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Blow us some recs!

It's September already, and time to welcome our reccers for this month: biswholocked,  rachelindeed, and cherrytide.

Our thanks also to dioscureantwins and scfrankles, who have done a wonderful job of entertaining us for a steamy August.

Signups are open for any month that you'd like, right now. We welcome recs for old and new completed fic, vids, art, podfic, and meta, for any version of Sherlock Holmes. Sign up here! And please contact me if you have any requests or questions.

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Fic Rec: Seek Out the Unworthy

Title: Seek Out the Unworthy
Author: squire
Pairing: none
Length: approx. 44,100 words
Rating: teen and up
Warnings: none
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: Set after the events of His Last Vow - but this time, the plane carrying Sherlock off to Eastern Europe never turned around, and John's life is very different as a result.

Reccer's comments: A fast and furious thriller that will keep you perched on the edge of your seat while reading.

John and Mary are firmly settled in suburban life. Every now and then John worries faintly because Sherlock has completely disappeared from the radar. Mycroft, as ever, is extremely unhelpful.

Then John’s life takes an unexpected turn and in less than twenty-four hours he finds himself on the continent, running for his life together with Mary. They end up in Eastern Europe and there he finds Sherlock, horribly changed and apparently having sold his soul to Moriarty, or worse…

With the Holmes brothers however, nothing ever is what it seems to be.

Fic Rec: Literary Shortcomings

Title: Literary Shortcomings
Author: rachelindeed
Pairing: Gen
Length: 1,420
Rating: G
Warnings: N/A
Verse: ACD books
Author's summary: Glimpses of a shared life. (This story follows the 1sentence format, wherein one takes a prompt table of fifty words, writes one sentence for each prompt, and then combines them to examine a character or relationship. The story's main focus is on Watson & Holmes and it also touches on the John/Mary marriage.)

Reccer's comments: And so we come to the big one…

This fic was my gift in Round 6 of acd_holmesfest. And I have to say it is far beyond anything I was expecting or hoping for. I felt like someone opening a present, knowing it was probably going to be something good and being prepared to say: “Oh, it’s just what I always wanted.” And then it was just what I always wanted.

You may be looking at the form used and hesitating. But it’s like any kind of literature: novels, short stories, poems… If the writer matches form and content correctly, then the form stops being important and moves into the background. And believe me, the author makes perfect use of her chosen form. This piece is made up of 50 separate stories that combine to make something bigger. If I can use an analogy: it’s like going into an art gallery and expecting to see one huge painting. But instead you’re presented with a series of exquisitely painted miniatures. They all obviously belong together—they are in the same style. They’re hung on the walls in a particular order, and they have the greatest impact in that order. But it’s also possible to group them together in smaller numbers under different themes and they can stand alone as well.

Some of these “exquisitely painted miniatures” make you laugh, some make you think, some make you cry. You’re taken through the whole arc of Holmes and Watson’s friendship from Watson being wounded in Afghanistan to the events of His Last Bow. The writing is gorgeous and it’s just a very powerful piece. I truly urge you to try this fic.
Title: Wakakana Koa a Holamaka Kahuna (Warrior Wakakana and Shaman Holamaka)
Author: gardnerhill
Pairing: Gen
Length: 1,512
Rating: G
Warnings: N/A
Verse: ACD books (AU)
Author's summary: A warrior and a wise man find each other.

Reccer's comments: This is possibly the most unusual Holmes and Watson AU I’ve ever read—their first meeting retold as a Polynesian folk tale. And it absolutely works. A wounded warrior trying to make his home by boat hears a shaman in the water calling for help. They save each other, become bound together and go and fight demons together.

I can’t pretend to be an expert but the language and tone of the story seem to perfectly suggest the style of a folk tale—the author never putting a foot wrong. I was particularly taken with the way canon cases have been transformed into demons—the descriptions both horrible and beautiful.

And I suppose, in the end, this story is a moving and universal study of the relationship between every Holmes and Watson.
Title: The White Tower and the Winding Stair
Author: CherryBlossomTide
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Mycroft Holmes/Molly Hooper, Irene Adler/Kate
Length: 25,500
Rating: G
Warnings: N/A
Verse: Sherlock BBC (AU)
Author's summary: Molly reads a lot of fairy tales and she knows very well how this story is supposed to go. The Princess in the Tower is rescued, either by the handsome Prince or the plucky young stable boy, and then they fall in love. What definitely isn’t supposed to happen is that the handsome Prince and the stable boy fall in love with each other, while the Princess is instructed to marry the Prince’s legendarily cold-hearted brother. But life rarely goes Molly’s way.

Reccer's comments: Molly is one of my favourite characters and I think she is quite difficult to write well. In canon she’s such a mass of conflicting qualities: she can seem timid but she’s also bold, brave and able to stand up for herself; she’s socially awkward but is highly intelligent with a successful career; she can seem innocent and unworldly but as part of her job deals with the aftermath of violent deaths; she can be misled because she wants to see the good in everyone but is also observant and can see things as they really are.

Here I think the author has captured her perfectly—perhaps ironically as this is an AU. The fic is set in a fairytale-like world but a realistic one in which there are no magical solutions, and happy endings for good people are not inevitable. Molly is a princess by birth who has to learn how to be one in practice. She discovers how to be independent while at the same time gaining many friends: though Molly takes centre stage this is an ensemble piece—the cast taking on new roles but everyone recognisable and in character.

This is first and foremost a great story—you want to keep reading and find out what happens next. But it’s the quality of the writing that’ll bring you back to read it again. This was one of the submissions for the Summer 2015 holmestice exchange and it was one of the highlights of the fest for me.

Fic Rec: Dark Things

Title: Dark Things
Author: bethagain
Pairing: none
Length: approx. 16,800 words
Rating: teen and up
Warnings: none
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: The answer should be obvious. It's almost always obvious. But these murders... They don't make sense.


Reccer's comments: Take Sherlock in clever deduction mode, have him meet Lovecraft and a new genre is created: tentacle casefic.

London is confronted by a string of atrociously violent murders and no one, initially not even the world’s only consulting detective can make head or tail of them. There’s no motive, no method, just a trail of hideously abused corpses.

Of course Sherlock is the one to eventually figure out what’s going on, staying true to his maxim that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth, even if you'll first have to wrap your head about the fact that it slithers and has numerous tentacles.

As any Lovecraft-enthusiast is justly weary of those tentacles, Sherlock’s actual explanation for the murders had me snorting with laughter.

Fic Rec: Safely Delivered

Title: Safely Delivered
Author: methylviolet10b
Pairing: Gen
Length: 1,903
Rating: Teen and Up
Warnings: Canonical character death
Verse: ACD books
Author's summary: The story of Mrs Hudson's terrier from A Study in Scarlet.

Reccer's comments: In A Study in Scarlet, Mrs. Hudson’s unfortunate terrier is abruptly written in merely to be part of an important plot point. But here the author has given him his own backstory. The piece is told in the terrier’s own voice but there’s nothing twee about it—it’s deeply moving. This isn’t just the loyal terrier’s story: it’s the story of Mrs. Hudson and her family, and of 221 Baker Street itself. In canon, Mrs. Hudson and 221 can feel as though they never existed before Holmes and Watson—they are simply there to be the supporting character and backdrop to the stars. But here the roles are reversed. Holmes and Watson are just another phase in the long history of 221 and its inhabitants.

The ending of the story is done so, so touchingly. You’ll perhaps never look at that moment in canon the same way ever again.

Fic Rec: Deviation

Title: Deviation
Author: biswholocked
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Length: 1,023
Rating: Teen and Up
Warnings: N/A
Verse: Sherlock BBC (AU)
Author's summary: Soho, 1918. John Watson finds something he never expected.

Reccer's comments: I have a real weakness for Sherlock historical AUs. (Somewhat surprisingly, considering my initial reaction to the idea of Sherlock itself had been What heresy is this? before calming down and being blown away by ASiP.) And this is a wonderful example of the genre.

This was one of the author’s entries for the watsons_woes July Writing Prompts 2015 challenge. (The author has linked them all together in a series.) It’s a retelling of Sherlock and John’s first meeting but on this occasion the year is 1918, and they meet by chance in a Soho club. The author has done a great job of suggesting the time period, and evoking the claustrophobic and sensual feel of the setting.

I think what makes this truly special though is the eroticism of the piece. During the course of the story Sherlock and John do little more than dance and kiss but it has all really stayed with me.

Fic Rec: Survivors

Title: Survivors [Series of 2 fics]
Author: tenderly_wicked
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/Sebastian Moran
Length: 3,150
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Graphic Depictions of Violence
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: Just Staying: Sherlock remembers being strong and cruel. He doesn’t feel like that anymore, but he wants to, desperately so.
Tigers Make Good Pets: Sherlock is lost without his blogger, Seb Moran is lost without his master. They both are in pain—and crave more.

Reccer's comments: I was saying to a friend recently that a lot of my favourite fanfics come under the heading ‘This isn’t really my thing. But.’ I have favourite themes and pairings, and there are subjects and pairings that I choose never to read. However, on the whole, all I’m looking for is a well-written story. I like being convinced by a skilful writer. This series is a case in point. It isn’t a pairing that I would actively search for, it takes a dark view of Sherlock, and a bleak view of John’s character and the friendship between Sherlock and John. In particular, those last two aspects concerning John I completely reject outside of these stories—but within them, I find them compelling and believable.

This series is made up of two fics (so far). Both are told in third person but the first is from Sherlock’s POV and the second is from Moran’s. In the second, Sherlock inflicts pain upon Moran. It isn’t erotic; it’s unpleasant and unsettling. Moran has agreed to what’s happening but he has no choice over what Sherlock does to him, and he believes that if he tells Sherlock to stop he won’t. But because we see things from Moran’s POV and get glimpses of his past, the story starts to turn into a fascinating character study. We gain understanding and sympathy for him. It’s also an interesting look at this version of Sherlock. He’s not simply inflicting pain because he’s cruel: his dark side and his kind, altruistic side have become muddled. What happens between the two men has nothing to do with sex but does have to do with intimacy. Perhaps surprisingly, this story has a poignant ending.

Fic Rec: Sparks Fly Upward

Title: Sparks Fly Upward
Author: VizardMask
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Length: 6,344
Rating: G
Warnings: N/A
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: “I play the violin, sometimes I don’t for talk for days. Oh, and occasionally I spontaneously combust.” Sherlock has an inconvenient habit of bursting into flames. Fortunately, John has a theory to explain it.

Reccer's comments: This fic first stuck in my head because of the beautiful descriptions of the flames—they appear in different colours and different forms depending on the circumstances. I’m not a terribly visually minded person but I can absolutely see them as I read. But there’s more to this story than Sherlock having this strange involuntary ability. The flames are also a subtle metaphor for the way the canon Sherlock views feelings.

The fic deals with Sherlock and John’s developing relationship, and Sherlock’s fear of John coming to harm because of him. It’s an elegant example of the magical realism genre—apart from Sherlock bursting into flames, this world is matter of fact and recognisable, which just goes to make the magical aspects feel even more so. And after a very sweet ending, the writer tops things off by giving us a wonderfully disarming author’s note.

Fic Rec: Please

Title: Please
Author: thisprettywren
Pairing: none
Length: 1,400 words
Rating: gen
Warnings: none
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary:White, padded walls. Straightjacket. “Please, John.”

Reccer's comments: Sherlock has done… something. Something bad enough for John to have Sherlock locked up in an institution. He visits Sherlock regularly. And every time Sherlock asks John to please forgive him and let him out.

Then one day a dispassionate eye looks through the observation window to tug at your heartstrings and give them a terrible twist.

Please, keep a hanky at the ready when you start reading this. You’ll need it.
Title: The Adventure of the Bridegroom's Photograph
Author: spacemutineer
Pairing: Gen
Length: 6547
Rating: G
Warnings: N/A
Verse: ACD books
Author's summary: There is more than one secret to be revealed when a young man comes to Holmes and Watson with a keepsake and a question.

Reccer's comments: This is a submission from Round 6 of acd_holmesfest, and I was rather surprised when the author stated in her original notes that this was her first attempt at a case fic. It is so assured, and absolutely gripping. What begins as the case of a young man worried about his origins then weaves in aspects of a real life historical mystery before eventually giving us a satisfying solution.

The author has caught ACD’s style while putting her own stamp on it. The characterisations of Holmes and Watson are bang on, and I love the way their friendship is portrayed: Watson both appreciative of the “strange, sweet respite of chaos” that Holmes gives to him and amusingly irritated by it at one point (though with very good reason). And I love the fact that when Holmes has the solution to the mystery, he then looks to Watson for advice on what to do with that information—which leads on to a rather touching ending.

Fic Rec: Fortune Favours the Wet

Title: Fortune Favours the Wet
Author: caffienekitty
Pairing: none
Length: approx. 5,000 words
Rating: gen
Warnings: none
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: Things go wrong for John during a case.

Reccer's comments: That summary might actually be the understatement of the year.

Things are bad enough for John at the beginning of this delightful fic, stuck in a crumbling well that was hidden beneath lots of undergrowth and which he accidentally fell into while chasing a dangerous criminal together with Sherlock. A well that’s actually filled with very cold water. Sherlock, obviously, being a great git possessed of impossibly long legs just jumped over it.

Things go from bad to worse when the dangerous criminal backtracks and his ugly face appears over the rim. Apparently he’s in search of something down in that well and it’s not John Watson.

I couldn’t stop laughing while reading this. The author has a great way with words and does an excellent job of providing just the right atmosphere. A wonderful tale of Watson woe, but fortunately, as ever, in the end John's misery is the means to an end that turns out rather… well.

Fic Rec: The Very Best of Times

Title: The Very Best of Times
Author: Moranion
Pairing: Mary Morstan/John Watson, Sherlock Holmes/John Watson, Mrs. Hudson/Margaret
Length: 24,009
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: N/A
Author's summary: John and Mary get divorced, but it doesn't really go the way divorces are supposed to go. In fact, nothing happens the way it's supposed to happen, but it still works out.

Reccer's comments: I do realise that Mary is a controversial character (understatement of the year: first place in its category). I like Mary and find myself able to sympathise with her but I appreciate that a story that shows her in a positive light may not appeal to everyone. However, this is an exceptional fic that certainly deserves an even wider readership.

The author has attempted something a bit different I think. The situation we are presented with at the beginning is that John and Mary love each other, John wants to trust Mary, and they had both wanted to try and save their marriage—however, it doesn’t survive. The author does say in their notes that they wanted to write a story in which John and Sherlock get together but Mary isn’t dead or a villain. And perhaps oddly, the major appeal of the fic is that nothing terribly dramatic happens: this is mainly the story of three extraordinary people having to deal with the traumatic but still everyday experience of one relationship breaking down and a new one beginning.

It’s a sweet, ultimately feel-good fic but it’s never sentimental. There is one of the loveliest descriptions of a first kiss and first time between John and Sherlock that I have ever read. And by the time we reach the conclusion we are knee-deep in happy endings but none of them feel forced or artificial. It’s just a really, really delightful fic.

Fic Rec: Aiding and Abetting

Title: Aiding and Abetting
Author: Jolie_Black
Pairing: none
Length: about 41,000 words
Rating: mature
Warnings: violence and realistic depictions of the consequences of drug abuse
Author's summary: When Greg Lestrade meets Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant young detective seems to have left his past as a drug addict far behind. But when one of their cases pitches Sherlock headlong into a relapse, Greg is determined not to lose him – whatever the cost to himself.


Reccer's comments: Remember that scene in TRF when Greg texts John to let them know they’re coming over to 221B? That’s not the done thing for a police officer, isn’t it? But this is Lestrade, who Sherlock considers the best of the lot. And this story shows why Sherlock needs him as much as Lestrade needs Sherlock.

I know of few stories in the fandom that do Lestrade so much justice. He’s shown to be a fallible, weak human being, just like the rest of us really. Committed to his work but at the end of the day all he wants is to relax with a beer and a football match on the telly, followed by a cuddle and perhaps a little extra something with the wife. Sadly, for some reason he can’t even fathom himself, his marriage is failing, and what he ends up with after a long workweek is a strung-out junkie on his doorstep.

Because he’s also decency personified, always willing to give someone a second chance, to look at things from the other’s POV (even if he doesn’t really get it), to allow he might be wrong, and willing to work around the rules if the rules are just plain silly.

All that is touched upon in this beautiful story, which shows why one needs a pair of extraordinary creatures like the Holmes brothers to recognise the exceptional human being Lestrade really is beneath that innocuous exterior and unfortunate raincoat.

Fic Rec: The Seventeenth Page Affliction

Title: The Seventeenth Page Affliction
Author: EmmyAngua
Pairing: Sherlock Holmes/John Watson
Length 10,326
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: N/A
Verse: ACD Books
Author's summary: As always, I was ever curious to the thoughts of my friend and in the years that followed I puzzled over that moment. His face was so severe, so preoccupied that I knew at once that this case would be either a most intriguing story for my readers or one I never dared to retell.

Reccer's comments: This is a gripping story from Round 6 of acd_holmesfest, told in first person from Watson’s POV. It really stood out for me during the fest—the author had gone down a completely different route from everyone else. What seems to start off as a lighthearted case fic becomes something much darker, covering several years and involving a fascinating original character. And the story also turns into a brilliant character study of both Holmes and Watson—I was particularly impressed with how the author allowed Watson to be a man of his time—before giving us a relatively happy ending and a truly beautiful last line.

Fic Rec: Guardian

Title: Guardian
Author: Silverblazehorse
Pairing: none
Length: approx. 7,500 words
Rating: teen and up
Warnings: none
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: Five friends died of natural causes at almost the exact same time at Christmas and of course it's only a matter of time until Sherlock Holmes gets involved. However, by pursuing this cold case, he finds himself going against the most powerful man in Britain. A man who would sacrifice anything.

Reccer's comments: Sherlock meets Hitchcock in this elegant thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat for the time it took me to read it. The opening sentences are a masterstroke, boding ill for the life of the world’s only consulting detective and for the soul of his perpetually meddlesome brother.

The fic very cleverly elaborates on that line Mycroft tosses at the committee deciding upon Sherlock’s fate at the end of HLV ‘You know what happened to the other one.’ Well, they may know, but we don’t and neither does Sherlock and he’s rather desperate to find out? Except, of course, there’s always something, damn’.

Furthermore the fic is filled with fantastic scenery reminiscent of Hitchcock and some of those nice gritty scenes the Sherlock series itself provides us with. The great dialogue reads like something Moftiss themselves could have written and the fic has more twists and turnings than your average Sherlock episode.

Really, as casefics go, I can’t recommend this one hard enough.

Art Rec: Holmes on campus

Title: Holmes on campus [Also on dA.]
Artist: Windmaedchen
Pairing: Gen
Rating: G
Warnings: N/A
Verse: ACD Books
Artist's summary: To console my heart … some young(ish) Holmes with dark, heavy eyebrows, running around the university campus, preparing his great mind for his professional career ahead. :3

Reccer's comments: This is a digital drawing in greyscale. The picture is stylised—I suppose you could describe it as a cartoon-like style—and it suggests a blend between a formal, posed portrait and a candid photograph—if such a thing had been possible at the time Holmes was a student. We see a handsome young man clutching his books but looking off to the side at something or someone that has caught his interest. He’s studious but the outside world fascinates him too.

The picture is beautiful but I think the main appeal for me is the open, optimistic expression on Holmes’ face. He’s not quite sure yet what he’s going to do with his life but he’s prepared to welcome in whatever or whoever may come his way. It does rather complicated things to my heart.
Title: Now it is September, and Change is on the Wind
Author: beesandbrews
Pairing: Sherlock/Irene
Length: approx. 2,500 words
Rating: teen and up
Warnings: none
Verse: Sherlock BBC
Author's summary: It's the end of an era as Sherlock's life at Baker Street, and his days as a detective draw to a close. Summoned to Paris by Irene Adler, he can't resist one final stroll down the road not taken.

Reccer's comments: A retirement fic with a twist and a lovingly crafted outlook on a relationship between Sherlock and Irene that is actually conceivable. Both are sadder and wiser and yet they’ve remained themselves. Irene is as playful and sly as when we first met her and Sherlock just as weary of her, but also, as much in love with her wit.

The tone is mellow, the language beautiful.

This story is a perfect little gem told by a talented author at the top of her form. A gift to enjoy… and cherish many times.
Title: The Case of the Rose by Another Name
Author: hiddenlacuna
Pairing: Gen
Length: 2130
Rating: G
Warnings: N/A
Verse: ACD Books
Author's summary: Dr. Watson is called to attend to Holmes, who has a terrible cold after a case. Holmes recounts the case that led him to become ill.

Reccer's comments: I actually have a few fics from Round 6 of acd_holmesfest that I want to rec but I’m going to start with this particular one.

It’s lighthearted, clever, charmingly silly and very, very funny. The author describes it as a shaggy dog story, which does sum it up well. The case being related is delightfully engaging but it’s the parts framing it that make the story so special. There were quite a few lines during these bits where this reader had to get a firm grip on herself before carrying on.

And the very last line is perfect.

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