Title: Mad Love Series Author: AmberZ10 Rating: M and T Fandom: Batman The Animated Series Genre: Romance, General Status: Complete Wordcout: ca 390k in total with the first story being 89k and the second one being 302k. link: AO3 Summary: So, this is a bit of an interesting and strange story, or rather stories. The first one is rather simple. The summary describes it basically perfectly. On her first day in Arkham as a doctor, Dr. Quinzel becomes interested in Poison Ivy instead of the Joker and falls into her orbit rather than his. The first story is the mind games those two characters play on each other and the interest they take, slowly culminating in a relationship, which, in turn, kinda redeems Ivy. Basically spoiled the first story right there but don't think this was any surprise there. As you can see, that is not really what this story over all is about. This is merely the prequel to the main body, to set that story up. On itself, it's really nothing amazing. 3/5. Decent story. Read it or don't. If there hadn't been the second story, which makes reading this one a necessity. The real meat, the truly interesting and fascinating part of the story is the next part which focuses entirely on the family life of Harley and Ivy. All the usual stuff that is happening in super hero stories? Fighting villains, defeating world ending threats all the drama in the shows and cartoons and movies? That's all happening off-screen. We barely see it. That's their jobs, really. At most we get snippets of someone in costume fighting some gangster but even there it is not about the action but rather focusing on why that person has put on the costume and why they are out there instead of being at home. There isn't really an overarching plot, just character development and interaction. And the most important thing? There is a clear progression of time. It's not 300k about a year or two in their lives. Instead, its about their whole life. Harley and Ivy move together, have children, these children grow up, later on get their own children and these children grow up as well and start to fight crime. And honestly, this story got heartbreaking at times. I basically burned through this story in one night without sleep and it fucked me up because the end is just haunting. As you can see, their children are (I think) mostly OCs (unless the author converted existing minor DC characters into the children but if so, no one I know but doubt it) and are rather fleshed out. The relationship between Ivy and her eldest daughter is just pure tragedy. Spoiler One more fascinating aspect is the fact that Ivy doesn't age, being a whatever she is. So we have her being relatively immortal but having to watch her wife grow old and die, same with her children. And honestly, their deaths, all natural due to age and sickness, were honestly some of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever experienced in a story. The farewell letter that Ivy's eldest daughter had written before her death, which Ivy got after she had died, nearly made me cry. And honestly, I have never read a story like this. To see that progression of time mercilessly affect the characters and their family was powerful to read. We get to know each character, see their lives play out and ultimately end. Spoiler And to see their daughter Jo grow from a cute, precious child, to a proud and positive athlete, to an angry teenager who hates the fact that her biology disqualifies her from her dream and which creates a rift in the family that will never be truly bridged, to making mistakes and pursing goals just to antagonize her mother, to a hero in her own right,then to a mother herself, finally retiring as well but still dealing with all the family issues and then ultimately dying has been a harrowing and fascinating journey. Another big thing is that the relationship between Harley and Ivy is not all roses. They are both intrinsically messed up people, have some rotten personality traits and hurt each other at times, as despite the love and family they share, they still have traits of personality that clash wildly and make this relationship not something that works without effort but rather something more tangible and real. Yeah, things can be cute and romantic between them but also vicious and damaging. The writing over all is rather solid, it has its weaknesses at times as the grammar is a bit wonky from time to time, some arcs aren't as good as others, not every conflict feels natural, and the last two chapters or so and the stuff with Supergirl was a bit meh but overall, it works. The other DC characters that appear are written competently, although the story was rather unkind to Jason Todd and it's engaging from beginning to end. Another weakness would be that Jo is a bit the exception when it comes to memorable OCs. The rest work in the context of the story and the emotions the story wants you to feel but the getaway character from the story is definitely Jo, as a lot more effort was put into her than in anyone else. It also needs a while to get going and the first story is unfortunately a bit meh and doesn't really give you the energy to push further into the second story but you absolutely should. So yeah, it's a long read and probably not really for everyone but it has been without a doubt one of the better stories I've read this year and if any of what I wrote sounds appealing to you, I urge you to give it a try. As of my writing about this right now, the story has nearly 1300 comments and about 900 kudos and it deserves every one and more. Maybe a bit high but honestly, can't do anything else but give this a 4/5. Read this months ago and I still think about it from time to time.