Status: Complete, Word Count: 43,200, Pairing: Gen, Genre: Horror/Fantasy
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12899208/1/Harry-Potter-and-Salazar-s-Legacy
Summary: “Book 2 of the Downward Spiral Saga: Sequel to HP and the Homecoming. Voldemort is back, but no one know it. At least, not yet. At Hogwarts though, strange things are occurring. What can Harry do, now that half the school believe he is Slytherin’s Heir? Eventual Dark!Harry, Slytherin!Harry. Sequel has begun! HP and the Year of Broken Chains.”
Spoiler Warning: Full spoilers for Harry Potter and the Homecoming from here on out.
My Thoughts: Part two of the Downward Spiral Saga is a pretty big step up from part one. It fixes many of my issues with Harry Potter and the Homecoming, while continuing to take the story in new and often unpredictable directions. The things I found it did particularly well this time were characterization, tone, and pacing, while I think the prose, dialogue, and plotting could use a bit of work going forward. So that’s what I’ll be going over today. So let’s get started!
The characterization in this fic was genuinely great, and a lot of that comes down to Harry. A large part of the plot of book one was centered on developing his hatred of Muggles, and while the execution of that idea was clunky at best, I was left pretty curious as to where that arc would go, and as it turns out, it progressed by turning into one of the most subtle pieces of characterization I’ve read in awhile. You see, Harry Potter and Salazar’s Legacy plays very heavily into the year two trope of the student body suspecting that Harry is the heir of Slytherin, and treating him horribly as a result. I suppose it makes sense as tropes go, because this was a big part of canon year two. But here, Harry’s hatred of Muggles is primarily driven by his traumatic childhood in the orphanage he grew up in, and the hatred from the rest of the school is far more extreme than it was in canon. Nothing over-the-top, but like, god damn they fucking hate his guts! In fact, as the fic goes on, Harry directly compares his time at Hogwarts to his time at the orphanage, yet he never comes to the obvious conclusion: that children are just generally often cruel to one another, and that the bullying he underwent at the orphanage had nothing to do with them being Muggles. This is a genuinely fantastic piece of characterization that is expanded upon throughout the fic, where we’re shown that Harry’s views of Muggles have been sufficiently warped by the Malfoy family and his exposure to Slytherin house that he’s beyond rational thought where they’re concerned. It’s not heavy handed, neither the author nor the narration ever comment on it, but it was extremely gratifying to watch unfold over the course of the story, as it actually felt as though I had to engage with the text and do a bit of light analysis to notice it. And while not all of Harry’s characterization is handled with as much finesse and tact as that aspect of it, I generally thought it was still pretty good. Bolshe cut back on the number of f-bombs he was dropping in his internal monologue which made him feel less needlessly edgy, and he just….felt like a regular kid, for the most part. He wasn’t at all overpowered either, I don’t think. Very realistic progression for a gifted child his age.
The rest of the characters are also all very well done. Snape is still one of the most interesting to me, and a major plot event that happens half way through the fic makes him one of the most legitimately tragic iterations of Snape I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading about. Draco is still quite good as well. His blend of childhood naivety and manipulative brilliance makes him an oddly endearing character, and the rest of Slytherin house continue to…..not really be characters. I’m pretty sure DSS becomes a Harry/Daphne fic later down the road, so that’s something for me to keep an eye on as we go forward, but I honestly don’t really mind none of the other characters being especially important. Especially considering the short length of the fic. Voldemort is finally in the fic, and I’d say he is adequately terrifying. Definitely far more cunning than he was in canon, and his intellect alone makes him a genuinely frightening villainous force. I also liked when he casually snuck into Azkaban. That was a nice touch. Honestly, seeing a version of Voldemort who’s just unapologetically evil is such a fucking breath of fresh air at this point. Not every villain needs to be complex and morally grey, dammit! Dumbledore also continues to be a high point for me. He’s very much in character for canon!Dumbledore, and his interactions with Harry continue to be another high point for me.
I’m generally meh when it comes to Ron and Hermione, as I feel like Harry’s unbiased narration is pushing the limits when it comes to what I’ll accept from characters who’re supposed to be in-line with canon, but I also recognize that Harry’s is very clearly becoming much more of an asshole as the series progresses, so I suppose I’m willing to accept it as long as they don’t become important. Same goes for the rest of the Weasleys. I really liked Luna, and I loved that Harry was such a casual asshole at this point that his internal monologue is muttering about how he thinks she’s fucking insane, even as she’s being super vulnerable and wanting to be his friend. Really, I’d say the one character who I don’t vibe with here is Lockhart. He’s boring, one note, and a fandom cliché at this point. I’ll grudgingly accept him at a necessarily plot device to get Harry where he needs to be at the end of the story, but I don’t have to like it.
Another thing that I think this fic does really well is tone. The whole thing is coated in this sense of impending doom, as we the reader are forced to be aware of the fact that Voldemort is out there in the shadows, planning and plotting and pulling strings, and knowing the path Harry’s going down, and just being powerless to stop it. As a result, I honestly think this fic earns the horror label, as reading it just makes me feel uneasy. So well done on that front, Bolshe.
Finally, considering how much I ragged on the pacing in book one, I think Bolshe actually did great with it here. This fic is even shorter, clocking in at just over 43k words, and the writing feels incredibly tight as a result. There’s very little filler here, and I was pretty damn engaged throughout the entire thing. So great job on that front as well.
Unfortunately, while there’s clearly a lot there that works, I still find the prose to be generally weak. Not book one weak, not at all, in fact it’s still consistently improving, but this fic was published very rapidly and the result is the prose is pretty consistently mediocre throughout. Besides the occasional standout, there’s a lot of telling, and the dialogue tags are generally pretty messy. Not to mention, there’s still some weird mechanical stuff relating to both grammar and formatting (specifically one poorly done line break), and there’s still just a pervasive feeling of messiness that kind of permeates the entire story. It doesn’t drag it down nearly as hard as book one, but it’s still definitely there, and I think chalking it up to Bolshe’s status as a relatively new author is fair game.
Lastly, the plot still feels a bit canon rehash-y. While it’s not nearly as bad as Harry Potter and the Homecoming, there are definite moments where I felt like things could have been trimmed or tweaked in order to make it feel less like Chamber of Secrets. Also, I felt like the Unbreakable Vow was made just a bit overpowered here. Like, I get it, and I’m curious to see the results of its use going forward, but on the other hand, come the fuck on……Idk it feels like if Voldemort doesn’t heavily use it going forward we’ll have stumbled upon a plot-hole.
Overall, I like Harry Potter and Salazar’s Legacy. It’s not great or anything, but it’s an enormous step up for book one, and it ended with me simultaneously being excited for and dreading reading book three. If you like dark!Harry corruption arcs and are willing to read through book one, I’d give this one a shot.
Tier: Good Tier
Written on 11/24/2021