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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The Other Line Review

Title:  The Other Line                                              Author:  Xaphrin

Source: Teen Titans                                                 Character(s):  Raven & Robin

Rating: M                                                                Genre(s): Romance / Humor

Chapter(s): 11                                                          Status:  Complete

Author’s Synopsis: When Raven agreed to Jinx’s devilish dare, she never expected it to backfire completely and the whole situation to get so completely out of her control. What is she supposed to do now, knowing that Nightwing is leaving completely inappropriate voicemail on her phone?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11511563/1/The-Other-Line

 

Welcome Readers, oh Lordy this was a hot one!  Phew!  I think I need a cold shower after reading this story.  This was a great, fun story to read and it has enough naughtiness to get Readers hot and wet without making them feel filthy.  It’s glorious!  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 right now, Jinx dares Raven to talk dirty to an unknown person over the phone and that person ends up being Dick Grayson/Nightwing.  That act leads to Raven and Dick playing this “game” of foreplay where for the better part of the story Dick calls Raven and tells her all these sexual things he imagines doing to her.  Eventually, Raven returns those calls with some filth of her own.

This story does a great job in keeping the focus on Robin and Raven’s sexual phone exchanges while keeping them present in the world around them.  It succeeds at this by limiting the characters involved in the story.  Beyond Raven and Robin there’s Jinx and mentions of Bee, Cyborg, and Batman; this allows the story for remain centralized on Raven and Robin while acknowledging that there are others interacting with them.

Jinx becomes not only the instigator of this story but Raven’s sound board when her insecurities rise and Raven begins to think of all the reasons to not pursue this “game.”  The role of Jinx may seem minor in some ways but she helps bring perspective into events, especially since it’s not until much later in the story that the Reader gets some of Dick’s point of view.  Jinx is the embodiment of the Reader, coaching Raven off the ledge and assuring her that it’s okay to have a little sexy fun with the former Boy Wonder – especially since he persists in leaving the dirty messages.  It’s a nice role and a necessary one to keep the story on track without making the characters seem unnecessarily insecure and crazy.

When the story does provide some of Robin’s perspectives it shows his moments of sexual frustration and introspection into his own feelings for Raven.  Unlike Raven, Robin doesn’t have another character to play off of in expressing his growing frustration, so everything the Reader knows happens to him is from his own reflection of his feelings and actions.  Personally, I think this change is a nice contrast and helps showcase that even a person with some “experience” can have insecurities when getting textually involved with a friend.

Next up, the sex!  It’s hot without it being raunchy.  Like Robin and Raven do tease each other with their sexual voicemails but it’s not…it’s not as filthy as what I imagined.  Like I was expecting it to suddenly be like reading “50 Shades” or a porn; I expected the filthiest things to be said that would make me think Robin was a creep.  Instead, it felt like watching the rated R version of “Pirates;” it’s sexy without taking itself too seriously.  Even the sex scene is not overly graphic.  I’m not saying it’s the most tasteful sex scene put into the written word, but it’s not so descriptive that I felt like I was in the room with the characters. It left just enough to the imagination.

Finally, the pacing.  I like the pacing and flow of this story, it doesn’t feel very fast as each chapter is about a week or so apart. With how everything is spaced out it just brings home the fact that not everything has to be written as a day-by-day account; it made everything feel natural. Plus, the periods of silence helped develop the characters.  Raven in the beginning goes a full week without checking her phone until the number of voicemails is so high that her curiosity gets the better of her, but later the “silence” increases her insecurities (“What if I crossed the line?”  “What if I fucked this up?”).  These are the type of real reactions people can have when developing a relationship!  Robin is shown as being distracted by these messages and his own imaginations; it all takes him off-guard that this game he started suddenly opened up unexpected emotions from him.  It’s just something I like, it’s the slow burn but with this story it doesn’t feel slow.

I know I’ve gotten into the habit of not providing some sort of criticism, but not this time.  This story has some grammar issues.  I’ve got some reviews here where I don’t harp on it because really having a misspelled word here and there, or a wonky sentence here doesn’t take me out of the story.  This story has a few instances where the grammar mistakes did take me away from the story as I tried to figure out what was trying to be communicated to me, the Reader.  They aren’t huge issues that suddenly break the story but they do interrupt the flow of the story and can be easily rectified by having someone go through and revise the story.

Overall, I’d recommend this story for Raven / Robin fans.  It’s a nice story that is a stand-alone from the adventures of the Teen Titans and focuses solely on Raven and Robin without forgetting that they are vigilante, crime fighters.  Plus, it was just a fun read.

 

Stars: 8/10

Timing Review

Title:  Timing                                                     Author:  Kiryki

Source: Labyrinth                                                Character(s):  Sarah & Jareth

Rating:  T                                                            Genre(s): Romance

Chapter(s):  1                                                         Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis:  Sarah never expected her ex’s flippant Words to bring Jareth back into her life, but being friends (let alone friends with benefits!) was something neither of them could have anticipated. Between both of their busy lives, can they find time to make a relationship work, or is it all about timing?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12105872/1/Timing

 

Welcome Readers, it’s the beginning of the week and I just got back from vacation so I went looking for a short story to read and review.  I decided I wanted to see what the Labyrinth community had to offer and I found this pitiable story.  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.

This story chronologies the first 6 times Sarah and Jareth have sex starting when Sarah’s boyfriend wishes that the Goblin King would take her away.  It kind of touches on their “friendship” and their “busy lives” but it doesn’t contribute much to the conflict – “can they find time to make a relationship work.”  So, the author’s synopsis makes the story seem a bit more complex, but the story comes up short.

The plot is typical but interesting; Sarah and Jareth reuniting because of her ex-boyfriend’s words and striking up a friends with benefits relationship.  It’s the type of story that I normally eat up but what makes me sour on this one is how it’s written.  It’s written as exposition with thoughts interjected now and then.  So, the Reader gets the general events of the story but not the emotional connection between the characters.  For instance, the “romance” between Sarah and Jareth is 1 dimensional since the Readers are treated to just a summary of the characters’ interactions, not the dialogue or the emotions behind characters’ actions.

Speaking of the events in the story, why is Sarah okay with Jareth trying to befriend her?  The story claims that it’s pent up sexual frustration but that would explain the sex, not the friendship.  Sexual frustration doesn’t make someone want to comfort and support another person.  This isn’t the only time this happens, Sarah is apparently a stage actor and she puts on a show that Jareth attends – how does Jareth know about the performance?  Does Sarah invite him or mention her work at some point?  Did she want him there?  These sorts of details are lost in the story because of its exposition nature.

The romance suffers a lot because of the writing style.  I get the feeling that by the end of the story, Sarah and Jareth are meant to be in a relationship rather than “friends with benefits” but I have no idea.  See, I didn’t get the impression that they were “friends” to begin with, I got the impression they were simply fuck buddies.  The normal buildup of two people becoming friends or friends with benefits to lovers normally involves things like exchanging personal information and dating; Jareth does take Sarah out on a date but they don’t seem to exchange anything personal things like where they want the relationship to go, their past, or anything else!  It just isn’t there, it’s implied to take place but it’s not actually mentioned.

Jareth suffers a lot in this story.  I get that as fans sometimes fan fiction will over romanticize characters making any character flaws or horrible actions seem “okay” or out of character.  In this story, Jareth’s actions from the movie are never addressed and he’s made out to be a decent guy; supporting Sarah’s occupation and initiating romance.  I’m not saying that things traits aren’t great, but how they come about is very unlike Jareth.

Jareth is the fucking Goblin King!  Yet he doesn’t seem to hold any of that cockiness and patronization that he had during the movie.  He’s not nearly as vindictive as I’ve come to expect, instead he seems very mellow.  The only time he seems affected is when he expresses his melancholy in how everything aboveground had changed in ways that make the underground suffer.  That is the only time when Jareth acts like the Goblin King, any other time he’s just a guy trying to woo his fuck buddy.  It’s super disappointing.

So…the synopsis implies that there’s a point in the story when Jareth and Sarah try to find a balance between their busy lives and each other, but that doesn’t come up until the end and the story makes it out to be a bigger problem than it is.  Sarah group wants her to travel and perform with them, and she’s unsure of how to make it work with still trying to see Jareth and whether if Jareth would let her travel and act, or if he’d require her to stay in the Underground as Queen.  In the end, it’s not a problem at all and any worry is moot.  This point in the story should have been explored and examined more – Jareth should’ve appeared to Sarah at inconvenient moments and Sarah should’ve tried getting nooky when Jareth is busy with his kingdom.  Things like that would’ve helped to show that they were trying to find a balance.  Anything would’ve been better than the route that was taken.

I’ve touched on a lot things with this story and in the end it’s just written poorly.  For what the synopsis promises, the story doesn’t deliver.  Some of the elements can be made out but it falls short of what the synopsis sets as expectation.  The exposition writing style does far more harm than good by limiting how invested Readers can get into the characters and the romance.  There is too much OOC-ness from Jareth that he’s barely a shadow of the Goblin King from the movie.  The romance is inconsequential despite being the story’s focal point.  All in all, this was the wrong writing style for this story.

My final recommendation is to not bother reading the story.  Even the most ardent Labyrinth fans will not find joy in reading this story.  This is not to say that the story will insight rage, it just adds nothing of value to the fandom.  I cannot think of a reason to tell others to waste 20 minutes of their time by reading this story.

 

Stars: 2/10

Regrets Review

Title: Regrets                                                        Author: Caitastrophe8499

Source: Malice in Wonderland                                    Characters: Alice D. & Whitey

Genre: General/Romance                                         Chapter(s): 1

Rating: M                                                           Status: Complete

Synopsis: One shot. The trial scene from Whitey’s point of view, hopefully adding a bit of insight to the romance that wasn’t really explored.

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9056366/1/Regrets

 

Welcome Readers, this time I went back to Malice in Wonderland.  What can I say?  I really enjoyed the movie and I’m really interested in the stories that fans come up with for this fandom.  I found this one-shot that details Whitey’s side of the Trial through the end of the movie.  From the looks of it, there is a very niche group of people who have seen the movie and fewer yet of people who look for the fan fics.  Kind of sad since the movie is prime for fan fiction and creative stories to build off it.  That’s neither here nor there though, let’s get this review started!

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.

Typically, I don’t mind these stories where a scene is explored through a different character’s point of view; they tend to be creative, informative (depending on the author), and can add that extra layer that was absent from the original source.  On the other hand, these stories can be uninspiring and just the scene written without much added to it than the different perspective and some additional thought lines.

This story falls somewhere between those two types.  It adds some insight into Whitey’s character but it still feels like someone telegraphed the scene from the movie.  The story starts at the trial and goes all the way through to the end of the movie and while it’s told from Whitey’s perspective, the different perspective doesn’t really change much of what happens.  The most value-added part of the story is when Whitey stares as the watch hanging from his necklace and weighs the pros and cons of him going back to try and save Alice.  That is the only time during the story where it diverges and goes on an original tract that is never covered in the movie, but then it ends just as it started; telegraphed.

I think the error of this story is that it’s too narrowly focused, it limited itself to just the trial and the end; completely bypassing the beginning and the misadventures in the middle.  If it hadn’t been limited I think this story could have fully explored and fleshed out the character of Whitey and the romance that the movie glossed over.  As it is, the story’s focus is so narrow that it just doesn’t have the time to flesh out all these elements.  It does have the time to bring some insight into Whitey’s character but doesn’t really add much to the romance.

The one-shot was pretty short and I’ve covered everything I wanted to talk about already.  There isn’t much because the one-shot didn’t provide much.  In the end, the story was so-so; it’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just somewhere between.

Would I recommend it?  It doesn’t really add value and anyone who has seen the movie won’t get much out of it that isn’t in the movie.  There’s the insight into Whitey but I don’t feel that the bits of insight are worth reading the story.

 

Stars: 4/10

Inside Out Review

Title: Inside Out                                                  Author: armlessphelan

Source: Ranma ½                                                Character(s): Ukyou & Ranma

Rating: K                                                             Genre(s): Romance & Character-centric

Chapter(s): 1                                                       Status: Complete

Author’s Synopsis: They say it’s better to have loved and lost. Does that hold true if the love is unrequited?

http://archiveofourown.org/works/577875

 

Welcome Readers, it’s the beginning of another week and to kick it off I’m taking a look at this Ranma ½ one-shot centered on Ukyou.  For me, this series will always hold a special place in my heart because it was one my first animes.  I own and have seen the entire series, OVAs, and movies (anime and live action), and I’ve read the entire manga series multiple times; so yeah, this series has stuck with me for over two decades.  However, what drew me to this one-shot is the fact that it is Ukyou-centric.

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.

As I said, what drew me to this fan fic is the fact that its focus is on Ukyou.  When I was much younger I favored Ukyou out of the fiancées but as I got older she fell out of favor; she was a tomboy but would shame Akane for being one; she owned and operated her own restaurant but was always willing to give it up to be Ranma’s wife; she was always quick to call Akane “friend” then belittle her in front of Ranma.  As I got older, I saw her more as a hypocrite than the strong, independent woman I saw as a child.

What does this have to do with the one-shot?  Well, this is an introspective piece on Ukyou after the fight with Safron and it takes its time to acknowledge the flaws in Ukyou that keep her forever in the Friend Zone.

In case anyone did not read the manga or never got to the fight with Safron, it’s the last enemy of the whole series.  Akane is kidnapped and taken to China so everyone joins the effort to get her back, except Ukyou because no one ever tells her that something has happened and they could use her help.  Instead, Ukyou is left completely out of the adventure and wouldn’t know about it until after the party has returned.

The text explains Ukyou’s feelings about this and it becomes the catalyst to the rest of the introspection.  Ukyou examines her feelings for Ranma starting from childhood when she’s bitter and filled with resentment for him to them reuniting when all her hatred melts after Ranma calls her “cute.”  Then it continues until the current events.

I mentioned that this story acknowledges Ukyou’s flaws, it does this by showing that she’s not like the other fiancées in that they only know Ranma as he is in the series.  Ukyou – as the story points out – knew Ranma as a child and recognizes his lack of maturity.  The story also points out how due to Ukyou’s business she couldn’t drop everything and follow Ranma at the drop of a hat (although in the anime and manga she has done so).  It also points out that a lot of Ukyou’s romantic feelings are tied to past Ranma rather than to present Ranma.

It’s this kind of analysis and depth I can appreciated.  I don’t think that this one-shot goes too depth into Ukyou’s motivations and behavior, but it’s a good start.

The writing helps to keep the focus on Ukyou and her reflections by having limited dialogue and guiding the Reader through Ukyou’s muses and actions.  It feels more like a silent movie where the audience sees the impact and emotion from the actors but any dialogue or set up is presented in cue cards.  I thought it helped to keep this one-shot focused and centered on Ukyou.

There isn’t really anything wrong the story to complain.  It’s simple and gets done what it means to get done, evaluate if it is “better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all” when the love is unrequited.  In Ukyou’s case, based on the story, I’d say, “no.”

Readers, if you are a fan of Ranma ½ then give this one-shot a quick read.  It doesn’t matter what couple you are a fan of because this is just an excellent introspective look at one of the other fiancées as she realizes that she doesn’t have a chance.

 

Stars: 8/10