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.