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September 17th, 2012

“Brutal Harry” by LordsFire

Gioia’s Rec:
First, let me say what a pleasure it is to run across fanfic written by someone who writes professionally, as this author says he does, and based on his skills, I’m certain that is true.  Mathematically speaking, professional authors such as Rhetor, Minisinoo and LordsFire are uncommon in the world of HP fanfic, where there is far more dross posted than anything worthy of serious reflection. (Thus the purpose of this rec’ing blog, incidentally: sorting through the dross for the bits of gold.) LordsFire writes with great proficiency, clearly capable of conveying his complicated, epic-quality stories in a coherent, concise and captivating manner. This story is a fantastic example of the way authors ought to write: thoroughly organized with a logical presentation, clear goal, and not a single word squandered in useless, space-wasting blather. It is written with an understanding of The Hero’s Journey (essential for an adventure fic such as this), as well as a broad understanding of literature, faith, psychology, and mythology and fantasy traditions

As a mom, I should also admit that I had to do a lot of skimming in the first chapter, which describes the severe abuse Harry endures prior to Hogwarts. Each scene is important, but I’ll confess to skipping to the concluding statements at the end of each scene, as the Mommy in me was unable to read the detailed accounts of Harry’s abuse. Additionally, anyone who has emotional or psychological triggers associated with child abuse should consider skipping those sections in Chapter 1. However, I want to be clear in stating that those cautionary mentions do not mean that there was gratuitous, unnecessary violence against a child included in this story. That is not the case. The author was far more restrained and oblique in his descriptions than what I’ve read in the vast majority of abused!Harry fics, many of which feel sickeningly exploitative by authors who go for shock value as a way of roping in their audiences. LordsFire does nothing of the sort. His descriptions are almost clinical in their lack of sensationalist language, again in contrast to what I’ve seen in other stories about an abused!Harry.  The author’s note explains:

I wrote an exaggeratedly bad childhood for Harry to make it clear in no uncertain terms, he has had shit happen in his life. I made it so horrific, that there are something like 4 times as many hits on the Prologue, as on the subsequent chapters, as I scared off readers with how ugly it was. From the prologue on, however, I wrote Harry as a boy who made some of the hardest, most demanding choices that *could* be made.

The story’s premise is that simply enduring the abuse explicitly described in the HP books, to say nothing of what was merely implied by the books, would have been enough to cause Harry serious psychological damage. The author then introduces such a child first to the idea that he is magical and has a means to protect himself, and second to the wizarding world, where he discovers bullies just like – or worse than – those he dealt with in the muggle world. How would such a child behave at Hogwarts, and how would he be capable of forming bonds with those around him? And while we’re at it, how in Heaven’s name would such a child defeat evil with the power of love, if he had had a childhood bereft of love?

The story isn’t angsty; it’s more adventurous and thought-provoking. So if you are an angst wimp like me, be aware of the violent content within the first chapter. Then, sit back to enjoy the rest of the action-packed story and the many, delicious moments of vindication.

A sequel to this story is now being posted, but the conclusion of this fic is perfect as it is, not requiring a sequel to finish any major storylines.  Additionally, a few one-shots from this fic’s universe can be found within The Blender, which is a collection of short stories by the author.  One such scene includes “Brutal Harry’s” response to a Marriage Law. I always love it when male writers address that. The results seem to be universally logical and hilarious.

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