Aaand back to reviewing things I liked enough to re-read.
Today’s review is Delenda Est by Lord Silvere and Claihm Solais, a Harry Potter fic that’s probably the only Harry-Bellatrix story which held my interest beyond the plot synopsis.
It’s a time-travel fic, in which a Bellatrix Lestrange who has fallen out of Voldemort’s favour convinces a captured Harry Potter to assist her in suicide and accidentally sends him back in time to her Hogwarts years… in just the right place to pique her younger self’s interest.
Naturally, Harry’s desire to hold onto his animosity toward Bellatrix Lestrange means he doesn’t want anything to do with her, but, through persistence and making herself invaluable to him, she ever-so-slowly drags details out of him.
In a more consequential vein, Harry also finds himself aligned with the less radical patriarchs of the Black and Malfoy family, who were assassinated in some unspecified manner in the original timeline. (While, at the same time, having his heroic tendencies interfering with his desire to maintain a low profile.)
Larger-scale events begin to move in chapter 12, with the first encounter with Lord Voldemort before his rise, when Harry finally tells Bellatrix of her potential self’s allegiance and suicide and, armed with a justification for his knowledge, finally informs his “backers” of Voldemort’s existence and motives.
(On a related note, when Harry suggests Tom as the “alias” to call Lord Voldemort by, it made me wish there was a third central character named Richard so the “Tom, Dick, and Harry” actual-name-as-an-alias set could be complete.)
I’m not sure I want to spoil exactly how the rest unfolds, but I will say that the story progresses in recognizably distinct phases and, after a novel or so worth of text, Harry and Bellatrix wind up taking turns playing vigilante apparition against the death eaters.
That said, I can say that the story is split into two parts, with the second part taking place after an accidental re-activation of the method of time-travel sends Harry and Bellatrix “back” to the (now changed) future where the Potters are still alive.
Writing-wise, the story feels like a fairly standard 4 out of 5. It has few scenes which have a chance of sticking in your memory (one being when James Potter gets mad at some over-eager vanishing ink), and it does rely on a couple of spells that one could argue to be OP, but it has no trouble keeping me reading.
Nonetheless, for all the OCs that it uses and canon characters it has to flesh out or reinterpret, I quite like their characterization in most cases, so this is certainly a case of “standard” being much more than merely “average”.
Unfortunately, the catch is that “in most cases”. I’m not overly fond of the Potter and Black children post-timeskip, compared to the Black and Malfoy elders pre-timeskip, and, given that I’ve seen others make generalized complaints about the direction the story went in its latter half, I can conclude I’m not alone in disliking how the timeskip changed things. (I find Rose insufferable in a way I never felt from Hermione and the others just bore me.) Nonetheless, I did still read to the end despite that.
In total, the story clocks in at 392,449 words, it’s complete, and there is a sequel in progress. (The sequel’s plot has a bit more of a “pulp fiction” feel to it but it more than makes up for it by having three of the main characters be master pranksters who provide many more humorous scenes than in the first story. I’d give said sequel a 4.5 out of 5 for how many times it made me laugh.)
Fanfiction – Delenda Est by Stephan Sokolow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
I really enjoyed the first half of Delenda Est. And then the second half, in my view, just dropped the ball. No proper dramatic tension or conflict, even though there were plenty of hooks that could have been used, just steamrolling to the finish.
Which is a real shame, because the first half was very good.