Rating: Exceeds Expectations Plus
The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Humor/Snark/Romance, 100k
Warnings: NC-17, Sexual Content, Alternate Universe, PWP-esque
In the weeks following the final battle of the Wizarding War, Hermione Granger adopts a miserable-looking stray black cat that follows her home. Unbeknowst to her, little Puss-in-Boots is her former Potions professor, Severus Snape.
First of all, full disclosure, LadyoftheMasque is my favorite fan-fiction author that I’ve yet read, and her stories are among my favorites of all time. I was delighted to see another one of her works come up on my chronological ‘To Review’ list. I have read this story before and did a full re-read for this review.
There is very little plot, but that doesn’t stop the fic from being enjoyable and page-turning. You don’t need a plot to have an engaging story, not when you write the kind of charming and witty dialogue that this story does. It almost seemed as though the author was being intentionally tongue-in-cheek about the sillier aspects of the story. A hilariously obvious dues ex machina takes place when Hermione’s wealthy aunt dies, leaving her and Snape her entire fortune; so they are free to pursue their dreams without worrying about finances. “Great Aunt Eumenia.” Definitely tongue-in-cheek.
The characterizations are very good, but imperfect. I find Snape to be a bit too open. I also found both Hermione and Snape to be exceptionally arrogant and rude, often to people who do not deserve it. Sure, canon Snape is arrogant and can be acerbic, but in this fic, Hermione is just as bad, or worse. Being of higher intelligence does not mean that you can scoff at everyone else as inferiors, at least not publicly. Snape and Hermione treat everyone, deserved or undeserved, as third-rate dunderheads. It bothered me. Ron is extremely out of character. I don’t like Ron any more than the next SSHG fan – he’s a bit of a scapegoat for us – but he deserves better than this fic gives him.
There is also way too much smut, but that is the case with every LadyoftheMasque fic. The smut is very well-written and has a progressive arc to it, but there’s just way too much of it, for my tastes. I think the best romance for epic-length fics is slow-simmering and full of growing tension. This one fast forwards through all of that because of the forced intimacy of Snape being her cat. There is still a bit of romantic development after he’s turned into a man, but they’re already comfortable with each other and have their walls down, so the most interesting part of the romance is glossed over, in my estimation.
This story transforms a silly fluff premise with almost no plot into an excellent 100k epic-length tale, without stretching the words too thin. It seemed too quick and as though it ended too soon, if anything. I suppose it’s just extremely high quality writing. The pages fly by enjoyable, because they are filled with clever dialogue rather than descriptions of actions. There is so much charm and cleverness packed in to to every chapter, without the pretentiousness that often weighs down intelligent stories. Just wonderful.
The bottom line: Even the ‘worst’ of LadyoftheMasque’s stories is required reading, my friends. It’s good for almost any fan of the pairing, unless you are in the mood for something serious. Skim the overlong smut scenes and forgive Hermione for being a bit arrogant towards her friends, and you’ll very much enjoy it.