Hello, Violet. I'm here with your review. I did read through chapter one and will probably throw in some comments on it as I go, but I'm focusing in on this chapter since it was the one you were more concerned about.
Actually, I lied. I think I'll start at the beginning after all, though not in as much detail perhaps. I thought your opening chapter was really wonderful. By the time Moody was officially on the case, I was hooked. You have such a great talent for seeing the HP universe in an entirely new way - not just with this story but with a lot of your stories. It works with canon and yet always adds something new. One example in particular was the bit about the castle as you described it in the paragraph that started, "A place of magic..." It's so true; think about all the ghosts, the locked doors, the way the founders parted company. The castle holds a lot of darkness and yet I'm so used to seeing it as Harry's home that I never thought of it the way you described. Brilliant!
I try and make a habit of not reading authors' notes until after I've read a chapter, so as to not be influenced one way or the other, but even before I read yours at the start of chapter one, I thought "this is a film noir." Right away I'm thinking Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. I love that hard-boiled detective genre, so this is right up my alley.
Now on to your concerns for chapter two. Personally, I think the narrative voice is perfect. It could be a lot for the reader to take in, being in Moody's head. There is just the right amount of detachment here, one that lets you the author give us clues about the type of person Moody is without having him tell us directly - which often sounds forced. Who is self-aware enough to comment on the way the world views them? The only time (and this is so nitpicky) that I thought the voice "slipped" a little was:
A lesser detective would have leapt up those staircase to catch her before she suspected anything was up...
"Anything was up" sounds a bit modern to me, but really, it's just a single world. Overall, I love what you've been able to portray about Moody already. I think the line, "Hell, they made his life worth living too" tells us everything we need to know about him.
I didn't find the pacing to be bad either. I think there has to be some "slower" points in a story like this. If he was chasing after bad guys, wand drawn from the get-go, it would lose the slow build of a mystery novel. That said, if you are really looking for a way to punch it up (and this is obviously just a suggestion; it isn't bad at all as is), you could consider breaking up the chapter into two pieces, starting right after "vanished into the night." The transition was a little abrupt for me, so going for a full division might work. I might suggest then coming back in a bit further into the scene, when Moody's already seated, looking over the papers. It isn't the research that's slow (and I love the bits about the war you mentioned before that point), but push come to shove, you don't *need* to show his arrival at the Ministry, him walking through the offices, etc. I like the mental image of him being there alone in the dark, but you could still tuck a lot of the same info in, but more in another way, ie:
"Moody was sitting at his desk. He'd been there for hours, not anther soul in sight. It was like during the war..." Obviously that's a terrible couple of sentences, but you get the point. Jump more into the scene, then backtrack a little with the backstory. I think the magic parts were fine, and you did mix physical action, narration, dialogue, all of it to keep in interesting and moving forward, but there were a few parts you could cut if you're looking to move it along even faster.
The first half of the chapter is perfect and I wouldn't touch a bit of it. I love the idea of the McGonagall in her tower, both a character of suspicion and a potential "damsel in distress." And again, the pacing in the second half isn't bad. These were just some ideas if you were looking for a way to punch it up.
I feel like there is a lot more I could say, so much of it positive. I love the plot, the atmosphere, the way you cast the story. There may have been one or two extra 'fog' references over the course of the two chapters but that is about as "negative" a critique as I have to give. But I fear I'm running out of room. I hope this has been helpful. If so, please feel free to re-request when you post more chapters or for another story. I always enjoy the excuse to spend some time reading your work.
Author's Response: Very sorry for the wait on the response! But now I'm ready to devote the proper amount of time to both responding and making the necessary alterations to the chapter. I definitely agree that certain parts can be cut, and I really like what you said about how that can be done - it would fit the style of story to include such a lapse, and I've been thinking through how to do it. One issue I've had is that there's a moment in that long walk that's crucial to the plot - a bit of foreshadowing that will, in the end, explain a lot. That was what took me so long, just deciding how to best make it work (and getting back the right mood for this story - this genre takes a particular mood, very much like humour-writing does).
Thank you very much for this review! Your reviews are among the best on the site (you're easily up there with Alopex) and it's wonderful to get your opinion on things - it's very clear and honest, which is exactly what I want. :D After reading this, I've found it hard to actually want more reviews for this story - you've covered everything! Thank you for being so amazing (especially since you've already got a lot to do as a staffer).
I'm incredibly glad to hear that the story has that film noir feel even without you needing to explicitly hear that it's of that genre. While writing, I try to imagine the whole thing in black and white with those strangely-angled shots and heavy shadows. It's also a surprisingly slow-moving genre, with less dialogue and more brooding than I'm used to. That's what I was trying to include in this chapter, but it ended up not containing enough material - I'm planning on extending the action scene at the end and cutting the narrative not long after he steps out of the elevator. The part in the lobby is necessary, but him getting into the office is not - it became too detailed. Don't know why I let that happen, but it should be easy enough to fix. :)
With that line "anything was up", you're right that it's too modern, and I'll get to changing that when I do the rest of the edits. I'm pathetically tempted to instead make it "before she realized that the game was afoot" and it's likely what I will do. :P Can't resist a Sherlock Holmes reference when I get the opportunity.
Thank you so much for your compliments too, wow! They're fabulous to read, very inspiring, and it means a lot to hear them from you. I hope it's okay that, when I actually write the next chapter, to request you again (if you're still offering by that time, of course). Your feedback has really helped me better conceptualize the plot and narrative - this story has turned out to be more of a challenge than I expected, so I need all of the help I can get. Thank you again! ^_^