Book III: Harry Potter and the Death Eater Menace

By The Sinister Man

Status: Complete, Word Count: 585,900, Pairing: Unknown, Genre: Adventure/Mystery

Read the Fic Here: https://archiveofourown.org/works/15833898

Author’s Summary: Azkaban has been broken into and the supposed ‘right hand’ of the Dark Lord; Sirius Black is now at large. With the Wizarding World plunged into a frenzy of fear, Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry shall play host to the Dementors of Azkaban.

My Thoughts:
Characterization: You all thought The Secret Enemy had a lot of characters? You haven’t seen nothing yet, fucker! Let’s start with Theo No-Name this time, and I’m happy to say that he has a character this time! The ultimate sanction is a fascinating idea that has a shit ton of dramatic weight behind it, and does so much to make Theo an interesting character, and I am so happy about it! I have spent two entire books wanting to like his character (and not just because he has the same name as my internet name), and I can finally do that! All the stuff that hinted at interesting character development is still there, except now he’s an actually cool character too! I fucking love it, and I love the way that his and Neville’s arcs come to a head together in the Hunting of Sirius Black arc. Speaking of Neville, this is easily the best written Neville I have seen in any Harry Potter property, including canon. His motivations make sense, his decisions are understandable, and it has one of the best payoffs I’ve ever seen in a fic. It’s just…..it’s so fucking good. Speaking of great characters, Peter fucking Pettigrew! I don’t really think I even mentioned Pettigrew in either of my two previous reviews, but….he was always there, and I thought he made a descent background antagonist. It was interesting to see the various ways he would manipulate people like Jim and James, and I generally thought he was a serviceable, decently intimidating villain. However, this all changes in Death Eater Menace. This book’s Pettigrew is a brilliant, sinister mastermind who essentially wins in the end, and he gets what is, in my opinion, the coolest villain moment in the series thus far: the King of the Rats chapter. Those of you who’ve read it know what I’m referring to, but it’s one of the strongest chapters in Death Eater Menace, and I absolutely adore it. Another character who I think works pretty well is Jim. I don’t like him quite as much as I do in year one and two, but I think The Sinister Man does a fairly good job giving him interesting stuff to do throughout the book, and I really like his bond with Remus. Speaking of Remus, I think he’s also good. I’m a big fan of the explanation given for why he wasn’t kicking around Britain for the previous two books, and I also think he has a fairly serviceable character arc that works pretty well. He also works as a fantastic excuse to build the world up in some really interesting ways. Speaking of world-building, Padma and Parvati Patil are characters now, and it’s absolutely great! Neither of them get tons to do, but they’re both still fairly interesting to read about, and The Sinister Man’s way of taking minor characters and making them interesting is one of my favorite parts of his writing. I think James is absolutely fantastic in this. He has some truly outstanding character moments, and I think it’s insanely impressive that TSM managed to do what he did with James in this book without having it come off like bashing. By the end, all of James’s actions make sense, even if many of them are rather detestable. Unfortunately, I think Lily falters a bit in this one. She’s alright, but….her characterization is decidedly weaker than it was in The Secret Enemy. Moving further into this endless list of characters, I think Hermione is absolutely fantastic in this fic. Having Hermione start a student activation group called SPAM is a ballsy move on TSM’s part, because of canon’s….let’s go with awkward handling of SPEW. However, I think it works really, really well here, and does an absolutely fantastic job of giving depth to an entire plethora of characters. Essentially, Hermione’s character in Death Eater Menace makes Daphne Greengrass, Tracey Davis, Cedric Diggory, Cho Chang, Anthony Goldstein, Kevin Entwhistle and Sue Li all have enough depth to warrant being mentioned in this review, and that’s hella impressive. The SPAM vs. HCPS pranking war is some of the best “kid politician” shit I’ve ever seen in a Harry Potter fanfic, and you cannot change my mind. I know that TSM’s choice to have Hermione play so directly into the finale of DEM is a bit controversial, but I like it quite a bit, because it does a lot to give validity to my personal PoS theory regarding free will, or lack thereof, I suppose. Moving on, Alastor Moody is also given a fair amount of character depth in this fic, and multiple of the best scenes in the entire series come from this book and revolve around him. Those of you have read the fic all know what pensieve memory I’m thinking of. Blaise Zabini continues to improve, and his mother is certainly more interesting in DEM than she was in either of the previous two books, but I still feel like his character could use a little bit more of an arc. Maybe Resurrection Game will do better. Speaking of better arcs, Sirius, Regulus, and Snape are all fucking fantastic in this fic! Their arcs all kind of interweave together, but the end result is insanely impressive. Also, a lot of the comedic scenes in year three come from Snape and Sirius’ interactions, especially a particular scene involving Dobby. Regulus and Sirius are probably the best example in the entire fic of characters having natural, plausible conflict based purely on their respective beliefs and past actions, and I love it. I fucking live for that shit, and it annoys me to no end that more authors don’t go for this kind of thing. Oh Jesus, there’s more to talk about. So….Bellatrix has an interesting character in this fic, and while it’s not a conflict that goes on for an especially long time, it also allows for Augusta fucking Longbottom of all people to have one of the most compelling character moments in the whole series so far. So…..I think that’s all the major arcs. However, I can’t end this without mentioning Augustus Rookwood, who is, without a doubt, one of the most intimidating characters I’ve ever encountered in a fanfic. Some of the fucking shit we see him do in this fic is gruesome, and I absolutely love it. Also, the map versions of the Marauders have some pretty interesting shit going on, and I feel bad for skipping Ron, Fred, George, Molly, Arthur, and Percy, because they also all have some pretty interesting character arcs, and who am I kidding, I’m not fucking skipping any of these characters! Ron’s arc meshes really well with Jim’s character, and I think it works great. Fred and George’s conflict is really interesting and totally plausible and I think it resolves in an absolutely fascinating character moment, this iteration of Percy is my favorite version of his character to ever be written, and Molly and Arthur’s little good parenting arc is pretty cute. Oh that reminds me that Ginny has actual things to do this time, and I love that, and Amy Wilkes is interesting enough to be worth mentioning, and also Goyle has a really interesting bit of characterization, and….oh lord I’ll be going on all day. I guess I’ll just close out by saying that the Selwyn family finally gets a proper introductions, and holy fucking shit they rival Rookwood in terms of intimidation factor, and the Carrow Twins are so fucked up, and I love them all so damn much. Look, you don’t have to have countless well developed, interesting characters to be a good story, and I’d argue that most stories don’t have that and are better off as a result. However, the fact that DEM manages to juggle this much shit and still be fantastic is impressive as fuck and definitely worth praising.

Action: Death Eater Menace has an insane number of fantastic action sequences that accomplish so many things at once, and the only way to do them justice is to go through the prominent ones one by one. Let’s start with the Hogsmeade chapters, which are a perfect example of large, expansive action done right. There’s an insane amount of stuff going on in this scene, and what I consider to be most impressive is how much work must have gone into it all to make sure it makes sense, because it does. I’ve read this scene at least ten different times, and I have never been able to find anything wrong with it. It also ends with one of my favorite badass character moments in the entire series. Those of you who’ve read this fic know what I’m talking about. Next up we have the Snape Bellatrix Legilimency scene, which is probably the most creative action sequence TSM has ever come up with. Oh and also gruesome, did I mention gruesome? “Bathe in your love’s warm glow” indeed. Jesus Christ, it works so fucking well. Next up we have Moody’s pensieve memories, which…remember how I called the Legilimency scene gruesome a second ago? Well that has nothing on this. It’s so fucking well written, and it blows me away every time I reread it. Then there’s the hunting of Sirius Black which is easily the most character driven action sequence of the entire series so far. Then there’s King of the Rats which is one of the best villain chapters I’ve ever seen, and finally there’s the two different Shrieking Shack sequences, which basically consists of The Sinister deciding to write a thriller for a bit. I love all of these scenes, and I wouldn’t change any of them in any way.

Plot: So Death Eater Menace has one of the best plots I’ve ever read in a fanfic. It’s insanely intricate, absolutely nails the whole setup and payoff thing, has some interesting things to say about prejudice and politics, and (SPOILERS) is a time travel story, which is one of my favorite storytelling devices out there (END OF SPOILERS). Now, I won’t really go through the entire plot because if I did we’d be here all day, but I will say that I think that, for the most part, it works really well. It resolves everything it needs to, it doesn’t really leave anything too important dangling (unless it’s setup for a future book), and I think it’s an incredibly satisfying read. However, I will say that I think it’d be better if some of the six opening Prelude chapters closed out The Secret Enemy instead, because it would not only shorten Death Eater Menace again, but it’d also just serve as a nice little cliff hanger between books, which I think is always nice. Overall, I’ll admit that there are probably a few things that can be trimmed here and there, but I also don’t really care, because I find reading it to be insanely satisfying, so I’ll compromise and dock a point for it. Also this fic gets bonus points for the april fools chapter, which is one of my favorite things ever.

Dialogue: The dialogue is great throughout. I really enjoy TSM’s writing style, so I understand if it doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me, and this is my review, so shush. I could probably count the number of lines that don’t land for me on one hand, and in a 500k word fic, that is an impressive achievement.

Writing Mechanics: Like every fanfic out there, this fic definitely has some errors here and there, but there aren’t very many of them, and they don’t really detract from the reading experience that much.

Overall: Wow. Harry Potter and the Death Eater Menace is an experience to read. It’s over half a million words long, and I honestly would barely change a thing about it. There are many, many compelling character arcs in this story, but my favorite will always be Neville’s. Although, I have to say that Hermione’s is pretty cool as well. The three stand out chapters in this story are the Hogsmeade chapters, the Hunting of SIrius Black saga, and the King of the Rats, but there are many other fantastic ones. Book III of the Prince of Slytherin is the best one yet (by a very narrow margin), and I honestly cannot wait to see where Book IV goes.

Final Thoughts: If you like action, thrillers, horror, good characters, funny jokes, or terrifying villains, Death Eater Menace is the fic for you!

Tier: Crusade-Worthy

Thoughts on Book II:

Thoughts on Book IV:

Thoughts on the Series:

Written on 05/20/2021

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