It’s been a while, but I’m finally back with another Fanfic Feature Friday!
My pick this week is an Alternate Universe Harry Potter fic called ‘Howl’ by the marvelous LadyLightles. You can find it here, hosted on Archive of Our Own.
This story follows Harry Potter canon up until the Sorting Feast, at which point it diverges rather wildly. Molly Weasley sends a howler that has far-reaching consequences for our characters and for the Wizarding world itself. It’s a novel-length fic that clocks in at approximately forty eight thousand words, which is a little longer than The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a little shorter than The Great Gatsby.
This story plays rather well on the best and worst characteristics of it’s characters: Ron as a rash and at times callous boy, Draco as a spoiled kid coming from a place of privilege, and Hermione as a socially awkward and intelligent girl. Still, I think it managed to bring an enormous amount of depth to characters that play a more central role here like Minerva McGonagall, Amelia Bones, Lucius Malfoy, and Narcissa Malfoy. Dumbledore is looked at through a more critical lens here, a man who believes too much in his own power and vision.
The thing that really shone in the story was the author bringing a bit of order and rational thinking to the Wizarding world. The people have their own culture and customs not informed by muggle thinking, which is partially where the muggleborn conflict stems from. As that is revealed, readers get a chance to experience more of what it means to have magic, and what it means to enter a world not knowing that it has it’s own culture.
The politics and effective policing in this story were a vast departure from the HP books, to the benefit of the fic. While I did find the time-jumps or subject changes between chapters to be slightly abrupt at times, I appreciate that the author really tied up all aspects of the story neatly and addressed pretty much every political repercussion possible. In saying that, this is the first (or potentially prequel) in a longer series which I am really looking forward to and it has been left open enough to continue easily.
The writing quality of this story was excellent, with strong dialogue and a fast pace that keeps you reading long into the night. I never had any doubts as to what was going on or why it was happening – with the exception of the very clever ending that I suspect was meant to cause speculation. The differing perspectives added a great deal to the story, and I enjoyed reading all of them. You get a sense of everyone’s distinct personality and world-view.
If you’re looking for something that explores the Wizarding world and it’s culture in more depth – and makes Hogwarts a place that seems more like a school – this is the fic for you! If you’re looking for the badass Minerva McGonagall that we all deserve – your search ends here.
Have you read this fic, or others by LadyLightles? Any other Harry Potter AU’s to recommend? Let me know in the comments below!