Status: Complete, Word Count: 74,500, Pairing: Gen, Genre: Drama/Humour
Read the Fic Here: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5554780/1/Poison-Pen
Author’s Summary: Harry has had enough of seeing his reputation shredded in the Daily Prophet and decides to do something about it. Only he decides to embrace his Slytherin side to rectify matters.
Characterization: This fic’s characterization is very, very weird, and I do not mean this in a good way. For example, let’s take a look at how Hermione is portrayed here. From the beginning of the fic, it acts as though it is setting up some regular, old fashioned Hermione bashing. It has Harry ditch her as a friend for not writing to him over the summer, and go off to play with his statistics, or whatever. However, this fic also attempts to establish an arc for Hermione in the latter half of the story, in order to redeem her. Now, where this gets very odd is that it feels like the author cannot make up their mind about whether to bash her or not. In one chapter she’s a character who the authors feel very intent on giving an emotionally resonant arc to, and then in the next chapter she’s a one dimensional punching bag who the fic seems to take a savage pleasure in fucking with. This is a very similar thing to what happens with Remus and Sirius, who are also given some honestly very well written emotional scenes, only for the fic to turn around and bash them later down the line, and this makes for a supremely unsatisfying read because it feels like all character progression is temporary and there’s no real reason to be invested in the story. Unfortunately, not all characters even get that amount of nuance. Ron, for instance, is given standard, ridiculous fucking bashing tropes. You all know what I’m talking about, and this kind of bullshit is so common that I am not even going to elaborate on this. You all know what I’m talking about, and you all know why that sucks. Anyway, Harry is also a boring piece of shit in this fic. It’s the standard old “he was secretly a hyper intelligent Slytherin this entire time” trope, which is as tired and old as it is boring, mixed with a very odd version of indie!Harry. It goes quite hard into both the helpful Goblins trope as well as the Lord Harry Potter-Gryffindor-Slytherin bullshit, but he also does have some admittedly interesting things going on. In particular, I actually really like his Oliver Twist persona, and I’d honestly love to see this concept executed by someone who knows what they’re doing. The idea of Harry adopting a persona who writes letters to newspapers that just kinda fuck with people for the fun of it is a very fun, if not very believable concept that I’d love to see properly fleshed out in a good fic. Oh also, this has the standard Molly is a screeching banshee and Dumbledore is a manipulative old fucker bullshit that most indie!Harry fics have, and it’s just as annoying here as it is everywhere else. Overall, while it has a few decent ideas, the characterization in Poison Pen mostly falls flat, and it calling it anything other than dogshit would be telling a lie.
Plot: So this fic’s plot is, theoretically, dumb fun. I actually quite like the idea of Harry taking down the Ministry by adopting a pen name based on a famous muggle novel and writing letters to the Quibbler. That is a cute idea that would make an excellent parody/crack fic, and when that’s the focus of this fic, it honestly feels as though it’s giving off that vibe. Never let it be said that I’m incapable of being fair, because I genuinely like that stuff, in a dumb fun guilty pleasure kinda way. Unfortunately, this fic just goes off the fucking rails with the Indie!Harry bullshit that it pulls. In particular, as far as I can tell, this fic fucking invented the whole Lord Potter-Black-Slytherin-Gryffindor that has been a fucking shitstain on this community for the last ten plus years, and for that I will never forgive it. In fact, this fic goes a step farther and claims that Harry holds a set in the Muggle House of Lords as well as several Wizengamot lordships. Now, they aren’t called lordships, because this was written in 2007, but you just know that if this were written today he would have twenty six titles and have an enormous harem. Anyway, unfortunately, the majority of the plot is devoted to this bullshit, to the point that the Oliver Twist stuff isn’t even that fun in the end. Overall, this plot fucking sucks and any redeeming qualities it may have are buried in at least twenty seven layers of horseshit.
Humour: This fic tries really, really hard to be funny and it just isn’t. I did not laugh a single time while reading this fic, and I’m honestly not that hard to please when it comes to this. The author clearly thinks that Harry’s Oliver Twist persona is the most hilarious, big brained rational boy to ever live, and….yeah that attitude ruins any humour the fic might have had. I shit you not, Deprived by Crimson Lord is funnier than this shit, because at least in taking itself as seriously as it does, Deprived creates actual comedy gold. I do not do this lightly, but this section is getting the first ever zero that I have handed out on the archive. Like, I don’t do number scores, but take note in your head that if I were to give scores to this, I would give the humour section a zero.
Dialogue: The dialogue in this fic is whatever. There is not a single memorable line of dialogue throughout the entire story, but there also isn’t much that’s bad either. It’s very generic, very forgettable, and it’s really not worth spending any more time on than I already have.
Writing Mechanics: One thing that I do find to be deeply funny, and believe me, if this fic’s jokes were this funny than the comedy section’d wouldn’t be getting a fucking zero, is the fact that this fic acts like its the smartest thing ever written, while simultaneously having some of the worst mechanics I’ve ever seen from an author who seems to take themselves seriously. Like, obviously there are fics with worse mechanics than this, but this one seems to consider itself to be worth taking seriously, and it doesn’t even have competent spelling. I hate to do this, because I genuinely don’t think mechanics matter all that much, I really don’t, but when you’re taking yourself this seriously, and you can’t even bother to learn to spell, I have to take a moment to make note of that fact.
Overall: This fic is the literary equivalent of taking a gallon of horse piss and pouring a thimble of lemonade into it. Sure, there are redeeming qualities here and there, but the final product smells like……well, horse piss, is actually unbearable to consume, and is a huge waste of your time in the first place. Not that any piece of work is worthless, but….I look at this fic and I can see what the authors were going for. If they had succeeded, this fic would be a 10-12 chapter crack fic, and it would probably be pretty good. However, they got so bogged down in their bashing, their attempts to be clever, and their obsession with lordships that they completely destroyed any of this fic’s potential. The fact that Poison Pen is the fourth most favorited fanfiction on fanfic.net is an absolute crime, and I would truly rather reread Harry Crow than ever touch this actual piece of shit ever again.
Final Thoughts: If you’re into the whole Indie!Harry trope fest that plagues this fandom right now, then you’ll probably dig this, which is fine. Otherwise, if you want to see what I’m so angry about, go check out the fic. My opinion is not objective in any sense of the word, and it’s entirely possible that you could come away loving this fic. I, however, absolutely despise it, I think it’s practically worthless, I blame it for the Indie!Harry tropes, and I think it deserves its tier placement.
Tier: Not Good Tier
Written on 05/18/2021