Reading Wednesday

Oct. 11th, 2017 04:48 pm
brigdh: (Default)
[personal profile] brigdh
What did you just finish?
The Girl from Rawblood by Catriona Ward. The Villarca family has lived in Rawblood, a great Gothic mansion isolated in the bogs and mists of Dartmoor, for generations untold. The Villarcas are also haunted by… something. Exactly what it is depends on which generation of the Villarcas you ask: the ghost of a murdered woman, a curse, a predisposition to madness with episodes brought on by strong emotions, an autoimmune disease, a tendency to sicken and pine if they move away from the house of Rawblood, a history of murdering those they love.

The story is told in segments from different slices of the family's history, though at every moment the characters think they are the last of the bloodline, not realizing the reader has already met their descendants. In 1910 we have Iris Villarca, a young girl living alone with her father and Tom Gilmore, the stableboy she is closer to than she should be. As she grows older a series of tragedies condemn her to an insane asylum, where she rots in the care of doctors more concerned with the larger devastation of World War I than with her. In 1881, Alonso Villarca is determined to solve his family’s problems through medical science, a goal that drives him to experiments involving vivisection, opium, blood, and a notable lack of ethics. In 1839, Mary Hopewell fades away from consumption in Italy, living on an independence that just barely keeps her above poverty. She doesn’t know, of course, that she will soon meet Don Villarca, who will marry her and buy back her long-lost childhood home of Rawblood. There are other narrators too: Meg (someday to become Iris’s mother but when we meet her enduring a childhood raised by strangers and believing herself to have the powers of a witch), Charles Danforth (Alonso’s companion in medical experiments, who sees the ghost Alonso swears isn’t there), Tom Gilmore’s letters from the trenches, and nameless Villarcas back into the dark depths of history, medieval monks and tattooed pagans. All of these stories interrupt and influence one another, circling around family secrets and unavoidable consequences and the connections across generations. The future and the past become indistinguishable, and by the end of the book time has circled back on itself.

For all the obvious horror tropes – a haunted house! a ghost! a witch! – I wouldn’t really call this a horror novel. It’s not particularly interested in scaring the reader. Instead, more than anything, it’s a tragedy. And a tragedy in quite the classical sense: you’re told right at the beginning how it’s all going to end painfully, and yet the characters keep making the choices you know they have to make, setting the plot on unbending tracks toward the inevitable crash. There’s a bit of a mystery in figuring out what exactly haunts the Villarcas, but the central pull of the book isn’t in solving those clues (though I do have to say that I absolutely love the ultimate reveal), but simply in the loss and sadness of their downfall, and Iris’s in particular. Her loneliness, her trauma, the way she is both abandoned to her fate and the creator of that same fate – ah, it’s great.

I absolutely loved this book. It has a very Victorian feel in some ways – the setting, the ruin of a noble house, the situations of the characters – but the author has set very modern eyes on these old tropes, giving them a new and powerful turn. I really recommend it.
I read this as an ARC via NetGalley.

What are you currently reading?
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff. Another in the spate of recent novels and short stories using H.P. Lovecraft's monsters and settings but with the explicit goal of subverting his racism. Can it possibly be as good as The Ballad of Black Tom? Probably not, but I'm enjoying it anyway.

Yuletide Letter

Oct. 8th, 2017 10:56 pm
brigdh: (Default)
[personal profile] brigdh
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
Tumblr: 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, major character death, infidelity, racism, homophobia, classism, general dark and depressing tones, etc, as needed for your story. Or feel free to ignore such elements of the canons below and write me fluff! 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, Chime without Consolation, 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, so if you choose 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 they'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, here's a link to my Yuleporn post.

Fandoms are Benjamin January, Underground, and Books of the Raksura )

FIC: On Broken Wings, chapter 16

Oct. 5th, 2017 11:45 pm
raisedbymoogles: (Default)
[personal profile] raisedbymoogles
In which a monster is slain, and that's only the beginning of Sephiroth's problems. On AO3

Ugh, I'm getting these out every three months instead of every month as per my original goal. I suck. *headdesk*


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Helen Bright

January 2017

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