
You start this chapter off with a bang. I am very interested in what the crazy old lady has to say, and why she is acting as though she owns the place. I also like that Isabella is the first to react—I bet she can think on her feet. And she must be brave to sit down with the strange visiter to hear what she has to say. She’s also respectful towards Marisol; Isabella must be a good girl. Isabella has a very honest reaction to Marisol’s creepy smile, but she seems to keep it to herself.
I feel sorry for Juan, Isabella’s papa. It looks like he has been keeping some big secrets. It’s never comfortable when those come out. He’s going to do his best to stop it, but Marisol is determined to tell Isabella the truth. And what a truth, she’s a witch!
It’s a great detail that in Mexico witches begin schooling on their thirteenth birthday rather than their eleventh. I am also intrigued that Isabella is from a long line of Aztec warriors. I hope that will come into play later in the story. It’s also interesting that in this story, the father is the wizard who has been hiding his powers rather than the mother. It seems to me that in JKR’s stories, it is more typical for the woman to be hiding her powers rather than the man.
Juan’s story about why he stopped using magic is simply heartbreaking. I feel so sorry for him. It’s tragic that he is afraid that Isabella’s learning to use her powers will hurt her too. I think it’s quite understandable that Isabella’s mother Rosa is furious with Juan. I would sure be angry if my husband had neglected to tell me something that important. But I hope she will calm down after she gets used to the idea.
I loved how you ended the chapter with the adults all shouting at each other and Isabella finally interrupting and insisting that she should have a voice in planning her own life. How exciting that she wants to go on this adventure that she’s been handed. I look forward to going on it with her!
Keep up the good work!
Hi Kaitlin! This review is part of our review swap and also for the February Gryffindor Red vs Gold; Team Red.
First, I’d like to tell you how excited I am to read this story. I am very interested in seeing the HP world expanded out of Europe and I love that you are using your personal experiences and observations to color the story. I also find it interesting that you are writing it in the first person and the present tense. It makes it seem so personal and immediate.
Great job setting the scene at the beginning of chapter one. I could visualize everything you described and it felt very peaceful to me. I particularly liked the image of the ring of mountains as “silent, purple giants” and that they make Isabella feel safe. The image of her rainbow colored skirt blowing up and filling her vision was also beautiful.
It’s such a peaceful start, that about halfway through the chapter I started worrying that something was about to happen. Nice foreshadowing by introducing the “old ragged lady” in passing, but then returning to the picturesque preparations for Isabella’s 13th birthday. The mole her mother is making sounds amazing, and I wish I could have some. I liked the extended description of Isabella’s mother making the mole and all of the ingredients that go into it. I also liked when her mother inhales some of the peppers, it gave a nice color to the scene. A slice of tres leches cake would also be great.
So, after all that lovely set up for a happy birthday; I like how you threw a wrench in the evening. A dark and stormy night and a break in by the crazy old lady from down the street! I can’t wait to find out what happens next!
I am also very interested in your story notes! I love details, so keep them coming :-). Great work!