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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