Snape’s Boon – by AMR

Link: https://sshgreview.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/amr-snapes-boon.pdf
This one doesn’t seem to be hosted online currently; I’m hosting my own copy until it’s up on a proper archive again.

Rating: Exceeds Expectations

The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Romance/Drama, 100k

Warnings: Non-Con, Pregnancy, Seventh Year

Hermione Granger wakes up from a long coma, suffering from memory loss. The last thing she remembers is taking the Hogwarts Express for her Seventh Year. Little by little, she pieces her life and her memory back together.

I first read this fic in 2006 when it was originally published. I did a full re-read for this review.

In my last few reviews, I complained about many Half-Blood Prince era fics being the same. Hermione is kidnapped by the Death Eaters, Snape ‘rescues’ her by claiming her, and they are forced to pretend they’re more intimate than they are for the benefit of the Death Eaters. However, I had to shut my mouth after reading this fic. It’s the EXACT same story elements, but it is leaps and bounds better than the fics I’ve previously read with this plot. Almost all of the complaints I had with those fics are thoughtfully addressed here.

In bad HPB fics, Hermione (and the author) seem to forget about or disregard the question of where Snape’s loyalties truly lie. In this fic, it’s one of the very first questions Hermione asks, and she’s constantly evaluating the evidence available, trying to piece together the truth. THIS is what an in-character Hermione is like! She is on top of the situation; hungrily eating up all of the information that she can obtain, making clever use of it when the time is right. Snape is also in character; he is polite and protective, but from a distance. He does not give away or offer any more than the bare minimum. I think he maybe is a tiny bit too open and kind, but I could believe it in the context of the fic; he must have been feeling guilty and wanting to comfort the traumatized Hermione.

There is a brilliant and enjoyable hook to this fic. Hermione wakes up with memory loss, and slowly recalls the events that she has missed as part of a storytelling therapy. I intensely curious (even though the premise is a bit guessable.) I just couldn’t wait to uncover the forgotten secrets in her mind. I found this storytelling premise refreshing; it was interesting to see the reactions of her friends and family to her confusion and mis-attribution. They can’t tell her what has happened, because that might interfere with her memory recovery. They have to be silent and let her piece things together herself. Very well done!

I want to re-iterate the intelligent ideas and self-aware characters in this fic. The author comes up with one of the most brilliant dueling ideas I have ever read about – using Legilmancy to see what spells your opponent will cast before he or she casts them. WHAT? AMAZING! Right? The Golden Trio develops their Occlumency skills in order to prevent duelists from reading the spells in their minds. There are many little things like this; the author is able to put together puzzle pieces from the Harry Potter stories in clever ways that make sense. It helps the fic to feel like a continuation of the real books. She’s not just playing in the HP sandbox, she’s adding entirely new toys to the playground.

The romance is just okay. ‘Kidnapped by Death Eaters’ creates the same artificial intimacy as ‘Marriage Law’ fics and the romance is not allowed to grow slowly and organically. It is believeable and it is not rushed, but these artificial intimacy fics can never be as scintillating or exciting as a romance blooming strictly from common interest and attraction. There is also a problem with the romantic pacing of the fic; everything is resolved and consummated about halfway through. There is no smut or sexual content, if that is a concern for you. Even the very-important-to the-plot non-con scene is politely skipped over.

In the first half of the fic, I really thought that I was going to give this my top rating. Unfortunately, the plot deteriorates quickly after the mid-way point. It’s one of those fics where the action is resolved, and the romance is resolved, and Voldemort is defeated…yet the fic just keeps chugging along. It’s as if there is a 40k epilogue. An entire chapter about a special ceremony. An entire chapter about the trial of a minor character that we don’t care about. An entire chapter about the history of Hermione’s family name. Just…why? If the author wanted to include these elements, it should have been done before the action or romance was resolved. To have it stapled to the end of the fic is tedious and quite frankly, boring. I was so disappointed that such a clever, interesting fic meandered into nothing.

The bottom line: It’s an exciting and page-turning fic with intelligent, in-character heroes. The premise is familiar, but it is rejuvenated by the exciting ‘storytelling memory recovery’ hook. I fully recommend the first half of the fic for any fan of the pairing (if you can stomach the warnings.) Consider putting it down when the action winds down, as the last half of the fic is essentially a 40k epilogue.

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7 thoughts on “Snape’s Boon – by AMR

  1. I may not comment often, but I just wanted to let you know how much I adore/appreciate your blog. As a relative newcomer to Harry Potter (I first read the books/became obsessed in 2012), I missed out on these stories when they were initially posted. Your blog has been an invaluable resource for me, especially since I agree with most of your conclusions. It’s a huge timesaver, to say the least, and I also enjoy learning more about the various ship tropes, history, etc.

    I’m currently nearing the end of an epic Severus/Lily story (300k+), which I started writing back in 2013. After I finish that though, I’m planning on trying my hand at SSHG. I’m hoping the insights you’ve shared will help me craft a better story… and who knows? Maybe I’ll see it posted here someday. 🙂

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you. What you do here is awesome!

    • Wow, thank you so much! It is great to hear that from an author, because I always worry that what I write could be offensive or hurtful to some authors, and I wonder if it’s good for the community or not. I’m glad to hear that at least one author thinks that it is! 😀

      • Well, there’s a huge difference between flaming and constructive criticism. You never bash stories unfairly – whenever you have an issue with some element, you always explain why and your reasoning is solid. Beyond that, when something happens to be a personal preference rather than a flaw with the actual story, you make that abundantly clear.

        Granted, some younger/less experienced authors might still have an issue, but that’s hardly your fault. Learning to accept constructive criticism without taking it personally can be a challenge, especially when we’re just starting out and our egos are more fragile. But once we learn to look at it objectively, we realize how helpful it can actually be.

        I’ve grown far more as a writer through criticism than mindless praise. Granted, it wasn’t always easy to hear those things, but it was entirely worth it.

        Anyway, please keep doing what you’re doing. It is undoubtedly a positive thing, and hey, you’re good at it. 🙂

  2. Having accidentally corrupted my own saved copy of Snape’s Boon, I was delighted to find it here – but even more so to find this, which I had given up on ever reading again. Thank you!

    • I’m glad! I have a lot of very old fanfics saved because I use text-to-speech programs to turn them into audiobooks and I can’t do that with the chapters all split up on different webpages. I never expected so many sites to go down and so much fanfic to be lost; I’m so so so glad that I saved so many fics. This site is becoming something of an archive as more and more sites go down, it seems.

  3. I used to save them to my hard disc in order to print them for my husband to read, his laptop usage being transparent to his work colleagues. I have a few oddments that have disappeared at various times, as a result.

  4. It’s a good story and I’m enjoying it – as you say, Hermione’s level-headed analysis is very believable. And your review is top notch. But I just tripped over a humongous Britpick. At least, it’s not very big within the story itself, but it’s one which affects the whole way the American fandom views Snape. It’s this bit: “leaves wouldn’t hang on into November, no matter how far south she was”.

    See, American fen seem to assume that Snape defected just before the Potters went under Fidelius, and therefore only spied during Vold War One for a couple of weeks , despite the fact that Rowling has made it clear both in the books and at interview that the Potters went into hiding in two stages, the first around the time of Harry’s christening. This assumption springs from a prior assumption that trees could be bare in mid October. But leaffall happens later in the UK than the US – *months* later, to judge by this quote by amr.

    There are a couple of smallish ornamental species you see in towns – rowans and I think hazels – which shed their leaves by the end of October but at that point most species are barely beginning to change colour. The first two weeks of November are when people go into the Highlands – including the far north – to look at the pretty leaves on the trees, and if the stripped-bare woodland where Snape defected was in the UK then unless there’d been a hurricane or something it was no earlier than late November, and more probably December or January. Hell, in southern Scotland you sometimes get roses still blooming in the first half of December (and I mean still coming out of the bud, not just a few tatty petals hanging on). So Snape defected between late November 1980 and early March 1981 (before the new season’s buds come out), not October 1981, and spied for nearly a year.

    Also the house at Spinner’s End is enormously too big as described in this fic, unless it’s been expanded into wizard space. It’s pretty clear from the description in the books that Snape’s house is a typical “two up, two down” – two storeys high and maybe 16ft wide and 22ft from front to back, with a kitchen and living room downstairs, two bedrooms upstairs with an upstairs ;landing about 3ft square, and an outside loo in a shed in the back yard – although they might have had a loft conversion or small extension added to take an indoor bathroom. It’s not important to the plot so far as I’ve got, except insofar as the description of the house makes the Snapes seem much more wealthy than we see that they were. The description sounds more like a house a stockbroker or a lawyer would live in.

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