Title: Shamus Author: AWorldWithoutShrimp Rating: T Genre: Friendship, Action/Adventure Status: Complete (83k words) Pairings: None (Lisa/Taylor friendship) Summary: At the end of her rope, Taylor turns to the detective rogue Shamus, aka Lisa Wilbourn, for help, and finds both a job and a friend in the process. But will their partnership survive amidst the hazards of Brockton Bay? Links: [FFN] [AO3] From the author's note in Chapter 1, the key divergence is that Coil died to Nilbog so Lisa retains her independence, and Taylor never encounters anyone in her first caped outing and doesn't fall in with the Undersiders, who never formed. This is probably one of the best things I've read in a while, made more impressive by the fact that it's Worm, and complete, to boot. It's a well-focused, self-contained story in four arcs that follows the adventures of Lisa and Taylor. There's no mention of apocalyptic threats like Endbringers so it doesn't rely on memetic escalation or a downward spiral of dreary bad decisions for plot progression. No prior knowledge of Worm to enjoy it; this fic could read like a high quality YA novel if you find-replaced all the names, but has enough for fans/those versed in the source material to appreciate. The writing is clean; the author wrote it all first then published over the course of a few months presumably after proofreads and edits. The setting is quite immersive too. The pacing is steady and doesn't ever feel too rushed, though there are a couple of points where it feels like a line break is missing or some canon exposition would fit. The tone is relatively lighthearted while retaining meaningful conflict, which I think most would appreciate especially given the current global situation. It's not overtly cheery but refreshingly earnest and a bit cheeky with how Lisa plays with her hardboiled detective persona. The resolutions to conflict beggars suspension of disbelief sometimes, dramatic flesh wounds notwithstanding, but even when I'm looking for things to criticize, I can see how Lisa and Taylor solve their problems consistently with their characters and powers. The dialogue is rich and really carries the characters' depth and development. It leans a bit on the banter given the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson archetypes, but it's not to an insufferable degree. In parallel to Lisa's hardboiled detective persona, the story pays proper homage the genre in the way it approaches its cases. What I've left to complain about is that the ending is a bit unsatisfying. There isn't a major overarching plot to wrap up so it read a bit like a well-arranged series of slices-of-life held together by aesthetic and character. I'm left wanting more in both good and bad ways. There are some loose hanging threads at the end, some plot points that could have been better fleshed out and characters whose ultimate fates I would have liked to know. But I'm also yearning for more of this story in general, and this particular incarnation of these characters. The writing strikes a whimsical chord with me that few stories ever achieve. Solid 4/5 for me. Very good, bordering on great.