Chocolate Enchantment – by Vivian B

Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4706835/1/Chocolate-Enchantment

Rating: Acceptable Plus

The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Romance/Action, 200k

Warnings: Non-Con Pregnancy (sex was consensual, pregnancy was not), Seventh Year, Violence

Triggerish warning for this review.

Fred and George place a special potion into the Hogwarts biscuits; one that makes people aware of their own soulmates, if they happen to touch each other. It was meant to be a harmless prank, but the ancient and very serious potion has lasting consequences for a flabbergasted and enraged Hermione Granger and Severus Snape.

There is one important thing you should know about this rating; it dropped about a full rating in the course of several chapters, where something that deeply offended me was presented as easily forgiveable and understandable. I’ll get into it later so you can judge for yourself whether or not it would bother you, but I thought it fair to mention that the fic certainly qualifies for a higher rating, if you subtract my disgust and rage over that one particular incident.

I very much enjoyed the beginning of this fic. The ‘potions accident’ trope is something that was often used in the Classic Era, and I haven’t seen it much, if at all, in Half-Blood Prince. It was refreshing to see the crew in their Sixth Year at Hogwarts (the book includes the events of the Half-Blood Prince, happening off-screen) and to have a soul mate potion as the inciting incident. The difficulty with these potions is, of course, the forced intimacy it creates. It’s rather difficult to write an exciting romance when the protagonists are being forced together emotionally and physically by an outside force like a potion (or a marriage law, or a kidnapping, blah blah…I can’t remember the last time I read a fic where they just fell in love of their own accord.) The romance progressed much too quickly for my tastes; marriage and consummation happen in the early chapters of fic. That leaves the reader 180k of warplot to muddle through.

That said, the warplot was well-written and enjoyable. The author really takes her time with each Horcrux, coming up with clever ideas and implementing them in realistic ways. The Trio, realizing that Horcruxes are a bit too much for them to tackle alone, recruits Order members on the quest when their expertise is needed – Bill Weasley for Curse-breaking and disabling of Cursed objects, McGonagall for Animagus training, Lupin and Tonks for Ward-building and training, etc. Each Order member only knows their specific piece of the puzzle, so no one is given full knowledge of their Horcrux quest. Additionally, the Trio takes a cerebral, let’s-plan-ahead approach to defeating Voldemort. They talk about the best plan for defeating him and develop a spell that will let them accomplish that. They study Occlumency and hexes. They take a Muggle police approach and put their current knowledge up on a board to consider visually, which gives them a breakthrough in the Horcrux hunt. The Trio in this story are smarter and more careful than the real Trio, and for me, that was very enjoyable.

Hermione and Snape’s characterizations are where we run in to trouble. I found Snape to be too possessive and domineering – not horribly, but just a bit. Hermione is a bit of a GentleAngel!Hermione, too pliant and open to his manipulation and demands, with too many people in love with her. As an example of what I mean – someone (Lupin, Ron, Bill at intervals) grip her upper arm and leave bruises, and then Snape gets enraged about it. He casts an ancient Greek spell on her that shocks anyone who touches her with romantic intent (no spell on himself that does the same.) The spell also allows him to ‘call her to his side’ at any moment (no spell for her to do the same.) Misogynistic nonsense. None of it seems to bother Hermione. This makes the romance between them quite wooden, with him constantly ‘crushing her lips’ and her ‘sinking into his arms’ and other generalized romance cliches that do not belong to this pairing. I rolled my eyes quite a bit at the romance scenes.

Despite my annoyances, I was still very much enjoying the fic – until Snape purposefully and intentionally gets Hermione pregnant without her knowledge or consent. In fact, she believes that he is giving her Contraceptive Potions and has expressed that she has no wish to get pregnant. Voldemort says that he wants Snape to get Hermione pregnant in order to enrage Harry. THE REAL Severus Snape would have discussed this with Hermione and probably the entire Order before taking action, but this Snape takes it upon himself to give her a Fertility Potion, and let her be pregnant for a long time, unbeknownst to her, without saying a word. She puts herself and the child in considerable danger by turning into her Animagus form, taking serious injury while destroying Horcruxes, Apparating, etc., because she does not know about the pregnancy. Snape apparently doesn’t consider this. That is bad enough, but willfully impregnating her against her wishes is unforgivable. It is just as bad or worse than physical rape. It is life-rape.

And let me be clear – there is no explanation. There is no reason for him not to tell her. Snape even thinks to himself, ‘I should tell her right now, but she’ll be so upset, and I just can’t deal with that right now.’ That’s his reasoning, apparently. Emotional inconvenience. I would not have forgiven him so easily – I very well might never have spoken to him again. I would still meet him once a fortnight for a tryst so I wouldn’t die of potion-induced madness, but I would shut him out of my life completely, or at least for a very long time. I usually am pretty calm and prefer characters to be calm, but this is one situation that required Unspeakable Rage (while still listening to explanations first of course, which Snape does not have in this case.) But no, Hermione basically shrugs it off and is happily engaging in sexual activity with him just hours afterwards. I was shocked and furious. I actually quit reading at that point and skimmed to the end.

I have spent a lot of this review complaining, but I want to emphasize again how well-written the fic was, and how much fun the fully-functioning, fully-intelligent Order and Trio were. There is a lot of good here, despite my previous two paragraphs.

The bottom line: Read it for an excellent Horcrux adventure and great writing. If you don’t mind a domineering Snape, and the non-consensual pregnancy doesn’t enrage you, definitely give it a try. For me, the romance was a bit too bodice-ripper cliche and I could not forgive the purposefully-inflicting-an-undesired-pregnancy-upon-an-unknowing-woman issue.

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The Flight of the Prince – by southernwitch69

Link: http://www.thepetulantpoetess.com/viewstory.php?sid=3835

Rating: Acceptable

The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Romance/Angst/Drama, 110k

Warnings: Seventh Year, Sexual Content, Violence, Dubious Consent (seemed more like Non-Con to me)

The Golden Trio hunts down the Horcruxes needed in order to defeat Voldemort, both helped and hindered by Severus Snape.

More southernwitch69! I have really enjoyed the growth arc that she seems to have had as an author. I rated her early fics badly, but I did insist that they were full of good ideas. I rated a couple others ‘Acceptable’ and was amazed how much she’d grown. Here we are with another ‘Acceptable’. I was tickled to see, when I looked at her Petulant Poetess profile, that she has continued writing all the way up to the present day! It seems as though I can look forward to many more southernwitch69 fics in my chronological journey.

This one was a pretty big miss for me, unfortunately. I think I preferred at least one of her older fics more than this. Like most of her stories, the writing is acceptable but lackluster; usually her fics are saved by her very imaginative and enjoyable ideas. This fic felt very expected for the period. Hermione kidnapped by Severus they fall in love. She learns that there is another side to Death Eaters. The trio hunts the Horcruxes in her absence. I just read a fic in the last week that had almost the exact same plot, down to the Rabastan Lestrange as the friendly Death Eater. (“Shades” by Orm Irian.) Without the author’s usual inventive ideas, it’s difficult to find something to praise in this story.

Her characterizations are off in the way that they almost always are – Snape is extremely commanding and possessive, a hyper masculine version of himself. The characterization has come a long way since her early fics, but it’s still off. He’s very nearly a tough-guy cop trope; always knows what to do, always barking orders, always in charge, always cool. That’s just not Snape. Similarly, Hermione is a bit too passive and timid. She doesn’t even try to escape her kidnapping until Draco comes up with a plan. She lets Ron and Harry bully her into ideas that she knows are bad. She spends too much time worrying about physical intimacy with Ron and Snape, and not enough time worrying about Voldemort, loyalties, and escape. As a positive, the Harry in this fic was quite good. He seemed to be the only one in the story focused on Voldemort and thinking with his head instead of his heart.

The romance was disappointing. They came together physically through lust, time, and proximity rather than coming together cerebrally through getting to know each other. They had to pretend to be intimate for the benefit of the Death Eaters, and they had to sleep in the same bed together. Of course they were going to fall in love! They had ever incentive to do so. For me, that is not interesting. I want to see them come together despite the circumstances because they are drawn to each other’s minds. They are very compatible; you don’t have to stick them in the same bed together for them to fall in love. I don’t enjoy that premise.

Lastly, I have sort of a weird recommendation: skip the first chapter. Snape does something extremely out of character that made me upset and almost made me put down the fic. The writing improves after the first chapter, and the uncomfortable event does not take place again.

The bottom line: It’s average writing quality and a too-familiar plot. The very definition of ‘Acceptable.’ There is a bit of bad (terrible first chapter, boring romance) and a bit of good (Malfoys hiding in the Weasley’s chicken coop, Harry.) It will satisfy that fan-fiction itch for you though, I think.

Shades – by Orm Irian

Link: http://www.thepetulantpoetess.com/viewstory.php?sid=4221

Rating: Acceptable Plus

The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Adventure/Drama, 130k

Warnings: Seventh Year, LoyalDeatheater!Snape, Sexual Content, Violence

Hermione Granger is captured by the Death Eaters and guarded as a prisoner by Severus Snape.

When I first started reading Half-Blood Prince era fan-fiction, I loved the idea of people re-writing Deathly Hallows from an SSHG point of view. Now, about halfway through the Half-Blood Prince epics, I’m so very tired of this premise. There was so much we knew about Deathly Hallows; most authors guess the Horcruxes correctly, and Voldemort-defeat gimmicks are all pretty much the same, too. I think my review of this fic might suffer a bit from my exhaustion with this particular era. However, at the end of the day, it’s the author’s job to come up with something new and interesting to set his or her fanfic apart. This author did not do that.

Both Snape and Hermione are a bit out of character. I found Hermione to be a bit too willing to befriend and assist the Death Eaters; there was just not enough Gryffindor defiance in her demeanor. Snape was even more out of character. In this fic, he is a loyal Death Eater. I would be okay with that, but it requires explanation. WHY does he support Voldemort? Self-preservation? Actual belief in purity of blood? Some sort of Unbreakable Vow? It was never examined or explained. He doesn’t seem to really care either way. Similarly, Hermione doesn’t seem to care about his allegiance, either! Maybe the author assumed that killing Dumbledore meant that he was LoyalDeatheater!Snape and that the point was moot, but clearly the author is deeply lacking in her understanding of Snape, if that is the case.

Grumpy tangent: When I read ‘Lightning-Struck Tower’ for the first time, I screamed and threw my book across the room. I was HORRIFIED and I knew, I just knew, that there was more to the story. I was determined to find it. An SSHG author who lazily accepts ‘Whelp, guess he’s Voldemort’s man…’ without further probing or consideration is a big problem for me.

This lack of logic and cerebral consideration was a problem throughout the fic. Hermione and Snape seemed to be mostly victims of circumstance; neither seemed to plot, plan, or take any action to determine the course of their lives. Harry and the Order take the actions that end the war, while Snape and Hermione go on walks and look at star charts. What? Passive, accidental protagonists do not a great story make.

Yes, Harry defeats Voldemort, and hunts down all of the Horcruxes, and does all of the research. We spend about half of the fic with Harry, Ron, and the Order, because obviously prisoner-Hermione cannot aid them. I understand why this was necessary, but doesn’t it seem like bad plotting? I could understand it a bit more if the author had tried to paint Snape in ‘shades of gray’ (doesn’t the title seem to infer that?) and had Hermione come around to understand the reasons behind his blended morality. The Harry scenes could then serve as a contrast; the ‘white’ and how it was not really any different from the ‘black.’ JK Rowling attempted to do something like this in Deathly Hallows by exploring the darker side of Dumbledore, and the lighter side of Snape. It’s a very interesting theme, but the lack of proper characterizations and the clumsy plotting prevented the theme from being explored in this fic. Harry seems good, Voldemort seems bad, and Snape seems passively disinterested (NOT his character, and not ‘gray.’)

We have yet to arrive at the biggest problem of this fic, namely: no romantic tension. The fic goes from ‘barely tolerable friendship’ to ‘sex’ in one very confusing chapter. The author’s notes for the chapter mentioned that she received negative feedback for the abrupt change, and that she had gone back and edited it in a bit more ‘hints’ about the future romance. I read the future version, obviously, and let me tell you, there is no romantic tension (nor should it be crammed into just one chapter, even if there were!) Additionally, there is no romantic resolution at the end of the fic. Considering that, this fic is basically, ‘Snape and Hermione have casual sex for a while, Harry defeats Voldemort, and everyone goes back to their lives.’

I must focus on the positives at least for a paragraph. It’s ‘Acceptable Plus’, after all, which is a pretty high rating from me. The fic was page-turning, which might sound like faint praise, but after reading hundreds of fics, I am excited when I find one that actually sparks my interest and keeps me reading past my bedtime. The plot moves along quickly; we don’t stay in one place for too long and there is always a bit of excitement in each chapter. The writing quality is also good; you can tell the author is well-read with a nice vocabulary and her words flow together nicely. (Bonus points for including a Lord of the Rings reference in almost every chapter.)

The bottom line: Well-written and engaging with some very nice moments, but the characterizations are off and the romance arc is a mess. I would recommend this to almost any fan of the pairing as a light Classic-era type read. Be ready for the unsatisfying ending, and be ready to spend half the fic with Harry and the Order. Skip it entirely if you are looking for something deep or complex.

As the Pages Turn – by StormySkize

Links:
https://sshgreview.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/stormy-skize-as-the-pages-turn.pdf
Only hosting my copy because Ashwinder is down. Thank you to the reader who sent it to me. I will take this down when the story is hosted properly again.

http://ashwinder.sycophanthex.com/viewstory.php?sid=13233

Rating: Acceptable

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

Warnings: Time Travel, Silliness

Professor Granger and Professor Snape fall into a book – a book that seems to be parodying the events of their younger lives. “Harriet Stranger” and “Seximus Snape” must work together, re-living the events, to escape the book.

As you know if you have read any of my reviews, I prefer a reserved, scholarly, intellectual approach to this pairing…because that is the kind of people that Hermione and Snape are. For me, this pairing just does not lend itself to comedy. As a result, I tend not to like most of the WIKTT (When I Kissed the Teacher) Archive stories, as it’s sort of a humor inside-joke based community.

However, this is an interesting WIKTT prompt – Hermione and Severus must fall into a book together. It seems like the spirit of the prompt is meant to have them fall into a bodice-ripper, but thankfully this author chooses a vaguely more acceptable direction, a parody of the Harry Potter stories. Everyone in the story has different names – Elvis Slumbermore, Barry Plotter, etc. It’s a fun idea, although reading the fake names for 90,000 words was tedious.

I feel as though the author missed a lot of opportunities with this story. Having Hermione and Severus go back and relive the events of the Harry Potter books as adults provides an opportunity to get Severus’ perspective on the events of the books – which is the Holy Grail of this genre for me, something I have been looking for a long time but have never found. How was Snape feeling about having to kill Dumbledore? What possessed him to say, ‘I see no difference?’ The Shreiking Shack from his point of view. The exact nature and history of his friendship with Karkaroff? The author choose not to indulge in any of those potential beautiful drama and psychological depth. Instead, she gives us an almost verbatim play-by-play of the events of the books, with changed names.

Their journey through the last book, “Barry Plotter and the Search for the Sundered Soul”, is interesting, because Deathly Hallows had not come out yet and she was forced to improvise. This was by far the best part of the story. I have really enjoyed the few fics I have read that are essentially Deathly Hallows from Snape and Hermione’s perspective (perhaps because I am not a huge fan of Deathly Hallows) and that is what we get in the last section of this fic. Hermione and Severus (I’m sorry, ‘Harriet and Seximus’) work together to create a potion that will destroy Horcruxes. The Final Battle is interesting; our heroes have to relive it over and over again, via Groundhog Day, because the book is waiting for them to do something (spoiler: kiss.) I thought this Groundhog Day plot device was excellent – frankly I think the story would have been improved by framing the whole thing this way.

I must say that the characters were spot on. I think by this time in the fandom, HBP era, everyone pretty much has Hermione and Severus down. There’s a lot of seepage from other fics – you see things like, ‘Insufferable bastard!’ and ‘sandalwood’ that have started to define SSHG. It’s like on Project Runway; everyone is spending so much time together that ideas from one designer are bound to leak into another designer’s project. This happens in SSHG, especially in communities like WIKTT. They’re in character, but it’s missing that something special, the author’s take or special touch. It feels like ‘student work’, to use the Project Runway acronym again. Almost like a fan-fiction of better SSHG fics. It is a parody, so I suppose that might be literally what it is.

I should add that there are no ‘lemons’, no sexual content. This doesn’t bother me, as you can write a scintillating romance without that, but this fic is pretty passionless.

The bottom line: The author creates a parody setting appropriate for humor, and then wrote 100,000 words. Nothing is funny for that long. I found the first 3/4 very boring. I’d recommend starting with the “Barry Plotter and the Search for the Sundered Soul” section, as that is when the romance and the original content begin.  Everything before that is a summary of the HP books, with the names changed.

Unlikely Partners – by Dafina

Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/2539247/1/Unlikely-Partners

Rating: Acceptable Plus

The Basics: Half-Blood Prince Era, Romance/Angst, 110k

Warnings: Seventh Year, Sexual Content, Violence, Remus/Tonks

I was very close to putting this as one rating higher; but the last few chapters were so weak that I decided to downgrade it. This is probably the best of my Acceptable Plus reviews, at least currently. It’s readable and enjoyable, with no moments that really irritated me; but it also lacked high points. No gripping action, deliriously romantic tension, or clever “A-ha’s!” It was simply ‘pretty okay’ all of the way through.

I think the largest problem is the Mary Sue syndrome in the fic. There is a magical deity who is fixated on Snape and Hermione as the saviors of the wizarding world. Voldemort is jealous of Severus’ power (LOL.) Hermione is a rare beautifully bright pure soul who is wounded by Voldemort’s presence. Their love is a transcendent soul bond. Just eyeroll after eyeroll of lavish praise and circumstance bestowed upon our heroes. These characters are best written as two who bond because of isolating intellectualism, in my opinion. To have them as superheroes in transcendent love is just silly.

Following that criticism, you might have guessed that both characters are slightly out of character. Neither is as witty or biting as they should be. Snape, especially, is way too concerned about Hermione’s welfare. He’s a double-agent Death Eater spy. His life is extremely stressful and FULL to the brim. He doesn’t have time to spend entire days teaching Hermione Occlumency so she can bear Voldemort’s presence. And certainly, if he brought himself to do that, he wouldn’t be concerned and courteous. He would be annoyed at the inconvenience and snipe at her the entire time!  Hermione, similarly, seems to lose her agency after falling in love. They consider committing an act that would remove Harry’s magic permanently (for the greater good) and Hermione doesn’t even consider, mention, or even seem to think about the repercussions of that for HER BEST FRIEND. Even if it’s logically right course of action, she should have had a lot of inner turmoil about causing such harm to her friend; it’s not even mentioned.

Another problem is the action pacing; we spend almost half of the fic in the first few days thoroughly exploring minor events, yet the last few chapters fast-forward through incredibly important events with short summaries. I would say the author was bored with the fic and wanted to sum up, except that she wrote a(n unfinished) sequel! It seemed like she enjoyed the build-up but didn’t know what to do once the romantic tension had burst. As a reader, I felt quite the same.

That said, the fic does do a lot right. The Voldemort Death Plot is extremely clever and interesting, and one that I had never read. It’s something that could have believably happened in the books and been amazing. (Certainly better than, ‘Draco disarmed Dumbledore and Harry disarmed Draco,’ but I digress.)  The writer has a knack for coming up with totally original ideas that still believably fit into the wizarding world.

The romance does progress at the proper pace – maybe a tiny bit too fast, but acceptable. he smut is written well. Unfortunately, after consummation, the romance becomes totally unbelievable and non-compelling.  In the latter sections of the story, they have transformed into Generic Leading Man and Lady; a common problem in fanfiction, but especially horrible in this fic. There’s a bit of telepathy and soul-bond action, which is one of my favorite plot devices, though the payoff of the telepathy is low because of the blandness of the characters.  No witty mind-sarcasm to be found. I do like the use of Occlumency/Legilmency to bring the characters together; but again, the good idea does not bear fruit of any kind.

The bottom line: This fic was written by a good writer; it’s well plotted and very creative. However, the writer did not have a deep understanding of Hermione and Snape and the story suffers greatly for it.  The story is littered with good ideas that lack payoff and satisfaction, either of the romantic kind or the action kind. It’s an acceptable read but I’d put it at the very bottom of your ‘decent’ list because of the bland characterizations.

Ordinary People – by Hayseed

Link: http://www.fictionalley.org/authors/hayseed/OP.html

Rating: Acceptable Plus

The Basics: Phoenix Era, Romance, 94k

Warnings: Seventh Year

Hermione Granger, bored with the ease of her Hogwarts classes, begins self-guided academic research and even has some papers published under a pseudonym. She corresponds with some other academics about her ideas…one of whom turns out to be her Potions professor, Severus Snape.

Technically, this is not an epic-length fic; it’s only 94k and ‘epic-length’ (as defined by harmony_bites’ guide) is 100k. I included this firstly because it is very close at 94k, and secondly because the author is Hayseed. Hayseed wrote “Dark Gods in the Blood” which is one of my favorite SSHG stories of all time. I actually literally squealed with delight when I realize she had another very long fic.

I absolutely adore the academic tone of this fic. I feel like Severus and Hermione are naturally, obviously, drawn together in an cerebral way, yet it seems to me that hardly any fanfic authors use this as a basis for the spark of friendship. I think it’s a disservice to the SSHG pairing that a majority of the fics have the relationship begin under Marriage Law type duress. Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. Suffice to say that I was very excited as I began to read this fic. Written by Hayseed? Academic premise? I giddily poured myself some wine and settled in for an amazing read.

Unfortunately, the fic had a major problem – the Snape is out of character. Almost grossly out of character. I don’t understand how an author like Hayseed, who wrote such a painfully perfect Snape in ‘Dark Gods in the Blood’, could mess him up so badly in this one. He is immature and makes rash, foolish decisions. I can accept him not having any experience with relationships, maybe, but sleeping with Hermione without attempting to resist, without consulting the headmaster, and without considering the consequences? Getting caught snogging Hermione in her room with the door unlocked with no wards? Stealing scientific equipment (because he has no money, I guess?)  No. These are the mistakes of a teenager, not a grown man. And especially not a grown man who is a double-agent spy; dangerous, careful, and precise.

The other problem, smaller but still significant, is what I perceive as lazy writing. There are a lot of things that were terribly “convenient.” Snape and Hermione single-handedly rescue Harry from a sticky situation. Snape and Hermione single-handedly defeat Voldemort (well, Harry too.) Dumbledore and the Order are characters in the story, but they are all magically ‘busy’ at these crucial times, and they don’t seem to be planning or doing anything important for the rest of the story. Those kind of contrivances are immersion-breaking to me. There is also a point in the story where Snape and Hermione recount the activities of the previous chapter to Dumbledore, and take almost the entire chapter to do it. So you’re reading the same chapter twice, essentially. What?

If you can overlook these problems, there is a lot to love here. The academic portion is thoughtful and interesting, mixing Muggle science with magical principles. There are a lot of charming scenarios and fun hijinks involving side characters. There are some really well-conceived ideas about the Dark Arts. But for me, none of that really matters when the Snape….just isn’t Snape.

The bottom line: This might have worked well if it were a time travel fic, and Hermione was visiting a teenage Severus Snape. If you can squint and imagine that, or if impulsiveness and immaturity don’t bother you as personality traits, then the story is fantastic. As it is, I would still hesitantly recommend it to most fans of the pairing, especially those who like plots involving academia. Just be prepared for an out-of-character Snape.

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.