Hello! Ellie here from the HPFF forums, reviewing for some fun holiday swap. I've always wanted to read this, since the summary used to say something along the lines of 'Hogwarts' first unrequited romance'. This review has been a long time coming haha. Also, I already read (gobbled up in seconds) the first chapter, so I am compiling two reviews into one here ;)
I loved the brief narrative style of the first chapter. In under 1,000 words you set the characters, tone, and setting for your entire story. It was succinct and powerful. You showed us the Baron's pain and gave us foresight for his emotions. You brought the reader in, which is a fantastic tool as a writer. So naturally I had to read more haha.
Ok. So I genuinely love this era and so few people can quite master the language that needs to accompany the Founders. But you have done it, and with so much dialogue too! You don't shy away from writing dialogue (which I find myself doing with Founders), you embrace it fully and do a really good job of capturing the era. Name selection, the houseelves responsibilities, courting, birthrites, etc. Like your A/N states, I see where you have made up little bits of norms here and there, but nothing stands out as impossible.
Because I can never leave a review without some concrit:
I understand Venn needs to get married to earn the crown, but he seemed pretty against the idea or at least his options. Maybe more examples would have made that more concrete so that his interest in Helena's beauty would seem less quick and unprovoked. He was too quick to cave to hearing of her beauty in my opinion. BUT that does set the tone for his downfall quite nicely. So I'm torn on this aspect; hence why some examples of his opinion of other court girls might be nice?
Also, "Salazar's demise" -- Venn seems to wish the end of his uncle here. Demise is strong word in my opinion o.O Unless he does want his uncle to perish soon. Wonder why at that.
Oppositely, such telling lines like these make this a powerful story and show off your talents as a writer: "unwilling to allow himself to become paranoid like his uncle" and "navigating the small fortune of jewels that graced her fingertips and planting a soft kiss on a bit of exposed skin", etc, etc. These simply pieces of description show the reader so much! Insight into the character's like woah! Fantastic show instead of tell. You could have been like, they are stinking rich, but no you didn't. You let the reader figure that out.
Venn is a lovely name and I feel for his character thus far. He's in a sticky spot, but hey he's still a man with "baser needs" as your Salazar put it haha. He likes wealth and beauty and we can see the contrast in his older and younger self. I feel for him already, because we know what will happen in the end, but I await his journey to sorrow. I'm a sucker for angst I guess :P
& I cannot wait to meet Helena as well. She's such an interesting character to me. I personally find her to be quite the Slytherin in nature, but I'm curious how you will portray her ;)
Author's Response: Hi Ellie! Sorry this response took so long!
Yes, the summary did contain that line at one point, but I changed it up hoping to attract more readers (and entertain myself). It might get changed again at some point, who knows? Anyway, I'm glad you wanted to check it out.
I'm glad everything seems period-appropriate to you, especially the dialogue. I definitely didn't want to go the thees and thous direction, but I also didn't want things to sound too casual or modern, so it's been a difficult line to toe. I like to think I've done a pretty good job, and it's great that you agree.
Venn is very... mercurial. I've been struggling with trying to establish his intentions throughout the story. Right now, he's very shallow, thinking mostly of his impending takeover of his father's kingdom. His interest in Helena's beauty, a very temporary and surface characteristic, and his callous way of thinking about the end of Salazar's life were intended to reflect that. I'm struggling even more now while trying to play between his continued childishness and his growing affection for Helena. Your critique helps to steer me along as I try to work that out, and I really appreciate you pointing these bits out.
Anyway, glad the imagery works well! I firmly believe in show and NOT tell, as I so often tell people in reviews, so I'm happy that you like it and feel like I executed that style well.
I'm happy you're enjoying getting to know Venn, and that you're curious about Helena. I hope you read on to further discover each of them--or at least how I've portrayed them!
Thanks for this very kind review :)