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Hi Geoff. I half-promised to write you another review after this story was finished, so here it is. I am hard-pressed to find anything to complain about. Obviously you have made good use of the suggestions you received from the various assistants whom you credited. The subject was original and touched on a part of the Harry Potter legendarium that I have not seen addressed before. It is plain that you took great care with the details, which can make or break the plausibility of the story and function as little nails tacking everything firmly into place. Examples would be the reference to widdershins, an old supernatural belief, and "Tom Brown at Hogwarts", a take-off on the old "Tom Brown at School" books, which actually existed a century ago.
The plot is well-developed and well-paced, not draggingly slow or superficially fast, with the surprising twist of the letter's not being a Hogwarts invitation after all, when we readers were so sure that it was.
The descriptive sentences are well-done, with good, careful word choices, that avoid the extravagance one sometimes sees, mere novelty for the sake of novelty, and they never impede the flow of the narrative but rather contribute to it by making it more vivid.
The characters are well-developed and distinct, but the story never wavers from Phoenix's point of view. I like the fact that Ron is almost always referred to as Mr. Weasley, because that is how Phoenix sees him. I also like the fact that Ron, at age 29, is depicted as a mature and competent adult, not a perpetual bumbling adolescent. You would think that maturity on his part would be a given, but it is not always written thus.
Of course a good Sorting Hat song is always a treat to read, and yours certainly qualifies. But it does raise questions in my mind, not fully satisfied, about how it is decided, pre-invitation-letter, that some students are not suited to attend Hogwarts.
My only other qualification is that the ending, where Ron is so certain that Mrs. Jones will come around eventually, is a little weak in that the matter is not so unquestionable in my mind as it seems to be in Ron's. I would much enjoy reading a sequel, the first chapter of which would settle this question beyond further doubt.
An excellent story. Well done.
Author's Response: Thanks for such a long and flattering review! The plan was always for this story to finish where it does, but I agree that in retrospect the ending does seem a bit abrupt. While Ron is only too happy to see what he (or, rather, Minerva McGonagall) wants to see, Mrs. Jones will probably not be convinced that Phoenix belongs at Hogwarts until he has spent a term or two there. So perhaps a sequel is in order. But I have another chaptered story to finish first (I'm hoping I'll be able to start posting it here soon). I re-read "Tom Brown's Schooldays" recently; it's easy to see it as a distant ancestor of Harry Potter. (Tom Brown arrives at school and makes a new best friend who doesn't have any money. But Tom has plenty, so he buys some snacks for them to share...) Thanks again. By the way, "legendarium" is a great word.
This was a wonderful read. Thanks for writing it!
Author's Response: Thanks for reading it.
Your descriptions are so apt and vivid! When I looked online for an image of Bryn Gwyn, it and the area looked just like I thought they would.
Author's Response: The Bryn Gwyn in the story is meant to be a fictional mountain, so don't go hunting online for the valley where Phoenix lives! I did have to do some virtual location-scouting in Wales for this project, as I don't live there myself.
It is a bit sad to just leave it there. I will live in hope of further stories.
Author's Response: I may write more about Phoenix, but it's not the next thing on my list.
Well! There I was thinking this was set in Goblet of Fire or something... I'm surprised that Phoenix hasn't heard any recent wizarding history, but perhaps his parents are trying to protect him. I hope Ron can do something to help: at least he's had a chance to speak to Phoenix and knows what Phoenix wants.
How is Ron a close living relative to the Jones family?
Author's Response: The Weasleys seem to be related to most of the wizarding world. Of course, Ron's siblings are all just as closely related to the Joneses as he is, so I could just as well have picked any one of them. But it was Ron that I went with.
Why did she hate every one at school? Seems odd.
Author's Response: Phoebe's memories may be coloured by her present-day attitudes. Perhaps if she'd stayed in touch with her classmates after she graduated, she'd like them better by now.
Dumbledore! Dumbledore! I hope it's Dumbledore!
Author's Response: It's great to have an enthusiastic reader! As to who the Special Admissions Officer is, you'll find out soon.
His parents are really rather jerks. I guess it's easy to believe that you must know best when you live in the middle of nowhere, with the other adult on your side, and the only person to gainsay you is an 11-year-old.
Author's Response: Griff's ideas about magical education border on the eccentric, and they are certainly strongly held. (That tends to happen to people who carefully keep themselves away from anyone who might think differently.) But hopefully he's not in Vernon Dursley territory; I'm trying to make him (and his wife) a bit more sympathetic than that.
The Dread Gazebo! An excellent reference with which to start the chapter.
I'm becoming very curious about what his parents' problem is with Hogwarts. I hope he manages to get to school.
Author's Response: Glad to see someone noticed the Dread Gazebo in there. Now I'm just wondering whether anyone will get the Tom Brown reference. Thanks for reading!
Write to Dumbledore.
Author's Response: He'll get to that, eventually...
Nicely written, and I am glad that you are addressing a topic I have wondered about also, namely, parents who have reservations about sending their children to Hogwarts. It will be interesting to see where this story goes.
Author's Response: Thanks! More about Phoenix's parents' reservations in the next chapter.
I do not know enough about what is going on yet. I will certainly follow this story.
Author's Response: Great to have you for a reader, Dad. Phoenix, and you, will learn a bit more about the true state of things in upcoming chapters.