Emma’s New Year Review

Title: Emma’s New Year                                         Author: Kathy

Source: Emma by Jane Austen                                 Character(s): Emma & Knightly

Rating: NA                                                        Genre(s): NA

Chapter(s): 1                                                        Status: Complete

Synopsis:  Emma Woodhouse attends a party and finds an opportunity for love in the new year.

https://www.dwiggie.com/derby/kathy24.htm

 

Welcome Readers, it’s time to close out another week.  Since I’m in the middle of reading a couple very LONG stories – one is 81 chapters and the other is 122 chapters – I wanted to take a break to read something lighter.  So, I went back to my old stomping ground of Austen stories and dug up some treasures.  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.

Returning to my favorite site for Austen fiction I looked at the “Fantasia Gallery” where all the alternate universe stories are stored.  There were plenty to choose from but this Emma one caught my interest.  This is a cute one shot.  It’s a modern setting for Emma and it’s essentially the ending of the book where Knightly confesses to Emma but it takes place at a New Years’ Party.

I’ll start by saying that I really enjoyed this story.  I enjoyed the modern setting, the nods to the original story, the whirlwind of emotions Emma feels, and the relationship between Emma and Knightly.  Just everything worked so well in this story!

I enjoyed the modern setting of this story, although I had initially thought it was going to be a 1920s setting; it has a swinger vibe to it.  Further into the story, enough information is given to paint the modern setting; and who Emma is by this point in the story.  Knowing who Emma is helps to show where in the original story this one parallels; the confession scene.

The writing does an amazing job of recapping the story of Emma via Emma’s evaluation of the past year and weaving it into the current events.  It seamlessly goes through the ups and downs; from Miss Taylor’s wedding, befriending Harriet, the horrible debacle with Elton, and the strange relationship with Frank.  It’s a well-crafted nod to Austen fans but not given in huge detail that would burden people unfamiliar with the original story.

This story does a great job in creating a sense for Emma’s emotions.  She’s recently single, her last boyfriend was dating someone else, and her new friend is crushing on her long-time friend and brother-in-law.  Then as midnight draws near her worst nightmare is released on the party; balloons.  Emma’s fear during this part of the story is almost pliable.  As is her relief when Knightly saves her.  There is the sense that everything is kind of closing in around Emma throughout the party then there is the glimmer of light with Knightly rescue and confession.

The relationship between Knightly and Emma isn’t explored much but I don’t think it needed to be.  After all, the story subtly gives hints as to the kind of relationship he’s had with Emma prior to the story and Emma actively chooses not to explore her feelings during the party.  Knightly is very much like any other iteration, ever Emma’s dependable friend; he knows to do to help ease Emma’s burdens (getting her father food and drink), he anticipates her needs (fear of balloons), and he doesn’t seek admiration for his deeds.  For showcasing very little of Knightly in the story, it does successfully illustrate him as the man who has always been by her side.

I don’t think there is anything terribly weak about this story.  It’s got solid writing, a great build up, and is wonderfully charming for Austen fans.  I kind of want to read more stories like this one.

I highly recommend Austen fans to check out this story.  This is definitely worth the read.

 

Stars: 10/10

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

A Tea Called Alice

Title: A Tea Called Alice                                                                       Author: spookyknight

Original Source: SyFy’s Alice / Alice, 2009                               Character(s): Alice & Hatter

Rating: M                                                                                                   Genre(s): Romance/Drama

Chapter(s): 6                                                                                            Status: On-Hiatus

Author’s Synopsis: “You should know…” Hatter began haltingly.  The tremor in his hands betrayed his nervousness.  “I think I love you.  But I’m afraid that doesn’t mean the same thing in your world as it does in mine.”  A slightly dark look at love in the world beyond the Looking Glass.  The pieces fall into place.  They’ll build their own world together.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8575070/1/A-Tea-Called-Alice

*Jaw clenches.  Glares at computer screen.* YOU HAVE TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!

What the hell?!

*Takes several deep breaths.* Welcome Readers, I am your pissed off reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer.  I read the good, the bad, and those that should never exist within the world of fan fiction.  I found one!  I found a story that I can honestly say should be entirely scrapped!  Or at the very least should not have that synopsis attached to it.

Dear Readers, do not believe that synopsis because that synopsis is for a story that is far better than the POS I just read!  *Sits back and breaths.* I’m pissed that I didn’t get to read the story that the synopsis says it will provide and instead I got something else entirely.

Here, I’ll explain what I expected out of the synopsis and what I got.  What I expected was a drabble of sorts or a series of one-shots depicting Alice and Hatter’s relationship post-movie/TV show and these difference between “Oyster” love and Wonderlanders’ love.  Then it would get into the dark bits of Wonderland’s love and the two lovers need to work out the differences to grow in their relationship.  Now, what I got was an A/U(ish), rewriting of the second half of the movie/series.  The story is from the night at camp when Alice leaves to go to the Casino and onwards with significant differences.

It’s not the changes that make this a POS story!  *Pauses.* I retract part of that statement; the changes help to make this a POS.  Some of the changes were subtle and I wouldn’t have minded (Alice kissing Hatter back at camp, the discussion of where Wonderlanders get their kids, and the Carpenter’s role) but the total divergence of the story with Hatter joining Alice and Jack to meet Caterpillar is where I have issues.  It’s not because suddenly it changes one aspect of the story.  Nope, it’s because of all the additional BS scenes that follow.

See, in the movie there’s this sense of urgency in getting Alice to the Hospital of Dreams to meet her father because of how risky it is for the Resistance to “move him” into the city without attracting the Suits.  Even with “moving” Alice’s dad, the Resistance wouldn’t have been able to hide him for very long.  Caterpillar anticipated being caught at some point, why else would he carry the shrinking mushroom on him?  Yet in this story that sense of urgency is thrown out an open window on the 30th floor and is replaced with as many Hatter and Alice romance situations that can be generated with a third wheel (Jack) around.  I actually think that was the goal of this adventure to the Hospital of Dreams!  Let’s see here, Alice and Hatter share a blanket and snuggle together then they go ahead and go skinny-dipping in the lake.  These types of scenes would be fine if THERE WASN’T A TIME LIMIT!!  But I digress…

There are a lot of unexplained things in the movie/series and it leaves room for fans to fill in the blanks.  I like the interpretation of how Wonderlanders get their kids, a byproduct in producing some of the teas (ecstasy and such).  It makes sense given what is presented of Wonderland and, admittedly, is a more cheerful idea than that the Suits just forced Oysters to drink/ingest something that force them to have abortions or miscarriages, or the Suits killing the infants.  I’m getting off track again.  *Takes a breath.* Let me get back on track.

The explanation is fine but what comes of it is a focus on how Hatter is not a normal “Wonderlander” and how he’s a “half-breed.”  Hatter was special enough with his sledgehammer fist, he doesn’t need to be any more special!  He seems to be the type to have a tragic past, there is no need to make it exponentially more tragic!  Plus, once this whole “half-breed” BS comes into play it creates a couple inconsistencies within the story and the added scenes.  For example, Hatter does not find it odd that Wonderland couples get their children from the Carpenter and doesn’t seem to understand that means the children are actually Oysters.  Yet once it’s discovered that he’s a “half-breed” he explains things as though he has always known.

Here’s a general inconsistency that I find with the idea of Oyster children being given to Wonderlanders; are any of the inhabitants truly “Wonderlanders” or are they all Oysters who happened to grow up in Wonderland?  Let that one simmer for a bit.  It’s ideas like this that end up making me upset when stories decide to create drama around something concocted for the fan fic.  *Pinches bridge of nose.* Whatever.  I need to move on.

The only change that is decent is the inclusion of the Cheshire Cat (beyond the creepy smile shown on Diana).  I like the fact that the Cheshire Cat is included and plays a bit of a role.  What I don’t like though is that the character of the Cheshire came off as a Mary Sue.  With how much of a role and how significant she becomes to Hatter’s past and getting the group safely to the Hospital of Dreams, it takes the Cheshire Cat out of the realm of original character and edged into the realm of Mary Sue.  If the story had limited the Cheshire’s role to deciding to help the group by keeping the Suits lost in the forest that would have been perfect.  Instead she is an old friend of Hatter’s (I’d almost say she has a crush on Hatter) and helps Hatter and Alice pursue their romance.  *Rolls eyes.* The only good change gets ruined!

*Sits back and crosses arms.* This story really pisses me off and it’s not like it’s badly written, it’s just that it was executed terribly.  These are a few of my suggestions to make this story better: 1. Type a new synopsis because that is very misleading and sounds way better than the story itself, 2. Scrap everything in the story and start a new, and 3. Go the path of A/U.  Seriously, that’s the only way I can think to redeem this story.  Even then it wouldn’t suddenly make it a good story even it gets horribly executed once again.  So a 4th suggestion is: have a few beta readers, preferably people who are not family or friends, read through the story to gauge reactions before posting.

Would I recommend this story?  Not really.  I have no doubt some Readers wouldn’t be bothered by half the stuff that I am, so there are people who would like the story.  I’m just not one of those people.  Readers, if you wish to try out the story, go ahead.  The link’s at the top.

Stars: 3/10

Foam Review

Title: Foam                                                                                                         Author: KamikazeCreamPuff

Original Source:  SyFy’s Alice / Alice, 2009                                       Characters: Alice & Hatter

Rated: K+                                                                                                            Genres: Romance/Humor

Chapter(s): 2                                                                                                     Status: Complete

Description:  AU. David is a barista who finds himself oddly challenged by a particularly stoic customer.

http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5631415/1/Foam

Welcome Readers, I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer; I review the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in the world of fan fiction.  After my last review I needed to read something that wasn’t going to royally piss me off so I went into my stores of fan fiction that I had read in the past and found this oneFoam.

This story is wonderfully crafted.  I mean it’s a story about a barista who is attracted to a customer and decides to take it upon himself to make her smile; a personal challenge of sorts. The story is written as brief exchanges between our barista, David, and his customer, Alice.  I enjoy having these short scenes because despite the fact that they are only a couple of paragraphs long they are quite insightful and they do a great job of showing a progression of time.

There may not be a lot of detailed description like in other stories but these brief segments reveal exactly what’s going on and show the emotions that these scenes evoke.  Like the embarrassment and awkwardness of David trying to explain his comeback (“we’re out of foam”) to Alice when the context of the comeback occurred a day earlier.  Just reading that paragraph I can feel David’s embarrassment and my embarrassment for him.  It’s great!

Even after an event occurs that causes the exchanges between David and Alice to come to a brief halt the story doesn’t slow down.  Instead it continues to move forward until the reunion where the reader is left with an optimistic outlook for these potential lovers.

If it wasn’t clear already, I’ll plainly say it:  I love the briefness of the exchanges.  This may not be quite some Readers’ cuppa tea but consider: how long are your interactions with your barista?  And it’s through those brief exchanges that the interaction between David and Alice evolves from Barista and Patron to possible romance.  It’s wonderful!

Another thing I love is David’s awkwardness.  Some Readers may call OOC-ness on this but I’ll point out that during the farewell scene in the mini-series, Hatter (David) kind of lost his silver tongue and began to trip over his own words.  Probably the most awkward scene in the mini-series and it certainly demonstrated that there can be times when Hatter’s (David’s) verbal skills fail him.  So, I like to think that this story just provides more instances for him to lose his silver tongue.

I also like the fact that the story doesn’t go too far.  Let me explain, some fan fics go too far and have multiple endings.  There are stories that should stop a chapter or two earlier but instead keep going for one reason or another.  This one doesn’t.  KamikazeCreamPuff stopped the story at the right time.  Readers don’t need to read about their date and how well or not so well they hit it off.  It is perfect just giving the Readers the optimistic ending of David and Alice’s have plans to go out on Christmas Eve.

I know that I keep raving about the story’s good points so let me touch on the one thing that bothers me.  There is one paragraph where this “game” (David trying to get Alice to smile) is first mentioned and it is problematic.  It’s not a big deal and by no means should it deter people from reading the story.  It’s just a weird paragraph in that spot and for whatever reason; I end up stopping because I can’t make heads or tails of it.  It just might be a “Me” thing though.

Overall, the story is a cute, fast read.  Anyone can enjoy it even if they haven’t seen Syfy’s Alice.  I mean that’s probably the best part of the story being AU, it doesn’t require the Reader to have seen the original in order for the story to be understood.  It’s just some fluff to make one feel all warm and gooey inside.  If you find that you are looking for some cute and quick to read, check out Foam.

Stars: 8/10