I've been meaning to get to one of your stories for a while but was on a vacation all along. I had some time now and decided to give this a shot!
How did you begin this way?? I love how you picked a seemingly innocent set of objects as a triggle to a huge Wizarding War! Haha, I never thought of it that way, that's some brilliant perspective!
'Little Tonians' - That's really cute! How did you come up with something like that?
I love the description of Tom Riddle. I did think Voldemort was a reflection of his father and Slytherin ancestry, and didn't think his father was a very nice man either!
It's also so interesting to see the effects of love potion from the affected person's point of view! I simply adored the way you described that. You seem to have such a lovely way with words, your writing has sucked me in.
This - [i]No passing Go, no collecting two-hundred galleons[/i] - HAHAHA!!!! How did Merope know about Monopoly??? And Tom Riddle Senior getting the names all mixed up was confusing there for a while, poor Tom, it must have been even more for his potion-addled brain!
I simply loved the narrative format of this story and your writing style. It was almost like I was reading a proper fairy tale, the way it was written. I have become a huge fan of your writing, and I'd love to read the romance novels you told me about!
Wonderful story Brax!!
Hi Ysh! Thank you so much for stopping by with this lovely review and all the brilliant questions! I’ll try and provide some answers for you :)
The inspiration behind this story came via a HPFT challenge, where I was given the character of Merope Gaunt and a piano as an item to incorporate into a story involving an engagement announcement to the parents. I had a vague plot in mind which revolved around a love potion concealed in some chocolates created by Merope, for the sole purpose of bewitching the object of her infatuation, Tom Riddle. This then led to the idea that possibly only one chocolate had actually been responsible for the union of Tom and Merope, leading to the creation of Voldemort. I think the landslide analogy just sprang forth from there; I’ve always enjoyed drawing comparisons between things and it seemed like a nice, whimsical touch!
I’m not actually 100% sure how the term “Little Tonians” came about! I think I extrapolated from the term “Hangletonians”, which I’m almost convinced I read somewhere, but despite doing a web search for the purposes of this review response, I’m unable to find the source. I decided to alter it to fit with the village name of Little Hangleton. There are a few towns/villages in the UK where the residents adopt a quaint pet name to link themselves to their home place, and this idea seemed to fit in with this story!
Tom Riddle, son of the Squire and father to Voldemort, was, due in part to his very snobbish upbringing, a deeply self-centred character, who had never really had to work at all in his life, thanks to the riches of his family. I saw him as an overly privileged young man, in his early twenties, who had little to no understanding or regard for the world outside the manor. The whole Riddle family were pretty unpleasant, frankly! Back in the early portion of the 20th Century, the divide between gentry and other classes was quite marked, and I wanted to convey a sense of that perspective when describing Mr and Mrs Riddle. Hence Mr Riddle’s complete disregard for Cecilia’s name; something which was far too trivial and unimportant to bother remembering correctly!
The description of Tom’ reaction to the love potion was heavily inspired by the scene in Half-Blood Prince, where Ron accidentally falls under the spell of Romilda Vane. Because I’d decided to caricature pretty much every part of this story, I embellished Tom’s response to consuming the potion here.
It was incredibly unlikely that Merope would have ever played Monopoly, I agree, but somehow, it just felt right to add that bit in, you know?
Thank you so much for your lovely review! I hope this answers your questions :)
Hey there, Brax! :) Dropping by for our review swap - a little later than planned, sorry! Got caught up in revision and delivering leaflets - as you do :P Anyway, I'm here now :)
And I love this! There's something so great about this - especially the way that on the surface it's so funny, with the reactions from his parents (especially his mother, calling for smelling salts and yelling while claiming she's about to faint :P), and the language you use, the details you include, and then underneath there's the layer of creepiness and uncomfortableness because his parents are so haughty and horribly classist and rude, and Tom's not really in love, it's the love potion and there's the layer of compulsion from Merope which has spawned this whole thing. Which is so clever, because honestly, I'd never have thought to use humour to kinda expose all of that, but you did and it works so, so well :)
I love your characterisation of them, too - it fits so well with what we heard about them in the books, that they were so disdainful and haughty, never deigning to talk to the common people in the village, always rude and thinking so much of themselves. I loved the touch with the mother knitting and his father playing the piano; it would have been such a huge extravagance then, and it's such a cool addition. And the way his father doesn't even know the name of his (actual) girlfriend - getting her mixed up with others, and proclaiming she has 'good breeding'. Ugh it's so horribly sexist, but so perfectly in character with him and the time period and everything.
And poor Tom! I mean, it's all the love potion making him do it and say it and feel the way he does, but it's still kinda harsh to think that if he had actually wanted to marry anyone, well, normal, his parents might have responded so badly :/
I love the addition of Frank and Sarah and how they worked for the Riddles, how Sarah was so timid and nervous all the time, how Frank was so kind and so loyal to a fault, even though the Riddles were horrible - it makes me feel so sad for them both, having to deal with what they had to, when Tom Jr came back and everything. I especially loved the detail about how Frank waited to see if Merope would come back - it added such a sweet, caring side to his character, which we didn't see much of in the books.
As always, your writing is lovely - you're so clear and concise and every emotion you put into something comes across so beautifully. I think it was your first story posted here, but it's really good - it's so wonderfully layered and I love that about things :)
Brax! I'm here for our swap! First, my apologies for any typos as I'm writing this review on my phone.
Okay but now to business: this is brilliant. The fact that it's about Tom and Merope lured me in from the start, because so few people ever write about either of them and this just seemed like such an original idea. What I was not expecting was the light-hearted, whimsical tone of this. All the hilariously serious similes in the begining about rocks! The descriptions of Mr and Mrs Ruddle and how he grabs his collarbone in a dramatic show of how upset he is, and how she goes from 100% calm to fainting and wailing about smelling salts in about 3 seconds. And despite that it's a kind of serious subject matter (I was expecting a story full of angst) it's just so much fun to read.
Despite that the story doesn't take itself too seriously, it's also not too over the top, which can be a delicate balance to strike but you did it perfectly. I also forever will imagine Mr and Mrs Riddle in the way you described them, since i had kind of a blank headcanon for them before. :p Tom's discovery that he was 'in love' with Merope was well written too, and even though it's kind of silly and seems like one of those moments in a musical when someone stands up to sing their feeligns (sidenote, why didn't Tom do that :P ) it also seemed exactly how someone would react under the influence of a love potion -they'd be acting sort of dramatically anyway. long story short this was perfect.
I can't believe I'd never read anything by you before! I'm going to be stalking your AP sometme soon :p
Omg, and then Frank and the hedgehog waiting for Merope at the end XD this was such a fun read & thanks so much for the swap!
My Dear Brax,
So I'm here with your promised attack! Yay! So this is amazing like I wasn't sure what this was going to be like though I admit I have heard people talking about it before.
So, I thought the metaphor or is it more of an analogy? Anyway about the pebbles that the smallest things have the biggest repercussions, It was really clever way to engage the reader into thinking ‘so where's this going?'. I really enjoyed that ‘but this isn't about rocks' - this line just amused me! Casually like that's the end of that - moving on. Ha ha.
I thought you characterization of the Riddles was awesome, just so fun! I guess we don't know that much about them apart from they were quite snobby so it totally fits. I don't know what it was about Mr Riddle if he wasn't interested or maybe he was a bit high when he kept getting the names wrong? I don't but something about his whole character seriously made me laugh tbh. Humour is quite a bit difficult thing I always think (maybe it's just difficult for me to write??) but I enjoyed this. "Sarah!! Fetch me my smelling salts this instant!" - poor Sarah! She has to put up with a lot doesn't she? I basically adore that he was wearing a monocle! It went down about as well as a led balloon all of that, Tom Riddle Sr's actions would been romantic if he wasn't under love potion. Awkward.
This was such an enjoyable little read. Good job ps. you're a crazy person for doubting in any way your writing skills. you're amazing <33
This. Was. Amazing!!!
The last line... I'm bent with laughter... That Amortentia was really powerful, wasn't it? :P
I so loved this piece! Your writing style was amazing, I loved the tone since the very first sentence, so brilliant! And yes, thinking that because of a praline Lord Voldemort came to the world, carrying all the destruction and despear he did, it's quite unsettling...
I loved your description, the glimpse into Little Hangleton's day to day life, your characterization of the Riddles and their servants... everything, really!
I also adored the way you incorporated the piano prompt, with Mr Riddle lost in his own Mozart's world. Just great! And I loved the way you wrote the effects of the love potion, and Merope, and the parents' reactions...
If I didn't make myself clear enough, this was an amazing piece! Thank you so much for entering our challenge and good luck!
Lots of love,
Hello Chiara, and thank you so much for your lovely review and for hosting the challenge! I think you might have just made my day, bless you :)
First off, I want to say that the introduction to this story was brilliant. The analogy of a single pebble becoming a landslide that killed many and a single, love-potion infused chocolate leading to, well, Voldemort's reign of terror was great. It is very unique, but very apt. If Tom Riddle II never ate that chocolate, how different the wizarding world may have been. For even if Merope did eventually get him to marry her, any child resulting would (probably) had a better impact on the world than Tom Marvolo Riddle did.
I was expecting this story to be sort of dark and depressing since we know what happened. I was pleasantly surprised to see that you managed to get a lot of humour into it. I personally find writing humour rather difficult and have read many stories where it has fallen flat. That was certainly not the case here. It was sort of dark and twisted with a sense of doom as well as funny. Smelling salts and cappuccino squares are not naturally humorous items, but it worked here.
One tiny issue I noticed was an effect/affect misuse but that is a super easy fix.
Also, nice touch throwing Frank Bryce in. The poor man was part of such a big event at the start of Goblet of Fire that he never really understood. It was nice to see him in better shape and not about to be murdered for once.
Good luck with the Nargles! :)
Hello and thank you for reviewing this one-shot!
I confess; I had a lot of fun writing this for a challenge :) The brief was to include Merope and a piano. The inclusion of Merope seemed to suggest I should throw something darkly humorous together, so I'm so glad you think it comes through in this. I too find humour tricky to write!
I am utterly mortified about the affect/effect slip-up though :( I shall endeavour to hunt it down and fix it!
Thanks so much for this review :)
Hello, I'm here for BvB :D
So, I have to say first of all that I really enjoyed reading this. It's a nice piece of work that fills in the gap of what happened when Tom 'fell in love' with Merope, and the Riddles' reactions were amusing, to say the least. For some reason, I particularly liked Mrs Riddle yelling for her smelling salts :)
I think you also described the effects of Amortentia on Tom really well; it wasn't overdone but it still conveyed the impression that he REALLY wanted Merope. And all because of a piece of chocolate :/
Basically everything was spot on; it fitted with canon and the mood and characters were just right. The only thing I really have to say (and actually it's more of a suggestion) is how you could have mentioned Merope's family? It would be nice to know how free she was feeling now that her crazed father and brother were out of the way. But hey, it's your story, you can do what you like.
But yeah, once again, I really liked this story. Nothing seemed too rushed in this one-shot and it all flowed nicely. Just want to say well done-and I look forward to reading more of your stories in the future ;D
Hello! Thank you for reading and reviewing. I'm glad you liked this one-shot :)
Hey, I'm here for BvB!
I loved this so much. Your writing style here is so effective at drawing the reader in, because it's got just the right air of informality to feel like... I mean, this might sound weird, but almost like the narrator is a friend? The tone is just familiar enough to make me feel like I'm sitting around a campfire (or, more likely, in a bar :P) with people I know I like.
That may not make much sense. Regardless, though, it's a wonderful style, and it worked so well for the subject material.
Because while the tone was definitely witty and even humorous at times, it didn't feel discordant with the genuinely disturbing undertone. We know what this ultimately leads to, and even if we didn't, love potions are really disturbing all on their own. It's very clear that Tom is not in his right mind, and stuck up or not, I felt awful for him.
I didn't feel particularly bad for Merope, though, even when his parents are yelling at her, and I like that, too. I feel like there's often so much sympathy for Merope because she clearly grew up in an abusive household, but there's not really any amount of abuse that can justify enslaving an innocent (if not particularly decent) man.
I did wonder why Frank wanted her to return - whether he just felt bad for her, maybe? - but it was an intriguing note to end the story on. Great job!
Hey there and thanks so much for reviewing this! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)
Unfortunately, Frank himself fell foul of Merope's love-potion-infused chocolates - which is why you should never eat sweets that you just happened to find scattered across the lawn - as did the hedgehog. Even though hedgehogs don't really eat chocolate..