Earlier this week, I read an AU story rec’d to me by Livie79. It was so absolutely fantastic that once I started reading, I couldn’t stop until I was caught up. (That’s not entirely true. I did stop to make dinner with hubs, and I was pissy with him the entire time. But that’s beside the point.)
I can’t remember the last time I flailed over a story this much. It’s set in a pre-Twilight world. The characters are spot-on. Bookworm has managed to give them a personality and depth that is unique yet falls perfectly in line with their canon counterparts. The chemistry, not just between Bella and Edward, but all the characters, is amazing. And to top it off, it’s well written.
BUT I’M AFRAID TO REC IT.
The beginning chapters deal with graphic sexual assault. This was a first for me as a reader, and while my morbid curiosity allowed me to read it (albeit through my fingers with my eyes half closed), I know it’s a hard limit for a lot of people. There are people with triggers, people who won’t read anything of that nature, people who believe it shouldn’t be written, etc.
And that’s okay!
My biggest fear is not only how this rec will be received, but that the author will receive grief for the subject matter in her story. Because I’ve been around the fandom long enough to know how shit goes down. Please don’t read it if you know you’re going to hate it. It’s not fair to you as the reader, it’s not fair to her as the author, and it’s not fair to me. It will chap my hide if I find out anyone who heard this rec from me gives her shit. Don’t do it guys. Not cool.
If this story isn’t something you’re okay with reading, don’t even read this rec. Click the little red X, delete the email, whatever makes you comfortable.
If you’re still with me, read on.
Before the Dawn
After her mother’s wedding in Mexico, Bella encounters a vampire with less altruistic motives than the those held by the vampires she might have met in Forks under drastically different circumstances. One bad decision, she discovers, can change her entire life. AU E/B
Rated: Fiction M – Horror/Romance – Bella & Edward – Published: 03-12-12 – id: 7920089
One more thing before you keep reading. Heed the author’s warning:
[…]this story will be graphic, violent, and downright miserable in places. This is the only warning I will give. If you choose to read it, do so with your big girl panties on.
You’re still here? Oh, goody!
The first few chapters were rough. There were lots of OH SHIT, OMG, and WTF moments, punctuated by the general feeling of someone sticking a hand mixer in my gut and turning it on high. Generally, I like to think of myself as unfazed by pretty much everything, but this story broke through my icy cold exterior.
But there was a certain excitement and anticipation about it too, because at some point everything turns around, and as horrible as it is, you just know what’s coming.
And then it happens.
And then the buildup we’ve been waiting for since the beginning:
Enter the Cullens.
Who am I kidding? Enter Edward. lol just kidding #nonotreally
These are the most perfectly written canon-style characters I’ve ever read. Like I said above, they have depth and are believable. By the end of chapter 12, Bookworm has introduced us to Bella, the Cullens, the Denali coven, Peter and Charlotte, Charlie, Billy, and Sam, as well as some who weren’t explored in the Twilight books but serve an important role in this story. Every single one of them has a distinct personality, and not only that, but motive for the way they act.
Alice acts like her shopaholic self, but after I found out why, I wanted to throw out my arms and say, “Okay, dress me!”
I wanted to hate Tanya. She’s demonized in fanfic, and even in Midnight Sun she rubbed me the wrong way, but I couldn’t hate her for macking on Edward after reading this.
I’ve never particularly cared for Jasper, but he has a no-nonsense take charge role in this story. It’s nice to see him as more than a mood-controlling, ex-war hero with a southern accent.
My favorite aspect of the Cullen dynamic is that they drop the parent/children pretense while at home. One of my biggest pet peeves in AU stories is when Carlisle and Esme treat the rest like their actual teenage children. In this story, it is apparent that Carlisle is the head of the family, but all the Cullens weigh in equally when it comes to matters concerning their family.
Bella. Internally she is struggling over her assault, but she remains strong. She is scared and conflicted and working in self-preservation mode, but there are no woe-is-me moments. Her relationship with Edward isn’t love at first sight. He is introduced with the rest of the Cullen men, and their friendship develops at a realistic pace. If it weren’t for the fact that this is fanfic, I wouldn’t have had any expectations of them getting together. It would just be a pleasantly unexpected, swoon-worthy surprise.
Because if there’s ever been a swoon-worthy Vampward, this is him.
This isn’t a story about assault. It’s not the glue holding the story together. It wasn’t contrived to be the plot, merely a necessary evil to set up the events that will take place.
Before the Dawn has me on the edge of my seat. I can’t even begin to fathom what’s going to happen next, but I’m so excited to find out.
BTD on AO3: