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WIP A Simple Act of Vengeance by Frickles - M

Discussion in 'Almost Recommended' started by Frickles, Jun 26, 2020.

  1. Frickles

    Frickles First Year

    Apr 30, 2020
    Title: A Simple Act of Vengeance
    Author: Frickles
    Rating: M for violence
    Genre: Action/Adventure and Supernatural
    Status: WIP (3rd Year currently), 31 chapters / 160,000 words (at the moment, high update frequency)
    Pairings: Harry/Daphne OR Harry/Susan
    Library Category: Dark Arts (for gritty/morally questionable MC)
    Summary: A Death Eater finds Harry two years before he leaves for Hogwarts, and that assassination attempt sets Harry on a course that will shake the Wizarding World to its foundations. Pulled in two directions by opposing sides, Harry must decide which path to walk.
    Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13540876/1/A-Simple-Act-of-Vengeance

    Personal rating: 3.5/5
    REVIEW: Frickles here, to tell you about my story. Putting aside a rough start and a deliberately murky system of magic, this story is intended to make a viable combat-driven story that is something more than "point and shoot" (as though wizards would fight like an 18th century army). Harry takes to conjuration like a duck to water, and I tried to make his battles as creative and realistic as possible. As someone said on a discord channel, "I have never heard of a fic unironically described as super!harry that wasn't a power wank until this one".

    GOOD: Lots of fights, a powerful Harry that doesn't steamroll everyone, unusual twist on common tropes, NO bashing, no lordships, wink and a nod at 'pureblood politicking'.

    BAD: Has a beginning that doesn't do much to suspend disbelief. Poor characterization of Dumbledore. 'Mystery' behind Harry's power is less intriguing and more irritating.

    3.5 for twists, fights, and throwing canon out the window early on. If I ever go back and raise the quality of the first 3 chapters, I'd bump it to a 4.
  2. haphnepls

    haphnepls Fifth Year

    Mar 26, 2019
    Yeah, I remember reading this some time ago and can't remember why I gave it up so I'll check it again and rate it later. After skimming through the first few chapters I found something annoying. Don't use names so much in dialogue. I went to check if the same occurs in the later chapters and it does, unfortunately.

    Imagine yourself talking with someone, and recall how many times you used their name in dialogue. Now check how many times your characters do it. We're not stupid. We understand that x is talking to y and you don't have to end every line with y's name.


    I read and skimmed through the most of it, and it's a nice, light read, but it simply isn't my cup of tea. I don't care much for the characters and am not looking forward to the next chapters. It's not that it is bad, but rather, dunno, hollow? I won't rate it because everything I have against this fic is due to my personal preferences so it wouldn't be fair, I guess.

    BTW, the fact that you managed to write 160000 words in less than 3 months is impressive. Keep at it and good luck with your story.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
  3. Jeram

    Jeram Elder of Zion ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

    Jun 27, 2006
    High Score:
    I'm mixed on it, to be honest. In general I like the portrayal of Harry from a characterization perspective, but I never really got into the Cheers cameo extended family side of it (partially because the name choice made me see it as a big ol' joke), meaning that I don't really connect with Harry's vengeance at an emotional level. Dumbledore I think is mostly alright (which is a difficult one to do), although the scene of him physically grabbing Harry completely broke my immersion -- I did not think there was anywhere close to enough buildup to support such a radically different reaction to canon. The MACUSA stuff I can take or leave, partially because it felt a bit pointless -- I'm not sure why we needed to get into some of the specifics of various people there if they don't pay off later.

    And I recognized that you lampshaded the "Dan and Emma Granger" fanon name, but that set of names comes from old school Harry/Hermione shipper (Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, naturally) and seemed out of place in a story where you are clearly not having a Harry/Hermione romance.

    Now, on the better side of things, I did like how you portrayed Daphne and Susan, moving past fanon cliches and creating some interesting dynamics. It's the sort of thing that helped keep me invested,
  4. Rhys

    Rhys High Inquisitor

    Sep 6, 2009
    Really loved this. It hits a lot of the old comfy tropes in a new and exciting way, I started reading it a couple days ago and just couldn't put it down. Sure, the start is a little shaky, the muggles are muggles, MACUSA is MACUSA, but the whole thing just kind of gels with me. The romance angle is well done, and beyond that the supporting characters feel well done in general; I didn't find myself dreading interludes away from from the MC the way I do in a lot of fics.

    Then we've got Lockhart, who really sold the fic to me. I feel like a lot of Lockhart fics that focus on him tend to paint him up as more noble than he really is to make him something other than a flat character, but you really let him shine through in his natural son of a bitch self while still being interesting and not just annoying. Not every asshole nominally on the Protag's side needs to have a redemption moment. Sometimes it's OK if they just rot in the chamber forever.
  5. Arkhan

    Arkhan Squib

    Mar 21, 2017
    Canada, Montreal
    High Score:
    I was so happy to find this one, read the whole 33 chapters in 24 hours. For me, it was a nice balance between new and fresh but still usiing old tropes. Also, I didn't get a sentiement of disbelief. It's hard to do a 11-13 years powerful kids right but I think you did.

    The cast of characters around Harry is quite franckly good. Sam your OC is quite interesting, Susan, Daphne, Astoria, Neville, and so on are all greats. Special note for Draco, who is the first time I enjoy reading. Sadly as you say, Dumbledore is a bit OOC. Nothing too bad, but he feel a bit too much at time.

    Pacing was good, but after 33 chapters, I hope we will get to the Vengeance part soon. That the problem with starting a fic with the first year. It can take a lot of time to get to the later years.

    For me 3,5 is a good note, but I will bump it to 4 because it feel fresh enough after all those years.
  6. Bergeton

    Bergeton Squib

    Jan 7, 2019
    There's enough in here that I rather enjoyed, but as a whole it's solidly in the 'almost recommended' category for me. I'm excited to see where it goes now though, as it seems that you have finally gotten the pre-story out of the way and are ready to start the story you wanted to tell initially.

    You seem to have pretty strong grasp on the strengths and weaknesses, of the fic. The following are my main additions, but I appreciate that some of these are definitely personal preferences:

    - There's too many POV characters. It's good that you know what the characters are doing "off-screen", but we really don't have to. Especially so when the thoughts are available. Near perfect information detracts from the story rather than adding to it, and at times it seems like you are more concerned with fleshing out your own plot summary than actually having any interest in the scenes you portray. The most egregious examples are the Dumbledore "politicking" scenes, consisting solely of what appears to be irrelevant blackmail, and the competent Draco arc where the scenes are so short I would think it easy to cover through interactions with a main POV.
    - The dialogues can be a bit too stilted and here's no need to beat us over the head with the characters intended to say by pairing the dialogue with thoughts and/or the other character responding with an explanation of what the other character intended to say. It's not so much that you cannot imply things subtly as it is that you seem to lack the confidence that people will understand and tack on unnecessary explanations.
    - The time skips could be handled better. I've been surprised on a couple of occasions when the dialogue clarifies where we are in a term, leading me to wonder exactly when the time skipped ahead again. I thought the last summer you covered was handled pretty well in this respect.
    - Beware of the fan-fiction trap of trying to include all extra-canon information that you think sounds neat. Hermione's info-dumps were annoying enough in canon. Info-dumps that do not meaningfully advance the plot brings you out of the story entirely. It's not the ideas aren't interesting, but you need to bring them up organically or drop them.
  7. Villanelle

    Villanelle Groundskeeper

    Jun 30, 2017
    High Score:
    This is a great dark!Harry story.

    There's a fair bit of deconstruction going re: old tropes, like 'What would happen if some well-meaning muggles adopt Harry?' or something which people here might frown upon, 'What if one of those muggles was ... a scientist?' So, while it takes some level of effort to not immediately dismiss the story because of things like that, it made the experience more rewarding, because the author is successful at playing with the trope in the first place.

    While there's a scientist tinkering with Harry, and Harry thinks of magic and the world-around-him somewhat scientifically, it's made clear in-story that his reasoning is flawed and consequences trickling from that are concrete.

    In a lot of ways, I was reminded of Harry Potter and the Hero's Path and Shezza's Denarian series, for both good and bad reasons. The former because of the wandless magic and muggles, and Shezza for the darkness, ruthlessness and badass fights. Speaking of, the fight scenes are really well choreographed and they don't drag on for pages pon pages, but they can still be anime-esque like Shezza's, which isn't to my tastes. Also a bit of Renegade Cause.

    I think @Bergeton's criticisms are spot on. This story would be significantly better with a third, maybe even half, less unique POVs.

    The story shines at world building and plotting, ideas taken to their extreme. MACUSA does pay off eventually; none of those characters are introduced for naught, although I will reiterate that we didn't need POV segments from all of them. While that made for a more immersive environment, I didn't really need to know that much about Batisseur and his partner, the Healing Arts professor whose name I already forgot. Batisseur, however, left a more lasting impression, and I was sad Harry didn't take him seriously enough, and even more sad when Harry came to the realisation on his own.

    This is a very rich world that @Frickles has made, one with high stakes, large scale magical conflicts. Harry travels throughout the magical world—throughout the European continent, MACUSA and the middle east—and he encounters all sorts of magic and trouble on the way.

    What's more is the political angle this fic takes actually feels very believable from the overly militarised MACUSA and the ICW's stakes in the Statute of Secrecy to the more mundane politicking between families. A nice twist on the usual Lords and Ladies of the Wizengamot and their three factions, *yawn*. Also some nice applications of muggle political theory onto magical settings, like the friend v/s enemy demarcation, but other than one stray line, it's all show, no tell.

    Also, not much in the way of muggle wank here, rest assured. Except the very beginning, but one could argue that it's the opposite of muggle wank. Few mentions of mind healers, which I'm rather ambivalent about, or admittedly creative uses of transfiguration/conjuration with gases and such, which are also not really my thing.

    Nice Susan Bones in this story, and kinda meh Dumbledore, although he gets better later on. I like this juxtaposition of Susan v/s Daphne, even if at times both of them feel like characters that exist just for Harry, but at least less so than Norm and Diane. Great character arc for Sam Chambers, however. I never watched Cheers, so the reference was lost on me until I read this thread.

    Don't go into this expecting the polish of Victoria Potter or What You Leave Behind—it's just not in that category of fic, and it isn't trying to be. I'm not going to reiterate the issues people have already brought up, and they're legitimate, but I won't rate this story for what it isn't. Had a blast reading this and was glued to it for a few days straight.

    The last time I felt this way about a story, in that I enjoyed it a lot despite some initial hangups and certain things not being to my taste, was probably with Laventadorn's The Never-ending Road, which has amazing prose and characterisation but suffers from Snarriet and its overly slice-of-life vibe.

    Story is complete and has a regularly updating sequel.

    4.5/5, rounded up. Fun fucking romp.