Cloak of Courage – by WendyNat


Rating: Outstanding

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Romance/Darkness/Angst, 190k,

Warnings: Attempted Non-Consensual (not Severus), NC-17, Violence, Marriage Law, Dark, Character Death

After much death and destruction in her life, Hermione Granger turns to the Dark Arts for revenge.  Only one person can hold her back from the dark precipice – Severus Snape.

Wow.  This fic was extremely impressive. Turbulant, emotional, but restrained, extremely dark, but still clinging to Light…incredible.

The beginning is a little rough, especially the first chapter – honestly I might have rolled my eyes and moved on if I were reading this just for pleasure and not for review.  But hang in there, because it is ABSOLUTELY worth slogging through the first bit.

The driving force of the fic is the system of Dark Magic that the author creates, “The Call of the Blood.”  And it is SO well done; better than some mechanics that you find in published fiction.   It is unique, fascinating, and revealed slowly throughout the course of the story.  The Dark Arts is at once looming shadow and a siren’s song.  It brings Snape and Hermione together, it threatens to drive them apart.  It could be the answer to defeat Voldemort, or it could signal the downfall of the Order.  Primitive.  Brutal.  Beautiful.  Unknowable.  All this, and yet and still somehow feels like it could organically and truly fit in with the Harry Potter world.  “The Call of the Blood” would explain so much about Snape, and about Lucius, and about Voldemort.  Honestly I think am going to adopt it is ‘head-canon’ for the real Harry Potter – it’s that good.  This is all vague, but I don’t want to go into the details, because everything is revealed slowly and it would be spoiler-y to explain it.

Another strength is the plotting.  It is beautifully plotted.  All of the side characters, side plots, and off-screen events work together.  Everything matters, though you may not realize it at first (as it should be – too often in fanfiction something stands out and you know it will come back later.  Not so here; it is woven in subtly.)  There was one particular “A-ha” moment for me that literally made me grin with wild glee because it made perfect sense, but I didn’t see it coming.  A surprising, on-point, subtle, ironic, deftly written twist – to check all of those boxes at once is a very difficult thing to do.

The romance and characterizations are also great.  It is a Marriage Law fic, so they are forced together, but there is still a long, satisfying period of coming together physically and emotionally.  I found it quite believable.  Hermione is too darkly out of character, probably -, but if the horrible things that happened to this Hermione had happened to canon Hermione, she may have ended up this dark.  The Snape is excellent – extremely dark, extremely disciplined, extremely sexy.  I would say that he is slightly overconfident.  My Snape is inwardly insecure, but outwardly confident; this Snape is inwardly confident as well.  I found it kind of sexy, though, so I can’t say I disliked it – just a tiny bit off point, for me.  Last note on the romance – this is my favorite wedding ceremony of any fic, ever.  I got married last year and honestly if I had read this last year, I might have incorporated some of the wedding ceremony into my own.

I don’t usually comment on the smut, but it was so good in this fic that I didn’t skip ANY of it.  It wasn’t overused, and it was always useful – there was a plot point or an emotional revelation or something every single time.  It wasn’t just filler; it was part of the story.  THAT is the way smut should be done.

The bottom line: This is an extraordinary fic, but it might be too dark for some.  I didn’t think I was a fan of Dark!SSHG but this converted me.  It was seductive and brutal and tear-stained and I loved it.  Read this if you would like more of an inside look into the Death Eaters and Dark Magic.  It might become your head-canon.  And definitely read this if you are a fan of SSHG, period.  The first few chapters are just good, not great, but wait for it.


9 thoughts on “Cloak of Courage – by WendyNat

  1. I think of all the fanfics I have read, and I have read many, Cloak of Courage and A Murder of Crows are my two favourites. Both are brilliant but I really did love Cloak of Courage and heartily wish WendyNat had written a few more stories. Your review is excellent.

  2. Your review was spot on! I enjoyed every minute of reading this story and must thank you for pointing me in that direction. Your reviews are just excellent and helpful

  3. This is my favorite WendyNat fic! I remember reading it while it was still a WIP and I used to check back daily to see if she had updated. I’ve read a TON of ss/hg fics and I’m surprised no one has borrowed her idea of the Call of the Blood for their own fics. I’m with you… In my head this is totally canon.

    • Actually, I wonder if people did start borrowing her ideas, because as I went through the chapters her authors notes about “THIS IS MY PROPERTY TALK TO ME BEFORE YOU USE IT” got more and more strident. It’s definitely in my head canon also, especially while reading Pet Project and all the y’all about the lure and corruption of the Dark Arts.

      • All the TALK, not the y’all. Good grief, my autocorrect has adopted my Southern at the very wrong time.

  4. Okay, I defitintely have some awesome things to say about this, but I want it to be accurate, so time for a reread. I have the day off tomorrow, so stay tuned. XD

  5. Completed my reread. It was as amazing as I remembered. I especially enjoyed the deep exploration of the Dark Arts which many fics seem to gloss over. I always was irritated by this especially in fics that take place during the War. I definitely enjoyed the Call as the reason for Severus’ occasionally out of control rages in the book, and her reasoning behind why Moody is the way he is—incredible. The smut? Holy cow. I actually switched from FF.N to Ashwinder halfway through because I wanted more, and it always was related to the plot. There were plenty of “fade to black” scenes to establish that they were enjoying marital relations, but the the ones that were fully fleshed-out were fantastic and necessary. Normally I skim when every single time they boink is fully fleshed out. Cause in many fics, when you get the characters naked, they could be anybody. It’s their interactions outside the bedroom that keeps me coming back to this ship over and over. Not so with Cloak. Whoo! *fans self* And the intricate twisty plot? Awesome! I usually hate “there’s another prophecy” fics with a fiery passion because the prophecies are usually completely un-ambiguous and usually say, “ha ha, Harry *who*? It’s all about Snape now, baby!” which practically gives me a neck injury from rolling my eyes. I only had two really really tiny gripes. The first being the “everyone’s in love with Hermione and that’s their primary character motivation” trope and the threadbare nature of the battle preparations. They spend chapter after chapter debating what to do, who should do it, what needs to happen, and then suddenly, poof! They have all this magic ready to go against the Dark Lord. I would have loved even just one or two more scenes between Harry and Hermione getting all their stuff together.

    Still an incredible fic, though, and on my list of needs to be reread at least once a year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: