Reading Reviews for Black Sands
  
142 Reviews Found

Review #1, by patronus_charm (Out of the Frying Pan) Into the Fire

9th December 2013:
The persona you built up around Rasima was really great! I liked the idea of a female being in power because we already have Helen going against the norm of the 1920s world and the status given to women, but now we come across another. It was an interesting twist to not make her soft to Helen, given they are in a similar situation with their gender and wanting to go against the norm.

The deal she offered Helen was interesting, almost too good to be true in a way. It was just the way Rasima knew so much (taking away the fact she was part of the Ministry and obviously had access to a lot of things). Iím still not sure whether I trust her or not because of that. She just had something about her which seemed suspicious. Perhaps Helen rebelling a lot has made me fear authoritarian figures. I suppose Iíll never really know.

Helenís reaction to this was interesting too. For a while I thought she enjoyed her wanderer status and that she could do whatever she wished, but here, when Rasima mentioned she could be a citizen of Egypt and belong somewhere I felt something different, as if Helen was yearning for this. I guess coupled with the fact she knew that her parents killed her off so she shouldnít have to fear them anymore, she can now settle and create a new identity for herself.

Yay, the truth about Moody is coming out now! Well, coming out slowly. I had always suspected that he really was English, mainly due to him being able to be related to the Moody that we know then, so I hope this suspicion of Helen is confirmed true. Or perhaps he is Moody. Iím not sure whether that will work out age wise. Or maybe sheís Moodyís mother. Hmm, all these theories now that the Moody here is slowly being unravelled. It is rather exciting!

Great chapter!

-Kiana

Author's Response: You've read the whole story! Thank you for reading and reviewing it all - it's wonderful to hear your feedback. :D

I'm glad that you like Rasima - she was a late addition and went through a couple of different personas before I realized that what this story needed wasn't only more female characters, but also more from Egypt itself. It'd be exciting just to write a story about her and her rise to power. The war offered this kind of opportunity to women, and the timing almost perfectly coincides with the emergence of highly-educated women, now that universities were both accepting female students and permitting them to graduate with degrees. This is very much the other side of the coin from Downton Abbey, and also from Helen's world of pureblood society. Rasima is very ambitious, but also good at reading people - together, these traits are a major key to her success.

Like you said, she and Helen are in similar situations, even if they've arrived in this situation in completely different ways. Helen distrusts everyone, especially those in positions of authority because she's known too many who abuse that authority and take it for granted - her distrust and suspicion makes Rasima appear suspicious. It's fun to work with Helen's narration in this way because she skews everything. In a way, Rasima is too much like Helen - they both have strong personalities and two people like that in the same room almost always leads to conflict. And Rasima sees something in Helen that she likes, and being a good politician, she knows how to use people's skills to best serve her (and in this case the Ministry's) ends.

The deal is something I'm still uncertain about because, even for the Potterverse, it's a very dangerous one to make, either to offer or accept. A lot of it hinges on Rasima's assumption that Helen can 1) defeat or at least neutralize the demon and 2) be an acceptable candidate for a curse breaker. It's a big assumption, made entirely from Helen's activities in Egypt because she doesn't have the grades from Hogwarts. But she is ambitious and desperate for belonging, and Rasima is willing to take a calculated risk, using the tools available to her to remove this danger to the country.

Thank you again for reading and reviewing! I've babbled on enough, and just want you to know that I appreciate your reviews for this and all of my stories. ^_^


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Review #2, by patronus_charm In the Hand of the Devil

7th December 2013:
I finally found time to return!

I really enjoyed Helenís descriptions in this chapter. It may due to me being away for a while and forgetting them, but there was something quintessentially upper class about them with the way she was used to travelling in first class and noted things like cufflinks. All of these just carry on with the image of her being a Black and always act as a reminder to both the reader and her of her true roots.

I really enjoyed the revelation from Moody! I had suspected he was magical for a while because it seemed too much of a coincidence that he was so keen on Helenís friendship, but hearing it now was really interesting. I do wonder why he is there as a spy. I canít help but wonder whether itís a lie and her family have employed him in revenge for Canis Malfoy, but I suppose you wonít say and I wonít find out the real reason until the last chapter. :P

Itís interesting to see that Cadogan is still haunting them all in a way. I do hope we learn more about him throughout the story because he was such a curious character and I feel as if I never really knew him when alive, so Iíll have to do with what others have to say about him now thatís his dead. I canít wait to see how his book about the demons continues to play in their mind and I wonder what they could find out through their research.

Cairo was a really intriguing blend of cultures with the obvious hints of European colonist rule but then this native air about it too and it made me really want to explore it. Then there was that shock ending with someone wanting to see Helen and that took away everything else I wanted to find out about. I just canít think about who it could be. I would say her family but then it seems too obvious. I guess Iíll have to read on!

-Kiana

Author's Response: It's lovely to see you back again! I hope NaNo went well for you. ^_^

I'm glad to hear that her descriptions sound so upper-class. It used to be one of the reasons why I disliked her at first, but now it's such an essential part of her character that I wouldn't have her any other way. There's something wonderful about writing pureblood Slytherins - they're like the upper crust, very Lady Mary Crawley or like the characters from an Oscar Wilde play. They have a very specific way of speaking and looking at the world, and it's interesting to write in that style.

One thing that I can say is that Moody is definitely not working for Helen's parents. He is what he says, an agent of the government, and a translator too, when his services are needed. ;)

Cadogan's death, and I suppose also Cadogan himself, are haunting Helen. She feels responsible for his death, in a way, and wonders whether her actions were correct. It's a demon she has to wrestle with throughout the remainder of the story, probably also for the rest of her life because she's never been so close to death before. The question is whether he'll come back again - will he return as a ghost? as part of the demon's scheme? or is he really dead at all? What kind of powers does the demon actually have, and how could it continue to use Cadogan to achieve its goals?

You seem to want very badly for her family to have more of a role in this story, and I find that interesting. It's my fault, I suppose, for including that earlier chapter to introduce Helen, and I've done my best with the next chapter to remove their interference from the story. It doesn't mean that they aren't significant - Helen has a lot in her past to deal with, and she's still hiding quite a lot from readers, including something about Canis Malfoy that wants so badly to forget.

It's great that you liked the descriptions of Cairo. I tried to recreate it in the 1920s as well as I could. It's a strange period for the country because it had just become an independent nation, separating itself from British rule, but it's a long and complicated process. The research for this story is endlessly fascinating. :D

Thank you again for reading and reviewing! It's very inspiring to respond to your reviews - they make me think about the story in new and interesting ways.


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Review #3, by patronus_charm In the Pit of Snakes

31st October 2013:
With NaNo happening in less than three hours for me this might be the last review in awhile unless I manage to squeeze another in tonight.

Your description of the boat and the aftermath of the death was really brilliant. You caught the silent eerie air I would imagine that death would cause and it was do chilling. I thought Helen's thoughts in that section went well with character. She almost built up a wall around herself so to cut off emption and mainly seemed to be acting for herself and that worked really well.

Ooh a thing I've been meaning to mention for a while is how you have such a small cast of named characters, Helen, Moody and Cadogan, yet I never bore of them. Admittedly, one is now dead but I doubt it will change much as both of them have such intriguing personalities there will always be new aspects of them to explore.

I found it really interesting to watch how Helen is reacting to the death. She runs to Moody and is desperate to talk to him and gain his trust, a big change as she appeared to strongly dislike him before. Then there's the steadiness of it with the way she closed herself up and tried to rid Cadogan from her memory. I still don't feel as if I know the real Helen and in a way I doubt I ever will.

I never anticipated that Helen would get arrested! Her thoughts, emotions and descriptions of things there was brilliant. It had a deteriorated air about it and that matched her thoughts as they became more and more ludicrous and laughable. The note about her not being on British records was really interesting as I never thought of that consequence before.

The dream scene with the tomb was really interesting and I can't help but wonder whether it symbolises what has passed or what has yet to come. Well, at the moment luck seems to be on her side with Moody showing up and defeating the major it's just a question of how long for!

-Kiana

Author's Response: Thank you for taking the time to read and review again! ^_^

It's fantastic to hear that the atmosphere I wanted came through - that scene was one of my favourite to write, and I wanted it to be very striking for readers, just as it was for Helen. You're very right in your reading of her - she's hiding behind masks and walls, both in her behaviour during the story and her narration of it, if that makes sense. Who is the real Helen? It's a question you could ask about anyone because it's impossible to ever really ever know a person, or even to know oneself.

You know, it's strange because many of my stories have small casts of characters like that. I've only started to branch out in my next-generation fics, and I will try to introduce more characters in this story, especially other women for Helen to interact with and learn from. Part of this is a result of Helen's isolation - she really keeps herself to herself, which is why, when she's in trouble, she ends up going to Moody, the only other person she knows can help her. It also explains why she got into the mess with Cadogan - she was so desperate for company, for an equal, that she ended up choosing very wrongly, her naivety showing through.

At the end of this chapter she reaches her lowest point, and from here she can only go upward and forward. She's tried to do things on her own and it hasn't worked out very well, so now it's time for a change of scene and a change in how she's approaching the problem. What she needs is to set aside her fears and, to a degree, her pride, and go back to the magical world. The point about her records only underscores how she can't escape the magical world - it's the place where she belongs, and it's there that she can find the help she needs.

Thank you again! ^_^ It means a lot to hear from you!


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Review #4, by patronus_charm In the House of the Goddess

30th October 2013:
I really should have done a rolling review because there were so many amazing parts to this chapter I want to comment but all my mind wants to talk about is the last one. Oh well, I'll try.

The way you carried the suspense on from the previous chapter over who was holding onto Helen's neck was really fantastic and kept me on tenterhooks. I'm so glad that you kept the tension up though because its always such an anti-climax to find out straight away.

The transition between that sort of tension and the romantic one which followed between Cadogan and Helen was really superb and kept me gripped to my seat. That scene was done really well and raised an interesting point about Helen. At times she appeared very moral with her disgust when she noted Cadogan was married but even though she dwelled on it here she still slept with him. My only theory is that she misses wizard company so much she had to forgo her morals to be with one.

The devil book was when the alarm bells started to ring in my head, because even though Helen sort of liked him at this point I certainly didn't. I just wish I knew why he has it now, there must be a reason to it which is connected to his death.

I can definitely see why this was nominated (and won if I'm correct) the best cliff hanger with Cadogan being like that. I just can't think who or why. My only idea is that it was Moody so he could get rid of a rival of Helen's though that's a tad extreme. I have a feeling it was a wizard though with the wand being drawn. I can't wait to read on now!

A brilliant chapter!

-Kiana

Author's Response: Oh good! I'm glad to hear that the shift from suspense to romance (if you can even call it that) was smooth. The image of the hands in the mirror was really striking for me, but the transition into a love scene was more of a challenge. Calling it romantic doesn't really suit because it's lust that brings them together, an attraction without much else. She wants a connection with another magical being - in a way she wants to be reminded of the kind of life she left behind. She's more disgusted by him and his inability to be up-front about himself, his failed marriage, and his magical status. But she does it because she wants it, for herself and herself alone. I don't know if that makes sense. It's strange to write a scene like this because, while it's common in spy and mystery stories for male characters, it's much harder to find precedent for female characters.

The book reveals who he actually is - his job, his identity, everything. That comes up again in a later chapter.

You thought was Moody! I'm sitting here like :O because that's so crazy awesome I don't even know what to say. That would be a good one - I never thought of taking the old love triangle to that extreme. But it would have been quite an interesting way of developing the plot. ;)

Thank you again for reading and reviewing!


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Review #5, by patronus_charm In the Dream of Night

29th October 2013:
I really enjoyed reading Helen's thoughts on magic because in a way one can compare to it how money is viewe in our world and it was really interesting to speculate how her life could have been different with it. Then there's the ponderings over how she manages to disguise her magic skill well whether others such as Cadogan or Moody are also hiding their magical ability.

You managed to describe Helen's feeling of illness really interesting with new descriptive techniques. This probably sounds odd but I get bored of the same ways of them saying they felt sick.

Again, you've really shown your skill at characterisation with Emile Cadogan. The tea he gave Helen is most probably suspect though that could just be me. Then the way she dreamt about him and all the warning messages reappearing. A great use of foreshadowing unless you're bluffing us. Hmm, I'll wait and see.

I just love your level of accuracy in this story whether it be linguistically with the use of German, or geographically and a the points in Egypt and then historically with the proprietary of Helen and how she portrays herself to others. Just all of this adds so much to the fantastic plot and makes it even better.

Wow so much happened at the end of that chapter! There was that tangible tension between Emile and Helen and I really thought something was going to happen there. Then the shock of him being a wizard was done really well and if he is related to Sir Cadogan that would make me insanely happy though I can't believe I didn't make the link before. Then the cliff hanger! That was excellent and I can't wait to read on :D

-Kiana

Author's Response: The idea of having always lived with magic is probably one of the reasons why I like writing Harry Potter fanfiction - the magic/Muggle divide creates a fascinating dynamic, forcing characters to step back and really think about what it means to possess magic. What must it be like for a witch or wizard when out in the Muggle world? There are so many rules and regulations about magical use that it seems to be more of a hindrance than a help, which is I suppose why so many purebloods isolate themselves completely from all things Muggle.

Helen does legitimately get sick from the boat - she just can't handle the water. But there is something else going on with Cadogan. I don't think I described that aspect of it as well as I could, though I'll try to patch things up in a later chapter (if I ever get to that point, sigh). There's some complex magic going on behind the scenes, and even Cadogan isn't entirely in control of it.

Thank you for your wonderful compliments about the details of this story! I love details, and it means so much to see that readers like them too. ^_^

I think he is a descendant of Sir Cadogan - it's always easier to use names from the Potterverse when coming up with OCs - though it's a very distant relation. Sir Cadogan wouldn't be so shy and awkward when it comes to sexual tension. XD I'm pleased to hear that there was a tangible tension there - sexual tension is perhaps one of the most difficult things to write because it has to feel natural, not at all forced. And writing that kind of electricity between characters requires just the right kind of language and sentence structure, not to mention the right characters.

Thank you again for reading and reviewing! I do so enjoy your reviews. :D


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Review #6, by patronus_charm In the Teeth of the Lion

28th October 2013:
Ah, I really hope we get to the bottom of who Moody really is quickly because I can't stand not knowing for any longer. In this chapter, with his thoughts about Cadogan and what caused the rock to fall it seemed as if he had a purpose and was sent for a reason which didn't seem fitting with what he was before. Hmm, I'll guess I'll watch and wait with him.

I'm really beginning to love Helen and this chapter showed me exactly why with the way she's not afraid to take down Moody and is so self assured that she is the superior one. It just has this odd comedic element about it. But then you balance it out perfectly with softer moments such as her needing to have a bath and almost drop that mask she hides behind at times.

That was again echoed with all the moments of indecision she was forced to face such as whether she went with Cadogan or not or whether she could really trust him. All these layers you're building up around her are fantastic and they're making her an excellent multi faceted character.

Cadogan, oh Cadogan. I'm still not sure who's confusing me the most out of him and Moody. I love the air of suspense you're building up around him it's making him even more intriguing and his behaviour and unknown background is bending more towards the suspect side of things.

A brilliant chapter and I hope you can make sense of this garbled phone review!

-Kiana

Author's Response: Oh dear, you've reminded me how stretched out this first part of the plot is. I spent so much time deciding who all the characters should be and how to put the pieces of the story together - it's horrible. *hides* Moody is definitely more than he appears, and he slowly transforms the longer that he knows Helen, making it almost impossible to figure out what he's supposed to be. He starts out as an annoying tourist, but then seems to be a detective or agent of some sort. It's really not very different from Cadogan, who also begins as simple tourist, but becomes... something else.

This is probably the part of the story where I started to like Helen too. She's swept up in things outside of her control, yet she retains her self-assurance and strength, not letting anything get her down. Not for long at least. When faced with difficult decisions and situations, she manages to pull through and remain true to herself. It's wonderful to hear that you think her multi-faceted!

I'm glad that you mentioned the old comedic element. Haha, I was watching far too many screwball comedies while writing this, and it definitely influenced the way I've written Helen and Moody's relationship. ;)

Thank you again for reading and reviewing! ^_^


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Review #7, by patronus_charm In the Blink of an Eye

27th October 2013:
I liked this chapter as it helped make a little more sense of Helen as a character. She seems to want to disociate herself with the image of an English lady as much as possible with her comments about living beside the river and previous ones she's made. It's an excellent layer to her already comple character because that suggested proposal couldn't have caused her to become so extreme in that sense so I wonder what did make her like that.

Again, Emile is confusing me too. I know despite his rather obvious affections for Helen she likes him but I just can't warm to him. The whole hiring her for a tour guide seems a little odd. So I'll wait and see what will happen with him. Again, he's another wonderful character of yours.

Your descriptions in this chapter were so vivid with horses clomping along, the cries of people and the interfering British soldiers, that I am almost felt that I was part of the tour of Egypt too. One thing that really makes it work is the blend of historical detail in terms of the description as it just lifts it to another level.

Moody was great! He and Helen are a natural double act with their inquisitive minds. I like how you're slowly altering Helen's feelings for them because they were abusive they were not so abrasive. I really can't wait to see the future for these two!

The drama in this chapter was great! I can't wait to find out what the cause of death for the Muggle was and what it means in the grand scheme of things. Then the rock nearly hitting Helen with the fingerprints (claw prints?) on it was another curiosity. I really can't wait to read on and find out what will happen next!

-Kiana

Author's Response: This is the part where, as a writer, I run into trouble because I've had Helen in my head for many years, and I've created a whole backstory for her, but there's only so much of it that can actually appear in this story. I can tell you that she's spent much of her life isolated, not only because she was physically isolated on her family's estate, but also because she never really had any friends, not even at Hogwarts. She sees herself as different from her peers, from other Englishwomen and from other witches, and one thing she has to learn in this story is how to work with others. She's a loner, very independent and proud. What she tends not to see is that she's often the very type of person that she criticizes - the haughty lady, looking down her nose at others. She needs to work on her self-evaluation skills. :P

I'm glad to hear that you can't warm to Emile. He's so bloody creepy! And that's exactly how I want him to be - somewhat off in his behaviour, not quite trustworthy, not evasive so much as odd.

It's also lovely that you've enjoyed the descriptions. I think it's very important to make the world around the characters come to life to remind readers that there's so much more going on in the background. And it's been interesting to do this through Helen's eyes - I don't usually include so many descriptions in a first person narrative, but because Helen is writing about these events later in her life, we also get a lot of her nostalgia for the place. (She's actually writing the narrative twenty years later in England, which is why she focuses so much on the details.)

In this chapter, you can really see how Helen's opinion of Moody is changing. I love hearing that you enjoy their scenes together. ^_^

Thank you very much for reading and reviewing! I can't express how much it means to have your feedback!


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Review #8, by patronus_charm In Conversation with Madmen

22nd October 2013:
I really liked all the references about Helen being a member of the Black family in this chapter. With her vast and varying vocabulary, mentions about vanity and the way she holds this lofty contempt for those perceived to be below it fits well. But then you went and put a spin on it with the way she traverses Egypt with a man for money showing why she had to break away for not being the exact mould of the Black family.

Emile/Mr Cadogan is a curious figure. Iím not entirely sure what to make of him and the way you built him up suggests that you intended him to be like that, and I have a feeling that I wonít know the full truth about him for a while yet. Itís just with his lack of interest in Egypt and its history and the way he needs a guide but acts as if he doesnít need her, itís all very puzzling.

It was an odd feeling to look forward to Moodyís appearances in this chapter but I did. He just seems to be such a grounded character in comparison to Mr Cadogan, because you can clearly see the cause and reason behind his actions and thatís comforting in a way. The only thing Iím a little unsure of at the moment with him is what you intend him and Helen to be. There is this tension there, but I canít somehow see Helen lower herself (in her terms, at least) to marry an American.

Your description of Egypt and all of its artefacts was lovely! I really enjoyed reading them but the way you mixed in human description such as what they were wearing and why was brilliant too. It just added a freshness to it, and then the references to nature and the weather created the perfect balance in terms of description.

Ah, Iím so eager to read on and find out what Emile is actually up to now! Great chapter :D

-Kiana

Author's Response: The one thing Helen can't escape is being a pureblood - it's so ingrained into her system that I don't even think she can contemplate being anything else. That's why she hates herself when she forgets spells or acts like a Muggle - it's going against everything she's ever known. I'm really pleased to hear that you liked the references to her background in this chapter - you've picked out a lot of details that I wasn't sure people would notice. It's fun to include subtle things, and it's not that difficult to do with a first person narrator like Helen. :)

Cadogan is supposed to be incredibly elusive, and I wonder if I didn't go too far with it. XD He doesn't make any sense, but in a way that's why Helen can't walk away - she's curious about him and falls into his web as a result. Moody may come across as more straightforward, but he's really not that different from Cadogan. I can't say anymore on that topic just yet.

Thank you very much for your compliments! I'm glad to hear that the research for this story is paying off - it is exciting to pour over maps and photographs and the history of Egypt, both in ancient times and in the early 20th century. It's almost overwhelming how much one can do with these things in a story.


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Review #9, by patronus_charm In the Temple of Luxor

19th October 2013:
You really shouldnít have mentioned salacious, I ended up sitting there for about five minutes saying it over and over again. :P

I really liked how you actually followed through with Helenís dream with the large amount of background information she had such as the knowledge of modern archaeologists and the history of it all. I cannot explain how many times Iíve seen people say they want their MC to be this and not follow through with action. Plus, it allows me to sit here in history nerd heaven and soak up everything.

Your geographical references throughout this chapter were really great. It really gave the story an authentic air with the way Helen kept on referring to different things, making her really come off as person who has lived there for years. Ah, it just makes me want to go and explore it all even more now.

Helen and Moodyís verbal jibing was, again, excellent. Itís fast becoming the thing I enjoy most about the chapter as a whole due to their differing and yet similar characters combining together. Helen actually appears as herself in front of him with the rudeness, swearing and revealing her dream and it was almost relaxing to see instead of her forcing this mask upon herself.

The constant references to the Muggle world left me intrigued. I mean, I gathered that Helen was a witch with her references to that but she doesnít seem all that inclined to do magic and couldnít even remember the body-bind spell. I have a feeling a lot of mystery is hiding behind that and I canít wait for it to be uncovered.

The suspense in the knife scene was really great. I honestly didnít know what to expect but with the way Helen kept on fighting back against the attacker and even using sly trickery such as fainting was really excellent and almost had me chuckling away due to the ingenuity of it all.

Great chapter!

-Kiana

Author's Response: Haha, it is quite a fun word to say. I don't know why. XD

It's great to hear that you like that! Her drive to find a place for herself and a solid purpose in life is a significant part of the plot, even more so than the demon itself. The demon enables Helen to challenge herself and discover what she's truly capable of, but at the same time, she still needs to learn the basics. She's come to a place where she doesn't know the language or very much about the history, and it actually reveals a lot about her that she takes the time to learn these things.

It seems that she becomes more angry around Moody because something about him makes her mask slip. She wants to appear to be a particular kind of person, and when Moody comes along, she can't help but be herself. It gets more interesting when he finds himself in the same predicament later on. :P

It's not that much of a mystery, actually. She's spent the last five years repressing her magic, both because she doesn't want to be recognized and because she's living among Muggles. She also forgets spells because she wasn't very good at them to begin with - she never put forward much effort in school and was never encouraged to do so by her parents. I'll try to work that into the story more - I think I know how. :)

Thank you again for your lovely review! It means a lot to receive feedback for this story - it's probably still my favourite to write. ^_^


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Review #10, by patronus_charm In the Valley of the Kings

15th October 2013:
I apologise in advance for this typo-ridden review as it's written on my phone!

Helen's narration meant that there was a lot of refreshing description. It was interesting to see how she viewed the valley of kings in a cynical way, when one would think the opposite way. I know that if I was at such a historically important site I would no doubt be caught up in all the trappings of it. Then again, your comment about her being white and single could be a reason why she appears like that as it could be a natural defence thing.

The merge of historical events such as Helen's comments on mythology and learning the names of the Gods combined with the current ones (well, for the time!) such as Carter's discovery was really great, as it showed exactly why Egypt appeared so magical and appealing to people like me. I think there might have been a typo in the previous chapter however, as it mentioned the Great War of 1816 or something similar and I think you mean the 1900s if Carter is around.

The cultural differences between Moody and Helen were really great to observe, as you played the stereotypes really well with Helen's stiff upper lip and then Moody's swearing. A few questions though. Is Moody a relation of Alastors or can't you say? Also, was his hometown inspired by Glee or a coincidence?

Your descriptions of the tomb and weather were really excellent and blew me away. I could imagine the heat of Egypt perfectly and the debri collected around the tomb and its just great.

Helen's thoughts about her family were also really interesting and it's making me wonder whether she actually will see them again or not and whether they'll have a part in this story. I'm inclined to say yes, and if not, I'm sure that they'll continue to act as a background force.

Great chapter!

Author's Response: It's great to hear that you liked Helen's descriptions - she has been living there for a couple of years (I get fuzzy on the math - she's been in Egypt for 5 years, some of that in Cairo, and some of it here in Thebes and Luxor), so she's able to see past the glamour put forward for tourists. I have to admit that some of that cynicism is my own - it comes naturally when you live too long near a major tourist spot. But to a large degree, you're also right to say that she's being guarded. She is, in spite of herself, equally caught up in the magic of the place, in its history and romance, but she still recognizes the shadowy things that go on behind the scenes.

Yes, it was a typo. This part of the story takes place in December 1922. :)

Moody definitely is a relation of Alastor, though I won't say who just yet (I spoil it in two of my other stories, though...). I didn't know that Lima, OH had any connection to Glee - it's a place I've driven through a couple of times and I just love the sound of the name. Moody takes way too much pleasure from playing a stereotypical American - he is doing it to annoy Helen, I'll admit that much. :P

Thank you again for reading and reviewing! I hope that you enjoy the next chapters too! ^_^


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Review #11, by patronus_charm In the House of Black

13th October 2013:
Ah, your chapter image = ♥ ♡ It really reminded me of why I want to get back to making graphics!

I have to admit, when you first mentioned the war I assumed you meant WWI as it seemed the most logical but I was pleasantly surprised when you meant a different one. My historical knowledge of the 19th century is rather poor, but I can only imagine this has something to do with Napoleon from what I remember from reading Vanity Fair. Oh well, it gives me something to research after!

I was really intrigued to see what Helen was going to be like because I remember you saying in one of your MTA answers that she was hard for you to write, but I really enjoyed reading her. She just has this cynical nature about her but I could tell that there was something else about her too. I really enjoyed her narration too, because I am big fan of your first person narration, and it was almost comedic at times which was really great.

Though, I can see why she could be hard at times with some of her comments such as the one about Gwyneth not being made for life and having to portray someone almost heartless at times could be tricky. Oh well, Iíll just treat her with trepidation for now.

The characterisation of Helenís parents was fantastic with their single goal of getting their daughter married highly appropriate. Canis Malfoy also sounds intriguing and I canít help but wonder whether heís all that meets Helenís eye. It just seems too obvious for him to be boring. My current ideas are either secretly evil or bursting to break free, but Iíll have to wait and see.

Her motivation for going to Egypt was really fitting as I really got a sense of her independent spirit when she was selecting which place she would escape to. Also, I canít help but wonder whether her father will somehow end up pulled into her adventure with these banking interests.

This will have to be my last review for tonight, as I have to go and revise the Russian Revolution which is really interesting, but nothing like Ancient Egypt :( Oh well, this was a really excellent start to the story and I canít wait to read on!

-Kiana

Author's Response: You actually caught my typo - when I was editing, I actually typed 1818 instead of 1918. That's what comes of writing 1800-something too many times in my work. I'm sorry for the confusion that it caused.

I'm really glad to hear that you like the first person narration of this story. :D Helen is harder to write because she's very opinionated and evasive, so her version of the story thus becomes very narrow and constructed. When I first started writing this story, I wanted to challenge myself to write a more complex version of first person narration - the unreliable narrator whose personal opinions and careful telling of the story often get in the way of the actual telling. There are many somethings about herself that she wants to keep back from readers, but clues still work their way into her narrative despite her best efforts. It's best to take some of the things she says with a grain of salt - yet there are other instances where her opinions actually work in her favour. It's definitely a challenge to find the right balance with her.

Her family doesn't really come back into the story, except her in recollections and nightmares. There is something that Canis has done that haunts her, and it affects the way she reacts to things later on. I'm still trying to decide whether I want the events of this chapter to have a greater influence on the story. At the moment, it's primarily here for backstory to show where Helen has come from and why she is as she is.

Thank you again for reading and reviewing! It's wonderful to hear your feedback on my stories. ^_^


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Review #12, by patronus_charm Prologue

13th October 2013:
Ah, I saw you on the review tag and I couldnít resist coming and reading some of your work as itís been ages! If, at any time (probably most of the timeÖ), this review is incoherent I apologise being a massive fan of Ancient Egypt and all the pharaohs it will probably lead to me squealing far too much!

Even though Ankhesenamunís appearance was really short, your characterisation of her in that space of time was amazing. Her love for her husband was so true with the way she wanted to die so she could still be with him, then the innocence of that wish and acting rashly with grief was excellent and all the layers of her emotions were tied together excellently. She had this wonderful regal air about her with not crying and keeping her composure which was a really lovely addition to her characterisation.

The way you use old terms such as Vizier and relating it to the afterlife and their belief in it constantly was really excellent. It just painted this wonderfully vivid image of their society and how the hierarchy of it was so important. I really enjoyed reading the sections when Ankhesenamun almost bemoaned the fact that she and Tutankhamen werenít going to get a proper burial with all the jewels and treasures as it showed what an important part of their life it was.

Ay was another fantastic addition to the story! He was an excellent villain Ė the type which you instantly dislike and he provoked so many angry emotions in me it really showed why. I also liked how you put emphasis on him being superior to her despite she being the surviving wife to the pharaoh showing what position women held and it will be interesting to juxtapose it to your MC in the present day as sheís a girl.

Itís a shorter review than usual (well, for me :P), but I canít wait to carry on reading! ♥

-Kiana

Author's Response: I really can't imagine any of your reviews being incoherent, Kiana! It's lovely of you to snatch up my story from the review swap thread, and even lovelier that you've reviewed so much of this story! I'm sorry that I've taken so long to respond to your reviews - but I have read them all a few times, enjoying the story again through your eyes. ^_^

Hearing the compliments of a character who appears so briefly is wonderful! It's great to hear that her personality came through with such strength - she doesn't appear again for a while, but her legacy and presence do permeate through the text (and I've also found a way to give her a role further on. It's different from my original plan for her, but it's more plausible and requires a lot less finangling with the rules of the magical world). She's also an example of a "strong female character" - although she feels powerless, she is still able to enact a certain power and do what is necessary to protect herself in her now precarious position. It's something many of the female characters in this story have to deal with.

Wow, you've picked up some fantastic details from the chapter - things that I hadn't remembered or noticed were there. You've really demonstrated how the prologue doesn't only introduce the ancient magical elements that are important to the plot, but also - and more importantly - the underlying themes of hierarchy, systems of belief, and gender roles. It's fantastic! Thank you very much for pointing them out! :D


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Review #13, by academica In the House of the Goddess

22nd September 2013:
Hey Susan! I know I technically owe you two or three chapters now in our long-term swap, but hopefully just one will do for now and I can catch up later when I have more time :)

Anyway, this chapter was excellent. I love how you let the action play out at the end, with Helen's suspicion building and then her discovery of Cadogan's body out on the deck. She's definitely starting to figure out what's going on, and I'm excited for her to confront Moody (hopefully, though it seems a fearsome feat) and truly get to the bottom of all the things she's experienced during her time in Egypt.

I also thought your portrayal of the love scene between Helen and Cadogan was very intriguing, because to me it displayed key elements of her characterization. She clearly is still not fully acclimated to life outside the sheltered, suffocating confines of her family home and the privilege that accompanied it. I can tell by the way she describes the action in that scene, with this sort of detachment, and the way she falls into a nightmare after the act is finished. In fact, I think the moment when she states that Egypt is just like the House of Black is her most lucid in the entire chapter--but she'll likely be forced to wake up in the face of current events. I would love to see her really transform and become a bit more wise to the world by the story's end; I think it'd be satisfying to her.

Excellent work! I'll be back, hopefully soon!

-Amanda

Author's Response: You don't need to worry about the swap at all - if you can't do it anymore, just say so. I think we've both become crazy busy with grad school (hence my own inability to keep up with review responses). It is lovely to receive reviews from you, though. ^_^

I'm glad to hear that the mystery is developing well - there are indeed a lot of questions, and even once those are answered, more questions arise. I always forget how complicated mystery plots can be, which is why it's taken forever for me to get on track with this one. But now it feels like it's going somewhere at last.

What you've said about the scene between Helen and Cadogan has given me an idea. I won't say too much about it until I see whether the idea actually works - there is a dream/otherworldly aspect that I think I can build upon to actually make this scene a more important part of the plot. At first, the scene was rather like something out of James Bond where the protagonist just allows it to happen, then wakes to find the other person dead. But I think there's more that can be done with it, and I thank you for giving me the idea! :D


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Review #14, by lia_2390 In the House of the Goddess

6th September 2013:
Have you ever thought of watching people read your work? I imagine you'll been grinning like a cheshire, especially after this last chapter. Because, what in all actuality? Holy crap! Okay, I'm trying to put things into perspective.

Let's go back to the beginning with Cadogan. I wonder what brought him here. Moody's line about him "appearing out of nowhere" first led me to believe he came out of the tomb itself, but then he could have apparated there too, but how? He probably followed her and saw her apparate in the alley as well, so perhaps my musings of Moody were wrong in that regard. But how did the two of them meet? What was the reason for it? If in the end, the same person who drew them together tore them apart because Mr. E went a bit too far. Or, he found out about something he wasn't supposed to. Was he really a lonely man looking for something like Helen was? Gahh, there are so many things, but this is why I love mysteries to much.

After Helen found the demonology book, she should realise this is something far, far beyond her control. I think that who is responsible, definitely was released from the tomb - the same one that caused the wind to blow up around her in such away back in chapter three - which is why I mentioned that of course she has to look like Ankhesenamun. (Maybe I'm thinking more of the Mummy's plot...I dunno). It made me go back to re-read the prologue. Mentions of Seth (the red-headed one) and the daemon.

The dream is the most puzzling of all. I honestly don't think she was speaking to Cadogan there, but to Seth himself. It's as if Cadogan was only a vessel or a puppet being manipulated by a greater being. Then there's the interest in Philae...the rumoured burial ground of Osiris who was killed by his brother Seth...


Hmm.

Author's Response: Oh yes! It would be fun to watch their faces, gauge their reactions... it would also be really useful, more useful than reviews (because most people write them once they've had time to think things through - there's a lot less immediacy to it).

This chapter is a bit of a doozy. It re-introduces some of the mystical elements of the prologue, and it's uncertain how much of Helen's experience on the boat is part of the dream world and how much is actually real. It seems that Cadogan is at the centre of that boundary between dream and reality, and there's much about him that Helen still has to discover. ;)

Haha, your point about Helen looking like Ankhesenamun has made me come up with a terribly mean plot twist. Thank you... though you might not thank me later...

Aahh, again, I have to remain silent on many things. I love reading your questions to see how you're piecing the mystery together. It's helpful because I've taken so long to actually figure out the plot of this story that I can't always remember what clues I've left along the way. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing this story! It means a lot to have heard from you. ^_^


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Review #15, by lia_2390 In the Blink of an Eye

6th September 2013:
Ooh yes. I do love a good mystery.

I wonder why Helen never thought of asking who recommended her to Mr E. I think it would make an interesting conversation, but it's too early in the game for those kind of revelations.

Helen continues to be awesome. There's much discussion on the rare 'strong female character' on the internet, and Helen simply proves to be a strong character. She's rebellious, looking out for /her/ needs, and she'll lie if she has to. However, she's not doing a great job at trying to lie to Moody. I suppose it takes one to know one.

With the tomb opening, I wonder if more than just a curse left it. I try not to believe in coincidences, so a lot of things that happened were inevitable. There is too much magic around to not think that this curse is legit. This are too weird at the moment. I keep thinking about Moody and his background. He might not be magical, but it doesn't mean he isn't supposed to be...i.e. suppose he's a Squib? (It's a bit far-fetched though) I won't put it past him to be the one who followed her into the alleyway and saw her Apparate. There are so many things that they need to say to each other, but they refuse.

Then there's this murder. I thought of the killing curse the moment it was mentioned that there was no blood. Something bigger is at stake here. It makes me think that someone is playing up this curse to hide something else.

Author's Response: Time for a confession: Helen never thought to ask because I didn't think of it. *hides* It would have been a good idea, wouldn't it? Even with what happens later, it's still something she has to figure out - how did Cadogan find her?

I'm so glad to hear that you like Helen. There was a time when I didn't particularly like her - she felt too far removed from me when I first started writing this story, but perhaps she's just someone I had to grow into. The fact that she's a Slytherin makes her perfect for this story because she needs to be resourceful and, more importantly, look after herself, no matter the cost. It's gotten her this far.

Sadly, I can't say more without being spoilerish. I feel like River Song when responding to your reviews, but too much of this story relies on the details.

Thank you again for your lovely reviews! ^_^ I hope that you keep enjoying this story!


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Review #16, by lia_2390 In Conversation with Madmen

6th September 2013:
Oh boy. This chapter took a serious turn. I'd never say no to the Helen/Moody banter, but if only she wasn't so stubborn. I thought that he was the one who recommended her for the job with Mr Cadogan, but now I'm not so sure. I don't trust him at all and I highly doubt Cadogan is his real name. And as for Moody, I suspect he is trying desperately to warn her (though we got an admission about possible seduction! I'm a tad bit too excited about that, but never mind).

I think that Helen wasn't the only one to feel different when the tomb was opened. Maybe he's not so Muggle as she thinks.

While the possible threat that someone in her family is still looking for her, I think this one is much more immediate. It's only a matter of time until the curse manifests.

Author's Response: Oh yes, on with the banter. It's fantastic when you can find the right set of characters that can carry it off. When I re-read this chapter, I always giggle over the number of times that Helen thinks about Moody and how conscious she is of her actions around him. Cadogan is a far more shadowy figure in his apparent simplicity - Moody is indeed right to warn Helen that Cadogan isn't quite what he seems to be.

I want to respond to your other points, but I keep finding that my explanations are filled with spoilers. *hides* Sorry for this short response.

Thank you again for your reviews! It's wonderful to hear your thoughts on this story. :D


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Review #17, by lia_2390 In the Temple of Luxor

6th September 2013:
Alexander Moody is such a case! He is so infuriating! I have sat here and cackled with laughter. Poor Helen! I knew things weren't looking good from the moment he appeared at her side. I probably would have turned him into a toad too.

When you first mentioned the Winter Palace, I thought of Russia, but considering the context, I was a few years too late. Both of them are lovely places though, filled with history.

Somehow I get the feeling that we haven't heard the last of Canis Malfoy. There's a reason authors include certain things even if they won't be mentioned for a while. The fact that these goons showed up with their European-ness doesn't help much either. However, these guys don't seem to know who she is. Hmm. We shall see.

Author's Response: The benefit of writing about witches is that they can constantly imagine turning people into toads. :P I wouldn't be surprised if Helen was driven to it one day - Moody knows just the right buttons to push. He's a crazy character to write, especially with the chemistry he has with Helen - when they're together "on screen", there's a wonderful tension that's fun to play with. It's the kind of tension that reminds me how much fun writing can be. :D

I'm still trying to find the best way to bring Canis Malfoy back into the story. He may not fit, but I feel that he's too important to leave out entirely - there's more between him and Helen than she's letting on.

Thank you again for reading and reviewing! ^_^


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Review #18, by lia_2390 In the Valley of the Kings

6th September 2013:
Hey Susan, this is one of (hopefully) many reviews you will get for this story - for the TGS review exchange. I'm so sorry you never got yours (even after all this time). So we're trying to correct that for everyone on that list.

I started to read this a while ago, and I can honestly never get bored with it. There are so many themes you've created while writing this story and I don't think I can get to all of them in this review alone! I'll be reviewing as I read so bear with me.

In this chapter so far, you've given us some back story about Helen Black. Other than the main conflict from chapter one, there are others to be discussed as the story continues. For one, it's the 1920s, she's an unmarried woman in a strange place, and she's broke. Did I mention it was the 1920s? It fits though. It's after the war - not one as catastrophic as the other which will come 15 or so years later - but women had to advance themselves since men were absent or too injured to do it. I think she's awesome.

Helen is hilarious. The narrative is very witty and reminds me of a Jane Austen heroine that you're channelling.

Ah Moody. Why must you be so muscular and persistent? And an American farm boy? For me, this is a case of where fandoms collide, and it's a joy for you to bring both of them together. HP and The Mummy. I think I mentioned this in an earlier review. If only Helen was with her brotherÖI hope you have a sidekick written in. I also love the historical aspect of this fic. A rather prolific one at that.

I love how you're able to transition from a seemingly light-hearted tone to one that makes the reader unsettled. Definitely a sign of what is to come, because Helen's wit and Moody's persistence would not be enough :P

Oh...and of course Helen happens to look like
Ankhesenamun. ..of course.


This fic has so many things! Ahhh! I'm sorry I could not find anything constructive to say :( But I've enjoyed this a great deal :)

Lia

Author's Response: This is a wonderful surprise! Thank you very much, Lia, for taking the time to review this story - and so many chapters of it too! I can't express how much it means. ^_^

You've captured the time period in a nutshell. It feels like it should be the complete opposite of the period described in the prologue, but at the core of both stories, Helen and the princess aren't that different - they both have this powerful dynastic history behind them, yet they look onto a bleak future. They're still confined by patriarchal structures, which leads the princess into an unwanted marriage with the wizard and Helen into poverty (and she herself barely escaped an unwanted marriage). Hopefully I'll be able to do more with these parallels as their two worlds collide.

Haha, yes, how could I help being inspired by "The Mummy"? XD It's actually more of an influence than I thought - I didn't even notice those connections!

Thank you again for reading and reviewing this story! I hope that you enjoy the rest. :D


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Review #19, by academica In the Dream of Night

16th June 2013:
I'm finally back to visit :)

I loved the subdued focus on family in the first part of this chapter. I'm going to assume it was intentional, because, well, it's you :D It first struck me when Helen mentioned that no one had ever made her special tea before, and I had the thought that a good mother would do something like that, but she's not terribly close to her parents. It was also sad to think of the tea's scent reminding her of the sort of warmth that dominates most people's Christmas memories, the kind she probably did not get to experience within the confines of her family. A strength of yours is subtlety, and it shines here.

Helena's characterization here is truly fascinating. I feel like I've gotten to know her very well in this chapter, perhaps because in the act of her being vulnerable for just a moment regarding Cadogan she also opened herself up more to the reader. She's so conditioned to keep a stiff upper lip and neatly pressed skirt--and moreover, seemingly afraid to risk letting that careful guard down because of the issue of stepping into unknown territory--that she can't even relax in the face of those warm, familiar stimuli I mentioned earlier. Cadogan is really a contrast to her in this chapter, then, because by comparison he seems quite free and relaxed as she attempts to woo her further. The pressure must be intense, and so I understand her desire to conceal any sign of weakness here.

Oh, and then there's the idea of both of them playing parts alongside one other, Helen portraying the careful female acquaintance in a strange land and Cadogan possibly covering up his true identity as someone sent to sabotage or bring harm to her. There are so many delightful layers in this chapter!

Anyway, the ending obviously caught my attention. I wonder where poor Helen will wake up next and to whom those chilling fingers actually belong...

See you again soon, Susan (and thank you for all of the wonderful reviews you've left lately)!

-Amanda

Author's Response: Yes, the first part is rather subdued - it's a strange change from Helen's usual style, but it reflects her unease in this situation. Not only does being on the water affect her, but she's almost afraid of Cadogan - at the very least she isn't sure what he wants from her. It's easier for her once the tension breaks, but at the beginning of this chapter, the tension nearly silences her. Cadogan reads this with surprising accuracy, hence the special tea.

You've also done a fantastic reading of her response to receiving the tea. She's had to do so much for herself in the last few years that she doesn't know how to react when someone offers her something - usually she brushes it off, immediately expecting that she has to do something in return. This has harmed her previous relationships with others. It doesn't help that, as you've said, her life at home wasn't pleasant - it certainly didn't provide her with much, if any, affection. Her reaction is a reminder of how little we actually know this character. One of the things I love about writing her is that she excludes more than she includes - you really have to read between the lines, as you did here, to get a better grasp of who she is. The more sarcastic, bombastic style of the other chapters is a facade she puts on to hide her vulnerability - for most of her life, that facade was the best way to protect herself.

Thank you so much for this review! It's fantastic to see the things you noticed in this chapter and that you liked these subtle aspects of both characters. It means a lot to have your feedback. ^_^


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Review #20, by Alexandra M. Camilleri In the Hand of the Devil

14th May 2013:
Greetings,

First of all, I must say that this chapter was absolutely brilliant, as all your previous chapters have been.

Secondly, as you said yourself previously, Mr. Moody is such chameleon! I did not in the least expect him to be a civil servant - and one whom takes care of unruly witches to boot. The way he seemed to avoid answering any question regarding his magical patronage makes me believe that there is much more to him than I can ever think of at the moment. At first I assumed he was just a simple muggle, then after he showed a certain amount of knowledge about the magic world, the status of a squib would have been more fitting. However, I am pretty sure that during those times, squibs were ostracised and surely, they would not be able to attain a profession with the ministry. Moody is surely turning out to be quite an enigma. If I am not mistaken, Alastor Moody is cited to be a Pure-blood wizard and so, I am interested to see how you spin this tale out. And also, those scars seem to have a tantalising mystery behind them, Hm I wonder, how/when will Helen discover them?

Regarding the mystery man at the end of the chapter, I am on tenterhooks to see what will happen next. Maybe Helen will find some answers, or maybe she'll find more obstruction.

All in all, I would like to thank you for your hard work and praise you for your commendable effort. Keep it up!

(P.S. Thank you for that detailed reply! :D )

Author's Response: Thank you for returning to read and review the newest chapter! It was a wonderful treat to see your name on another review, and I'm pleased to hear that you enjoyed this chapter as much as the last.

Moody's position is a complicated one, even delicate in nature. He keeps as much back about himself as Helen does; neither of them is particularly candid, constantly holding things back. It's an interesting experiment to write characters like these two, to slowly reveal their personalities and lives, not only to readers, but to each other. Helen will learn more about him in the next chapter, but only a little bit more. ;)

Thank you so much for your support of this story! It means a lot to hear your thoughts on the chapters, and I look forward to seeing what you think of the new chapter (once it's posted).


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Review #21, by academica In the Teeth of the Lion

7th April 2013:
Hi Susan! Back for another review for our swap!

I love the classic trope of our fierce leading lady wanting nothing more than to wipe the smirking face of the leading male from her mind and being utterly unable to do so, no matter what she tries. Helen seems to become somewhat disheveled in his presence--and I love how she keeps making faces at every other thing he says :) I can't wait to see the moment when one of them really begins to soften in front of the other, and we see all this chemistry set ablaze with that one special spark.

Helen takes a bath when she needs to sit, think, and relax! My kind of girl. I like the sort of detached style and imagery in that section, like you're trying to get the reader to relax along with Helen (who only finds it so possible, as it were). Like this--"the book went limp in her hands"--very simple, and yet effective in conveying the seriousness of the facts in the next few lines.

The growing tension between Helen and Cadogan is intriguing. She's been warned off of him thoroughly, and yet she continues to tempt fate and pretend to have her act together around him. She's definitely a tough girl, but I have to wonder how long she can keep all of this up, what with all the strange things happening in Egypt right now. It'll be interesting to see how she continues to handle twists and turns as the story progresses--and, of course, to see what those twists and turns are.

Another nice chapter. No critiques to point out yet, and I'm looking forward to continuing on later.

-Amanda

Author's Response: Haha, that is such a classic trope! I can't resist things like that, even though I know I probably should. XD One thing I can't decide is whether she finds him merely annoying or she just enjoys having someone to fight with - the latter is very tempting to expand on because, by this point, she's dissatisfied and unchallenged. I'm really glad to hear that they have chemistry! Although I want to hold off on the romance, I do want there to be a strong connection between them, a bond of trust.

Ooh, thank you for that compliment! I hadn't noticed that about the bath scene, and it's very interesting to see it. It's definitely something to remember to also include in future chapters!

Writing Cadogan is proving difficult because I can't get a firm grasp of his personality. I know his vitals, but little more than that, and I try to convey this through Helen's narration. Her curiosity is piqued by his enigmatic nature, but like you said, she tempts fate by remaining close to him. It's not just that Moody has warned her away, but that things have only begun to change since Cadogan arrived. Perhaps some of Helen's naivety is showing through that she wants to trust him and enjoy his company - he is of her social sphere, and she can't help remembering its comforts and benefits.

Thank you so much for reading and reviewing! I look forward to seeing what you think about the rest of the story. :D


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Review #22, by TenthWeasley Prologue

2nd April 2013:
Susan! I was too slow to give this review to you by means of the review tag, but I've been meaning to drop by this story for ages anyway, and once I'd started reading I didn't want to stop. I've loved reading about ancient Egypt ever since I was little and picked up a book on Tutankhamen, and who better to combine it with fan fiction than one of my favorite HPFF authors?

Right away I am SO intrigued about what else you've got in store as far as this story goes, and I hope to return really quickly just to figure it all out. I can't believe more people don't write about ancient Egypt on this site, come to think of it, and you've already made the magic tie together so well with the story. Ay seems like a fantastic villain, if that is indeed what he turns out to be. And I'm going to guess the curse comes back for your protagonists? Oh, I am so excited to see this. You have no idea!

I loved the way you wrote this scene, too, not just because of what went on in it -- although like I said, that's enough to make me want to jump into the next chapter write now -- but because stylistically it felt like ancient Egypt, if that makes sense. The tone your characters spoke and thought in was archaic and lovely and so accurate, in my opinion. And the descriptions were just gorgeous! Ones like this:

The night sky blanketed the world, the only light coming from the tiny pinpricks of light shining from distant stars.

The shape swirled around the tomb and Ankhesenamun could have sworn that she heard it screaming, crying out against its new prison.

That last one sent a chill up my spine. How terrifying is that?!

I cannot wait to come back to this story, and I definitely intend to make it sooner rather than later. This was fantastic! I'm so glad I finally read this first chapter! ♥

Author's Response: This is a wonderful surprise, Rachel! It's a lovely treat to see a review from you, and for this story too! I've enjoyed having the opportunity to write about Egyptian magic and history - it's an exciting area, refreshingly different from the other stories I'm working on. Thank you for the compliments! I'm so glad to be one of your favourite HPFF authors! ^_^

The unfortunate thing is that the prologue is more just background rather than a central part of the story. It places the daemon in the tomb and shows how it was done, but Ay will not return, except in passing. I have found a way of referring back to the prologue more, though, and hopefully it will work. :)

It is a pleasure to hear that the prologue sounded authentic - it was something so new to write, especially within the Potterverse, that it was hard to imagine how magic would have worked back then. It makes this more of an OF than fanfiction (hence why I chose to explore the Blacks in the first official chapter). But to hear compliments about the style and descriptions from you is simply fantastic! I don't know what else to say! ^_^

Thank you very much for taking the time to read and review! It will be wonderful to hear what you think about the rest of this story!


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Review #23, by academica In the Blink of an Eye

25th March 2013:
Hey Susan! I'm here to initiate the first of our swaps :) Since I've read the first five chapters but only now just started reviewing, I'm just going to leave some comments on what I read prior to this chapter first.

I've really enjoyed getting to know Helen. She's plucky and cynical and yet totally aware of the social conventions expected of her. She seems willing to conform as long as it suits her purposes, just as you would expect from a Slytherin; at the same time, she doesn't dull her sharp tongue in conversation, particularly with Moody. I think you've broken convention with her in a couple of different ways. For one, a lot of pureblood female OCs wind up pouting in their parents' homes or suffering as newlyweds in their arranged marriages. But Helen just went for it, left and carved out a life for herself, and with her struggles, the journey feels realistic. For another, you've done a good job of building up her character so that it doesn't feel forced or contrived to me to see Helen engaging in so much internal dialogue and sarcasm. It makes sense for her to reason with herself a lot, given all that she's trying to hide.

Oh, and Moody! I like how he's got that spitfire personality, as well as the contrast between his disdain of Helen and his fascination with her. I love it when a line of his dialogue pops up, because I know it's going to bring out Helen's worst. Hehe.

The premise for the story is obviously original, and I like the idea of there being this curse that isn't quite obvious to everyone but with which your main character is very in tune. It'll be interesting to see where Pharoah's wife comes in, and how she'll react to her husband's tomb being desecrated.

Anyway, on to the chapter at hand.

Helen is just full of contrasts, isn't she? She knows she's beautiful, and yet male attention seems to make her exceedingly uncomfortable, at least until she finds a way to use it to her advantage. I have to wonder if she's only pretending to be so perturbed by the glances she gets from Moody and Emile. I guess it makes it all the better that Moody pushes her buttons, to challenge her image making.

I loved the suspense in this chapter, too. I have to admit, when you first started describing the body as being without marks, I immediately thought of the Killing Curse. I wonder if this Egyptian curse is some kind of Avada Kedavra ancestor? Anyway, I like how you went from the confusion over the man's death to the incident with the boulder. The tension remained high throughout and pulled along readily to the end of the chapter. Great flow there. Same thing with Helen's realization from earlier in the chapter that someone had seen her Apparate. I wonder if it's the Pharaoh's vengeful spirit?

Nothing to critique in this chapter, or so far in the story. I'm afraid it will be challenging for me to critique anything of yours, but I'll try to be helpful where I can.

Very excited to continue. Nice work so far :)

-Amanda

Author's Response: Thank you very much for coming in to read and review this story, Amanda! Your feedback means a lot, and it's wonderful that you had the idea for the long-term review swap. Maybe I'd do better with reviews if I updated more regularly, but with this story, the idea has developed so slowly that it doesn't even resemble my original idea. But it's strange how I keep returning to this story, even after setting it aside for a few years.

It's fantastic to hear that you like Helen and Moody. Writing them again has been a treat because they have this potential to be cliched, yet their speech and actions overturn the stereotypes of the action/adventure hero and heroine. After reading your review, I went back to the first chapter to add more references to the fate of most pureblood Slytherin girls. You're very right that Helen's choice differentiates her from other such witches - Pansy and Narcissa come to mind - because she's been dissatisfied by the idea of "settling down" from the beginning. It's not that she doesn't want to settle, but rather that she wants to settle on her own terms, not as an ornament and brood mare.

Looking back at what I've written for this story, it seems like I've spent more time building the characters than the plot. This isn't new for me - it's just amusing to realize that I'm only getting into the plot by chapter 9 or 10.

Moody is the more interesting character of the two, probably because we don't see into his mind. Although Helen keeps information back from readers, her narration is still very revealing. I love your point that Moody both feels disdain and fascination for Helen - I hadn't seen that, but it's the perfect way to describe him! A lot of this has to do with Helen's defiance of expectation - the juxtaposition of her appearance and her personality confuses him. Half of the time, I don't know if he says something because he means it or because he knows it will get a rise out of her. There's a fantastic tension between them. :)

There was a time when I had forgotten about the prologue, and another period when I wasn't sure if it was even necessary, but I've found a way of re-integrating those characters and "origin story" back into the plot. the problem has been finding a way to do it without making it sound corny, and it seems that with these kind of stories, everything has already been done. Oddly enough, my new inspiration for this story has come from my dissertation research! There are some very strange books about Ancient Egyptian mythology from the late-Victorian period, and I'm going to see how much of that I can incorporate here.

Just to return to Helen's character, she isn't pretending to be perturbed by Moody and Cadogan's attentions, or those by any man for that matter. She dislikes being seen as a sexual object because she knows that there's a lot more to her than that - she wants people to see beyond her appearance, and she only grows closer to the two men when she believes that they respect her as a person. It's one reason why she didn't want to be married off to whichever wizard came froward - if she's going to commit to a relationship, it has to be based on something more meaningful.

I hadn't thought too much about that curse (oops), but I like the idea of it being the ancient precursor to Avada Kedavra. Since it's the daemon who cast it, I'm not sure if it's a "spell" per se, but it has much the same effect as the killing curse.

Thank you so much for this wonderfully long review! ^_^


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Review #24, by Alexandra M. Camilleri In the Pit of Snakes

25th March 2013:
Greetings,

I originally read this particular story on the site fanfiction . net however I am was very pleased to see that you have continued to update this story on this site.

I quite like the fact that you subtly added more links to the Harry Potter universe by giving your characters, Helen Black and Alexander Moody, such recognisable surnames. I also must commend you on the excellent characterisation; I cannot help but feel exactly what Helen feels. And Moody is simply wonderful - I love the pairing so much. Helen is also a very likeable and believable. To me she is exactly how a noble lady on the run should act like; strong, independent, stubborn and slightly spoilt. On the other hand, Moody threw me off at first. I quickly wrote him off as just a secondary character whose purpose was to only highlight the paranoia our heroine feels and yet, his is an ever fluctuating and evolving character. I cannot wait to see fully the dimensions of Helen's and Moody's relationship. Your descriptions are vivid and yet not too taxing - there is a balance between the visual experience and any introspective thoughts that Helen might observe.

All in all, I hope that you continue with this story because, like you, I also enjoy reading adventure stories a la Indiana Jones and so forth. It is a well-written story with a unique plot and good characterisation. It also has the perfect set of genres: adventure, mystery, crime, romance, mythology and fantasy! What could be better?

Thank you for your time and patience.

Alexandra M. Camilleri

(I also love the fact that you used Ingrid Bergman to depict Helen in the banners.)

Author's Response: Wow, thank you! It is wonderful to hear that you've been following this story for some time - it has been rewritten to an extent since the old days on fanfiction-dot-net, but I keep coming back to this story, again and again, to continue writing it. To hear that you've enjoyed it this much is fantastic. I can't thank you enough for the compliments!

You have the story in a nutshell with that list of genres - it's one of those stories in which the author writes what they themselves would love to read: an Indiana Jones style tale with a female protagonist, but without the whole "tomb raider" association. I'm starting to add more occult and mystical elements too, playing with Ancient Egyptian mythology and the way that it revived in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. All of these things make me want to go on writing, and it means a lot that you enjoy this combination of genres. :D

Moody slips into the story in an exciting way because, like you said, he seems like a minor character, but he insinuates himself into the story and into Helen's life. I don't want to reveal more at the moment because their partnership does become central to the plot - they can only succeed by pooling their resources and skills, and of course by learning to trust each other. What's interesting about writing Moody is that he becomes more of a chameleon as I go on - only in the chapter I'm writing now does he start to reveal more of himself.

Thank you again for this review - I can only hope that the future chapters of this story continue be enjoyable. :)


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Review #25, by lia_2390 Prologue

15th July 2012:
I don't know why it took me such a long time to even read this! I can definitely see where you drew your inspiration from as you mentioned in your author's note. The Mummy was one of my favourite movies as a kid, and I share my parents' love for Indiana Jones.

Sometimes I think it's a bad thing that I watched the movie because you've painted Ankhesenamun in a completely different light. There's something heartbreaking about the prologue because you have your young bride who has run out of tears and hoping that her life ends sooner than later. Those are feelings, though I've never experienced myself, I can understand. It's unfortunate that she was surrounded by such malice in her time of mourning.

Ok, relevant reviewing stuff. Setting - I thought it was quite lovely, actually. Any exotic location fits the genre perfectly. It makes the story more thrilling as the characters (and readers) are cast into an unknown place. Who knows what could happen?

Lia

Author's Response: It's always a pleasure to see someone new trying out this story. It's got a special spot in my heart, being my longest-running story, so it means a lot to hear that readers are enjoying it. :D

What's funny about being inspired by The Mummy and reading up on the history of Tutankhamn's tomb is that Ankhesenamun actually /was/ the name of Tutankhamun's wife, making for an awkward confusion of names. XD The Ankhesenamun of this story has no relation to the one from the movie, I'm afraid. One thing I do have to do when writing future chapters is try to work in details of this prologue - my plans for the story changed a few years ago, making the prologue less important, but it seems to be the chapter that people latch onto most, so I have to do some plot fixing, it seems. ;)

Thank you for stopping by to read and review! I hope that you enjoy the rest of the story. ^_^


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