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21 November 2010 @ 03:16 pm
Just rewatched Labyrinth for the first time in some ten years, and I'm completely in love.  It's everything that modern-day Hollywood stories about young women tend not to be-- an epic quest narrative with a flawed but driven female heroine, who wins the day not against her evil stepmother, but against a near-invincible king (and her love interest, no less!).  In the movie, there's a powerful but restrained romantic undercurrent between heroine and Goblin King, and this eroticism is what gives the story a lot of its tension.  But ultimately, Sarah's happy ending has nothing to do with nabbing the boy of her dreams.   This is rare in Hollywood, and I wish it happened more often. 

Having said that, Labyrinth fanfiction tends to have a tough task ahead of itself.  Fanfiction is often fueled by wish-fulfillment-- we want to tie up loose ends the story deliberately left open, find some way for the girl to win the game and win her king, too.  But this reader in particular also wants her heroine to remain a heroine-- that is, not merely to give in to her one-time nemesis, but find new ways to challenge him.  So it's often difficult to find fic that satisfies in the way the original does.  Still, here are some recs-- stories that get at least one half of the eroticism-heroism equation right, and sometimes more.

Erlkönig, by Subtilior
"Sarah takes Toby to a concert of art song. It is the darkest evening of the year. Words have power. Songs can be magic. And undying love can be more terrible than beautiful."  [This is one of the first Labyrinth fics I ever read, and it's set the bar ever since.  The writing is like poetry, first of all, a real pleasure to read.  But what's excellent about it is that the story doesn't try to paper over the fact that that Sarah's love interest is, at the same time, her most dangerous enemy.  And in such situations, a happy ending may be impossible.  Be warned-- this is more of a horror story than a love story.]

Her Kingdom as Great, by MarbleGlove
"What’s said is said, and Sarah said, 'My will is as strong as yours and my kingdom as great.'  And then, of course, she lied."  [This may be my new favorite piece of Labyrinth fanfiction.  Here Sarah is every inch Jareth's equal, and the way she comes into her power, and becomes a worthy opponent rather than an enemy, is excellently written.]

The Gift that Keeps Giving, by Lixxle
"It's the King's birthday; the goblins are on a present-buying spree using Sarah's credit card, the King is acting a trifle emo, and Sarah is baking. Chaos and adult-type touching ensues."  [Okay, so the other way you get over the fact that Sarah's one true love is her one true nemesis?  Utterly charming screwball humor.  And this is one of the best examples of the genre.]

Dare to Bake a Peach
, by akavertigo
"She'll muddle through recipes untold and burns unnumbered, fight her way out of every castle fantasy supper to guard what he's out to steal, for her will is stronger, strong as iron and oil, and her kingdom—her crucible, her hearth, her cauldron and laboratory—will be greater."  [I love that Sarah finds new ways to fight back, and yet the fight itself is both sensual and delicious.]

Thirteen Hours, by Cerebral Seductress
"Sarah returns Underground four years later, only to find that she must conquer the Labyrinth a second time. But her dreamscape has crumbled into a barren wasteland, and the Goblin King whose heart she shattered is now her only ally."  [Sarah's older, and the story is appropriately grittier.  But it works.]

Balance, by Elizabeth Culmer
"Sara didn't accept Jareth's bargain, but she didn't leave the Labyrinth unmarked. A story of consequences, and two lonely, stubborn people learning to live with each other."  [Admittedly light on the romance, but this is one of the most believable ways I could see Sarah and Jareth learning to get along.  And the use of the junkyard is wonderful.]

What You Wish For, by KnifeEdge
"Some advice: The way forward is sometimes the way back. Take nothing for granted. Look before you leap. Things aren't always what they seem. Remember, Faeries bite. And most of all, be careful what you wish for."  [KnifeEdge writes one of my favorite multi-chapter fics, but if you need something finished to tide you over while waiting for a sequel, try this-- it's sweet and self-contained.]

The Price of Dreams, by KnifeEdge
"Dangerous thing to get what you wish for. More dangerous still to crave it after, to miss that magic, to grab hold of it with both hands and refuse to let go. I never even tried. Foolish, I know."  [Another beautiful, perhaps more adult story from the same author.  I usually shy away from first-person narrators, but this one works.]

Twice Upon a Time, by L 0 K I
"Chance, or destiny dressed by chance.  Either way, Sarah and Jareth face each other again."  [This one's about a game of seduction, pure and simple, and it keeps Sarah within a fairly passive role.  But I'll be damned if it isn't incredibly sexy.]

The Third Wish, by dansemacabre
"When Sarah Williams was twenty one, the Goblin King decided to grant her another wish."  [I'm quite fond of dansemacabre's shorter works-- in addition to this one, be sure to check out Watch For Me By Moonlight, and Under the Mistletoe.]

Galatea, by KL Morgan
"Even Jareth has illusions..."  [There's something really twisted about the fact that the Goblin King is in love with a fourteen year old girl, you know?  This story is one of the few to really dive into that mess and make something out of it that's ultimately perverse and honest and hopeful at the same time.]

Time and Again, by Scattered Logic
"I have reordered time. I have turned the world upside down. And I have done it all for you..." 

Bound, by MissXeli
"The adventure through the Labyrinth left Jareth a changed man... err, owl....  What's a Goblin King without his powers?" 

Oubliette, by Scion of Kushiel
"Five years after the Underground, Sarah Williams encounters someone who couldn't, shouldn't be real. But is he?"

A Midwinter Night's Dream, by Tara1189
"A cold winter's night leads Sarah to the Underground, where she discovers the Labyrinth – and its King – are far more beautiful and perilous than she remembers."

Et in Arcadia, Ego, by Tara1189
"Because not all prisons are metal and bars."

Elftouched, by Liriel-eris
"Everyone has to grow up sometime, and once upon a time Sarah did too.The most logical thing after that was to speak her mind and change the world, if only a little.  Fairytales have a way of enspelling.  Fair lady, faint heart victory and all that."

Winter Owl, by traboule
"On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three cryptic glances, two eyebrow quirks, and a very awkward conversation."

Heart, by icarus_chained
"What can I offer you?"

Whispers, by Anisky
"He drove her to the brink of madness, until she gave herself to make it stop. Now she's in the darkness and she doesn't understand the game, the rules, or how to win."

Novel-length fics.  These tend to skew towards the romantic rather than the heroic (with some valiant exceptions), but they still make for a good read.

The Goblin Market, by Viciously Witty
"Nine years after defeating the Labyrinth, Sarah is in Ireland - the land of ancient magic, where legend suggests her victory comes with a price and her story is far from finished. Let the feast begin at the Goblin Market."  [I usually try not to read stories that aren't yet completed, but I was directed to this one and just couldn't keep away.  This is the best kind of cat-and-mouse game-- Jareth doing everything in his power to possess Sarah, Sarah running, fighting, and even getting a little vengeance as best she can.  Because no matter how much she might (to her horror) actually desire him, she'll never consent to being a thing merely taken and possessed.  This is a delicate balance to maintain, but the author's done well so far, and I hope for more.]

Labyrinth: Immortal Love, by KnifeEdge
"Sarah grows up, but the powers granted to her by the Goblin King have never faded, and neither has his love for her. For when a man is an immortal, the one thing he has in his favor, is time..."  [An excellent multi-chapter fic, with just as much a focus on adventure as on romance.  Be warned, however-- it takes the story to a logical stopping point, then introduces one hell of a cliff-hanger.  And the sequel, Dangers Untold, is tragically incomplete.  Perhaps leave a review to encourage the author to keep going?]

A Forfeit of Dreams, by KL Morgan
"If you had a second chance, would you take it? If you had a choice, would you do the right thing? And if you had a dream... what would you give to make it come true?"  [A classic of the fandom.  Be sure to check out its epilogue, here, though the very last part leads into an unfinished sequel.]

Bodice Ripper, by Ergott
"What if the Labyrinth really had been just a dream? Too bad Sarah never figured that out, it would have saved writer Jareth Corbett a whole lot of trouble. Or is Sarah really on to something bigger than either of them could have guessed?"  [This one isn't what it seems at first.  Give it a chance-- the twists are quite delightful.]

Into the Rose Garden, by Dryad13
"Sarah has good grades, a circle of friends, and a cute boyfriend. Life's great...right? So why does she have the strange feeling that something's missing? Fairy tales show that magic will make you or break you. Which category does she belong in?"

A Necessary Deception, by Scattered Logic
"Sarah believed her defeat of the Goblin King nine years ago was a dream. It was real. But it was also a lie."

The Enticement, by Scattered Logic
"In exchange for returning to the Labyrinth, Sarah is offered what she desires most... She's about to learn there is a huge difference between fantasy and reality."

Most Prized Possession, by Jester3
"What comes around goes around, and the Goblin King is bent on revenge. Will Sarah prove to be the willful heroine once again...or will she become the King's most prized possession?"