vulgarweed: (real-by-magnavox-23)
[personal profile] vulgarweed
Title: A Gift for Rosie
Author: redbuttonhole
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/Eurus Holmes, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Mummy Holmes/Uncle Rudy
Length: 3,652
Rating: Mature
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author Summary: Mycroft, by the way, advised me not to tell you anything of this affair beyond the bare minimum. He seems to think you'll react badly, and I can't help but grant that he is probably correct... But you're family now, John. It's time you learned exactly what that means.

Content Warning: Infidelity, Incest (off-stage, between consenting adult siblings. Not involving Rosie!)

Reccer's comments: Eurus Holmes is a divisive character for sure - but she presents a lot of great opportunities for fic writers. And as soon as we saw Musgrave Hall in all its Gothic glory, stories that play on Gothic literature tropes started to seem natural - even in the supernatural or unnatural.

(This story also fills in some major gaps in various characters' motivations from the series, IMO.)

This is an epistolary fic, Sherlock writing a letter to his partner John, letting him in on all the family secrets - as so often in Gothic lit, that family secret happens to be a history of incest: consensual incest between adult siblings, often with the intention of producing a super-super genius instead of just a regular run-of-the-mill genius. Eurus is the product of such a union.

The letter proceeds with such straightforward, elegantly written logic and subtle appeals to emotion that the slowly dawning horrific conclusion the reader is coming to about Sherlock’s special project almost seems perfectly fine. Sherlock’s matter-of-fact emotional honesty is touching and kept me so riveted I welcomed the slow derailment of reason.

And the denouement reminded me of a certain pivotal, shattering line of dialogue from the climax of Watchmen.

MODS: May I have a tag for pairing: sherlock holmes/eurus holmes and pairing: mummy holmes/uncle rudy
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Default)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: He Was a Friend of Mine
Author: SinceWhenDoYouCallMe_John
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, John Watson/Alma Watson
Length: 38,387 words
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Suicidal ideation, infidelity
Verse: BBC Sherlock/Brokeback Mountain crossover
Author's summary: Sherlock presses his nose into my hair and inhales. “Told myself the whole way here we wasn’t gonna get into this again,” he says low. His breath moves soft against my scalp, and his words rumble deep into my bones. It sounds like the open sky throwing wind against the boulders up on Baker, rattling the thin walls of the tent with the rushing force of the mountain. I hum. I don’t believe him for a second – steppin’ out of his gleaming white Ford back in Signal with his best shirt on and his curls all combed lookin’ up at me like he just took a breath after five years of holding it. I know because I did the same.

Reccer's comments: Stunned silence. What. This author. What. This author writes better than Annie Proulx. I just. ??

Okay. Trying to put together words coherently here. This is a fusion with Brokeback Mountain, and the author says at the beginning that they “borrowed heavily” from Proulx’s short story and the screenplay. So when I started reading the first paragraph I thought, yeah, okay, they’ve copied all this description stuff from Proulx to set the mood. I mean because look at this:

There’s a place up round near Bighorn where the little streams all crisscross each other like a handful of grass tossed down onto hot summer pavement. You can walk alongside the water in places where boots and hooves and moccasins and bare feet and whatever other goddamn footwear there is have been trampling for hundreds of years, and nobody pays you no congratulations for finding those paths. 

Poetry, right? This author has obviously won numerous writing awards, right? But. Then there’s a link to Proulx’s story at the end and I checked and this is all this fic author. 100%. I went so far as to google those phrases because good goddamn. This fic is the only hit in the entire internet. The only hit for the handful of grass on hot summer pavement and no congratulations for finding the paths. And it just goes on like that for 38K words. Yes, there are a few lines of dialogue that are cribbed but that’s really about it as far as I can tell. So. Maybe they have won writing awards. Worth reading just for that. But then there is the story.

The plot largely follows that of the movie but there are a lot of deviations, some minor and some major, as Sherlock and John’s characters and back stories meld with those of Ennis and Jack. It was a tricky line to walk, I think, to bring Sherlock and John as we know them to the rural American west of the 1970s and 80s, including the speech patterns. But they are definitely there, with John’s anger and struggle between wanting outward normalcy while craving adventure, and Sherlock’s paramount loneliness and underappreciated brilliance seeking an appropriate outlet but getting sidetracked in violence and illicit substances.

For those who are afraid of how the movie ended, check out the “eventual happy ending” tag. ;) Eventual being the key word here because believe me, you will go through that box of tissues on the way. We are taken on a lifelong journey that hurts with every step as the two men drift between moments of happiness with each other. The characters may be fictional, but their emotions are made real through the telling, and that to me is the mark of a truly great story.

[identity profile]
Title: A Dangerous Love
Author: redbuttonhole (AO3)
Pairings: Sherlock/John/Mary
Length: 10631 words
Rating: PG
Verse: BBC Sherlock
Author's summary: In His Last Vow, seven months between the Watson Family Domestic and Christmas at the Holmes’ pass unseen. Here’ one version of what might have happened during that gap. John and Sherlock and Mary all love each other. And it’s tearing them apart.

Reccer's comments: After Mary shoots Sherlock, John moves back to 221B. Sherlock attempts to bring John and Mary back together, and ends up growing rather close to Mary himself.

I like fics that explore the possibilities of a relationship between Sherlock, Mary and John; I very much like fics in which Sherlock is attracted to Mary independently of his relationship with John, and not just because he’s in love with John and she happens to be part of the package. I like Sherlock’s and Mary’s characterization here; they get each other because they are remarkably similar – which, as John points out, isn’t always a good thing. Contains infidelity, some angst, and three kind of messed up people trying to figure out what they are to one another and how they can possibly fit all together.
Excerpt )
[identity profile]
Title:Bury The Bells
Author: unknownsister
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Warnings: None
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary:AU set after WWI in 1922. John is adrift in a loveless marriage. He takes a holiday to the country and meets a difficult patient. The spark that ignites between them might relight John's life or burn it to the ground.
Reccer's comments:This story was stunning and brilliant through out until the ending. What a glorious time period this was and it flowed beautifully. She had such a way with words, the flow of the story was perfect. This story was exquisite and all the little details made it come to life.

This fic was a delicious slow burn and I do looooooove those. All the secondary characters were lovely. Mrs. Hudson was the sweetest.

One of my favorite moments well one of so many is the turning point in chapter 9: "They watch each other closely, the scared doctor and the quiet detective. John's hand hovers between them, paused in indecision like his brain. Sherlock, eyes still locked with John's, reaches up to encircle John's wrist, slow and careful. His fingers are warm against John's pulse point and the contact soothes him more than he thinks it has any right to. “John.” John makes a quiet noise in the back of his throat, almost a question. “Mm?” “Let's go home.”

*happy sighs* If you have never read this you should you will love it soooooooo much.
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Molly)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: The Doubtful Comforts of Human Love
Author: PoppyAlexander
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Length: 61,500 words
Rating: Mature
Warnings: None
Verse: BBC
Author's summary: Or, The Adventure of the Red Shoes. UK Ballet principal dancer Sherlock Holmes and assistant rugby coach John Watson met and fell in love as ambitious, optimistic teenagers. Twenty years on, they are entering midlife, facing the break-down of their bodies and the ending of their careers, and contemplating what the future holds for two middle-aged men forced to start over. With a frightening crisis unfolding at the Ballet, Sherlock must balance the demands of his career, his friendships, and his marriage with his own struggle against bitterness and discontent, while John takes a long-overdue glance from the outside, in, and stutter-steps toward making a kind of peace. AU - ballet!lock/rugby!john

Reccer's comments: If the ballet!lock/rugby!john note makes you want to nope out, then you are precisely the audience for this fic. This takes all the tropes from the popular AU and blows them out of the water.

I thought this was an especially brave story to write because it doesn’t portray Sherlock and John as an ‘opposites attract’ odd couple who only find true happiness in each other, or star-crossed lovers who are destined to be together. This is a startlingly mature and stark story of two very flawed individuals who struggle with both themselves and each other, and the weight of their shared history. There are some very difficult scenes, emotionally speaking, and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that there is no fairytale ending. (But it’s hopeful! The author promises it in the tags… ;))

The dance scenes are some of the most powerful ones in the story, but it’s not a prettified, sugarplum version of ballet; it’s tough, gritty, and powerful in a very earthy way, full of sweat, anger, and blood. And speaking of blood…

On top of the frankly masterful study of Sherlock and John’s dual mid-life crises, the author has been bold enough to add a full-fledged casefic, loosely leaning on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Red Shoes’. It’s beautifully (and creepily) done, and is definitely not for the faint of heart.

[identity profile]
Title:Method Act
Author: [ profile] splix
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch/Tom Hiddleston, Sherlock Holmes/Mark Gatiss, Benedict Cumberbatch/John Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch/Molly Hooper, Sherlock Holmes/Louise Brealey, Sherlock Holmes/Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch/Mycroft Holmes
Length:136749 words
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Graphic violence, incest, RPF, consent issues.
Verse: Sherlock BBC

Author's summary: Something very strange keeps happening at 7:35 PM.

Reccer's comments: After an accident, Sherlock Holmes and Benedict Cumberbatch wake up in each other's body - Benedict faced with having to pretend to be a genius and face down supervillains and Sherlock having to adapt to the life of a well loved actor. The author does a great job of expanding on the humour of the premise, showing both men struggling with their fish out of water existence as they try to find a way back to their true homes and the people they love. There is also a smart and intriguing mystery plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I loved how funny and observant this story was, and how well it riffs off of our knowledge of the characters and real people involved in the story. Despite not usually being one for RPF, it's one of my favourites.
venusinthenight: joan watson, in a designer batman t-shirt, leaning in a door frame (elementary - joan leans in doorway)
[personal profile] venusinthenight
Title: So Keen a Sympathy (also on LJ)
Author: [ profile] sanguinity
Pairings: Mary Morstan/Kate Whitney, John Watson/Mary Morstan, implied Holmes/Watson
Length: 5059
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No standard warnings apply
Verse: ACD Canon

Author's Summary: “I should have gone with you,” Kate said, and I looked up to find her watching me. “We should have gone away and gotten that little house together.”

Reccer's Comments: This was the present I received for the most recent Holmestice.

Some time ago I'd read "The Man with the Twisted Lip", in which Kate Whitney appears. Since then I'd wondered about her past relationship with Mary (or at least I have always assumed that Mary is Watson's wife in the story), if it'd possibly gone further than a friendship. I'd prompted for something in this regard for this past Holmestice, and [ profile] sanguinity delivered with a beautiful story.

I adore this little slice of domesticity, here. And there is SO. MUCH. LOVE. AND UNDERSTANDING. And there's a happy ending for all concerned.

Author has added the following tags to AO3, which I'm attaching here as content notes: Period-typical heteropatriarchy, period-typical classism, drug use, infidelity

[Mods, may I have a character tag for Kate Whitney? And a pairing tag for her and Mary Morstan?]
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Molly)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: In War
Author: faviconceywoozle
Pairing: John/Sherlock
Length: 32,010 words
Rating: Mature
Warnings: None
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: Two weeks before Christmas, Sherlock is back from the hospital and John is there to take care of him. John is always there to take care of him. What Sherlock forgets sometimes is that occasionally, John needs to be taken care of, too.

Reccer's comments: This is a duet of two views of the same night at Baker Street, when John brings Sherlock home from the hospital after being shot. Either part would already be strong on its own, as is exemplified by the beauty of prose such as this:

They are a warm bay of heartbeats, pulsing at the shore. Capillaries and veins of currents that suck at their feet and drag them deeper. Deeper. John would stay here forever, waiting for the hurricane to descend. He thinks of Mary and remembers that storms used to be named after women. There was a reason for that, he thinks, but knows that's unfair. Thinks of the tsunami that is Sherlock, the long string of his disasters. John floating face down in his wake.

Taken together, though, the mini-series attains an extra dimension of depth and emotion. Especially fascinating is how each man appears so distant and controlled to the other, but when we see their point of view, we realize what an absolute mess each of them is. It packs a tough emotional punch, but the resolution makes it all worth it.

Contains infidelity and nonconsensual drug use.
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Molly)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: Murder in the Family
Author: faviconOTB221B
Pairing: John/Sherlock, John/Mary
Length: 50,374 words
Rating: Mature
Warnings: None
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: Post Season 3, Mary Watson goes missing, and John has been keeping secrets from Sherlock.

Reccer's comments: This is a post-series 3 fic in which Mary's past catches up to her and everyone associated with her when John sets out on a one-man mission to eliminate everyone who poses a threat to his family. One thing I particularly liked about this was that so often in fics, John has a reactive role, but in this, he actually goes out and gets in trouble without Sherlock and that ends up being the catalyst for everything that follows.

The fic is also full of awesome things like Sherlock getting Valentine's Day right, a badass clown/bodyguard, John using his gun the way it was meant to, a mid-story twist that takes us down a completely unforeseen path, Sherlock taking heinous advantage of the situation, and lots and lots of love. The unvarnished kind you see here:

Excerpt... )

Despite all of that good stuff, it's really quite angsty and involves child endangerment. This fic also contains infidelity, but I thought it treated Mary fairly and redeems her by the end. Although, it's a bittersweet ending. Tissues might be good to have at hand. (No character death.)
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Molly)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: Raison d'être
Author: faviconAmphigoricSymphony
Pairing: John/Mary, John/Sherlock
Length: 148,681 words
Rating: Mature
Warnings: None
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: The missing months of His Last Vow, starting from Sherlock dropping in John's arms at 221B and carrying through the months of Hospital he endured. This is a study in emotional and physical trauma, striving to stick as close to the cannon plot as possible. At Christmas Dinner, Mycroft asks why they are even celebrating. His mother's answer, 'Sherlock is home from hospital,' leads us to believe Sherlock was in hospital the majority of the time frame of his fall from shock at Baker Street, to nearly Christmas itself. We have no explanation for what John was doing all that time, so this is an effort to fill the gap. Enjoy!

Reccer's comments: This is basically nearly 150K of angst-ridden, heavy-on-the-hurt sickfic. It picks up when Sherlock collapses following the meeting in 221B where he agrees to take Mary's case and leads into a grinding, never-ending series of complications, each one worse than the last. I honestly had no idea so many things could potentially go wrong with the human body (and mind). John isn't spared either, as he pushes himself far beyond his physical and mental limits in an effort to be there for Sherlock at the same time as his entire life has plunged off the deep end. If that kind of unhappiness, suffering, and graphic medical interventions gets your motor running (like it does mine), off you go, have fun. :)

But that's actually not the reason why I'm reccing this, because this goes way beyond being just a sickfic. The first distinguishing feature is all about Mary. This is the first fic I've read dealing with those missing months between when Sherlock gets shot and John's reunion with Mary at Christmas that actually got my head wrapped around how John could possibly consider forgiving - and reconciling with - Mary. We see John's genuine distress over what she's done crash head-on with his heart, which can't let go of her. Love is irrational, we learn, but that doesn't mean it should be dismissed. And at the same time, just because two people love each other doesn't mean they will have a happy ending, no matter how much they want or even deserve it.

Excerpt... )

The second reason why this fic gets a special mention from me is the fantastically complex dynamic that is created between John and Sherlock. They are deeply in love with each other - and admit as much - but there isn't anything overtly sexual between them, even though they do become physically quite close and share a bed. (This might fall under the heading of infidelity, even though Mary doesn't seem bothered by it, in case that's something you'd rather not read.) They soon fall into - or perhaps were already in - a codependence that is somehow both comforting and troubling. They need each other to get better, but their fears, anxieties, and even physical well-being feed off each other, paradoxically making them both sicker the longer they are together. The depiction of their deterioration is really brilliantly done, as we see it from both inside (we are privy to both of their headspaces) and out (the reactions of their friends and physicians).

And the final reason I couldn't put this down is the subplot of what is going on with Mycroft, Magnussen... and possibly Moriarty. We don't get much more than a few teases, but it's clear that the authors have something deep and dastardly planned, including a very piquant hint at a past love interest of Mycroft's.

The ending of the fic is thus more of a pause, with a sequel underway. It ends in a good place, though, with both John and Sherlock more or less physically intact and in control of all their faculties, and a hopeful resolution to the personal matters that have been plaguing John.
[identity profile]
Title:The Frost is all Over
Author: Chryse
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Length: about 148,500 words
Rating: explicit
Warnings:implied/referenced child abuse, implied/referenced rape/non-con, period-typical homophobia, major illness, OC/minor character death
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: John was brave and clever and loyal, a commoner who longed for an exciting life. Sherlock was dashing and brilliant and passionate, an Earl’s son who longed to solve crimes. Being a Tale of Glorious Adventures, Love Letters, Treachery, Longing, Secret Identities, Deathbed Confessions, First Kisses, Daring Escapes, and True Love.

Reccer's comments: So, one day I chanced upon this fic and downloaded it to my e-reader. Then I sat down and started reading and the world around me ceased to exist until I reached the end, which, unfortunately, came all too soon.
Sadly, I don’t occupy a minor position in the British government or else I would decree this fic to be entered into the curriculum of any aspiring Sherlock BBC fanfic reader. For take almost all the characters of the series, add a few pounds of Dickens, some pints of Wilkie Collins, a heavy dollop of the Bronte sisters, a tablespoon of Austen, and a pinch of ACD storylines, stir the whole concoction according to the instructions of Charles Palliser and Sarah Waters and you’ll end up with this great shaggy beast of a wonderfully precocious fic that combines massive scope with minute detail and serves it all up in a plot so thick the spoon stands up in it.
The story is set in the Victorian era and the period is both lovingly and convincingly drawn in beautiful, luxurious language reminiscent of the nineteenth century. We’re taken on a tour of Victorian society, from the hovels of the poor through the lush and unspoiled countryside around Sherrinford Hall, home of the Earl of Sherrinford and his children Mycroft and Sherlock, to the stables, where John, the new groom serves under the loving eye of Mr and Mrs Gregson, and on to the servant’s quarters to the grand chambers of the Hall itself.
Told from John’s POV Sherlock and he are but children when they first meet. John’s career as a jockey was nipped in the bud by an accident and he’s been sent by his former employer to Sherrinford Hall. There he strikes up a fast friendship with the youngest son of the Earl, the quick-witted and sharp-tempered Sherlock, against whose temperament he has been warned.
All seems well with the world while John and Sherlock enjoy their summer of friendship. But of course all good things must come to an end. The scene is laid for an elaboration of their friendship through correspondence until the next summer, the last before Sherlock will have to go to Eton.
At that moment the first angst starts to seep into the fic. Sherlock doesn’t write and John fears for their friendship, and worse, until Sherlock shows up unexpectedly one stormy night and John gets his first inkling the world outside even for an Earl’s son the world outside Sherrinford Hall might be a bit more fraught with peril than he had assumed.
Then the shocking developments start happening so fast and so relentlessly, their whole world torn asunder while they’re confronted with every atrocity mankind ever invented that the reader is left hanging in the ropes like an exhausted boxer, and yet thirsting for more. Truly, the phrase ‘unputdownable’ must have been coined with this fic in mind.
As we follow Sherlock and John on their journey we meet hundreds of characters. The characters from the series are of course designed to various positions in life in a totally different setting and yet they remain IC throughout, no mean feat. All of the OC’s, and we meet lots and lots of those, are well-rounded and lovingly drawn. As this is a Victorian novel there is a lot of sickness and death and outrageous treatment of innocents and the reader becomes invested in what happens to the OC’s almost as much as what happens to John and Sherlock and Mycroft and Irene and Mike Stamford and Molly and Angelo and… need I go on?
Honestly, I could go on and on and on about this fic, but in the end, to quote a certain consulting criminal, “I would try to convince you but… everything I have to say has already crossed your mind!”
For I do hope to have convinced you to go and read this right now. You truly won’t regret it that you did.
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Molly)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: Against the Rest of the World
Author: faviconSilentAuror
Pairing: John/Sherlock, John/Mary
Length: 151,701 words
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: None
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: Sherlock has been away from London for nine hundred and twelve days and counting, and has no idea what sort of reception to expect when he finally returns. Post-Reichenbach.

Reccer's comments: The short version of my review is: this is like a cross between [ profile] ivyblossom's The Quiet Man and [ profile] greywash's The Good Morrow. If that doesn't have you leaping to the download link, read on:

SilentAuror is the current reigning champ on series 3 fixits in my book, but this was written pre-series 3 so you'll have to back up your mind to that heady time when Sherlock might have come back before John got married, and John might still have gone chasing down Moriarty's operatives with Sherlock. Because that's exactly what happens.

It's a long, grueling journey from Sherlock's first-person POV that takes us to the seedier side of Western Europe, the Balkans and the Middle East, with bombs, torture, and murders committed by both sides. It's not just a road trip, though; there is a massive plot underlying the whole thing, with original supporting characters who are honest, sympathetic and realistically villainous in turns. This is a page-turner that had me on the edge of my seat to find out what the next twist in the plan was going to be.

And of course there's the devastatingly delicious development of the relationship between Sherlock and John. I said above that John isn't married yet, but he's engaged (to Mary, although not the one we meet in series 3), and torn to pieces over the dilemma of how to reconcile what he realises he feels for Sherlock with his life back home in London.

Excerpt in which Sherlock obsesses just a tiny bit over John... )
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Molly)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: Law Like Love
Author: faviconPlaidAdder / [ profile] idairsauthor
Pairing: John/Sherlock, John/Mary, Harry/Janine
Length: 50K
Rating: Teen
Warnings: None
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: Six months after Sherlock didn't go off on that mission to eastern Europe after all, all is well at 221B Baker Street. Little Rachel is just beginning to sleep through the night. John and Sherlock are sleeping with each other. Charles Augustus Magnussen is alive and unwell and just about bankrupt. And Mary is nowhere in sight. Obviously the events of "His Last Vow" were not what they seemed. What really happened? How did we get here from there? Well, we're going to find out. Backwards.

Reccer's comments: "Dear Moftiss: I used your underutilized female characters for you. They were awesome. It wasn't that hard. Love, me." This is one of the author's end notes, and it's so true. Janine and Harry in particular are fantastic, but Lady Smallwood and Mrs Holmes have important parts to play as well. It's very much an ensemble piece as everyone works together like cogs in a clockwork machine to bring the plan to fruition that is at the heart of this fic: getting Baby Watson to Baker Street with John and Sherlock, and taking care of Magnussen - who just won't stay dead - once and for all.

As we know how it 'ends' - we're shown in the first chapter and it tells us in the summary anyway - and we know most of what came before from HLV, you'd think there wasn't going to be much in the way of suspense, but you'd be dead wrong. The fun - and it is a great deal of fun - is in the systematic reveal of how the plan came about, who contributed what, who was faking it and who was being genuine, and, finally, why it had to be done this way. (Spoiler: love. It was for love.)

At the same time as the machinations are gearing up, we follow back the thread of the main characters' relationships. (There is vaguely referenced infidelity but nothing is made explicit.) Janine/Harry was a delightful surprise to me, and I really liked the fact that John struggled with his feelings throughout. It is never easy for him to make a break, even when he finds out … what he finds out about Mary.

One of the most powerful aspects of this story for me, though, was the exploration of Magnussen's and Mary's characters, just what a psychopath is, what they feel (or don't feel), how they see others, and what, in the end, they actually want. Fair warning: Mary doesn't come off well in this story.

Excerpt... )
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Molly)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: A Substitute for a Hatstand
Author: faviconTheRimmerConnection
Pairing: Watson/OFC, Holmes/Watson
Length: 23,829 words
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Character death (but not H or W)
Verse: Granada
Author's summary: Sequel to 'An Improvement on a Hatstand'. Watson and Holmes seem to have settled down into a managable relationship, albeit one that is not always satisfactory from Watson's point of view. However, Sherlock is rumbling on about things that cannot be true, and Watson has never been able to resist Holmes, even when he knows full well that he's being deliberately aggravating.

Reccer's comments: This is the second in a three-part trilogy, but you don't absolutely need to read the first part to understand what's going on. There are a few references to things, but the main plot of this part is self-contained, which also means there is no need to be anxious about waiting for the third part to be completed (it is a WIP as of this posting).

The thing that made this fic stand out to me is the fact that Watson gets married … to his second wife, who is not Mary. There's some debate amongst scholars of the ACD stories as to how many wives Watson actually had, with suggestions ranging from one to six. Interestingly, this is rarely treated in fan fiction except perhaps in passing. And when one of Watson's wives is given a larger role, it is nearly always Mary. This is the fic that breaks that pattern, fleshing out Watson's proposed second wife, a widow named Caroline Deynforth.

One of the things that I love about the dynamic between the main characters is the level of sheer pigheadedness of both Holmes and Watson. They are both so messed up and do their worst to each other when they are trying to do their best. Holmes and Watson have been involved in a romantic relationship with each other since Mary's death at some point before this story begins. However, Holmes - believing he is acting for Watson's own good - all but bullies him into re-marrying.

Excerpt... )
And that is where the fun really begins. Well, I say fun...

The story is heart-wrenching as everyone tries their very best to play their part and do what is right, but every move is burdened by the choices that led them to that point. Greatness of heart is displayed by all, but it doesn't seem possible to resolve in a way that will leave everyone happy. Perhaps it is even impossible to resolve in a way that will leave anyone at all happy.
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Molly)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: Inexplicable
Author: faviconemmagrant01
Pairing: John/Sherlock, background John/Mary
Length: 34,664 words
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: None
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: So what was in that matchbox, anyway? John and Sherlock find out, the hard way.

Reccer's comments: This is set during series 3, so contains some spoilers although not for the major events.

This is a bodyswap fic with a slight twist to it that I've never seen before which makes it stand out for me, and that is that the bodies themselves end up having a say in things. It's as if only the higher brain functions were switched, but the lizard brain remained wired to the original body. This means that things like hunger, the need for sleep, and - most piquantly - physical attraction run on their original programs. The subsequent insights John and Sherlock get into each other's existence - John realises that Sherlock isn't just being difficult when he picks the tomatoes out of things, for example - are sometimes funny, often enlightening, and in a couple of instances, revelatory.

Excerpt... )
There are other things that are apparently hard-wired into the bodies as well, so we get Sherlock swearing (it apparently just slips out without him thinking about it), John being distracted by constantly noticing things, and a discussion of penis size having exactly the opposite effect on each man than you'd expect. I won't give away whose is bigger.

It's nominally a casefic, with the bodyswap integrally related to the case, but the plot mainly explores Sherlock and John finding out about each other and their relationship through having to exist in each other's bodies. And there's sex.

The other thing that made me squeal with delight is the discovery that this is actually a crossover. I won't tell you what the other fandom is, as it is never stated explicitly and it's a bit of a spoiler, but it should become clear to anyone familiar with the other fandom by the end. And for those who don't know it, it's no big deal, it's just a clever little tweak that gives everything an additional dimension.

There is infidelity, in case that makes you uncomfortable, and the ending - although brilliant - went in a direction I wasn't expecting at all. But if you're up for a fresh take on an old standby, this is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
[identity profile]
Title: The Mystery of Ill Opinions
Author: mundungus42
Pairing: Sherlock/John, Mycroft/Lestrade (background)
Length: 29,044
Rating: M
Warnings: none
Verse: Sherlock BBC, Hollow Crown RPF
Author's summary: Two Elizabethan actors dream of leaving women's roles behind, and Master Sherlock Holmes agrees to help them find them a playwright to write them roles to rival Marlowe's Tamburlaine. But strange things are afoot in the Holmes household, and Sherlock and John must accomplish this feat while discovering who wants to kill Sherlock and why.

Reccer's comments: Fans of Elizabethan drama and Shakespeare, rejoice! For here you shall find a most delightful concoction, one to rival the plays presented in the Curtain and the Rose. [ profile] mundungus42 creates a tour de force: mixing the history and drama of Elizabethan England and skillfully bringing into it many of the characters we love so well. The dialogue is intelligible to 21st-century readers and shines with wit throughout (keep your eye out for many references to Shakespeare's plays). Sherlock, John, Shakespeare, and Sally especially stand out for me, not least because of the terrific banter that sparks between them.

The settings and the culture of the period are treated with equal care. I clearly felt that this was a world with rather different values and beliefs than our own; yet it was not so foreign that the motivations and emotions of the main characters were obscured. If you enjoy AUs, history, or the theatre, I strongly suspect you will be satisfied by the richness of the repast spread before you.

Excerpt: John followed Master Sherlock up a creaky wooden staircase to a store-room, which held all manner of props and pieces of scenery. To John's surprise, the gatherer who had given him a free ticket had positioned himself in the store-room beside the heavy curtain that separated the store-room from the theatre.

“Master Sherlock!” he exclaimed, giving an exaggerated bow. “How delightful to see you again for the Lyly! Pray, was it Mister Burbage's Phao that enticed you to our Great O once more, or perhaps Mister Kempe as Cupid?”

“Neither,” said Master Sherlock shortly.

“Oh?” asked the gatherer, with badly feigned innocence. “Was it perhaps Mister Hoddleston as Venus or Mister Wishart as Sapho?”

John managed to turn a guffaw into a cough, but Master Sherlock stiffened.

“If you really wish to make a career of acting in order to support your wife and children and pay the debt you owe for your house in Stratford,” he said coldly, “you would do well not to practice your base humour on your betters, particularly those who patronise your troupe. And if you cannot control your idle tongue, perhaps you should return to the glove making trade your father tried to knock into your thick skull.”

If Master Sherlock's verbal assault struck anywhere near the truth, the gatherer made no sign of it as he bowed. “Base humour is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. Shall I send up an orange seller for your amusement?” he asked John.

John glanced at Sherlock's pursed lips and shook his head. “We would prefer to be left alone.”

The gatherer eyed John with new interest. “Oh, would we?”

“Hang you, you brazen-faced churl!” exclaimed Master Sherlock as he swept past the impertinent fellow.

The gatherer met John's eye challengingly. He had intelligent hazel eyes and sported a pointed beard that reminded John of Lord Holmes's, but John was in no mood for games. He seized the gatherer by the doublet and slammed him against the store-room's wall.

“You've had your fun,” said John in a low voice. “But it's over now. If I see you so much as raise an eyebrow in my master's direction, by God's bones, you're going to find it difficult to speak your lines through a broken jaw. Am I understood?”

“You're made of sterner stuff than his last minder,” he said approvingly. “Let us all hope that your fortitude will last the next three hours.”
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Mollywitch)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: Arte Regendus
Author: faviconViolsva
Pairing: Holmes/Watson, Watson/Morstan
Length: 48,939 words in 8 parts so far (updated 22 Oct 2013)
Rating: G to M
Warnings: None
Verse: ACD Books
Author's summary: None provided for the series. Summary for part 1: Sherlock Holmes’ new fellow lodger is ordinary enough. There ought to be no reason for Holmes to adjust his habits in any way for him. Certainly he shouldn’t require the other man’s presence merely in order to work.

Reccer's comments: This series follows the canon time line and career of Holmes and Watson, from their taking up lodging together through several cases and Watson's marriage to Mary Morstan, and beyond. There is a good balance of casework and relationship stuff, with just a smidgen of smut thrown in.

Each installment is told by a different character, so we get not only Holmes and Watson's points of view, but Mary's as well, as in this excerpt from part 5, But by Degrees:

Excerpt... )

What makes this series particularly delicious to me is everything that the main actors are hiding from each other: their actions, their feelings, their desires, their true characters. The love triangle is heart-wrenching, with both Holmes and Watson trying not to hurt each other or Mary, but unable to let go. It's Victorian pining and stiff upper lips at their best. As of the latest installment (part 7) we have not quite arrived at the showdown with Moriarty, so I have hopes that the series will continue. Update: The author has just posted part 8, which covers Reichenbach and the hiatus. One can only hope that the return is next...
[identity profile]
Title: All We Ought to Ask
Author: [ profile] achray
Pairing: Sherlock/John
Length: 56,027
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: None
Verse: Sherlock BBC

Author's summary:1860. Change is in the air. John is a clergyman and former army chaplain, attempting to settle down in a country parish and lead a quiet life. But with Sherlock Holmes, reputed to be England's most dangerous religious controversialist, as the local aristocrat, what are his prospects of success?

Reccer's comments: Below is my history!fan squee, but I should let fans of English literature know that this AU was inspired by and plays with the conventions of the Victorian religious novel. Yep, it does that and earns its rating! :)

History AUs, particularly those that aspire to at least some historical authenticity, are an especial challenge for the writer. Cultural differences can have an enormous impact on a character, making it difficult to balance the core aspects of the personality with the inevitable changes that arise when a person is raised in a different time. For example, how do you make Sherlock and John come alive in the 1860s, rather than having Holmes and Watson grow up a few decades earlier? To do so well requires a strong grasp of the BBC versions of Doyle's characters as well as the period in question. Achray achieves this particularly well with her John Watson, who from the first is clearly not content with his new position as a rural parson in a quiet English parish:

Birds called in the trees outside, and there was the distant lowing of some cows, but otherwise all was silent. To John, used to the noise of London and before that, the cheerful and frantic bustle of a garrison full of soldiers, the quiet was oppressive. He laid his hands on his books and thought about how far they’d come, by land and sea and rail. He’d spent most of his life running away from precisely this scenario, and now here he was.

Achray's representation of contemporary bigotry is particularly skillful, for she allows even her main protagonists to say and do things that today many of us find unpleasantly reactionary, yet avoids making these characters unsympathetic. Assigning such prejudices to villains would be too easy and shortchange the complexity of the past, where you can find legions of thoughtful, engaging people writing of their love for their family or relatives in one sentence and expressing racist/sexist/classist sentiments in the next. John in this story is kind to women (he clearly enjoys working with Molly and asks her opinion on matters where she is the expert), but he is no supporter of equal rights or suffrage for the fairer sex (though by the end of the story one can envision him eventually thawing under the influence of the right company). Moreover, his letters to Mary show contempt towards what he considers "less interesting" work, the very work she would be handling if she became his wife:

I had expected to spend much of my time engaged in sermon-writing and in reading – as you told me, I am sadly behind after my years away – but my parishioners are determined to entertain me and tell me of their troubles. An astonishing number of them wish to be married, or have their children christened, or take communion classes. I see more than ever how invaluable your assistance could be, as I am unaccustomed to dealing with ladies’ charitable committees and the other smaller concerns of the parish.

For his part, clever, sharp-tongued, iconoclastic Sherlock forgets the realities of everyday life for the middle class and poor, not foreseeing that altering an individual's worldview may cause them not just spiritual anguish, but also destroy their economic stability. And Mary Morstan is an earnest, patient, talented, and faithful woman, but she shares the deep religious prejudices towards unbelievers expressed by many European Christians. It's these imperfections that make the characters more human, as well as situating them realistically in England of the mid-nineteenth century.

In short: come for the Victorian worldbuilding and dialogue, stay for the characters and a certain passionate, heady romance.
swissmarg: Mrs Hudson (Molly)
[personal profile] swissmarg
Title: The Adventure of Downton Abbey
Author: faviconPlaidAdder
Pairing: Holmes/Watson
Length: 13,427 words
Rating: Teen and Up Audiences
Warnings: None
Verse: ACD Books/Downton Abbey crossover
Author's summary: Desperate to free her husband from prison, Anna Smith Bates tracks down Holmes in the country retreat he shares with Dr. Watson and persuades him to come out of retirement and investigate the death of Vera Bates. Holmes visits Downton Abbey under an assumed identity, with Watson in disguise as his valet. Working together again helps them cope with a recent trauma that severely tested their longstanding relationship--and also allows them to uncover a solution consistent with and yet so much more satifying than the one used on the actual show.

Reccer's comments: A crossover with Downton Abbey and retired!ACD Holmes – so obvious, it's a wonder there aren't more. On the other hand, this one definitely sets the bar high. The characterizations and dialogue are so spot-on it's like watching an episode of Downton and reading one of Conan Doyle's stories at the same time. The interplay of the characters is masterful in this ensemble piece, each playing their part with nuance and confidence. And the premise is great fun, with Holmes being enticed out of retirement one more time in order to clear an innocent man's name; the catch is, Watson will have to play his valet:

Excerpt... )

This allows for an exploration and exposure of the dynamic in Holmes and Watson's established relationship which is at times humourous, at times poignant. Homosexuality in the era is a theme, in the same manner as it is treated on Downton. As the threads of investigation begin to connect, we find parallels and similarities to Holmes and Watson's own lives, resulting in a revelation that is both shocking and moving.

A knowledge of Downton Abbey is probably advantageous for full appreciation of this story, especially in order to judge whether the solution is truly "much more satifying than the one used on the actual show" (hint: it is). At the same time, all of the relevant backstory is given in order to follow this as a straight Sherlock Holmes casefic.
keladry_lupin: (Therapy Is Expensive (John))
[personal profile] keladry_lupin
Title: The Least of All Possible Mistakes
Author: rageprufrock
Pairing: Mycroft Holmes/Georgiana Lestrade
Length: 118,096 words
Rating: mature
Warnings: none
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: If ever a people deserved tasering, it’s Holmeses.
Reccer's comments: I like AU fics, because it's interesting to see what each author considers essential to the character that travels with that him or her, no matter what else has changed. In this case, it's her sex. Georgiana (she prefers George) Lestrade lives with her husband, visits her mother on Sundays, occasionally works with a nutter named Sherlock Holmes, and gets kidnapped at the end of a long day: Excerpt under the cut. )

We see everything through George's eyes: putting up with Sherlock, meeting John and Mummy, being baffled by Anthea, and being so slowly and gently wooed by Mycroft that she isn't entirely sure at first what's happening. It's not the same experience a male Greg Lestrade would have had under similar circumstances, but it's not just the name, canon dialogue, and prematurely grey hair that make this Detective Inspector Lestrade recognizable to the reader.


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