Howl

all-about-villains

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

all-about-villains

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!