Ireland, 1920. There's a war on, but no one seems to be playing by the rules. John Watson, injured and unemployed after his time at the Front, joins up with the special forces sent over to keep the peace, but when he meets Sherlock Holmes, the second son of the local lord, he begins to lose track of which side he is on.
It is difficult to believe that it is going to go well. Maybe the author has done an absolutely brilliant job and successfully avoided the many pitfalls involved in setting their c.120,000 words fandom AU in another country during a war that has numerous rumbles extending into the present-day. If so, good for them! But on the balance of probabilities, probably not.
To some extent I sympathise with the author, having been involved in a recent discussion on FFA about the total lack of fandom activity associated with The Jewel in the Crown*. But even less than my qualifications to write TJitC fic that isn't prequel or future-fic for Sarah Layton set in England, is the chance of success in, for example, writing a Sherlock AU set in British India during WWII with Sherlock taking the role of Ronald Merrick.**
It's not that I think there is material that fandom shouldn't touch. I do think that there is material that if fandom touches it, the chances of doing it well are probably quite small for lots of people. Especially when they lack personal engagement with, or high level academic study in, the subjects concerned.
[ETA: There's something to be added here about genre, ambition, the genre-tourism element potentially involved in AU (tropey or otherwise), comedic licence, the nature of the original canon, and how they all complicate things.
Also, I am now imagining a wide variety of ludicrous crossovers with TJitC. Merrick is definitely one of Crowley's successes. It's practically canon. Barbie has probably met Aziraphale.]
*Challenge number one, it's long and dense.
**I am suddenly imagining a Jewel in the Crown bakery AU, in which Merrick is the son of a corner shop keeper who has risen to regional manager in a supermarket chain and who can't stand their bread sales being challenged by an upstart Polish version of Greggs.
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