Seven Preposterous Things – Bloodcult of Freud

Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/9389336/chapters/21255608
Thank you to the commenter who let me know that this fic was recently posted on Archive of our Own! It is so exciting to me that some early SSHG authors are reposting their classic fics.

Rating: Acceptable Plus

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

Warnings: Violence, Pregnancy, Kink, NC-17, Language, AU elements

Severus Snape and Dracy Malfoy have a plan to flee the British Wizarding World after the Final Battle, regardless of the outcome. Severus, hand on Portkey, makes a last moment decision to take a shocked Hermione Granger with him.

This is the second fic I’ve reviewed by Bloodcult of Freud – the first is Tyger, Tyger. It’s amazing how different they are. Tyger was a fairly serious, covering-a-lifetime, mostly classic story. Seven Preposterous is often comical, takes place over only a couple of months, and is so wildly different from most SSHG in setting and tone and character that it feels AU. Pretty much the opposite of Tyger, Tyger.

This fic spends a lot of time – at least a third, maybe more than that – on the perspectives of Millicent Bulstrode and Draco Malfoy. Millicent is very fleshed-out and interesting. I found her more compelling than the Severus and Hermione in this story. Her background is rich and detailed, delving into Pureblood culture by bringing in elements of fairy tales, which is something I had never considered or seen before. in fanfic. Those parts of the story were very fun. Draco is a bit more useless and dandy than I prefer, but I can’t really argue that it’s too far out of character.

So, Millicent and Draco are married, and they hatch a plan with Severus Snape to all escape together to the United States after the Wizarding War – Texas, specifically. The majority of the fic takes place there. They live in a Muggle home and take Muggle jobs, and rarely use magic to avoid the radar of United States Wizarding authorities. Severus is in love with Hermione and has been for years, but is reluctant to pursue her, so Hermione takes matters in to her own hands. I don’t usually give this detailed of a synopsis in my reviews, but this fic is so nutty that it seems necessary. It’s also important to note that the random insanity of these events is a major intentional theme; I am tempted to write ‘this fic is a mess,’ except that I know it was done intentionally and even the title ties in that theme. ‘Seven Preposterous Things.’ Life changes on a dime. Coincidences, foretelling, a kind word; the smallest things can shape the future. Life is wild and unpredictable.

With the lengthy preamble completed, let’s get down to the meat of it. My biggest problem with this fic is the characterization of Severus Snape. In this fic, he’s a pitiful mess – no confidence, bad hygiene, no game with women, victim complex, and a drunk. For me, Snape is many things, but he is not a groveling slob. He works with dangerous chemicals, has three jobs, and is a spy – he has to be disciplined and on his toes at all times. His entire life is about discipline and outward strength. I think that’s the key point for me here, where I differ with the author’s portrayal – I think Snape has many of these traits (self-loathing, self-pity, frustration with his life, bad habits) but in my opinion, he goes to GREAT LENGTHS to hide his faults from others. He always wants to seem in control, in the know, in authority. He is no longer Snivellus who gets bullied; he is Professor Snape, he is formidable, and no one will dare. He keeps his insecurities and faults LOCKED.UP. Bleeding out on the floor of the Shrieking Shack, he still performed his duty with dignity, without a trace of Snivellus. This disgusting, smelly, groveling man begging for scraps from Hermione is Snivellus, not Severus, and I couldn’t get over it.

Hermione is fairly in character and Millicent is fantastic, but Snape and Draco are both alternate reality pathetic groveling slobs in comparison to their canon personalities. There are a lot of feminist motifs in the story, which is awesome, but emasculating the two male characters is going a bit too far. Speaking of motifs – it seems worth pointing out that the foursome encounters 2 abandoned infants in the course of the story that they take in and make their own. It serves no purpose in the plot. I thought the first one was weird, and then they found a second? I suppose the story is called ‘Seven Preposterous Things’ and the strangeness of life’s course is a theme, but it felt messy and strange.

The writing is acceptable. I know the author is very well read and intelligent (there are a ton of literary, historical, and philosophic references in Tyger, Tyger,) but this fic has a much more casual tone and the writing reflects that. Most of it feels rather slap-dash, definitely written for fun rather than perfection. I liked the tongue-and-cheek nature of the fic – the author acknowledges that her fic is pretty insane at times by having her characters joke about it. However, I had the feeling that the author really enjoyed writing some sections and would put a lot of detail in to them, and then would boredly sketch out other sections with minimal effort. I found most of the Millie sections more compelling and than (generally shorter) Hermione and Severus sections; it seemed like the author was a lot more interested and invested in Millie than anyone else.

Additionally, I think the author changed some of her ideas as she was writing. There is a mention of a time travel machine, and what appeared to me to be a set-up for a time travel plot – lots of weird coincidences and random things working out for the group. I thought, ‘Oh, this will turn out to have been set up by one of them from the future, coming back and placing things for them to encounter.’ Nope…although the author went out of her way to exclaim how weird the coincidences are, and explicitly mentioned a time machine, they turned out to just be coincidences. The story wrapped up with a very weird deux ex machina, which I won’t spoil, but it was just another head-scratching thing this fic does. It plays to the theme, but it makes for a very weird reading experience.

Gold star for a fascinating Millicent Bulstrode and a positively magical take on Pureblood culture. Those were absolutely my favorite parts of the fic. Millie’s backstory is ‘delightful,’ to steal a word from one of my commenters, but…this is not a Millicent Bulstrode fic review site, and the rest of the story is not nearly as strong.

The bottom line: A very strange fic. One of its themes is the madness of chance and choice, and the author sets up many ridiculous, comical situations to explore that theme. There are a lot of good ideas and fun moments, but for me the Snape was gross and unfamiliar. Recommended if you want to try something zany and enjoy humor fics (and can tolerate a pathetic Snape) but I’d skip if you’re looking for great SSHG romance.

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10 thoughts on “Seven Preposterous Things – Bloodcult of Freud

  1. haha, okay first of all this review if 100% accurate. And yet I found this fic absolutely delightful? I was hooked from the moment Millicent talked about growing up in a gingerbread house, and all the odd bits of fairy tales (father christmas delivering muggle born babies?) tickled me. As much as characterization of Snape varies throughout fandom, sometimes it feels like we’re all just playing around with the same building blocks, changing the shape here and there. But suddenly bloodcult runs in with entirely new materials. Parts were absolutely gross, but I was SO into her plumbing the depths of Cokeworth!Snape, and the whole singing thing just worked for me after reading 352K fics going on and on about his voice. So too, after all the marriage law fics (which I absolutely love, dont get me wrong here), a Witches Are the Powerful Ones kinda hit the spot. The scene where H and S are in the car arguing about spitting and he complains that “No, you’re actually perfect” like it’s a legitimate grievance hit a perfect note of his occasional pettiness for me. ANYWAY, now I’ve written too much and I apologize. I don’t often get an opportunity to talk about my favorite super weird things πŸ˜‰ I love your reviews. They’ve led me to some great reads.

    • I definitely agree with everything you’ve said here! I LOVED the Millie Enchanted Forest stuff, so much. ‘Delightful’ is the perfect word for that, and for the many excellent comical moments in the story. And yes, although I thoroughly disliked the Snape and think at the end of the day he was too out-of-character for me, there was definitely a lot of accurate things she expanded upon in his personality that other authors overlook. There was some truth there, for sure. He absolutely IS pitiful, self-loathing, desperate, and most authors ignore that – but the difference for me is that I believe one of his defining characteristics is the lengths he goes to HIDE that part of himself from other people, and in this story, he was completely open with his lameness. That struck a bad note with me and I couldn’t get over it. Pitiful/desperate men are a pet annoyance of mine, so it may have bothered me more than most. Thank you so much for your thoughts!

  2. Hey! I was wondering if you’d had the chance to watch Fantastic Beasts? What’s your take on it? Could you maybe make a blog post about it like you did with The Cursed Child?

    Much Love,

    Emma

    • I really liked it! It’s no Harry Potter, of course, but I didn’t expect it to be that good. There were a lot of things I really liked about it and I’m optimistic I will like the following movies even more. I should make a post about it. Thank you!

  3. i haven’t read this particular one yet but i just wanted to leave a comment saying how much i like your reviews! it’s not often you find a dedicated SSHG shipper willing to sift through the thousands of fics and rate them, thank you!

  4. This story felt like it was all over the place. I liked it but it didn’t leave much of a mark on me otherwise. Lovely review btw. Can’t wait for your next one! Your views are so lucid and well thought out. I would read a fic written by you in a heartbeat

    • We have a friend of my husband’s living with us right now which was supposed to be for 3 months but has turned into 8 months. Apparently he’s a grifter and we never should have let him in. My husband is trying to work up the courage to ask him to leave. I can’t listen to fanfiction while I work because the grifter can hear it and that bothers me. I tried using headphones but I just can’t be tied to the computer while I’m moving around trying to sew…I miss it so much :/ Hopefully he will be gone soon.

      I did get 400,000 words into a 700,000 story called The Seven Winters by reading at night, but I am not really enjoying it. Maybe I will do a review of that just to pop back in. Thank you for noticing my absence ❀

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