Status: Complete, Word Count: 64,300, Pairing: Harry Potter/Daphne Greengrass, Genre: Horror/Fantasy
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13058572/1/Harry-Potter-and-the-End-of-War
Summary: “Book 6 of the Downward Spiral Saga: As the last of the Ministry’s forces fall, the war is all but won. Or would be, if Grindelwald wasn’t still out there, biding his time and building up a force. And who is after the Dark Lord’s Horcruxes? Dark!Harry. Sequel to HP and the Dirge of Hope”
My Thoughts: Here we fucking are. Welcome one and welcome all to my review of Harry Potter and the End of the War, the final installment in BolshevikMuppet’s Downward Spiral Saga. I honestly wasn’t sure this day would ever come, and I am oh so excited to pass judgement on the finale for this series. The same trigger warnings on the last three reviews also apply here, by the way. Just so you’re aware. This fic does a good number of things right, I’m not going to lie. Its characterization is very strong, the torture is, while not the best it’s ever been, still quite impressive, everything involving Grindelwald is a masterclass in how to build up a finale, and the whole thing has a feeling of conclusion that I found to be very satisfying. Unfortunately, it once again falls victim to this entire series’ greatest nemesis: bad pacing, canon rehash, and meandering plots. There were also a few conclusions to certain plot threads that felt rather unsatisfying in the grand scheme of things. So yeah, let’s do this shit!
The best part of this fic is Gellert fucking Grindelwald. He is consistently entertaining, all of the most interesting plot threads revolve around him, he has the strongest characterization, and it is rare that I come across a character as badass as him who feels like he’s earned it. From the moment we first get a chapter focusing on him, to his climactic final duel against Voldemort, I had an enormous grin on my face every single time he showed up in the story. The way he ran Hogwarts, to the construction of his inner circle, to just the way he carried himself and acted, everything was absolutely perfect. I do not have a single complaint about this part of the story, and neither do I have anything bad to say about the most surprising development in the entire series: Padma Patil and Fred and George Weasley becoming a super interesting trio of light side fighters. And when I say that, I mean strictly in the political sense, because they learn some dark as fuck magic from Grindelwald. I don’t even want to give anything about them away, because it was such an out of left field plot development, and I thought it was just spectacular, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Harry was also pretty good. This was the fic where he and Daphne (who I still have the same opinion on) finally committed themselves to darkness, and it definitely shows in the number of dark and twisted things they do, but I once again didn’t find it to be especially over-the-top or too much. Like, by this point they’re both sixteen and have been basically given the go ahead to do whatever the fuck they want by Voldemort, so I find them losing their shit on the Diggle family because of what Dedalus did to Daphne and Theo, or joining in on Bellatrix’s torture of Tonks to be kind of reasonable. They’ve been twisted beyond reason, their souls have literally been split, and they’re just going to do what they want now while also trying to win this damn war. However, I did notice that there was less focus placed on them this time than any previous book, and that was definitely the right call, because they’re way less interesting when they don’t have internal conflict anymore. Still, felt like a good conclusion to their character arcs, and the Epilogue tied things up quite nicely.
Neville is a character who I’m very conflicted on, because he kind of represented a lot of what’s both great and shit about this fic. There were moments with him (such as him using the Cruciatus Curse, experiencing the pleasure rush it brings, and fucking hating it), which I thought were great. In fact, that scene in particular did a lot to hammer home that Harry and Daphne should not be excused for their actions because dark arts twisted their minds. There are plenty of people who experience the effects the unforgivables have and think it fucking sucks. However, he also spends a lot of time doing canon rehash things for no good reason. Like for fuck’s sake, Grindelwald has control of Hogwarts! Why the fuck did they spend half the book camping in the Forest of Dean when they could have been both in Hogwarts and making plans with Gellert motherfucking Grindelwald? This felt like an enormous plot contrivance, and the way it ended was deeply unsatisfying. By far the worst part of the fic.
Voldemort was fun, though. I had a great time with his POV, and his character’s journey was brought to a very fun conclusion in the “Snapshots” chapter before the Epilogue. Great stuff there. It’s also worth mentioning that there were some pretty serious losses on both sides of this conflict. While none of the losses on Harry’s side felt very impactful (probably because most of them were one-note characters who I hated anyway for being genocidal assholes), several of the losses on Grindelwald’s side were heart-wrenching. Ginny and Fred in particular were quite intense, and honestly the less said about poor Tonks the better. So all in all, pretty good character work to be found here.
The torture is also very good. I’ll get through this quickly so you can be spared the grittier details until you actually read the fic, but it was probably the most intense it has ever been in this book, and there was about 15% more of it than there was in books four and five. However, I’ve already explained why I think it’s justified, and more importantly, it was both very creative and was used sparingly enough to never lose its impact.
Finally, I felt like this fic had a very well done conclusion. While the “Snapshots” chapter was a bit long for my taste, it did tie up a lot of loose ends, and there were portions of it (such as the Luna segment and Voldemort’s final victory) that were absolutely fantastic. But more importantly, both the battle of Hogwarts and the Epilogue was incredible! The duel between Grindelwald and Voldemort was intense and satisfying, as was most of the rest of the action. I particularly enjoyed McGonagall’s moments, both against Snape and Bellatrix. But that epilogue…..man, what a gut punch. I think I’ve found my new secret kink, because heavy-handed narration telling me that everything is fine and wonderful while the story shows me a horrific dystopia creates one of the most enjoyable clashes and contrasts that I’ve ever come across in a fanfic. So yeah, absolutely fantastic stuff.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the pacing is shit. There are far too many scenes of random people Bolshe just made up for the story arguing about whether or not they’ll surrender to Voldemort, because the war is honestly the least interesting part of the story. Like, I don’t give a flying fuck that America decided to surrender because the president’s family were being held captive, nor do I care that an army of squibs infiltrated magical Australia. It’s uninteresting, it bogs down the fic, and it sucks that this is a consistent issue that permeates the entire story, because it could be so much better than it turned out to be if some of this crap was cut. I will give Bolshe credit for cutting the number of Interludes down to three. Thank god for that. However, I also have to mention the Neville hunting horcruxes stuff, because it just felt like another cheap, unearned callback to canon. You want to look at how to do a canon callback? Look at that fucking Epilogue. That’s how you do it and earn it. But this? This is just filler. There’s absolutely no point to it, because it never goes anywhere. It honestly baffles me why he thought making Neville’s character go the way he did was a good idea.
The prose is alright. There are moments such as the Epilogue that are genuinely masterful, and there are others like the rest of the fic that are less so. But it’s mostly just standard decent fanfiction prose that will only raise eyebrows if your names are Matt Bradley, ACI100, or apparently, me.
So overall, this is a serviceable conclusion to the series that has some outstanding moments sprinkled throughout. If you liked the series, you’ll dig this. If you didn’t, I’d say it’s worth getting through the rest just to see Grindelwald. Like holy shit, he was incredible. I used to think it was weird how so many people liked using him in their stories, but after seeing this, I can safely say I understand why. This is now my definitive version of the character. You hear that Warner Brothers? You and Johnny Depp can get the fuck out of here! So yeah, I’d say this is just good enough to avoid the good tier.
Tier: Great Tier
Written on 11/27/2021