The Amber Solution / The Amber Effect – by wandlimb

Link:
Amber Solution: http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=5378
Amber Effect: http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=7597

Amber Solution: http://www.themasque.net/wiktt/efiction/viewstory.php?sid=1011&chapter=1
Amber Effect: http://www.themasque.net/wiktt/efiction/viewstory.php?sid=1009&chapter=1
[Note on second links: I HATE linking to WIKTT/Masque because they are so Javascript prompty and annoying; it may take you several attempts to manage to log in and and then click back to the story link. Ashwinder is known to go down on occasion and this is the only other place that hosts it.]

Rating: Acceptable

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Romance/Action/Angst, 130k,

Warnings: Sexual Content, References to Non-Con

Hermione Granger and Severus Snape are drawn together following a potions accident. Could this accidental potion be the key to defeating Voldemort?

First off, this is two fics – ‘The Amber Solution’ MUST be read before ‘The Amber Effect’. In my opinion the better of the two fics is ‘The Amber Solution’, the shorter prequel, so don’t skip it!

This fic is pretty solid, right down the middle. It has a lot of problems but it has a lot of good points, too. A solid Acceptable if there ever was one. My biggest problem with this fic is a common one – the romance is rushed. For me, the most satisfying part of a fic is the tantalizing chapters between realizing they are attracted to each other and consummation – and that is sadly absent from this fic. The potions accident rushes the relationship to it’s conclusion in the first 10k. The rest is just inconveniences and warplot. Why bother?

Well, I recommend ‘bothering’ because these inconveniences and warplot are actually fairly well crafted and pleasant to read. There are some incidents that take place in the first few chapters that end up being explained and useful in the final conclusion; I always appreciate a fic that is able to plant a seed in an early chapter, and then have that seed bear fruit in the final one. The plot isn’t intricate enough to be sure that it was actually plotted beforehand – I suspect it might have been edited in later once the author figured out the plot – but that’s still better plotting than 80% of the fics I read.

I also really enjoyed the technical aspects of the fic. The author put a lot of thought into the potions and their various stages and uses, although I must confess that the main potion reminded me strongly of Veritamoria in For Someone Special, which the author even mentions once in her author’s notes. I am glad that she gave ‘For Someone Special’ credit, because the potion and its effects are almost an exact copy, with a little Voldemort-defeating cherry and cream plopped on top.

One major problem that I had is the idea that Snape was always attracted to Hermione, even as a student. I don’t find this believable for the character at all, and it smacks of this Creeper!Snape and Pedo!Snape that I just can’t stand. Maybe I’m getting too old, but my canon Snape is so unbelievably closed off that attraction to a student isn’t even something that would cross his mind. It’s a serious problem for me that made me uncomfortable throughout the fic. I wish more authors would realize that writing Snape as attracted to her ‘all along’ cheapens the fic. Can’t they see that it is MORE interesting to describe the long, difficult process in which he admits to himself that he IS attracted to her? That’s the best part!

The characterizations are fairly bland in this fic. I would blame that on the soul-binding potion, except that in ‘For Someone Special’, Hermione and Snape remain firmly and perfectly in character, despite the potion. They aren’t terrible out of character in this fic, but there just isn’t enough wit and spark in their conversations; no life to them. This is especially evident in the chapters where Snape tries to run away from the situation to protect Hermione – a trope that I absolutely loathe. I almost put down the fic in those chapters, because I didn’t care enough about the Snape character to overlook the annoyance of the trope. I had to skim through those sections.

Despite my reservations, it’s overall a pretty enjoyable read. Skim through the boring parts and enjoy the good ones. The warplot and Voldemort confrontation are interesting, and the technical aspects of the potion – even if borrowed from a superior fic – is excellent, and the smut is very good, if a little overused.

The bottom line: Take it or leave it. It’s all right. I definitely recommending reading the prequel, ‘The Amber Solution’ as a nice 12k fic, as it is short and relatively satisfying. If you really enjoy that, maybe move into the longer fic, but it’s really just more of the same + Voldemort.

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