Beast and the Harlot Review

Title:  Beast and the Harlot                                  Author: penpaninuSessh

Source: Beauty and the Beast                                Character(s): Belle & Beast/Prince Adam

Rating: M                                                            Genre(s): Romance / Angst

Chapter(s): 1                                                        Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: A different take on Beauty and the Beast inspired by the Disney film and the 1964 film.  Belle is a courtesan, working to pay her father’s hospital bills.  The Beast forms a tentative relationship with her; love and lust develop over time.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7699511/1/Beast-and-the-Harlot

 

Welcome Readers, I know I keep teasing this 122-chapter story but I’m almost done with it – just another 20 chapters to go then I’ll be ready to review it.  In the meantime, I went looking for one shot stories and found this AU version of Beauty and the Beast.  It’s an…interesting take on the story that combines elements from various versions (Disney, original story, Broadway, and live action movie) and melds them together.  For a full list of what parts were taken from each, look at the very end of the story in the Author’s Note for details.  Without further ado, let’s get this review underway!

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.

For this story, Belle is a harlot (although she acts more like a companion from “Firefly”) and she gets an unusual client – “Prince Adam” – who turns out to be a massive beast.  After initial reactions, Belle comes to find that the beast has not paid for tumble in the bed sheets but for Belle’s time to…talk.  It continues as such where every so often “Prince Adam” makes an appointment with Belle and they simply spend their time conversing.  There’s more to the story but I’m certain that Readers can figure out where the story eventually leads without me going through it all.

This story has several things going for it; the added characters, the reasoning for Belle’s profession, and the characterization of Belle.  However, there are a few things that brought the story down for me.  One of them is just a personal grievance and the other is a concern with the ending and romance.

Instead of the story trying to squeeze in the recognizable characters from Disney films, it uses either original characters or characters from the ‘60s film or Broadway. For instance, the Madame and her husband, a bouncer named Dick, and a client name LaFrac.  None of these names are from the Disney version.  Then there’s characters like Gaston who are from the Disney version aren’t given preferential treatment; in fact, Gaston doesn’t have much of a role.  He’s given a more cursory mention rather than a focus.  So, the lack of notable characters from the Disney version makes the story very interesting and changes the environment a bit.

Now, it would be so simple to provide Belle a copout motive to pursue a profession as a harlot; like her being left at the brothel to pay off Maurice’s debt.  Instead, her father is being treated for a rare illness and the treatments are costly.  So, to pay the bills and make sure her father is well attended, Belle willingly pursues the lucrative career of courtesan.   The story does a good job in making sure that the Readers understand that Belle’s profession is of her choosing and that no one forces it upon her except circumstance.  In fact, the story even acknowledges that while Belle would have preferred making a living through non-sexual means, she wouldn’t make nearly as much money.

I enjoyed this motivation because it gives Belle more character; she is actively choosing how she will handle difficulties in her life.  There is nothing forced upon her and she is very much in control of her actions within the circumstances.  I find so many stories take the control out of the character’s hands and puts it into the hands of a character Readers – and the character – are meant to blame.  It’s refreshing to find such a change.

Belle’s characterization in this story is excellent.  She is not meant to be a character who is to be pitied because of the circumstances that have led her to the bordello.  Instead, she is a woman of pose and class; she knows her profession and does her best to learn how each of her clients’ ticks.  There’s the attention to her clothes, her makeup, and how she preps for clients.  As a Reader it becomes apparent that Belle has the profession down to a science as with the mention of a client’s name she adjusts her dress to best suit that client’s preferences.  Plus, there’s the relationship between Belle and the other bordello occupants; each one is different but it’s very apparent that the men working there are protective (albeit obsessively) of her while the other women see her as a rival.

Overall, the story is pretty good but I won’t ever go back to it.  There are elements of the story that make me uncomfortable.  For instance, the sex between Belle and Beast.  I’m not a fan of it mostly because it resembles bestiality to me and bestiality is an area that I am uncomfortable exploring (even in literature).  So, the scene doesn’t make the story bad and it’s written in a non-raunchy way – I’ve read filthier and far more carnal sex scenes before – but the image of Belle and Beast fucking makes me uneasy.  Again, this does not make the story bad and it’s just a personal aversion.

The other thing that makes me a bit concerned is that Belle prefers Adam as a Beast rather than as a human.  I get the idea of the fact that she fell in love with the Beast and having Adam as human makes it hard to reconcile that they’re the same person, but it also suggests that it’s going to be a constant uphill battle in their romance.  I mean how can Adam compete with a form he can no longer take?  It’s a personal grievance though.  It by no means detracts from the story.  It just leaves me a little uneasy about the future of their relationship.

Would I recommend the story?  Yeah.  It’s a nice, refreshing, adult retelling of a beloved, classic fairy tale.  It’s a quick read with enough meat to truly engage the Reader without making it a skeleton of a story.  If Readers are looking for a tale with more drama and a major showdown between Beast and Gaston, then look elsewhere.  This is a story that brings an adult setting while holding onto the brevity of movie story-telling (time is suggested to have passed and more summaries than showing progression).

Stars: 8/10

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Consequences Review

Title:  Consequences                                              Author:  Goldenbrook15

Source: Mulan (Disney)                                           Character(s): Mulan & Shang

Rating:  T                                                               Genre(s): Mystery

Chapter(s): 3                                                           Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  Mulan glanced between the arrow, the figures on the other end of the rope, and the unconscious body in her lap, and knew that the weight would be too much for one man, or even a small group, to pull up. It took her less than a moment to make her decision. Shang was pulled up, but Ping was nowhere to be seen.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11559873/1/Consequences

 

Welcome Readers, I’ve busy this week reading up on a very long Voltron (GoLion) fan fic that I’m done with so I won’t review it yet.  Instead, I’m going to review a story I read at the beginning of the year when I was on my Disney binge.  It’s a Mulan story that struck a chord with me because of its unique ending and the missed opportunity for a longer, deeper story.  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 story is an alternate/retelling of the third act of the Disney Mulan movie start at the showdown in the Mountain Pass.  In this version, Mulan does not allow the others to pull her and Khan up, she has them pull only Shang to safety.  Surviving the fall, Mulan saves the capital as an unknown woman but escapes into the crowd before anyone can catch her.  Meanwhile, Shang is promoted and tasked with finding the unknown female savior, but he’s distracted by the loss of his soldier; Fa Ping.

This story has an interesting alternate take on how to conclude Mulan’s story and it delves into an introspection of identity.  I enjoyed the new conclusion; instead of Mulan’s sex ever being discovered, Ping is presumed dead from the fall in the Mountain Pass.  However, when Shang comes to pay his respects to the Fa family, Mulan appears before him as Ping.  Shang invites Ping back into the army as his second and Mulan accepts, going on to become a legendary male warrior in the Chinese army.

I like the new ending – to an extent, it’s different and I like the idea of Mulan choosing the Ping identity to bring honor to her family and grant her the freedom she craves.  The only part about the ending that I don’t like is that it drops a subplot that could have been explored.  The retelling creates this new subplot by having Mulan (as a woman) save the Emperor and China during the final confrontation with Shan-Yu, only for her to escape into the crowd before being recognized for her deeds.  So, the emperor orders Shang to lead the efforts in finding the woman and bringing her before the emperor so she may be properly honored.

It’s a cool subplot and I wish that more had been done with it before the story ended.  As it is, the story ends with Mulan rejoining the army as Ping and never mentions the result of the search for the unknown woman.  There is a lot of potential in this subplot yet it gets tossed to sidelines.

The other aspect of the story that is fascinating but also not fully implemented is Mulan’s identity introspection.  I’m not sure how far the story wanted to explore Mulan’s identity (Ping vs. Mulan vs. Neither) as it has the foundation of Mulan being transgender but doesn’t feel like it took the concept far enough.  A lot of how Mulan ends up identifying herself is in terms of how others view her as a failure of womanhood and the army views her as an inspirational man; it’s always in terms of how others define her.  The only time Mulan identifies herself is after Ping has “died” in the mountains and she feels that she can’t return to “Mulan” so she identifies herself as titles (soldier, survivor, etc.).

I don’t mind that there’s this conflict of identity in Mulan but it all feels pointless in the end when decides to resurrect Ping.  This is where I think the story cut itself short; other than the subplot of trying to track down girl Mulan, the story could have explored Mulan’s identity.  Does she ultimately identify as Ping, the male soldier and black sheep of the Fa family?  Or is Ping a mask she wears to gain the freedom denied to her as Mulan?  Or does she no longer identify as either and just sees herself as a soldier?  Ultimately it’s left unanswered but it should have been explored a bit more, I think.

The storytelling is okay.  It’s more about the quick pace and exposition than it is about detail and character exploration.  A lot of what happens is told to the audience rather than experienced by the characters.  It also likes to jump back and forth between characters (Mulan and Shang), sharing what was happening to the other during the same time frames and filling in the blanks the other narrative left.  I don’t think this style of writing is bad but I don’t think it does the story justice for exploring Mulan’s identity.  Still, it keeps the story moving.

In the end, I enjoy the story.  I like the concept and the subplots that it creates, but I feel like it didn’t go far enough to flesh out these subplots.  I feel like if the subplot with the army searching for Mulan had been wrapped up somehow while Mulan returns as Ping, then there would have been some closure.  Still, I enjoyed the alternate storyline and the new ways that events unfolded.

I would recommend the story for no other reason than it being a cool alternative to the original ending.  I do not recommend finding the “sequel” to the story.  Another author started writing a sequel to tie up the loose threads of the “find the girl” subplot but it never got further than one chapter, and the writing in that story is subpar compared to the original.  However, I do recommend readers to check out the original story for Consequences and maybe test yourselves to write something better.

 

Stars: 7.5/10

Kissed by a Rose Review

Title: Kissed by a Rose                                                Author: SamoaPhoenix9

Source: Beauty and the Beast (Animated)                   Characters: Beast/Prince & Belle

Genre: Hurt/Comfort/Romance                                 Chapter(s): 33

Status: Complete                                                       Rating: M

Synopsis: Belle comes to the castle burdened by an unspeakable secret and a deeply wounded spirit. The Beast carries betrayal in his own past. Can they still learn to love, and to trust, one another?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5355766/1/Kissed-by-a-Rose

 

It’s been a long time Readers, but I’m back with more fan fics to review.  I am the Fan Fic Reviewer back to review the good, the bad, and those that should not exist in the world of fan fiction.

I’m kicking off my return in response to an “imperfection challenge” which means that I’m posting this while on a 24-hour deadline with minimal editing.  Pardon the dust and the grammar while I get back into the swing of things with this Beauty & the Beast review.

The live-action movie came out so I got the craving to go dig up some fan fiction.  After a while I started noticing that a lot of them were looking cut and paste; it was like everyone used the same cookie cutter and just decorated with different colored frosting.  Same cookie but with a slightly different coloring.  It was uninspiring and a bit depressing.  Where was the creativity?

Determined to find something that offered a bit more than just the basic retelling of the movie or an added scene, I decided to look up some alternate universe stories.  My efforts bore fruit and this is one of the fan stories that I was able to feast upon.

Before I give you my synopsis of the story (the one above does not do it justice), I ask that you fully read my description before deciding the story is one of those cookie-cutter stories I was just complaining about above.  It’s a retelling of Beauty & the Beast but this time Belle is pregnant.  Raped by Gaston prior to the story, Belle struggles to decide how to hide her pregnancy until she and her father can move away, out of Gaston’s reach.  Fate leads Belle to an enchanted castle where to takes her father’s place as a prisoner to the castle’s ruler, the Beast.  Fueled by his royal upbringing and the examples set before him by his father, Beast assumes the worst of Belle until he learns of the circumstances behind her pregnancy and unwillingness to marry the father.  It’s no longer just a tale of learning love another for who they are on the inside but also to see beyond the ugly circumstances that cloud another’s past.

Still don’t buy it, then click away.  For Readers who wish to stay and hear me out, proceed.

Often I feel fan fiction that add in the pregnancy element do not incorporate the pregnancy well; most times the story doesn’t change other than a few scenes where the story reminds the Reader that the leading lady is with child.  Other times, the pregnancy is just a means to stir up drama or a way to make a political statement; rarely is it treated as a matter of life.  I don’t need it to be treated as something that is right or wrong, just don’t use it to unnecessarily heighten drama.

This story though, defies me and my expectations of the “retelling with pregnancy” fan fiction.  In this retelling the pregnancy is as important as the budding romance between Belle and Beast.  For Belle, the pregnancy provides additional motivations for her actions (taking her father’s place and being disgusted with Gaston) and adds an extra layer to her character.  She’s still kind and compassionate, but she has a real sense of loneliness because she feels she has no one to turn to for help in the village.  Then she has this motherly instinct to protect her child from Gaston and other perceived dangers.  There is nothing lost in Belle’s character, just new elements that help reshape her.

Then on Beast’s side, the pregnancy allows him personal reflection over the type of person he is/was and the type of person he should be.  Beast’s connection to Belle and her unborn child is subtle and amazing, so I will only touch on a few events.  When Beast first realizes that Belle is pregnant he assumes her to be a whore but as the story progresses and he learns about the rape, the laws that would make her marry Gaston, and starts to understand her struggles.  The more he understands Belle’s situation his judgement of her changes making him reevaluate himself and what he was taught.

As previously mentioned, I tend to find fan fiction where the pregnancy is more of an after-thought, just something to increase drama.  Rarely do I see pregnancy as a means to explore a theme.  This story explores the theme of family and the bonds make up a family unit. Nature versus nurture; is it DNA or experiences?  It’s not an in-depth exploration but there are moments and situations beautifully handled that resonate with this theme.  Like one moment where Belle places Beast’s paw on her stomach to feel the baby kick.  Or after the baby is born, the features that Belle and (human) Beast focus on are those that are Belle’s and a few that are similar to Beast.  It’s just a nice progression of these characters building a family and learning to love despite what brought them together.

Last thing about the baby.  Normally when I read fan fics that involve pregnancies the story always takes place during a brief part of the pregnancy.  Most times the character is just a few months along and recently found out about the pregnancy.  Rarely do I find stories that actually chronicle the whole experience.  This story has Belle start 3 or 4 months pregnant and ends about a month after she’s given birth.  I love it!  It illustrates the passage of time and showcases the changes in Belle’s character; relying on Beast and the staff for help in the later months.

I’ve waxed on about the great, expectation-defying things this story does with the pregnancy element, now it’s time to talk about the other things that I really enjoyed about the story.  Next I want to talk about the characters.  Let’s start with our leading lady, Belle.

I’ve always liked Belle in the Disney animated movie.  She was the type of person I wanted to be; strong willed, compassionate, imaginative.  Yet, I find the Belle from this story to be even better than Belle from the movie.  The Belle in this story is more compromising, she is willing to negotiate and handles things diplomatically.  Even when Beast puts up a fight and tells her that it’s “my way or the highway,” she doesn’t meet him with temper but with pragmatic reasoning.  There are a few moments in the story that make me think of Beauty & the Beast: Enchanted Christmas when Belle tries to force Christmas on the Beast.  While reading this story I kept thinking, “she should have tried to compromise with Beast in that movie.” This is a personal gripe I had about the movie version and what I think this story improved upon.

Next up, Beast.  I love that Beast has a backstory beyond the movie’s opening narrative; the backstory gives Readers insight into what made Beast who he is at the beginning of the story and why the Enchantress felt that he had no love in his heart.  It helped build a starting point.  Throughout the story, Beast compares what he learns to what his younger self knew and how his father had acted before his death.  It’s a great way to compare and contrast as Beast’s character grows and changes during the story.  It’s these type of personal growth stories that I love and are so rewarding to read.

I could try to talk about Gaston but in this story Gaston hasn’t changed.  The main difference between Gaston from the animated movie to Gaston in the story is that now he’s raped Belle.  The guy is still the town hero, a bit on the dim side (brawn over brains), and can’t comprehend how a woman can resist him.  So yeah…  Like I said, I could try to talk about Gaston, but there’s not much to say.  He’s just made a bit more despicable due to the rape.

Finally, LeFou.  LeFou is one of those underappreciated characters who normally isn’t given much depth or time.  Same holds true for this story, LeFou is still Gaston’s number one fan and loyal companion, but the extent that his actions are motivated by his hero-worship is refreshing.  There’s a point where LeFou releases Belle and Maurice from a cellar not because he realizes that what he’s doing is wrong.  He releases them because he can’t stand the idea of Gaston’s child being born in a dirty cellar. LeFou is no longer simply following Gaston’s orders, he acts in what he thinks best honors his friend and hero.  It’s a small thing but I admire that the story takes LeFou’s feelings for Gaston and makes them his sole motivation.

The last item I want to talk about is this book that follows Belle throughout this story.  “But it’s my favorite.  Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise.”  Remember that line and how the animated movie never came back around to that detail?  Well, this story makes that book important.  Belle’s favorite book in this story is Arthur and Guinevere and it becomes the means by which Belle reteaches Beast to read, builds conversations between Belle and Beast on morality and judging people, and inspires the baby’s name.  Belle’s favorite book is an instrument that helps develop an understanding and romance between Belle and Beast.

Now let’s talk about the bad.  Mmh… Nothing in particular stands out to me.  I’m probably glossing over grammatical errors and some inconsistencies, but with everything this story does right I think I can ignore those flaws.  That’s not to say it’s a flawless story (I’m sure another reader will find flaws), only that for all the fantastic parts of this story I don’t care about its flaws.

That being said, I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves reading fairy tale fiction (especially Beauty & the Beast) and to anyone who is looking for a solid, mature love story.  Not like Fifty Shades mature but mature in understanding.  It was a great story to read and did a great job of making this retelling into its own story.  For as often as I saw parallel scenes between this story and the animated movie, this story didn’t copy those scenes but used them as guidelines and crafted them into scenes that are unique to the story.  I’m glad that for my first review in a long time, I was able to find this gem.

 

Stars 10/10

IT Support Review

Title: IT Support Service                                                                                      Author: Chanel-M

Original Source: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: TMNT                       Character(s): Donatello

Rating: T                                                                                                                    Genre(s): General

Chapter(s): 1                                                                                                            Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: Donnie has a hard job. ONESHOT. 2k7 Universe. R&R

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10250813/1/IT-Support-Service

Why hello Readers!  I am your reviewing host, the Fan Fic Reviewer, reviewing the good, the bad, and those that should never exist in fan fiction.  I went digging through my childhood cartoons and found a few fan fics having to do with the cartoons I grew up on.  Kids these days are missing out on a lot.  I found this one that was mislabeled as “cartoon” instead of “movie,” but that matters little because it’s still connected to my childhood.

I love TMNT, particularly the old ‘80s series and I enjoyed the first few seasons of the 2000s reboot of the series. I love the corny live action movies (although I’m holding off on my opinions for the Michael Bay version). Out of the turtles, Raph is my turtle. Love him! Donnie is a close second because I love his ability to a nerdy engineer without being out of touch with his brothers. I’ve worked with engineers and sometimes when they’re too good, they’ll sometimes interact with non-engineers in condescending manners and seem out of touch with other people. Donnie’s not like that, so I find myself endeared to him.

Now in saying that, I found this story and from the title and one sentence description, I was prepared to read a story highlighting some of the most awkward or frustrating phones calls an IT Support can receive. Instead, it’s more or less the lead up to the scene featured in the movie when the turtles are re-introduced. Donnie finishes helping a customer and then reflects on how life for him and his family has turned out before taking a call that ends up being for a sex hotline.

This is another one of those stories that has a great setup and potential to be very comedic, but decides to drop the ball and focus less on what it tells the Reader it focuses on (IT Support in this case). *Sighes.* My hopes were so high too. Damn.

What’s wrong with the story? It doesn’t really focus on Donnie’s job as IT Support. Sure, he takes a call and there’s a summary of another call but it doesn’t really portray Donnie’s work. There is exposition on Donnie’s work hours and his lack of time to do anything else, but it doesn’t show Donnie’s work life. I don’t want to be told about Donnie’s 12 hour work shift, how he when he’s not working he’s training, or the changes in family dynamics. DON’T TELL ME, SHOW ME!

Want to know how this story could have shown me exactly what it told me?

  1. Make the story not a reflection that features a single phone call. Instead, make it into a “normal” day for Donnie.
  2. Feature some phone calls from customers! The sex hotline call is fine but there are OTHER types of calls that IT gets that are humorous and frustrating. Need help thinking of some? Watch the IT Crowd.
  3. Have Donnie interact with other members of his family and through the dialogue convey the mental trauma Mikey’s going through due to his job, Raph’s absence and odd behavior, and the lack of correspondence with Leo.
  4. Show how Donnie’s not getting sleep by having him fall asleep on the job or try to catch a few moments of Zzzs only to be prevented by Master Splinter, Mikey, or Raph.
  5. Show how Donnie’s life has become one large revolving door between work, training, and repairing things for the family. Have him try to do something other than those 3 things only to be pulled into doing any of those 3 things.
  6. End it with Donnie finally able to close his eyes, only to be back on the clock with IT Support.

*Re-reads list.*

I think I have set up a massive rewrite for the story.

Anyways, in the end the story is does not live up to the IT support portion of its title and is just not that interesting (as is). I would recommend a massive rewrite to the story to make it more about Donnie’s job as IT Support.

It’s disappointing because there’s potential in a story about Donnie’s job as IT Support, but this story does not live up to that potential. Rather it did the bare minimum in order to create a “story” around Donnie’s IT job. So disappointing!

Would I recommend the story? Nope. Without it going through a major rewrite, it’s just a waste of space. There is nothing to glean from the story. Readers, pass by this story. It’s not worth the time to click on it.

Stars: 3/10

The Swan Princess Review

Title: The Swan Princess                                                                                Author: Mystery girl 1213

Original Source: The Swan Princess                                                        Characters: Odette & Derek

Rating: K                                                                                                               Genre(s): Romance

Chapter(s): 11                                                                                                      Status: In-Progress

Author’s Synopsis: Odette, a princess born of King William and Queen Ariella, grows up alongside with her betrothed Prince Derek…Life is hard, especially growing up with Derek…but then Rothbart attacks and things go down hill..but then Odette is placed under a spell that changes her into a swan.basically this will probably be similar to the movie…but with a twist..:) (not good w/summaries.)

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8960820/1/The-Swan-Princess

*Sits on couch in front of the TV and watches the credits roll.  Grabs the remote and powers down the TV, leaving the Xbox and movie still playing.* Well, *reclines and sighs* I have done my research and am now fully prepped for this review.

Welcome Readers to my newest review, I am your now well-educated Fan Fic Reviewer.  I read the Good, the Bad, and the Never Should Have Existed stories in the world of fan fiction.  For this review I had to do a little refresher course on the movie The Swan Princess because while I have seen the movie several times, I wanted it fresh in my mind while I reviewed this story.  In case it wasn’t obvious from the author’s synopsis, the fic is a retelling of the movie with an alleged twist, and the best way for me to give the most comprehensive and accurate criticism was to watch the movie and compare the story.  Spoiler alert:  The story ends up being rather lackluster and I have yet to see this “twist.”

I’ve read several other retellings of movies and some of them have been awesome while others were kind of worthless.  The major difference that I have seen between an awesome retelling and a mediocre retelling is how far the story goes.  What I mean is, if the story only contains what happens in the movie and doesn’t bring forth insight to the characters or the scenes, then it’s probably going to be either worthless or mediocre (depending on the writer’s ability to tell a story).  Whereas a writer willing to go beyond the scenes in the movie and include original scenes, more insight to the characters, and take everyone up a notch or two in the scenes from the movie then it can be an amazing story.  Again, a huge part of that is dependent on the writer’s own ability to tell a story.

This retelling of The Swan Princess falls into the no man’s land between those two categories because while there are original scenes they contribute little and the scenes written from the movie are mostly just the movie in words.  Readers could just watch the movie rather than read it because there is no added value given to those scenes in the story.  I’ll actually delve deeper into this later with some examples.  For now I’ll cover the basics.

*Sits forward and using fingers, ticks off the issues.* First off, the grammar and spelling!  I like to try and not nitpick at people for grammar and spelling because things happen; even published works contain mistakes.  However, when these are consistent issues throughout the story, then I cannot ignore them.  In this case the periods and commas come and go as they please, show up when they’re unneeded, and sometimes interchange spots.  It bothers me when I see this: “?.” Or I read, “He said. ‘blah blah blah.’”  *Groans.* It’s not like it happens every now and again but on a regular basis when characters speak.

Then there are the run-on sentences and the confusion between “your” and “you’re” or “there,” “their,” and “they’re.”  Honestly, if anyone needs help in remember which version to use when, go to Youtube and search for CM Punk’s Grammar Slam. CM Punk breaks it down to simple basics and gives examples.  It’s a great tool to use for people who get confused about which version to use or even just a refresher course.  Tense issues litter this story.  It’s meant to be written in the past tense but then future and present tense sneak in and wave to the Reader like an incompetent Waldo.  Just basic mistakes that could’ve been fixed after a few revisions and they just glitter the story.  *Winces.* It’s painful for me to read them.

Enough of my grammar lecture, let’s move on to a meatier issue with the story; *ticks off another issue* the point of view.  For whatever reason, in a couple of the later chapters the POV will suddenly change from 3rd person to 1st person.  One time it happened in the middle of the chapter with no indication of a change occurring.

The Swan Princess POV Example

See?  This sort of thing happen a couple of times and I just don’t understand why!  I’m not sure why it suddenly switches to first POV.  Maybe there was some hope that the scene might be better if written in first POV, but if that’s the case then the whole story should’ve been written in first POV.

*Stands up on the couch.* If there are going to be situations like this then I need a proper soapbox.

Alright, listen and try to understand what I’m saying.  When writing anything it’s important to be consistent with the POV and the verb tenses.  A screw up here and there is no big deal but to have it be an on-going issue is unforgivable!

When it comes to POV, decide what viewpoint will best get across what is being conveyed.  Is third person good enough?  Or do you want to get the Reader inside the character’s mind?  Or do you want the Reader to interact with the story?  Determine this!  It doesn’t have to be before you start writing, it can be while you’re in the middle of the story, but once you have it figured out then you have to be consistent.  If that means going back through the entirety of the story and adjusting everything to accommodate to that POV, then you do it!!  Do not half-ass these things and don’t be the lazy SOB who won’t go back and edit the parts of the story already written!

*Sits back down with legs crossed.*

Personally, I think that if the story had been written in first person from the alternating perspectives of Odette and Derek then it would have been more interesting and enlightening.  The only issues I can foresee if the story was written entirely in first person are: 1. No indicators to show when viewpoint will change, or 2. Having the viewpoint change unnecessarily just to include a sentence or two about Derek/Odette’s feelings/thoughts on a single event.  Otherwise, I think the story would have benefited greatly from the first person perspective.

*Ticks off another finger.* The way that Derek and Odette act at the ages of “four” and “eight” (I’m putting quotes because the story claims them to be at these ages but I think they were aged differently in the movie).  They don’t act like four and eight year olds but more like teenagers at times with their words and behavior; it’s annoying!  For example, on the way to meet Derek for the first…grr, I guess second…time, Odette becomes concerned with what kind of person Derek is rather than four-year old things like playing on a the ship.  On the flipside, eight year old Derek wonders what his betrothed is like and if she’s a bratty princess.

*Blinks.* Excuse me?  What kind of four and eight year olds wonder about these types of things!  Seriously!  Odette’s four, she should be more worried about playing and saying “hi” to strangers, not thinking about a boy she’s never met.  Then Derek, he’s eight!  He’s at that age where girls have cooties and now here comes this four year old to ruin his summer fun.  Of course she’s going to be a brat in his mind but he wouldn’t be thinking of her in terms of future-wife!  Come on now, consider their ages and remember what it was like when you were four and eight.  I can say this for sure, romance-wise, as a child it was limited to playing house and re-enacting Disney movies with my friends.  Even then, kissing on the lips was taboo with my friends.

But I digress.  Again.

There are several other examples throughout the story, but I’m not going to bore Readers by listing them all off.  Just be warned that there’re a lot of scenes where the kids don’t act their age.

*Another tick.* The inconsistencies between movie and story.  There are moments where the scene is cut and paste from the movie but apparently when pasting the scene became deformed and changed.  The first major inconsistency was when Derek and Odette meet to spend their first summer together (Awww…).  In the movie Derek’s obviously not pleased to be there to greet Odette and he’s shown to be very antsy at his mother’s skirts.  When greeting Odette he does so reluctantly—I heard it in his tone—and he tries to avoid kissing Odette’s hand but his mother forces him.  Even Odette gives him a look that says, “Ew, he better not kiss it,” and once Derek kisses her hand he practically spits and wipes his lips while Odette rubs her hand against her dress and threatens him with her fists.  That’s the movie version and it’s the version that makes sense for their ages—which I thought they were five and ten in the movie.  This story’s version has them being very polite and civil with each other and Derek actually being in awe of Odette.  They even decide to play swords together nicely.  *Makes a face.* Story, they are four and eight years old according to you, what makes you think they’re going to get along that well?

*Stands up on couch.*

Okay PSA #2, any time the story is a retelling or novelization of something, pay close attention to the scenes from the original source.  Especially with movies because any one can go back and double-check how close the two versions line up and while small mistakes are forgivable, completely changing the feel and actions of the scene is not easily forgiven.  Sure, some stories like to point out things like, “It’s labeled AU,” or, “There’s a twist and this is part of it,” but those reasons don’t make up for it.  Well, the AU reason has more footing than the twist one, but it really only works if the entire story has changed in some shape or form (setting, scenario, characters, etc.) and not in adjusting select scenes to fit the author’s fantasy.

Authors take heed, if you decide to write a novelization of a movie, TV show, video game, etc. do you’re research and take detailed notes of the scenes that are going to cross between the original source and your version.  Try to be consistent with the original source.  If you decide to go AU or add a “twist” then make certain the AU isn’t just an excuse to change select scenes and that the “twist” is something big and that doesn’t change the lead up, it can change the scenes following the “twist” but not the lead up.

Thank you.

*Sits back down.*

*Ticks off another finger.* The pacing.  In the beginning the pacing wasn’t bad, other than a few questionable short scenes that added zero value it was fine.  It wasn’t until chapter five when the pacing began to be rushed.  Like it wasn’t just the pacing of the story–that got really bad around chapter eight—it was the pacing in the development of the romance.  Everything felt so sudden like now that Odette was 14 she was suddenly composing love songs inspired by her feelings for Derek.  It was almost like the story went, “Oh they’re teens now, and they total can be secretly in love with the other while acting like they don’t want the other on the outside.”  I get the concept but the pacing felt rushed, on Odette’s side at least.  Derek’s romantic feelings were far more realistic and what I would expect from a hormonal teenage boy who’s now starting to see this girl he’s known his whole life slowly becoming a woman.

By chapter eight though the pacing in terms of romance and events suddenly go out of control and it becomes a race to get to the next scene from the movie.  All the filler, bridging moments that would bring insight are short-lived to the point where they could have not been there at all and Readers would get the same value from the scene.  For example, after Odette says, “No,” to the engagement since Derek couldn’t think of anything else to say than that he loves her because she’s hot there is just a couple sentences describing her change in attire and getting on a horse before the farewell scene.  Man, what a missed opportunity!  There is so much that could have been done with that filler between the two scenes!  King William or even Queen Uberta could’ve gone to her room to try and persuade her into reconsidering or extending the agreement for another year.  Oh man…there’s so much that could have been done and yet it was filled with a few sentences that added zero value other than a description of Odette’s new dress.

Chapter eleven is entirely rushed.  It’s the chapter where Odette realizes that she’s cursed and Rothbart explains his “diabolic” plans to her.  The whole chapter is bland.  There’s exposition and a dash of hapless, damsel in distress but otherwise it’s cut and paste from the movie.  *Groans.* There’s so much that could’ve been done!

Okay, I’m diving into the issue I mentioned at the beginning of this review; going beyond what is in the original source by adding insight to the scenes and original scenes.  I’ve been touching upon this issue throughout the review because it seems to be the basis for a lot of the issues in the story—not all, but a lot.  So going off my comment about chapter eleven, that entire chapter could have been far more than what it is.  This was a golden opportunity to explore Odette’s feelings and the possible terror that she feels upon discovering that her body is no longer her own.  Or—oh!—explore the fact that as a swan she is no longer understood by humans but she now can understand the animals around her.  So many things that could’ve made this chapter colorful and enlightening!

There are other moments that could have been made better if the story had gone up and above the call of duty.  Like when Odette and Derek meet for the last time and they decide, “Hey marrying this person wouldn’t be so bad.”  All that is offered is just the scene from the movie, no internal dialogues or an exploration of feelings, just the barest of necessary description and dialogue.  Hell, I got more insight in the following chapter when it became Derek’s POV!

Another area that this story could have–and I believe should have–explored is Rothbart.  Beyond providing a description of the scenes that Rothbart makes an appearance in, there’s nothing to his character.  He’s 1D and it’s kind of sad because to me he’s a gold mine of a character!  Think about it, the movie provides very little detail into this man’s past, his motives,—why does he want King William’s kingdom?  Aren’t the other kingdoms good enough for him?  What makes this kingdom so special?—where was he during the years of his exile, and why the hatred towards King William that extended to even his wife?  Oh man, there’s just so much that isn’t provided in the movie and here was the best opportunity to make this 1D character become 3D in the Readers’ minds.  *Eyes roll back in ecstasy.* I love characters like this that authors can play with and really fill them out instead of just labeling them as “evil!”  Yet, *sighs in disappointment* this story doesn’t do anything with Rothbart and just leaves him as this 1D, “this is the villain” type character.

Another missed opportunity, and this coincides with the pacing, is the development of the romance.  Obviously this is meant to be something that was gradually building on both sides but I don’t see that in the story.  I see Odette suddenly being attracted to Derek for no explored reason and Derek’s hormones kicking into full speed during their final meeting.  Little is explored with the romance.  What makes Odette fall for Derek?  Is it because he’s the only guy of noble blood and around her age that she’s been allowed to interact with?  Is it because he turns out to be a hottie?  Or is it something deeper?  What about Derek, what makes him fall for Odette?  Is it because she’s just constantly in his life, she’s “kind,” or because she’s suddenly becomes a hot babe?  What is it!  These are important questions!

*Takes a breath.*  It’s just disheartening to see all these possibilities to make this story great yet the story just didn’t go far enough to make it great.  Instead it settled for mediocrity.  *Sighes.*

Enough of this dull stuff, let’s move on to the jolly good points!  I know, it’s hard to believe that among all my complaints there’s something good to be found in this story.

Chapter six is the most believable chapter out of the entire story thus far.  The characters act more their age and other than a few slight changes between movie and story it flourishes with original scenes that are only hinted at during the montage, musical number “This is My Idea.”  It truly is the chapter that I had the least complaints about and actually had some positive remarks.  I also liked that the story tried to be realistic in terms of manners and values for a medieval setting.  Although it kind of gave way near the end, I appreciate the effort.

Despite my complaints the story did add original scenes and expand upon the movie in some areas, which is why I don’t put it in the “bad” category because effort was put into the story to make it more than just the movie put into words.  So I give the story props in that respect.  Could those scenes have gone further and done more?  Yes, but at least they existed.  It’s far better to have them exist and provide little then to not have them exist at all.  I give credit where credit’s due.

Now to the ultimate question, would I recommend this story?  No.  I wouldn’t but I’m also not giving it a horrific score because while I find the story to be forgettable, it is not the worst story I have ever read and despite all the issues I found with the story I do not think I had wasted my time.  This story is like a diamond in the rough, give it some TLC and a heavy dose of revision and it will shine.  I see the potential in the story and it is redeemable, it would just take a lot of effort to take it to the level that I think it should be at.  In short, I’m not giving it a low score because it doesn’t deserve a low score but I’m not going to recommend it either because it is rather forgettable and nothing special.

If Readers are interested by all means check out The Swan Princess by Mystery Girl 1213.  Just don’t put your expectations too high.

See you all next time!  Happy readings!

Stars: 5/10