I’ve seen “A Study In Magic” on the “favorites” lists of several authors whom I follow. However, I had skipped over it each time, mistaking it for Vixit’s wonderful Harry Potter/Sherlock Holmes crossover story by the same name (which is also recommended here). Eventually my brain kicked in and I realized this was a completely different story. And what a gripping story it is!
Other than the shared title and the inclusion of Harry, this story has nothing in common with Vixit’s story. They aren’t even based on the same Sherlock Holmes series. Vixit’s story is based on the original Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Book of Changes’ story is based on the 2010 BBC series by Steven Moffat. You don’t need to know anything about any Sherlock Holmes series in order to enjoy this tale.
In this story, Harry was adopted into the Holmes home when he was 9-years-old, following a frightening, Moriarty-instigated conclusion to his time with the Dursleys (which coincides with the Sherlock episode “The Great Game“). To make the chronology between the two series match up, and for the purpose of including some fantastic plot developments, the author has advanced the Harry Potter timeline to modern day. (I’ve seen that done badly in the past. Here, the author nails it.) Harry’s first two years with Holmes & Watson are primarily backstory, as “A Study in Magic” opens with Harry’s receipt of his Hogwarts letter. From there, the story follows the books very closely. As of this writing (January 2013), “A Study in Magic” is up to the summer before Goblet of Fire.
All of that is just the skeleton of this story. What makes it absolutely gripping is the author’s enormous skill in sucking the reader into nail-biting plots and sweet, heart-warming moments with her extremely well-developed characters. You will care about these characters, even the OCs (Original Characters) or side characters. You will be utterly absorbed by their lives – the big adventures, the little worries, the day-to-day, mundane details – all of it. Few authors can achieve that. Too many are good at one type of story telling (adventure, romance, coming of age, etc.), but do a dreadful job of trying to blend multiple types of stories without leaving dull spots for readers to trudge through. I can’t begin to count how many stories I end up skimming through just to get to the good parts. There was no skimming here. I stayed up obscenely late three nights in a row in order to devote my undivided attention to “A Study in Magic.” And I’m tempted to start re-reading it right now. (Seriously.)
Another aspect of this story which I think deserves a lot of praise is the author’s subtle inclusion of faith elements. If you don’t consider yourself a religious person, fear not: this should not be a turn-off. The author has characters discuss many fascinating historical issues, including whether muggle-born children raised in Judaism, Islam, Christianity or even atheism are better able to adapt to discovering they are magical. There’s no proselytizing here. Instead, you’ll see the wizarding world studied by Watson and Holmes from the perspective of outsiders, and that study does include moments when they (and others) examine how various belief systems address magic. There are also a handful of individuals in this story for whom their faith is an integral part of their characterization. Again, the mentions are brief, and so organically blended into the story, that they don’t feel preachy. Rather, it is just another example of how the author writes wonderfully 3-dimensional characters with fully-developed backgrounds.
As one can see from glancing through KIA’s recs, most of us rarely recommend incomplete stories here. (The last time I counted, only 3% of my own recs were for incomplete stories.) However, “A Study in Magic” is too amazing not to recommend is as it stands. If it had been separated out into a separate book per school year, as was done with the HP books, you would have the first 3 books completed. And if you know the HP series well enough to remember where Prisoner of Azkaban ended, you should recall that it did not end on a cliffhanger. This story isn’t stalled on a cliffhanger, either. The author also seems to be updating very frequently – roughly weekly, from what I can tell. So you should have no reason to be concerned about this story going MIA, or about it ending abruptly on a cliffhanger.
If you’ve never tried HP fanfiction, this would be a great story to start with. It is fresh, exciting, extremely intelligent, completely thrilling, and not at all a repetitious rehash of either the original HP books or Sherlock episodes. It is one of the few stories that successfully blends technology into a magical world, while still maintaining the charm and whimsy that make wizarding Britain so delightful. If the plot doesn’t amaze you, the characterizations will. I’m convinced that anyone who tries this will love it as much as I did.
Author’s Warning/Notes: This is a BBC Sherlock and Harry Potter crossover AU. The HP timeline and BBC Sherlock’s timeline has been shifted forwards and backwards to match up. One major BBC Sherlock character’s gender has changed for the sake of the plot. The story was planned and written before season 2 (but incorporating elements of thereof as much as possible). Readers beware! (Gioia’s Note: This is not a slash story.)