Sunday, January 24, 2010

Guest Fic Rec: Legna Gets Twisted


I came to Dark Games & Twisted Minds by way of a Twitter recommendation from EZRocksAngel. I needed a new story like I needed a hole in the head, but Angel is the author of two of my favorite AUs, so I clicked the link. I was not disappointed.

It has been a long time since I have been so enthralled by a story, especially when I wasn't already familiar with the author's work. This tale, and katinki's masterful storytelling, drew me in from the get-go.

Dark Games is a darker, more mature reimagining of Twilight. Many of the things that intrigued me about the original series are here: the Cullens are a family of vampires; Bella's mind is silent to Edward; Bella is Edward's singer. But this story has a key element that was missing from the first two-thirds of Twilight: genuine dramatic tension.

Katinki wastes no time in introducing us to James. We learn very early on that James and Edward knew each other during Edward's "rebellious period," which seems to have lasted a bit longer in this story. For reasons which have not yet been revealed, James and Edward parted ways, with Edward returning to his family and recommitting to the Cullens' vegetarian lifestyle. James holds a major grudge against Edward, and every twenty years or so, he engages Edward in a game with life-or-death stakes.

For the first time in more than twenty years, James felt the exhilaration of sport, the spirited thrill of the hunt. Humans were frail and pitiable. Edward Cullen was not. More importantly, Edward Cullen deserved to be tormented and tortured; he deserved to suffer under his wrath. This game was far more than simple sport; this was cold, calculated retribution. Edward Cullen still owed him in blood.

James's game involves selecting a human victim--one who will appeal to Edward's tastes--giving Edward clues about the victim's identity, and setting a deadline by which Edward has to identify, find and try to save the victim. James doesn't simply choose a victim; he does things to manipulate the victim's life in order to bring her into the game, even if she doesn't realize she's playing. James's current pawn is, of course, Bella, and the actions he has taken to position her accordingly are shocking and creepy. James is also tremendously lucky that Bella's blood appeals to Edward like no victim's has before. When Edward receives James's first clue, a lock of Bella's hair, his reaction is terrifying:

With the first opening in the polymer film, his senses were violently assaulted. His nostrils flared, and his eyes flashed from golden amber to coal-black. It was the most exquisite perfume he had ever smelled. The slight discomfort in his throat became a raging fire, climbing from the pit of his stomach to the tip of his tongue. He salivated like a rabid canine, venom dripping from his teeth. In that instant, all his attempts at humanity were lost; he was a vampire, a fearsome predator, and he smelled his prey, the most delicious prey he had ever encountered.

While Edward struggles to find a way to protect Bella not only from James, but from himself, katinki shares flashbacks of some of James's other victims. It's a smart story-telling choice because it shows us exactly how high the stakes are. Edward doesn't always prevail, and in one flashback, we learn that Edward was gravely injured in his attempts to rescue a victim. The scene in which the Cullens find Edward, broken and drifting in and out of consciousness, is all the more chilling because we don't exactly know how Edward sustained his injuries.

Edward's family knows nothing of his feud with James, and Edward has steadfastly refused to involve them in it, refusing to give any answers even after his catastrophic injures. Alice's gift in this story is limited--she can see the future, but only the immediate future--and that prevents her from being able to see what Edward is up to when James initiates the game again.

Edward manages to find Bella pretty quickly, but his intense draw to her blood complicates matters. Edward tries to acclimate himself to Bella's scent, but James proves his knowledge of Edward and demonstrates his strategic thinking by sending Edward a "gift" that results in another spine-tingling scene. Edward's bloodlust for Bella is only one component, however. Bella's silent mind intrigues Edward and draws him in to her in a way that may be even more powerful than his lust for her blood.

In another departure from canon, katinki is not afraid to kill off major characters. It's another smart story-telling choice, because the reader is left believing that no one is truly safe.

Clearly, he had been there awhile. Tinges of a red and white blanket popped out, contrasting sharply with the dark, shaded green of the ground. Seeing his prone form and long limbs sprawled out, Bella giggled. Her giggles then turned to loud, boisterous laughs as she realized that he had apparently fallen asleep.

But something was wrong. Surely he should have heard me by now, she thought warily. Her breath quickened in fear, of what she wasn’t sure.

Her pace sped from a ginger walk to a jog, then to an outright run.

Twenty yards away, she halted, frozen. Her mind raced as she processed the scene before her.

“No,” she whispered, as her body began to quiver.

Blood was everywhere. The blanket she’d seen from afar was not red and white. It was only white.

This story is smart, well-written and full of the kind of tension that keeps me reading late into the night and leaves me anxious for each new update. For anyone who would have liked Twilight even better with a healthy dose of danger and tension, read Dark Games & Twisted Minds. You won't be sorry.

Legna989 still does not consider herself to be a writer, despite posting a couple of one-shots and writing a few Fates' POVs for hmonster4 and profmom72's collab The Fates. She adores ElleCC more than is probably reasonably healthy, and thinks LaViePastiche is the bee's knees. For some reason, both of those amazing authors let her beta for them.


  1. DG&TM is one of my favorite fics, so I'm glad to see it get the attention it deserves! There are some great Darkward fics out there right now - this and Ultio by mac214 and 22blue are really amazing!

  2. I cannot rave about this story's smart and twisty and just when you think you know where it's going...guess again. You are seriously missing out if you aren't reading this story!!!

  3. awww this is a fantastic rec, bb! I seriously want to check this story out - it sounds very dark and suspenseful and fun. Love the little teases you've given us....

    thank you!


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