Review: A Murder of Crows by Hogwarts 91

Posted: June 5, 2017 in Harry Potter, Random Thoughts, Severus Snape/Hermione Granger

Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4407394/1/A-Murder-of-Crows

Summary:  14 yrs post-war: Hermione’s teaching at Hogwarts when an un-aged Snape awakens from stasis and returns to the school. Sparks fly when they meet. Can they learn to trust and love in time to defeat an evil plot bent on changing the wizarding world forever?

Word Count: 152 986

So.

According to the author’s notes at the end, this was apparently their first fic. I’m not sure I buy it, to be honest. There are a couple of awkward bits right at the beginning and a great fucking deal of exposition, but on the other hand I guess I can understand the need for setup, much as I dislike reading paragraphs and paragraphs of ‘who’s done what since the war.’ Feel free to skim those bits if you like – it all becomes very clear later. The story came alive for me (to the intense surprise of nobody at all) around the time when Snape wakes up.

The grammar is excellent and I didn’t notice any terrible mistakes, so if you’re a fussy reader this should make you happy.

As for the plot…well, it’s a delight. The author has managed to set up a delicious series of mysteries right from the start – what happened at Hermione’s previous job? Why is she so scared of Lucius Malfoy? Is Snape evil? Is Snape using Hermione for his evil evil purposes? It’s all, as I believe I’ve mentioned, rather delicious.

The summary doesn’t really explain the story very well, so I shall write my own. Fourteen years after the end of the war, Hermione is living the quiet life at Hogwarts, teaching Potions. Snape has been in a sort of coma since the events of the Shrieking Shack and hasn’t aged a day (I thought this was an excellent way of bringing their ages closer together, although their age difference has never really bothered me.) Snape wakes up and returns to Hogwarts, and they share both the Potions teacher’s quarters and the classes. The sexual tension is thick enough to eat with a fork, and really quite well-done.

There’s a great deal of angst in this fic, a lot of which hinges on whether Hermione can afford to trust Snape – he is an expert liar, after all, who managed to fool the Dark Lord for decades, so ‘can I trust this man to act in my best interests and not, as a random nonspecific example, manipulate and deceive me as part of his evil plot to make a fuckload of cash using Evil Means so that he can buy himself a castle with a dungeon containing no students whatsoever‘ is a perfectly legitimate question to ask.

I’m not entirely sure about one of the central conceits of the fic – McGonagall insists that Snape and Hermione share the (very large, but still) Potions Master’s quarters. I just don’t buy that the terribly conservative wizarding world would be okay with two unmarried teachers of opposite genders sharing living quarters. It’s a minor quibble though, and once I’d decided to ignore it everything went fine.

As for characterization, I think they’ve got it down, really I do.

Snape is an absolute bastard in this, very much in-character from the books. It came as a bit of a shock to me because I’ve been gorging on Subversa’s work, and their Snape is a much smoother, more urbane, certainly kinder character than canon Snape, and canon Snape is exactly what we get from Hogwarts 91. If you’ve just come from the books, though, or you’re into bastard!Snape, you’ll like this one. He’s twisty and kind of cruel, but the author hints (very mildly, it’s really exquisitely done, I didn’t find it soppy at all) at a sort of aching vulnerability to him that hurts my poor heart. I feel I should warn you that Hogwarts91 has a thing for Snape needing reading glasses (he uses them in two of their three fics) and the mental images are…very distracting. Scholarly sexiness inbloodydeed.

Hermione is a delight as well. I can definitely see this as book!Hermione all grown up, and even the mistakes in her past are in character. She’s lovely, really she is, and although I’m not sure I buy how vulnerable she allows herself to be with Snape, it’s not a terminal flaw – after all, people in love are known to be stupid.

Side-characters are excellent too – this author has done an exquisite redeemed Draco whose charm and wit and kindness blows my mind. He’s a dear friend and a wonderful person, and I adore this character from the desolate depths of my shriveled and blackened Snape-fancying heart. I’m not entirely sure about McGonagall, mainly because my mind’s eye waters at the thought of Minerva McGonagall encouraging Hermione to use her feminine wiles to get Snape to agree to something he doesn’t want to do. Mainly because McGonagall and ‘feminine wiles’ don’t belong in the same sentence. It was a funny bit, though, and I enjoyed it despite my doubts.

The Verdict: Well-written with a perfect blend of romance and plot. Give it a go, I think you might enjoy it.

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