As I’ve amply proven in the past, I am a fan of fan fiction, both reading and creating. This is admittedly a bit of an oddball opinion since amongst non-aficionados fan fiction is barely a step above furries on the scorn scale. There is good reason for that since 99.99% of the output in the realm of fan fiction is terrible. However, just because most of the output is terrible doesn’t mean all of it is terrible. In the interest of defending a form I’ve enjoyed, I’m going to start doing spotlight pieces on stories that I feel rise above the drek. To that end, for the inaugural entry in Fan Fiction Corner I’ll be looking at a small novel from the risible genre of Harry Potter/Ginny Weasley romance entitled Ghost of You.
Ghost of You, written by Blacktag189, is one of many many stories written to fill the void between the end of the last chapter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the book’s epilogue which takes place nineteen years later. JK Rowling has over the years provided some scant details about what the characters did in that period, but on the whole it’s fertile territory for a fan author. Ghost of You builds on the on the idea that Ginny suffers a mental breakdown in the immediate aftermath of the final battle, and then spends the next almost four hundred thousand words dealing with her recovery, and the unique pressures that come with trying to date Harry Potter.
Ghost of You works as a story primarily for two reasons. The first is that it taps into a believable truth, namely that the characters are going to have a hard time moving past the events in the book. In this case Ginny was undoubtably tortured often during the events of The Deathly Hallows (as an aside, if Rowling ever wanted to make an additional buck, going back and writing about the DA’s adventures at Hogwarts that year would be a welcome addition to the canon), had her brother, several close family friends, and an unknown number of classmates killed. And that doesn’t even take into account any lingering trauma from the year Voldemort possessed her. Considering all that it’s no surprise she would suffer from heavy PTSD. This ties in closely to the other strength of the story, Ginny gets professional help. Instead of having her muddle through, the author shows Ginny attending sessions with a therapist working her way through her issues. Since reading Ghost of You I’ve come across several other stories that have taken this tack, but this was the first time I saw an author introduce this piece of reality, and for that I will always
That is not to say the story is perfect. Despite have several
editors beta readers, there are still several dreadful grammatical errors, the worst being the word vile repeatedly used in place of vial. There are large swathes of the narrative that drift too far into melodrama, especially when Ginny is at the low point in her depression, and her family’s reaction to Harry and Ginny’s relationship. Finally poor Neville Longbottom’s character is completely assassinated and he gets turned into the stereotypical “nice guy” in a forced triangle between himself, Ginny and Harry. I found this especially galling because of the strides Neville makes as a character trough the course of the books. That the author does not offer any redemption to the Slayer of Nagini feels like a low blow to me. Also, as is often the case with these sorts of stories, that realism I lauded earlier regarding the character’s mental health only extends to the focus of the story. Everyone else appears to have escaped their ordeals intact and with no repercussions — except for George, he’s always a wreck. It’s a curious theme I’ve picked up, probably because the author needs the other characters to react to the problems of the main character. It has the unfortunate side-effect in this story of making it seem like Ginny Weasley is the special little woe flower, but that’s due as much to the author’s tendency to descend into purple prose.
As an aside, the story is rated “M” on fanfiction.net and it earns that rating. In addition to the frank discussion of death, torture, and depression, there are two sections featuring explicit, though not pornographic, depictions of sex. They do exist in service to the story though, and are not completely smut for smut’s sake. Though there is an element of bodice-ripping to it as well. Still, it’s a very small part of the overall work.
Despite those reservations Ghost of You remains an excellent fan novel and something I would definitely recommend to fans of Harry Potter looking for an interpretation of the characters’ life beyond the books.