Title: Shade to Shade Author: Slide Rating: M (although I'd rate it T) Genre: Drama/Fantasy Status: Complete Wordcount: 192k Library Category: General or Romance Pairings: OC/OC Summary: The sequel to 'Latet Anguis in Herba', set during HBP. The Slytherins return to Hogwarts under the shadow of the war and their own demons. But with the wizarding world embroiled in conflict, how are they supposed to cope with their seventh and final year? Link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3353818/1/Shade-to-Shade I found and finished this story last week and was completely blown away by it. I think it's the gold standard for OC fics. What impressed me the most is that it’s a character-driven story that also has a great, action-packed plot. In other words, it has really strong character-development elements (such as great dialogue and character growth), but it also has a lot of clever/chilling plot ideas, twists and action scenes. I always appreciate a story that simultaneously pulls off both of those components of storytelling really well. The author has created a group of four Slytherin friends, all of whom are a year above Harry (story takes place during HBP). None of them really come into contact with the Golden Trio save for a few brief cameos. Three of the four are some of the most compelling, three-dimensional OCs I’ve ever encountered in fanfiction (the author could’ve fleshed out Gabe’s personality more, imo). I think the author did a particularly great job creating Tanith Cole, who is a much more real-life version of the Daphne Greengrass trope (ice queen with a secret heart of gold). In addition to Cole, we have Tobias Grey, an intelligent, slightly high-strung half-blood wizard who doesn't know how to shut up in situations when he knows that he's right; Cal Brynmor, a Quidditch-obsessed son of Death Eater parents who was raised by the Muggle-born Auror who jailed one and killed the other; and Gabriel Doyle, a pureblood wizard with a secret (I'll leave it at that). I believe the title “Shade to Shade” is a reference to the Keats poem "Ode on Melancholy," a poem about how loss feels differently when it hits you in times of sorrow compared to times of prosperity (“For shade to shade will come too drowsily/And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul”). It’s a very fitting title and kind of sums up the theme of this (at times, very sad) story. The fic's summary calls itself a "sequel," but it's really the first proper story this author published after posting an eight-chapter collection of one-shots about these characters’ earlier years at Hogwarts. The one shots — entitled Latet Anguis In Herba — are great and I definitely recommend them, but you don’t have to read them to understand Shade to Shade. If push comes to shove, I think the story belongs in the Romance category. A love triangle plot is too crucial to the story for it to simply be listed as “General,” not to mention that this author writes romance incredibly well. That being said, there’s so much more to Shade to Shade, and to call it a “romance story” seems to do it a bit of a disservice. For what it’s worth, I do think it would also fit in “General.” The only reason it gets a 4.5/5 from me instead of a 5/5 is because there are two scenes in the 47-chapter fic that inexplicably don’t have any punctuation, and there’s an obvious slapdash editing error where the author clearly decided to change a character’s surname at one point but forgot to address the name change in two chapters (so Annie MacKenzie becomes Annie McAllister for two chapters). It’s a little baffling, because the rest of the writing is of professional quality, and I’m not sure why the author has disregarded occasional reviews over the years that have pointed out these two issues.