A Secret Worth Keeping – by Red Writing Hood
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.