The Buried Life – by Kalina

Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/834017/1/The-Buried-Life

Rating: Exceeds Expectations Minus

The Basics: Classic Era (compliant to GoF), Romance, Adventure, Angst, 160k

Warnings: Underage (no consummation), Dark!Harry, Non-consensual threats (None occurs, not SSHG)

After the war and the defeat of Voldemort, seventh-year Hermione must work together with Professor Snape to track down a kidnapped Harry Potter.

I was quite skeptical of this fic when I first started reading it.  I was so skeptical that I actually skipped it during my run through Classic Era epics, and came back to finish it only when I had read the rest of them.  This fic starts out as Harry fic – all Harry for about the first seven chapters.  I grew bored with this during my first reading and decided to skip it.  But I was glad I came back to finish it, because what little SSHG the fic provides is intellectual, top-quality SSHG.

The early SSHG attraction is written perfectly in character, perfectly believably, and completely intellectually.  I found myself clapping my hands with glee at the delicious witty banter and snarky comebacks.  This is SSHG at its finest! Very rarely in my fic-reading do I find something so hysterical and so in character that I take a snippet and e-mail it to my fiancee; that happened twice as I read this fic.  Snape is standoffish and annoyed, Hermione is happy to have someone to talk books with.  Their conversations at the breakfast table had me laughing out loud!  The latter half of the relationship is not as solid; it is unfortunately over-rushed to that ‘paradise’ status, and then we have to slog through the rest of the book waiting for the warplot to wrap up and the usual Whack-a-Mole romance roadblocks to be removed.  I enjoyed the early romance far more than the late romance.

The biggest problem the fic has, however, is pacing. As wonderful as the early SSHG interaction is, it doesn’t start  until the central chapters.  That would perhaps be forgivable if it continued throughout the fic, slowly rising in intensity, but unfortunately it stops cold in the last third of the fic, as I mentioned.  Additionally, we don’t pop back and forth from an SSHG scene to a Harry scene.  It’s separated into chunks; we spend the first and last third of the fic with Harry, and the central third with SSHG.  It’s jarring.

This fic strongly reminded me of “All Secrets Sleep In Winter Clothes” by Enlightened Kitty. It is another Dark!Harry meets SSHG plot.  The difference, however, is that All Secrets Sleep In Winter Clothes has a fantastic Dark!Harry storyline, but a weak SSHG storyline; this fic has great SSHG and mediocre Dark!Harry.  All in all I would recommend this fic over that one – since we are reading for SSHG, after all – but the pacing issues in this fic are tough to overlook.  I don’t mind a bit of Dark!Harry, but the Harry storyline isn’t very compelling in this fic.

The bottom line: Read if you love Dark!Harry and adventure fics as well as SSHG.  If you’re just looking for a straight SSHG fic, maybe just read the central third and then skip to the end?  I hardly ever recommend that, but the central chapters are truly fantastic SSHG and really worth reading.

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The Way They Were Meant to Be – Zanthia122

Link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1360140/19/The-way-they-were-meant-to-be

Rating: Acceptable

The Basics: Classic Era (compliant to GoF, turns into OOtP), Romance, 100k

Warnings: Underage

Hermione, in her fifth-year, develops a crush on Severus Snape that turns into something more.

Could it be more Classic Era?  This is the absolute dictionary picture of a Classic Era fic, at least in the beginning.  Little Hermione develops a crush on Snape that turns into more through a series of cauldron-scrubbing potion-making detentions, egged on by Dumbledore and McGonagall.  It’s sweet, and charming, and very, very childlike.  I felt like a little giddy 15 year old again just reading this fic.    As a boring cynical adult, my tastes are now more demanding – I’m always looking for intellectual stimulation and complex storylines in my fics; but I have to tell you, this sweet little fic charmed me and I really enjoyed reading it.  I had a couple of laugh-out-loud moments at the sheer naivete of it all.

There are some serious problems.  For one, the author in her Author’s Notes freely admits that she became bored with the fic and didn’t really know where it was going, so she ended it.  The latter half of the story is basically Order of the Phoenix from Snape’s perspective – very boring, and obviously predictable.  I did find it interesting that the author was trying to write a fifth-year story as a canon fifth-year, but part of the fun of Classic Era is that there are basically no rules.  Umbridge, the Ministry, and Occlumency angst descended on the fic like uninvited party crashers.

Snape is not really in character; he falls far too easily for Hermione and all of his usual angst and inner turmoil are basically swept under the rug as he is swept away by emotions.  Hermione is a little more in character, although the author paints her as fragile and in failing health, and she performs the classic schoolgirl routine of ignoring her friends once she is in a relationship.  There is nothing aggravatingly out of character, but it’s certainly not accurate or believable from an analytical perspective.  But again, that’s not really the point of this fic.  It’s a fun nostalgic romp.

The bottom line: Honestly, this fic is pretty short (100k is at the very low end of the Epic category) and it’s worth a read just for the nostalgia of childhood romance.  Don’t expect a deep relationship, or a warplot, or intellectual dialogue or even humor; but if you want to smile and like you’re reading fan-fiction in junior high, this is it.  🙂

Of Troubled Minds and Stolen Pensieves – by Canimal

Link: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1312387/1/Of-Troubled-Minds-and-Stolen-Pensieves

Rating: Acceptable

The Basics: Classic Era (compliant to GoF, adds in a chapterful of OOtP, and some vague references to HBP events), Romance, 250k

Warnings: Original characters as major characters, Non-consensual (Not between SSHG; it occurs offscreen twice and is heavily discussed), Violence

Snape’s grandchild finds his Penseive and is frightened by what she sees; he relates his life story to her to explain and to soothe her fears.

I love the idea for this fic.  I have never read anything that started with Snape’s schooldays and proceeded in a linear fashion all of the way to Hermione.  The problem with that, however, is obvious – an SSHG storyline is not introduced until about 2/3 of the way through the story, and not really explored until the very last chapters.  This is a SNAPE fic; not an SSHG fic.  But because this fic is so long and included on so many SSHG lists, I decided to include it in my reviews.

There are many interesting original characters; some of the best I have read in SSHG.  In the first third of the story, it seems like the author had really thought things out; offering a detailed look at why Snape is the way he is when we first meet him at Hogwarts.  Ursula and Marina in particular are fantastic characters; they are unique women and believable companions for Snape.  I found them interesting, but looked forward to them exiting the plot so Hermione could be introduced.  However, this did not happen.  Characters that had served their plot purpose and exited gracefully continued to show up again later in the story.  I felt like I wanted to take a Whack-a-Mole mallet to some of them.  No less than THREE PEOPLE come back from the dead.  THREE.  After a while it became clear that the author had no real solid plan and was just meandering about, recycling plotlines, not sure how to end her fic.

The biggest problem, bigger than recycled plotlines and the mostly-absent Hermione, is that Snape is often grossly out of character.  I have a strong suspicion that the author of this fic is a Gryffindor or Hufflepuff (not that there is anything wrong with that.) In this fic, Snape flies off the handle over and over again, charging into danger without thinking first.  He makes all of his decisions emotionally and never once does he pause to make a plan or consider the best possible method.  Hermione and Dumbledore seem to be the only characters who like to research things, make a plan, and carry it out.  Snape spends most of the fic brewing potions and being sad or mad about things, waiting for someone else to solve his problems or inform him of what is going on.  Canon Snape is an INTELLECTUAL SPY; right in the middle of the action!  He can’t stand to be uninformed, or to rely on others.  Ugh, I’m getting annoyed again just thinking about it.  These out-of-character plotholes are everywhere and grow wider and deeper as the fic progresses.

Lastly, the author really gives up at the end.  There is a hasty last chapter that ties up most of the loose ends immediately; I was looking for something to redeem this fic at the end, some delicious SSHG or warplot payoff, but believe me, there is nothing there.  There are several subplots left completely without resolution.  If you have read the ‘Wheel of Time’ series by Robert Jordan, you know perfectly well the problem that this author had.  The story got away from her, spun out of control, filled with too many characters, and she was totally unable to corral it back to what she originally intended (which I presume was an SSHG fic.)

The bottom line: It can’t function as an SSHG fic because Hermione is basically not in it.  And it can’t function as a Snape fic, because Snape is grossly out of character for the majority of it.  So why did I keep reading?  I’m not sure.  I thought about putting it down a dozen times but I kept going.  I’d say this is worth reading if you are super bored and not expecting much, and if you like original characters, but that’s about it.