I Ship It: Your Personal Slashfic Recommendation Service
Todays Order: Bog/Marianne
This one’s going to be a rollercoaster, so strap in friends! We’re hitting the alternate universes hard this time around. But first, an unlikely backstory.
Fifteen years ago George Lucas was sat atop his ivory tower, skimming through the complete works of William Shakespeare at his leisure. In his exploration, he stumbled upon ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, the bard’s classic tale of befuddled romance, love potions, and magical interlopers. After reading the play, Lucas assumedly snapped the book close, looked to the heavens and proclaimed ‘I can do that!’
What followed was nearly two decades of production Hell, culminating in a bizarre little jaunt into the Faye titled ‘Strange Magic’.
The movie failed spectacularly, but the fandom surrounding it is a mighty lot, churning out works primarily regarding our spit-fire heroine Marianne (played by Evan Rachel Wood) and her gloomy broody boy-toy The Bog King (played by the great and good Alan Cumming).
Since watching this movie three weeks ago, I’ve digested quite the feast of fiction. However, unlike something like Steve/Bucky where I am content to play in the sandbox of established canon, my tastes fall almost entirely in the AU category for this particular fandom. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading fairytales as much as the next twenty-something lost boy, but this is fanfiction we’re talking about, an exploration of the possibilities. And if the source material is already in the fantastical, we must look to the mundane for our jollies.
So, without further ado, here’s the top three Bog/Marianne fics that have burrowed their way into my brain.
‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner’
Rated: Teens and Up
I love me a good gimmick. Romantic comedies will continue to prevail upon all the money from my wallet by simply recycling the same old story with a different gimmick. And if there’s one trope I will always fall for, it’s the ‘bring a fake date to the family dinner’ shtick. Which is precisely what we get from this fic.
Written entirely as a series of texts between Marianne’s younger sister Dawn, and her incredibly smitten best friend Sunny, the fic chronicles the span of one terribly awkward thanksgiving filled to the brim with arguments, some punching, spiteful ex-lovers and painfully blatant flirtation.
These texts read like the kind I would be sending to my friends if my holidays were more interesting. The excitement feels genuine, the discomfort palpable, and what it lacks in action it makes up for in humor. Dawn and Sunny , the beta couple from the movie, deal primarily in the business of comic relief and it certainly works here.
As it pertains to Bog and Marianne, it’s actually refreshing to see the start of their relationship from the outside. When Dawn decides to bring Bog to dinner as a way of messing with her overbearing father, she doesn’t bank on her sister taking up an interest in the Craigslist pseudo-boyfriend. But just as it was in the source material, their chemistry and shared cynical world view balance each other out on impact and the night becomes less of rebellious prank and more about how many times Dawn can catch her sister smiling over her wine glass.
Short and silly, give it a gander during the next invitation you’ll wish you had declined.
Rated: Teens and Up
It’s 1941, and the last Great War is in full swing. In an ill-advised attempt to do right by her newly shipped out fiancée, Marianne scampers off to London to join the Auxiliary Units. Upon arriving in an old pub called ‘The Hobgoblin’ she meets the small band of rebels she had hoped to link up with, led by an enigmatic veteran who is none too keen about letting this spritely young lady from the States into a top secret operation. There is a good deal of Marianne proving her worth and Bog having to reconsider his position no less than four times in the first three chapters, and while the story is on-going, I predict there will most likely be some mutual lifesaving in the future.
The detail in this story is gorgeous. From the bombed out buildings lining the streets of London, to the particular way Marianne takes off her gloves, the writing makes fairly moderate chapter lengths feel rich. I myself wasn’t hobnobbing around Europe during the blitz, but I would wager that the author has done their research.
They also pull make excellent progress with the minor characters featured here. In the movie, Bog has two troll-like Hench folk by the names of Stuff and Thang. Not the easiest puzzle pieces to drop into the 1940’s, but not only does Spirrum easily convert the strangeness of their descriptions and names to something almost logical, they add layers of character that were never explored in the source material. Their relationship to their boss, Marianne, and especially each other is expanded upon deftly, raising the stakes well beyond the rafters.
If you have any interest in war time drama and the comfort of people looking out for one another, keep up with this one.
The ‘All That Jazz’ Series
At long last here we are the snowball that started my avalanche of ‘Strange Magic’ fic adventures! This was the first work recommended to me upon finishing the movie and I couldn’t have asked for a better spring board.
Another period piece, this time set in a 1930’s jazz club. Bog owns a bar called ‘The Dark Forrest’, a seedy little joint filled to bursting with the underbelly of the city. Marianne works as singer, and the bar’s main attraction. Add in a few mob wars, some hidden glances, a few well shaken cocktails, and the drama practically writes itself.
I am in love with this author’s dedication to atmosphere. Like many before me, I’ve romanticized the 30’s six ways to Sunday and this fic hits all the marks. I’ll take a smoky room with smooth jazz in the air and tensions running high just outside the doors any day of the week. It’s not uncommon in past-based au’s to leave the setting by the roadside in favor just having the characters ‘act’ like they’re living in another age, but this story never falters.
Of the three mentioned here, this series contains the most actually shipping between Bog and Marianne. The story jumps back and forth in their timelines from an average day in the club, to the day they met, to the first time they kissed, and so on. The author weaves the two seamlessly into this world, to the point where I found myself wondering if it wouldn’t have made for a more compelling movie than the original. Of course Bog reluctantly teaches Marianne how to shoot a gun, and of course she says he tastes like an ashtray as they lay in bed together discussing the pros and cons of acquiring a taste for smoking. It all fits together in a way I never would have imagined but now cannot possibly ignore.
This is the fic you read when you want to find yourself grinning softly with Sinatra in the background. My highest possible recommendation.