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Complete Kali Black and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Hemlockconium - T

Discussion in 'Trash Bin' started by Only Darkness, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. Only Darkness

    Only Darkness Squib

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2019
    Messages:
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    Title: Kali Black and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Author: Hemlockconium
    Rating: T
    Genre: Adventure/Friendship
    Status: Complete (118,952 words)
    Library Category: Alternates
    Pairings: None
    Summary: When Sirius Black escapes from Azkaban, the first place the Aurors look for him is on the other side of the Atlantic where his daughter and her godfather are trying to get on with their lives. A moral dilemma is placed upon Kali Black and Remus Lupin as they decide where their loyalties lie.
    Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/13174772/1/Kali-Black-and-the-Prisoner-of-Azkaban

    I’m not generally a fan of OCs, and I was prepared for disappointment when I first started in on this fic, but I’m glad I gave this story a chance.

    I'm a huge fan of the Sirius Black has a kid trope, but the stories I read are often disappointing with OCs that are plain old Mary Sues, plots that are boring and revolve solely around showing what a wonderful person said Mary Sue is, characters from the books who are barely recognizable, chalk-filled with spelling and grammar mistakes to the point where I can't even make it through the first chapter.

    But this story is everything I have ever wanted from Sirius' daughter.

    It’s set in Harry’s third year with multiple POVs, giving multiple perspectives of everything that happened that year. It pretty much follows the plot of the book, give or take a few details, but seeing it all happen through the eyes of different background characters provides the story with a ‘behind the scenes’ vibe. Characters that barely get a mention in the books are given fleshed out background stories, but other characters like Hermione and the Weasley twins also get their fair share of screen time.

    The main character, Kali Black, is engaging and charismatic, exactly as Sirius' daughter should be, her personality has depth, and a darker side that I imagine will pop up more frequently as the story progresses into the darker books. Her relationship with the other characters is so good, she's not immediately BFFs with everyone, her crush doesn't like her back (yet?), and not everyone is her biggest fan. She's perhaps a little more mature than I'd expect from a thirteen-year-old, but that isn't actually all that surprising given the way she grew up. Her intelligence and confrontational nature may seem a little evolved for someone her age, but with the family she has I expect that Remus taught her that knowledge is important, and that her grandmother taught her to stand up for what she believes in. All in all, every action Kali takes and every decision she makes all make sense, there's a rhyme and reason behind all of it! She’s a fascinating character. Her intelligence, charm and wit are what you would expect being her father's daughter, but she is also different enough to be completely her own person.

    We’re introduced to Pan, Kali’s daemon, in the first chapter. This is an addition from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials’ books, a shape-shifting creature that is the physical manifestation of a person’s soul. The author has taken a few liberties with that concept, possibly drawing from the original Greek mythology. I was a little wary about Pan at first, but the author really makes it work, using him to further the plot and Kali’s thoughts, also giving him a personality separate from Kali’s.

    This story has great spelling/grammar/punctuation, it’s extremely well written, to the point where I would actually keep on reading even if the plot held no interest for me. It feels like stepping right back into the early Harry Potter universe, only from a different angle. It intermingles a new story with the original source material, adding interesting layers to the dynamicofJ.K. Rowling’s narrative rather than changing it up completely.

    It’s a complex and thoroughly entertaining fanfic that I recommend, and that should definitely not be dismissed due to the OC! 4/5 from me!
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2019
  2. Zansa

    Zansa Fourth Year

    Joined:
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    Yeah, no. The only redeeming feature is that the author has a grip on basic grammar and sentence structure. 1/5.
     
  3. Tomster10010

    Tomster10010 Third Year

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2011
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    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I was really hoping it was as good as you said it was but it's SI/OC Mary Sue trash. I got like 25k words into it and had to stop; the OC isn't just pretty but beautiful, not just smart but a genius that was top of her class in six different schools and solved the entire plot of PoA before coming to the UK. She's a martial artist and has a super shape-shifting familiar and cites research papers in everyday conversation. And her grandmother is basically Dumbledore but smarter. And she's a parselmouth and descended from Slytherin.

    Most of these things could be redeemable individually or even in small groups, but she has all these qualities and literally no faults and everyone likes her except the people who are obviously bad and evil.

    1.5->2/5
     
  4. Anarchy

    Anarchy Half-Blood Prince DLP Supporter

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    If it's that shitty, how does it even rate a 2?
     
  5. Naomi Lee

    Naomi Lee Muggle

    Joined:
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    The first comment is correct in that the grammar and sentence structure is good—well above average, in fact. But to say that it’s the only redeemable feature is inaccurate. This story is faithful to the original ethos of the HP universe, so it really does feel like stepping back into the books only this time from a different angle. The first chapter is a little jumpy (not the word I’m looking for but it’s late and I’m too tired to think) but not irredeemably so, and the next chapters make up for it—the second one, for instance, has some truly wonderful descriptive paragraphs, and the fifth one (I think) deals very maturely with a social issue that shook the HP fandom a while back. That’s just two examples, there are many more. The story line is clearly well thought out, it’s very organized and flows quite seamlessly. Characterization is good, and mostly beyond reproach, slightly less so with Remus (which might explain the issues with the first chapter), Snape and Dumbledore, although with the latter two it’s more a matter of opinion. The OCs are great, though. The grandmother is written as autistic (more noticeable in the sequel, but I hit myself for not noticing during her appearances in this story) so major representation points there. Kali strikes me as a really fascinating character, she’s exactly what I’d expect of Sirius Black’s daughter, with a father like that, of course, she’s beautiful and intelligent and charming! Plus she was raised by Remus Lupin so citing research papers is hardly that surprising. Male characters are often allowed to be and praised for being handsome, intelligent, charismatic, special (think Sirius or Tom Riddle in the hp universe) but the minute a girl gets to be those things everyone’s getting their hackles up. So it’s 4/5 from me.
     
  6. Blorcyn

    Blorcyn Minister of Magic DLP Supporter DLP Silver Supporter

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    @Naomi Lee You joined on Saturday when the review was posted and this is your only message. May I ask, is there any particular reason - are you the author or beta or something like that?

    I'll read this at some point today, a bit, and share some initial thoughts.

    Edit: And welcome, always nice to see people reviewing :)

    General opinion:

    So I don't like this. I read until the end of the fifth chapter, and I wanted to stop much earlier than that. I didn't like the main character, and the tropes were not to my subjective taste. I feel she was Mary-sue. I feel it didn't capture the ethos of Harry Potter, and I think it was a simplistic affair. I'd probably rate it 2/5. It is well written from a copy-edit point of view, and there was some good in its scenery description. However, its plot and main protagonists were not compelling. I could not maintain my suspension of disbelief, and I was very quickly tired of reading the prose, therefore it fails as a story for me.

    The good:

    It is well written. Across the five chapters I read, I only saw one inappropriate possessive apostrophe, and nothing else at all in terms of technical error was noticed.

    Some of the descriptions I enjoyed. The Leaky Cauldron, Hogwarts, the alley and jumping puddles in the rain. Some of the scene descriptions were quite evocative.

    The bad:

    I think it fails as a story, or it likely will if I were to continue reading in many stylistic and higher level ways, that ultimately prevent it from being good in any meaningful sense.

    1) It's too simplistic a prose. It's a running stream of description and dialogue without any attempt at pruning or making this more concise or thinking how best to effect change in the people involved, or foreshadow weakness or convey information about readers in a way that isn't straight exposition. It's a shame we can't copy and paste, but most egregious I think were Draco and Gang's reaction to her respect for muggles and blood purity, and her Grandmother's very tedious post-ministry trip down memory lane - Why did we need all that information then? I'd much rather character was shown by opposition or action than exposition.

    2) Characterisation - from the opening scene with the aurors to the Ravenclaw in Chapter five, none of the minor characters feel human. Law-enforcers whose mouths hang open because someone argued with them and threatened to sue them? Holy moly, indeed. In order to heighten the MC's traits, the MC wasn't displayed to be exceptional. Rather, everyone else was forced to be idiotic and so a relative gap was created. This applies to Albus Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Fudge. I mean I can see why Fudge is canonically an idiot, but his idiotic is specific to a crisis he can't cope with. Remember how he was before he took on Harry, in our actual first meeting with him in POA he was just pompous and not particularly interested in Harry's issues while trying to be convivial. Here, we are informed that he was unable to hold a conversation with an 11 year old about the political issues in Britain at that time. Sheesh.

    3) Pan - I appreciate the daemon is clarified to be a magical creature she picked up somewhere, later, but it's not addressed at all for the reader at the start. He's named the same. He acts the same. The rules seem the same. He's directly cribbed from His Dark Materials - for no reason. Two mumbo jumbos without it being Plot/Design critical is a big red flag for me.

    4) Kali Kalaua Morrigan Lupin Black - the lady with four surnames. She can cast magical fire wandlessly. She's an authorial mouthpiece for the author regarding Native American appropriation to a British audience. She's down with the Muggles, and always has a reference on hand to back up her argument. She leaves adults floored with her sensible and infallible arguments. She has Pan, a magical shape shifting telepathic daemon whose mind and senses she can use at will. She's been to more magical schools than I think I've had hot meals. She has arrived, flawlessly, at the conclusions of canon regarding the important revelations of PoA. She has studied various Martial Arts since age five. She leaves transfiguration professors reeling. She thinks being a Gryffindor would be too easy. Her Grandmother is fantastically wealthy, schedules private jets, uses telephones because owls are too slow, is taller than Dumbledore and so both physically and metaphorically looks down on him and was the witch who tracked down Grindlewald. Kali has no appreciable flaw to me - and sticking to your convictions when you're invariably right, isn't a flaw just because people argue before they're proven wrong - and no avenue for growth. She has nothing to learn. She's a teenage girl, she really should.

    That's it really. If the above is to your subjective taste than that's fair, but at least I hope this review helps others decide if it might be their cup of tea, or not as the case may be.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  7. Naomi Lee

    Naomi Lee Muggle

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    @Blorcyn None of the above. This was the first story listed in the review board when I joined so it's the first story I've read through. I'm starting in on Living Dangerously by CGPH now
     
  8. KyleisI

    KyleisI Muggle

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    I started reading this yesterday and finished it today. Ever wanted to know more about Theodore Nott or Daphne Greengrass? Get an early introduction to Astoria? Have front row seats to what goes on in Draco’s head when Gryffindor wins the House Cup? Then this fic is for you. The author is big on character analysis, digging into the thoughts and motivations of background characters and giving them each their own past and rasion d’être. The OC’s a bit much, but whatever, she’s not enough to bring down the rest of it
     
  9. Zansa

    Zansa Fourth Year

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2011
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    This is kind of surreal that so many brand new accounts are praising this story as a clear 5/5, and using a lot of the same language to do so. Did the author mention the story was put up for review on DLP somewhere?

    I read a few chapters to see what this issue that divided that HP fandom was, and how this handled it so maturely. I don't know what the issue was, but I did see Kali flash such a brilliant smile at McGonagall that "her eyes widened and her mouth fell open slightly."

    I also read about how Kali took 9 and a half minutes to be sorted because she's so perfectly suited to all of the houses.

    Actually, now that I think about it, could the issue have been racial discrimination? If so, I would like to remind everyone that the HP fandom is not just limited to Tumblr, and most people really don't care about race or its place in the HP-verse. They already have a perfectly working analogue to it.

    If that was in fact the issue, I also want to say that I have legitimately seen dozens of middle school essays with more poise, insight, and incisiveness. The entire exchange in the story is Kali giving a very thorough, unorthodox answer to one of McGonogall's questions about Animagi and skinwalkers. Kali cites her sources, there's a brief bit of contrived dialogue where the author says "racism is bad, mmkay?" then Kali apologizes for giving an answer that the professor wasn't expecting, and gets points for "impeccable manners." That's it.

    From chapter 1 this story was a mary sue self-insert OC fic, and it only got worse when I was skimming through it. I give it credit for being complete and perfectly readable, but even when I was 11 I had outgrown stories that are so unrepentantly void of narrative structure, plot, or characterization. I skimmed up to chapter 7 to find the social issue, and as of that chapter this story is still one of those rare beasts that is clearly written by someone with technical skill, but still has no hope of ever rising above 1/5.
     
  10. MrBucket

    MrBucket Fifth Year

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    Yeah, this is just a Mary Sue. Writing and grammar and all is solid, but it's not interesting. The author does have some skill in writing and could probably write a decent enough fic if they got over this type of shit:

    All of these things are repeated several times throughout the story. We're told how beautiful and smart and perfect she is like every chapter. Perfect except for her "nasty" temper, which doesn't actually exist as far as I've read. It's just there to be some flaw-but-not-really so the author can say she's not a Mary Sue. I'm going to take a guess and say all those positives don't actually show themselves in any meaningful way either. 1/5
     
  11. Otters

    Otters Fourth Year ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I probably went into this overly biased because of other opinions, but to sum it up, this puts the poo in poor.

    1/5
     
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