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It's Yuletide time! Hooray!

Hello and thank you for offering one of my fandoms! I'm looking forward to whatever you write, and if you want to completely ignore the rest of this letter, or pick and choose just a few things, that's totally fine. I've tried to write a shorter letter this year. If you want more information click here for previous years' letters. Anything I've asked for before I would still love to get.

AO3 name: Brigdh

– I love all ratings, from G to NC-17. A lot of the prompts I give below are focused on ships, but feel free to write me the characters as platonic friends instead if that's what you prefer. Gen and PWPs are both awesome!
– Feel free to include injury, illness, death, infidelity, racism, homophobia, classism, etc, as needed for your story. Or feel free to ignore such elements of the canons below! I'm good either way.
– A lot of my requested canons are historical fiction. I DO NOT require you to have done research to write them. Trust me, I won't care if you use a modern word or describe the wrong style of clothing. I'm not an expert either.
– For each of my requests, the characters are very much OR instead of AND. Want to write a story about Rose without Hannibal, Rosalee without Cato, etc? Go ahead! You could probably guess this from the prompts I give below, but I wanted to be clear about it.
– Weird stylistic writing choices, like second person POV, a series of linked drabbles, unreliable narrators, five times fic, etc, are all totally okay. I enjoy reading experiments!

– amnesia
– de-aging
– mpreg (I do love A/B/O fic; if you want to write that, feel free to mention mpreg in the worldbuilding. Just please don't make it the main focus of the fic)
– Groundhog Day AUs
– 24/7 lifestyle BDSM

Yes, please!
– AUs, especially: modern AU, historical AU (as in, any historical period other than the one in canon), A/B/O, pirates, Wild West, cyberpunk, postapocalypse, circuses, canon-divergence
– found families, families of choice, and loyalty kink. I especially love it when there are reasons why it's difficult or unusual for the characters to have a relationship, but they defy expectations by being devoted to one another anyway.
– I LOVE one character risking their life/sacrificing themselves to protect another. "I thought you were dead!" is also an excellent trope
– casefic would be great, especially if you could combine it with slowburn get-together of one of my ships. I realize that’s a lot to ask of a writer. But just in case you want to write long casefic: I would love to receive it!
– hurt/comfort of all kinds, especially if the comfort leads to a deepening relationship. People getting ill, people getting beat up, people choosing to be tortured to protect someone else, people hiding injuries while trying to soldier on, people enduring long-term poor conditions (especially cold! I HATE being cold, and so I deeply identify with a character barely avoiding hypothermia), last minute rescues, confessions of feelings due to thinking you're about to die, caretaking, giving the hurt character a bath (especially hair washing!), and characters learning to be loved.
– iron woobies, always and forever
– established relationships are my jam. Show me how comfortable people have gotten with each other, how they know one another well enough to know all of their jokes and triggers and erogenous zones. And established doesn't have to mean problem-free! There's all sorts of troubles that tend to come up in relationships long after the first time. For example, I'd love a story about a fight and working through it.
– arranged marriages/marriages of convenience and fake dating are some of my favorite stories. I love all of it: the awkwardness, the enforced intimacy, the pining over 'my feelings are real but yours are pretend', the trust despite the difficulty, the teaming up to put on a good show for outside observers.
– slice-of-life, domesticity, missing scenes, and curtain-fic are all wonderful. I am totally fine with a very low-stakes story, as long as I get to see my favorite characters going about a normal day, enjoying themselves with one another, making jokes, etc.
- I adore all sorts of silly fanfic tropes, but here are some of my favorites: Genderswap (particularly of the "always-a-girl/boy" type rather than "woke up one morning" type), crossdressing, roadtrips, huddling for warmth, masquerades/disguises/undercover, trapped together (snowed in cabin, handcuffs, etc), friends-to-lovers and especially FWB to more, sex pollen, and platonic bed sharing.

Porn: I love everything from PWP to fade-to-black to gen. If you want specifics, I'll have a comment up under the Yuleporn post soon.

Specific fandom requests: Benjamin January, Hadestown, Underground, The Ballad of Black Tom )
brigdh: (Default)
Title: In Our House
Ratings/Warnings: G
Fandom: The Benjamin January mysteries by Barbara Hambly
Pairings: Ben/Rose/Hannibal
Notes: The other fic that sucked up all my time last month! This was also written for curtana for the Seeing Color exchange.

Summary: A missing scene from Benjamin's homecoming. (Set right after the closing scene of The Shirt on His Back.)

1526 words. Also available on AO3.

In Our House )
brigdh: (Default)
Title: Light As Air
Ratings/Warnings: NC-17 for explicit f/m sex, breathplay
Fandom: The Benjamin January mysteries by Barbara Hambly
Pairings: Rose/Hannibal
Notes: This is the reason I've been so busy lately – managing to get this story finished before the deadline. This is a treat I wrote for Nary for the Seeing Color exchange, though it's actually based on prompts from the Smut Swap exchange a few months ago. I started it then, but didn't manage to finish it in time, and luckily had a second chance to write it.

Summary: Rose conducts an experiment on Hannibal, which leads to unexpected places. (Set during Good Man Friday.)

7216 words. Also available on AO3.

Light As Air )
brigdh: (Default)
My goodness, for such a tiny fandom, there's been a lot going on the last few weeks! Let me see if I can link everything, because I don't want anyone to miss out.

Vita Dum Superest by withinadream. 9k, gen, mature.
YES IT IS THE ZOMBIE AU THAT I HAVE BEEN WANTING EVER SINCE I FIRST READ THE BOOKS. :D But it's not just a zombie AU, or rather, it's not simply about violence and being eaten. It's actually a very effective look at the changes to New Orleans society in the wake of such an event:
January wished he could feel some sense of accomplishment. [...] How could he live in a world where the dead walked the streets and young women were forced to kill their own brothers?

The same way you lived in a world where men sold their half-brothers. And in any case, there was no way to leave. Even if he could, he wasn’t sure he would want to. Of course he would have preferred to return to the city as he’d left it, but given the choice between dying a slow death of grief in Paris and risking his life to spend the rest of his days with family and friends in New Orleans, he was beginning to think that this was the better option by far. Those you loved could be taken from you at any time—at least New Orleans was honest about its dangers. And when he thought about his sisters, and his newfound friends, and even his mother, corpse-ridden streets seemed a pleasant alternative compared to a too-empty bedroom across the Atlantic. He could learn to live here, where life and love flourished among the dead.

This is somewhat structured as an AU of A Free Man of Color, the first book in the series, but characters from throughout the series make appearances, each having adapted in one way or another to the reality of zombies. And in addition to all that, it's also a casefic! I'm always tremendously impressed by people who can write actual mystery cases into their fic; it is not at all one of my skills. Anyway, it's a fantastic fic, I've been eagerly awaiting my chance to read it for months, and everyone should check it out.

Eromenos by ophelia_interrupted. 13k, Hannibal/OMC, explicit. Backstory about Hannibal's first relationship as a teenager. This canon is so detailed and full of interesting people that I could never get tired of imagining backstory for all of them. It's especially nice to read it for Hannibal, since we know so little of his early years. Plus it's a second longfic! :D How wonderful to have two such meaty pieces to get into. A very sweet story with an angsty ending.

Who Sins Drunk (gen, 5k, teen) and its sequel A Midsummer Night's Passion (Ben/Rose/Hannibal, 3k, explicit). In an attempt to get sober (this is set roughly around the time of Dead Water), Hannibal asks Ben to cane him. And then there is a lot of hurt/comfort sex. I am not at all surprised that this particular kink has shown up in this particular fandom; I am only surprised that it took this long. And this is a wonderful take on it! I have to recommend it even if you're not particularly into canings.

On a totally different note, but still relevant to Benjamin January, over on tumblr I've been making book aesthetic posts for the series. It's a thing that I'd seen other people doing – basically you take a set of photographs of objects, landscape, people, etc and use them represent a piece of book, or sometimes a poem or play or other piece of non-visual media. Most of the creative work I do is written, but occasionally I find a lot of pleasure in stretching my visual muscles. Though the hardest part of making them, to me, is restraining the urge to write long explanations for why I chose each particular image.

Here are links to the ones I've done so far:
A Free Man of Color
Fever Season
Graveyard Dust
Sold Down the River
Die Upon a Kiss

Anything I've missed?

Fic Recs

Jun. 18th, 2016 05:12 pm
brigdh: (Default)
Some things I've read recently that I enjoyed and want to pass on:

Small Kindnesses by ophelia_interrupted. Benjamin January, Hannibal/OFC, E, 1.6k. YES THERE IS A NEW BENJAMIN JANUARY FIC AND IT IS REALLY GOOD. :D Why has no one else read this? It's fantastic! EVERYONE CHECK THIS OUT AND SQUEE WITH ME BECAUSE I LOVE IT.

Singing the Lord's song in a strange land by Nary. Based on a song, but you can easily read it as original fic. M, 1.4k. An absolutely beautiful story about slavery and mermaids (or something darker!) and motherhood and just, this is so great. You should absolutely give it a chance.

Red Sky at Morning by thewalrus_said. A sequel to Shakespeare's 12th Night, written in script format. T, 14.5k. This is just excellent! I love the plot, I Iove the characterizations, and I love the romance. Really worth reading if you have any fondness for the original play at all.

Double Negative (Eliza/Jefferson, 4k) and its sequel, An Unconventional Relationship (Eliza/Jefferson/Hamilton, 10.7k), by holograms. Hamilton: a musical, E. This is not a pairing that would ever have occurred to me, but by God, this fic has converted me. It's so hot and well-characterized and sympathetic and funny and sad and did I mention hot? Because it is. Yes. Highly recommended.
brigdh: (Default)
(Everybody sign up with me! :D Go here for more details.)

Hi! Thank you so much for matching me! I'm looking forward to whatever I receive.
If you would like more information than what's below, check out some of my previous exchange letters. Anything I've asked for before is still welcome. On the other hand, I'm a big believer in "Optional Details Are Optional", so feel free to ignore all of this and do whatever you want.

In general, I'm a big fan of H/C, porn, casefic, missing scenes, loyalty kink and chosen families, both established relationship and first times, humor, dark fic, epistolary fic, pining, road trips, AUs, and curtainfic/slice of life. I don't have any strong DNWs.

My requests:
Benjamin January Mysteries - Barbara Hambly
Benjamin January, Rose Vitrac January, group: Benjamin January & Rose Vitrac January & Hannibal Sefton
In this fandom, I ship: Ben/Rose, Ben/Ayasha, Ben/Hannibal, Rose/Cora, Rose/Hannibal, and Ben/Rose/Hannibal. However, I'm also really into fic about any of these people as friends, or character study fic!

- Really, I'd love to read anything at all about my OT3. Domestic fluff with them cooking and playing music and making dumb Latin jokes and critiquing opera or whatever. I'm sure Hannibal would be very willing to help either of them expand their sexual repertoire. Give them a new case to solve, or an adventure that doesn't start with Ben playing detective! Are there backstories to the nicknames Hannibal uses for them, Athene and amicus meus? I would LOVE a first time fic set post-'Crimson Angel', where the events of that book leads to a change in their relationship.
- For a focus on Rose/Hannibal, how did their first meeting go? How about Hannibal teaching Rose to pick locks (and/or the two of them attempting to teach Ben)? I'd love to hear more about what Rose was thinking during 'Dead and Buried', and what she thinks about Hannibal's backstory. I also LOVE their fake-relationship in 'Crimson Angel', so more about that, please.
- For Ben/Hannibal, the world NEEDS furtive make-outs in the backroom of some opera/ball/private party. Or tell me about Ben's feelings when Hannibal moves away to Mexico. These trips to Mexico and DC are also excellent opportunities for epistolary fic.
- I'd also love something about Rose and Cora, either as children or after Cora comes to New Orleans, or about Rose and Chloe being academic women friends.
- Ben/Ayasha: I want to know everything about their relationship, from beginning to end. An AU where Ayasha gets to meet either Rose or Hannibal would also be wonderful.
- This fandom does not yet have a single modern AU! You should write one. :D
- If you want to write gen, Rose-backstory about her time at school in New York would be AMAZING. I would also LOVE fic about Ben and his family – either during his childhood or as an adult. His relationships with Livia, Dominique, and Olympe are all complex and wonderful. I'm also curious to know more about his feelings regarding St-Denis Janvier.

Fanart requests: Feel free to use anything above, if you see something inspiring! But I suspect a lot of my fic requests don't translate well to art, so here's some art-specific ideas.
- I would love, love, love a daemon AU. I don't like these as much in fic, since they don't seem to lend themselves to plot, but I adore them in art. I really want to see what animals you think the different characters would have as daemons! (I have my own ideas, but I don't want to stifle your creativity. But if you're curious, feel free to ask through the mods/leave an anonymous comment/whatever.)
- Being able to see a moment from canon would be wonderful. You can look back through my Benjamin January tag for some of my favorite quotes and the scenes I talk about the most, but also feel free to chose your own favorite.
- Hair kink! Both Rose and Hannibal have long hair, so I'd love to see art about other characters generally doing things with it: combing, braiding, washing, putting it up, taking it down, etc.
- Mardi Gras party! I'd love to see what costumes the characters chose.

Underground (TV)
Cato, Noah, Rosalee
In this fandom, I ship Cato/Noah/Rosalee, as well as any two out of the three. However, I'm also really into fic about any of these people as friends (or, well, tense companions), or character study fic!

– Shippy fic YES. First times, established relationships – whatever you like. I just want to see them snarking and testing one another (and possibly outright punching between Noah and Cato) and rescuing each other and slowly learning to trust. And also kiss.
– I'd really love a fic about them reuniting after the events of the finale. Unfortunately, I realize that would probably involve tens of thousands of words, and I'm not going to require that of you. Though I wouldn't say no if you want to write it! :D Feel free to timeskip ahead and/or use an AU if that works for you.
– I loved the episode where Cato and Rosalee dressed up and pretended to be married. A missing scene from there (or what if they had had to spend the night like that?) examining their feelings would be wonderful.
– Backstory about any of them would be great. We've only gotten little hints about their lives before this season, and I'd love to see more of that filled out. Noah and Rosalee seem to have never spoken before episode one, but what about Noah and Cato? Or Cato and Rosalee? Or feel free to focus on just one character, if you prefer. I'd also really love to read more about Noah's friendship with Henry.
– I'm really interested in the question of if Rosalee knows how to read. It seems like she might? A story about her teaching one or both of the others would be lovely. Or about all three of them learning!
– An AU with them in some less-awful life would make me happy. Perhaps they're still running a heist! Or perhaps they have some more straightforward problems.
– I would also be really into Rosalee/Elizabeth fic set during the finale. C'mon, there was totally sexual tension there! :D

Titus Andronicus - Shakespeare
Many of Shakespeare's villains (Iago, Lady Macbeth, Richard III) get lots of attention – meta, fic, art, actors describing what great roles they are to play – but Aaron is my very favorite, and almost no one ever talks about him. :( He is, in many ways, a stereotype, and yet he's also exteremly aware of how he is perceived by the society around him. There's several lines that suggest he's deliberately turning himself into what's expected of him. He's such a complex character! I love how dramatically, straightforwardly, wonderfully evil he is. I love his anger, I love his arrogance (that swagger! ♥ He basically drops a 'yo mamma' joke, how amazing is that?), I love his relationship with Tamora, and I love how he sacrifices everything he has to try and save his son and yet still refuses to admit wrongdoing: "If one good deed in all my life I did, / I do repent it from my very soul." AH LOVE. He is a complicated, stubborn, self-centered villain, and I adore him.

– How did he get this way? What was Aaron's childhood, his parents? How does a Moor end up among the goths anyway?
– The Tamora/Aaron relationship is pretty fascinating to me, and I'd love the backstory on how they met and their early days together. He seems pretty good at playing the game of politics – what was his role in Tamora's Queendom? He seems to not care at all when she marries Saturninus – regard it as a good thing, in fact! How exactly did such an open relationship come to be, and how does it work?
– I LOVE his relationship with his son, how he instantly gives up everything his life has been to try and rescue a baby. An AU where he actually gets away and gets to raise his son would be awesome. What would Aaron be like as a father? Does he "want his soul black", or would the act of raising a child change his perspective somewhat? What would he tell the kid about his past? Where would they go to live?
– One of the huge themes of Titus Andronicus is revenge, and yet Aaron seems to be the only character not primarily motivated by revenge. Or is he? Does he have some secret backstory we don't see in the play? Or, if not, what does he think of all this going on around him? What is his motivation?
– Apparently during the Victorian period, a rewritten version starring Aaron as the virtuous hero, friends with chaste Tamora, became popular. I feel a meta fic, where the "original" Aaron becomes aware of this,
could be HILARIOUS. Or sad! Depending on how you want to write it.
– AUs: always a plus. Modern day? Elizabethan era? Crossovers with other Shakespeare plays would also be great!

Fanart requests: Feel free to use anything above, if you see something inspiring! But I suspect a lot of my fic requests don't translate well to art, so here's some art-specific ideas.
– Daemon AU, yes, always.
– Poster art advertising the play (and Aaron specifically, of course)
– Aaron and his baby: YES PLEASE. Cute, creepy, however you like, I just would love to see them together.
– A piece inspired by this line would be GREAT:
I will be bright, and shine in pearl and gold,
To wait upon this new-made empress.
To wait, said I? to wanton with this queen,
This goddess, this Semiramis, this nymph,
This siren, that will charm Rome's Saturnine,
And see his shipwreck and his commonweal's.

Or any of the other scenes in canon.

Thanks again! I can't wait to see what you make.
brigdh: (Default)
What did you just finish?
Drinking Gourd by Barbara Hambly. In the 13th book of the Benjamin January mysteries, Benjamin's participation in the Underground Railroad takes a turn for the complicated. The plot starts when Benjamin is summoned to the small town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the local Railroad workers need a doctor who knows how to keep secrets. He brings along his friend Hannibal (a white man) for protection, and they soon find that there are many more secrets around than either anticipated.

This is a hard book to talk about without spoilers because of those very secrets. Many characters who seem trustworthy prove not to be, and first appearances count for very little. But without giving away specific plot details, I can say that the book deals with a paradox that's been around since at least Chaucer's Pardoner's Tale: "For though myself be a full vicious man / yet I can tell a moral tale". In this case, if the local Underground Railroad absolutely depends on one man, how much harm can that man do before it balances out the lives he's saving? Does it ever? Can good and evil even be balanced on the same scale like that? Benjamin is forced to ask himself how much evil he can tolerate to keep open this line of the Underground Railroad.

And he's not the only one facing hard decisions. Many people in this book are striving to justify the bad they do with acts of goodness, or let the appearance of goodness cloak their badness, or just trying to find the easiest path between two terrible fates. It's a book of incredibly complicated choices, and many of the decisions made could be betrayals or salvations; it all depends on your perspective.

Another theme is the position of women (and I kind of mourn the absence of Rose in this book, because I'd love to see her comments on it all. Though I suppose it's easy to guess what she would say). Black and white, upper class or prostitute, they're all trapped by the patriarchy and left with few options. Whether they sacrifice themselves or those with yet less power, there's little they can do to break free. Also – I can't think of a way to bring this up subtly – there is a lot of rape in this book (though none of it "on screen"), so if that's something you're sensitive to, be aware.

If there's anything I would critique, it's that the book is a little too busy, especially at the beginning, although it's hard to fault it for that because there's an enormous cast to be introduced, with all of their relationships and rivalries, not to mention a new setting to describe. The mystery hangs on a complicated tangle of 'who knew what when and where were they?', which necessitates the telling of yet more detailed information. Personally, I missed seeing the characters get a chance to simply breathe and spend time together, and I would have liked more space for their emotional reactions after some of the dramatic moments. But that lack (if it even is one; I'm sure some readers are bored with those sort of characterization details and prefer the action) makes room for a book that is much grander than much of the series, and which grapples with questions of a deeper and darker nature.

You could easily read this book without knowing anything about the rest of the series. It's a book that takes seriously the problems of ethical action in a flawed world, of the impossibility of escaping from any awful situation without doing some damage, and it gives a picture of American history which is complicated and layered and hugely engrossing. As dark as this book is, it was hard to stop reading. Highly recommended.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.

Middle Passage by Charles R. Johnson. Well, this is a confusing book to describe. In 1830s New Orleans (yes, yes, one guess why I bought this book), Rutherford Calhoun is a highly educated ex-slave and current thief and general scoundrel. Seeking to escape his debts and avoid marrying his girlfriend, he stows away on a ship, only to discover that it's a slave-ship. He's remarkably nonchalant about this, at least until they reach Africa and load on their captives. After that things take a turn for the worse.

Despite the topic, it's not at all a depressing or grim book; it's a little bit humor, a little bit adventure, a little bit magical realism, and a whole lot of postmodern philosophy. Johnson was clearly hugely influenced by Moby Dick (we have the captain obsessed with pursuing a goal, the gentle first mate, the cabin boy who loses his voice and his mind) as well as The Mutiny on the Bounty (the friendship between the narrator and the one 'good' officer, harsh punishments leading to a mutiny) and probably a hundred other sea tales that I'm unaware of. The first person narration is insanely erudite, rhythmic, and wry, full of (presumably deliberate) anachronisms, and is a better inducement to read the book than the actual plot. Here he is describing the captain of the ship after the mutiny:

I saw half the ribs on his right side were broken, that he strained not only to deny a physical pain involuted and prismatic but deeper wounds as well. What were these? I could see that all he valued would perish from the indifference of Allmuseri [the slaves] who would no more appreciate the limits and premises of his life than he would theirs, whereby I mean his belief that one must conquer death through some great deed or original discovery, his need to soar above contingency, accident, and, yes, other pirates like John Silver and Captain Teach, his pseudo-genius – to judge it justly – which could invent gadgets but lacked genuine insight, which rained information down on you like buckshot, but in the disconnected manner of the autodidact, which showed all the surface sparks of brilliance – isolation, vanity, idealism – but was adrift from the laws and logic of the heart. All at once I found that I was still ensorcelled by a leader who lived by the principle of Never Explain and Never Apologize. But I pitied him too, for his incompleteness. I pitied him, as I pitied ourselves, for whether we liked it or not, he had changed a people simultaneously for the better and worse, made himself the silent prayer in all their projects to come. A cruel kind of connectedness, this. In a sense we all were ringed to the skipper in cruel wedlock. Centuries would pass whilst the Allmuseri lived through the consequences of what he had set in motion; he would be with them, I suspected, for eons, like an ex-lover, a despised husband, a rapist who, though destroyed by a mob, still comes to you nightly in your dreams: a creature hated yet nevertheless at the heart of all they thought or did.

I discovered after finishing this that Johnson has apparently written multiple books on Buddhism, which makes perfect sense. Themes of utter connectedness, of how action ripples inward and outward, of the interweaving of past and future into the now, and the way that nothing (whether person or thread or waterdrop) exists as an individual but only as part of the whole form the foundation of Middle Passage. I'm not even sure I 'get' everything here, but I liked reading it, and I'd recommend it.

What are you currently reading?
The Coral Strand by Ravinder Randhawa. Another book off NetGalley.
brigdh: (<3)
It's late September! The air is crisp, everything is flavored like pumpkin, and Yuletide is coming. That means it's time for me to try pimping The Benjamin January mysteries, a series of books by Barbara Hambly.

On the tiny chance that you haven't already heard me recommending them, this is a series of thirteen books (so far!) set in 1830s New Orleans. The main character is Benjamin January, a free black man who, despite training as a surgeon, can only get a job as a pianist and occasional detective. He's accompanied by friends Rose (a black woman scientist determined to run a school for girls), Hannibal (a woobie violinist who is one of the few actively not-racist white people in the series), and Shaw (a white policeman who is remarkably sympathetic to Ben, and is an outsider himself, being an illiterate Kentuckian). Ben's family are also important characters, including his mother Livia (a former slave who gained freedom for herself and her children by becoming a white man's mistress; she's incredibly snobby and self-righteous and yet very sympathetic), his sister Olympe (who ran away as a teenager and became a voodoo priestess; she's very strong-willed and scorns Ben and his mother's bourgeois tendencies), and his younger half-sister Dominique (herself now also a white man's mistress; she's flighty and fashionable and incredibly kind). The series is remarkably well-researched and full of historical details, while also being aware of all sorts of social justice issues: race, gender, disability, language, religion, class, nationality, and more. And yet it's also a lot of fun: the characters have a great sense of humor, and are the sort of snarky geeks who will make jokes about Shakespeare or microscopes even in a life-or-death situation. There's a lot of "Us Against the World" and "Big Damn Heroes", and despite the darkness of the setting, there's ultimately a hopeful, optimistic tone to the books. Plus, so much "Found Family" feels. More than murder or mystery, the central plot of the whole series is about Ben finding and building up a family. There is lots of shipping potential, whether m/f, m/m, f/f, or my personal favorite, OT3.

"Sounds awesome!", you say (or at least I hope you do), "but thirteen books is a lot to read! What if I just want to read one or two?"

I am here to help, friend! Below the cut I've written up a non-spoilery list of all the books with their main characters and tropes (so that you may choose the one that most appeals to your personal taste), ranked according to their ability to stand alone.

Books Here )

If anyone else who has read these disagrees, or has something to add, I'd love to discuss it!

Fic Recs!

Aug. 7th, 2015 02:47 pm
brigdh: (I need things on a grander scale)
Here are some stories I've been enjoying recently, and that you should read as well:

Passage by bigsunglasses. The Goblin Emperor, gen, 14.8k.
Released from his role as Prince by the birth of a son to the Emperor and Empress, Idra is allowed to attend university. But he can't escape his past so easily, or perhaps at all, particularly not when he meets someone who walks under a similar shadow ...
Three years post-canon.

A really wonderful extrapolation of world-building and character. It's thoughtful and kind and full of excellent H/C.

you dared not look. a human voice, / you thought by inkandcayenne. True Detective (Season 1), Rust-focused gen, 28.8k.
At North Shore they called it repetition compulsion: the desire to throw himself into a ravine because at least he recognized the landscape. They warned him that he would do this again, and again, and again if he wasn’t careful. “It’s like you’re always bracing for a fight,” Laurie said once, “and if it doesn’t happen, you create one.” Sophia’s blood on the driveway, Marty’s blood in the parking lot, Psyche with her goddamn lamp, poking at a good thing until it’s scorched and screaming. There’s only one story, the oldest: “You climb a tree too high for you,” his pop said, as he passed Rust a bottle of whiskey and began to splint his arm, “you best be prepared to fall and get hurt.”
I haven't even watched True Detective, I just follow the gifs on tumblr. And occasionally read the fic. That said, this is a gorgeous, moving story, interweaving myth and poetry with the grit and violence of Rust's life, and an eventual sort of peace. I always love inkandcayenne's writing, and this is a great example of it.

Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter: Draft 2 (With Comments) by ryfkah. Shakespeare in Love, gen, 0.9k.
What has occurred to bring me to this pass?
For on my life, I cannot make it out.

And now for something totally different! A short, hilarious piece that I just loved.

Kill Not the Moth nor Butterfly by within_a_dream. Benjamin January mysteries, gen, 1.2k.
It is fall 1832, and New Orleans has long since fallen to hordes of the undead. Rose Vitrac has built herself a home in a wreck of a city, and after an encounter in a bookstore, this home gains one more resident.
This is my "if you read only one" fic of this post! FINALLY THERE IS A ZOMBIE AU FOR THIS FANDOM. (Although, uh, zombies have not actually appeared yet.) Instead this is a lovely quiet piece about survival and friendship, and I just love the interactions between Rose and Hannibal. Also it has Cora in it! Who doesn't love Cora?

Fic Recs!

Apr. 3rd, 2015 10:19 am
brigdh: (I need things on a grander scale)
A things I've enjoyed recently:

The Committee to Prepare the Ground by [livejournal.com profile] loneraven. 8500w, gen, Vorkosigan series, Alys, Simon, Gregor, Ekaterin, Helen Vorthys, & ensemble. They were there all along: a secret history of women in Imperial Security. YOU GUYS THIS IS AMAZING READ IT.

A Harp of Bones by within_a_dream. 3k, gen, Benjamin January mysteries. Hannibal, a travelling minstrel, comes across a corpse and finds himself drawn into a conflict by forces far beyond anything he could have imagined. Fairy tale AU! :D

In, and Out. by abbichicken. 1.8k, Jupiter Ascending, Balem/Seraphi, Balem/Jupiter Jones. Read the warnings! A dark but so well-done story.
brigdh: (I'm a grad student)
What did you just finish?
Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent. A history about, well, what it sounds like. The more famous elements of Prohibition – the gangsters, the speakeasies, the enforcement agents – get a few mentions, but they're not the main drive of the book (not that I really wanted more topics, since the book's already over 400 pages in hardcover). Instead, it's focused on the politics of the whole matter: both how it was originally passed and then how it was quickly repealed. Which is pretty fascinating; I'm always intrigued by that weird moment in American history where the Republican and Democratic parties basically switched places in regard to progressive social policies. There's a ton of other fascinating little tidbits in here as well (the cruise industry's start as a way to drink alcohol in international waters! hilarious beer ads of the 1800s! Prohibition's connection to issues as diverse as women's suffrage, the first income tax, and the rebirth of the KKK! Joe Kennedy: not actually a bootlegger!).

The huge number of people involved occasionally made the action a little hard for me to follow, especially when the author seemed to expect the reader to already know some of them (apparently the Bronfman family and Eliot Ness are super famous! Sadly, I am ill-informed and did not recognize either). But despite that, the book's more of a page-turner than political history has any right to be.

What are you currently reading?
Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile. A novel from NetGalley, about an art teacher from LA who implausibly ends up as the owner of a sugarcane field in Louisiana, with only a few months and almost no money to bring it to harvest. I've only just started it, but it seems charming so far.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] curtana wrote me this amazing little story about Hannibal Sefton, and you all should go read it and love it.


Jan. 22nd, 2015 02:02 pm
brigdh: (I'm a grad student)
I meant to include this in yesterday's Reading Wednesday, but then I forgot, oops. And since I don't want to wait until next Wednesday (and possibly forget again...), let's just do this now!

Has anyone read Hagar, the new Benjamin January short story? And by short story, I don't mean fic, I mean a real canonical story, by Barbara Hambly! If you have not yet read it, it's up for sale on her webpage here. Hagar is set during Good Man Friday, but is set back on a plantation in Louisiana, where Rose, Hannibal, and Livia investigate a murder. IT IS SO GOOD YOU GUYS. SO GOOD.

I really love Rose's POV and hope we continue to get more written in it (I assume the books will probably stick to Ben's POV, but more short stories!). And maybe one in Hannibal's, someday? I don't know; he might not actually make a very good narrator. It's also a very good story if you ship Rose/Hannibal, and I totally do. But the best thing about this story is everything that happens with Livia, which is just amazing, and ahhhhh, it's so good.

So, has anyone else read it? I want to talk!
brigdh: (I'm a grad student)
What did you just finish?
Good Man Friday by Barbara Hambly. This is my least favorite of the series. Which is not to say that I don't like it! I do, it's just that I like the other books better. I do like the new setting, and I really love the baseball subplot, but I think ultimately I miss Rose and Hannibal and Shaw and all the other characters. Though on the other hand, I do like getting to see more of Dominique and Chloe and Henri, and Edgar Allan Poe is pretty much my favorite historical cameo.

In terms of the mystery, I'm not really into the long strings of numbers and codes (I still don't understand how the 'Tumbling Squares' code works, but to be fair, I didn't really try to understand it. Also I keep picturing the magic squares as sudoku, and I don't think that's really accurate). I do like the trick with the Rowena's description being wrong. It's such a little thing, and yet capable of throwing off so much of the book! On the one hand, I'm not sure it's realistic she would have lied about something that could have so easily have been caught as a lie (if only one other person had described Singletary!), and yet, if you read closely, she seems to lie about all sorts of random things, so I suppose it's just part of her personality.

I really like the long flashback to the day Livia, Olympe, and Ben were bought and set free. It has such great character details for each of them – Ben crying from loneliness, Olympe spitting on Janvier's shoes, Livia neglecting to mention (or just assuming) that the children are coming with her. I'm also still so curious abut what Ben and Janvier's relationship was like. Janvier seems generally pleasant (he certainly spent a lot of money on Ben, between buying him a piano and sending him to France for school), but Ben has such a lack of emotion in his memories of him that I think they can't have been close. I hope we find out more about it in some future book.

And he remembered, in coming and going from the dissections – and mostly he and the other students had to spend the night in a hayrick or a stable, since the city barriers weren’t open again until first light – he would sometimes see the anatomy assistant Courveche in quiet converse in the shadows with furtive, unshaven men whose peasant clothing always smelled of grave-mold.
Interestingly, just a few days ago there was just a post about this on Barbara Hambly's facebook! So I guess it was luckily we ended up doing this book later than originally planned. I quote:
I hate it, hate it, HATE it when I find out after a book is published that I got something wrong in my research. In my post a week or so ago I mentioned finding a book that would have been TOTALLY useful in researching something that's already in print (and wasn't published until AFTER my book had come out...). Well, after not finding ANYTHING that said there was any difference between English medical practice in the 1820s and French medical practice - while I was writing the Ben January book, Good Man Friday - come to find out that France was the ONLY country in Europe where nobody had a problem with dissections and cartloads of cadavers were dumped every day at noon on the sidewalk in front of the Hotel Dieu, for the med students to pick through for subjects. I gather the atmosphere in the dissecting-room could get a little thick (students smoked cigars as a measure of relief - that sound you hear is my mind boggling at the thought of what the place must have smelled like), but other than that, no prob. They fed the scraps to the Hotel's dogs afterwards.
So, everybody just disregard January's reflections on dealing with grave-robbers in France. Never happened. My bad. My reasoning and extrapolation (hey, it was a Catholic country!) were at fault.
Thank goodness January's reflections on the subject was all it was, and that no plot-point turned upon it.
But I'm still vexed. Grr. Wonder if I can talk my editors into doing another edition?

(Apparently the book in question is "The Greater Journey" by David McCullough, if anyone is interested in the topic.)

‘They are Americans: drunk as holes and crazy as sticks.
Is this an actual French saying? Because if so, I LOVE IT. I did not know holes were particularly drunk (or sticks particularly crazy), but this is hilarious to me and I want to adopt it as part of my regular vocabulary.

It's interesting to me that Ben seems so very remorseful over killing Quent, since he's killed people before in the series without fasting for a year. I suppose because it wasn't in self-defense (or at least not immediate and direct self-defense), and wasn't in the heat of the battle, but was a fairly cold and conscious decision, is what makes the difference to him.

I can never figure out if Thèrése is a slave or a paid servant. As it makes a big difference in how sympathetic I am to Minou at the end, I wish I could figure it out.

And link to the FFA discussion, which is very brief. But still open! If anyone wants to comment.

Mike and Psmith (just to be confusing, the same book has apparently also been published under the titles The Lost Lambs and Enter Psmith, and as the second half of the book Mike) by P.G. Wodehouse. I've been meaning to read the Psmith books forever, since they have a tiny but very enthusiastic fandom. And they deserve it! Psmith (pronounced the same as 'Smith'. As he explains: "There are too many Smiths, and I don't care for Smythe. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way, but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. I shall found a new dynasty. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope.") and Mike are new students at Sedleigh, a small stereotypical British public school, in the early 1900s. Mike is a jock – a cricket star! – and Psmith is witty and eccentric, goes about wearing a monocle and calling everyone "comrade". Together they fight crime cause crime.
This book had a lot of cricket, a sport I continue to absolutely not understand, despite friends making me watch games or try and play (I could not even hit the ball. It's way more difficult than it looks! I'm impressed by your skills, Mike).
Overall, really lovely and funny, and I'm definitely going to read the other books.

What are you currently reading?
Medieval Tastes: Food, Cooking, and the Table by Massimo Montanari, trans. Beth Archer Brombert. So far it's been more historical theorizing of the "how do we know what we know?" sort rather than the actual topic, but I'm not very far into it yet, so I'm holding out hope.
brigdh: (SQUEE!!)
Apparently Barbara Hambly has a new Ben January short story coming out very soon! :D Here's her summary: "HAGAR is another tale of what Rose does while Benjamin's out of town (in this case, while Benjamin is off in Washington during GOOD MAN FRIDAY). Rose has occasion to go sleuthing with Hannibal and with Ben's mother Livia."

brigdh: (I need things on a grander scale)
So, reveals have happened (and at some point I'll get around to putting up the stories I wrote), but right now I want to rec the stories that I beta'd! They are all wonderful, and the authors were great, and you should totally read these lovely, lovely fics.

without thought of thorns (6169 words) by egelantier
Fandom: Sleepy Hollow (TV)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Abbie Mills (Sleepy Hollow)
Additional Tags: Purgatory, Canon-Typical Violence, Canon-Typical Horror Imagery, Portrayal Of Canon Mental Illness, Implied/Referenced Child Abuse, Misses Clause Challenge
Summary: How did Abbie escape the dollhouse?
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

picked up her shoes from the red-brick stairway (1168 words) by egelantier
Fandom: Miss Congeniality (Movies)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Sam Fuller/Gracie Hart
Characters: Sam Fuller, Gracie Hart
Additional Tags: Hurt/Comfort, Misses Clause Challenge, Partnership, Pre-Femslash, Yuletide Treat
Summary: Gracie matches her stride for stride and punch for punch and smile for smile, and if somebody tries to pry her away Sam will probably have to make sure they never find the body.

Where There's A Will (2629 words) by Nary
Fandom: Benjamin January Mysteries - Barbara Hambly
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Chloë Viellard/Dominique Viellard
Characters: Chloe Viellard, Dominique Viellard
Additional Tags: Female-Centric, Female Friendship, Female Character of Color, Misses Clause Challenge, Pre-Femslash, Holding Hands, Developing Friendships, Consensual Infidelity, Possibly Asexual Character, Yuletide Treat, Chromatic Yuletide
Summary: Chloë pays an unexpected visit to Dominique's house to bring news about Henri's will, and perhaps for other reasons as well. Set prior to Good Man Friday.

Escargots (9429 words) by Nary
Fandom: Benjamin January Mysteries - Barbara Hambly
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Rose Vitrac January, Olympe Corbier, Gabriel Corbier, Abishag Shaw, Augustus Mayerling, Madeleine Mayerling, Zizi-Marie Corbier, Original Characters
Additional Tags: Case Fic, Mystery, Character(s) of Color, Historical, New Orleans, POV Female Character, Poison, French Food, Chromatic Yuletide, Yuletide
Summary: Rose was not one to offer platitudes for a man she hadn't known, to a man who hadn't cared about him. "What killed him?" she asked instead, for she couldn't think of any reason why Shaw would be telling her about this if it had been a natural death.
"Poison's our best guess." He paused, as if considering how to most gently say what was coming next. "He took his final meal at the Hotel Iberville last night. So as you might imagine, I got a pressin' need to speak with your nephew, Gabriel Corbier."

Possess whatever bliss thou canst devise (4422 words) by originally
Fandom: Penny Dreadful (TV)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Vanessa Ives/Sir Malcolm Murray, Victor Frankenstein/Vanessa Ives, Ethan Chandler/Vanessa Ives, Ethan Chandler/Victor Frankenstein/Sir Malcolm Murray
Characters: Vanessa Ives, Victor Frankenstein, Sir Malcolm Murray, Ethan Chandler
Additional Tags: Episode: s01e07 Possession, Yuleporn
Summary: It was hard, now, to find the edges, to know where Vanessa ended and darkness began.
Scenes during Vanessa's possession and confinement.

Halfway Down the Road to Lethe (3588 words) by voodoochild
Fandom: Peaky Blinders (TV), Penny Dreadful (TV), She - H. Rider Haggard
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Sir Malcolm Murray/Evelyn Poole
Characters: Sir Malcolm Murray, Tommy Shelby, Madame Kali | Evelyn Poole, John Shelby, Arthur Shelby
Additional Tags: Crossovers & Fandom Fusions, Alternate Universe - Supernatural Elements, World War I, Canon Backstory, Undead, Non Canonical Immortal, Immortality, Opium, Recreational Drug Use, Evelyn really is an evil sorceress, and Malcolm totally is Allan Quatermain
Summary: It's 1917, and Passchendaele is about to blow up. Immortality and undeath seems to be on the schedule as well.

A Game of Pretend (1319 words) by Josselin
Fandom: Captive Prince - C. S. Pacat
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Damen/Laurent (Captive Prince)
Characters: Damen (Captive Prince), Laurent (Captive Prince)
Summary: Despite all of Laurent’s explanations, Damen could not really picture what it would be like to have Laurent pretending to be his slave until it was happening.

The Jacket (1312 words) by Josselin
Fandom: Captive Prince - C. S. Pacat
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Laurent (Captive Prince), Nicaise (Captive Prince)
Summary: “Why do you never wear any of these?” Nicaise said, emerging from the carved mahogany of Laurent’s wardrobe with an armful of clothing embellished with velvet ties and lace cuffs.

For Hire (1094 words) by Flamebyrd
Fandom: Death by Silver - Amy Griswold & Melissa Scott
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Cordelia Frost (Death by Silver)
Additional Tags: Pre-Canon, Victorian Attitudes, Women Being Awesome
Summary: Miss Cordelia Frost plans her career.

The Good-Morrow (5236 words) by oliviacirce
Fandom: Points - Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Philip Eslingen/Nicolas Rathe
Characters: Philip Eslingen, Nicolas Rathe
Additional Tags: First Time, Missing Scene
Summary: Eslingen was silent for a moment, and then he said, "Make me a better offer, Adjunct Point, and we'll see."

So Goddamn Beautiful (4693 words) by lousy_science
Fandom: Saga (Comics)
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Alana/Marko (Saga)
Characters: Alana (Saga), Marko (Saga)
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe, Mpreg, Non-Chronological
Summary: Or, Twelve Things That Alana Didn't Expect When Marko Was Expecting
Snapshots from an AU where it's Marko who got pregnant instead of Alana.

Code 1199 (4264 words) by mesonyx
Fandom: Walt Longmire Mysteries - Craig Johnson
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Walt Longmire/Henry Standing Bear
Characters: Walt Longmire, Henry Standing Bear, Victoria "Vic" Moretti
Additional Tags: Huddling For Warmth, Yuletide 2014, Yuletide Treat, Shippy Gen, Pre-Slash
Summary: There was little chance a trained adult could survive the night outside. “I do not intend to let either of us freeze to death," said Henry.

Protect the Lemons! (1027 words) by lah_mrh
Fandom: Lemon Stealing Whores (YouTube)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Man with Lemons/Woman with Lemons
Characters: Man with lemons, Woman with lemons, Lemon-stealing whore, Original Characters
Additional Tags: Humour, Backstory, Canon-typical language, Yuletide Treat
Summary: All Hayley and Tom have ever wanted is a lemon tree of their very own, and no Lemon-Stealing Whores are going to ruin that.

Rain on a Sunny Day (4003 words) by Esteliel
Fandom: Rivers of London - Ben Aaronovitch
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Peter Grant/Thomas Nightingale
Characters: Peter Grant, Thomas Nightingale
Additional Tags: Yuleporn, Yuletide Treat, First Time, Rain Sex, Blow Jobs, Magic Rain Clouds, Hand Jobs
Summary: When Nightingale summoned the rain cloud to follow his apprentice around the house, he didn't realize how distracting Peter would be in wet clothes.

And This Is How the World Ends (1081 words) by sassafrasx
Fandom: Guardians of the Galaxy (Movies)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Gamora/Nebula (Marvel)
Characters: Gamora (Marvel), Nebula (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Pre-Canon, Dark, Character Study, Origin Story, Angst, Misses Clause Challenge, First Time, Sexual Content
Summary: On her homeworld — her real homeworld, the one that will stay locked and buried inside her chest — there was a saying that the universe will end painted in the scorching blood of the gods, burnt out of existence by the wrath of the small and the oppressed who will have no more of their rule.
As her tiny body quakes in the ruins of her people, her parents’ twisted bodies behind her and Thanos’ first task ahead, she whispers the words to herself over and over, in a voice so low even the gods cannot hear.

I Have Loved the Stars Too Fondly (36275 words) by Shusu (Sameshima_Shuzumi)
Fandom: Steven Universe (Cartoon)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Rose Quartz & Garnet, Garnet/Pearl (Steven Universe), Amethyst/Garnet (Steven Universe), Amethyst/Pearl (Steven Universe), Amethyst/Garnet/Pearl
Characters: Garnet (Steven Universe), Rose Quartz (Steven Universe), Pearl (Steven Universe), Amethyst (Steven Universe)
Additional Tags: Historical References, Body Modification, Alien Gender/Sexuality, Female-Centric, Explicit Sexual Content, Misses Clause Challenge
Summary: The essential chemistry: Rose is the catalyst.

(I really hope I didn't forget anyone!)
brigdh: (I need things on a grander scale)
I'm going through the Archive by fandom alphabetically, and have so far only reached the N's. But here are my recs for the first half of the alphabet!

Fandoms include: 7th and 8th Century CE Mayan RPF, Addams Family, Ancient History RPF, Aubrey-Maturin Series - Patrick O'Brian, Belle, Benjamin January mysteries, Dracula/Spiders Georg, Fairy Tales, Fallen London, The First Law - Joe Abercrombie, Great British Bake Off RPF, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream - Harlan Ellison, James Asher Vampire Series - Barbara Hambly, The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, Moby Dick

First, let me again rec my own gifts, because they've made me so happy!
Magnificat in New Orleans, Benjamin January mysteries, Ben/Rose and Hannibal, T rated, 5.9k. On the eve of Benjamin and Rose Vitrac January's first Christmas in their new home, Ben and Hannibal at the end of a Reveilion have a run-in with a less peaceful holiday tradition, and they and Rose take a in young stranger in more need of help than even they realize.
Five Moments in the Life of Augustus Mayerling, Benjamin January mysteries, Augustus Mayerling, G rated, 1.2k. Becoming Augustus Mayerling is a process.
Yet wherefore speak? Benjamin January mysteries, Ben/Rose/Hannibal, E rated, 1.9k. Ben, Rose, and Hannibal have to avoid waking the baby.

Constitution-al, 7th and 8th Century CE Mayan RPF, Lady K'abel, G, 1k. I'm so pleased to see someone wrote fic for this fandom! And I think they've done a great job of capturing some of the culture and politics of the setting in a short story. Worth reading.

Secret Feminine Cabal, Addams Family, Morticia/Gomez, T rated, 1.1k. Morticia's idea of smashing the patriarchy includes beheading Congressmen. The local feminist group does not live up to her standards. This is hilarious and perfectly in tone with the canon.

Another Opportunity, Ancient History RPF, Hannibal Barca/Scipio Africanus, G rated, 2.9k. Hannibal and Scipio try to go to dinner. It takes several lifetimes. A sweet, funny story, and who doesn't love reincarnation fic? Really good.

The Whitehall Affair, Aubrey-Maturin Series - Patrick O'Brian, G rated, 5.2k. Jack attempts to help Stephen in his intelligence work, but in the end Diana and Sophie save the day. This is excellently written, sounds just like the canon, and is a fun, delightful adventure. I loved reading it.

Fair Play, Belle, G rated, 1.4k. Backstory for Belle and Elizabeth as children, this story is incredibly sweet and adorable. I grinned all the way through.

We Shall Never Lack the Means of Life, Dracula/Spiders Georg, Renfield, T rated, 1.8k. A really funny, sweet story introducing two lonely characters with a shared interest: eating spiders.

Restless, Tam Lin, Janet/Tam Lin, T rated, 1k. A lovely, poetic sequel to the ballad, in which Tam Lin tries to adjust to the modern world.

Rory Red Coat, Little Red Riding Hood, T rated, 7.3k. An updated retelling where Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are bakers and the wolf is a subtle menace. Lots of excellent foodporn and an incredibly sweet ending. A long story, but one that's very worth reading.

Eldest, Sleeping Beauty, G rated, 1.1k. A creepy, poetical story in the best tradition of fairy tales, giving an eerily plausible backstory for the evil fairy.

A Journey to London: being an account of an orphan, an adventuress, a spy and a dead woman. Fallen London, original characters, T rated, 4.9k. A hilarious, Pratchett-esque story (complete with footnotes) of a newcomer to Fallen London. This story perfectly captures the creepy humor of the game, and has a great dry, practical character voice with which to do so.

Against the Odds, The First Law - Joe Abercrombie, Sand dan Glokta, T rated, 2.3k. Backstory for Glokta which is pitch-perfect: sad and a little sweet. I can see exactly see this happening in canon.

The CLASSIFIED British Bake Off, Great British Bake Off RPF, G, 5.7k. Probably everyone is going to rec this, but it deserves it! A crossover with a ton of fandoms, this is hilarious. I particularly loved the appearance of the characters from Leverage.

Genesis, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream - Harlan Ellison, E rated, 1.9k. OMG, somehow this fic is JUST AS HORRIFYING as the original story! Which is a serious accomplishment. Creepy and dreadful and totally worth reading if you like darkfic.

Sojourn, James Asher Vampire Series - Barbara Hambly, James/Lydia, T rated, 6k. A great sequel to Kindred of Darkness, in which the Ashers attempt to escape the reach of the vampires, only to find themselves possibly followed. A great story, and I really loved the use of Lydia's POV; she's a wonderful character.

I Build It Up, The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, TJ/Amal, G rated, 4.4k. OH MY GOD THIS FIC. Post-canon, TJ and Amal deal with a long-distance relationship and living apart. It is perfectly in the tone of the canon, and has everything I love about it: the subtle distinctions between TJ and Amal in terms of class and life experiences, their differences in personality and approach to the world, the way they work together nonetheless, they way they're trying to deal with the difficulties of navigating problems, their silly banter (the dialogue is SO GREAT) and the emails and texts that exactly fit. JUST GO READ IT IT'S AMAZING.

Broad Upon the Wintry Ocean, Moby Dick, Ishmael/Queequeg, T rated, 3.1k. A very sweet post-canon fix-it fic. This is just exactly the ending I would have loved to see for Ishmael and Queequeg, and it reads just like the book.

Leviathan, Moby Dick, Ahab, G rated, 7.2k. Incredibly well-written backstory for Ahab, with lots of h/c and a really interesting take on Ahab's motivation. I loved this different perspective on the canon.


Dec. 25th, 2014 03:20 pm
brigdh: (<3)
You guys! I got three Benjamin January stories! :D I tried to be a good Yuletide participant and love all of my requests equally, but let's be real, everyone knew which one I wanted the most. AND I GOT THREE OF THEM. :DDD Read them and love them with me!

Magnificat in New Orleans (5896 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Benjamin January Mysteries - Barbara Hambly
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Benjamin January, Rose Vitrac January, Hannibal Sefton
Additional Tags: Chromatic Yuletide

On the eve of Benjamin and Rose Vitrac January's first Christmas in their new home, Ben and Hannibal at the end of a Reveilion have a run-in with a less peaceful holiday tradition, and they and Rose take a in young stranger in more need of help than even they realize.

Five moments in the life of Augustus Mayerling (1176 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Benjamin January Mysteries - Barbara Hambly
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Augustus Mayerling
Additional Tags: Backstory, Yuletide Treat

Becoming Augustus Mayerling is a process.

Yet wherefore speak? (1925 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Benjamin January Mysteries - Barbara Hambly
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Benjamin January/Rose Vitrac January/Hannibal Sefton
Characters: Benjamin January, Rose Vitrac January, Hannibal Sefton
Additional Tags: Established Relationship, Polyamory, Threesome - F/M/M, Oral Sex, Frottage, Hand Jobs, Kissing, Breasts, Quiet Sex, Yuletide Treat, Yuleporn

Ben, Rose, and Hannibal have to avoid waking the baby.

brigdh: (I'm a grad student)
What did you just finish?
Ran Away by Barbara Hambly. I love this book even more every time I read it. Structurally, the two mysteries are pretty separated, without much connecting them in terms of plot or clues, but I love how they echo each other thematically: the power of religion and particularly fanaticism of any sort; how money can constrain relationships; disguises and false names. I also really love how the flashback reawakens Ben's memories of Paris; throughout the series we've heard a lot about Ayasha's death and his grief, but this is the first time we've really seen his happiness there, and his day-to-day life. His dreams in the second half of the book are beautiful and heart-breaking, and the very last scene, the nighttime conversation between Ben and Rose, is basically my favorite thing ever in any canon. I'm just so happy to see their past pain acknowledged as real and lasting, without it diminishing their current happiness. I feel like it's rare for a piece of media to allow a character to love both his past and present partners deeply and meaningfully, without one needing to be his 'real' love or his 'true' love. I love that there's not a question of it being a competition for who is better; the issue isn't even raised. And that Rose's history still effects her, still is important, without it being the only thing she is. I just – the whole thing is so wonderful, so special, to me.

There's a lot of little things I like about this book, too. It was great to see past characters reappearing: Marguerite (though I wish we could have gotten more than one scene with her)! The Widow Redfern! Burton Blodgett (the journalist - he is horrible and yet I'm always so amused by him. I'd love him to be the main villain in a book someday)! I like that, three books after the decision was made, we finally get to see Ben and Rose actually participating in the Underground Railroad. I like the acknowledgement of how complicated it is to draw racial lines, that Huseyin is considered part of white society when he first arrives in New Orleans, but when he's in jail he goes to the cell for people of color. I really enjoy the Paris setting in this book, and would love to read more during that period – or fanfic! I also really want a Les Mis crossover, and this would totally be the book to use for it.

This is sort of a random note, but I hate the cover. I think it's ugly and doesn't at all convey the feel of the book - it sort of looks like something cheesy from Harlequin (Here's a link, if anyone hasn't seen it). I think the covers for the books published by Severn House are generally not as nice as the ones from Bantam Press (the first eight books are Bantam, Dead Water and everything before it; the ones since then are Severn House), but this is the worst one of them all, imho. I also think it's a bit suspicious that neither company has ever put a clear image of Ben himself on a cover - it's always a silhouette or a figure turned away or with the head cut off, or often just an inanimate object instead - but at least usually the cover manages to be pretty.

Some more things I liked:
‘Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem,’ he said after a moment’s thought. ‘The simplest explanation is best.’
‘The simplest explanation being that you cannot resist showing off your Latin?’
January grinned. ‘That, too.’

Ben is such a dork! It's adorable. :D Also, clearly he and Hannibal were destined to be friends - they both love to drop quotations.

‘If them curses was weapons,’ inquired old Uncle Bichet, and he sipped the beer Mr Trulove’s butler had provided for the musicians’ refreshment, ‘how come both those execrable shapes– like they called each other – wasn’t blasted out of their shoes then an’ there in the ballroom?’
‘They both missed,’ replied Hannibal at once. ‘Their aim was terrible.’

The whole rivalry between the preachers is hilarious to me. I really love this scene with everyone arguing about if their fight counts as a duel, but the later scene where the two preachers literally fist-fight over the Widow Redfern's affections is EVEN BETTER.

‘But speaking of Hannibal – and of hair...’ A frown clouded her forehead as she paused at the top of the steps. ‘Is there any condition that you know of – or any drug – that shows itself in a man’s hair? I know arsenic gets into the hair and makes it shiny; is there anything that will change the texture and make it limp and dead-looking?’ She looked up into his eyes for a moment, seeing in them, January knew, his own arrested look. ‘It isn’t my imagination, is it?’
NEVER OVER THIS CONVERSATION. I love that Ben and Rose are keeping such close watch over Hannibal. They care about one another so much, but they try not to show it. It is my absolutely favorite character type: passionate but pretending to be just sarcastic and witty.
Also, you know, the image of Hannibal dying his hair with henna is hilarious.

"I’m sure they won’t make a move until the house is actually broken into. Can’t arrest people for standing on the street corner, can you? Not whites, anyway."
Awww, Hannibal. Your awareness of New Orleans's racism has come along so far since the first book.

(And a link to the FFA discussion, long over.)

The Isolation Door by Anish Majumdar. Neil's mother, Priya, has schizophrenia, which has been mismanaged and currently has resulted in her being hospitalized; Neil's father is obsessed with Priya's treatment, which is part of why it's been poorly handled; Neil is starting theater school and wants to pretend that nothing else is happening. He quickly makes friends and starts a relationship, but is unable to tell them the truth about his family, to the extent of having his aunt pretend to be his mother.

This is one of those literary novels that is vaguely autobiographical (Majumdar's mother has schizophrenia and he was a theater student), which often seems to lead to a vagueness of plot and character. I suspect Majumdar was just too close to the subject matter to realize that he needed to explain some of its basic details. For instance, the plot centers around the family's money being controlled by a "public trustee" – but who is that? How much money are we talking about – the family doesn't seem unusually rich, but if you need a public trustee, I'd assume that they must be dealing with immense amounts. Whose money was it originally? It seems likely to have been Priya's, but how did she get it? How did it move out of her control? And why a "public trustee" (I'm not even sure what that is – a bank? a law firm?) and not another member of the family? When Neil suspects Priya is being abused in the hospital, he's unable to do anything about it because apparently her medical decisions are also being made by this public trustee – again, why? In what circumstances is the same legal structure in charge of someone's money and their health care? Even if Priya is required to be hospitalized, why couldn't Neil change hospitals? Argh, all of these things bugged me; I couldn't figure out what was going on most of the time, which meant characters' decisions and emotions held little weight, since I didn't know why they were doing anything or what the consequences would be. The style of writing was pretty, but there was nothing else to hold this story up.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Oh, this book. It has an excellent beginning – no, not "Call me Ishmael", though that's fine enough for a start, but I mean the rest of the opening paragraph:
Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off — then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.

YUP IT'S A VAGUELY SUICIDAL SNARKY NARRATOR. OF COURSE I'M INTO IT. And then by chapter three Ishmael has acquired a boyfriend husband (no, literally they describe themselves as married)(Also there's this bit: On the occasion in question, Queequeg figured in the Highland costume — a shirt and socks — in which to my eyes, at least, he appeared to uncommon advantage. HOW IS THAT LITERALLY NOT 'My husband is not wearing pants and looks hot'?) and if the entire book was just 'The Adventures of Ishmael and Queequeg, Sharing Beds and Going on Weird Tangents', I would love it. Ishmael has an excellent narrative voice; he can be lovely and thoughtful (Also, pretty blasphemous for 1851!):
In what census of living creatures, the dead of mankind are included; why it is that a universal proverb says of them, that they tell no tales, though containing more secrets than the Goodwin Sands; how it is that to his name who yesterday departed for the other world, we prefix so significant and infidel a word, and yet do not thus entitle him, if he but embarks for the remotest Indies of this living earth; why the Life Insurance Companies pay death-forfeitures upon immortals; in what eternal, unstirring paralysis, and deadly, hopeless trance, yet lies antique Adam who died sixty round centuries ago; how it is that we still refuse to be comforted for those who we nevertheless maintain are dwelling in unspeakable bliss; why all the living so strive to hush all the dead; wherefore but the rumor of a knocking in a tomb will terrify a whole city. All these things are not without their meanings.
But Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope.

Or he can be sarcastic and hilarious. When describing a rich hypocrite: Yet Dives himself, he too lives like a Czar in an ice palace made of frozen sighs, and being a president of a temperance society, he only drinks the tepid tears of orphans.
Or listing what it takes to write a book: Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!

Unfortunately, of course, the book is not really about Ishmael, and even less so Queequeg. Instead it's a whole thing about a whale and Captain Ahab and you all know this already. And as the story moves on, Ishmael and Queequeg drop more and more out of focus, until even his unique, entertaining first-person voice has faded away into a standard third-person omniscient. Melville does all sorts of weird stylistic experiments, from chapters written as sermons and encyclopedias, to chapters written as monologues and scenes from a play (complete with stage directions!) to the one chapter where it literally becomes a musical (AGAIN I'M NOT EXAGGERATING THIS IS A WEIRD-ASS BOOK). But none of it's as great as Ishmael in the first third or so of the book.

What are you currently reading?
Touched with Fire Christopher Datta. Another NetGallery novel, and another one that's turning out to disappoint my hopes.

Bombay Stories by Saadat Hasan Manto. Short stories set – guess where! :D
brigdh: (I'm a grad student)
What did you just finish?
Animal's People by Indra Sinha. A really excellent novel about the Bhopal gas disaster (though that event is never actually referred to by name). Animal is an orphan, a young man severely disabled by his exposure to the poisons as an infant, who walks on all fours and refuses to acknowledge that he's human. A crush on a girl leads to his involvement with an activist group, and gradually a plot develops involving the latest court case against the 'kampani' that built the factory; a newly-arrived American doctor who wants to build a free clinic but has secrets of her own; Ma Franci, an elderly, partly senile nun who only speaks French and is convinced the "Apokalis" has already begun, who raised Animal and wants to stay with him even when her order repeatedly tries to send her back to France; and several romantic relationships, boycotts, hunger strikes, fire-walking, and more. The best part of this book wasn't the plot but the language; the conceit of the entire thing is that it's based on tape recordings of Animal telling his story to a journalist, so it's a rambling monologue of metaphors and dreams and wordplay in at least three languages. It's lovely and compelling and I could have read so much more. Highly recommended.

The Shirt on His Back by Barbara Hambly. I really like this book - even more than I'd remembered - although it does have a sad lack of Rose. At least she's off-screen for a good reason. Also Shaw backstory! Even if it's very vague and only a little glimpse, it's nice to see more about him.

I was looking up something related to this book, and have just now realized that almost every single background character is a real historical person. Including the painter dude! Who was actually at the Rendezvous in 1837. Here one of my favorites of the paintings he did of it. Unfortunately I cannot find his sketches of either a chess game or a boxing match, so apparently Hannibal and Ben escaped being immortalized for art history. :D

I did find this tragic account of Kit Carson, who apparently had already become a famous pulp figure in his own lifetime. The first he learned about his fame though, was discovering a novel "starring" him in the belongings of a woman he'd been trying to save who had died anyway. Carson later wrote: I have much regretted the failure of the attempt to save the life of so esteemed and respected a lady. In the camp was found a book, the first of the kind I had ever seen, in which I was made a great hero, slaying Indians by the hundred, and I have often thought that as Mrs. White would read the same and knowing that I lived near, she would pray for my appearance and that she might be saved.

Anyway, back to fiction, I really like Morning Star, though Hannibal has so many flirtations in this book that I find it hard to tell who he's actually sleeping with (all of them? none of them? it shouldn't be this confusing!). I love Ben keeping a journal for Rose. I really like the mystery, and the parallels between all the different pursuits of vengeance, and also all the Frankenstein comparisons. I also really like how at least part of the mystery is left open-ended, and Ben's discomfort with that.

According to Shaw, on one of the three occasions between New Orleans and the South Pass that he'd spoken more than half a dozen words at a time [...] Shaw had mentioned on the steamboat, breaking a silence of nearly forty-eight hours on that occasion and then returning to it at once
Man, poor Ben. If Shaw was barely speaking and Hannibal was having regular panic attacks between fits of suicidality, that must have been a pretty terrible three month trip. He really earned his $500.

'What the hell good does it do me to get my life back, if it costs me the only thing that matters to me?' the fiddler had cried, on the occasion that January had tracked him down on the wharves at four o'clock one morning after a Mardi Gras ball.
I have a lot of things to say about this one line! It's yet another example of Hannibal talking about himself with life/death metaphors. And setting this on the wharves is totally a call-back to Ben's suicide attempt when they first met, right? Also, how did Ben even know to go looking for him at 4 am (because Hannibal was totally living with them while recovering I WANT TO BELIEVE THIS). Also - what was Ben's response? How do you answer a question like that? I really want the whole fic about this scene.
I just want all the fic and meta about Hannibal's new sobriety - about why now, what are his motivations, how does he feel about it - how do Ben and Rose and everyone else he knows feel about? Like, I am all about him doing this because he's in love with Ben and Rose and trying to be a better/more useful person, but I feel like there must be non-OT3 interpretations as well.

'I do,' replied January. 'But she is back in the city of the white men on the Great River, being unable to come with us on account of being with child.' Even speaking her name filled him with longing and with joy.
'Rose.' Morning Star gave him her beautiful smile. 'Sun Mouse told me.' Sun Mouse was her name for Hannibal - one which had been almost immediately picked up by every whore in the camp as well.

I am endlessly amused that Hannibal has known Morning Star for something like 12 hours at this point, most of which were presumably taken up with having a wedding and sleeping, and yet he's already told her all about Rose. Also, okay: everyone has new nicknames! 'Tall Chief' is pretty self-evident, 'Winter Moon' is another name for the month of January (it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure that out), but what does 'Sun Mouse' mean? Is it a reference to Hannibal's thing about "The Sun spoke to me in a dream"?

I like the random accusations of Aaron Burr and Santa Anna. It's just so funny to me that people in the past had the same kind of weird conspiracy theories that we do today.

This book also has an amazing adventure sequence. I love everything about Ben and Hannibal falling in the river (also PLEASE I NEED huddling-for-warmth fic in the aftermath), meeting up with Shaw and the fight to keep from being captured, the threat of torture (and Ben's specifically freaking out over Hannibal being tortured), and then the absolutely amazing exchange when they've been rescued:
January caught Hannibal's arm as the fiddler stumbled, the drag of his weight - even perceived through January's own aching exhaustion - telling him that his friend was at the end of his strength. 'Go,' the fiddler whispered, and staggered again. 'You'll never get away—'
January tightened his hold. 'Rose will kill me if I make her find another Greek tutor.'
'I'm not fooling.'
'Neither am I.'
'Please,' panted Hannibal, and he made an effort to plant his feet. 'I've never been anything but a waste of air and boot leather. Please don't make me die with my last thought being that I caused the deaths of the only people I care about—'
'If I have to carry you,' January doubled his fist in his friend's face - 'it's going to slow me down. But I'll do it.'

OMG <3 And then there's totally horses so it's all unnecessary melodrama. BUT NECESSARY FOR MY HEART.

And at the end, Baby John! I don't normally like baby-fic, but this is possibly the sweetest and best ending ever.

(And here was the FFA discussion, now over.)

What are you currently reading?
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch. The new Rivers of London book! :D I'm very much enjoying it so far.

The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi. So far I'm enjoying this much more than the author's previous book. An Indian woman living in America has a secret American fiancee; she goes back to visit her family and attempts to break the news.
brigdh: (I need things on a grander scale)
What did you just finish?
The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair. This book... well, it had a lot of potential! Rakhee is a young Indian-American whose parents are having marital problems. One summer Rakhee and her mother go back to Kerala to stay with her mother's family; while there, Rakhee discovers a mysterious garden hidden in the nearby forest and a young girl living there who claims never to have left the garden. No prizes for guessing that the girl's origin is tied up with Rakhee's family. Eventually the family history – involving teen pregnancies, blackmail, mental illness, affairs, suicide, arranged marriages, incest, and more – is revealed, and Rahkee's life is ~altered forever~.
The problem with having a child narrator is that the reader generally figures things out much more quickly than the character, especially when it's anything to do with sex or relationships. Sometimes that can lead to interesting uses of dramatic irony. Sometimes it's just boring. The Girl in the Garden is the second one. It was also melodramatic to the point of ridiculousness, and never seemed to quite decide if it wanted to follow fairy tale logic (I mean SERIOUSLY, a little girl living on her own in a garden with her pet albino peacock?) or be more realistic. Instead it tries to do both and ends up muddled somewhere in between.

The Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly. In 1913, Lydia Asher's baby daughter is kidnapped by Grippen, the master vampire of London, in order to force Lydia to assist him in tracking down a rogue vampire newly arrived from the Balkans. Both Lydia's husband James and her vampire friend/lover/dude who might secretly be using her Don Simon Ysidro are out of the country, so Lydia tries to simultaneously keep any of her servants or family from realizing what's wrong, track down the Balkan vampire and save his victim (an American heiress who's very into vampire novels), track down her daughter's whereabouts and rescue her, track down Grippen's whereabouts and take bloody revenge, and wait for the guys to get back.
I think this was my favorite of the Asher books since the first one. I loved getting so much of Lydia's POV, and it was nice to have a plot that didn't center on spying and WWI. I've finished this series now (well, until the next book gets published; Hambly has talked some about writing it on her Facebook), and while I didn't like it quite as much as the January books, it was really good. Recommended to anyone who likes vampires!

Dead and Buried by Barbara Hambly. It's the book about Hannibal's backstory! And it only took nine books to be finally revealed. This is also the book that's alllll about passing. Not just the multiple characters passing for white, but an actor passing for a lord, poor passing for rich, the reappearance of the Mayerlings, and whatever Hannibal is doing (not passing, not really, but changing his name and denying his past identity).

The first time I read this book, it took me until the very last scene to figure out who Hannibal had been. I think I got confused by Diogenes's son and exactly how the dates worked out - I kept expecting Hannibal to have been Theo instead of Alexander. I do wish we had more of Rose in this book. I really want to know her thoughts about Hannibal's backstory: does she figure it out herself (she has all the same information Ben does, but she wasn't there to witness Hannibal's emotional reactions, which might be enough to make the difference)? Does Ben tell her? Does Hannibal?

There's also the question of why Hannibal waited this long to tell them (and even then he doesn't actually tell them so much as Ben figures it out on his own). I don't think it's because Hannibal doesn't trust them or thinks they don't want to know (Ben, at least, if not both of them, has clearly been curious for some time, and I always wonder if Hannibal would have told him earlier if he had asked. But Ben's always been incredibly considerate of Hannibal's reserve). I think Hannibal is bone-deep, self-loathingly, self-destructively ashamed of his past, and kind of can't bear for Ben and Rose to know about it. Which makes me wonder about how they all deal with the secret now being revealed: do they just never talk about it? I have a lot of questions: why did he choose 'Hannibal" as a name? Does he think of himself as 'Hannibal' or 'Alexander' or something else entirely? When he asks if Philippa has remarried, what answer is he hoping to hear (I want him to be hoping for 'yes', but there's no real indication either way)? Is he ever tempted in the future to write to Gerry (or maybe talk Ben into writing to him) to hear more news about the family?

I really would love to read an AU where Hannibal runs into Patrick before he's dead. I'm not sure Hannibal would even want to, necessarily... there might be too much baggage. But I'd love to see what they would say to each other. And what would Patrick think of Hannibal's current lifestyle? Would he try to give Hannibal money? I think that would horrify Hannibal even more than just seeing Patrick. I also have a theory that Hannibal deliberately named Patrick and Diogenes in his will as Gerry's guardians as a way to give Philippa as much control as possible: Diogenes was too lazy to care and usually on another continent, and Patrick was (at the time) a poor relation, generally described as a good guy, and Hannibal claims he was also in love with Philippa. Also maybe because Hannibal/Patrick. Another thing I wonder about them is if Hannibal originally intended to actually commit suicide, and Patrick talked him down into just faking it. I'd love to know about everything that was going on then and Hannibal's exact thoughts and motivations.

‘I seen folks squoze theirselves into weddins,’ drawled a voice from behind the nearest tomb. ‘An’ I won’t say I didn’t invite myself to the inauguration of Andrew Jackson and sleep that night on the floor of the White House – leastwise that’s where I woke up –’ Lieutenant Abishag Shaw of the New Orleans City Watch stepped into sight and spat a line of tobacco at a cockroach the size of a mouse, which was climbing up the broken remains of the casket – ‘but this’s the first time I seen a man stow away for a ride in somebody else’s coffin. This our friend?’
I totally need the backstory fic about Shaw's adventures in DC. When was he there? Why? For how long did he stay?

In the parlor, Mohammed LePas, the blacksmith, was quietly organizing where the men would meet in the morning, to search the swamps that lay at the back of town.
Yay, Mohammed (from 'Sold Down the River') again! I kind of want him and Ben to be better friends than they seem to be.

‘Lady Philippa wouldn’t believe Droudge if he told her water flowed downhill. She loathes the man – at least she did when I knew her – and, considering what she put up with from the boy’s father, I can’t imagine there’s much in the way of vice she hasn’t heard of before. Droudge would tell her, of course. He’s vindictive that way.’ Hannibal frowned at some memory. ‘But once they have a decent lawyer, and he’s tracked down the girl – or boy – or multiples thereof – in question, I can’t see a judge refusing bail, no matter what Patrick’s will may have said.’
This is totally my canon proof that Hannibal is bi.

‘Why would he want to see me?’
‘Because he knows you were Patrick’s friend, as well as his father’s.’
‘God help the both of them.’
January had been raggedly tired then – it had been full daylight when he’d returned home after seeing Trinchen still lived, and he’d had to force himself out to seek Hannibal before returning to the Countess’s once more. He’d said, ‘No. God help him. You may be able to talk some sense into him, and that may very well save his life.’

I really like that - for a book that's basically entirely about Hannibal's pain - he descends into self-pity remarkably few times. And when he does, like here, Ben immediately calls him on it and Hannibal makes the effort to do better. It's so refreshing compared to stories where people are encouraged to entirely wallow in their angst.

After a time, he asked, ‘Do you fear he’ll look like his father?’
Hannibal raised dark eyes, darker in circles of sleepless bruise. Head shake – slight, as if he had gone beyond the ability or desire for movement. Then he looked away. ‘He was the mirror of his mother when he was five. I expect he still is.’
‘Did you love her?’
‘With the whole of my heart.’ His gaze remained on the trees beyond the door.
A flat monotony of dull green: no mountains, no hills, no seasons to speak of. Tropical heat or tropical rain. A world where earth and water mixed, entangled in the wet heavy vegetation of the swamp.
Did Hannibal dream of Paris?
Of Oxford where he had studied – studied what? – before he had joined Derryhick’s ‘merry band’ and thrown away his future to follow wine and song?
Waking in the night, did he sometimes wait to hear the bells of Oxford’s spires, or those of Notre Dame as January still sometimes did?

Oh, Hannibal. (Also I'm very amused by Ben wondering about Hannibal's dreams, since that was a significant part of Ben's courtship of Rose.)

"Then he spread out his arms in the moonlight, raised his face to the moon . . . and smiled, leaned back, and fell like that into the river. They found his body about a week later, near Rouen. Did Patrick never tell you?’
The Viscount said, ‘I never asked him.’
There was silence for a time. ‘Did he know, do you think, sir?’ asked Foxford at length. ‘What he was doing, I mean?’
Hannibal sat silent, one skeletal finger tracing the edge of the desk. Then he said, ‘Who knows what you think you’re doing, when you’re that drunk? I know your father wasn’t happy. I know he knew what he was doing to Philippa – to his wife,’ he corrected himself, ‘and to you, living as he did. And to his lands, for which he had . . . a great deal more feeling than most people guessed. I heard him say, more than once, that you and your mother would be better caretakers for his birthright than he was ever capable of being. He looked happy when he fell.’

Oh, Hannibal. Oh, man. Just this whole scene is so tragic and heart-breaking.

Hannibal said, ‘I can’t.’
Only the agony of two cracked ribs kept January from grabbing the fiddler by the arms and shaking him till his teeth rattled. Head throbbing with sleeplessness, body and bones a mass of pain from the events of the past thirty-six hours, he opened his mouth to shout, ‘For the love of God, why not?’ at him.
And closed it, the words unsaid. Understanding, from the cornered stillness in Hannibal’s ashen face, that there was probably only one thing in the world that would keep his friend from undertaking the journey upriver with him to keep him – by his impersonation of a white master – from being kidnapped by slave-stealers on the way...
And that this was it. Whatever this was.
That he would not – and could not – abandon the son of a woman he had not seen in seventeen years.

AHHH this whole scene also! There's a lot of really fantastic scenes in this book. They're both in so much pain and it's kind of excellent.

"And with the passe blancs it’s worse, because people you meet in their house might be black, only you can’t tell . . .’
‘For God’s sake, Benjamin.’ Hannibal straightened up from the basin, wiped his face with a clean flour sack. ‘It isn’t as if blacks were lepers—’
‘That is exactly what we are.’ January stepped over to Hannibal, wiped the back of his hand down the white sleeve of the fiddler’s shirt. ‘And that is exactly what they fear. To touch us, to associate with us, because doing so would result in some of our social odium smirching them.’ He pointed to the place where his hand had touched. ‘If you were a Southerner,’ he said quietly, ‘you’d be able to see the stain.’
Hannibal said nothing.

This is one of my favorite exchanges between them.

‘At the town house?’
‘You know it?’
‘Gods, yes. The lot of us took it over like invading Goths and turned it into Liberty Hall. I hope to God somebody whitewashed the poem I chalked on to the wall of the back drawing room."

"Liberty Hall", awww. Hannibal was totally a baby revolutionary.

‘Rose!’ a voice whispered outside. ‘Rose, for God’s sake.’
She turned over, sat up sleepily. ‘What on earth . . .?’
‘I have found you out at last, you wicked woman,’ said January to Rose, recognizing the voice. And, padding to the French door: ‘Come in through my study, Hannibal.’


‘Patrick used to quote that portion of the Iliad,’ said Foxford. ‘When he spoke about my father... Achilles and Patroclus, parting for the last time:
‘Now give thy hand; for to the farther shore
When once we pass, the soul returns no more:
When once the last funereal flames ascend,
No more shall meet Achilles and his friend;
No more our thoughts to those we loved make known;
Or quit the dearest, to converse alone.
‘He didn’t speak of him, but I don’t think he ever stopped missing him.’

Patrick and bb!Hannibal were totally a couple, no? Or maybe Hannibal had a previous OT3: Hannibal/Patrick/Philippa.

Hannibal breathed out a short bitter laugh. ‘Wouldn’t that be a sight to behold? Enough to send the poor girl dashing back to Natchitoches—’
January said, ‘She wouldn’t have to know.’
Hannibal started to reply, then didn’t. Sat for a time on the crumpled and sheetless mattress, meeting January’s gaze.
In time, he sighed and asked, ‘When did you guess?’

One of my favorite things about this series is how subtle and smart people can be about one another. There's not a lot of long explicit discussions about feelings, but they understand one another so well. There's a lot going on under the surface.

‘Oh, yes,’ agreed Hannibal softly. ‘Because it meant, you see, that neither Gerry nor Uncle Diogenes had any legal control of the Foxford estate at all. That it was legally mine – still is, as a matter of fact. A terrifying thought.’
January bowed elaborately to him, and Hannibal hit him with the pillow.

And then: OMG DORKS.

"It’s the Feast of All Saints, Benjamin,’ he added with a fleet smile. ‘The night when those dead and buried come back to help the living." [...] Hannibal sighed and got to his feet, pale in his ragged nightshirt like a corpse climbing forth from a dishonored grave. ‘Facilis descensus Averno,’ he said, unconsciously providing the rest of the passage of Virgil that Uncle Diogenes had spoken, to reflect upon the path into Hell – and out of it again. ‘Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras, hoc opus...’
I have this whole theory that Hannibal tends to think of himself as dead or a ghost (at least until something that happens between this book and the next), and these are just a few more quotes I wanted to pull out in support.

(And the FFA discussion, now closed. Damn that post went by quickly.)

What are you currently reading?
A Breath of Fresh Air by Amulya Malladi. A novel about the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. A satire about a sensible woman who goes to stay with melodramatic, brooding relatives on a decaying farm.


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