Why would I compare the PorterGirl novel First Lady Of The Keys to Harry Potter?
Well there’s a few things that are similar in both. More than a few, actually.
First, both are written by residents of great Britain, which means as an American I see words and spellings I’m not always used to seeing. Phrases that we don’t say and they do – which helps put the reader in the proper setting.
And the setting is probably one of the things I find common in both stories.
Harry goes to a big castle which is a school and is centuries old and fraught with its traditions.
PorterGirl goes to a big castle-like school that is very old and fraught with centuries old traditions.
Both characters are a fish out of water at first. In both stories the reader gets introduced to the unusual worlds as the main character is introduced to them.
I mentioned in my online review of HP The Sorcerer’s Stone that in the first paragraph or two there was some humor slipped in.
PorterGirl is filled with humorous observations and sly asides.
She makes glib remarks constantly – and that’s something I do in real life (ask Jenny or Allison what it’s like to sit next to me during a writing seminar) and in my blog posts (you’ve all seen that) and in a lot of my stories (hmm… more of you need to see that – buy some books, would you), so I can totally identify as well as appreciate and laugh along with that.
Lucy wastes very little time letting us know that she’s nervous about her new position, and the reader is right there with her – so it creates sympathy for the MC (main character).
Rowling created sympathy for Harry Potter because he was an orphan and was tortured growing up by the Dursleys.
Having sympathy for the main character and getting it within the first few pages, that’s huge – not to mention it’s a great writing device.
Lucy seems to come by it naturally, which means it’s the result of a lot of hard work.
Both main characters Lucy and Harry are constantly impressed and astounded by the new world they find themselves in, and this carries in Harry Potter through most of the first book. So far being 30 pages into PorterGirl, it seems like it’s going to as well.
And since the blurb says there’s a murder coming up, I assume Lucy is in for a mystery, as was Harry. I mentioned in my online review that I considered the mystery element a big part of the success of that franchise.
Reading on, I will impart my thoughts as they come to me; anyone worried about spoilers should probably look away when you see those coming, but I’m pretty good about not giving away spoilers and I usually put up a big in the post that says SPOILER ALERT!
I don’t think these are spoilers… just questions, really. Those of you who read the story will know the answers so don’t give it away in your comments, but feel free to opine about my progress as I update you.
PorterGirl mentions one character twice in a way different from how she notices all the other characters.
Is Professor Fox a future love interest?
It’s funny how Lucy and the other characters refer to each other by their title as opposed to their names. So somebody is not Mr. Smith but Night Porter or Junior Bursar or whatever. Again, that strikes me as odd, but that might be totally normal for folks across the pond; I doubt it, though.
Instead, I think it is part of the quaint traditions of Cambridge and Old College.
I will say I found the prologue not obviously necessary, but I’m only 30 pages in; maybe it is. It’s not as enjoyable as the rest of the book so far, but that’s because Lucy’s not there yet and so her wit and humor aren’t present, either. The story, I think, would work with it or without it; I have voiced my opinion about prologues and prefaces before but I have been accused of using them myself, so…
I will say this, though, in case anyone was wondering.
Lucy is my friend and we have been interacting online for years as well as having met in person just recently when I went to the UK.
Rest assured, I’m going to critique this work the same way as whether she wrote it or I wrote it or somebody I never met wrote it. That is to say, I’m a straight shooter no matter what. If somebody writes a really bad book, I will let them know privately because I’m not into embarrassing people when they are learning, but this book doesn’t need that kind of protection.
Once you give yourself over to a story – and I think I probably started doing that on about the second or third paragraph of chapter 1, then you can sit back and enjoy wherever it goes.
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this book and will probably consume most of it in the next 48 hours. That’s my style when a story is good.
The fact that I feel confident enough to let you know now how good it is indicates Lucy doesn’t have anything to worry about. In fact, I might buy a few blog followers copies of this thing because I think it needs more exposure here in the US. I’m thinking five or 10. So if you are reading along and you’re interested, use the “contact me” button and send me a message saying you would like to read Lucy’s book. I will send it to you on one condition: love it or hate it you must post a review on Amazon. If you don’t, you’re likely to be forever barred from being a beta reader or anything else.