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!

FFF: Stories to Get You Started

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Hello folks! After last week’s introduction to fanfiction, I hope that you’ve had time to poke around some sites and found stuff that has interested you. If you were too busy, or too horrified when you stumbled upon a tale you couldn’t un-see, this week’s feature is for you. (Sorry for the late post!)

Behold, five different, vast, and enjoyable fandoms. For each, I’m linking two good stories that will hopefully pique your interest. One short, one long.

Please keep in mind that everyone likes different kinds of stories! There are stories that follow canon (fitting in with canonical events in the source work) and stories that are very AU (alternate universe, assuming something is very different than the canonical events). I tend to veer AU, but I’ll try to include good canonical stuff as well.

Harry Potter: One of the largest fandoms found for fanfiction, often sited as a ‘gateway’ fandom for those just getting into fanfiction.

Short: the family evans by dirgewithoutmusic (AU)

What if, when Petunia Dursley found a little boy on her front doorstep, she took him in? Not into the cupboard under the stairs, not into a twisted childhood of tarnished worth and neglect—what if she took him in?

Petunia was jealous, selfish and vicious. We will not pretend she wasn’t. She looked at that boy on her doorstep and thought about her Dudders, barely a month older than this boy. She looked at his eyes and her stomach turned over and over. (Severus Snape saved Harry’s life for his eyes. Let’s have Petunia save it despite them).

A fanfiction trope that I deeply enjoy, by one of my favourite fanfic authors.

Long: New Leaf to Turn by slavetothepen (canon-compliant)

Dudley Dursley lived a very normal life. But when an all too familiar letter makes an appearance on his son’s 11th birthday, Dudley must seek the guidance of a cousin he hasn’t seen in 19 years. Who else but Harry Potter?

Lily Evans was a witch – it may have passed over Petunia, but what of her grandchildren? A very enjoyable story.

Tolkien: Arguably the largest fandom around. Writers are often Tolkien junkies, coming up with cultures and customs that work well with the source material.

Short: Garden in Dol Goldur by esama (AU)

“If you wouldn’t mind it terribly, I would like to take a small detour south on our way through Mirkwood.”

A tale in which Gandalf and Bilbo make a slight detour, and hobbits prove to be marvelous gardeners.

Long: Sansûkh by determamfidd (Novel-length, AU)

The battle was over, and Thorin Oakenshield awoke, naked and shivering, in the Halls of his Ancestors.

The novelty of being dead fades quickly, and watching over his companions soon fills him with grief and guilt. Oddly, a faint flicker of hope arises in the form of his youngest kinsman, a Dwarf of Durin’s line with bright red hair.

This is a story in which Thorin watches Gimli during the War of the Ring, as does well, everyone really. It is complete and is incredibly well-written. Many people have created beautiful fan-art for this tale. One of my personal favourites.

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU): With the rise of superhero universe has come the speculation of just what those heroes do when we’re not watching them.

Short: A Future Shining by icarus_chained (canon-compliant)

It took Tony a while to notice. To see the increasingly massive sections of memory space that someone had blocked off in JARVIS’ systems, the processing power being diverted to something that … that Tony couldn’t breach.

Tony, and JARVIS, and a conversation Tony never, ever thought he’d be having.

AI are pretty cool – and so is this story. Let us bow to our robot overlords.

Long: both have sharp teeth by cosmicocean (AU, but fits with canon)

“And there are stories about wolves and girls. Girls in red. All alone in the woods. About to get eaten up. Wolves and girls.”
-Black Widow, Nathan Edmondson

She is one of 28.

The story of the girl who would be Karen Page, through Russian winters and New York streets.

The one where Karen Page is also a Black Widow. Tragic and lovely.

Twilight: While the source material is divisively loved or hated, a great deal of its fanfic is absolutely brilliant in correcting issues with canon or creatively changing them to suit better stories.

Short: Do You Remember by LJ Summers (AU)

A winner in the Sort of Beautiful Challenge, this is a story about unconditional love and the value of memory. Jacob and Bella have been married for about forty years when the Cullens want to visit for what is possibly the last time.

A tragic and memorable tale about love, life, and all that comes with it.

Long: Neon Moon by NoSleep3 (Novel-Length, AU)

New Moon A/U. Abandoned by the Cullens, Bella emerges from depression with a wall around her heart and a chip on her shoulder. Closed off and immersed in her college studies, she finds her emotional outlet in a surprising source.

A story of a tougher Bella learning how to cope, and living her life.

Mass Effect: The extensive world building of these games are often expanded upon in remarkably cool ways, and character pairings are given more scrutiny.

Short: Followed Him Home by madamebadger (AU, but fits with canon)

In which Shepard was the greatest mom, because she gave Grunt a pony.

Only for “pony,” read “kakliosaur.” For “mom,” read “battlemaster.” And for “greatest,” read “Oh my god, who thought that was a good idea?”

But things worked out—as they do, as they will—in the end.

Heartfelt and fun, a short focus on the relationship between Grunt and female Shepard.

Long: Juxtaposed by Squiggly_Squid (Novel-Length, AU)

Garrus Vakarian never thought being stopped right before the end of his shift would to look into suspicious activity would change his life forever.

Jane Shepard thought it was just a normal day when facing a C-Sec officer come to convince her to leave her bench on the Presidium. Little did she know what would come.

How would their unexpected meeting years before the events of Eden Prime affect their futures?

A fleshed out female Shepard and Vakarian pre-Mass Effect. First part of several stories, a truly massive undertaking. Warning for explicit inter-species sex later in the story.


So, there you have it! Some stories to get you started if you’re familiar with these fandoms. If you look into them, please be sure to be kind and leave a review for the author! If you’d like, you can let me know what you think after you’ve read a fic.

Please feel free to request fandoms, tropes you’re curious about, or ask about anything else fanfiction related in the comments below. 

Are you a fanfic reader? Are there any ‘starter’ fics you’d like to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

T5W: Characters I Don’t Want To Trade Places With

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Wednesday is here again, and with it time for another Top 5! Top Five Wednesday was created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and you can find the group with topics and participants here. This week the topic is characters that I wouldn’t want to switch places with. It took some thinking, but I’m satisfied with my choices.

#1 – Harry Potter

Though it would be amazing to find out I was a witch, I would never swap places with Harry. In addition to being orphaned and growing up in an abusive household, Harry must deal with fickle fame and friendships, life threatening situations, a frankly absurd prophecy, and a psychopath’s bizarre vendetta against him. Thanks but no thanks.

#2 – Clariel (The Old Kingdom)

Clariel is a young woman with simple desires. She wants not love, or fame, or the pleasures of the flesh. She simply wants to be left alone. Her heart lies with the forest and there she wishes to stay. Sadly, her wish is impeded by the machinations of those who would use her as a pawn on either side of their political conflict. Considering her journey, I would never want to take her place.

#3 – Misao Harada (Black Bird)

Cursed to live a life surrounded by malicious beings unseen to others, and later to either be eaten by them or wed to one, Misao doesn’t have a life that I envy. Certainly she thinks she has a chance at love, but would it be at the cost of her family, her friends, her life, or even her mortality? Her fate isn’t one that I would wish on anyone.

(Disclaimer: I haven’t yet finished reading the series, please no Black Bird spoilers!)

#4 – Murtagh (The Inheritance Cycle)

Enslaved and forced to fight for a terrible cause, Murtagh was born to a father who scarred him for life. Tormented by his insidious upbringing, he never becomes the principled man he used to wish he would, instead making hard choices that bring pain to himself and others. Murtagh has a hard life that I certainly wouldn’t want to be dropped into – despite the dragon companion that I would gain.

#5 – Anyone in The Hunger Games

Dystopia, anyone? Yeah, no.

What do you think of my choices? Are there other characters you wouldn’t want to trade places with?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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As a Harry Potter fanatic, I was thrilled to receive a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for my birthday. It arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon and I finished reading it in one sitting.

While I know that fans of Harry Potter everywhere rejoiced when this book was announced, I think there’s some very important things to keep in mind before reading it. First: this is not a novel, it’s a script. I can hear you now, saying ‘Of course I know that, everyone knows that’. But here’s the thing: unless you’ve read a script before, you’ll probably be surprised to learn that %95 of it is entirely dialogue. No sweeping descriptions of castle grounds, or magical creatures, or Quidditch games. This entire thing is people talking to one another.

Another thing to consider: J.K. Rowling didn’t write this. Contributed to the story concept, yes. However, the script itself was written by Jack Thorne, and I think that he did a respectable job.

Finally, as an avid reader (and writer) of fanfiction, I can honestly say that most of the plot elements of this script read like a trope-filled fanfic.

For more of my review, read on. Be warned that there lie spoilers below the cut.

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Continue reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child