Reviewer: AlwaysSnily
Date: 09/11/12 0:51
Chapter: Seven Years to Live

I cried. Your story- it's so real. So compelling. In fact, I'm still crying. And yet I can't wait to read more. I've read all three of your stories. There's not much to say about them except that when I'm reading them, in my mind, I'm Alexandra. And I am so glad I read them. Thank you so much.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/17/12 13:38
Chapter: Seven Years to Live

Now that we have the full story of Darla, it's much easier to look back and see how desparate she is. I'm sure this is intentional on your part, but one can't help but make comparisons between Darla and Alex. Both ultimately felt it was their mission to save their sibling. Both were extremely obsessed, to the point of irrational behavior. Both were willing to die for the sibling. (I think that was Darla's motivation for stepping through the portal) Both felt that their roommates wouldn't understand them, although it is here that Alex makes a major change.

The difference is how far they went. Darla was ready to do anything. Alex realizes (practically too late) that there are some things she will not do.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/17/12 4:02
Chapter: The Deathly Regiment

Knowing that Alex went through to Lands Below, you'd think Dean Grimm would have a better system of alerting them when someone returned.

It seems like no matter what happens, Alex always has secrets she needs to hide from others. Gives way too much meaning to the term Secret Keeper.

I think Alex is imitating Dean Grimm if unknowingly. The way she tells Benedict that he needs to earn forgiveness not just ask for it. Dean Grimm said in an earlier chapter, "There are some things for which an apology is completely inadequate." When Bonnie wanted Alex to talk to her about magic, Alex yells at her in much the same way Dean Grimm got angry at her in book 1 when Alex accused her of keeping secrets. When Alex tell Dean Grimm she is fine, she replies that she is not fine. This is the same advice Alex gives to Innocence when she tells Alex that she is fine. Alex tells her pretending she is fine when she isn't will mess her up and she ought to accept her sisters' love. (granted this is more Anna's advice, than Dean Grimm, but the idea that friends should help friends stay out of throuble comes from Lilith).

I wonder how much Diana and Lilith really know about the Deathly Regiment. And if this has something to do with the reason why Lilith and Diana don't get along. I find it interesting that Diana tells Innocence she is misremembering the Crucio incident, but I feel this is more due to the fact that Diana thinks Alex will lead her to her father if she is free.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/16/12 16:36
Chapter: A Life for a Life

When I first read this chapter, I was so angry with the Generous Ones. They reminded me of child molesters. They do a great evil, and then blame the victim--actually I felt this way about Lilith Grimm in the first book although now my opinion of her is alot less harsh.

On second reading, I was less harsh with the Generous Ones. This was only because it was reasonable for them to assume that when Max brought his sister, it was Abraham's intention for her to be sacrificed. That said, I still think the Generous ones are evil monsters. They seem to go out of their way to delight in other people's misery. I question whether Alex needs to give her life for the life of Cejaiaqui. I wonder if that was just made up because Alex closed the gate to Lands Beyond without killing anyone.

It does come back to the question--did Abraham Thorn know what he was doing when he sent Max to the Lands Below? The Generous Ones seem to think he deliberately wanted to sacrifice Alex, but they may have just said that to hurt Alex. But if it were true (and even if it weren't) I see under the terms of the contract how Alex might actually still live after 7 years.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/16/12 15:52
Chapter: Oak and Mistletoe

OMG, I think I missed this the first time around. HOW DID ALEX SURVIVE THE KILLING CURSE?

There are times I forget this is actually a Harry Potter novel. (This story is so uniquely yours). No one is supposed to survive the Killing Curse: Harry survived because his mother sacrificed herself for him. Who sacrificed him/herself for Alex? It means that Abraham's protection still works although unlike Benedict (or Voldemort for that matter) the curse didn't rebound and kill Darla. Darla's theory that it might be the wand may be true. Was it Innocence's wand that killed Mr. Whiskers? I suspect Darla's soul is split at this point.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/16/12 15:27
Chapter: The Bone Flute

Alex is having a reverse ethical dilemma. She feels guiltly about not condemning someone to their death. It is somewhat of a contrast to last year when she immediately condemned torturing a snake or harming a familiar. Although young people tend to empathize more with helpless animals than people, I don't think this is the only motive working in Alex.

What she actually has to decide is whether Max is worth more than anyone else. She doesn't see (rather she can't put into words yet) that if she saves Max, she is effectively saying some people are better than others--which is the attitude of Purebloods.

Another thing, that Alex may be missing is that she has to do more than just give someone a coin. I think she would have to insure that they cross to the Lands Beyond.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/16/12 1:00
Chapter: The Most Deathly Power

Does Death really have a sense of humor? Why else was Alex allowed to leave? I wonder if time has a different meaning in Lands Beyond. Why would Death care whether or not a 13 year girl would visit him? Yet he seemed to expect her.

What I suppose is significant is that Alex is being tested as to what she really means when she says she would do anything to save Max. In another sense she does have to set her priorities--how important is it that Max return.

When I first read this, I had no clue what Darla was doing.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/16/12 0:06
Chapter: The Lands Beyond

What Alex did doesn't seem like Dark Magic. It seems odd that the teachers or Dean Grimm couldn't have summoned the ghost just like Alex did.

It seems to me Benedict offers the most rational explanation as to why Alex's idea is so crazy.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/15/12 23:50
Chapter: Deathly Conjures

Methinks I doth think in Capital Letters and wilt write reviews with Many Unclear Turns of Phrase causing Migranes of the most Severest order.

I had to look up the definition of Katabasis. First of all it isn't pronounced as it looks kat-ah-bay-sis; it's more like kah-tahb-i-sis. It's general meaning is descending into the underworld. generally it means retreat or going from the inland to the sea. It is the opposite of the word anabasis which means either going up or an expedition from the coastline to the interior of a country.

The irony is in medical terms anabasis is the progress of a disease from onset to finish. Catabasis describes the recession of a disease or medical condition. Frankly I think going down into the Underworld is a Death wish plain and simple. Yet if the definition of the word applies then going down into the Underworld implies a cessation of a disease or in Alex's case a cessation to an obsession.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/15/12 16:31
Chapter: A Deal with Darla

It seems like Alex's reaction to Anna's betrayal are similar to Anna's reaction when Alex got caught using the Time-Turner. Actually I thought Alex forgave Anna relatively quickly but I think that had to do with the Auror threatening to Obliviate Anna's mother.

Sometimes it's difficult to understand Alex's obsession with bringing Max back and why she can't move on. It's not like it isn't clearly spelled out in good detail throughout this book. It's more because it isn't normal to obsess over death this much. Even Alex has glimpses of this idea when she is playing game with her friends.

Regardless of whether Darla means well or has something up her sleeve, this kind of talk isn't good for Alex. At the very least Alex should see that Darla is just as wrongly obsessed as she is and that wishful thinking won't make things go their way. Why should Death want to give back souls?

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/15/12 2:05
Chapter: Sweethearts and Traitors

I think I understand Larry's reason for hating Alex. It's not just because of her father and her so called special treatment. He's just jealous of the attention she is getting. In chap 12 when he seemed angry after winning it was because Shirtliffe gave Alex advice after she lost to him. He doesn't realize that if he joined JROC he would have all the 'attention' he wants.

It almost seems anticlimatic that her father just gave her the memory. I wonder if he listed all the names or if some were left out.

I was surprised at Anna's betrayal.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/14/12 18:24
Chapter: The Winter Ball

One thing that I didn't pick up on this chapter because it was oh so subtle was the reason Diana "knew" Alex was holding something back.

This is about the 2nd time that Diana has reminded Alex about people her father has killed. It is making me wonder if in the past Abraham Thorn had killed someone close to Diana (and I don't mean the other agent).

I found it amusing that Alex's father used Larry Albo as a means to send the message. I wonder if in the future there might be different sparks between the two. Sometimes I think they protest too much.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/14/12 17:45
Chapter: A Long, Cold December

In one sense you gotta give Alex credit for actually writing the letters of apology. It is an act of courage although it would have been better not to have made the mistake in the first place. I like how you tie in forgiveness with what is going on with the Pritchard sisters.

Alex seems to be so angry with herself (or self absorbed) that she doesn't realize that Brian is actually trying to be friendly again. She can't forgive Brian because she can't forgive herself for not bringing Max back?

I find it amusing that both Alex and her mother use the same words to get the other to open up.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/14/12 14:17
Chapter: Things Change

My thoughts on who Stunned Alex.

1 Darla--she's been acting very suspicious and is definitely up to something except I don't think she would leave the Time Turner just lying around. And the fact that the Time Turner wasn't taken seems significant.

2 So I concluded that the purpose of whoever Stunned her seems to be preventing Alex from using the time turner.

3 except no one knows she has it except Triss who would eventually tell Valeria. The only way Valeria could stop this would be by using another time turner, return from Europe, time travel back, Apparate into the basements and then Stun Alex.

4 If it were Valeria, I think she would have taken the Time turner back unless she knew the time turner wasn't taken back.

5 Since I've now opened the Pandora Box of Time Travel, it could have been any one of Alex's friends who time traveled back. Of course none of the Students have a Time Turner, but it could have been Ms. Shirtliffe, Dean Grimm or her sister.

6 Lastly it could have been Alex herself from some future. (One of my original thoughts when I read this last year). This means either Alex has figured a way to go forward in time or there is a hidden Alex in this timeline. This time around however I noticed a suble clue "another figure raising an arm, as if to mirror her".

OK maybe I have too much time on my hands.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/13/12 16:08
Chapter: A Tightly-Wound Plan

A somewhat painful chapter, mainly because Alex knows she is doing wrong, but thinks the ends justifies the means.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/13/12 1:10
Chapter: The Historicist

This was a somewhat confusing chapter. The clues that were so obvious to Alex were not so obvious to me. I just assumed that Deezie told Triss who Apparated to the crypt (presumably because she knew where Valeria was), told her Alex was out of bed and may have gone into the woods. In the time it took for Valeria to find her, Triss got a change of clothes and hot food.

The only clue which I picked up on the third reading was when Valeria told Triss that they would be back before you left.

I do think Valeria is correct when she says Alex is too clever for her own good.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/11/12 17:14
Chapter: The Thanksgiving Blessing

The Thanksgiving Blessing is somewhat condescending. I get that there is a certain amount of altruism but it is accompanied by this idea that Muggles can't protect themselves. And this is because wizards keep Obliviating any one that has a clue. (Imagine David's reaction if he heard it). It all comes down to the fact that wizards think they are better than Muggles because they have magical powers.

The other parallel I noticed is that power seems to depend on the control of information. In some instances information needs to be withheld from children because they are immature. Alex is definitely immature, however her instincts are correct in that too much information is withheld--hence her anger at wizards for Obliviating Muggles, her anger at arresting Anna's father without any evidence, her anger at Ms Grimm for withholding information she needed to pass the intial Spawns, for not telling her who her father was in the earlier books...

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/10/12 23:15
Chapter: Reunion

Isn't it ironic that it is Larry and Alex who keep Adela and Anna from fighting.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/10/12 22:53
Chapter: The Dueling Club

Alex's obsession about bringing her brother back has shades of Star Trek in it where the lead character feels compelled to break all rules and go back in time.(I think it was the premise of the series finale of Voyager). As David would say, Alex watches too much TV.

I wonder about Larry and what motivates him. You have not really written him as a complete bully.

Darla is inexplicable. She seems to be using Innocence, but it isn't clear what she is up to.

Reviewer: rambkowalczyk
Date: 02/10/12 20:52
Chapter: Cursing and Fighting

I don't think it occurs to Constance and Forbearance how difficult it might be for Innocence. Constance and Forbearance were roommates and therefore had a built-in sanctuary. Innocence's roommate probably makes fun of her clothes and in general looks down on her. Innocence, probably more than her sisters would like to fit in and has difficulties setting boundaries.

Innocence definitely has her own sense of right and wrong when she tells William not to be a quitter.

I noticed in this chapter, Alex has a slightly better awareness that she actually has friends and that they make "her feel less like a loser."

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