Jul. 9th, 2012

dorsetgirl: (DG1)
I don’t often do recs, but I think I’ve got to on this: if you want a well-written Harry Potter gen story that respects canon and goes one better, clear the decks for about eight to ten hours, and read Dumbledore’s Army and the Year of Darkness, which tells us what Neville Longbottom and the DA were doing while Harry, Ron and Hermione were spending a year camping.

This was apparently the writer’s first story ever, which I honestly find extremely difficult to believe - the prose is clear and clean and assured, the plotting and attention to detail are astonishing, and I lost count of the times I found myself laughing or gasping and saying “Oh, that’s why...” before catching myself and realising that it wasn’t why at all, it was just a fic-writer’s guess as to why. It also had me in tears on many, many occasions.

This story explains so many things - even maybe things you hadn’t quite realised needed explaining - and dovetails so seamlessly with canon that from where I’m sitting right now, having spent much of Friday and today reading this story, it almost feels like this is canon, and JK’s own story is a light gilding on top. (As I’ve been re-reading the books anyway, and am currently halfway through Half-Blood Prince, it will be very interesting to see how I feel about that view once I get back into JK’s own work.)

Having several years ago written - on a much smaller scale - a story which needed to fit with and explain canon in a similar way to this fic, I understand to a certain degree what’s involved in such an undertaking, and I can’t begin to guess at how much planning and analysis the writer has put into making everything in this story work so brilliantly.

The only jarring note is the clearly American tinge to the writing. Don’t get me wrong, grammar and punctuation are excellent, and there are thankfully few of the more blatantly American uses of various past tenses. But there are small oddities and giveaways all the way through; I could live with them in narrative, even if they did jolt me out of the story occasionally, but I found the constant little spikes of awareness rather more irritating in dialogue, because for me they undermined the solid work the writer has done on characterisation. I think a good firm Brit-picking could have raised this from excellent to perfect.

In conclusion - read it! But be warned, it’s 247,000 words altogether, and the violence and gore of the final battle are significantly more graphic than in the books.

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