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A Different Path (Supernatural Fanfic)

Author: angel-castiel-rules-the-world

FanFiction ID: 11478940

Status: Ongoing (currently 127 chapters)

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Warning: Rated T/Mild Slash & Spoilers through end of Season 10 (AU from end of this season)

In the wake of Dean’s plan with Death to save the world (again), Castiel finds himself suddenly bereft of both his best friend Dean and of Sam–both of whom are basically his family at this point. But he’s not alone. A certain King of Hell makes a point to come around the bunker and pester him in his research regularly. And research Castiel certainly does. Not content to let things end this way, the angel desperately searches for a way to bring back his friends–searches for years without result, until one day he finds a book on the bunker’s bookshelves that wasn’t there. And this book promises a way to turn back time, to see influential turning points, and to make different choices. So taking along Crowley (to maintain the balance, as directed in the book), Castiel travels back to the first time Dean (nearly) died, determined to change the Winchesters’ lives for the better. He’s not going to lose them again, no matter what.

A Different Path is a really interesting Supernatural fanfic that starts with an AU ending for Season 10 but quickly jumps back to be an AU from the beginning of Season 2 and on. We get a picture of events occurring with Cas and Crowley in the picture, Cas with his own experiential knowledge of certain events as well as the Winchesters’ stories to go from, Crowley with a much greater knowledge of events (having read the books)–not that he’s volunteering information readily. For added interest/complication, Cas refuses to tell the boys that he’s from their future, and he tries his best to keep Crowley a secret. You can imagine how well that works, with the king of snark hanging around! I really have enjoyed what the author has done with this story and the way the AU element unfolded. The characters are captured well, and I love the way the altered events and relationships play into the way their characters develop. Likewise, the adaptations to the episodes’ plots are both fitting and interesting, showing a good understanding of the characters and the storyline while still being original. This fanfic is  very much a slow-burn Destiel fic, and I enjoyed the way the author developed that; it seems to fit their characters and situation so much better than a lot of the Destiel stuff I’ve seen. But for those who aren’t big into slash, it’s all pretty mild and there’s a lot of other aspects of this story besides that (although it’s still a pretty significant focus in this fic). I will note that there are some typographical/grammatical issues (mostly wrong words, lacking capitalization, and occasionally lacking punctuation) which can make this story more complicated to read, but they’re mostly the sort of thing a good editor could quickly correct, and the underlying writing style and flow is still quite readable and enjoyable. Enough so that I intend to stick with this story for as long as the author continues to write it–which could be a while, considering that we’re still in Season 2 at 127 chapters with no specified ending point so far. I’m looking forward to where this story goes!

Note: You can find A Different Path at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11478940/1/A-Different-Path.

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The Betrayal Knows My Name (manga)

Mangaka: Hotaru Odagiri/Translator: Melissa Tanaka

Status: Ongoing (7 volumes, although the first 5 are 2-volume omnibus editions, so really more like 12 volumes)

My rating: 5 of 5

Growing up in an orphanage, believing his parents didn’t want him, Yuki struggles to find meaning in his existence. Yet even in the midst of his pain, he brings kindness and healing to those around him, perhaps even more so as he begins to develop the ability to see a person’s emotions and past when he comes into physical contact with them . . . although not everyone takes his kind intentions well. But as Yuki’s strange ability grows stronger and other odd things being to happen around him, he encounters a beautiful, silver-eyed man calling himself Zess who seems oddly familiar. Then another beautiful man comes to the orphanage claiming to be Yuki’s long-lost older brother. Not only that, but Yuki actually has a large extended family, all of whom are delighted to meet him, and Zess is somehow connected to them all as well. But all is not well for this family as they find themselves trapped in a centuries long war against dark and evil forces, being endlessly reincarnated to fight over and over again. And Yuki himself is a pivotal figure in this was, the reincarnation of their princess, bringing healing and hope to them all . . . if only he could figure out why he doesn’t remember anything about his previous lives. All he wants to do is bring an end to this war and to the hurt felt by these people he has quickly come to love.

Love this manga soooo much! If you can imagine a mashup of Fruits Basket and Black Butler, you probably have a pretty good idea of what The Betrayal Knows My Name is like. You’ve got the gorgeous art (and people), demon contracts, and mystery/fight aspects that you find in Kuroshitsuji. Then you’ve got the super air-headed and kind MC, the oversized cast, the reincarnation aspect, and the dark family history themes that you find in Furuba. Not necessarily an expected combination, but it works. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and mysterious–but there’s a nice mix of cutesy slice-of-life segments filled with sweetness and humor as well. The cast is huuuuge, so it is admittedly hard to keep track of everyone at first, but as you get to know the characters, they become not only unmistakable but beloved. It’s rare for me to find a story in which I love so many of the characters so very much, which is one of the primary reasons that I give this a full five-star rating. As for the plot, there’s currently a lot of mystery and unknowns that could go in a lot of directions, so I’m curious to see whether it ends up some huge shounen-style fight or a hug-it-out shoujo conclusion or something else altogether. (I’m hankering for a very sappily sweet shoujo ending myself, but I’ll be thrilled just to see this story finished, whatever the conclusion. It’s been on hiatus for 4 years, and I had given up hope that it would every be continued. Soooo . . . happy dance that the mangaka has picked this series up again!) Fair warning that the mangaka is fairly well known for writing yaoi stories, but also firm clarification that this particular manga is not yaoi at all–it sits on the verge between shoujo and josei with aspects of shounen and a mild shounen ai flavor, but it never goes beyond that. So honestly, The Betrayal Knows My Name is generally appropriate–and highly recommended–for any T+ audience. Love it and looking forward to reading the rest!

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Homecoming (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: M1ssUnd3rst4nd1ng

FanFiction ID: 12511761

Status: Ongoing (2 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Arthur can think of about a million things he’d rather be doing than wandering through some dusty museum looking at boring old paintings. But if it makes his girlfriend Gwen happy and means he gets to spend time with her . . . so be it. Surprisingly, when they arrive at the painting she so wants to show him, Arthur finds himself strangely moved–both because the emotion of the moment bleeds through so vividly and because the couple depicted in this picture could easily be Gwen and Arthur themselves. So, being the spoiled, rich prat that he is, Arthur begins a search for the owner of the painting in the hopes of purchasing it as a gift for his girlfriend, only to have a most unusual encounter with the owner of the Balinor estate, a crotchety old man who seems quite taken aback by Arthur’s unexpected arrival at his doorstep.

I’ve probably said this before, but I have a special place in my affections for Merlin reincarnation stories, which is exactly what Homecoming is. The ending of the series broke me, and I find that reincarnation fics do a lot to fix that brokenness. This particular story is done rather differently from most I’ve read, and I really loved the way the author approached the whole situation. It is, in fact, poignant–a term highlighted in the story, but which applies to the fic itself just as well. It was touching and made me cry happy, moved tears. I really loved the sweet Arwen (Arthur and Gwen) dynamic to the story; the modern-day relationship was credible and fit the characters well. And I loved that all three characters (yes, Merlin too, obviously) are true to themselves. Merlin’s reactions to Arthur are great; that whole reunion was quite amusing. (Of course, old Merlin is just fabulous, wherever he shows up!) And the author’s choice to not have Arthur just remember created an interesting tension and, again, poignancy to the whole situation that I appreciated, even if it didn’t bring the thorough resolution that I may have initially expected. Also interesting was the author’s development of how Merlin spent his time in the interim between Arthur’s death and their reunion; it’s always fascinating to see what different people think about that. I found Homecoming to be a touching, but also funny, reincarnation story, and while I honestly wanted more, I think that where the author chose to leave the story is also valid and appealingly open-ended–which is not to say that I wouldn’t be thrilled if more chapters were to be released at a later date! Definitely recommended to Merlin fans, especially those broken by Camlann (and let’s face it, that’s all of us, right?).

Note: You can find Homecoming at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12511761/1/Homecoming.

Update 09/19/2017: Upon PMing with the author, I was informed that this story is NOT in fact complete yet, and more chapters are on the way. Yay!

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Goodnight, Moon (Supernatural Fanfic)

Author: Dragonflysoul

FanFiction ID: 4179061

Status: Complete (13 Chapters)

My rating: 5 of 5

What should have been a normal hunting trip goes horribly wrong, leaving Dean with a congested, squeaky bundle of . . . four-year-old Sam. Or at least, twenty-four-year old Sam in a four-year-old body. Obviously, the first place to go with this adorable and unexpected turn of events is Bobby’s. Bobby always knows what to do. Suddenly, Dean’s world of monsters and rock-salt-loaded shotguns becomes filled with Fruit Loops, 4T shirts with cute sayings on the front, and screams of childish laughter as Sam’s consciousness begins vacillating between his adult self and his childhood self. Unnerving for all concerned, to say the least. Even moreso when it becomes clear that Sammy is sick, possibly dying even, and they have no way to fix it–especially considering that Dean only has a few months of life left himself, what with that demon deal and all. But whatever these two have to face, they’ll handle it together, no matter what stands in their way.

I think I just have a weakness for cute de-aged character stories; they’re adorable! But seriously, Goodnight, Moon is a great story, and not just for the cuteness factor (although that’s definitely present). There’s a solid plot, with plenty of tension, suspense, and angst–enough so that it fits the Supernatural build quite solidly. But there’s enough humor, familial affection, and cuteness to balance the darkness out well. The writing is a pleasure to read, with a nice flow and a good balance of dialogue and description. I really liked that the author chose a third-person POV; it worked well for this story, especially since we sometimes switched from one person’s perspective to another’s. I think the characterizations were one of the best parts of this story–they were true to character and completely credible, but at the same time, they show a softer side of the characters than we see sometimes. It’s a side that most of the fandom loves, and it’s beautiful to see it fully displayed like this. Dean’s all in big-brother mode, falling back into the role with practiced ease. Sam/Sammy is equally himself, and the interplay between the older and younger sides of his personality is both interesting and well written. And I loved the involvement of both Bobby and Missouri in this story; they’re both great characters! John’s involvement was unexpected, and I kind of have mixed feeling about it. Because it was perfect and cathartic, and it kind of made me hate him less, and he’s one of those characters that I maybe love to hate. . . . But still, like I said, it works with the story and provides a nice cathartic resolution. I would definitely recommend Goodnight, Moon to anyone who loves a good Supernatural fic with lots of brotherly love and humor.

Note: You can find Goodnight, Moon at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/4179061/1/Goodnight-Moon.

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Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth

Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce

Illustrator: Steven Lenton

My rating: 5 of 5

Prez used to live with his grandfather, a crusty old sailor who took care of Prez and told stories about traveling the world. Then, as his grandfather’s memory got worse and worse, Prez took care of his grandfather. That is, until they came and took Prez’s grandfather away and put Prez in the Temporary. Now Prez is staying with the Blythe family on their farm for the summer–trying to help where he can, but not saying a thing. Enter Sputnik: a weird little alien wearing goggles and a kilt who always carries a doorbell with him. He tells Prez that 1) he’s here to look after Prez and 2) they only have until the end of summer to save the Earth. Yikes. On top of that, Prez can’t figure out why everyone just accepts Sputnik’s appearance out of nowhere and is so thrilled when he shakes their hand . . . oh, wait, to everyone else, Sputnik looks like a dog. This is going to be an interesting summer.

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth is just so utterly zany that I can’t possibly do it justice. It has all the fabulous writing of Boyce’s other books, which I just love. The characters are heartwarming and funny. I really liked the Blythes; they manage to be good people with kind intentions without being an overkill unbelievable foster family. I absolutely adore the way Boyce writes family conversations; it’s like this cloud of sentences competing on the page! And there’s Prez, sitting quietly in the midst of it all. Sputnik’s character is fabulously absurd–he adds quite the wild-card effect to basically everything. Gravity tides, real working light sabers, reverse grenades that put things back together . . . physics does not work normally around this strange being. But I love the way he sees the world, the way things we typically think of as amazing are unimpressive to him, but random ordinary things are important enough to be worth putting on his list to save the planet. He has a way of making you re-think priorities. Basically, Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth is a fabulous, funny middle-grade story, and I would highly recommend it.

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Sing No Evil

Author: J. P. Ahonen/Illustrator: K. P. Alare

My rating: 4 of 5

Previously published as Perkeros

WARNING: Mature Audience

Perkeros–an avant-garde band just beginning to find its place in the local music scene. Band members include art-student keyboardist Lisa, singer/guitarist Aydin (who keeps mixing pizza with his music), bassist Kervinen (it’s hard to tell which of his stories are for real and which are a product of too much experimentation in the sixties), and drummer Bear (who is, in fact, a bear). And Aksel, the lead guitarist whose extreme nerves and obsessive perfectionism (plus just obsession) over the music may just be enough to shatter the band. Certainly enough to get him ousted from the house by his pragmatic girlfriend. But when the members of Perkeros encounter the seemingly impossible and horrifying results of music gone wrong in another band, it may just be enough for them to reconcile their differences.

Sing No Evil was quite a unique find, and I’m glad to have read it. For one thing, I think it’s the first actual Finnish book I’ve read–I don’t know whether there just aren’t many released in English or if I’m just blind, but I almost never see books by Finnish authors here in the U.S. So that was neat. Plus, this is an extremely dynamic and engaging graphic novel, although I’m rather baffled as to how to classify it. Imagine if Kazu Kibuishi took over the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel–you might end up with something kind of similar. The art style is really nice, and yes, kind of reminiscent of some of Kibuishi’s work. I like the character designs a lot, and the music scenes are fabulously trippy (the cover is a great example of this, actually). But the story itself is this weird (but fascinating) mix of new-adult slice of life stuff–your basic story of young adults trying to work a band into the mix with relationships, work, and higher education–along with some really trippy quasi-demonic deathmetal stuff. It’s kind of creepy (one of several reasons I would label this an adult graphic novel). Of course, there’s some random magical-realism stuff thrown in, too, like Bear being a bear and also being a legitimate member of the band . . . but also being the only animal in this sort of situation in the story. I quite enjoyed the mix in the story, however challenging it was to classify, and the mix of drama, adventure, and humor was nicely balanced. Also random but fun, there are any number of random references just thrown in–I almost died laughing when I saw that Bear’s winter home had a sign saying “Sanders” over the door. Anyhow, I don’t think Sing No Evil is for everyone, but for those interested in a dynamic new adult/fantasy graphic novel with a focus on music, it might be interesting to try.

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The Astounding Broccoli Boy

Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce

My rating: 4 of 5

Rory Rooney is all about being ready for everything, but the truth is there are some things you just can’t prepare for. Like being bullied by the biggest kid in your class. Or being accused of trying to poison him after he steals your food and has an allergic reaction. Or falling in a river and turning green. Broccoli green. But surprisingly enough, being green is something Rory can deal with. The doctors are baffled, but he’s convinced that his verdancy can only have one diagnosis: super.

I swear, where has this author been my whole life?! I just recently discovered Boyce’s writing when I read Cosmic, and The Astounding Broccoli Boy is another homerun of an absurd middle-grade adventure story. The author does a great job of creating relatable but interesting characters. The situations in which the characters find themselves are absolutely ridiculous–totally the realm of tall tales–yet with enough Truth (the kind that impacts people, not necessarily the kind that is scientifically provable) that the story is still grounded and real to the reader. The author uses the ridiculous, the humorous, and the adventurous events the characters encounter to express something practical and immediate, and I love that. Plus, the story is just fun, full of hijinks and misunderstandings and fun references. I would definitely recommend The Astounding Broccoli Boy for middle-grade readers in particular, but also just in general; it’s good fun.

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