Tag Archives: romance

These Unfinished Creatures (TAZ: Balance Fanfic)

Author: marywhale

AO3 ID: 12434553

Status: Complete (6 Chapters)

My rating: 5 of 5

Rated T; Mature Audience, because please, consider the source material, okay?

VICTORIAN GOTHIC AU. The Raven Queen has sent Kravitz to Neverwinter to track down who keeps stealing souls from the astral plane . . . undercover as a living human, which is crazy weird considering he hasn’t been alive in centuries. At first, even remembering to breathe is a chore, but he soon manages to blend in, taking a job as an assistant at Hecuba’s funeral parlor. It’s a good cover, even though he’s still not making much (any) progress in his investigation. When Hecuba’s ex and his friends hold a funeral for their friend, Taako, things get weird. No one’s mourning properly, the militia comes to confirm Taako’s really dead–something about being wanted for poisoning a bunch of people? And this Justin person who shows up and deals with the militia for the family is really distracting. Not to mention, this group of friends seem to be investigating something on their own that closely ties in to Kravitz’ own investigations. . . . Might be an opportunity to crack the case and get to know this Justin person better at the same time.

First off, I have to say that I adore marywhale’s The Adventure Zone fanfic just in general. The writing is great, the ideas are creative, and the characterizations are excellent and in character–appealing but not shying away from the characters’ faults. These Unfinished Creatures  is one of my favorites. I love the whole Victorian Gothic atmosphere, for one; it works surprisingly well with these characters and especially in a story focusing on Krav and the Raven Queen so much. I enjoyed how their relationship is portrayed as well, including how different Krav’s perspective on it is from that of Taako when he sees them together. The relationship/romance between Krav and Taako (because, of course, “Justin” is Taako and the funeral was fake, naturally) is sweet–and just as bumpy and messy as these two goofs can possibly make it. The mystery is well plotted and interesting, although the culprit is kind of obvious if you think about it; however, said culprit makes a good villain (I already hate him in canon), so it works. The other supporting characters are also excellently done, particularly Lup and Barry (yay!), and it’s really fun to look in on this group from what’s essentially an outsider’s POV. Plus, I just love the development that goes into Krav’s character here; he’s such an adorable nerd and I love marywhale’s interpretation of his character. Seriously, just read this fanfic, then go read all her other stories. They’re fabulous.

Note: You can find These Unfinished Creatures at https://archiveofourown.org/works/12434553/chapters/28300203.

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In Spite of Everything, the Stars (Merlin Fanfic)

Author: Polomonkey

Illustrator: mushroomtale

AO3 ID: 4647243

Status: Complete (10 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience for slash and basically all the things, consider yourself warned (but it’s such a good story!)

Two boys have grown up in an alternate United Kingdom, one in which magic is real but where magic users are viewed with distrust and are treated as second-class citizens. Merlin Emrys is a powerful magic user, one who has hidden the extent of his power for years and who has in recent years as an adult become a leader of the political movement in favor of greater rights for Magicals. Arthur Pendragon has spent his entire life under his father’s oppressive thumb, being fed a Magic-hating propaganda he’s only ever half believed. Now, with an important vote to give Magicals greater freedoms on the horizon, Arthur has been tasked to kidnap Merlin in the hopes of stalling the vote. Only, he never counted on Merlin being so . . . Merlin.

In Spite of Everything, the Stars is one of those stories that hits hard and sticks with you long after you’ve read it. The prose is beautiful and moving, and mushroomtale’s art is just gorgeous.  We’re given a story that, on the surface, is a moving story about magic and about these two young men in an impossible situation who manage to roll with in and eventually find love and purpose and hope in spite of it all. But underneath all that, we’ve also got this powerful metaphor for minority rights and social justice that goes way beyond this imagined AU society and reaches to present-day issues in our own world. Having said that, I’m not typically a Merthur shipper (I’m actually pretty hard-core Arwen and Freylin, actually), but in this context, with the other issues being presented, it feels an appropriate ship. Also, fair warning that this story involves some pretty messed up stuff–kidnapping’s just the tip of the iceberg here–but it’s the endurance and courage of these two characters through all of this that makes the story so beautiful. So yeah, definitely recommended, if only for mature readers.

Note: You can find In Spite of Everything, the Stars at https://archiveofourown.org/works/4647243/chapters/10599906.

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The Falcon at the Portal

Author: Elizabeth Peters

Amelia Peabody, vol. 11

My rating: 4.5 of 5

The 1911 season looks to be one full of drama for Amelia Peabody what with the weddings, the weird family drama between Nefret and Ramses, the political intrigue and drug dealers on the loose, the random child popping up claiming to belong to Ramses. And of course, the rash of forgeries attributed to Ramses’ best friend, David–falsely attributed, obviously, but proving that is being a bit challenging. Maybe it’s a good thing the only site Emerson was able to get this season is a bit boring on the whole.

I absolutely always love Peters’ Amelia Peabody books; there’s some great history combined with lots of thrills, good humor, suspense, mystery, and romance. Basically, they’re just good historical adventures all around. The Falcon at the Portal fills this excellently, although I do have to say that it’s just generally less cohesive than some of the other stories in this series. Honestly, there’s just so much going on that it’s hard to keep track sometimes of what’s actually important. Add to that the fact that you’ve got three separate narrators (even though I love having Nefret and Ramses’ perspectives), and the story can be a bit all over the place at times. But really, I feel like the actual mystery plot takes second place to the character development and drama in this volume anyhow, so it’s not such a big deal to miss plot threads at times. And wow is there some drama going on here! For one, we’ve got some actual development in one of my favorite (of all time, not just of this series) ships–Nefret and Ramses. Plus the whole mess with Amelia’s nephew Percy and the Americans who keep hanging around. And of course, this is where Sennia joins the family. So yeah, lots of drama, a good touch of heartache, but lots of fun, too. Recommended.

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Moonstruck, vol. 2: Some Enchanted Evening (Graphic Novel)

Author: Grace Ellis

Illustrator: Shae Beagle

Moonstruck, vol. 2

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Werewolf barista and (secretly) aspiring author Julie and her friends score an invitation to a fairy frat party. It’s one of the hottest parties of the year–literally. The entire frat house is bespelled to be a little piece of summer in the midst of Blitheton winter. Fortunately, Julie’s girlfriend Selena is smart enough to keep their entire group from eating or drinking anything. Julie’s friends, the idiot band that the run into at the party . . . not so much. Two of the band members manage to get themselves stuck in the frat house, unable to leave unless the entire band performs at the fraternity’s next party–which would be a lot easier if Mark would get his scrawny vampire butt back to the fraternity instead of refusing to go anywhere near. Naturally, because they’re way too accommodating, Julie, Selena, Chet, and Manuel somehow find themselves trying to sort this all out, only to find themselves caught in a bigger plot–a party war between two separate fairy fraternities. As if they didn’t have enough drama and complications to sort out between themselves already!

I really love the cute fluffiness of this graphic novel series. If you’re in the mood for epic, intricate plots and high stakes, this isn’t really the story you should be picking up. But if you want sweet relationships where the characters are trying to make it work, even as they deal with real struggles like trust issues, then Moonstruck is perfect. Of if you love casual urban fantasy, where all sorts of magical/supernatural beings live normal lives playing computer games, working in coffee shops, playing in bands, and hanging out with friends. Some Enchanted Evening does a good job of showing the growing relationships between this group of friends while providing some solid humor (Mark is an idiot–the whole band are idiots–and Chet’s whole Newpals thing is ridiculous but also amusing). Again, the plot isn’t so much a high-stakes, intense thing, although it does push the characters to deal with some of their issues, which is nice to see. It really does seem like it’s setting us up for something major in the next volume or two, though, especially Cass’s ominous and untold visions being thrown into the mix. The art is consistently super-cute–lots of pastels and fun extras thrown into the background. Recommended.

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Living Dead in Dallas

Author: Charlaine Harris

Sookie Stackhouse, vol. 2

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience

Things in Sookie’s life had never been easy, what with her unwelcome gift/curse/whatever of telepathy, but they had definitely taken a turn for the stranger and more complicated once she started dating Bill, a vampire. Although the reprieve his presence gave her mind, what with being unable to read his, well . . . it certainly hadn’t been all bad, not by far. But Sookie’s life shows an extreme run of bad luck as she finds a coworker dead in the parking lot, gets summoned to Dallas to conduct telepathic interrogations, gets kidnapped, is attacked by a maenad, and fights with Bill. Not that she’s about to let all that stop her from investigating her friend’s murder and seeing justice done.

I found Living Dead in Dallas to be a solid follow-up to the first volume in the series, Dead Until Dark. It builds well upon the groundwork that was laid in the first book, developing Sookie and Bill’s relationship, getting Sookie further embroiled in vampire Eric’s schemes, and bringing some new mysteries and dangerous elements to add to the overall intensity of the story. The author does well keeping that small-town Southern girl vibe going, even when Sookie is dumped in the big city of Dallas and expected to manage. We get some solid character development in this volume as well–you’ve got a self-educated, smart woman who is very brave and has strong convictions . . . yet who is also remarkably brittle at times. She’s an interesting character. The story itself is kind of all over the place, but in a way that actually ties together eventually. There’s enough going on to keep things engaging, and the pacing is good. Other than a fair warning that this is definitely an adult book, I would generally recommend Living Dead in Dallas, especially to paranormal romance and mystery lovers.

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The Secret Identity of John Watson (Sherlock Fanfic)

Author: scifigrl47

FanFiction ID: 7968683

Status: Complete (3 chapters)

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Sam’s friends always tell her that she has the worst taste in men. But her newest boyfriend, Dr. John Watson, may be the worst so far. Or maybe the best. She’s not quite sure what to make of him, actually. When she first met him at her job as a bank clerk, he seemed so nice and normal. He still seems nice–polite, compassionate, competent. But he’s competent in the strangest situations. Like, normal people wouldn’t know how to respond in these situations, right? Sam certainly doesn’t, and ever since she’s met John Watson, she seems to keep getting dragged into stranger and stranger situations. And that’s not even taking into account all the people (who apparently know John far better than she does) who keep warning her away from him. Or the tall, dark, and creepy stalker who seems to be following John around everywhere.

I really love scifigrl47’s Sherlock stories in general. They’re well written, have a great sense of humor, and show a thorough and insightful understanding of the characters. The Secret Identity of John Watson in particular is an interesting case because it’s told entirely from an outsider point of view. And it proves a point that the author makes in the story notes quite brilliantly–the lives of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, to anyone not in the know, can only appear horrifying and bizarre. The brilliant thing is how this story makes the point. Sam and her friends are great characters–relatable and human and a great foil for the nearly superhuman existences that are Sherlock and John. And their theories on who John Watson is just keep growing more and more hilariously out there the longer they go. The whole thing is really quite funny. There’s some cute romance here too, although the humor element is certainly a greater focus. Fair warning for those of you who don’t care for OCs: this story is majorly focused on an OC and her relationship with Dr. Watson and Sherlock. Personally, I love outsider POV stories; they provide some great insights into characters that we often have grown too close to for us to see clearly anymore. And The Secret Identity of John Watson does just that to great effect and with great amusement. Recommended.

Note: You can find The Secret Identity of John Watson at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7968683/1/The-Secret-Identity-of-John-Watson.

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Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined

Author: Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 2.5 of 5

You’re likely all familiar with the story of Bella and Edward, star-crossed lovers who obsess over each other–one human, the other vampire, a love-story fraught with complications. But what if, perhaps in another universe, things had been just a little different. What if Bella had been a guy–Beau–and Edward a girl–Edythe? Would fate have still drawn them inexorably together? And would their choices lead them to the same conclusion? This is Beau and Edythe’s story.

Having just read (and enjoyed) Meyer’s The Chemist, I decided to (finally) give Life and Death a try. And I have to say that, having read Twilight a few times in the past, the experience of reading this book was immensely strange. I guess I was expecting something along the lines of a retelling–you know, the same concepts, but genderbent and retold. This is more like a genderbent manuscript rewrite with an alternate ending. There are areas where awkward phrasings were corrected, certain concepts were delved into more, obvious changes due to the altered gender of the characters . . . but there are also huge swathes of story that are exactly the same, down to memorable phrases being word for word. None of this is exactly bad, but . . . it also feels kind of cheap to be marketing this as a whole new book, you know? I did enjoy the alternate ending, and I think it was fitting. And yes, the gender swap did make the romance less weird and creepy that it was in Twilight, I guess. But on the whole, I honestly wasn’t super impressed. I probably would have liked Life and Death a lot more if I hadn’t read Twilight first, so there’s that . . . if you haven’t read either and are interested in trying one, this one is probably the better book. Otherwise, not particularly recommended; it was okay, but just generally a strange reading experience.

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