In preparation for writing my review of Rainbow Rowell’s most recent book, Fangirl (expect the review soon), I decided it was time to recommend a few more fanfiction stories. What makes this selection stand out from my prior recommendations is that, in honor of Rowell’s main character’s fanfiction epic, all of these are recommendations are really incredibly long.
Previously I’ve recommended short fics, because they’re intended to lure unwary readers into fandom or maybe point out a hidden jewel to someone already in fandom. The longer stories tend to be well known to those already in fandom and be a bit daunting for those outside of it.
The following stories range from 109K to 757K long. To give you some context for those numbers: A harlequin romance (one of those romance books often sold at the check-out line of grocery stores and titles things like The Billionaire’s Baby or The Tycoon’s Virgin Mistress or some such) is generally 10K words. Anyone who has completed the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a novel in the month of November, has written 50K words.
The following recommendations are a demonstration of not just the skill that some fanfiction writers have in weaving together words and worlds and characters, but also the dedication they have in continuing a story line that has gotten immensely rich and complex, and keeping at it until they can bring the story to its intended conclusion.
These stories have required a serious commitment by some fan to write. They take a reasonably serious commitment from some fan to read, too. But they’re worth it!
So, from shortest to longest:
Into the Rose Garden
109,232 words long
first chapter posted: June 10, 2004
last chapter posted: January 8, 2006
Summary: Sarah has good grades, a circle of friends, and a cute boyfriend. Life’s great…right? So why does she have the strange feeling that something’s missing? Fairy tales show that magic will make you or break you. Which category does she belong in?
Why I like this: This is a gorgeous story that does an incredible amount of world building regarding both magic and society, to how the Underground works and where exactly Jareth’s place is, in it and the consequences to Sarah for having defeated him.
The Least of All Possible Mistakes
Fandom: BBC’s Sherlock
118,096 words long
first chapter posted: January 31, 2012
last chapter posted: February 20, 2013
Summary: If ever a people deserved tasering, it’s Holmeses.
Why I like this: Lestrade doesn’t get much attention in the Sherlock Holmes stories and it’s a shame given how awesome she (the author decided to make Lestrade a female for this story) is. She’s not brilliant, but she is smart and, more to the point, she’s also practical and pragmatic and with enough self-confidence to know when to ask for help and when to call that help out for being an ass. And she is not at all the sort to put up with kidnappings by the mysterious older brother of her consultant (see the summary.) 😀
Divided We Stand
Fandom: MTV’s Teen Wolf
156,742 words long
first chapter posted: July 10, 2013
last chapter posted: October 4, 2013
Summary: Derek is being pressured by his family to pick a mate, and somehow stumbles into a choice that they didn’t expect and aren’t sure they approve of….
Why I like this: This uses a fairly common trope of fanfiction, but one that I enjoy immensely, and says what if this secret society is actually common knowledge? They’ve been around forever and all sorts of their cultural oddities have just been incorporated into society at large. In this case, everyone knows werewolves exist. And then we get to an immensely fun and satisfying romp of a story in which there is romantic drama and mysterious conspiracies and an eventual happy ending. It’s pretty much a perfect comfort story.
Fandom: Harry Potter
338,788 words long
first chapter posted: March 3, 2005
last chapter posted: June 9, 2013
Summary: Hermione overhears something she shouldn’t concerning Professor Snape and decides that maybe the House-elves aren’t the only ones in need of protection.
Why I like it: This is a brilliant story focused on Hermione Granger as she matures enough to realize that teachers are people, too, and starts to notice some of the complexities and tricks of the adults around her, with a focus on Severus Snape in particular, and his role as a double agent. As she begins to delve into the mystery of Severus Snape, she and the author really delve into the magic and magical culture of the Harry Potter world. (Plus, I am completely in love with the house elves of this story, even though I never much cared for that plot line in the original books. “Ears are flapping!”)
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
757,222 words long
first chapter posted: September 24, 2009
last chapter posted: January 18, 2014
Summary: Dragon’s fire is not so easily extinguished; when Zuko rediscovers a lost firebending technique, shifting flames can shift the world…
Why I like this: So many feelings! This is an amazing story delving into Zuko’s character as an exiled prince and abused child and doing amazing world building while also delving into the causes and repercussions of genocides and world wars and cultural clashes and children loaded with responsibilities and adults loaded with secrets.