Reading Reviews for Diamonds into Coal
  
294 Reviews Found

Review #26, by Courtney Dark Desire

30th November 2013:
Oh my god this was the perfect last chapter! Sob! Why does it have to be over? I really fell in love with this story and grew super, super attached to your characters, and even though they're dead, I don't want it to be over! I just want to know more - more about their life at Hogwarts and Venn's reaction when the Chamber of Secrets was opened and the Battle of Hogwarts and their first few days as ghosts and...basically this story was just so good that I am desperately sad that there is no more.

This chapter was the perfect way to end your story. When I saw that the name of the chapter was Desire, I suddenly remembered that the first chapter, which I read quite some time ago, was a flashforward into the future, and I got super excited! And I love the way you wrote the death scene - I felt a little bad for Venn, actually, when I realized it was all a misunderstanding, based on that bloody basilisk! Well, actually I felt bad for both characters, considering they both ended up dead.

Thank you so much for writing this amazing story, I really, really enjoyed reading it and I wish desperately there was more!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: Yay, we made it to the end!

Aww, I'm glad you thought it was perfect! I worked hard to tie up a lot of loose ends here, and you're right that there is a ton more to the story that could be explored. I suppose that's where the reader's imagination comes in :)

Yeah, the chapter title was a nod to the prologue, showing that the story has really come full circle and we're back to the present after having reviewed Venn and Helena's whole love story. I did want to leave that lingering sense of hope at the end to show that maybe there's still a future for Venn and Helena, if only they could learn to forgive one another. Sadly, by Harry's time, we see that still hasn't occurred, and maybe it never will.

Courtney, thank you so much again for all of your wonderful reviews. I'm always surprised when someone enjoys my work enough to want to read and review the whole story, and it was so fun to explore this novel anew with you and remember why I adore it so much. Again, sorry for the delay in responding!

-Amanda


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Review #27, by Courtney Dark Rowena's Last Hope

30th November 2013:
I can't believe I only have one chapter left to go! I have enjoyed reading this story, following Venn and Helena so much, and I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to it. Sob!

Anyway, this was a great chapter! Now I feel super bad for Rowena, wasting away and worrying about her missing daughter and about not being able to see her again before she died. Though Venn genuinely seemed to want to help Rowena find Helena, I cannot help but me suspicious of his motives.

I am impressed with Helena, managing to last a week on her own - although she really should have brought food in her bag. That is definitely the first thing I'd think to pack! And oooh, that cliffhanger! I can't wait to read the last chapter!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: Aww, I'm sorry you're sad, but I'm happy you've enjoyed it so much and been so good as to review all the chapters :)

Yeah, both Rowena and Venn are experiencing some regrets here. Poor Helena is having a few of her own, particularly in terms of not having been very practical in her packing. Clearly she's not ready to be an adult yet.

Thanks for another fantastic review!

-Amanda


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Review #28, by Courtney Dark Fight or Flight

29th November 2013:
Venn! Stop being so influenced by Salazar! It's driving me insane! Can't you see with his basilisk lurking under the school that's he's EVIL! Gr!

And what about this comment: 'As if anything about that dreadful occasion could merit my joy at this time.' If Helena heard him talking like that she would definitely not be happy! And Salazar talking about setting the basilisk loose on some innocent muggles with glee...he is one creepy, creepy bloke.

The weird thing is, as much as I am disliking Venn and is attitude at the moment, during his conversation with Helena, I sort of saw what he was talking about. The dress is a bit of a ridiculous reason to put off the wedding...but I also see Helena's point of view. She has now realized that perhaps Venn is not the person she thought he was. Perhaps if she was braver she would reconcile with her mother? But how does that saying go? It is easier to forgive people for being wrong than right? Or something like that?

Anyway, awesome chapter!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: Venn is under a lot of stress due to Salazar's plotting, and unfortunately that means that he's even more dismissive of Helena than usual, not even being able to entertain her girlish quirks. I see a rift between the lovers coming soon...

Yeah, the dress is a bit of a flimsy excuse. But clearly Helena is looking for any way to stall this decision and get everyone on her side. I don't think either she or her mother are in a good place to make up right now, sadly. Who knows if they'll get the chance?

Thanks for another fabulous review!


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Review #29, by Courtney Dark Pieces of a Dream

29th November 2013:
This is, without a doubt, my favourite chapter so far!

First off, we got to see Venn and Helena being presented with Salazar's locket and Rowena's diadem - well, sort of at least. I'm not sure it was meant to, but Salazar's comment to Venn about returning it actually sent shivers up my spine, and when Witter presented Helena with the diadem, I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that she steals it!

And that dance between Helena and Venn! He is definitely becoming more and more Bloody Baron like! Let's just say that if I was Helena in this chapter, I'd be more than a little aggravated. I don't blame her from getting out of there - and I really did enjoy that servant's point of view. It was interesting seeing Helena from a different POV.

The argument between Salazar and Godric! I love how even though this story is centered around Venn and Helena, you still add in all these events concerning the founders that we know from canon. And Rowena actually was sick! With only three more chapters to go, I can definitely see that things are starting to get serious!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: I liked this chapter a lot because I think it represents a turning point for Helena. She realizes that this whole wedding and marriage thing isn't going to be the perfect dream she thought it was (hence the chapter title). On the outside, they look like two blissful young people just having fun and enjoying their riches, but we know there's more under the surface, and it's dark.

Helena has had just about enough of being dismissed and downplayed by her fiance. Venn, of course, won't realize what he has until it's gone, as you'll see soon.

Yes, lots of cliffhangers regarding the Founders, and things are getting serious. Hope you enjoy the last few chapters!

Thanks for another great review, Courtney :)

-Amanda


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Review #30, by Courtney Dark Devil in the Details

29th November 2013:
Another awesome chapter!

I am so glad, for Helena's sake, that Witter is actually taking an interest in her wedding and helping her to get through it when Rowena isn't taking any interest at all. I still feel so bad for Helena that her mother has basically cast her out, but I can definitely see, more and more with each chapter, why Rowena is so hesitant about this marriage. I think Venn means to be a good guy - and he is sometimes - but he also has some slightly unpleasant characteristics. Also, although Helena is definitely very intelligent, she came across as a tad naive in this chapter, and very innocent - like, she still has all these dreams and wishes, but some of them are slightly unrealistic and may not come true.

Venn's gift was very sweet and thoughtful. I am so conflicted! I love both Venn and Helena and always love finding out more about their relationship, but you have made them these fleshed out characters with both negative and positive attributes that it is hard to work out exactly what I think of them, especially Venn!

Anyway, I really enjoyed this chapter!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: I loved being able to focus on the father-daughter relationship here, since all we ever hear about from canon is the conflict between Helena and her mother. Unfortunately, Rowena has a point that Helena is choosing to ignore. I think you've developed a good understanding of the problems at the core of Venn and Helena.

Hah, I meant for them to be hard to work out. My goal was for the reader to really be fighting with themselves about who to blame and who to feel sorrier for by the end of the story. Hopefully I've succeeded!

Thanks for another sweet review!

-Amanda


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Review #31, by Courtney Dark The Paths We Choose

27th November 2013:
I really enjoyed the section of this chapter from Helga's point of view, particularly her memories of her upbringing and how she met Rowena and joined with Salazar and Godric to build Hogwarts. Your portrayal of her personality is just fantastic, and I loved how caring she was toward Helena - Helena was clearly in need of a mother figure to help her decide what to do, and because Rowena wasn't there for her, I think Helga did the perfect (and very Hufflepuff-ish) job of comforting her.

Salazar is plain creepy. The way he actually delights in the thought of that basilisk being at the school...shudder. But Venn YOU NEED TO TELL SOMEONE! Except then there would be no Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom, and that would be disappointing...HANG ON! When he's the Bloody Baron of Hogwarts, why doesn't he tell anyone about the basilisk! Grrr, Venn, I'm disappointed in you!

I absolutely loved the scene between Venn and Helena. It was so perfectly sweet - recently Venn has just seemed like such a nice guy, but he's the Bloody Baron, so I can't shake the feeling that he's going to do something horrible. And by the way, I don't know if you've said this before, but the way you write their speech is incredible! It sounds very old fashioned, but not undecipherable. I love it!

Awesome chapter!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: Glad you liked getting Helga's perspective! I do think of her as being more of a maternal figure for Helena, given that Rowena is a bit colder and more academic. I really wound up falling in love with Helga's character and I should probably write some kind of spin-off that's just about her.

The answer to your question about Venn's secrecy at Hogwarts is coming, I promise.

I'm happy you liked the way Venn and Helena speak to one another. I worked hard on the dialogue and I'm pleased by all the compliments I've gotten on it :)

Thanks for another kind review!

-Amanda


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Review #32, by Courtney Dark Salazar's Last Stand

27th November 2013:
This story just keeps on being amazing!

I'm sorry, this review won't be particularly long, because I am so eager to read the next chapter, but I actually think this was one of my favourites so far!

I loved the scene between the four founders. I can definitely see that tension is getting higher and higher between them - how long until Godric and Salazar have their fight, I wonder??

I really enjoyed the scene between Venn and Cepheus, too. I think we just got a sneak peak of Venn at his best, and in this chapter he actually seemed like a genuinely nice guy who cared a lot for Helena. How much more of this will we see, I wonder?

I only just remembered Helena's words about falling out with her mother, and I've finally been able to see the cause! I can definitely see the issue from both points of view, but I definitely sympathize with poor Helena - although Rowena is definitely wise to be weary of Salazar!

On to the next chapter!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: I'm glad you liked this one! It was interesting to focus on the Founders a little more toward the end of this story.

Unfortunately, the tension between Rowena and Helena is only going to grow. Stay tuned!

Thanks for another fantastic review!

-Amanda


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Review #33, by Courtney Dark A Day of Surprises

23rd November 2013:
One thing that I found super interesting in this chapter is that, during Helena and Venn's combination, it became really obvious that they hardly know each other at all. Helena, while not so enthusiastic and a bit worried about the dress fitting, was excited to discuss the wedding, whereas Venn wanted to keep as far away from that topic as possible, and Venn talked of having a large and spacious home, while Helena wasn't particularly thrilled with the idea of children. I think this showed that while the two of them clearly have a connection, perhaps a part of it lies more in the physical first impression kinda stuff than in the we are perfect for each other and have so many similarities sort of way. If that makes any sense at all.

In saying that, we definitely saw Venn's sweeter and more loving side come out in this chapter. I loved his surprise flowers for Helena. I also especially loved the line: 'Venn could not conceal his smile. This strange woman had an effect on him.'

Oh, and I love this rebellious streak that Helena has, especially how a part of her his sly and enjoys defying her mother.

Great chapter!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: Yeah, again, I think it comes back to Helena still being somewhat childish and innocent and Venn being all about business. In her mind, Helena's perfect prince would be just as excited about the wedding as well, but (let's be honest) most men don't exactly fill that role naturally. The idea of being a mother is frightening to Helena and reminds her that she has to grow up, whereas Venn sees it as the obvious next step.

I do think Venn has some redeeming qualities, and I am proud of the man he came to be (well, the man I made out of him). I hope you continue to like him and enjoy Helena's rebellious streak.

Thanks for another fabulous review :)

-Amanda


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Review #34, by Courtney Dark Houses Asunder

23rd November 2013:
And so the chamber of secrets is revealed! I seriously loved the way you wrote about it, I've always wondered how and when Salazar started putting his plan into place, and what was going through his mind when he did so. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised that, when Salazar told Venn of his plan, Venn was less than impressed. The idea of a basilisk lurking underneath a castle for a thousand years is even more terrifying when you really think about it.

Rowena definitely seems to have changed her mind about the wedding! Or, should I see, she is clearly having her doubts about Venn. He is a very strange sort of character, thinking about it. At times he seems like the perfect husband for Helena - he's super tolerant and accepting of all her more unusual behaviours - but at times he seems to have all these unpleasant traits from the Slytherin side of the family - I'm looking forward to seeing what happens between he and Helena!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: Yeah, even Venn can see that having a monstrous beast living on the Hogwarts grounds isn't a fantastic idea. I think it really shows how unhinged Salazar has become in his pursuit of a pureblooded world. I'm glad you enjoyed watching the Chamber of Secrets develop from an idea into a reality!

Oh yeah, Rowena has some regrets about rushing her daughter off to marry Venn now. You're right that he seems to appreciate her quirks one moment and then denies himself (and her) that chance in the next, wanting to make sure he makes the family proud. It's like he views her personality as childish and needing to be put away as she enters womanhood, whereas she just knows that she is who she is and doesn't want to change.

Thanks for another awesome review!

-Amanda


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Review #35, by Courtney Dark Houses Joined

23rd November 2013:
You are such a talented writer. Seriously. I have no idea how you write the medieval era so well! I wrote a founder's one-shot a while back, and I found it so difficult, yet he seem to do it easily and flawlessly!

I love how, more and more each chapter, we see the development of all your characters, and some personality traits that we previously did not know they had. For example, I always knew Salazar Slytherin was nasty (obviously, he's Salazar Slytherin) but in this chapter we really saw what a negative influence he is to Venn, and how much he hates the idea of Muggles within Hogwarts.

Oooh, Helena forgave Venn. To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about that. Yes, I kinda do want them to get married, because I do like them together, but I'm not sure how real Venn's apology was. And will he be a good husband, even if he's in love with her? And what will Salazar and Rowena think? I guess I'll have to wait to find out!

Awesome chapter!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: Hah, thank you so much!

I really had fun playing up Salazar's nastiness in this story. I kept inventing new, horrible things he could do, and you're right that he's an important influence for Venn for better or for worse. I think a big part of Venn's journey in the story was sorting out what to do with Salazar.

Yeah, I think she was thinking more with her heart than her head. It's too bad that these young people feel like they have a ticking clock and don't really take the time to be choosy about whether the other person is really and truly right for them.

Thanks for another fabulous review :)

-Amanda


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Review #36, by Courtney Dark Feats of Bravery

19th October 2013:
Hey there!

So this was another awesome chapter, and I love that we got our first look at Helga Hufflepuff. I like that though this is not a founders story, precisely, we still get little glimpses of them. Helga was just what I imagined her to be, and I liked the interactions between she, Rowena and Salazar. We certainly saw the more 'Slytherin' side of Salazar this chapter - and in Venn, too.

Venn using magic to help him win the jousting - that is definitely a Slytherin-ish trait, and not at all honourable, which makes me wonder whether Helena will say anything to him about it.

Anyway, I really loved this chapter, it definitely had a very medieval sort of feel to it, which is great!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: Hello again, Courtney!

Helga was one of my favorite characters in this story. She's so forward despite the traditional, conservative attitudes in this story, and she was just fun and lively. I feel like she would have been an essential piece in the planning of Hogwarts.

Hmm, wonder what Helena will do when she next sees Venn? Guess we'll have to see...

Thanks for another very sweet review!

-Amanda


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Review #37, by WeasleyTwins Houses Asunder

5th October 2013:
Hello Amanda! Finally back for another chapter!

At the outset, I thought it was so odd for Salazar to mention a wedding at Hogwarts. Hogwarts is an educational institution, not a wedding venue (although the idea is lovely). It just didn't sit right with me, so when Salazar took Venn into the tunnels, I realized your intentions. Very inventive, I must say. I like the idea that he added them after the initial construction of Hogwarts. Although, one does have to wonder how the other Founders never figured it out. Perhaps we will learn something about that?

As always, everything is impeccable. I did feel that Venn protested a bit too quickly, but then again, maybe I have been misjudging him over the course of the story. I think that Rowena knows something is going on with Salazar because of your descriptions of her visage and her change of heart concerning Helena's marriage to Venn. Overall, another wonderful chapter! ♥

Shelby

Author's Response: The idea for making Hogwarts the venue sort of reminded me of when people who meet at college decide to get married in their university's chapel. I've seen it happen several times with friends of mine. Plus, Hogwarts is gorgeous :) But yeah, Salazar definitely had some ulterior motives when he invited Venn to come out and see him.

Looking back on the story, I don't know that I specifically addressed how the other founders didn't find out about the tunnels, other than building Salazar up as a really sneaky character. As you'll see, they at least recognize that something is off about him, something that concerns them a lot. Rowena is probably the first to notice this.

I tried to show that Venn has some of the same anti-Muggle prejudice as his uncle but isn't quite strong enough to actually endorse violence against Muggles. Part of his journey here is learning to be stronger and do the right thing, to figure out who he is and what he really stands for. Whether he will make it there or not is the question.

Thanks for your lovely review! And I'm sorry this response took ages, I really am!

-Amanda


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Review #38, by Courtney Dark Midsummer

2nd October 2013:
Okay, I cannot say this enough times: the way you add historical details into this story is just perfect! I especially enjoyed this chapter, because we got to see how open-minded the Ravenclaws are when it comes to muggles, their festivals and their religions, especially in comparison to the Selwyns/Slytherins.

I love how uncertain Venn was in this chapter about 'mingling with muggles'. It fit his character so well, and really showed the differences between he and Helena.

Aw, the bit with the gloves and the sort of marriage proposal was cute! Although why is it, during this time period, that males always thought that battles and tournaments was the way to win a woman's heart?

Well, I am really looking forward to reading about the tournament now! Like Helena, I hope Venn wins too!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: I do think this chapter was interesting in terms of contrasts; like you said, the Ravenclaws are more accepting of Muggle traditions and practices, whereas Venn finds it hard to stomach being around Muggles. I'm sure you can see how these differences could cause some tension between Helena and Venn.

Venn is a man's man, that's for sure :) I really liked the historical tradition of having the man give his glove to his future bride as a way of asking for her hand in marriage. I'm glad to hear you liked it too!

Thanks for another kind review!

-Amanda


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Review #39, by Courtney Dark Second-Best

1st October 2013:
How do you do it? How do you write such amazingly descriptive, engrossing, perfect, awesome chapters? I am so unbelievably jealous!

As might be obvious from what I just wrote above, I really enjoyed this chapter. I loved all the detail you put into Venn's hunting trip - it somehow made the story and the time period seem so much more real. And then I was pleasantly surprised at the appearance of a Black and a Lestrange - although I can definitely imagine Venn keeping company with those sort of families.

I also really enjoyed the feast scene - mainly because of all your amazing descriptions, such as the bride's gown. I will probably repeat myself about a hundred times, but you write all these historical aspects, such as the dowry, so well, and I just want to keep reading on to find out more!

Aw, Venn took a midnight ride just to visit Helena. That really is kinda sweet. And I really like that he overheard the meeting between the four founders - will we actually meet Godric and Helga, I wonder? I also noticed that in this chapter, some of Salazar's more unpleasant qualities were definitely evident.

Awesome chapter!
Courtneyy:)

Author's Response: Hello! Sorry this response has taken ages - it's been a crazy month!

Anyway, I'm really glad you liked my imagery for Venn's hunting trip and seeing him interact with the other young noblemen. It was really fun to imagine what an engagement party might have looked like in this time and to tie together the historical aspects with my own little magical twist.

I'm happy you liked Venn's romantic gesture, too. You will meet Godric and Helga in future chapters, so please be sure to tell me what you think!

Thanks for your lovely review!

-Amanda


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Review #40, by Courtney Dark Reflection

21st September 2013:
Wow, this was a really good chapter! I absolutely loved the interactions between Helena and Venn, and the way they reacted to each other - and it was definitely interesting to see Helena's point of view of Venn. It is very clear that she fancies him, but it seems like there's a small part of her that knows he's quite arrogant, too, and perhaps not the nicest person in the world.

I also really loved the information you gave us about the founding of Hogwarts at the very beginning, because I have always wondered about things like that, and get quite enthusiastic about little historical facts.

Anyway, I can't wait to read more!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: I'm really happy you liked seeing Venn and Helena interact. I think they're a good match for one another in terms of their wit and the fact that neither of them is entirely committed to this impending marriage quite yet. They both have their good and bad parts.

I'm also pleased that you liked seeing how Hogwarts was founded. I thought of it kind of like Plato's school, where only those close to the Founders would get to go at first and then it would gradually expand.

Thanks for yet another fabulous review :)

-Amanda


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Review #41, by Courtney Dark Vanity

21st September 2013:
So they meet at last!

Okay, this may sound weird, but in some ways I really, really like Venn...and in other ways I really, really dislike him.

I think some of his more...ugly personality features definitely came out in this chapter - for example the fact that he didn't need to be kind, she just needed to be glorious. And also when he was asking his mother about Helena, all he seemed to care about was her appearance. But I still like him at the same time, even though he is quite arrogant and selfish, and can't wait to learn more about his character.

I think I shall go on and read the next chapter!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: That doesn't sound weird at all :)

Yeah, a lot of ugly things about Venn did come out in this chapter. Right now he sees Helena as a means to an end; if he has to get married, it might as well be to a really beautiful girl, right? He's curious about her, even if he wants to pretend like he doesn't care. You'll have to see what happens as their relationship grows.

Thanks for your kind review!

-Amanda


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Review #42, by Courtney Dark Of Wit and Learning

16th September 2013:
And so we get to see Helena at last! Well, it's not really at last, considering it's only been three chapters...but you know what I mean!

I really, really liked Helena's character! I haven't read many stories - fanfiction or otherwise - set during this time period, but of those I have read, I've noticed that many authors fall into this trap of making their female character too, well, pathetic, or too bold and out-there. You definitely haven't fallen into this trap. It is clear that she is Rowena's daughter, as she is obviously intelligent, and I can already tell that she has this depth to her that is often hard to achieve.

I really liked the descriptions of the town, because I've always found this time period fascinating, and it was just so fun to read about!

I wonder how Venn and Helena's meeting will go? I guess I'll have to wait to find out!

Courtney:)

Author's Response: Helena was so interesting to work with. She's very mysterious and I feel like in canon we only get a small taste of the woman she is. I actually considered the exact issue you're describing in creating her and tried to give her the best of both worlds. She respects her parents and obligations as she should, but she also isn't afraid to speak up and be herself so that her voice becomes part of the process.

I'm happy you liked reading about her adventures in the town, too. Naturally, I thought Helena would love her books :)

Thanks for your sweet review!

-Amanda


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Review #43, by Courtney Dark A Birthday Feast

16th September 2013:
Wow, this was seriously an incredible chapter! I am already looking forward to seeing how everything we know about the Founders and Helena and Venn - he is the Bloody Baron, isn't he? It's so weird to think of him as a nice person! If he hasn't, well that's awkward - will come together.

The tone of this chapter was amazing, and the language you use gives this perfect feel of the Middle Ages, yet somehow it's not difficult to read at all. I am very, very curious to learn more about Venn - he seems an interesting character! And I really like the fact that Salazar is his uncle, that should make for some interesting plotlines...

Looking forward to reading more!
Courtney:)

Author's Response: Yep, Venn is the Bloody Baron - or he will be, anyway. Right now he's just a selfish young noble with no idea what he really wants, which I'm hoping is at least somewhat relatable for the average reader :) I'm glad you don't already hate him, because a lot of people do in these early chapters. He'll hopefully come across as more complex in the future. Salazar will be a part of that.

It's also good that you felt like the language was appropriate. I worked hard on trying to strike a balance between the era and the readability of the chapters.

Thanks for another kind review!

-Amanda


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Review #44, by Courtney Dark Erised

15th September 2013:
Tag!

I have been meaning to read this story for such a long time and, for whatever reason, I have never gotten around to it - and I am so mad with myself! This first chapter was amazing, and has already hooked me in - I actually can't wait to find out what happens next!

There's not really much more I can say on this chapter, apart from the fact that it was the perfect introduction to what I'm sure is going to be an amazing story, which I will definitely keep reading. Oh, and you have a lovely writing style - I am very jealous!

I will soon be back for more!
Courtney:)

Author's Response: Hey! I'm pleasantly surprised to see that you've decided to check out this story. I can't wait to hear what you think!

It's awesome that you liked my introduction and felt like it hooked you in. I'm happy you like my writing style, too!

Thanks for your lovely review :)

-Amanda



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Review #45, by GryffindorSeeker4 Desire

11th September 2013:
Well done. I can imagine this was a difficult story what with the different culture and characters that we don't know all that much about. However, I can safely say that you pulled it off- characters, dialogue, setting, everything was believable and well thought out. The "murder" scene was a little sketchy, though. Did Venn stab her thinking she was the basilisk?

Author's Response: Nice to hear from you again! I'm happy to hear that you liked the story and found it believable and thoughtfully written.

Well, I tried not to give too much concrete detail in the actual murder scene so as to avoid getting sticky with ToS compliance. Essentially, Venn was living in this heightened state of fear because Salazar kept threatening to let the basilisk loose and he panicked, accidentally killing his bride-to-be in the process. Does that make more sense?

Thanks so much for your lovely review!

-Amanda


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Review #46, by CambAngst Fight or Flight

8th September 2013:
Hi, there! Tagging you from Review Tag!

So more than anything, I love what you did with Salazar in this chapter. His goals are becoming more clear, as is the way that he's able to manipulate young Venn. I'm pleased, in one way, to see that I was right about Edeline's relationship with Nentres Peverell becoming a big problem for Venn. In another way, it's enabled Salazar to spring his trap on Venn. There's no way to know whether Peverell, coming from an old and presumable wealthy family in his own right, even has designs on Venn's barony, but it's an easy string for Salazar to pull. I also liked the contrast between how tiresome Venn finds it to manage his family's lands and how desperate he is not to lose them. He's a classic young man in the sense that he doesn't really seem to know what he really wants. Now, apparently, it's to be married straight away.

Salazar is brilliantly menacing with his talk of turning the Basilisk loose on the muggle villagers. I'm still a bit curious as to why Venn finds the idea as odious as he does, having no particular love for muggles. Is the Basilisk just such a horribly dark creature that no wizard who isn't dark would ever condone the keeping of one?

The game of truth or dare between Helena and her servants nicely complimented the frame of mind that she seems to be in. It's a bit childish, which is sort of how she's behaving at this point. I understand her motivations, but the way she's going about avoiding her upcoming wedding doesn't reflect all that well on her. She and Venn are well matched in that sense. It's awful that fate has thrown the obvious barriers up between the two of them. Otherwise, the two of them could be quite a pair, I think.

For once, I thought Venn came off as very reasonable when he made his ultimatum to Helena. I don't think he necessarily sees through the smokescreen she throws up to conceal her true motivations, but the effect is pretty much the same. He's been patient and understanding as he can be, and he's putting the onus squarely back on her shoulders. I felt a bit badly for her, although not nearly as bad as I felt for Ainsley and Isobel. Awkward...

And then you turned me right around and left me feeling terrible for poor Helena at the end. There was something incredibly pithy and tangible about the imagery of a young woman packing a few belongings and fleeing. It was really easy to relate to, no matter the separation in time. I liked the idea that she took the ink, quill and parchment along. It holds open the door, albeit narrowly, to the possibility that this isn't permanent. And then there's the diadem. This is really it, isn't it? This is the moment it became lost. You brought an interesting sort of practicality to something that's wrapped in lore and legend by the time of the books. If worse came to worse, she was actually planning to sell it.

I can really feel the story drawing to a close at this point. Both Venn and Helena have drawn their lines in the sand and Helena has stepped past a point of no return. Rowena has sealed her own fate, in a way, and Salazar's schemes are in full swing. Only two more chapter to go. Such sweet sorrow!

Author's Response: Hey Dan, nice to hear from you again!

I love your analysis of the relationship between Venn and Salazar. I think you're the first person to consider that Salazar might be lying to Venn about Nentres's claim to his inheritance, though you're right that what Venn believes may be more important than the truth in this scenario. Once again we see that Venn wants to have his cake but have someone else cut it for him, in a manner of speaking. Obviously he's not ready to be a good husband to Helena right now.

I think Venn's opposition to the Basilisk is more an issue of control than a reflection on his true feelings about the creature. Salazar's deep-seated evil is starting to frighten him, definitely, but more than that he worries about what effects this dangerous beast could have for the upcoming wedding and his ability to settle into his reign. It's just kind of a disruption for him, though I do think he's made of slightly better moral fiber than his uncle.

If they were more mature, I think Venn and Helena would be a great match and could really bring their kingdoms together. As is, though, they're obviously very immature and not ready to enter marriage or adulthood. On the other hand, though, as you mentioned--they do seem to have developed a bit of insight as to how to deal with one another, Venn with his loss of patience and Helena with her dislike of Venn's attitude. Again, with a slightly bigger dose of maturity, we could have two good rulers.

This is Helena's great escape, yeah. It's her last ditch attempt to put off or cancel the wedding by virtue of her just not being there and being hidden from everyone else. She's practical in some ways, with the tiara (well, sort of... it's a dead giveaway as to her identity), but not in others, like packing a whole wardrobe of fancy gowns. She's really just a scared little girl.

I hope to see you back for the last two chapters. Thanks so much for your kind review!

-Amanda


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Review #47, by Illuminate Erised

6th September 2013:
Hi! Ravenclaw review tag!

This is a really beautiful start to a story! It's full of mystery and emotion. You make me really really want to know and understand what has happened, who these characters are and why your protagonist is so stricken!

You convey his emotions perfectly, and it's very easy to care for this character immediately, despite the mystery. Your descriptions are lovely, especially that of Helena, you describe her beauty wonderfully. We can easily see why he is in love with her.

It is the perfect teaser for what is sure to be an emotional story full of twists and turns! Great job!

Author's Response: Hey, thanks for your kind review!

I'm happy to hear you felt like this was an intriguing beginning and that the emotions came through. It was important for me to mix the mysterious feel with the need to give the Baron a chance to earn some sympathy. I also worked really hard on the imagery in this prologue and it's good that you liked the way I described Helena.

Hope you stop by again to read more!

-Amanda


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Review #48, by WeasleyTwins Houses Joined

12th August 2013:
Back again!

Okay, wait wait. Is Venn going to end up being the Bloody Baron? I don't know why I thought it was the unknown man from the previous chapter - didn't know if you were being sneaky or not!

Helena has made me so mad! And yet, I understand. The heart wants what the heart wants. She wants to be married and the few promising moments with Venn have given her hope. It's great characterization, Amanda, even if I'm frustrated with her! In truth, I can't say that I wouldn't do the same. I think that most women in the world can relate to what she's feeling and that's what makes it so powerful. We know that she's headed down the wrong path (I think she is, anyway) and we want to stop her, yet we, ourselves, would probably do something very similar. It's great, really - you're connecting us all by something universal.

The wedding with its pureblood mania was fascinating. It hints at darker things. Okay, I can't stand it, back to Venn and Helena. Why does she forgive him?! I mean, yes, we forgive people for so many things because we're all human and make mistakes, but come on! What a pitiful excuse! I tell you, Amanda, unless he changes in a big way, I don't think I'll ever warm to this man! He's so evasive and cunning. Look at me, a Slytherin according to Pottermore, hating on the characteristic of cunning. I don't know. I just feel like he's going to get violent. Like he's not just cunning to be cunning, but that he's malicious.

This whole review was nothing except fangirl musings. Well, just know that I thoroughly enjoy every chapter! So historically beautiful and relateable at the same time.



Shelby

Author's Response: Shelby! So nice to hear from you again and sorry I got behind on my review responses -hides-

Mmm, I won't give it away, but you'll know definitively in due time, don't worry!

I also felt like it was a pretty universal feeling to make stupid, impulsive decisions from time to time just in the heat of the moment. I'm pleased to hear that you agree! Helena is a young lady in love and she sees Venn as a chance to reconcile her mother's unceasing desire to see her wed and her own wish to be with a man who excites her. As he drifts further from the prince charming he's supposed to be, naturally, Helena will have to decide how many faults she's willing to overlook. I'm glad that you feel like my approach makes her more relatable.

Yeah, I meant for the wedding to be shiny and pretty on the outside and just to have that hint that the ceremony was about more than seeing a young man and woman tie the knot. Obviously the wizarding nobility are starting to take their own survival quite seriously.

Hah, well, I will definitely say that it is possible to finish the story without ever taking Venn's side, but I sort of hope your feelings end up being more complex than that--otherwise, I think I'll have failed you :) For certain, keep me up to date on how you feel about him as you keep reading further. Your reactions have been really intriguing for me.

Thanks so much for your amazing review!

-Amanda


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Review #49, by WeasleyTwins Feats of Bravery

12th August 2013:
Hello Amanda! I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to return to this wonderful story. I should be kicked.

I swear if you don't win a Dobby for this, I'll riot. At the very least, that's what this story deserves. I can't get over your talent, Amanda! This could be an original piece, it really could.

You know how much I love my history and I loved all the touches you put in this chapter. It adds depth and realism to an otherwise foreign world. At first I did wonder why Venn didn't tie the token around his arm, but I like your interpretation. To me, it represents his duplicity. I know that sounds wild - it's like he's cheating history and tradition, just as he cheats in the tournament. He can't cover up his nature if it's exposed, but by romanticizing the token and putting it over his heart, he can hide his less-than-honorable attributes. Okay, so maybe I just totally English major analyzed that, but there you go! :P

Now, at first, I didn't catch that he was cheating, but after the one man said something, I picked up your clues. And that man? Is he the Bloody Baron?

I liked the mixture of emotions in this chapter, especially those pre-wedding jitters. Helena wondering if she should or shouldn't marry Venn, how she knows so little about him, the argument over the color of her dress. By the way, I thought that was genius. It's so simple, arguing over the color of the dress, but shows just how little power Helena has over her own life. It reminded me of Helena as the Gray Lady in DH. She's bitter towards her mother and I can see why. She doesn't really have a choice. It's subtle and yet, so incredibly sad.

Another fabulous chapter, Amanda! Even if by some horror you don't win a Dobby for this story, it'll be Dobby worthy to me! :)



Shelby

Author's Response: Shelby, you're too sweet! I hope it wins, naturally; after getting the TGS award last year, a Dobby would be the sweetest icing on top of the best cake ever. We'll have to see!

I kind of love your interpretation of Venn misplacing the favor from Helena. It's like he was trying too hard to be romantic and sweet, when in reality he does have a lot to hide. Of course, Helena can hardly be expected not to swoon at such an elaborate display, poor girl.

I won't answer your question outright, so you aren't spoiled, but answers will be coming :)

I think you nailed it--Helena has so little control of her own life, and I think she's beginning to regret agreeing to be courted by this man when she was bold enough to turn down many others. A wedding is such an important time for many young women, and if it was anything like modern times when Helena was around, I'm sure it must be a deep blow to not have much of a say in how things go during that event. Pretty soon that bitterness will start to leak out.

Thank you so much for your wonderful review and, as always, incredibly kind comments :)

-Amanda


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Review #50, by magnolia_magic Desire

7th August 2013:
Hi Amanda! I've been meaning to come review the conclusion to this story for so long, and I'm sorry it's taken me forever to get here. And before I start I'd like to congratulate you on finishing it! Diamonds into Coal is such a wonderful piece of work, and I hope you're really proud of it. I know there are a lot of people (including me, obviously) who have loved reading it!

I feel like a parrot every time I comment on your imagery and your beautiful style. At this point it would just be "blah blah blah" if I brought it up again :P But I can't help but talk about it just a little more! I think your subtle, lovely imagery is your biggest strength as a writer, hands down. The pictures you paint stay with me long after I've read a piece of yours.

Now, on to the plot! I LOVE the way this chapter brings the whole novel full-circle, right down to the chapter title (Erised=Desire). Now more than ever, I think starting with a flash-forward prologue was a good move. I still remember how beautiful and mysterious that chapter was, and with this ending you've shaken some cobwebs off of that vague beginning. We now know why the Bloody Baron and the Grey Lady live at Hogwarts. We know the full story behind the image in the mirror. And we know how Venn and Helena fell in love, and how their deaths eventually came about. You've made sure to answer those burning questions we had at the beginning, and you've shown that the prologue wasn't just for dramatic effect or to show off your skill at creating gorgeous imagery (which, as I've said so many times, are just astounding). There was a purpose behind everything in that chapter, and with this ending you've shed some light on it. Diamonds into Coal has been such an incredible journey, and it's hard to believe that we're right back where we started, at the Mirror of Erised.

Although I really, really love the ultimate conclusion to Venn and Helena's story, I have conflicting feelings about the murder scene itself. I mean, this is the climax. This is the event that will go down in history, and define these two people forever. And it all boils down to...a misunderstanding? An accident caused by starvation delirium? I was hoping to spend a lot of time exploring Venn's mindset as he committed this terrible act, but the killing feels like a minor detail compared to the other events of this chapter. And I had a hard time believing that he could have "accidentally" killed her.

But then I thought about it. And really, it makes sense that Venn wouldn't have intended to kill Helena. This story is full of rash decisions and big egos, but neither of them ever did anything with the intention of harming the other. If the killing had been any different, it would have been terribly out of character for Venn. So after reading this chapter a few times I sorted out my feelings: I think you did a wonderful job staying true to your characters during the murder, but the scene itself feels glossed over. I was really looking for more there.

And that's the most concrit I've felt inclined to offer you in a LONG time. Also, I think the rest of the chapter is absolutely incredible, so I intend to fangirl for the remainder of this review :D

The scene with Salazar was really brilliant. It answers a question I never even knew I had! Of course the Bloody Baron would know about the basilisk, and you've explained why he wouldn't have ever warned anyone about it. Venn isn't the slimy, awful person that Salazar is; surely he would have wanted to make sure the basilisk didn't harm any "innocent purebloods." But he is a bit selfish, as you've established, and he values being close to Helena above the well-being of students who don't have personal meaning to him. That part was wonderfully executed, and I just loved it :)

And that last encounter with Helena just broke my heart! Why are you so stubborn, Helena! Just forgive him! It's been years, possibly centuries! (I'm drawing a blank on when the mirror scenes are set...oops.) Ugh, she makes me mad sometimes! Haha, I know you expected that with both of your MCs, and can I just say again how great a job you did with them? You made them both so incredibly complex, and I was constantly re-evaluating my opinion of them. By the end of the story I swore I would figure out which of them was my least favorite. It's a really hard choice, but I think I'm going with Helena. I mean, I get that Venn isn't the easiest person to deal with, but she could have just called the wedding off if she had misgivings. Instead, she ran off into the forest like a child, baiting Venn and then behaving as though she'd done nothing wrong. Get your act together, Helena.

(Oh no. I'm speaking ill of the dead, aren't I? I just can't seem to help it, though. Haha, what must that say about me? :P)

But. Anyway. I'm at a loss for what else to say, Amanda. I think this was a wonderful end to a beautifully written story. And that last line is the perfect way to draw this to a close. It has this tiny ray of hope, because when you "live" forever, there's always time for things to change. But at the same time it carries the weight of years of guilt for Venn, and grudge-harboring for Helena. Will they ever come to any sort of truce? We might never know, and that's one unanswered question that just feels right. Amazing job, Amanda. I feel so privileged to have read this :)

--Maggie

Author's Response: Maggie, you're awesome, as you already know :) I am really proud of this story, and I continue to be surprised by how much everyone liked it. The support I've received means so much!

Anyway, I'm so happy that you liked the imagery. Sometimes I get so into it that I err on the side of purple prose, which then bogs down the plot. I always hope that I've achieved a good balance since nowadays I can go a good couple of paragraphs before I do anything besides work on setting the scene.

I think I always sort of knew we'd go back to the mirror for this last part, the final encounter between Venn and Helena after all that they've been through together. As I was writing this, I kept track of questions that people brought up in their reviews and tried to figure out the answers and weave them into the plot. A lot of it didn't come until the end here, as you observed. I think that's a major benefit of not pre-writing, which I normally prefer, and I think the success of this story is due in some part to the feedback of others.

This answer will probably be dissatisfying, I'm afraid, but the truth about the murder scene is that I was just really concerned about getting too sticky ToS-wise when writing it. It felt much safer to describe it more vaguely in a flashback than to actually do it in real time. I just kept thinking about how these two had a romantic relationship and it could run into a difficult area in terms of spousal-like abuse. I tried to allude to those strong emotions in the aftermath, but I definitely understand where you're coming from, so I appreciate the crit :)

I really hope Salazar emerged as a monster at the end of it all, despite the charming sort of beginning I gave him. It was so interesting to explore his deterioration as he became more and more obsessed with his vision and his beloved pet. While I don't blame him directly for Venn and Helena's demise, I'm sure the energy he emitted throughout the story was toxic, and it negatively impacted everyone.

You're right, we're talking about centuries later at this point. You have to wonder how many times Venn has sat in front of the mirror and dwelled on all of his past mistakes and the life he could have had with Helena. I kind of want to cry now because you're basically saying that I did exactly what I meant to do with my characterization and that's so wonderful because these two are so convoluted! Haha. I do think it's funny that you eventually sided against Helena, because in the beginning a lot of people (maybe you included, but I don't remember) were adamantly against Venn, because he was just kind of spoiled and immature and canon isn't exactly on his side. I think it's hard to choose; I feel sadness and anger for both of them.

Yeah, I definitely wanted to end on a hopeful note, because this story made me so emotional. I do think it's possible for Helena to forgive and for Venn to win his lady's heart again, but as you said, there's a lot of baggage from the past standing in the way. I figure you can write your own ending now.

Thanks so much for your fabulous review!

-Amanda


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