Tag Archives: Scotland

There May Be Some Collateral Damage (Bleach/Harry Potter Crossover Fanfic)

Author: metisket

AO3 ID: 5030443

Status: Complete (3 chapters)

My rating: 5 of 5

Ichigo is convinced that someone lost a bet–although whether it was his boss or the other guy is a bit of a mystery. Whatever the case, whoever thought sending him to some military magic school that’s full of weirdness and politicking to bodyguard some teenage ball of rage should probably be committed. Because seriously. In any case, Ichigo finds himself packed off to Scotland to keep an eye on one Harry Potter (and consequently, Harry’s friends and associates). Meanwhile Urahara and Yoruichi track down and kill off pieces of some “Dark Lord”‘s soul–and seriously, why do these wizards let him get away with giving himself airs when his name is, in fact, Tom?–because apparently Soul Society doesn’t take kindly to people splitting their soul into pieces. Naturally, Ichigo’s presence in Hogwarts is about as much a wrecking ball as you can imagine. But hey, at least the wizard kids are learning to protect themselves, right?

There May Be Some Collateral Damage is absolutely the Bleach/HP crossover that I never knew I needed. It’s taken mostly from Ichigo’s perspective, although we occasionally get Hermione, Ron, or the Weasley twins’ perspective on him as well. And yeah, it’s basically hilarious from start to finish. Ichigo is sooo not into his role, as he tells Toshiro over the phone repeatedly. And of course, he completely fails to keep stuff a secret from Harry &co., while at the same time, telling them basically nothing about who he actually is or about Soul Society or anything. Ichigo, being the man of action he is, manages to stir up all kinds of trouble with Umbridge, trouble the castle ghosts, rope the twins into his schemes, and generally baffle the student body–all while theoretically trying to keep himself in check and well-behaved. I really loved the characterizations presented here. Ichigo himself is full of snark and having none of this political rubbish. And seeing the HP characters through his eyes is just fascinating; the author did a great job with that. The one thing I didn’t care for was the presentation of Dumbledore, because I actually like him; and yet, I can totally see Ichigo seeing him as he’s presented here, so I can’t even really complain about that. Also, just the writing itself is quite good, managing to be enjoyable and seamless even though it’s written in present tense. I found There May Be Some Collateral Damage to be both insightful and funny (like, I was laughing aloud basically through the whole thing), and I would recommend it to fans without reservation.

Note: You can find There May Be Some Collateral Damage at https://archiveofourown.org/works/5030443/chapters/11562568.

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Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies

Author: J. K. Rowling

My rating: 4 of 5

While entering the world of wizarding and magic through the stories of young Mr. Potter, we are introduced to any number of individuals, some of whom have a profound impact on events even while remaining shrouded in mystery. Professor McGonagall, for instance, shows immense depth of character and insight, yet her students are never told much of anything regarding her personal history. And Remus Lupin, beloved teacher and dear friend of Harry’s parents, had his own share of secrets. Even some of your less well-known residents of Hogwarts may surprise you with their courage, their tragic histories, and the lengths to which they will go in pursuit of their passions.

As with Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide, this collection is less a collection of short stories per se and more of a collection of short documentaries and short biographies that were originally released on the Pottermore website and are here collected in an organized volume. It’s quite an enjoyable collection, I must say. This particular volume focuses on the lives of Professor McGonagall, Remus Lupin, Sybill Trelawney, and Silvanus Kettleburn, providing all sorts of details that never came up in the Harry Potter books. The bulk of the book is focused on McGonagall and Lupin (which is as it should be). The sections about Minerva made me love and admire her all the more, and Lupin’s story made me cry all over again (like I didn’t do that enough while reading those parts of the Harry Potter series to begin with!). Mixed in with the characters’ stories are short sections of a more documentary nature, providing additional details about werewolves, the naming of witches and wizards, and the like, which were quite interesting as well. I would definitely recommend Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies to any fan of the Harry Potter stories (even if the book doesn’t actually contain short stories).

 

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The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains

Author: Neil Gaiman

Illustrator: Eddie Campbell

Long ago in Scotland, a man of child-like stature hires Calum MacInnes to lead him to a secret cave on the Misty Isle. It is said that this cave is filled with more gold than you can carry, but that gold’s protected by an ancient curse. Calum MacInnes should know, for he went to that cave himself once when he was much younger–went and came back with enough gold to buy himself a good life . . . and with an emptiness inside that could never be filled. As the two journey to the island together, their thoughts are both filled with secrets, darkness, regrets, and schemes they can never reveal to the other–at least not as long as the other is alive.

If you’ve read this blog for long at all, you know I’m a huge fan of Neil Gaiman’s writing. Having said that, while I was reading The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, I was honestly wondering if this particular book was just a miss–I really wan’t feeling it at all. But by the time I’d pushed through the first third of the story, things began changing quite a bit as the underlying motivations and interlacing background stories were laid bare. Because these aren’t simply two men who are randomly using each other; they have a dark, tragic connection in their past, one that is closely tied to the revenge one seeks on the other without his ken. This is a dark, psychologically involved, emotionally taxing story–but one that is rewarding in a brutal sort of way to those who push through to the end. Particularly notable about this book is Eddie Campbell’s art–it’s truly a hodgepodge of paintings, photographs, and even comics. It’s unusual, unsettling, but highly effective in this context. I certainly don’t think The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains is for everyone–maybe not even for all Neil Gaiman fans–but if you enjoy unusual, dark short novels and have some patience for a slower start, you might want to check this novelette out.

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The Braid

Author: Helen Frost

The year is 1850, and famine is sweeping across the land. Worse still, many of the Scottish landlords are finding it isn’t worth their while to continue to allow tenants on their lands. Such is the situation Sarah and Jeanie’s family find themselves in, forced to leave their home and find a new place to live. The family decides to sell what little they can and take the next ship to Canada in hopes of starting a new life there, but Sarah finds her heart so tied to the land that she can’t bear to leave, choosing instead to hide while her family is forced to depart without her. Sarah makes a life for herself with her grandmother on the nearby island of Mingualay, while Jeanie and the others make the difficult journey by ship across the ocean. Yet even as they are separated by great distances, the sisters are connected by precious memories . . . memories they carry physical evidence of in the form of a braid made from their intertwined hair.

Helen Frost does something beautiful and special in the writing of The Braid. She has crafted not only a sensitive and poignant tale of the difficulties the poor faced during the potato famine and subsequent emigrations, but she has also created an intricate, elegant poetic work, weaving dual voices, praise pieces, repeating ideas, and detailed line structure. Yet she has managed to create a work that is still very natural to read–sparse, raw in places, yet rich and expressive. The Braid is an excellent work of poetry, historical fiction, sisterly affection, and romance, all wonderfully woven together into a touching, brief volume. Definitely recommended reading.

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Brave

Pixar Animation Studios

Written by Brenda Chapman/Directed by Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman/Produced by Katherine Sarafian/Music by Patrick Doyle

Merida is exactly like her mother the queen–strong-willed, stubborn, and sure she knows best–so of course, they’re bound to butt heads. Frequently. However, when the queen invites the other member nations of their united kingdoms to compete for Merida’s hand in marriage, Merida feels her mother has taken things too far. . . . And decides to take her fate into her own hands.

Brave is a beautiful, touching story. It’s classic Pixar, with the strong family focus, “follow your heart” theme, and widespread spattering of comic (sometimes slightly crude) relief. The characters–particularly Merida and her mom–are well developed and carry the story well. I really love the setting–historic Scotland–and the animation brings out the rugged beauty of the setting to great effect. (Plus I must say, I adore Merida’s hair and the dresses.)The music is also gorgeous–intentionally tear-jerking at parts, but that’s Disney for you. All told, I’d say Brave is an enjoyable, relatively family-safe movie that I’d generally recommend for most audiences.

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The Haunting of Granite Falls

the haunting of granite fallsAuthor: Eva Ibbotson

My rating: 4 of 5

Twelve-year-old Alex MacBuff is a proper Scottish laird with his own castle, complete with resident ghosts. Which is all well and good, except that he has no funds to maintain said castle. Rather that watching it fall to pieces around him, Alex makes the difficult decision to sell the castle to a Texan millionaire–who wants to ship it across the Atlantic in pieces and rebuild it in Texas! Unfortunately, this leaves Alex with another problem–the Texan clearly specified that he would have no ghosts in his castle, and now Alex has to find someplace to relocate his childhood friends.

As with most of Ibboston’s books, it’s difficult to explain the appeal of The Haunting of Granite Falls, even to myself. The characters are so nice that they really ought to be disgusting (like Little Lord Fauntleroy or Elsie Dinsmore), yet they are impossible to dislike. Similarly, despite containing some interesting twists, the plotline has a distinct inevitability, a certainty that “good will prevail” and all that. Yet Ibbotson somehow transforms what would usually be an insipid plotline into one that is comforting, rather. Actually, that is the one word that I feel best describes Ibbotson’s work: comfortable. This is the sort of book that I would recommend reading on a rainy day while savoring a good cup of hot English tea.

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