Reading Reviews for The Puzzle
  
13 Reviews Found

Review #1, by TheHeirOfSlytherin Fun for the Whole Family

24th March 2014:
THIS WAS THE BEST THING EVER!!!

And that, my friend, was me being calm. :P

I don't even know where to begin with gushing. Probably from the beginning, but my thoughts are a basic mix of 'OMG' and 'God, Ginny'. :P Okay, so... I love love love that Harry tried to bring them all together, even when he started to get a little crazy. No, especially when he started to get a little crazy. There are just no words to adequately describe my love for Harry in this moment.

I'm so glad that Dudley and his kids were there, because it's nice to see that he isn't completely forgotten. Yes, he was a horrible child, but he's still family and I don't think he'd just disappear. Like father, like children. :P

Ron was awesome in this. Really trying to help everyone. I hope Harry gets him and extra extra special present.

And Ginny... God, Ginny... She's a fun drunk. She should be drunk again. :D

Probably just a personal thing, but how ungrateful. :P No, but jig saw puzzles are the best things ever. Ah, I want it. It's so cool!

I loved this so much!

Sam.

Author's Response: Whee! I'm so pleased that you liked this! The idea came to me as I was working a puzzle with my kids one evening. I was looking at the picture on the box and I wondered whether pictures on puzzle moved in the magical world. It all snowballed from there.

I always felt like Harry had the capacity to get a bit obsessive over things, like horcruxes for instance. But here I pushed the concept as far as I could imagine it going. I was definitely channeling a bit of Clark Griswold at the end of Christmas Vacation. Failure was no longer an option. The family was going to finish that puzzle or die trying.

I don't think I could ever forget Dudley after the way we saw him at the beginning of Deathly Hallows. The Dementors really did scare a bit of sense into him at the start of OotP.

I'm sure Harry got Ron something really nice for Christmas that year. And I'm sure Ron was awkward about it.

Ah, Ginny. I have to admit, I love writing her as a bit of a lush. Throw in some lush, a seething dislike of the Dursleys, a lot of snark and just a pinch of nympho and you have a hilarious Ginny. Every good Harry story should have one.

I felt kind of similar about Lily, but I keep reminding myself that she is ten years old. Kids that age don't have really well developed senses of gratitude.

Wow, I think this is the most positive reaction I've gotten to this story. Thanks so much!


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Review #2, by prettywishes Fun for the Whole Family

23rd December 2013:
This was both adorable and horrifying at the exact same time, and I wasn't quite sure that was possible. I absolutely love the way that you have the whole Potter/Weasley family, and this is probably the best older Harry that I've read in a long time. I'm glad that you included Dudley in this, so many people seem to forget to include him in Harry's life once he's grown up! His kids were cute as well, it was fun to see how they reacted to all of the magical elements. Harry was absolutely hilarious when it came to the puzzle, and I think it's so funny how it was enchanted and all the little puzzle people reacted. And Ginny! It was so funny how she said that it was so hot, and I can picture the reactions on the boys faces! This is really a one of a kind type of piece, and I'm so glad that I stumbled upon it!

Author's Response: Hi, there!

"Adorable and horrifying" I guess I'll take that as a compliment. Definitely the adorable part, and I could see where all of the mishaps that plague Lily's birthday party and Harry's behavior near the end of it could come across as frightening.

I don't like to limit myself too much when it comes to characters. It's always best to have the best character available for a particular line or situation. And Dudley obviously plays a very key role.

I'm really pleased that you enjoyed this story! Thank you so much for taking a moment to share your thoughts with me!


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Review #3, by patronus_charm Fun for the Whole Family

15th December 2013:
Hey Dan! Iím here with your review.

I really liked how you incorporated the lesser written about next gen characters because it gave the story a really fresh and different feel. For example, Iíve never seen Roxie and Lily have a really closer relationship before but I really liked it here because it put Lilyís character in a nicer light which isnít often seen. Then the inclusion of Dudley and his children was really brilliant because I really love it when they appear in next gen stories because I really do believe that Dudley and Harry were good friends after the battle.

There were so many perfect little moments in this story I could spend all the review talking about them but I list a few here instead. The tension between Hermione and Molly over Kreacherís head was great, pin the tail on the Hippogriff was a genius party game invention, the small hint at Rose and Scorpius was perfect, the way Kreacher was still mumbling angrily were also really great too. You really do have a way with the inclusion of these tiny details like no other author has.

I think Harryís wanting to have the family at peace was really understandable and fitted in with his character really well. He never had a family before so the yearning to make them all get along now he has one worked really well. I felt really sorry for Dudley and Harry because fighting off all those jibe about his old bullying ways must have been hard. Though the way Dudley and Arthur sort of bonded over drills was really great. There seemed to be a bit of relief there in Harryís otherwise restless mind. I could really sense his anxiety and it was almost making me worried about how the party was going to continue, so there really is nothing to worry about with him because you wrote him really well!

Harryís final outburst about the puzzle and how no one could leave really had me chuckling though it might have been due to Ginnyís bizarre reaction to it :P The puzzle was a really good analogy for how if they canít figure that out they could never figure how to work as a family, and it was nice to see there was some resolution to it in the end. I just have to sit here and hope that for the Weasley/Potter/Dursley family all was well in the end!

Your writingís so great, I can only be nit-picky really! Here ĎďBut our portkey to Bangkok leaves at 3:00 AMí itís easy for the reader if you write three in the morning rather than numerically because words and numbers are in different parts of the brain so it takes longer to register and loses the flow and blah, blah, you get the picture :P Then here Ďnursing one of the muggle alesí we donít tend to say ale anymore, itís usually beer. Those two things I pointed out are only tiny ones so feel free to ignore them if you wish!

A great one-shot Dan!

-Kiana

Author's Response: Hi, Kiana!

I guess I could have set this during a birthday party for any of Harry's kids, but Lily seemed to work best for the story. She's more likely to humor her father's strange ideas and it allowed me to put James and Albus in more entertaining roles. The "moment" between her and Roxie just sort of flowed from that. I needed a situation that would leave Harry feeling pensive and give Ginny an opportunity to demonstrate her intoxication. Dudley was the last key piece of the puzzle, no pun intended. His presence really brings home the personal conflict for Harry.

The greatest thing about writing the story was the sort of wide-open canvas. If it could plausibly happen in the course of a ten-year-old's birthday party, it was fair game. To be honest, I cracked myself up a lot while I was writing this. That probably sounds bad, but it's the truth. I loved imagining Kreacher, in particular, grumping his way through the events.

As Harry grew older and had a family of his own, I always wondered whether he felt more of a connection to his mother's muggle roots. The muggle world was never especially kind to him, but that wasn't because there's anything inherently wrong with it. Vernon and Petunia were simply awful people. I'd like to think that Dudley eventually came to realize that his "weird" cousin wasn't all that bad. If Harry felt any relief over Dudley's saw, Arthur changed that soon enough. ;)

When I was writing Harry's outburst at the end, I was thinking of Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation. Not sure whether you've ever seen that movie, but it's a great time of the year to watch it! I just imagined him being so worked up and afraid of failure that he sort of snapped and went into "dictator mode". Ginny, for her part, is very inebriated and not at all used to seeing this "take control" side of her husband. She finds it rather... irresistible. ;)

That's a good point on the time of the portkey. I usually write out numbers in my stories with a very few exceptions (years, Number 12 Grimmauld Place, etc.). Thanks for the Brit-pick on ale, too.

I'm really pleased that you liked it. It was loads of fun to write! Thanks!


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Review #4, by nott theodore Fun for the Whole Family

12th December 2013:
Hi Dan! Thanks for requesting a review from me, and I'm sorry that it took me so long to write - real life has really been getting on top of me recently! I'm really pleased to get a chance to read some more of your stories though!

Your writing style is, as ever, so readable and enjoyable, and even though this chapter was 7K+ I didn't get distracted or bored at all, which is what normally happens when I read chapters that long. I really loved your attention to detail in this as well, with all the different characters and the references to different parts of the books. I was smiling so much all the way through this piece because of the thought you'd put into it.

Before I go on, I'll just point out a typo and a couple of Brit-picks (which are quite picky so feel free to ignore them):
"Roxie answered apologietically" - apologetically
"Care of Magical Creatures text" - we'd tend to say textbooks rather than texts here
"Privet Drive Neighborhood Association" - I love the fact that you've included this, but I think it's normally called Neighbourhood Watch over here

I know you said you were worried about the humour and the tone of the piece, but I don't think you have any need to be. The humour came across really well, and I think that if I was to mention all the parts I found funny, I'd be quoting most of the one-shot back at you. I loved the agreement between Harry and Ginny about drinking when their relatives were visiting, and the idea of Arthur playing with the saw and causing havoc all round the house was hilarious! I actually really want to read a one-shot now about Arthur meeting Dudley properly as an adult, because you've conjured up such funny images in my mind that it would be brilliant to read more about the two of them. And then, of course, Molly's reaction when Arthur wants to know where he can buy himself Muggle tools! It just made me wonder what sort of chaos he'd cause if he actually had access to them...

You also said that you were worried about some of the characters seeming a little over-the-top, but again, I don't think that's an issue here. Humour means that you play on the funny characteristics of each person, and you achieved that in a way that didn't make them caricatures but did bring the humour in what they were doing or saying to light. I'm impressed that you dealt with a large cast of characters here and managed to still give them each their own quirks and personalities, as though their voices were already coming through in a one-shot. I particularly liked Fred's appearance at the beginning, and I thought you described that awkward teenage boy phase perfectly - when they don't want to seem 'girly' and young so much that they look even sillier trying their best to be the opposite. I liked the relationships that you wrote between all the family members too, and I thought you got the dynamics of the Potters/Weasleys really well. My favourite characters were probably James and Albus, and the way that they go from working together on pranks on their cousins to telling tales on each other and arguing - it's so true of siblings who are close in age, and you capture that perfectly.

Harry was brilliant! I know that you've written a whole novel about him (which I've unfortunately still not had time to read!) so I shouldn't expect your characterisation to be otherwise, but I thought that you wrote him only the way that a dad could, really. Even though you managed to deal with his worries in a light-hearted manner, they were still there and very much real and believable. I know it's so stressful for parents to get the right present for their children, and they can judge themselves as a failure if their children don't like their presents or enjoy their birthday, even though the kids will probably forget it soon (I know that my parents still feel guilty about me being ill on one of my birthdays when I was younger, when it was completely out of their control!). I could sense that in the way he was determined for the day to be perfect, and the way that he became so fixated on it that he couldn't think of anything else. I really liked the way you handled those serious concerns and interspersed them with humour; the contrast made them stand out more but also made it a really enjoyable read.

The ending was so cute and made me laugh a lot - no matter how much poor Harry tried, Lily still didn't like her present - and Ginny got a bit too carried away with the drink, I think! The Permanent Sticking Charm was one of my favourite parts - the poor girl will never get rid of it now!

This was really great Dan, and I'm really pleased I got to read another of your stories!

Sian :)

Author's Response: Hi, Sian!

First off, thanks for pointing out those things. I've gone in and fixed them already. Much appreciated.

I'm really pleased that the tone sounded right to you. I like writing "funny", so long as it doesn't cross that fine line into "silly." I kind of like the idea of writing about Dudley, and I've pondered a few different plot concepts for him. Maybe this will motivate me to tackle one of them.

I'm also glad the characters worked well for you. I didn't put huge amounts of thought into Freddy's appearance, but I'm happy that he seemed realistic. I like writing around large casts of characters because I can let them come and go and decide who's the best person to use in any given situation. And I also enjoyed writing James and Al in this, even though they're behaving like little jerks. ;)

That's a very high compliment on Harry and I appreciate it a great deal. Transitioning him into parenthood isn't always easy since he had a pretty messed-up childhood. I tend to think of him as the very doting parent while Ginny is more likely to be the voice of discipline and restraint. I'm sure Harry would have felt terrible if Lily didn't like her gift, and she takes it pretty easy on him. Mixing up serious issues and humor is the only way to go, if you ask me. Adding a bit of lightness helps readers feel like they aren't being preached to.

When I was imagining Harry at the end, all I had in my head was Chevy Chase's character at the end of Christmas Vacation. So single-minded and determined that things were going to be **right** that he totally lost perspective. I'm glad you liked it.

Thanks so much for the lovely review! I always love hearing from you!


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Review #5, by UnluckyStar57 Fun for the Whole Family

16th November 2013:
Hello! It's so nice to review you again! :)

This was definitely a very humorous, quite exaggerated story. The characters were all incredibly silly, and they fit the style of the entire thing nicely! It's as if you took the characters' personalities in canon and blew them up with hyperbole and satire. It really worked well!

I like the idea of the puzzle, and I appreciate what Harry was trying to do. Even though he was slightly scary, he managed to get his point across!! I love how you coupled the strain of his and Dudley's former relationship with the in-between-sy one that they have in adulthood. The cursed saw didn't really help Harry's crusade for family unity, and we can always count on drunk Ginny to make everything worse. :)

Iris and Dudley Jr. Hahahaha!! They are total BRATS, and the jab about unemployed dementors keeping them in line was very funny. I've seen stories in which Dudley's children turn out to be magical, but the two that you've envisioned seem to be complete Muggles. It really helps to add to the tension! xD

The image on the puzzle was really fun. It was cool how the characters moved around and did different things, like Wizarding photographs. However, I can imagine that it would make the puzzle harder to put together, because it would no longer look like the picture on the box. At least they only had to put it together once, but I really feel sorry for Lily, who was a victim of her dad's overzealous good intention. :)

As always, this was really fabulous. You are phenomenal at writing mystery/horror-type stories, but you've got great comedic timing in your stories as well. And even though this was largely a humorous story, I could still see some aspects of the heavier genres that I don't usually see in people's humor stories. The balance between humor and gravity is very cool and interesting. You did a marvelous job!!!

~UnluckyStar57

Author's Response: Hi, there! Sorry to take so long to respond.

I'm glad you liked the characters. I was worried that they just seemed ridiculous. That's always such a risk with humorous stories.

I like to think that Harry and Dudley tried to mend their relationship later in life. It seemed like Dudley had started to figure things out at the start of Deathly Hallows. But the gap was pretty wide, and I'm sure that it was never easy. Especially since I'm sure Ginny loathed the Dursleys.

You know, I've toyed with the idea of a story where Dudley's children turn out magical. There has to be some recessive gene in the Evans DNA that gave rise to Lily. But these two are most definitely *not* magical. I'm not sure whether they're more bratty or just scared to be around James and Albus.

The whole idea for this story came from working a puzzle with my kids and thinking about how puzzles might work in the magical world. I wondered how the people in the picture would deal with having their world cut into pieces.

Poor Lily was definitely the main victim of this story, but don't shed too many tears for her. She's rolling in awesome presents from all of her aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

I'm really glad that you enjoyed it. It was fun to write and gave me a good break during the heavy parts of Detox. Thanks!


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Review #6, by APerkins Fun for the Whole Family

20th October 2013:
Hi, so pretend this is my review from review tag, and not the one on the prologue (but be prepared for me to continued to R&R my way through your collection. I am loving reading your work)
Firstly, thankyou so much for making Dudley human. JKR started the transition, she had Dumbledore hinting that Dudley's flaws were due in large part to his parenting, and Dudley actually taking an interest in Harry's life, so it is nice to see that theme being picked up and run with.

I really think the idea behind this story was an inspired piece of genius. You have been so true to life with the concepts in this story. The image of a marriage working based on the visitor/drinking correlations had me laughing (but it is so true). Harry say the success vs failure of his daughters birthday present as a measure of his own personal success or failure. I think a lot of guys (and quite a few women too) do that as well.

You have managed to explore these deep issues in such a light-hearted way. This story had me laughing in all the right places, and yet I spent the entire story recognising real human characteristics in your world.
You have stayed true to (my interpretation of) JKRs characterisations of the original people we already know and love - Molly in the kitchen, Kreacher is possessive and proud of his work, Ginny is fierce and blazing and protective of her husband, Harry is .. well... Harry. (and Arthur, and .. the list goes on)
I can see from your story set that you have your own head cannon about these characters too, which must make them almost natural for you to write.

The puzzle is really well done and kinda awful at the same time. My cat is currently killing a gecko. I feel awful, I want to put the poor thing out of its' misery but cannot bring myself to squish it, and don't know what else to do. It is currently beyond saving I think, but its not quite dead yet and the cat won't end it quickly.

As I was reading your story, I felt the same awful-ness welling up. Watching something/someone else suffer is almost unbearable, and reading about your poor puzzle figures was horrid! (In a good, that's the way you intended it way, of course!)

"And thanks for all my real presents"

lol. I cant help quoting you back to you. Did I mention you make your characters come alive by giving them realistic emotions? What I think is better still is that you convey those emotions mainly through dialogue and action, not paragraph after paragraph of navel gazing. It is a habit I am currently trying to kick, and have taken you as inspiration for.

Thus ends my review in fact!

Author's Response: Wow! Such a long, detailed review! I am very, very impressed!

You know, starting with the aftermath of the Dementor attack in OotP, I changed a lot of what I thought about Dudley. Before that, he was mostly just a foil. A character that JKR used only to show how the horrible parenting of Vernon and Petunia cut both ways. But just like she was able to do with several other characters (Draco and Narcissa come to mind), she turned him into something more meaningful in the last 3 books. This is the first chance I've really had to explore that.

I think it's almost *more* important to keep the characterizations believable in a funny story because if they vary too wildly from what you know then the story just isn't as funny. Maybe that's just my bias, but anyway I'm really glad that they worked for you.

This whole story actually started with the idea of the puzzle. I was working one with my kids and it dawned on me to wonder how puzzles would work in the magical world. It seemed rather horrifying, from the standpoint of the people in the puzzle. Everything sort of rolled from there. Poor Hugo definitely knows where you're coming from with your cat and the gecko.

Again, I'm really pleased that little lines like that one made the kids seem age-appropriate. Nothing worse than a story where kids are acting like a bunch of miniature adults with adult mannerisms.

Thus ends my response. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing!


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Review #7, by toomanycurls Fun for the Whole Family

23rd September 2013:
I'm kind of a next-gen n00b so it took me a few minutes to get into the story (but if I were more familiar with next-gen I would have gotten into it much easier).

I liked that Dudley and Harry were making a go at being family. I'm curious who initiated that and how they got to an awkward but livable arrangement. I did find it a bit disheartening that people weren't more welcoming of Dudley and his kids (even though Dudley was quite horrible to Harry). You really touch on some difficult topics regarding abusive families and how relationships repair over time. Harry's insistence that they complete the puzzle together (even at everyone's desire to give up) shows how much he's trying to create what he considers an idealized childhood for his kids. You do see that a lot with people who did not have a happy or typical family environment. they try to find out what normal is and almost force it upon themselves. It's a little sad too because most of the human condition is trying to find this thing called normal despite that being a terribly subjective term and ideal.

You captured the kids being kids very well. Their interactions reminded me of how my cousins and I got along at big family events (Part friends, part annoying). I'd hope to see them a bit more accepting of Dudley's kids as his kids weren't horrible to Harry. I did love the teasing they did back and forth, it's a very good depiction of children.

I am a touch worried about Harry throughout this. What's his motivation for forcing his family to appreciate their muggle heritage? Again, this is another very interesting idea you've put forth. I've never thought of wizards trying to connect with their muggle roots. Most of the examples from the series show the magical community (even people who have a muggle background) embracing magic and not really looking to connect with muggle lifestyle.

Also interesting that everyone follow's Harry's lead (again, despite their desires to stop) in finishing the puzzle before leaving. It really shows how much he is blindly followed by people who care about him.

There was a lot of humor in this that made me laugh. The idea that the puzzle was a box of wood chips was hilarious. I think that's a reasonable interpretation of a puzzle if Lily hadn't seen one before. Also the horror at seeing the pieces cut up and there only being half of some of them. I do think it was a bit grim but there was also comedy behind that.

I liked Ginny and Harry's relationship. Their marital bickering and rules about how much they could drink based on who was coming made me laugh. Also, I like that they're still quite into each other. I did kind of feel that Ron and Hermione were in the background a bit - but that could have been that the story focused more on Harry. I'm not sure I could see Kreacher still being hateful towards muggle born folks after being in Harry's house for so long. His opinions had been widely shaped by Walburga (because he cared for her and respected her). I got the feeling that Harry was starting to earn the same level of respect from Kreacher in DH.

Overall I think this is a really enjoyable, light-hearted yet deep story. ^_^

Author's Response: Hi, there! Thanks so much for the prompt, thoughtful and detailed review.

I always felt like Harry learned a lot about the value of family during the events of Deathly Hallows. His adopted family -- Hermione, the Weasleys, Tonks, Remus, Mad-Eye, Dobby, etc. -- fought for him and in some cases gave their lives to help him win. His biological mother's sacrifice made his final victory over Voldemort possible, and both of his parents were there for him as he faced his own death. Because of that, I think he would have felt a little bad about cutting Dudley completely out of his life. I doubt they'll ever be great friends, but Harry probably would have wanted that last remaining connection to his mother's family. I definitely see your point about Dudley's kids, and I probably should have spent a little more time on them.

Harry got a little too "caught up in the moment" in terms of trying to get his magical family to embrace his mother's muggle roots. I think we're all guilty of that sort of thing when we're under duress.

Everyone seems to have a knack for following Harry's lead, don't they? It worked well for them the last time. ;)

I'm really glad that you found the story amusing. That was really the point of it all. I actually started off with the idea of a "wizarding puzzle", where the poor subjects of the picture would be trying to deal with their fractured reality. It all sort of snowballed from there.

I do think that Kreacher became as fanatically devoted to Harry and his family as he was to the Blacks, since he was magically bound to the Potters and because they treated him kindly. But some of the prejudices he inherited from Walburga and Orion were likely too much for the poor, old elf to overcome. And he *especially* does not like Molly trying to take over *his* kitchen.

"light-hearted yet deep" Wow. That's actually a pretty big compliment. Thanks so much for reading and reviewing!


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Review #8, by Sharvi Fun for the Whole Family

9th September 2013:
Haha, I love a frustrated Harry! This was so much fun to read =)

Author's Response: I'm really glad you enjoyed it. It was a fun little story to write. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

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Review #9, by SexyDoorFrames Fun for the Whole Family

6th September 2013:
Hello! This is a very late review and I apologise for that, So I'm going to leave you several reviews because you deserve them because I have been positively useless, but I always complete my promises :)

You are a very talented author, I always enjoy reading your work, you pull me straight into the story and when I get to the end, I always want more. I was very sad to see that this was only a one shot! Your prose, descriptions and the way you portray the characters is astoundingly brilliant. Every character seems real, you have a knack for writing canon characters and making them consistent with how they were portrayed in the book. It's never occ, which is something I love about your writing. Your Harry was perfect, he's matured as a father and you really showed that. I am so glad that Dudley was in this story, I am a firm believer that after the war, Harry and Dudley would still have a relationship and visit each other families. I loved your portrayal of Dudley, you showed that he had really grown up and matured from the bully he used to be. I always imagined him redeeming himself. You have a gift, I get quite jealous when reading your stories because you are beyond brilliant.

You've portrayed the family dynamics perfectly. I liked how the characters mingled together, it felt very real. Sometimes it can feel fake, but it wasn't the case with your story. I loved the idea that Harry gave Lily a puzzle, it showed that he hadn't forgot his Muggle years, if that makes sense. And then the puzzle seemed to be coming to life, a very clever idea that I enjoyed. This was a really fun story and I enjoyed reading it! Kreatcher was hilarious! He made me laugh quite a bit. I mean, he had a saucepan on his head! The image of it made me laugh! And Ginny being a bit drunk was so funny! I loved it! The ending to this story was perfect, really summed up the story and it was so funny. You are very good at comedy writing.

Thanks for this, I loved it :)

Author's Response: Keely! This made my day. And then it made the next day. And the next. I really need to be better about responding to reviews. :-/

Anyway, I'm really glad that you found this engaging. I really wasn't sure whether I could take a weird idea that hit me while I was working a puzzle with my kids and turn it into a meaningful story. I did my best to keep all of the characters in character, even though the situation tends to strain that a bit. I agree with you completely about Harry and Dudley. To different extents, Dudley and Harry were both victims of Vernon and Petunia's petty prejudices and lousy parenting technique. Naturally, it probably took Dudley many more years to realize that, but having children of your own tends to cast a very different light on the way you behaved as a child. That's why I tried to make Dudley's kids a lot like him.

I'm over-the-moon happy that the interactions between the characters felt right to you. I was worried about parts of it. Not so much Kreacher, mind you. I was thrilled with the way he came out from the get-go. But the others were a big concern.

This was a fun story to write and I really didn't have the greatest aspirations for it, so it's really awesome to hear that you liked it. Thanks so much for letting me know!


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Review #10, by Jchrissy Fun for the Whole Family

3rd September 2013:
Daniel, I swear, your comedy brain is one of my favorites.

I was pretty curious where you were going with this and how the title would fit in with the summary. Then especially curious when we learned it was Lily's birthday.

I LOVE that you didn't ever have Lily in any sort of amazement over her present. She does a decent job pretending, but her adolescent girl comes across loud and clear and I don't know of any almost preteen that would be over the moon about a puzzle :P!

I think my favorite part of this would have to be the bickering between Ginny and Dudley. Or I guess Ginny's attacks on Dudley, haha! I think I like her the best after she's had a few too many :P. And the deal they made about who got to indulge in what depending on whose family members were there was so perfect! That and the constant battle between Kreacher and Molly over who would do the hosting :P

The family dynamics were done so well in this. You can tell that you've spent plenty of time among the craziness of it :P

This was such a fun story; your sense of humor is one of my favorite things about your writing. You always make it funny without even seeming like you have to try! Thank you for putting a huge smile on my face, and now I'm headed to Detox!

Author's Response: My comedy brain likes to make an appearance at the oddest times, like when I should be finishing the next chapter of Detox, for instance.

The whole story started with the idea of the puzzle. We all know how paintings behave in the magical world, and I was working a puzzle with the kids and I started to wonder. The problems that the inhabitants of a magical puzzle would face seemed rather dire, in a way. So I had my germ of an idea, I just needed a story to put around it. This definitely didn't seem like the sort of present Harry would be buying for James or Albus, so poor Lily took one for the team. I agree that it wouldn't have made any sense to see a ten-year-old-going-on-22-year-old girl being gaga over a puzzle, so I deliberately kept her reaction muted.

I've always imagined Ginny as being the sort of wife who would have taken to heart all of the anger that Harry should have felt toward the Dursleys. Which is not to say that Harry didn't feel angry at them, just not as angry as Ginny probably thought he should have been. So mixing her with alcohol and throwing in a dollop of Dudley seemed like a very volatile combination. I'm sure Molly never would have been able to handle sharing her kitchen with a house elf, and even sharing somebody else's kitchen with an elf as weird as Kreacher was surely a trial for her.

I'm really glad that you enjoyed it. It was nice to take a break from grumpy Draco and weepy Astoria for a while. But now it's back to the grind. Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #11, by MissesWeasley123 Fun for the Whole Family

30th August 2013:
Hi there! This is my second time typing up this review for my internet chose a very inconvenient time to shut down, so let's see if I can remember what I wrote.

Alright, so right off the bat, I think you did a wonderful job with Harry. You really showed how he matured as a father and I quite like this new side of him.

I'm so happy someone out there shares my head canon that Dudley and Harry would try to make some form of amends in their strained relationship and I think you couldn't have showed it any better! I could really tell Dudley had changed for the better and that made me smile.

I really don't enjoy reading Harry and Ginny as a pairing, they seem to be a tad bit boring for my liking sometimes but your portrayal of their relationship was astounding. You spiced it up a whole lot and I will always remember drunk Ginny. That was classic!

One person I can't not mention in this review is Ron. You pulled him off brilliantly. You made me realize what I missed about the books. It was Ron. And I loved reading about him once more.

Another thing I loved was Kreacher! His entire dialogue had me smiling and laughing occasionally, he was perfect. I always applaud those who can pull off house elves in general but his old cow jokes were very comical!

I think the whole idea of this one shot was very sweet and just fuzzy feelings come to mind. I really like how you showed Harry taking the initiative to reinforce his family ties with Muggles.

You showed the sense of family so, so well! The little inclusions of Arthur, Albus, and Hugo were so well thought out and clever. Hermione and Rose had near a dialogue a piece but were still so well written and most importantly, believable.

Aha! I think the ending was hilarious! It was a wonderful way to wrap it up and left me grinning. It was funny and sweet all at once - the best feelings one could ever feel.

By now I'm sure I've bored you, but thanks for this piece, it was a pleasure to read! I think you wrote it wonderfully :)

-Nadia

Author's Response: Hi! Thanks for stopping by!

I've written "older Harry" enough times now that I have a pretty good feel for how I think he turned out, so I'm glad you like the way he's portrayed here. At some point, once he'd had time to decompress a bit from his ordeal with Voldemort and get back to a somewhat normal life, I think it would have been important to Harry to reconnect with what was left of his mother's family. Since Aunt Petunia likely never got over her bitterness over believing that she lost her sister to the magical world, that leaves Dudley. I do think that his experience with the Dementors and the time he spent in hiding probably changed Dudley for the better. At least it gave him an appreciation for the burdens that Harry lived with.

I had fun writing all of Harry's family members in this. Ginny can be such a fun, fiery character if you give her freedom to act out a little, and Ron is always hilarious. Poor Kreacher is a study in contrasts. He's bound to Harry and actually very loyal to Harry and his family, but his head is still completely broken and he feels that loyalty to Walburga Black and her ideals.

I'm really glad that you liked the ending, because I still feel a bit shaky about it. I wasn't sure it connected strongly enough to the rest. But if you liked it, that makes me feel a lot better. :)

Aw, you didn't bore me at all. I really appreciate getting to hear all of your thoughts and reactions. Thanks so much!


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Review #12, by Remus Fun for the Whole Family

30th August 2013:
I told myself that I was going to read this on my tablet while the husband was taking a shower. I started to read just a bit of it, meant to stop to get ready for bed...but that never happened. It just pulled me in and wouldn't let go!

Your description is, as always, absolutely brilliant. You definitely make me like Older Harry a lot better than the one we got to see in the books. Mind you, he was only there for one chapter but still! You've managed to paint this picture of a man who is relaxed yet firm, strict and down to business when its needed. You've developed him in a way that I've never seen anyone else do it. I'll be definitely be running to you when I start having problems in PoP!!! XD

OMG! Poor Dudley Jr and Iris! I just couldn't help but laugh at James's and Albus's banter.

However, the line "Come off it, Dad!" felt a bit too much from Albus. I feel like saying that to an adult would've been a bit rude. At least that's my take on it, specially when Albus is about 11 here?

Wait, so how would the trace work in the Potter household? I thought that parents had to keep their kids in place when it came to doing magic outside of school. Since the adult's magic would sort of interfere with the Trace. How would the Ministry know if the magic came from Ginny or Harry or Albus? Hahaha, sorry, nitpicking here!

I love how Rose is just like her mother!!! That bit about the new edition of HoM was a nice touch.

THANK YOU!! Argh! You know, I always get upset when I think of how Harry and Hermione seemed to have forgotten their Muggle side. It always felt like they both moved on without bothering to look back. The line Harry felt bad about not doing more to embrace his mother's heritage. makes me glad that there's someone else out there who also thought the same thing.

The whole Ginny/Dudley thing made me uncomfortable but I guess it would've been worse to be a guest at that party and witness that first hand. Unfortunately I'm with Ginny here. I mean, not against Dudley but I'm just relating to her. XD


Ahhh, Harry and Ginny sexyness! Those two always make me giggle.

I love the whole idea of the puzzle being in a state of panic mode. How did you come up with it? I could only imagine those poor people!

Once again, brilliant story! :D :D :D

And NOW I get ready for bed!!

Until next time, Dan!

--Rosie

Author's Response: Rosie! What a wonderful surprise!

I always like to imagine that the "older" Harry we see in the epilogue of DH was just nervous about his youngest son going off to Hogwarts and that, you know, he wasn't really that much of a tool. ;) I am always here to help with your middle-aged Trio characterization needs.

You quickly get a flavor for why Dudley's kids don't like visiting. I feel as though James and Albus might have taken a bit of their mother's dislike of Harry's muggle relatives to heart. Poor kids, indeed.

Point taken on Albus's little outburst. Maybe I'll dial that back a bit.

I think the point is that the Trace *doesn't work* inside Harry's house. Even after the Ministry was reformed, I somehow doubt that Harry ever completely got over his mistrust of the institution. So when it came to any and all monitoring and tracking spells used by the Ministry, once Harry got old enough and knowledgeable enough to do something about it, I imagine that he took steps to keep the Ministry out of his family life. Work-life balance and all that.

Growing up with Hermione as a close friend, I think that Harry probably had an idea of what life was like for his mother. I think he would have wanted to honor the struggles his mother overcame as a muggle-born during Voldemort's first ascent to power, the same was that Hermione would have wanted to honor her parents' heritage. That doesn't mean that you run around evangelizing "the muggle way" to any witch or wizard who'll listen, but you also don't forget where you came from, so to speak.

I think most of us can relate to the lingering anger that Ginny feels towards Dudley. She isn't really willing to give him a chance because, hey, why would she be? She's very protective of her husband, and Dudley treated Harry like complete crap for 14+ years.

Poor Ginny. Granted, she did this to herself, but I still think she'll spend a lot of years living her performance down. At least George was already gone when the worst of it took place.

The puzzle itself was actually the idea that sparked this whole story. I was working one with my kids and I was thinking about magical portraits for some reason and it hit me: what would the occupant(s) of a magical puzzle think about being cut into pieces and reassembled? I thought it was great, but I obviously needed a story to put around that idea. That's when the tough part started...

I'm really glad that you enjoyed the story! Thanks for reading and reviewing!


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Review #13, by 1917farmgirl Fun for the Whole Family

30th August 2013:
Oh, how to start!

I love your humor. It's subtle and understated, which is perfect. The standing arrangement on drinking limits at family gatherings was great, as was Ginny's line about there being "one and a half" of Freddie.

Loved the line Harry gave Albus about nana being able to do fingers as well as toes, and Ron's oh so helpful attempt to calm the Dursley kids.

I told you before, but I'm saying it again, I really like that you have included Dudley in this, as a good guy. I've never even thought about trying to redeem him, having him turn out okay, but I think your version is starting to grow on me.

The Molly/Kreacher power struggle is hilarious, btw.

The bickering cousins is great fun to read. I was always jealous of the kids who had cousins nearby and spent time with them. They had this huge built in system of friends that, even when they were fighting like crazy, would have your back no matter what.

Ah, Arthur - still the same. Love the man. :D

Love the image of Kreacher in the pan with the huge knife!

Okay, I have to gush for a minute here. Your magical puzzle is bloody brilliant!! So brilliant I wish it was JKR canon so I could use it in stories without coping you. I absolutely LOVED that part of this story, and the sub-story of the puzzle people was as compelling as the main one. Very, very, very cool.

I applaud you for the changes you made. This story flowed so much better now. I could really feel Harry's desire to mend his family, put them together, and the puzzle was the perfect metaphor for that. It really was a brilliant story. And the ending, with Ginny, fit perfectly now. (Although, Gin, I think we'd better hide the wine from you next time...)

Such a great story! Funny, but with an underlying dramatic element as well. And Harry - he might have saved the wizarding world, but he DOES have his moments of being over dramatic. So this was totally fitting.

Oh, and the little part in the author's note? Totally not needed. I'm just honored I got to read this early. But thanks just the same.

Well done!

Author's Response: Yay, look who it is!

As you know better than just about anyone, this story was all about the humor. Just a nice, pleasant little diversion to shake off the Detox blahs. I think all healthy marriages involve a clear understanding of who is allowed to drink what at family events. It's all about defining boundaries.

I've always been partial to the idea that somewhere between surviving his encounter with Dementors and being taken into hiding during the war, Dudley realized that not all magical people were awful and most of what his parents had told him about Harry was crap. That's not to say that he completely changed his tune, but I think it's reasonable to think that he and Harry were at least cordial to one another.

I loved every second of imagining Molly and Kreacher feuding. Two irresistible forces colliding there. And having the entire extended Weasley clan available for birthdays and other events must have been quite fun. I really would have like to have included all of the kids in this somehow, but that gets unmanageable really quickly, I'm afraid.

The puzzle people were the idea that sparked the entire story, and I have a bad feeling like they got a bit lost in the shuffle. Stories always take on a life of their own once you start writing, I'm afraid.

Whew! I'm glad you liked the changes. I think they definitely helped make it more cohesive, although they also made the puzzle people fade into the background more. Sigh. Decisions...

So very glad that you enjoyed it! Thanks so much for all the help and the good ideas, and thanks for reviewing!


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