Story Title: The Potter Family Grimoire
Author Name: DisobedienceWriter
Story Url: Story Link
Content Rating: Teen
Length: 20,905 words
Story Summary: Harry Potter has an unprecedented amount of freedom the summer before his Third Year. He stumbles into an odd shop in Diagon Alley that will change his life forever.
“The Potter Family Grimoire” is based on an idea I’ve seen a few other times in fandom – that the Potters have a book of family magic which Harry manages to obtain, and from which he learns magical skills that enable him to become a more formidable opponent of Voldemort. This story uses the core of that premise and then goes in a vastly different direction than any other grimoire-based story I’ve ever seen. Harry does not become a super-powered wizard, nor is he suddenly much more intelligent and bookish, nor wise, perceptive and all-knowing. He’s not even perfect, to be frank. By the end of the story, there’s a point where I’m actually a bit concerned about his moral compass. But he’s very, very intriguing, as is this story.
This fic begins the summer before Harry’s Third Year, with what could be a missing moment scene during his time in Diagon Alley. It doesn’t truly go AU until awhile later when Harry finds a momentous occasion on which to first use an important spell he learned in his family grimoire. That particular scene is extremely satisfying, with a thrilling setup and conclusion. The story proceeds from there with an approach familiar to fans of what-if AU fics: As we reach pivotal moments in canon, Harry handles things slightly different due to the introduction of the grimoire into his life. The minor (and major) changes add up, with repercussions rippling out from the events. By the end of the story, it’s interesting to see the ways in which Harry’s life differs from that of canon Harry. Even more interesting to me was seeing the ways in which Harry’s life remained the same as in canon. For, regardless of the AU deviations introduced into the story line, it still felt like my canon Harry who was responding to this changed set of circumstances.
As one might imagine by the Third Year setting of the fic, Sirius Black does feature heavily within this story. I love the author’s depiction of him as a man of both positive and negative traits, who truly struggles to make himself a better man for the sake of his godson. Of course, that fantastic, three-dimensional characterization comes as no surprise. DisobedienceWriter’s defining trait as an author seems to be the ability to create multi-faceted characters, all of which stand out for their richly layered depictions, whilst surrounded by the multitude of two-dimensional characterizations most often seen in fanfics.
It is also worth noting that “The Potter Family Grimoire” is really a story within a story, as we discover that Harry’s encounter with the bookseller in Diagon Alley is one of thousands of such stories which encompass that vendor’s life. The bookseller’s story incorporates mythology and fables (and I adore stories which manage such inclusions) in another captivating little tale which left me wishing for more, in spite of the perfectly encapsulated nature of both of the stories within this story.
Finally, it’s a shame I don’t have a way to emphasize one particular story tag over the others, for if I did I’d be highlighting the “Comeuppance/Vindication/Schadenfreude” tag in bright, neon letters for this story. The elements of vindication seen in this story are more carefully planned and have such careful setups and executions that they give the reader an extremely satisfying sense of justice having been served. I loved it.
Please Note: The tag for “Violence or Abuse-Sexual” is in reference to a tragic situation featuring a primary character (not Harry) which occurs “off-camera,” and which we read about at the same time we read about the vindication for that act.