Tyger, Tyger – by Bloodcult of Freud

Link: https://sshgreview.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/bloodcult-of-freud-tyger-tyger.pdf
I am only linking it here because the site that used to host it, potionsmaster.net, is currently not working. It’s sad for a fic to disappear from the Internet because of an old site going down! Hopefully that’s okay. I will take down my link when it is hosted properly again.

Rating: Exceeds Expectations

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Romance, 150k

Warnings: Sexual Content, Non-Con (not SSHG), Torture, Violence, Pregnancy, Marriage Law, Original Characters

In the years after the fall of Voldemort, a new Marriage Law thrusts Hermione Granger into marriage with Severus Snape, setting off a chain of events that will shape the Wizarding World for generations to come.

This is one of those ‘legendary’ fics that I had heard about and seen mentioned over and over again before I finally read it (mostly because I couldn’t find a link to it anywhere.) I started the story with high expectations.

The timeline of this fic is sprawling; we follow Hermione and Snape from her last year at Hogwarts to the very twilight of their years. We see long narrative windows, and then the time jumps 10 years. Despite this unique construction, the words flow easily and the reading is page-turning and enjoyable. I also felt that the writing and characterizations grew stronger as the fic continued; I enjoyed the middle and end of the fic far more than the beginning, which hardly ever happens.

The characterizations are decent. It’s a Marriage Law fic, so they are romantic for the majority of the story. I often find that authors have a difficult time keeping Snape in character after the romance begins; they want to soften him and turn him into a considerate romantic hero. This story manages to keep him fairly in character up until the very end, which I very much appreciate. Hermione is fairly in character, although I found her to be a bit traditional and Molly Weasley-ish for my taste.

There are a ton of academic, literary, and historical references in this fic, which I usually appreciate, as I very much enjoy the cerebral nature of Snape and Hermione’s relationship. That said, somehow the overall tone of this fic is not intellectual or academic at all. I didn’t see a thirst for knowledge or research in either Snape or Hermione.  For me, the dissonance between the academic references and their hobbies/priorities was very disappointing.  Sure, Hermione reads constantly, and they speak poetry to each other sometimes, but the relentless academic thirst is missing in their actions and choices.  For example, Snape cures lycanthropy in a few bored, off-scene sentences.  What?  Shouldn’t they be excitedly fussing over the cauldron and theorizing together?  They don’t have measured, thoughtful, theoretical conversations.  Rather, the tenor of their conversations is merely emotional and romantic.   I think that’s where a lot of my lackluster feelings about this story are coming from; it didn’t feel like SSHG.  It felt like SS + Molly Weasley.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but for me, the only exceptional quality of this fic was a Severus Snape who stays in character, post-romance, for decades. I might also give a gold star to the smut – I tend to skim over that, generally, but it was well-written enough in this one that it held my interest. The rest of the fic – romance, action, Snape family history – are only passable.

The bottom line: It’s a solid ‘Exceeds Expectations.’ Everything is well done, just not extraordinary. Read for a unique, slow-paced, ‘whole-lifetime’ story of SSHG romance that improves with each chapter. Skip if you’re in the mood for a slow-simmering courtship or well-crafted action plots.

Advertisements

The Man Who Sold the World – by Meggory

Links:
https://sshgreview.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/meggory-themanwhosoldtheworld-chapter28missing-txt-1.pdf
Note: Hosting my copy because Ashwinder is currently down. I will remove this as soon as the story is properly hosted again. Thank you to the reader who sent me their copy, although unfortunately the only one she had was missing chapter 28. The ending is still there and it’s still absolutely worth reading.

http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=10178

Rating: Exceeds Expectations Plus

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Intrigue/Action/Angst, 100k

Warnings: Sexual Content, Attempted Non-Con (not SSHG), Torture, Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia

Severus Snape and Hermione Granger, on the run from the law, take a post-apocalyptic road trip through Death Eater occupied Europe.  Is that the greatest tagline you’ve ever read in your life? Yes. Yes it is. It’s not strictly true; that only covers the first third or so of the story, but it’s so great that I’m using it anyway.

You don’t find many ‘Voldemort Won’ dystopian fics, at least not in the Phoenix era.  I would guess that a reason for that is that it’s difficult to create that kind fictional world, and even more difficult to write an ending that includes toppling a government.  The author of this fic does a great job at creating a world full of bleak, believable aftermath and war-scarred protagonists.  She does not do a very good job at writing the ending.

The characters are damaged by their experiences in the war, especially Snape. I won’t give away the spoilers, but the slow reveal of Snape’s past is excruciatingly well done. I actually had bile rise in my throat and I had to stop reading in shock and horror after one of the flashback scenes. I watch a ton of horror movies and don’t usually blink at violence, horror, etc, on the screen or in writing. This scene wasn’t gruesome physically, it was gruesome psychologically. I would recommend this fic on the basis of that scene alone. It was inventive, well-written, heartbreaking, and horrifying.

The story is written in a tight, action-style point of view. There are no time shifts, except for sleeping, from the opening scene to the penultimate chapter. I started to worry about halfway through that it was moving TOO slow; I knew it was only 100k and I couldn’t imagine that they could resolve the hefty plot and the romance in the last half, at the current pace. It turned out that my fears were well-founded. About two-thirds of the way through, things started making less sense.  It seemed like the action was starting to go in circles, and I started to lose track of ‘whose side’ secondary characters were on, because it changed so often and didn’t seem to matter.  Clearly, the author wasn’t sure what to do next.  Moving from ‘road trip’ to ‘toppling the government’ is not easy, but it’s what the set-up of this fic requires.  Unfortunately, instead of working through this difficult task, the author gives up. There is a half-hearted attempt at a wrap-up, and then the action just stops.

The author is very gifted at writing close focus adventures with a small, clear goal.  I felt that she was overwhelmed by the larger plot of this fic.  A sprawling dystopian fic requires writing about politics, large groups, battle plans, etc. Instead of delving into those things in order to resolve the plot, she simply ended the fic and left the plot where it was.  I wish there had been a ‘Five Years Later’ epilogue – that would have provided much more satisfaction.

I did find the romantic arc satisfying.  If a traditional romance arc is Friendship, Intimacy, Rising Sexual Tension, Consummation, Commitment, this fic ends in the ‘Intimacy’ stage, before sexual tension even appears. However, it is so page-turning and well done that I didn’t mind the absence of sensuality. Again, though, a ‘Five Years Later’ epilogue was desperately needed.  Even three paragraphs would have made all of the difference in the world.

I spent a long time in this review talking about the major problem, the clipped ending, but I want to reiterate how much good there was in this fic, as well.  I enjoyed the slow build-up of trust and friendship between Severus and Hermione so much.  I enjoyed that their post-war lives were a mystery to each other and the reader, and I enjoyed the series of flashbacks that revealed them.  Most importantly, it felt like the characters really could be Snape and Hermione, and I was excited about their adventure together.  Sometimes I read so many bad fics in a row that I forget what a good one feels like.  This was a good one! I felt the giddiness and page-turning excitement that I only feel when reading a really good fic.

Lastly, this fic reminded me quite a bit of of Dark Gods in the Blood.  Shattered Snape, contains a ‘road trip’ adventure, focuses more on friendship than romance. This is not nearly as well done as ‘Dark Gods’, but if you enjoyed that and are craving more, this might scratch that itch.

The bottom line:  This fic could have been 600k and magnificent. Instead, it’s 100k, and very good. Be wary that it’s more action/intrigue/angst than romance, and be wary that the plot falls apart completely.  Enjoy the good parts, the journey and the blossoming friendship, because they are well-worth the read.

Vengeance is Sweet – southernwitch69

Links:
http://www.thepetulantpoetess.com/viewstory.php?sid=52
http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=13575

Rating: Acceptable Plus

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Romance/Humor/Angst, 120k

Warnings: Sexual Content, Suicide, Non-Con, Slash, Pregnancy

An adult Hermione Granger, librarian at Hogwarts, has a long-standing crush on Professor Snape. The Hogwarts staff conspires to get them together, but is the notoriously cold Potions Master willing to let Hermione into his life?

Yet another 2005 fic by southernwitch69! I cannot believe how much this author was able to churn out in a single year. If you add up her 2005 epics alone, it’s 700k – at least 2k a day. That is amazing to me. This is by far my favorite of hers, though. I was a bit nervous when I saw the author, but I have to say this fic pleasantly surprised me.

The biggest point I would draw against this fic is that it is terribly disjointed. The first half of the fic and the second half of hte fic are completely different stories – different setting, wildly different tone, etc. They probably should have been seperate stories, but let’s work with what we have.

The first half of the story is a Humor/Romance fic. I found the Snape to be quite out of character and difficult to read. Southernwitch69 tends towards a possessive, almost abusive Snape, which I really dislike; however in this fic, the Snape is paired with a determined, vibrant, adult Hermione, so the pairing is much more palatable than in her previous fics. There are all sorts of fun humor fic tropes – meddling Dumbledore, meddling friends, body-swap potions, charmed appearances, etc. I enjoyed the ‘Classic Era’ carefree spirit and humor and would have rated the fic, if the first half were standalone, as an Acceptable Minus.

There is a jarring middle portion of the fic which I actually rolled my eyes at and skimmed, as it is my least favorite trope of all time (which I won’t mention here for spoiler reasons.)

The last half of the fic, in contrast, is full of character study and angst. I was FLOORED by the thoughtfulness, intelligence, and quality of it. I had not seen anything like this from southernwitch69 previously and it really took me by surprise. The plot delves deep into Severus’ past to examine why he is the way he is; why he is possessive, why he is cold, why he hates to admit weakness. It is very well done. The ‘Snape Background’ story reminded me of Survival and Remembrances, one of my favorite SSHG fics of all time. (Not nearly as good as ‘Survival’ of course, but it’s a similar kind of exploration.) If the last half of the fic were on its own, I would have given it a much higher rating.

The other major problem in the fic, aside from the weird plotting, is the overall quality of the writing. It’s not terrible, but the dialogue is predictable; there is not enough wit, snark, or charm in the writing to make the characters special or even likeable. I found myself getting bored often, because it was clear what was going to happen in a given scene as soon as the set-up was established. Much of the reading felt like ‘going through the motions.’

In a review of ‘Luring the Enchantress’, another southernwitch69 fic, I said that she tends to have really good ideas but she stretches them out way too far until they become boring.  That fic was 300k.  I think the reason ‘Vengeance is Sweet’ works so much better than her other works that I’ve reviewed is because it is essentially two 60k fics stapled together.  Her writing style is better suited to shorter fics.  She has a huge body of work and most of them are much shorter than the epics I review here – I imagine many of those are fantastic!

As a final note, take the Non-Con warnings seriously in this one; non-con situations are used in attempts at humor, which I found very uncomfortable, and there is more dark/serious non-con (not SSHG) as well.

The bottom line: It’s a barely passable humor fic linked with a slightly above average angst fic. It’s worth reading, especially the latter half, but the plotting/pacing problems combined with only average writing leaves it an ‘Acceptable,’ for me.

Luring the Enchantress – by southernwitch69

Link:
http://www.thepetulantpoetess.com/viewstory.php?sid=212
http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=13575

Rating: Acceptable Minus

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Romance/Action, 300k

Warnings: Sexual Content (might be missing some, I didn’t read the whole story)

WARNING: PARTIAL REVIEW
As with many of my low-rated fic reviews, I only read about halfway into this story before skimming to the end.
If anything in my review is inaccurate or misconceived as a result, please feel free to let me know and I will amend my review.

The Dark Lord gives Severus Snape an assignment to seduce Hermione Granger. Snape readily agrees, but in the process of seduction, he begins to develop genuine feelings for the witch.

First, the good. This was a MUCH stronger fic than the Previous southernwitch69 fic that I read – The Succubus. You can tell that the author has matured a little bit in both her writing and her perspective on relationships. Much of the writing is still low to mid quality, but I was able to read through large swaths without something jarring taking me out of the moment.

That said, the fic suffered from a lot of the same problems as ‘The Succubus.’ The Snape seems to be extremely dominating and possessive, which when paired with a young, unexperienced Hermione is very squicky. There were Pedo!Snape and Creeper!Snape vibes in this fic that made it very difficult to enjoy. Additionally, the Snape is playing both sides, and the reader (and Hermione) is unsure of his true loyalties for the majority of the fic. I’m not completely opposed to having a LoyalDeathEater!Severus who has a beautiful redemption arc, as this fic attempts, but the execution is lacking. The Snape in this fic is unlikeable to the point that I didn’t care about him at all and felt that he was taking advantage of Hermione – and that lasted for the majority of the fic. That is not why I read fan-fiction.

This suffers from a ‘childish point of view’, as well. The characters are not mature. In a stellar fic, Snape and Hermione’s focus is defeatign Voldemort. They might care about each other deeply, but they know logically they can’t be together until Voldemort is defeated. In this fic, the warplot is mostly ignored except when other characters bring the plot to them – Dark Lord makes demands, Dumbledore makes demands, Lucius plots, etc. Snape and Hermione seem to have no agency of their own. They spend all of their time focused on each other. This is not the way adults behave or think. Maybe I’m just old and grumpy, but I have a hard time reading fics like this now.

I made it about halfway into this fic. I found myself groaning louder and louder at the end of every chapter, when I looked at the table of contents and realized that I still wasn’t even halfway, despite reading for what felt like days and days. It wasn’t quite bad enough to stop reading, objectively – I don’t usually drop Acceptable fics – but the Snape characterization was a huge hurdle for me, as was the molasses slow pacing and repetitive plotting. I made it 120k into the fic (already the average length of an epic-length fic) and just couldn’t bear to read another 130k. This one simply wore me down with exhaustion.

According to harmony_bites’ Guide to SSHG Epics, southernwitch69 wrote about 700k worth of fic in the span of ONE YEAR. This is, frankly, way too much. That’s 5 hefty full-length books. I wish she would have applied her considerable energies to concentrating on ONE much shorter fic. She does have some fun ideas (LOVE the idea of ‘The Succubus’) but the quality is consistently low, and now I know why. Even the best authors’ quality would suffer if they tried to write 700k in one year!

The bottom line: This fic is way too long for the quality. It’s not so bad that I recommend skipping it, but it’s bad enough that I would put it at the very end of your list and skim through the parts that bore you. Avoid if you don’t like an experienced, morally corrupt Snape with an inexperienced Hermione.

Before the Dawn – by snarkyroxy

Links:
https://www.fanfiction.net/s/2267793/1/Before-the-Dawn
http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=10633

Rating: Exceeds Expectations

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Romance/Action, 350k

Warnings: Sexual Content, Mild Violence

Hermione Granger, to help the war effort, begins brewing potions for Madame Pomfrey.  This gives Professor Snape more time to focus on his spy duties and his brewing research…and on the new bushy-haired guest in his potions laboratory.

This one was really tough for me to rate.  I adored the beginning, and hated the end.  To demonstrate how much I truly loved the first two-thirds: I sent the following Skype message to my best friend: “so good so good, this is what fanfiction should be / weeps everywhere / it feels like 2006 again / weeeeeeeeps / not even drunk / if i were i might shimmer in and out of existence and slip into the dimension where snape exists.”

The first two-thirds of the fic, the romantic story arc, are WONDERFUL. Standing too close to each other, smoldering eyes, while maintaining silence and propriety, is my favorite thing in SSHG. Hermione is of age, but she is still a student. Snape is dignified and duty-bound. They are falling for each other as they work together, but they are in denial about it both to themselves and to each other. He is called to a Death Eater meeting and she waits up all night for him, against his orders. She catches the scent of ashes and sandalwood on his robes as he leans over to correct her potion ingredient cutting. He misses her conversation in the workroom when she is absent. It’s my favorite trope, my favorite setting, and it’s that beautiful slow-burn, baked to perfection. The timing was perfect for every step (or at least, for the first two-thirds.)

Unfortunately, the last third of the fic takes a nosedive at an alarming rate. I almost stopped reading, which is incredible considering how much I loved the rest. Once the romantic plot is finished, the warplot descends. I am not against warplots; I have read some fascinating ones that I loved. It’s just that this one did not hold my attention at all.  There were some attempts at twists and exciting events, but they fell flat, because I didn’t really care about any of the characters other than Snape and Hermione (and I even found myself bored with them by the end.)  A boring warplot would be fine if it were a minor part of the story, but this warplot was 100k; enough for an entire epic-length fic on its own.  It was quite tough to get through.

The characterizations are good, but not great. There was a bit of witty banter and snark, but not as much as I prefer.  I also think Snape might have been a bit too well-behaved. I read another review of this fic that said that snarkyroxy and this story were partially responsible for the rise of Fanon!Snape in fanfiction. While I think that is a bit of an exaggeration, it’s true that Snape’s rougher edges are sanded completely smooth by the end of the story. The Snape in the beginning of the story was good, but by the end, he’s quite bland.  A bit of Snape-healing is expected, but he shouldn’t become genteel and perfectly well-behaved. This could just be me projecting the boring final act onto Snape’s character, though.

Edited to add: I started reading the next fic on my list, and even though my new fic is quite terrible, I’ve been immediately pleased and excited by the Snape.  He’s grumpy and biting and sarcastic and I’ve MISSED him.  Because of this, I think I might have to agree that the Snape in ‘Before the Dawn’, the subject of this review, is a pretty tame, soft, Fanon!Snape after all, at least by the end.

The bottom line: The first two-thirds of this fic are slow-simmeringly sexy and extraordinary and I highly recommend them. Unfortunately, there is another 100k of boring warplot and dissembling tacked on to that wonderful fic. I honestly recommended reading until you are bored, and then skipping to the end or just putting it down. DON’T skip this fic, though! Better you read it in its entirety than skip it, because the majority of the fic is well worth it.

Objects of Desire – by Azrael

Links:
http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=8755
http://themasque.net/wiktt/efiction/viewstory.php?sid=22&chapter=1
[Note on second link: I HATE linking to WIKTT/Masque because their site is so prompty and irritating – it took me like 20 clicks and re-registering to get to the actual story – but it’s the only other place I can find this story, and Ashwinder has been known to go down on occasion.]

Rating: Exceeds Expectations Plus

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Angst/Romance/Action/Horror, 500k

Warnings: Sexual Content, Non-Con, Sexual Torture, Pregnancy, Slash, Violence, NC-17

Disclaimer: I first read this 8+ years ago and I did not do a full re-read. I did about an hour long skim.

Before I started writing in-depth reviews on this blog, I used to mix this story up For Someone Special with as they are both about 500k and both are extremely kinky with slash elements. I remember being puzzled when I did my For Someone Special blog, because I couldn’t find the chapters about Lucius that I remembered. Turns out, they were from this story!

This story is about 3 major story arcs. One is SSHG, one is Harry/Draco, and one is Lucius Malfoy. All 3 storylines regularly intertwine. That is the major reason that I put “For Someone Special” as my top rating and this fic only reaches ‘Exceeds Expectations’ – the focus of the story is not necessarily SSHG. I am almost as interested as reading Draco and Lucius stories as I am Snape and Hermione, so I had zero problem with the multiple main characters, but it might be more difficult for others.

I should warn you, if you didn’t read the warnings, that this is a very violent, very sexual fic. There is regular, drawn out, sexual torture, slash, and non-con, sometimes all 3 at once. I have zero problem with this, and to be honest it’s part of what fascinates me about this fic and makes it compelling for me. The sexual horror in this fic is grotesque and the villain is unbelievably creepy, but I couldn’t look away. I wanted more.

The plot is sprawling and meandering, but every storyline is tied together by the title of this fic – ‘Objects of Desire.’ The force that propels these characters is their desire; sometimes sexual, sometimes romantic, sometimes paternal, sometimes perverted and evil, but it all belongs together. You see intimately into everyone’s world and certainly into everyone’s bedrooms.

One thing I have to strike against this fic is the actual quality of the writing. It is simple, even rough, but despite that, the dialogue feels natural and everyone feels in character. The author has a way with words; they just aren’t fancy words. If you prefer your fanfic to read like high-quality literature (which frankly, I do most of the time) then this fic might not be for you. I was able to overlook it, but others might have more of an issue with it.

I have written many paragraphs, but I don’t feel I’ve even touched the surface of what this fic is about yet. There’s just so much THERE. It’s full of smut, charm, wit, horror, romance, angst, everything. One seen will be soft and sweet, the next scene will make your guts churn and cause you to look away. There is one overarching plotline, but it’s more Lucius than SSHG.

The bottom line: Despite it’s roughness, it is terrifying and beautiful. I recommend it to anyone who can stomach the warnings and doesn’t mind heavy Lucius and Draco storylines. If you are in the mood for pure SSHG, maybe save this for another day, as they are only about 1/3 of this story.

The Succubus – by SouthernWitch69

Link: http://www.thepetulantpoetess.com/viewstory.php?sid=740

Rating: Poor Plus

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Romance/Action/Angst, 120k,

Warnings: Sexual Content, Pregnancy, Slash

Hermione Granger begins having nightly visits from Incubus demon, while Severus Snape is plagued with a Succubus. These demons are rare, but not unheard of.  But why are their demons taking the form of each other?

Full disclosure: I started reading this story curled up during a thunderstorm after drinking several glasses of wine. I was ready to love this and found it delightful, though cheese-y and out of character. When I woke up in the morning and resumed reading, I found it simply awful and wondered how I had managed to read so much of it!

I really like the premise of this story. It is not a premise I have run across before in fan-fiction. The first few chapters of Hermione and Snape resisting their demons (the chapters I drunk-read) are enjoyable.

The major problem with this fic is the quality of the writing. It is well suited to the humor / ‘Classic Era’ sort of vibe in the beginning of the fic, but once the fic become serious, the ham-fistedness of the writing becomes cringeworthy.  It is one of those that was obviously written by someone very young. No one is in character – they are simply ‘Dramatic Romance Hero’ versions of themselves. Hermione is the simpering virgin, Snape is the possessive, masculine hero. I kept at it a bit, hoping that the writing might improve, but it really doesn’t. The ‘plot’ is a weird tangle of romantic storylines, mostly revolving around blandly-written side characters.

Additionally, I am very uncomfortable with Snape’s loud declaration of possession (it seems to be his only characteristic.) It’s something I dislike in men, and it’s also something horribly out of character for Snape. This is a man who always leaves himself an exit and prefers to leave things unsaid, just in case. He may be possessive, but he would never say it out loud! That gives too much of himself away and puts him in a position of weakness and need. It’s Snape 101. This isn’t ‘Classic Era’, it’s OOtP era. No excuse for this kind of Snape.  Even worse, this fic pairs Domineering!Snape with InnocentVirgin!Hermione; extremely difficult to imagine those two together.  Hermione seems overrun and taken advantage of, Snape seems like an aggressive, unlikeable caveman.

It’s worth mentioning that the author, southernwitch69, has a huuuuge body of work and does take some time in later fics to delve into why ‘her’ Snape is quite possessive and masculine.  If you like that kind of Snape, try reading “Vengeance is Sweet” instead of this fic.  It’s the same author, it has a strong adult Hermione, and the writing is much stronger.  I imagine that ‘The Succubus’ must have been one of her earliest fics, because the writing here is pretty crude.

The bottom line: It’s a fun idea, but the childish point of view and the overdramatic writing render it unreadable. The early chapters might be good for some light drunk reading, but that’s about it.