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maggie stiefvater: a discussion
i feel like i need to start this off with a disclaimer that none of this is hate.
hello dear hpfters! it's half 5 in the morning, i've vacated my bedroom because a spider has fallen somewhere onto my bed, and i decided to write a blogpost because why not. this one is brought to you by sinner by maggie stiefvater which i finally finished today after about... two weeks?
i've actually read quite a few of maggie stiefvater's books and yet i still spell her name wrong on the first attempt ever since i was a teenager. i've read scorpio races, i've read lament and its sequel, i've read the raven cycle and i've read the wolves of mercy falls aka the shiver series with varying responses. scorpio races didn't do it for me, but lament did. as for the raven cycle, i enjoyed it thoroughly and am definitely looking forward to the tv show (whenever that arrives), though i do have little things i nitpick here and there. but that's not why we're here today.
we're here because of sinner, a standalone/spin-off to the main trilogy of the wolves of mercy falls. if anyone doesn't know what this series is about, it's actually really interesting. the premise is this: grace brisbane lives in a small town in minnesota where she was once attacked by wolves and since then, she has been obsessed with them. this isn't really a spoiler since it's more or less mentioned in the blurb, but the wolves aren't just ordinary animals - they're werewolves. the reason i called it interesting is because maggie puts a little twist on the concept, as she often does with her books, and the shift into wolf-mode is not triggered by the moon but by the cold. it's involuntary and it lasts months.
bear in mind that i read the series a good few years ago, but i did enjoy the first book [shiver] a lot at the time. if anyone's familiar with her writing, they'll know that maggie (i can't for the life of me continue to accidentally do the typo in her surname so sayonara to that) often focuses more on the characters than a solid plot jam-packed with lots of events. the conflict is more often a conflict of the mind or the self and there's often a lot of introspection. even with the various supernatural settings, the characters are often shown when they're doing something mundane or ordinary, even if they're written as quirky or cut from a different cloth (for lack of a better term). a quick look at goodreads suggests that a lot of people found it too slow, but i honestly don't remember shiver being too much so. it moved along at a pace that worked for the characters and for the general feel maggie was going for imho and it ended at a satisfying place.
the sequels? i could've done without them.
i think they told a story that didn't necessarily need to be told. that being said, however, they did introduce some interesting perspectives and/or characters, namely cole st clair. sinner follows the story of cole and another character, isabel, after the events of the main trilogy. maybe i just left it too late to read, but i just... couldn't get into it. i finished it, of course, out of a faint curiosity but it didn't enrapture me. i wasn't fully engaged. i kept glancing at how many pages were left. which, y'know, isn't a particularly good sign.
i wanted to like it. i think isabel and cole are fascinating characters on paper - imperfect and aware of it, not necessarily nice, and their personalities sharp enough that they can't help but catch on each other's edges so that they're constantly dancing around one another. i think this, coupled with maggie's general style of writing, is what made me lose interest.
here is my take on maggie s.'s writing: she focuses on characters, particularly the parts that aren't so public-friendly and a little rough around the edges. they are a little off the beaten path and well-aware of it, a little lonely and get lost in their heads a lot. there's a real emphasis on the imperfect. these characters often communicate in gestures that might not seem like they mean much, but they do, which maggie often highlights with simple phrasing e.g. "She raised an eyebrow. He took a card." lol that's not a real quote but you get what i mean; maggie loads small actions with many implications, often creating an anticipatory air. sinner includes all of that and more. the characters are imperfect and cynical and they overthink a lot of things while doing very ordinary things.
and for some reason, i could not hack it.
it's not because cole was an arsehole or isabel was mean and the true definition of an ice queen. they're meant to be this way. it's that, when paired with the overall style of maggie's writing, i could not handle that level of narcissism, cynicism or the forwards-backwards dance of their relationship. there was something that was almost egotistical about it all. there's this whole sense of L.A. and california being this unreal state of artificial aesthetics and manufactured glamour that reels everyone in like a plastic spider on its web. cole and isabel are meant to be a stark, gritty contrast to it and i guess they are? but in a way that i couldn't really connect with either of them much better than i could connect to the bright lights of the city. i didn't hate them or anything. i just couldn't bring myself to care about their problems (as serious as they were).
all in all, i think that's the gamble that's taken with maggie's favoured style of writing. it worked in the case of TRC because i absolutely love ronan, who existed by being difficult on purpose, but i think the intended effect of her writing fell short here.
anyways, this was a little ramble i went on while i killed time before a bed clears up upstairs if you've somehow read this far, i'd love to be hollered at in the comments. whether you've read some of maggie's stuff and agree/disagree with my opinions, whether you have had similar experiences with not enjoying a writer or a book that you (or the masses) thought you would - comment away
dreams: a world of nonsense
I'm a very vivid dreamer.
Always have been and I hopefully always will be.
I have a distinct memory of describing a dream to a friend when I was twelve years old and how she lamented that the most exciting thing that she'd dreamt about was falling down the stairs. There I was recounting an action-packed plot where my family was escaping town to avoid war and I suddenly realised we'd left my little sister behind so I threw myself out of the car and ran back for her, but couldn't escape in time so we were hiding in the walls of a block of terrace houses while we waited out the soldiers - but I digress.
Point is it didn't occur to me that not everyone dreams such vivid dreams. Many of mine have appealed to me so much that I've tried to make them into stories albeit a lot more coherent and logical. I mean, I failed, but that's not the point.
To be honest, I find dreams to be really fascinating. I've seen facts in the past that state some people don't dream in any colour and others that say you're completely paralysed while dreaming. I find that one to be pretty cool actually. Your body's locked down while your mind is racing at a mile a minute.
All this thinking about dreams was inspired by two I had last night, or what I remember of them anyways. I've been considering making a blog on HPFT for a while now as a way to be more active in the community, but my unoriginal butt couldn't think of anything until now. (Hi, by the way! I'm Plums if you don't know - which you probably don't tbh because I am a well-seasoned Lurker who just hangs about for a bit until I come out for like two minutes to chat lmao.) If I'm being really honest with myself, this is all an elaborate way to let me talk about my dreams because my sisters are too busy doing unproductive things with their time like revising for exams or socialising. Pfft. Honestly.
Anyways, DREAM ONE:
I'm pretty sure this one was inspired by my sister showing me Blackpink's latest comeback, but basically I was part of this talent competition where the winning group would debut as part of the next big band. I managed to make a deal with five other people as per the rules to form a group and the entire dream was about us struggling to make it through the competition. One of the managers/judges was really supportive throughout the entire process as we learnt some intense choreography, made some pretty humiliating public appearances and trained our voices... only to vote against us in the final round and tell us that was just how cutthroat the industry was.
Really, the highlight of the dream was one of my fellow members responding with this pretty amazing retort that I sadly cannot quote as it includes mature language, but we had to make a break for it afterwards lol
This was one was more action-packed. In the dream, I was this Elizabeth Swann-esque character who had run away from home with a bunch of pirates. Somewhere along the way, we managed to anger the most notorious pirate gang on the seas - I think we were after the same treasure? I can't remember, but it all culminated in this insane battle on a stormy sea where NPG (Notorious Pirate Gang) nearly won, but we managed to turn it all around in the nth hour. Tbh my most vivid memory from this dream is swordfighting with a bunch of the NPG and then turning around to see the Captain of the NPG land on the captain's deck at which point I grabbed a rope to swing myself around and kick him in the chest so he went flying down to the deck below. The guy tried to kill me afterwards, but it was well worth it to be frank
Anyways those were my dreams from last night. To make this entire thing less about me: what are some of the dreams you have all had? Are your dreams ever really vivid and complex? Do you have any recurring dreams? Can you lucid dream? I would genuinely love to know <3
First blog post woohoo