Dark Gods in the Blood – by Hayseed

Links:
http://www.fictionalley.org/authors/hayseed/DGITB.html
http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=24214

Rating: Outstanding Minus

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Friendship/Mystery, 150k,

Warnings: Violence, Original Characters, Sexual Content, Horror

13 years after graduating from Hogwarts, Hermione Granger comes back to England from a long absence in order to solve a mysterious murder.  It’s an SSHG whodunnit!

This fic is absolutely incredible.  The only reason I rated it ‘Oustanding Minus’ instead of ‘Outstanding’ is because it is more of an SSHG friendship fic than an SSHG romance fic.  But every other detail of this fanfic is perfection.  Honestly, it’s SO good, that I would have recommended it even if it wasn’t SSHG at all.

It’s violent.  Horribly violent.  It’s intellectual.  It’s beautifully plotted.  Little seeds that were planted in the early chapters spring to glorious fruition in the later ones.  It’s heartbreaking – the Snape especially, is so, so, so heartbreaking, and so perfectly in character.   If Hermione and Snape were to come together in ‘real life’, these are the kind of circumstances that would have transpired.  It wouldn’t be romantic and pretty; it would be academic, reluctant, and under extreme duress.

The only drawback to this fic, other than the friendship-over-romance angle, is that it could possibly seem a bit pretentious sometimes, if that is an annoyance of yours.  I actually liked it; my degree is in English Lit so I have a pretty high tolerance for academic references.  But to some, the amount of quotes and referenced works might seem a little over-the-top or highbrow.

Another great thing about this fic is the RON, of all things.  This is the best Ron I have ever read.  It’s pretty much the only time I found him likeable and sympathetic, including the actual Harry Potter books themselves.

The bottom line: I recommend this to EVERYONE EVERYWHERE.  If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, you’ll probably like this fic.  It’s that good!

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A Secret Worth Keeping – by Red Writing Hood

Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/1455300/1/A-Secret-Worth-Keeping
Rating: Acceptable +
The Basics: Phoenix Era, Romance, 150k,
Warnings: Underage, Pregnancy, Abortion, Miscarriage, Non-consensual, More Pregnancies, Pretty Much Every Female Trigger Ever, NC-17 rated

Lucius Malfoy uses the Imperius curse on Severus Snape and Hermione Granger.  Nine months later, Hermione gives birth to a baby boy.

This one had a lot of potential. Good writing, but bad characterizations. Some nice ideas, but some really strange themes. Nice physical pacing, bad emotional pacing. For every positive, there is a negative, and it all ends up rather lukewarm in the end.

The love story is very strange. ‘We had a baby so now we’re in love’ makes no sense, character-wise, for either of them. Worse, Snape declares right out of the gate that he’s in love with Hermione, and has always been in love with Hermione, even before the events of the story start – and he declares this to her during her sixth year. That’s a huge problem, and completely out of character. Even if he completely took leave of his senses and somehow fell in love with a Gryffindor student he had little to no personal contact with, he would NEVER let himself be so out of control and so vulnerable as to declare it to her – while she was still in school. Just ridiculous. And so disappointing, because the writing and some of the ideas are good.

The beginning of the story drags, but the latter half is quite page-turning and interesting I stayed up late finishing the story, which is something I haven’t done in a long time. However, the page-turning interest is NOT romantically fueled; it’s the warplot that kept me going. And the writing really does improve in the latter half – there are bits of humor and witty banter, a lightness that was absent in the earlier chapters.

The romance is almost completely dull, unfortunately. There are a lot of annoying romantic cliches, and Snape is just not himself at all. I can forgive a Phoenix-era writer some of the finer points of Snape’s character, but in this story, he is LoyalHusbandFather!Snape and RomanticFabio!Snape and the snarky, unhappy, dark Potions Master that we all love is almost completely absent. There is even a line about how she falls in love with him after seeing his ‘Softer, fatherly side.’ I’m sorry, but if that’s why you love Snape, you don’t love Snape. This felt like someone who really ships Ron/Hermione experimenting with a different ship. It’s all too…traditional. Gooey. Not SSHG in the slightest.

Another thing that is worth mention is the strange pregnancy/motherhood theme that runs through the entire story. I felt like the author might have been going through something personally and that it came out in the story. Hermione’s pregnancy is just the tip of the iceberg. Almost every single female character is pregnant at some point or another. There is a LOT of uncomfortable talk about abortion, some of it uncomfortably pro-life and anti-choice, at least for me, although I felt that the author tried to maintain neutrality. There is a horrible miscarriage. During the ‘Final Battle’ all of the women take naps and huddle together at Hogwarts (not kidding) while the menfolk go to war. I was honestly kind of offended by the neatness of it all, to be honest. Though there is noting inherently wrong with ‘traditional values’ they are pretty much the last thing I expect to find when I read SSHG.

The bottom line: Although almost everything I said in this review is bad, it is not a bad fic.  It is page-turning, well written, and there are very funny parts. Read it if you like reading about motherhood, and read it for the decent Draco storyline. Skip it if you can’t stand an early, out of character Snape.

Salazar’s Heir – by YsM

Links:
http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=1481
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/1411687/1/Salazars_Heir

Rating: Acceptable

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Angst/Romance, 100k, PG-13

Warnings: Underage, Pregnancy, Original Characters, Abortion/Miscarriage Triggers, Marriage Law (not actually ML, but has that feeling.)

Hermione, beloved by all men, all unicorns, and Hogwarts itself, finds herself in trouble when Voldemort adds himself to her list of suitors.

Yes, my description is terribly tongue-and-cheek, but it’s only because this fic is perhaps the most heavy ‘Mary Sue’ fic that I have ever read!  Hilariously, laughably so, especially in the beginning chapters.  “Mary Sue” is the term for a main character, usually female, who is super idealized.  A beautiful genius, gifted in special in many ways, beloved by everyone, on whom the fate of the world hinges.  This Hermione definitely qualifies.

With that aside, let’s get to the real review.  The first few chapters of this fic are unbearably difficult to read.   It has the feeling of being written by someone extremely young and inexperienced.  It’s difficult to tell who is speaking and what is going on.  This does get better, however.  It becomes quite a pleasant read in the later chapters.  That’s one of the reasons I made this site – I would have skipped this on the first page – ‘Nope, bad writing’ – if I were reading it just for myself.

The romance is also quite terrible, unfortunately.  It’s filled with soap opera cliches, and the bland ideas about love espoused by someone extremely young who has never really been in love.  For me, SSHG needs to be about intellectual partnership, bitterness, loneliness, arrogance…something!  There are so many special things that bind Snape and Hermione together.  They are so much more than ‘you are attractive and I feel deeply for you!  Flourish!’  Unfortunately this fic delivers far more of the latter than the former.

Now, this sounds mostly negative, but I have to tell you that there are many enormously positive elements in this fic.  The storyline is based on the idea that Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin were in love, and that their true Heirs will always be searching for each other, trying to love each other again.  There are also a ton of interesting Heir-related prophecies that propel the warplot and intertwine with this Rowena-Salazar idea.  I found these ideas to be fresh, original, and extremely enjoyable.  There are a lot of twists and turns, and although most of them are clumsily done,  I really appreciated all of the effort put into this complex and interesting plot.

Despite these great ideas, the childish point-of-view really brought this fic down.  None of the adults ever talk to each other.  People constantly ‘forget’ to mention crucial things to each other.  Snape brewed a potion that could kill Voldemort that he just forgot to mention to Dumbledore and then sat on for weeks.  He brewed a potion to heal Hermione that he forgot to tell anyone about, including Hermione.  “Oh yeah, I healed you!  That was a couple of weeks ago.” There are never any meetings about Voldemort or the war.  Even Snape and Hermione don’t really work together; they just communicate about the things that happen to come up in conversation on the rare occasions that they aren’t mad at each other for stupid things.

The bottom line: A lot of great ideas – seriously, GREAT ideas.  This could be one of the top SSHG fics ever written.  Unfortunately, the execution is unforgivably and hilariously clumsy.  The characters all act like 12 year olds putting on a soap opera play.  The pacing is atrocious.  But you know what?  The great ideas and the youthful charm really make this readable and enjoyable, at the end of the day.  I would LOVE to see this reworked by the author, with an adult mindset.  Read it for SSHG laughs and fic-writing inspiration. Skip it if you are looking for something stimulating written by an adult.