George vs. the Dragon Review

Title:  George vs. the Dragon                                 Author: Galaxy1001D

Source: King Arthur (Legend)                               Character(s): George, Merlin, King Arthur

Rating:  K+                                                          Genre(s): Humor / Romance

Chapter(s): 1                                                        Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: In King Arthur’s Camelot, young Squire George must find a magic ring to stop a dragon from terrorizing England, but finds out the hard way that a dragon has no fury like a woman scorned.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5492003/1/George-vs-the-Dragon

 

Welcome Readers, we’re closing out another week and this time I wanted to end it on a high note.  I found this story a while back, saved it, then read it after seeing the new King Arthur movie, “Arthur: The Legend of the Sword.”  Seeing the movie made me want to read some stories based on Arthurian legend and I came across this one in my collection to read and review.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

The synopsis is actually pretty accurate; this is a retelling of the George slaying the dragon.  The dragon Goldenfire has turned its back on the people of England due to an enchanted artifact from Morgan Le Fey.  The artifact causes the dragon’s moral alignment to make a 180°, thus the dragon kidnaps maidens and terrorizes the countryside.  Now the only way to return Goldenfire to its former glory is to put the Ring of Matrimonial Bliss on it.  Squire George volunteers for this venture as it’s the only way he will be pardoned for his less than moral behavior.

It’s a clever, entertaining story that knew its source material and its strengths, playing certain aspects up a bit more than others and making nods when appropriate.  It’s a nice balance.

Whenever I come across a retelling of Arthurian myth (part or whole), I normally expect a dark, grittier version – like the latest trend in Hollywood.  I don’t expect the story to be light hearted and fun, but this story defies my expectations.  This is less of a dark Hollywood story and more like the ‘90s Saturday morning cartoon adventures – with some adult humor.

For instance, on the one hand there’s Merlin’s behavior during the initial meeting where he’s an elder(ish) man caught up in what he sees in his crystal ball then a bit clumsy as he comes out of his trance.  On the other hand, there’s Queen Guinevere who in an almost air-headed way mentions how George has been peeking in on her while she and several other maids undress.  There are just little subtlies like those that give the story it’s comedic, light-hearted feel yet adds a bit of tongue in cheek with the hint of voyeurism.  I enjoyed the combination.  It made the story more enjoyable.

Another strength, is the story’s sense for the source material.  Even people who have never read a single King Arthur book or seen one of the movies knows King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, and Merlin; but those same people wouldn’t know Sir Kay, Sir Gawaine, Sir Tristram, Gareth of Orkeny, Sir Hector, or Sir Alisander.  There are so many characters in the Arthurian myth and this story takes the time to recognize it.

The begin is a meeting of The Knights of the Roundtable as they discuss the crisis and plan their counterattack on Goldenfire; the meeting isn’t just King Arthur and Merlin speaking, all the knights engage in the discussion.  This isn’t engage like “Oh my” quips but actual sentences expressing concerns and strategic thoughts.  While the number of lines might be small each line is not wasted; each utterance by the Knights gives a brief glimpse into who that knight is and their personality.  I applaud the effort the story put into including so many characters without making them feel like furniture – there to fill space.

Finally, the twist.  This would by an M. Night Shyamalan type twist if Shyamalan could do lighthearted.  I don’t want to give it away so I won’t say what the twist entails.  I, however, give credit on it being simple and fun.  Karma comes full circle. In this one.

Normally, I’d point out how the 2D characters bring down the story but I can’t with this story.  It’s a shorter story so there’s less growth and time to spend with the characters.  Plus, in the older Arthurian stories the focus is less on the characters and more on the adventure.  This story reflects that mentality by focusing on the task to defeat Goldenfire rather than on who George is as a character.

Even so, the story does a good job of establishing the type of persona the characters are meant to personify.  Lancelot is the brash warrior with more brawn than brains, Arthur is the judicious ruler, Merlin the knowledgeable wizard, Guinevere is the compassionate, ignorant queen, and George is the hormonal bachelor.  The story gives Readers enough information to develop an opinion and enough to figure out how the ending affects them.

In the end, anything I would gripe about isn’t an issue with this story.  So, there’s nothing really wrong with this story, it’s a delightful retelling.

I would recommend this to any Reader, whether you are a fan of Arthurian legends or just a fan of fan fiction.  It’s a fun story that doesn’t require much Arthurian knowledge before reading and while such knowledge helps with the tongue-in-cheek references, it’s not required.  This is just a fun story about a young Squire sent to neutralize the dragon threat.

Personally, I hope to find more stories like this one by Galaxy1001D in the future.

 

Stars: 8.5/10

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Hope Floats Review

Title: Hope Floats                                                          Author: Femme Malheureuse

Source: Pride & Prejudice                                         Genres: NA

Character(s): Caroline Bingley, Louisa Hurst, Darcy           Rating: NA

Chapter(s): 1                                                           Status: Complete

Synopsis: Her petticoat six inches deep in much, and the gown which had been let down to hide it not doing its office.  Yet Mr. Darcy could only note the frowsy country chit’s ‘brightened eyes.’  What’s a girl to do to focus Mr. Darcy’s attention where it really belongs?

https://www.dwiggie.com/derby/femme1.htm

 

Welcome Readers, today I present to you a Pride & Prejudice fan fic of a different sort.  Normally I tend to read the alternate universe or a retelling from Darcy or Bingley’s view, but this time I figured I’d give Caroline Bingley some love.  I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

This is not what I was expecting and I think the story kind of pulled a “psych!” on me about half way through.  See, I thought this was going to be a one-shot tie-in to the novel where Caroline deludes herself into thinking that somehow she has a chance with Darcy.  With how the story builds up I thought the author was going to make use of the scene from the novel where Caroline and Darcy are out walking and come upon Louisa and Elizabeth.  It’s a small scene that closes chapter 10 of the novel and it’s ignored in every other iteration so I thought the story was going to use that set up and give it some sort of twist that gives Caroline hope that Darcy might be interested in her.  Alas, that is not the case.

What the story entails is: Elizabeth comes to Netherfield to care for her ill sister.  The Bingley sisters notice how Darcy’s attentions turn to the country girl and start to plan how to redirect his attention to Caroline.  At Louisa’s urging, Caroline learns the walking path Elizabeth prefers to walk and follows Elizabeth the next morning.  The plan was to avoid Elizabeth and Darcy meeting each other, alone, and to make Darcy notice Caroline’s eyes that would “brightened by the exercise.”  However, the walk does not go as planned.

That’s the brief version of the story.  I don’t want to give away the twist so I’m stopping here with the synopsis.  However, there is more involved.

This story is less about how “Hope Floats” and more about how a series of unfortunate events builds bridges between two (three) families.  It’s really a story where the original ending happens a lot sooner than in the original novel.  That’s all.

I’m not a fan of stories likes this where things are altered just to bring about the ending sooner.  I don’t mind it when the fan fic makes the original story longer, I just hate it when it cuts it short.  This is a personal gripe and it comes from the fact that everything that happens in Pride & Prejudice needs that year; the character growth, the romance, etc.  All of that needed that year to really grow and endure.  So when a fan fic tries to shorten that journey and bring the ending around a lot closer, it feels hollow.  After all, the characters don’t evolve since the situations that contributed to their evolution do not take place and the foundations for the romance are weakened.

I’m just saying in the original novel Bingley is still in love with Jane after being apart for 9 months, Darcy’s love for Elizabeth not only endures but evolves, Elizabeth recognizes her flaws and mistakes, Darcy is shown the error of his ways (no, he wasn’t just shy!  Read the damn book.), and Mr. Bennet learns the results of taking the hands off approach to raising 5 girls.  All these things get thrown out the window when a fan fic shortens the story and ends it prematurely.

Again, that is a personal gripe.  For other people, this may not be an issue.

The meat of the story with Caroline trying to regain Darcy’s attention is fine in theory but it’s implemented poorly.  She fails but it’s not in the way that Readers would think, and the twist ruins any future attempts to sway Darcy.

I would have liked this story better if it had been written differently.  If it had been about “Hope Floats” – such a misleading title – and Caroline’s attempts to gain Darcy’s affections.  As it is there is nothing wrong with the writing, just the story itself.  It’s not even the story itself – at least not entirely – it’s how this story is paired with the title “Hope Floats” and the synopsis, because those two parts do not connect to what the story contains.  A different title and synopsis that reflected the actual story would make it better; or, at least not make it feel like I just got swerved.

My recommendation is…I guess check it out.  The story itself isn’t so bad other than my personal gripe and that it has nothing to do with the title or synopsis.  Other than that, the story is fine.  It’s written well and is entertaining (to an extent).  So…yeah, if any Austen fan is interested in checking out the story they should.

On a personal level, I think a story about Caroline’s attempts to sway Darcy would be interesting to read, especially if it was written as a comedy.  This story just isn’t what I was looking for in a Caroline-centric story.

 

Stars: 5/10

Dreams Review

Title: Dreams                                                                Author: A Ghost of the Past

Source: Disney                                                             Character(s): Various Disney

Rating:  T                                                                    Genre(s): Tragedy / Angst

Chapter(s): 1                                                                 Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.” Or so they say. This is the true story of the Disney girls, their tragic lives and the dreams they used to escape them.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10658046/1/Dreams

 

Welcome Readers, today I have less of a story and more of a collection of snippets to review.  It’s a bit different from the other stories I’ve reviewed lately and it’s a darker version of what really happened in these fairy tales.  Not necessarily dark like Grimm’s but definitely not the light fluff that Disney wraps its characters in.   I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

The synopsis is pretty accurate; each fairy tale is summarized in a brief paragraph that shows the dreams (fairy tales) the ladies used to escape their – often times – tragic realities.  However, the dreams only last until something forces the girls to stop dreaming (death, growing up, rape, etc.).  For example, the tale of Beauty and the Beast is Belle’s dream until she is dies by her abusive husband’s hands.  Not all endings result in death and not all of them are necessarily “bad” either; it’s just none have the happy ending of fairy tales.  The fantasy juxtapositions the reality beautifully.

This collection does really well in conveying what fairy tale it’s referencing, the girl’s reality, and the ultimate end with a few sentences.  None of the snippets end happily but they convey so much and it’s easy to imagine these Disney characters escaping into these dreams based on the reality described.  Plus, each snippet ties into the next one; the transitions are nice and smooth, never disrupting the flow as the Reader goes from one fairy tale to the next.

I think that the shortness of each retelling really helps this story; the endings are dark and depressing, the type of endings that normally prevent a story ever being finished.  Lengthy stories with depressing endings rarely get finished because people (those reading and writing them) don’t like constantly dark and depressing endings.  We all enjoy the happy endings and even the bitter-sweet/hopeful endings, but not the constant depressing endings.  Sure, each snippet could be its own lengthy one-shot, but then they become overburdened with depressing events or throw characters through every imaginable, dark situation.  So, to present a collection of dark tales, this fic did well in presenting each tale as a snippet.

Another aspect that I enjoy is that each woman is at a different stage in her life when she’s dreaming these fairy tales.  Most people know that the leading Disney females are typically 20 years or younger (the eldest is 21 and that’s Elsa).  It’s refreshing to have these girls at different points in their lives.  Instead of following the teenage girls who are unhappy with their lives and wish for eternal love, it’s the married woman with 3 kids, the preteen, the orphan as she grows up, the middle-aged woman, etc.  Having such a ride range of ages and backgrounds opens these dreams to all ages rather than limiting it to the youthful.

Finally, I love that it’s kind of a psychology study of these characters.  How far is someone willing to sink into their daydreams to avoid/cope with reality?  For some of these ladies they cling to their fantasies so much that they’ll die just to avoid reality.  Meanwhile, others ultimately accept their reality and allow their dreams to be shattered.  One lady holds onto her fairy tale for life and is able to cope enough with the present that her fairy tale doesn’t drive her to suicide.  Another one is forced to let go of her fairy tale when she marries and becomes pregnant.  It’s fascinating to see where each fairy tale leads the Disney ladies.

I don’t think there is a lot of room for improvement in this collection.  The snippets keep everything brief and the nods are made to the original sources while not having to explicitly say which fairy tale is being represented.  There isn’t much in the way of grammar to improve.  I think the only thing that could be done is to do a second chapter but now from the men of Disney’s perspectives.

I highly recommend this fic.  It’s a great little treat for anyone who enjoys the darker sides of Disney and it’s a great fic for getting the creative juices going for struggling authors.  I’m not saying steal the ideas from this fic, but rather use it as a springboard for possible stories.

Stars: 10/10

Hansel and Gretel Review

Title: Hansel and Gretel                                             Author: Encalve

Source: Hansel and Gretel                                         Character(s): Hansel & Gretel

Rating:  T                                                                 Genre(s): Adventure / Hurt / Comfort

Chapter(s): 1                                                             Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  one-shot. A retelling of Hansel and Gretel with a little twist and post-apocalyptic-ish thingies.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10290453/1/Hansel-and-Gretel

 

Welcome Readers, it’s that time of the week for another review.  Today I have a retelling of a classic fairy tale, a post-apocalyptic version of Hansel and Gretel.  Interesting, right?  Well, let’s begin. I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; here to review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.

This is the part where I normally give my version of the story but…it’s Hansel and Gretel the story has been told so many times and this version doesn’t really add much to the original.  I will say that “retelling” is a loose term for this story because while some aspects have been altered it doesn’t enhance or change the original story.

I have so many points to make about the story’s weaknesses that I guess I’ll start with the better parts of the story.  The writing is not the worst; it’s not the redeeming quality of the story either, but it’s about the only praiseworthy part of this story.  There are plenty issues with sentence structures, incomplete sentences, tense fluctuations, and grammar, but in comparison to other stories this is not the worst.

Although, writing does not help this story.  Everything is exposition!  There is no emotion, no connection between the story and the Reader, or the characters within the story.  There are situations that should rouse sympathy from the reader but it’s all one dimensional.  For instance, the story has Gretel forced to be a whore to bring in additional income.  As the Reader, I know I should feel bad for Gretel and I should be mad at the stepmother for forcing it upon her.  However, I’m just not invested.  I don’t know the characters and their experiences.  For all I know Gretel could enjoy being a human sex doll.  I assume she doesn’t but with how the story is written I don’t know if that’s true.

Gretel and Hansel’s relationship shows the lack of connection between the characters.  It can be assumed that the siblings are close, but there’s little in the story to back it up.  Hansel could despise Gretel and just be bound by some sense of familial obligation, I don’t know.  The story doesn’t show what kind of relationship the siblings have, only that they are siblings and they stay together throughout the story.  I’m not saying that the writing could have fixed all of this, but it would’ve helped the Reader understand the kind of relationship these siblings share and how they feel about their situation.

Then there’s the setting, according to the synopsis it’s meant to be a post-apocalyptic(ish) world.  I don’t think the apocalypse has taken place before the story.  There are subtle hints that the world has become a bit chaotic, like using ammo casings as oppose to breadcrumbs, but it doesn’t show how or why there are ammo casings around the area.  Is there a gun range nearby?  Is their home often near firefights?  If so, why?  Saying that the setting is “post-apocalyptic” doesn’t tell me why there are so many shells in a secluded area or how Hansel would have known to find some.  How is the setting “post-apocalyptic?”  Because ammo cases on the ground doesn’t necessarily mean “post-apocalyptic.”

Plus, if this is meant to be a “post-apocalyptic” setting then how have things changed to conform to the lifestyle Hansel and Gretel live?  Has humanity returned to bartering, so if the family wants goods then they have to trade for them?  Is that why Gretel was forced to sell her body?  Having this undefined version of “post-apocalyptic” is leading towards more questions and is unnecessary to the story’s narrative.  I think the only thing the “post-apocalyptic” setting did was make it convenient for the passing doctor to have robots to help stitch up Hansel at the end.

Another weakness is the events of the story.  Anyone having heard the original Hansel and Gretel tale knows about the witch’s house made of sweets.  Well, in a retelling I don’t expect it to necessarily be a witch’s house or that it needs to be made of sweets.  What I do expect is that most of the action take place in the house since that’s where the two siblings were supposed to be kept prisoner until they were ready to be baked.  Apparently, my expectations are lofty.

The siblings come upon this cabin in the woods (no candy) and enter it only to come face to face with a hunter who tries to kill them.  The changes of the cabin and hunter (instead of witch) are great and make sense for the type of story being crafted.  However, I think the story did itself a disservice by summarizing the events in the cabin in 2-3 paragraphs.  It is essentially, Hansel and Gretel enter a residence and are attacked by the owner which results in Hansel killing the hunter.

It could be argued that the hunter was going to kill Hansel first and Hansel killed the hunter in self-defense.  I would agree but Hansel enters the house without permission and doesn’t make his presence known and that he meant no harm.  Hansel (from the story’s narrative) goes into an “empty” cabin in the woods, alone and armed with an axe.  That’s a recipe for disaster.

Personally, I’m on the hunter’s side and think it was appropriate to attack Hansel in this story.  An unknown man enters the hunter’s home with an axe.  If anything the hunter seems to be the one in danger, not Hansel.  For all I know the hunter had come out of the bathroom only to discover an armed person in his living room and freaked.

Finally, the whole thing about Gretel being whored out is an all right idea, but it didn’t amount to much.  There isn’t a reason for Gretel’s whoring except to be an excuse for a confrontation between Hansel and the stepmom.  This plot would have been an opportunity to bring together Gretel and Hansel’s seemingly separate tales; the Hunter could have purchased Gretel from the settlement and as he brought her back to his place they find Hansel in the cabin.  Gretel pleas for Hansel’s life and the Hunter decides to keep Hansel alive only to be the “main course” for the after consummation celebration (or whatever other reason).  In that kind of story, it ties in elements from the original source, brings a twist, and gives the Reader this survival-horror story.

By the way, if anyone’s a writer, feel free to take the above idea and make it your own.  I hold no copyright over it.

In the end, the idea behind the story (post-apocalyptic, fighting a hunter instead of a witch, and Gretel being forced into prostitution) is good.  It’s a dark idea and it works well within the original source.  However, the execution leaves much to be desired.  The characters are one-dimensional, the setting is forgettable, the writing dry, and the main meat from the original source is reduced to a few paragraphs.

I don’t recommend this story to anyone.  It felt like a waste of time and it doesn’t bring anything new to the tale of Hansel and Gretel.

Stars: 2/10

Back to December Review

Title: Back to December                                                                                Author: Fading Ashes

Original Source: Harry Potter                                                                   Character(s): Draco M. & Hermione G.

Rating:  T                                                                                                             Genre(s): Hurt / Comfort / Romance

Chapter(s): 1                                                                                                       Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: So this is me, standing in front you, saying I’m sorry for that night. And I go back to December all the time. Sequel to Last Christmas. HGDM

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10253194/1/Back-To-December

*Groans.*

Hey Readers, this is Fan Fic Reviewer; reviewing the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction. As I said yesterday, today I am reviewing the sequel to Last Christmas and…*takes a breath* I still regret not reading the synopsis to either story. Granted, I had never heard the song “Back to December” so I wouldn’t have realized that the synopsis is the lyrics to the song. Now I know! And knowing is half the battle.

Thankfully, Back to December is short so I don’t have to endure a lot of the nonsense from Last Christmas. *Re-reads fan fic.* I retract that statement. It’s short but there’s just as much nonsense in this story.

I’ll tackle the first issue with this fan fic. It’s a “sequel” but actually, it’s more like the end to Last Christmas that was cut off and given its own story because it features a different song. There is no actual story here. It’s the falling action portion from Last Christmas but it’s given its own song and labeled “sequel.” Sure Back to December follows up on Last Christmas in terms of maintaining the lyric theme, the continuation of Draco and Hermione romance, and…*thinks* that’s about it. Back to December is not its own story though.

For all of my complaints about Last December at least there was a story there, sure it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been; but it was there. Back to December is—supposedly—about Draco getting Hermione back. Well—SPOILER ALERT—it doesn’t take much to get Hermione back. Apparently, serenading her while playing guitar will win her back. *Re-reads sentence.* Um…guitar? *References story.* God damn it!

Alright, what is a guitar doing in this fan fic? I get that it’s cute, sweet, and sexy to have a guy croon to a girl while playing the guitar, but this is the world of wizards! Wizards! Magic! Ring any bells? Come on, the movies and books heavily imply (if not downright say) that the wizarding world thinks very low (with disdain and disgust) of the muggle world. The only character who cares about the muggle world is Mr. Weasley. So, why would Draco play the guitar instead of using an enchanted instrument to play for him? Why would he know a muggle song? Gah!

The best way to avoid all of this nonsense is to make the stories AU (alternate universe or author’s universe). Seriously, just make it AU, have them be normal high schoolers going through the typical high school romance drama. No need to have the magic and spells; it’s not as though the magic is a prominent feature of the stories and it doesn’t add much. Sure, it keeps Hermione’s make-up from running but that’s about it.

Just have the stories be AU so I don’t have to try and explain why Draco knows how to play guitar, why he knows the song “Back to December,” or why he doesn’t just enchant the guitar to play for him. It makes things so simple!

Moving on!

The driving plot of the “story” is Draco trying to win Hermione back, but there is no conflict. Yeah. The story kind of carries out like this: Draco has to get back with Hermione, Draco decides to use music to woo her, Draco sings to Hermione, and all is forgiven. Kisses all around. Really story? Did you even try?

The idea that Draco has to win Hermione back is great; the proverbial ball is in his court. I’m all for cute and cavity inducing sweet scenes, but I like to see effort put into these type of situations too. Draco could have tried several different ways to try and woo Hermione back, each time it’s a failure, and he learns a little more about how he can earn Hermione’s love again.

Yup, I used the word “earn” because after the BS Draco put Hermione through in the first story he should have to prove himself. I mean he was disgusted with her during the entire time that they were dating, he hasn’t said “I love you” or “I’m sorry” (“I’m sorry” showing up in the lyrics does not mean he actually apologized), and he hasn’t made any effort to make amends with Hermione before. So, to have Draco pull this serenade stunt and Hermione to just take him back is complete BS. I guess Hermione wasn’t as hurt about the betrayal as she led on.

*Groans.* I’m giving these two stories a lot of grief and it’s because of the execution. The stories have potential—even with the teen romance-drama—and that’s what gets me. There’s so much potential but instead of building on that potential the story puts out the bare minimal to reach that happy ending as soon as possible. The writing style is fine, the drama is there, the emotion in the characters is there, but the romance falls through. Sure, I could say that it’s because they’re teenagers who know nothing of love, but that would be BS. No, the romance falls through because of the lack of time and effort put in to build it up.

Is there a niche for these types of stories? Yes. Are there Readers who will enjoy this story and it’s prequel despite its flaws? Yes. I’m just not among the lot. So would I recommend the story? I only recommend it if it sounds interesting to you. Otherwise, if nothing stands out to Readers then don’t bother.

Alright, fingers crossed that I find a good story to review for tomorrow. *Crosses fingers.* I need a decent story to read. This is Idunwanaprofile; reviewing the good, the bad, and those that should not exist in fan fiction, and praying for relief from sub-par stories. Happy reading!

Stars: 4/10