A Study in Magic by Book of Changes

Story Title:  A Study In Magic
Author Name:  Book of Changes (aka akito_shi)
Category: Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Crossover
Story Url: Story Link
Content Rating:  Teen
Status: Completed, with completed sequel, too.
Length:   507,372 words as of March 24, 2014
Story Summary:  When Professor McGonagall went to visit Harry Watson, son of Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, to deliver his Hogwarts letter, she certainly wasn’t expecting to find the cause behind Harry Potter’s disappearance. BBC Sherlock HP crossover AU
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.)

Gioia’s Rec:
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.  (*cough*Tom Clancy*cough*) 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 at the category links in this blog’s sidebar, I almost never recommend incomplete (work-in-progress or abandoned) stories.  The last time I counted, only 3% of my story 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.

There is a one-part, extremely amusing story set in this universe, titled “The Closet of Possibilities.”  If you’re tempted to try this series but want a sneak peek, try this. There are no spoilers for the main series.  It also features a glimpse at Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock, in all his Victorian glory.  Summary: Harry Potter accidently turns 221B’s cleaning supply closet into a magical portal that leads to worlds that reflect the deepest, most desperate curiosity of a person’s heart. Sherlock, unfortunately, didn’t know that when he opened it to take out the vacuum cleaner. Sherlock, HP, Canon Sherlock Holmes triple crossover; ASIM compliant

About Gioia

I'm a wife and mother and, when not tied up with responsibilities, I read non-stop. I love to share my favorite stories with others, thus the existence of my blog.
This entry was posted in Action/Adventure, Baby/Kid-Fic, Character Study, Comeuppance/Vindication/Schadenfreude, Content Rating-HP: Teen (PG-13), Crossover, Deviates from canon in or just prior to Chapter 1, but consistent with canon backstory, Drama/Angst, Favorite Story, Favorite Story-Harry Potter, Fluff, Friendship/Mentorship, Gen, Harry Potter, Harry rescued from the Dursleys, Harry-centric, Het: M/F, Hurt/Comfort, Introspective, Kidnapping, Mystery/Suspense, Original Character featured, Original Character/Canon Character, Rare Fandom, Religious/Faith/Spiritual element, Sherlock Holmes, Spoilers for Chamber of Secrets, Spoilers for Deathly Hallows, Spoilers for Goblet of Fire, Spoilers for Half-Blood Prince, Spoilers for Order of the Phoenix, Spoilers for Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone, Spoilers for Prisoner of Azkaban, Violence or Abuse-Non-sexual and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to A Study in Magic by Book of Changes

  1. Marte says:

    I LOVE this story.
    (And I may be in the process of donating my Jack Ryan books to my library – 15 pages on tank deployment confused the crap out of me, and I’m more aware of the politics now, so the capitalism is HOLY stuff bother me more.)

    But anyway, yes, read this story like mad!

    • Gioia says:

      I’m so glad you loved the story, too, Marte! I knew you read more than just Pride & Prejudice fics, but hadn’t realized you enjoyed Harry Potter or Sherlock stories, too. I’m delighted to know our reading tastes are so similar. 🙂

      I definitely know what you mean regarding Tom Clancy’s books. His plots are intriguing, but sadly immersed under an ocean of distracting, irrelevant trivia, which often makes his stories a real pain to wade through. I’ve kept all of his books because I enjoy the plots, but when I re-read them, I just skip to the important scenes and skim the rest. Tom Clancy is ultimately one of the best examples I’ve observed as to why every writer needs a strict editor to force them to cut things out of their stories, and why authors who can write concisely, cramming loads of info into short passages, are greatly to be revered.

      All of which brings me back to why I loved this story so much. 😀 Book of Changes displayed fantastic skill in maximizing the impact of every word she chose, resulting in a crisp, tight narrative that was easy to follow. A cluttered writing style would’ve made a mystery such as this very hard to enjoy, particularly given how obsessed Sherlock is over loads of details.

      (Obviously I could use some help in curtailing my own blathering, lol!)

      It’s great to hear from you again, Marte!

  2. Brad says:

    Chiming in to thank you for recommending this story; I’m about two-thirds of the way through reading it. Thank you!

    • Gioia says:

      I’m thrilled to know you are enjoying it! I see Book of Changes has just posted an update, so I’ll be reading right along with you this weekend. Thank you very much for stopping by to let me know this rec has been helpful and that you like the story! I greatly appreciate it.

  3. Carl Antuar says:

    I came across your recommendation for this last week, and finished it over the weekend. It may be worth updating your post to note that both the original and sequel are now complete?

    Both Sherlock and John were very interesting characters, and giving Harry a devoted mother figure – who is actually present in the story, and thus shown to be human and flawed, but still caring – was great to see.

    It followed canon more closely than I might have expected. The fact that many parts quote canon verbatim actually helped, in a way; it’s an acknowledgement that a particular scene simply wasn’t affected by the changes. And the way that some things happened in reverse, or between different characters, was a nice touch (like the downfall of Rita Skeeter). Still, sometimes I was itching for things to diverge more. The author handled it well, though.

  4. Gioia says:

    Thanks for your thoughts and reminded to update the status!

    I don’t typically like it when a fic author quotes too much canon. Like you, I usually prefer to see the fic’s differences from canon — not a rehash of dialogue I already know quite well. But I’m going to admit that in the case of this fic, I must not remember it, or canon, as well as I thought I did, because I’d forgotten that there was a noticeable amount of verbatim canon inclusion. *face-palm* Sounds like it’s time for me to do a re-read!

    Thanks again for your observations!

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