Status: Complete, Word Count: 84,000, Pairing: Harry Potter/Daphne Greengrass, Genre: Horror/Fantasy
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13013274/1/Harry-Potter-and-the-Dirge-of-Hope
Summary: “Book 5 of the Downward Spiral Saga: Sequel to HP and the Return of the Lost. As the war rages across Europe, and the Death Eaters slowly gain ground, Dumbledore begins giving Harry private lessons about Voldemort’s past. Meanwhile, someone is leaking information from the Death Eaters. Dark/Evil! Harry. Sequel has begun: HP and the End of War”
My Thoughts: So Harry Potter and the Dirge of Hope is the fifth book in the Downward Spiral Saga, or as I’ve taken to calling it, “the series that everybody told me would be torture porn so I went in with rock bottom expectations, yet somehow it isn’t torture porn even though there’s one book yet and I’m beginning to question the sanity of the people in this fandom!” Look. If you’re not familiar with this series, just go back and read my other reviews or something, I don’t need to explain it to you again. But I suppose I should give a trigger warning of some kind. So…..don’t read the fic if you’re bothered by torture, evil people being evil, sex and torture being mixed together, or any combination of the above. And without further ado, let’s jump in.
So Harry Potter and the Dirge of Hope has a lot going for it. I found the characterization to be overall very good, the prose to be the best it has been in the series so far, the plot to be both engaging and entertaining, and the fucked up corruption shit to once again be well done and interesting. Unfortunately, it is still held back by this series’ two greatest nemeses: the whackass pacing and the obnoxious canon rehash. Let’s do this.
The characterization in this fic continues to be bafflingly well done. Like on the one hand, is the edgy shit a bit over-the-top at this point? Probably. But honestly, I think the fic does a really good job making me uncomfortable by placing me inside Harry’s head and continually avoiding romanticizing who Harry is, and giving off this feeling of crazed instability that is very difficult to put into words, but comes through perfectly in the text. But not only that, Harry goes through some rock solid arcs in this book. From the first act involving his relationship with Sirius continually developing, to the second act where he’s a fucking crazed lunatic who just straight up isn’t keeping it together, to the finale where he really thinks he’s resolved and chosen his side, yet is hit with one final gut punch of doubt. It’s a fantastic arc full of twists and turns and razor-sharp characterization (and not just because of the edge), that left me extremely satisfied by the end. And shockingly, one of the best parts is Harry’s internal monologue. Up until this point, I was amused by it because it’s so edgy and so over-the-top that it was absolutely laughable, in an admittedly entertaining way. However, I noticed a pattern here. Whenever Harry feels especially conflicted, whether he be interacting with Sirius, Tonks, or anyone else who he feels anything positive for, his internal thoughts become especially vicious and crazed and just….unhinged. Because at the end of the day, he does care, and he is conflicted, and it’s tearing him the fuck up inside. This added an insane amount of intrigue and depth to Harry’s character here, and I was impressed throughout by how interesting I still found him. Here’s to hoping that this stays true in book six, but I honestly can’t be sure. Also Harry in the middle act of this fic…..god damn that was good. Perfectly captured the feeling of just absolutely losing it.
Beyond Harry, however, there are several other characters who I found interesting here. Snape finally came to the end of his arc, bit the bullet, and murdered his moral compass. I knew about this plot point going in and expected to hate it, but it honestly worked fairly well. Snape’s been tortured by his own morality for four whole books now, and him finding a way to end his pain, even if he can’t end his life yet, felt like a completion of that thread. Not to mention, it made Dumbledore’s letter to him all the more heartbreaking at the end. Especially because Voldemort lied about its contents. Like god damn, Voldemort’s such an asshole in every possible way, yet this is also one of the best iterations of him I’ve ever read. Just goes to show you, villains do not need depth to be interesting. It’s too bad more authors don’t realize this.
Dumbledore gets to have his last hurrah of the series in this book, and I think he’s probably the best he’s ever been. I actually kind of hated him for the majority of the runtime here, because I felt like Bolshe was making him a bit too incompetent, but then we get that fucking letter he wrote to Harry, and it all clicked into place. I hadn’t noticed that Dumbledore didn’t have any POVs anymore in this fic’s interludes, but he didn’t and the buildup to that reveal was absolutely fantastic. Not to mention, it absolutely devastated Harry and made for some incredibly interesting character moments to end things off. But I’ll be honest, the adults to steal the show here are Grindelwald and the spy. Grindelwald is introduced in book four, and I was pretty excited to see how he would be used, especially because I’ve seen what Bolshe can do with a well-characterized Grindelwald in Phoenix Insurgent, and oh boy howdy is he awesome! And I’m happy to say that, while he’s not as good here as he is there, he is still fucking damn good in this fic. I liked him throughout, but once he unleashes against Harry and the Death Eaters at the end, holy shit. That had to be one of the most fun I’ve had reading a monologue in a very, very long time.
Finally, let’s discuss the other kids. Daphne is good, but not great. There isn’t much to her character, I don’t think, but what’s there works quite well. Again, it feels like she was constructed by the author to be perfect for Harry, but I honestly can’t be fucked to care. She works well enough and their interactions or charming. Honestly, the same goes for most of the other kids in this book. They’re functional for the story, and that’s enough.
Anyway, that’s enough on the characters. Because once again, the prose is very readable. Generally speaking, I’d say it falls into the readable but not great fanfiction prose, but there are a few moments that absolutely shine here, such as Dumbledore’s letters, and the dialogue generally. In fact, I’d say the dialogue here was shockingly good. Lots of fantastic back and forths, and a distinct lack of redundant dialogue tags to top it off.
Finally, I have to say, the torture and corruption was great this time. There were only a few really notable scenes of it, and I thought they all landed. I won’t get into the specifics because spoilers, but I felt like they did a good job progressively ramping up in intensity, until the absolutely batshit insane one at the end of the series. Which while yes it was over-the-top, I thought it worked in the sense that it was Harry fully committing and being solidified onto Voldemort’s side. It was also creative and I found it kind of fun. Just the way it was written, I don’t know. Overall, much much better than last time.
Unfortunately, the pacing is still whack. This comes up every time, but like a third of this book could and should have been cut, there was way too much time dicking around doing nothing at Hogwarts, and it felt like the middle act dragged a lot. Also, a lot of the Voldemort-centric interludes felt insanely pointless and repetitive. And unfortunately, as a result, this means that the plot is neutered. A really like a lot of the ideas here, and there are individual scenes that I thought were fantastic, but they’re still dragged down by a lot of filler that just feels very canon-rehashy. Really not a fan of that.
However, that’s really my only major complaint this time. Overall, this fic is great. Probably the strongest in the series by now, and I actually highly recommend checking it out if you’re a dark!Harry fan. I will mention though, that despite being told this would be the entry that became super torture porn-centric, there was only one scene at the very end that I’d say could qualify as that. So if that’s important to you, I guess now you know. But seriously, check this one out, it’s actually quite well done.
Tier: Great Tier
Written on 11/27/2021