The Other Side of Darkness / Survivals and Remembrances – Abby at Witchfics.org

Other Side of Darkness: http://www.witchfics.org/abby/tosod.html
Survivals and Remembrances: http://www.witchfics.org/abby/survival.html
My hosted copy: https://sshgreview.files.wordpress.com/2016/04/the-other-side-of-darkness-and-survivals-and-remembrances-by-abby-2-files-merged.pdf
Sadly, the last site that was hosting this went down in 2016, so I’m hosting it myself until it is up on a proper archive again. It’s a tragedy to see a fic disappear from the Internet simply because the link is old. My copy includes both fics.

Rating: Outstanding

The Basics: Classic Era (compliant only up to GoF), Drama/Romance, 200k

Warnings: NC17, Torture, Slash, Non-Con (not SSHG), disturbing villain

This fic is the first to get my Outstanding rating; and it is well-deserved.  The Other Side of Darkness is a stand-alone fic, a well-scripted action plot that brings Snape and Hermione together.  The sequel, Survivals and Remembrances, refuses to accept the easy ‘now we’re in love’ ending of most fanfics and delves deeply into the intricacies and struggles of Snape and Hermione’s relationship.

In The Other Side of Darkness, an Auror is hurt by the effects of a mysterious potion that Hermione, working for the Ministry, attempts to cure.  In her frustration, she turns to Professor Snape.   I won’t bother to go down the checklist of everything that this fic does right; that would be far too long a review.  Instead I will focus on the highlights.  Snape.  He is perfectly in character .  Frustratingly, heartbreakingly perfect.  Every sneer hides a whisper of fear; every cold stare hides a glint of uncertainty.  The duality that the author brings to Snape is powerful and gripping, matched only by the quiet confidence of the Gryffindor who stubbornly refuses to let him give up on himself.  The villain in this fic must be mentioned as well – I will let you discover the details for yourself, but this is a chilling, deeply disturbing villain that I fully expect to haunt my dreams.

Survivals and Remembrances, the sequel, is a great piece of writing that surpasses the first.  It is all too easy for most fanfic authors – and readers – to wrap things up quickly, with a fairy ending, once Snape and Hermione have found each other.  We read for the romance, after all, yes?  I certainly do.  But this sequel goes far beyond that cliche to show a realistic, raw, and occasionally turbulent relationship.  Not everything is solved with “I love yous” and kisses.  There are unchecked tempers, unhealed scars, clumsy friends, and oppressive families.   These problems are slowly and subtly drawn; not tragic misunderstandings pulled out of a hat., and these problems are solved with rational discussion and steadfast commitment.  Another highlight that must mentioned is the chapter delving into Snape’s family and childhood background.  This author humanizes the Pureblood culture, and by proxy, the Death Eater movement, in a way I had never fully felt before.  And Snape’s mother…well, she’s an extraordinary character.  You’ll see.  I would love to see Joan Crawford play her.

There is a bit of imperfection in the grammar and punctuation, especially in Other Side of Darkness, but that’s common among these very old Classic Era fics. It was written long before ‘betas’ were popular. At first, I thought there was something wrong with my copy of it, but I found the same errors in another copy of mine, so it must have been written that way. The quality of the writing and plotting is much improved in Survivals and Remembrances.

Edit 06/2015 – I re-read the first half of Other Side of Darkness today and it was actually not quite as good as I remembered; maybe I had exaggerated it in my mind, or – more likely as this was my first Outstanding rating – it was the first fic of this quality I encountered and it naturally blew me away. Current qualms would be that the romance was a tiny bit too hasty, and that this Snape is slightly ‘weaker’ than I prefer, though I can’t argue that it feels right in the context of the fic.  It’s still an excellent Outstanding fic, but I thought it was worth editing the review to add these realizations and further comments.

The bottom line: They are both excellent, but Survivals and Remembrances is better. I would compare this fic (if you include the sequel) to Joseph Campbell’s Heart of Darkness.  Through the action plot and the eyes of Hermione Granger, the chapters tear away  at Snape’s protective sneers and cloak-billows to reveal the full pain, the full darkness, of the man beneath.  A sorrowful portrait from child, to Death Eater, to the unapproachable and nearly-stone Potions Master – and beyond . If you can stomach the creepy villain and non-con elements, it’s an excellent read for any fan of the pairing.

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Making My Head Spin – by Slytherin Girl

Link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/887984/1/Making_My_Head_Spin
Sequel: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2546677/24/See_You_On_The_Other_Side

WARNING: PARTIAL REVIEW
As with many of my poorly-rated fic reviews, I only read a few chapters into this story before skimming to the end.
If anything in my review is inaccurate or misconceived as a result, please feel free to let me know and I will amend my review.

Rating: Poor

The Basics: Classic Era (only compliant up to GoF), Friendship/Romance, Hurt/Comfort, 100k

Warnings: Underage, Original Characters, possibly more

Hermione’s parents are killed by Death Eaters and she retreats to Hogwarts for the summer to recover, accidentally taking refuge in Snape’s private library; he doesn’t have the heart to turn her out.

This fic is just mediocre, all the way around.  The writing style is the biggest problem – it reads very young, very amateur.  Instead of bringing you into the scene, into the characters’ minds, the scenes are described in a clipped dialogue and cliche descriptions that leaves the reader rather disengaged.  The characterizations are also poor – Snape allows Hermione into his rooms in the first few chapters, simply because she ‘likes them better than her rooms’ and she’s presently emotionally fragile.  Paranoid, private, Gryffindor-resenting Snape?  I don’t think so.  Another example; early in the story, Snape throws a temper tantrum, including shouting and magical spells, in the presence of a bunch of Muggles, simply because Hermione is crying.  I’m sure the author was trying to show us that Snape was beginning to care about her, but an out-of-character temper tantrum is a clumsy, heavy-handed way to do that.

Add to these grievances a jarring action plot with flops instead of twists and a sappy, unrealistic romance, and you’ve got a Poor rating fic on your hands.

The bottom line: I feel bad giving this such a terrible review because I suspect the author was very young when she wrote it, but I just can’t get past the writing style of this fic.  Low quality writing makes it very difficult to become or remain interested in the story.  This can occasionally be overcome with strong characters or witty dialogue, but unfortunately this fic has neither.  Skip it.

Soul Searching – by Quillusion

Links:
http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=2002&i=1
http://themasque.net/wiktt/efiction/viewstory.php?sid=749&chapter=1

Rating: Acceptable
The Basics: Classic Era (only compliant to GoF), Adventure/Friendship/Romance, 150k
Warnings: NC17, First Person Perspective

An adult Hermione attempts to steal a rare ingredient from Professor Snape’s storerooms; she finds much more than she was looking for.

I freely admit that my rating here is heavily colored by a strong dislike of first person perspective.  I tried to overlook that, wanting to thoroughly read the fic to provide a fair review, but all I could find were more of my fanfiction pet peeves –  sexual content too early in the fic,  inside jokes, overall flippant tone (and not in a way that amused me.)  Many people love this fic and it has rave reviews on other sites, so I assume there is something of quality here that couldn’t find in my brief overview.  My conclusion is that this fic is tailor-made for me to dislike it – but that does not mean YOU will dislike it.

The bottom line: It’s first person perspective love-letter to WIKTT; I hated it.  It’s not for me, but I actually DO strongly recommend reading at least a few chapters to see if you enjoy it, because this is one of the most widely-read and most beloved early SSHG fics.

A Matter of Honor – by Amy McWilliams

Link: http://archiveofourown.org/users/McAmy

Rating: Exceeds Expectations Plus

The Basics: Classic Era (compliant up to GoF), Friendship/Romance, 150k

Warnings: None

Hermione works with Professor Snape to develop a potion that will allow the drinker to painlessly withstand the Cruciatus Curse.  The fic starts in Hermione’s 7th year, but the romance is not tangible or spoken until she returns to Hogwarts as an Arithmancy Professor.

This is an excellent, excellent fic; especially considering how old it is.  The characterizations are absolutely spot-on.  One of the major pitfalls of Classic Era fics is that Snape is not given much face time yet in the actual Harry Potter books; as a result he is often woefully out of character as the author fills in blanks with the wrong personality traits.  This fic, if you look at characterization alone, could have been written in 2012.  Snape is perfect.  I give the author a hearty round of applause for that.

This is an intellectual fic; there are poetry and academia references as far as the eye can see, and Snape and Hermione’s relationship grows out of their mutual respect for each other’s minds.  For this pairing, this is my favorite kind of romance.  Highly intelligent, studious, less-than-social people have unique, isolating view of the world; finding someone who shares that worldview is both rare and intoxicating.  The highest praise I can give this fic is that never *once* (pre-romance) did I roll my eyes and think, ‘yeah right.’  Not a single line, not a single action; everything was believable, in character, and at the proper time.

The one criticism I have of this fic is that once the romance is acknowledged, it becomes full-fledged in a matter of paragraphs. Even after physical admission, it should be somewhat awkward – Snape is not used to completely openness and expression of affection, so I expect some learning curve on his part, and Hermione’s as well.  This fic rushes the early romance to  a pastoral idyll far too quickly.  Snape is almost instantaneously open and romantic, using phrases like ‘my love’ which I have a hard time imagining him saying, at least at first.  Perhaps the academic-minded author found the social/romantic aspects of her story more difficult to write.  Similarly, I find the fic’s pacing and tension evaporate once the romance ensues; I had to trudge through the last 10 chapters or so, waiting for the action plot to resolve itself so I could be finished.

The bottom line: I would have given this fic a higher rating if it weren’t for the character/pacing issues that occur once the romance is acknowledged. Despite that criticism, it is an absolutely stellar fic.  I would recommend this to any SSHG fan, especially those who enjoy the studious, intellectual aspects of the pairing.

Winds of Change – by Christina Hilt

Link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2772930/1/The_Winds_of_Change

WARNING: PARTIAL REVIEW
I read this in 2003, it being one of the first fics I read, and only briefly skimmed it for my 2012 review.
If anything in my review is inaccurate or misconceived as a result, please feel free to let me know and I will amend my review.

Rating: Acceptable

The Basics: Classic Era (only compliant up to GoF), Lust/Romance, 100k

Warnings: Non-con, Underage

To be honest, I remember really, really enjoying this fic in 2003 – I guess that’s evidence how just how little SSHG fanfiction was out there in 2003, or how much my standards have raised since then, because I was really disappointed on my quick re-read.

Hermione works on a Potions project with Professor Snape; the Potions Master loses control of himself one night in the dungeons and they begin a forbidden romance.

My biggest disappointments were in the characterization and the plotting; in my mind, tightly-lidded Professor Snape would never, under his own will, lose control of himself and rape a student, period – especially on the first night of the Potions project.  Worse than that is that the author makes no explanation or excuses for him.  How easy would it have been to say that he was just back from a Death Eater meeting, emotionally traumatized, or a Potions accident, or a whiff of the wrong ingredient, or any number of other things?  For it just to *happen* was unforgivably out of character, for me.  Snape, to his core, is defined by his extreme aloofness, control, and distance in all social situations.  Not to mention Dumbledore – would the seemingly omniscient headmaster let an emotionally out-of-control potential rapist teach at his school?  No.

As I skimmed through the other chapters, I saw a mixture of tragic misunderstandings, trying to hide the romance, lots of smut, lots of out of character romantic tender moments, etc.  Outdated cliches, unfortunately, though I am rather forgiving of that due to the fic’s age (2001.)  ‘We had sex, now we’re in love’ is a very big pet peeve of mine, and that’s the base of this fic.  That and an out of character emotionally turbulent Professor Snape.  I feel like I must have missed something redeeming, because as I said in the first paragraph, I really enjoyed this fic the first time around.  It does have a nice writing style and occasional wit, but that’s the best I can say for it.

The bottom line: This is one of the oldest SSHG fic in existence and sadly, I think this fic’s downfall is its age – a casualty of the raised bar in modern fanfiction.  What was original, exciting, and forbidden at the time of writing has now become cliche, and there is precious little remaining for a modern SSHG reader to enjoy.  Read it for nostalgia or curiosity in the Classic Era fics, otherwise, skip it.

The Fire and the Rose – by Abby and Domina at WitchFics.org

Books 1 and 2: https://web.archive.org/web/20080607120210/http://www.witchfics.org/fr/index.html

Note: Fanfiction.net only has Book 1, and Witch Fics is down, so the link is to the Wayback Machine’s archive of Book 2. If anyone has a full copy if this fic, I would prefer to link that because nobody wants to read a fic off of the Wayback Machine. Let me know in the comments if you do – thank you!.

Rating: Book 1 – Exceeds Expectations Minus
Edit 06/2017: I previous had split the books in half and gave them each a separate rating, because Book 1 is awesome and Book 2 is horrible, but I think it’s better to combine the ratings. You may just want to stop reading after Book 1.

The Basics: Classic Era (compliant up to GoF only), Humor/Romance, 200k

Warnings: Underage (well, she’s 18 but still in school), Non-con (briefly alluded to, not SSHG), NC17

Thanks to a botched Longbottom potion, Snape and Hermione find themselves in the wrong bodies with no remedy in sight.

The first few chapters of this fic were absolutely hilarious and delightful.  Not only are they forced to switch bodies, for the sake of ‘safety during the War’ they must also live each others lives, because Dumbledore wants no one to know of the switch.  The scope of comedic opportunity here is wide, and the authors take full advantage of it, with plenty of twinkles and winks.  Snape-as-Hermione getting a full body makeover from overeager Gryffindor girls?  Hermione-as-Snape has to referee a game of Quidditch?  Check and check.  The banter – the delicious witty banter – between the two unwilling, irritated protagonists is some of the best in any Snape/Hermione fic I’ve read, though it takes awhile for it to develop, of course.   All of this with a serious and well-paced romance –  the forced intimacy created by the body swap pushes Snape and Hermione past all barriers of politeness and reticence, inevitably leading them to each other.

I expected the body-swap to last for a few chapters, perhaps a quarter of the way through, but to eventually be dispensed with; only used as a device to create that original intimacy to set the plot in motion.  I was wrong.  The fic goes ahead with the romance, both emotional and physical, while they are still in the wrong bodies – so be warned if you’re squeamish about things like that.  They remain body-swapped for almost the duration of the fic.  I wasn’t really comfortable with the romance occuring while they were in the wrong bodies, but I think that is just personal preference and not a reflection on the quality of the fic.

What IS a reflection on the fic’s quality is the disappointing Book 2.  It seems to me that the authors may have lost their interest in the fic, because the events rather carelessly and predictably stagger towards the finish.  It would have been much better to add a few extra chapters to Book 1 and have done with it , because Book 2 is nothing but dissembling and tragic misunderstandings, all to come right around to the same conclusion they almost had in Book 1.  What a waste.

The bottom line: I would recommend this to any fan of the pairing who enjoy humor fics, if they are able to tolerate NC17.  It is a nice balance of serious, believable romance and humor, despite the wacky body-swap situation.  Just be ready to grit your teeth through the ‘let’s just finish this’ sloppiness of Book 2.

As the Falcon Hath Her Bells – by HyacinthMacaw

Book 1 link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/595129/1/As_the_Falcon_Hath_Her_Bells_Taking_Flight
Book 2 link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/682778/1/As_the_Falcon_Hath_Her_Bells_On_the_Wing

Rating: Exceeds Expectations

The Basics: Classic Era (GoF compliant, not compatible with OoTP or beyond), Action/Friendship/Romance, 100k

Warnings: Violence, Non-con (not SSHG), Attempted Suicide

This fic starts in Hermione’s sixth year, but progresses quickly to her seventh year and her eventual professorship at the school.  This is a good fic, but not an excellent one.

The biggest strength of this fic is in the plotting and the writing.  The action plot is well-concieved, obviously planned out in the early chapters.  There are many satisfying moments where something quietly alluded to in the early chapters is explained later.  The characters introduced all play a part in the plot; the large characters playing a large role and the small characters play a small role.  These might sound like obvious praises, but after reading so many rambling fics, it was a pleasure to read something meticulously crafted.  My English degree gives this fic a nod of satisfaction.  😉  This is one of the only fics I have read in which I was gripped, surprised, and emotional at the inevitable Voldemort confrontation scene – it had twists and irony worthy of the original books.  If you love action plots, you will love this fic.

However, despite the tight, clever structure of the plot, something is missing from Snape and Hermione’s relationship.  The characters are a little bland; their opposing traits are dumbed down to make them more similar.  Hermione is too subdued – rarely showing her Gryffindor qualities, and Snape is too emotionally open – giving too much of himself away.  They are still basically in character, though; these quirks are smaller than I make them sound.  And  I can’t complain about the plotting of the relationship; they are appropriate reticent, the process is gradual, and their eventual love-confessing scene is believeable – but somehow, the whole process felt passionless.  No spark, no thudding hearts, no sexual tension.   I like my Snape and Hermione scenes to have snark, intelligence, and witty banter – in this fic, Snape and Hermione are quiet and to the point, speaking almost only of the action plot, drawn together out of seeming inevitability more than anything else.

The bottom line: Despite my reservations, I would recommend this fic to almost any fan of the pairing.  I usually dislike action plots and I still very much enjoyed this war-focused fic.  It is well-written – and even rarer, well-plotted – with strong, original ideas.  Read it for the adventure, not the romance.