I absolutely love all of these characters. You manage to convey so much through memos, I almost feel like I know them. My favorite was Adeline, solely because of the signature with Vice President for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Owls.
Tasha here for Magical Menagerie and RvG January - Team Red!
What a creative and unique idea to have inter-office memos as an entire story. I didn't think I would be cackling out loud at a list of memos, but here I am! The owls, the robes, the fires! The fact that everyone is ‘copied in' is just brilliant. It's hard to imagine a ministry that runs like an office in the Real World, but you've hit the spot with this.
I'd also just like to add that it seems so much thought has gone into writing this, with all the departments and jurisdictions, rules and regulations and general Ministry speak. It all reads very official and I loved it!
I wouldn't say no to reading more about these characters by the way, so am totally in favour of novel-length spinoffs you might be persuaded to write! Juniper Blye is fantastic - brilliantly witty, completely DONE with everything and everyone in the Ministry and also has great morals. Imagine turning down a Head of Department job, despite the horrendous day she's just had - because her colleagues are lovely. You wouldn't get many people who'll do that.
Hilarious, with great characters and a really creative premise - brilliant job!
I'm reading myself up on some of the Golden Chalices Award nominated stories, and since I haven't read or reviewed this story before, I thought I'd leave a review to let you know how much I loved it. It's unfortunately not gonna be the longest review (but knowing me, it might be). Since I'm trying to read and review as many of the nominated stories as possible, I'm gonna have to keep my reviews relatively short, but I will hopefully be able to make up for it later by leaving you a longer review on another story. Anyway. Let's start reading the story.
This is such an original story! And a really creative ideal! I love that the majority of the story is told through the memos. I was worried at first that it wasn't gonna allow me to get to know the characters enough, but I was so wrong. While we see very little of what Juniper does, her personality comes across really well in the memos she writes, and I just really love her! She's obviously a hard worker and I feel like I'd get along very well with her if I had ever met her in real life. So yeah, great job with the characterisation! I loved it!
And omg. How on earth does the ministry even work with all the people that aren't doing their work, all the misunderstandings etc.! :P Bureaucracy gone wrong is definitely the right way to describe it, but then somehow, they do get all the work done despite all of the craziness. It's so accurate and while that should probably make me a little bit sad (I'm probably gonna have to work like this in the future after all), I just found it really funny and it made me laugh and smile. And the ending. It made me want to call my friends to make plans to hang out. I can definitely see why it got nominated for Best Light Fic, because I feel like this would be a really good story to go to when you're feeling down. I'm not even feeling down right, but it really cheered me up. So again, great job, Isobel! I absolutely loved it! Thanks for sharing!
Hi Lotte!! Thank you for taking the time to leave this review! And no worries about making it up -- I appreciate all reviews, long or short. :)
Thank you so much!! I tried to convey the characters' personalities through the arrived in X condition sections because it was harder to incorporate them into the memos without making them feel unnatural, and I'm really happy you felt it was a good decision. I actually think Blye would like you if the two of you ever met in real life -- she's a Slytherin, but her sister and best friends are all Hufflepuffs, so you wouldn't be out of place in her cohort!
Oh, god. Yes. XD I kind of used the books as inspiration. because well... this is just more of the same ineffectiveness that Harry sees, and somehow the Ministry manage to stay somewhat functioning (even if they did get taken over) so something must be going right somewhere. I'm sorry that you have to deal with bureaucracy one day, but it's lovely to hear that this fic helped cheer you up! Hopefully the sequel will, too!
Thank you so much! <3
ZOMG ISOBEL YOU GENIUS. This is SPOT ON. The bureaucracy. Ahahahaha! It’s so accurate! The fact that it takes a million years for poor Susan’s forms to come through. And how everyone is delayed by some other thing that someone else has going on and it’s all Urgent and there are hundreds of them stacked up, IT IS SO REAL haha. And not only that, but it’s compounded by the fact that there is owl excrement everywhere and the building is on fire – things certainly are more exciting in the wizarding world, eh :P And I absolutely love the way you set this up and told it via the memoranda going back and forth all over the Ministry – I’d say it must have been a busy day, but looks like a day like any other to them! :P And it’s especially cool that you’ve gotten so much about the characters’ personalities through just via their correspondence, and that made it a lot of fun to read. I died laughing when Edalbert Goffrey got the new spell check quill and said it made him write strangely, ahaha.
Can I just say though? The secretary got fired and McLaggen kept his job? Ugh. If anything he is the one abusing his position of authority and should probably be fired too. I would have liked to see Juniper become the head of department just because she’d be about 10000x more competent than him, but I understand why she didn’t, and I like that about her. But I hope McLaggen gets fired anyway. :P
I loved this! Good luck in the Chalices!
Kriiiiiiiiiiistin! THANK YOU SO MUCH. I spend my entire life dealing with bureaucracy so this one-shot is rather appropriate revenge. :P (Spoiler but not really a spoiler: Susan's forms never came through because Fish (her boss) forgot to er, add her as an employee...) AND YES I LIVE AND BREATHE THIS okay I am honestly putting off some forms because of bureaucracy, so I love that I managed to convey it accurately to the reader! It definitely is a normal day for the Department of Mysteries at least -- imo that's why they're called the Mysteries, because the rest of the Ministry don't know exactly what they get up to (including almost burning down the Ministry and keeping baby dragons in the department!)
I felt that it was important to use the arrived in X condition sections to insert more of the characters' personalities and I'm so happy you liked that! And I'd quite like to borrow Edalbert Goffrey's spellcheck quill to give to some people I know. Heh. I KNOW. It's so unfair about McLaggen and the secretary... but it also happens a lot in RL, and I wanted to make that incident the bridge between reality and the insane wizarding wizard by writing about a tropey, cliched situation and giving it a realistic ending. The secretary may well come back... and McLaggen's definitely getting fired one day. I can't say when, because spoilers. ;)
Thank you so much! <3
this was absolutely hilarious!
i laughed out loud when the blye sent the grammar quill and even louder when the head of the department of mysteries 'confirmed he was sitting in his office' :D :D
but the backlog! really. the whole bureaucracy is immensely fun to make fun of. makes for a great read!
i loved how things escalated!!! and blye is awesome. she needs a whole story to herself. her sarcasm (and sass) is absolutely wonderful :P
and the poor owl! it also needs its own story :O
also, nice thinking in naming percy's assistant weatherby!
poor ambrose venn and his pay deficit! baby dragons who need their baskets?! poor baby dragons, i want to cuddle them and feed them :D
aww, the owl is named herbert! and he was starving :( :( :( that's not very nice :(
and the end was nice to read - i like how blye wants to actually do the work instead of being a bureaucrat :)
i loved reading this (obviously hah) and it was as great a read as the story that inspired you (i read that one on HPFF a long time ago). i'll be adding this to my favourites!
Kriiiiiiiiis hello!! I KNOW, the Head of the Department of Mysteries is a Douche(TM). Also, yup. I've had copious amounts of bureaucracy in my life and this was an excellent method of revenge. :P
Blye is definitely awesome. She's going to be part of a series of stories featuring the Unspeakables (one day) that will be written TV show-esque. And I've written her biography! (Poor Herbert isn't getting a story of his own, though. I wouldn't know what to write.)
My headcanon is that Percy picked Adeline to be his secretary because her surname reminds him of his early days at the Ministry, and not to be that guy again.
Poor Venn Ambrose indeed. Although I'm pretty sure it was his own fault, wandering off to feed owls and leaving fires burning... ;)
Oooh, Emily's work is definitely great! I'm so pleased I was able to live up to her talent!
Thank you so much! <3
You already know I adore this one-shot so much, and I just want to marvel at how versatile you are?? The first thing I read by you was The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, and it floored me by how beautiful your descriptions were, but after reading a few other pieces of your writing, I have discovered that you write compelling dialogue with hilarious voices just as well.
(Also I can now safely say that I object to your response to my tweet about how you’re nervous about tagging “humor” for your stories. I bet that if you tried, you could manage to make a grocery list funny; between this and Life and Lies, your writing is some of the funniest I’ve come across in such a long time.)
Despite the fact that we only really see Juniper Blye’s POV for a little bit near the end, she’s such a compelling main character anyway omg. The different tones she uses for different people were just so much fun to read, and I love how efficient she is haha. All the little cross-outs and the descriptive notes underneath each memo heading were all amazing, but I especially loved hers. (Can we talk about how amazing “McSlaggen” is. I love it. I love them. I love whoever came up with it. Also that little extra subplot about McLaggen fooling around with his secretary made me laugh so hard, I wasn’t expecting it at all.)
Juniper’s friendship (of sorts) with Ambrose was the best thing in the world!! I love how you managed to communicate it through such short memos, with her first pilfering the grammar quill from his desk, and then dumping the owl on him as a “birthday present,” and then shouting at him about the fire lmao.
And the fact that this is what Unspeakables get up to every day! It’s just brilliant.
The ending was so sweet too, and was a really nice reprieve from the hectic mayday of it all. You told the story so well?? At first I thought I would have difficulty remembering the offices and such, but after a little while I got into the swing of it. This is so good, and so creative, and you’re so talented. Ahhh so much love for this! <3
EVA <3 I managed to lose my response to this overwhelmingly lovely review, but that was probably a good thing because all I did was turn into a puddle of happy feels. Although I might just do that again...
I'm really glad that you enjoy reading my writing; I do try to be versatile and I'm happy that shows in my writing. (Although I firmly disagree with you on that point, because humour doesn't come naturally to me. I have to be in a very specific headspace to write things like Life and Lies and ministry memorandums, so I'm impressed that I do manage to pull it off sometimes!)
One of the things that worried me about this one-shot is all the OCs and allowing their personalities to show through memos, so I took full advantage of the arrived in X condition to add to their characterisation, but also people might have skimmed it because it's such repetitive text on occasion, so I'm utterly thrilled that you enjoyed it and it worked the way I wanted it to. As for McSlaggen, that would be me. Hehehe. <3 I kind of made this a little trope-y in that McLaggen was having an affair with his secretary because it's just so common, both in RL and in fic, so I felt like that would bridge the gap between normalcy and what goes on in the Mysteries (like the fact there are baby dragons there and nobody knows why).
Haha! I wouldn't call it a friendship, per se, because friends wouldn't nick from friends and then make those friends pay out of their own pockets to replace the stolen item... but they definitely have a rapport that goes beyond normal colleagues and Blye's had a significant impact on Ambrose's life. I have a one-shot that explores how Ambrose joined the Department of Mysteries and the effect Blye had, I don't know if I'll ever write it but the headcanon is there and I couldn't not insert some of it. :P
Awww, thank you so much! <3 I definitely love the ending every time I reread it. Pizza solves all life's problems. Hahahaha.
PS: You're officially responsible for my newest one-shot. Never stop being awesome. <3
I so needed this tonight! Thank you so much! :D
This was so crazy and so hilarious and I laughed out loud more than once! I'm just so happy that you suggested this story! :)
Beaurocracy is the worst thing ever and you really showed it so well! Everyone trying to escape responsibilities and all the neverending succession of misunderstandings and the domino effect of it all... all the little details, too... the starved owl... and the autocorrect quill... I would like to thank you for the early Christmas gift; however, it is causing me to write very strangely! This must be my favourite bit in absolute! Ahahah!
I love that in the end she refused the promotion, simply because she wanted to stay close to her colleagues, it's so sweet! :) I loved that final scene, where they all had pizza together! :)
This was so great! I loved it so much! Thank you for swapping and for making me laugh, I really needed it! :D
Lots of love,
Hi Chiara! I'm so glad that you enjoyed this story! <3
I agree that bureaucracy is the worst! We could be so much productive as a society if our time wasn't spent filling out forms so much, imo. And from what we've seen in the books, the Ministry aren't the best at doing their jobs or, as in Percy's case, following procedure with zero deviation when sometimes it's necessary to be adaptable. That felt like something I could write about, particularly when things are going wrong and everyone's running around like headless chickens.
Autocorrect quills are underappreciated. I know a few people I'd like to send them to for Christmas. :P
The fact that Blye declined the promotion was kind of necessary for the plot (of my yet to be published Unspeakables series, which this is a spin-off of) but it felt so poignant to write. Having a quality team around you who you trust is so, so important at work, and while Blye could achieve more with a promotion, she'd lose that environment and close rapport with her colleagues, and I loved exploring that contrast and her decision.
Thanks so much for your review! <3