This won’t be a really long review, since Leanne and Nikki pretty much said everything in their reviews that I would have. That doesn’t mean that I can’t extol its virtues, however. A healthy dose of ‘squee’ never hurt anyone. :-D
First off, I really love this fic. It’s dark, a little creepy, and had just the right flavour of covert romance. In other words, this is a great late night read! What drew me in was the image of Charity sitting alone in the woods. Immediately, that screams to me that something terrible is going to happen.
Both Nikki and Leanne mentioned the adjective overload in some spots, and while I do agree a bit, just a couple trims here and there would fix it right up. Personally, I’m fine with the way it is, but some readers find a bunch of adjectives distracting. Anyway, on to the next subject.
I should really not be so fascinated by blood and gore, but I can’t lie… I really am. ^.^ I remember getting chills as I read this, thinking to myself that surely, this thing stalking the night wasn’t going to tear this poor bloke to shreds. But it sure did.
I do have a question burning in my mind. Why on earth was she out in the freaking Forbidden Forest with no shoes on? That bothered me to the point that I wanted to reach into the monitor and slap her a couple times. Was it a conscious decision on your part to make her shoeless, or did it just happen that way?
The relationship between Charity and Clandestine is very passionate when I see the way that she feels when he touches her. And when she describes that ‘secretive spice’, it confirms that it has ascended to ‘that’ level. For a teacher to risk his job and his reputation, not to mention his freedom if she’s young enough to get him sent to prison, for this love affair, it had to have been pretty intense.
If I may conjecture? It was said that the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher was cursed after Professor Merrythought retired. Is Clandestine one of those who fell under the curse of that position? Though it would have been more violent than the other position-vacating occurrences. I just thought that it could be a matter of interest.
Your use of onomatopoeia to describe the stalking beast was great. If it was quiet in here instead of just dark, I probably would have been looking over my shoulder all the rest of the night. It was simply fantastic to feel like I was running in the forest along with our professor. Each snap of the twig, each ominous growl, gave me goosebumps.
As it was mentioned, Dumbledore in this is a total win. He’s a man that knows what everyone is doing, and the fact that he called Charity by her given name instead of Miss Burbage (I’m assuming that this is who it is) says that he knew about her and Clandestine. Since he was the Headmaster, if he disapproved, he could put them both in a whole world of trouble, but he didn’t. That speaks of Dumbledore to me. Very well done.
The encounter with the beast at the end was extremely awesome. She heard it coming, and I could just see it in my head, this woman/child backing away in fear from the thing that killed her lover. Your description and flow really made it so much more powerful, and I can’t even explain how awesome it is to feel like I’ve been pulled into this fic.
When it transformed into the headless woman, I said to my self, “No freaking way! This is awesome!” It was like… gah, I fail at being able to convey just how incredible/scary/horrible and in general spectacular that sequence was. I really like that it ended where it did, since it left an air of mystery as to what the headless woman was going to do to Charity – if anything – and whether the headless woman/beast had even seen Charity spot her. My head was spinning with questions, but they were the right kind of questions – the kind that let me conjecture on my own, and I really like that.
If I may conjecture again… is this black dog this a Grim? The Lexicon says that seeing one ‘portends’ death. Even though the timeline of this says that we don’t see her in the books for another 40 years after this (again, assuming that this is Charity Burbage), give or take, we know how she died, and it was nearly as horrible as how Clandestine died. Am I reading too much into this, or did you intend to make this reference?
Anyway, I really like this fic, and it should really be included on the next Halloween audiofic podcast. It’s got just the right feel for it.
That’s enough from me, so take care, happy writing, and I shall see you around SPEW!
Author's Response: The shoes, don't know why I did that. This is one of those stories that I just sat down and wrote, and all sorts of things find their way into those, LOL. On the Grim, I think the prompt was just that, but I did some research outside of JKR's potrayal and found the story about the headless woman. Thank you for your review! xx
Hello there, oh author of the month! I have to say I had a tough time choosing which of your fics to read and review, because there was such a variety. But then I saw this one, and the summary intrigued me. I’m glad I chose this one, too, because I really did like it and thought you did a nice job with it.
I was curious to see which characters you would have engaging in the student/teacher relationship. As soon as we found out it was Charity Burbage I was trying to think of who the teacher could be, and I thought for a bit that you might not tell us at all and leave it a mystery. This whole fic carries that sort of mysterious feeling, and I really enjoyed that. I was curious about the characters, the creature, the setting, all of it. You did a good job keeping my interest in what was going on. I think part of that has to do with balance. This fic didn’t focus too heavily on any one aspect, though that isn’t to say it lacked focus, either. We got a good sense of the relationship between Charity and Professor Clandestine, enough that we could feel her pain when he died, but we also weren’t too distracted by their relationship to not appreciate the slightly scary part of this fic, too. And I was rather frightened, because I really had no idea what the creature was. I have to say I’m still not entirely sure what it was, but I think that’s part of the point.
I’m afraid I can’t write this review without commenting on the teacher’s name. Clandestine – well, it just seems a bit obvious, you know? It sort of shouts at the reader that this fic is about a secret relationship, and I don’t think that’s something that needed to be so obviously said. It’s pretty clear anyway, and I just felt like the name ‘Clandestine’ could easily have been something else.
Just a quick moment to say that I loved Dumbledore in this. His role was small, but the way he spoke to Charity, almost certainly knowing of her relationship with Clandestine – it was just so him. Of course he would know, and I just thought that was a good bit of characterization.
I think one of your strengths is definitely description. There’s such a vivid picture in my mind of what was going on here. I do think, though, that the description got a tad overdone in places. This sentence, for example: The light, summery breeze stirred my short, blonde curls, tickling my cheeks. ‘Light’ and ‘summery’ are a little redundant together, and sound almost clunky when in the same sentence as another pair of adjectives (‘short, blonde’). It’s just important to remember that sometimes less is more. You don’t want to be bombarding your reader with description; you just want enough to set the scene well.
Overall, I thought this fic was very interesting. I love the fact that it isn’t about just one thing. We get the relationship aspect as well as the mysterious, frightening aspect (how fitting that I’m reading this on Halloween!). Keep it up!
Author's Response: Yes, I've had several comments on Clandestine's name, and am kinda regretting the choice, LOL. Something to keep in mind when naming characters in future... Thank you for the review :) x
Hello SPEW buddy! :D
The first paragraph is loaded with description – almost to a fault, I think. I love the first sentence, but I think it’s the next two that go a little overboard. There are so many adjectives and adverbs in such short sentences. You can still create a vivid image for the reader without using so many describing words. For instance, here:
I sunk to my scabby, cut knees and curled up like a child among the overlapping piles of snaking tree roots.
Both ‘overlapping’ and ‘snaking’ aren’t necessarily needed; in my opinion, the image of snaking tree roots creates the perfect picture itself. Also, the ‘scabby, cut knees’ – again, only one of those words is really necessary. I think it might have been better, perhaps, if you had spaced it out a bit more. Describe more of the setting in between the description of your character. It might even be beneficial to stray a bit from the common ‘adjective, adjective’ formula, such as you used with ‘scabby, cut’ and ‘short, blonde’, and space out your adjectives as well. This could easily be fixed by simply adding one of the details in another sentence, in another part of the paragraph, perhaps further down. Sometimes it works really well to give the reader little details throughout your fic instead of cramming it all in at once.
That aside, the writing in this fic went really well with its mood. It was descriptive, yet mysterious, and I think the strongest point of the fic. For the most part, the rest of the description flows well, and the mood you give the reader is perfect.
I like that a lot was left unsaid or unexplained because it adds to the feel of the fic, such as the true depth of Charity’s relationship with her Professor; however, I do think some things might have been better explained – for instance, the headless woman. I know you explained this in the author’s note, but I think it would have been better if it had been examined broader within the fic. As it is, the fic ends rather abruptly. The transitioning from past to present tense in that scene, as well, is a little bumpy, but nothing some small smoothing over can’t fix. You could do that entire scene in present tense instead of beginning in past and moving into present.
Just a few nitpicks:
My head collided peacefully with his chest
‘Collided’ and ‘peacefully’ are two rather contradictory words, and I’m not convinced that ‘collided’ is the right choice for the image and feeling you want to create. Perhaps something softer would work better, like ‘hit’ (in which case you would have to rearrange the sentence) or ‘bump.’
In our own little, private bubble.
I’m not sure that comma is needed.
All in all, I think other than a few technical errors, this fic was well-written and a very interesting read. You’ve certainly captured the perfect mood and translated it well into words. Well done!
Author's Response: Wow, thanks for a fantastic review! I've looked over the story and made changes according to my feedback via reviews. -hugs-
Interesting choice of names. Dark Arts Professor # 7, perhaps, of the Dark Lord curse?
Nitpick on "I retrieved it from the floor." Forest floor? He seems to have backed out onto the lawn.
Author's Response: Ooh, I hadn't thought about the curse >.> I guess you're right, lol. I'll mend the nit-pick when I get a moment. Thank-you for reading and reviewing. :]
Aw! So sad but so good. I liked how you switched perspectives and how you illustrated the feelings.
For a moment I thought it was a Snape/Hermione fic but then the "blond curls" said otherwise.
Author's Response: Thanks for the review, honey. And I love Snape/Hermione, wish I had the muse to write a decent one longer than a drabble. Lol. Thanks! xx
This is a good, atmospheric little story. Short and simple, but creepy.
I loved all the imagery at the beginning: the forlorn leaves, snaking tree roots, summery breeze. It all put me in mind of an evening that's warm, but where you have goosebumps anyway because it's kind of spooky. Really nicely done - the description's not too over-the-top.
The constant pattern of two adjectives before a noun threw me off, though - you had "light, summery breeze", "short, blonde curls", "sharp, musky scent", "sweet, minty kiss", and "dark, medium-length hair" in just the first three short paragraphs. I'd watch out for that next time - it sort of stopped what was otherwise a very evocative description from flowing quite right. In this case, I think changing the hair descriptions could help. Does the exact length of his hair really matter?
I like that you left plenty unsaid - the reader is left to imagine how Charity feels. The way you used onomatopoeia was really effective, too, conveying with a simple word what you could have spent a sentence describing.
About the name "Professor Clandestine"... well, of course it's fitting for a student-teacher relationship, but I think it's too obvious. Perhaps you could have used some translation or derivative of the word.
The transition from past to present tense at the end wasn't handles so smoothly, either. I found it confusing, at least. In this case it might have been better just to stick with the past, but then again, present tense really works for the last few lines, especially The woman has no head (what a simple yet shocking ending). I think if you change the whole last section to be in present, it would still make sense and would be much clearer.
This was a really interesting concept, and you pulled it off well all in all. Interesting choice of character! If you ever write Charity again, it would be interesting if you kept this as part of her background and explored how that shaped her. I'm wondering, what subject do you think Clandestine taught?
Again, nice job dear :)
Author's Response: Wow, thanks. I will look into your concrit when I get a chance - the suggestions you've left are really good, and I can see what you mean. And a subject for Clandestine... hm. If I remember correctly, I think when I was writing it I assumed he was the DADA or potions professor - you know, a somewhat darker subject. Thanks again! xx
*tackle hugs* Amazing! I love this so much. And the end is still creepy to the extreme -- I adore it.
Okay, now I'm going to check out your author's page for that link. Again -- this is amazing. Keep writing, and tell me if you need any more help! :-)
Author's Response: -tackle hugs back- Lol. Thank-you so much - and thanks for lending you beta'ing hand XD I hope you find the link okay - it doesn't stand out much. xx
OOH, that was creepy. You write 'atmosphere' very well, Spire. Now, I thought it was going to be Charity Burbage, as the teacher, and I was half expecting Draco to turn up as the pupil - ha ha - your version was much better. I would like to know what the creature was that killed him. No head *shivers* very spooky.
Minor nit-pick dark, longish hair . I think 'longish' sounds a bit sloppy and you should have just kept it as long - or mid-length. Sorry, that's just me :p
Intriguing story, though. Carole xxx
Author's Response: Carole - thanks for the compliment :) I found a new writing strength xD Yeah, Charity's the student in this one, though imagine if Draco was instead. Lol. The creature was a black dog, and I based that theory off a story I read during the research for this prompt. I will change that word in a minute, too. Thanks! xx
wow that was really well written! That would be horrible and charity cant talk about it because their relationship was a secret! Im a little confused by the last part... was the dog/anamagus the one who killed the proffesor? And why didnt she have a head? Was she a warewolf? you did mention a full moon... I still think it was an amazing story and you did a fantastic job! Ps. When did this fic take place? Marauders era?
Author's Response: -hugs- Wow, you nailed why it's a student/teacher affair exactly. xD And I'm going to add an author's note to explain, but the dog did kill the professor. This one-shot is for my Herbology class, and this is based on the prompt 'black dog'. I did some research into some folk-lore and things and something that intriqued me was the story of how a blackdog walks with a boy and then just turns into a headless woman. I'll add the link in my profile. It kind of scared me, but I couldn't let it go. The full moon was for atmosphere, though I did imply that the dog only comes out at fullmoon I think. Or something like that XD I can't be bothered to go check how it is exactly. Time era - I mark this sixties/seventies. Thanks for reading and reviewing! xx