Howl

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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!

 

Author Spotlight: dirgewithoutmusic

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I’m back today with another Author Spotlight! While I do enjoy giving individual story recommendations, some authors really deserve all of the recognition I can give them. Plus, if you enjoy one of their stories if gives you an automatic jumping off point to more high quality tales. Sometimes, you can even cruise through the stories they’ve bookmarked to find even more great stuff!

Today, the spotlight is on dirgewithoutmusic. Everything this author writes is gold. Seriously. I have cried reading some of their stuff before. The level of emotion they can put into a one-shot is impressive. They write a lot of interesting character studies, as well as speculative alternate universe stuff. They have a large body of work that spans fandoms both large and small, so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy. They can be found on Archive of Our Own.

Here are some of my favourites of theirs.

we must unite inside her walls or we’ll crumble from within (arguably Canon, series of one-shots)

stories for the ladies of hogwarts, who cry, waver, giggle, trespass, and who deserve our respect all the same

Absolutely amazing character studies of the ladies of Hogwarts – all houses are represented.

boy with a scar (AU, series of one-shots)

A series of “what if” rewrites of Harry Potter, books 1-7. Cross-posted from tumblr. So far includes: What if Neville was the Chosen One, and James and Lily survived? What if Neville was the Chosen One, and James and Lily were tortured by the Lestranges? What if Neville and Harry were both killed as infants, and there was no Chosen One? What if Petunia refused to take him in, and so Harry was raised in Hogwarts? What if Petunia had raised Harry like a son? What if Harry was Sorted Slytherin? What if Harry was a squib? What if Harry was a girl? (cis) What if Harry was a girl? (trans) What if Ron was the Chosen One? What if Hermione was the Chosen One? What if Harry and Hermione met before Hogwarts? What if the Dursleys died, and Dudley was left on Lily and James’s doorstep?

That’s right. All those HP what-ifs you never thought you’d have answered. They exist and they’re great.

once a queen or king of narnia, always a king or queen (arguably Canon, series of one-shots)

All my Pevensie tumblr fic

A series that depicts what it was like for the Penvensies to rule Narnia and then leave it. Susan especially has several fics, but they are all represented and every single one will rip your heart out.

after the scouring (arguably Canon, one-shot)

Let’s talk about Sam crying over rabbit stew, because a brace of coneys had been a spot of luck, once; because even then, even when he still had his pots and his pans, when Frodo had not yet snarled at him and told him to go– Mr. Frodo had still been gone too far by then to ever come back again.

Rosie, who did not cry easy, chopped onions so he would not be the only one with wet cheeks to scrub off. She asked him about herbs and spices, about stirring and cooking times, about what loaf would go best with it all. Sam said, “Rosemary, tarragon.” Part of him still rang against the greening metal of a copper pot dropped down a chasm and left somewhere on the edges of Mordor, but she saw him breathe deep and reach for thyme.

(a story for Rosie Cotton)

Oh man, this story was so fantastic. I hope they write more Tolkien stuff because this was so satisfying.

I could honestly list everything dirgewithoutmusic has ever written as a favourite and not be lying. That’s how good they are. They’ve written stuff for Emelan, Star Wars, Avengers, Tolkien/Narnia crossovers, Ender’s Game, and so many more. I would find it extremely unlikely if you didn’t find something of theirs to love.

That’s it for this week, folks! Let me know if you check these out, and don’t forget to drop the author a comment as well!

Author Spotlight: MaryRoyale

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Welcome to another edition of Fanfic Feature Friday! It’s been a while, but I thought I’d try something new today with my first Fanfic Author Spotlight. Sometimes I’ll stumble across a fantastic story, and when I check out the author’s body of work I have the good fortune of discovering that the bulk of it is equally wonderful.

In this author spotlight, I intend to bring to you the authors I know that I can rely on for a good read no matter the length, fandom, or focus. They’re the writers that have made me seek out specific characters, fandoms, and pairings, and who have set their own fanfiction trends purely by virtue of their storytelling skill and originality.

This week, the Author Spotlight is on MaryRoyale.

Found on fanfiction.net, her focus is mainly on Harry Potter fics. Her stories depart from standard monogamous and heteronormative standards, most of them featuring relationships with multiple partners and genders. They’re easily readable, both the one-shots and the novel-length work. Aside from the great writing, her fics appeal to me as she writes mostly AU (alternate universe) stuff, and also plays around with tropes like time travel and soul bonds.

Waiting for her unfinished works to update is super difficult, but always worth it when a new chapter is posted. Most of her fics are Hermione-centric, which works well because of the characterization given in each story.

Behold, some of my favourite fics of hers!

Arx Domus Nigrae (AU, novel-length – incomplete)

There are legends among the pureblood families about Keepers-special witches who have the power to restore a fallen House. If any House needed a Keeper, it’s the Ancient and Noble House of Black. Hermione/Multi (Cygnus, Orion, Sirius AND Regulus). Polyandry.

Really cool wizarding/pureblood lore. Features interesting relationship dynamics and a lot of Hermione learning new things.

The Lost Lupin (AU, novel-length – complete)

The Lupins fear Greyback’s revenge will not stop with Remus, but might spread to his little sister Hermione. They make an unorthodox decision to protect their daughter without telling their son. Remus has been looking for his sister ever since. Time travel, AU, EWE, NON-CANON SHIPS (underline this bit 8,000 times), etc. Please see warnings.

Essentially the Potter-centric teen drama you didn’t know you wanted, with some more serious undertones.

Desperate Measures (AU, novel-length – incomplete)

Cassiopeia Black wasn’t the sort who was willing to just sit idly by while her House fell down around her. When Cassiopeia is given a Muggleborn witch orphaned by Death Eaters, she uses magical adoption to make the baby a true Black. Pureblood!Hermione. Slytherin!Hermione.

One of my favourite incarnations of Pureblood Hermione ever. Pureblood lore and interesting connections between the Blacks, the Malfoys, the Potters, and the Longbottoms.

That’s all for now, be sure to pop by and leave MaryRoyale a review if you check out her stories!

Who are your favourite fanfic authors? Let me know in the comments below!

FFF: Author Appreciation How-to

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Hello folks, and welcome back to another Fanfic Feature Friday! So, I’m going to be recommending some great stories at the end of the feature. First, I want to talk a little bit about showing appreciation for fanfiction authors.

Though it’s true (for the most part) that fanfiction authors can’t receive financial compensation for their work, there are other ways to make your appreciation known if you’ve enjoyed their stories.

The most basic of these is to ‘like’ their story. If you have an account on fanfiction.net, you’re able to ‘favourite’ stories. Each time you do this, the author is sent an alert notifying them that you’ve done so. If you read stories on Archive of Our Own, you’re able to give a story ‘kudos’ whether or not you have an account. Again, the author is sent a notification about it.

As a fanfiction author myself, I can tell you that every time I get that notification it brings a smile to my face and a warmth to my heart. (Cheesy, but no less true for it.)

You can also ‘follow’ or ‘bookmark’ a story or author to receive updates on their new posts.

An even more satisfying feeling as a fanfiction author is when someone leaves a comment or review on your story. A favourite is great, but it’s even better when accompanied by some kind words. Tell an author what you liked about their story: the humour, the characterizations, the plot, the world building. Tell them you’ve never seen that character pairing but will now seek it out because of their story. Tell them their writing is captivating, or that you just couldn’t stop reading.

There’s really something frustrating about people liking your work, but never knowing why they like your work. So drop a few comments here and there and help an author out. Boost their self-confidence.

There are also more ways to show appreciation if you’ve loved a story so much that those things don’t seem like enough. (Most of these are easily accomplished and planned for on Archive of Our Own, which has features to enable all of them.)

You could write a gift fic for a favourite author of yours. Writing about their favourite fandom or pairing and presenting it as a gift to them.

You could make some fanart of their story to present to them if you’re artistically inclined.

With their permission, you could even write fanfiction of their fanfiction, or inspired by their fanfiction. I cannot stress enough to ask permission to do this first. But if they accept, what you’re doing is telling them that you loved their story just as much as the original work is based on – after all, fanfiction is a labour of love, and imitation is a great form of flattery.

If you’re into sound and accessibility (and have the permission of the author) you could record the story being read or acted aloud to made a ‘podfic’. Yay for audiobooks!

If you’re fluent in several languages, (and have the permission of the author) you could ask to translate their work into another language, to make it accessible for more people worldwide.

There are so many things you can do to show your appreciation for the people who write stories out of love for them, and who rarely ask for anything in return.

With that in mind, the fics I’m recommending today are those that I feel have gone sadly under-appreciated and deserve a little love.

Harry Potter: Icarus by MarbleGlove (Novella Length, AU)

Some successes are only measured in how long you last before falling. Hermione writes a letter and begins a relationship.

Loyalty by anamia (Short, Canon-Compliant)

“Helga knows without even having to look with her inner eye that they will break apart, that the ties that bind them will thin and fray and snap. She does not ask to see when; half the talent of a Seer is knowing which questions are better left unasked.”

Close To The Dragon’s Fire by lordhellebore (Short, Canon-Compliant)

The first time Neville visits his parents at S. Mungo’s – from Alice’s perspective.

Samaria: La Folia by Kit (Short, Canon-Compliant)

In the 19 years since they first called the lightning, not much has changed. Rachel and Gabriel sing a duet.

Teen Wolf: automatic by seventhswan (Short, AU)

Pop quiz: show me how you’d kill me.


That’s all for this week! Let me know if you check out any of these, or previous recommendations – and be sure to show the authors some love. If you have any questions or recommendations of your own, let me know in the comments below!

FFF: Story Recommendations (2)

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Welcome back to Fanfic Feature Friday! I’m bringing you more recommendations this week, both short and long.

The Hobbit: Child of Earth and Sky by ? (AU, Novel Length)

Certain events in Bilbo’s life were always destined to come to pass, but the will of Belladonna Took is not to be trifled with, and her choice may yet change the lives of many.

This is the story of how Bilbo became the kin of the Eagles of Manwë, and all that happened after.

A story in which Bilbo is tough, the Eagles are funny and fierce, and canon is twisted just enough to be seen with new eyes. Bilbo/Thorin

An Eye For Quality by Linelen (AU, Novel Length)

Fíli lived his life by an old dwarven proverb: when a fool drops a treasure, a wise man picks it up (it sounded better in the original khuzdul).

Bella Baggins never quite fit in the Shire. Perhaps she was made for the mountains, instead.

Features female!Bilbo, good characterizations, and happy endings for all.

Star Wars: Tomorrow (there’ll be more of us) by dimircharmer

“FN-2187 was real, right?” She sounds very young again. “Please tell me he was real.”

“I’m real,” said Finn, who was on his first patrol since his back healed. “And my name’s Finn now.”

Her eyes widened. “You have a name?

Or: The resistance is starting to get stormtrooper defectors. Finn helps them out.

This is the fic that made me look for Force Awakens fics.

Defiance: These things without names by CherryIce (AU, Short)

The air on Earth tastes strange, sits lightly upon Stahma’s tongue but heavily upon her skin, atmospheric pressure and gravity greater than her home. Alak’s feet are pressed so much more firmly to the ground than were hers, as a child.

I adore this story. I wish it was so much longer than it is – or that the author wrote more about the alien cultures from Defiance.

Harry Potter: Harriet Potter Is by setepenre_set (AU, Short)

There are stories with snakes that bite and say {you knew what I was when you picked me up} but this isn’t one of them. This is the kind of story where the abandoned child walks in the jungle beneath the branches full of hissing things and tells them {we be of one blood ye and I}.

 A female!Harry story, in which she chooses Slytherin instead of Gryffindor. Beautifully written.

That’s all for this week. Take a gander and let me (and the authors) know what you think!

Do you have any fic recommendations? Any fandom requests? Any questions about fanfic? Let me know in the comments below.

FFF: Story Recommendations (1)

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This week, I’m bringing you a few short stories from fandoms that I’ve read less of, and a few longer tales that I’ve really enjoyed.

Orphan Black: Paraph of Bone & Other Kinds of Blue by possibilist (Canon, Short)

“I’m sick, Delphine. Jasmine tea. That shaking, those knuckles. Lips.” Cophine post 1.10—there are so many ways Delphine is scared.

A short fic centered around Cosima and Delphine’s relationship. This is set before season two. Sad and lovely, and really anything you could ask for in such a small package.

Old Kingdom: First Flight by Sanaryelle (Canon, Short)

The Abhorsen who built the Paperwing takes it on its first test flight. Mogget also features.

A short little tale filling in a bit of lost Old Kingdom history. A fun story that sets a great introduction to this author’s other stories.

Protector of the Small: Fallen by Confusedknight (AU, Novel-length)

Kicked out of Page training, Kel becomes entangled in a bitter struggle for the suffering people of Scanra. Four years later she returns to Tortall, a stranger to those who once knew her, a stranger who has not forgotten the promises she made…

The most comprehensive Tortall fic I’ve ever read, it really delves into the people and culture of Scanra. This really opened to door for me to more fics about what would have happened if Kel was sent away after her first year of probation. Good characterisation, and a storyline worthy of a Tamora Pierce quartet. Highly recommend.

Harry Potter: Island of Fire by esama (AU, Novella-length)

The founding of a wizarding nation in a world of dragons.

An absolutely unique tale in which the Tri-Wizard Tournament goes horribly wrong. In the chaos, a malfunction occurs and all those affected must do their best to build new lives. First of a series. If this author wrote professionally, I would buy all of their books. Seriously. Read this.

So that’s it for this week, folks. Take a gander and let me (and the authors) know what you think!

Do you have any fic recommendations? Any fandom requests? Any questions about fanfic? Let me know in the comments below.

If I Was Your Girl

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I recently participated in the Dumbledore’s Army Readathon in which I planned on reading several #ownvoices titles. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to secure those books from the library in time. Still, I wanted to read them so when I got the change to pick them up at the library I took it!

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I’ve been hearing a lot about If I Was Your Girl – on twitter, on Goodreads, and from other book bloggers. It’s the story of a trans teen girl, written by a trans woman.

Amanda Hardy moves to a new town, to live with her dad. She wants the chance to live as herself in a community that doesn’t know of her past. She wants to live a life without fear or prejudice.

Like all teenage girls, Amanda finds new friends at her new school. She also meets Grant, a handsome boy who makes her heart flutter. But Amanda also struggles with her desire for them to know about her past. She wants them to know her and to accept her, but she fears their true reactions.

This fear was an undercurrent throughout the whole novel. I don’t generally read contemporary fiction, YA or not, but I really enjoyed this book. Despite Amanda’s fears, she’s a normal teenager. The novel is generally lighthearted, with flashbacks and tense moments of fear or sadness that really bring the story to life.

It was wonderful to read a story about trans lives that doesn’t encompass only tragedy, and the author herself addresses that very fact in her note at the end of the novel.

I thought that Amanda was a very likeable character, and I enjoyed the progression of her relationship with her father. I also really liked the side characters – Amanda’s friends were an interesting group. I liked Bee’s brash refusal to be anything but herself, and her unexpected endgame in the book. I also really liked Anna and her struggle with her faith and her very strict parents.

Amanda’s relationship with Grant was the essential teenage puppy love, and it was sweet to read about. Grant’s background and the secrets he was keeping really helped flesh him out as a character.

All in all, I think this is a book that anyone can read and enjoy. If you’re looking for a book with a trans character whose life is perhaps slightly easier and happier than I would expect (especially in the South), then this is the one for you. If you’re looking to understand a little more about how being trans affects your life, this is also the book for you – though perhaps taken with a grain of salt. (The author’s note at the back is certainly a necessary read.)

Have you read this novel – what are your thoughts? Can you recommend any other books with trans main characters? Let me know in the comments below!