Published Original Works or AU Fanfic Gone Mainstream?

Did you know that Fifty Shades of Gray and Sempre started out as Twilight Fanfic?

This only came to my knowledge recently. But given how much fanfic I’ve read and how great storytellers fanfic writers can be, I’m not surprised that an alternate universe fanfic can be reworked to an original fiction, published on paper and make it to mainstream (and thus a wider range of readers as opposed to only those who have access to internet).

For those of you who are not familiar with AU fanfiction, it’s basically placing the characters of a book/tv show/movie (or any other original piece of work with a known author or writer)  into a totally different setting and reworking their backgrounds to match the setting. There’s usually no mention of jumping parallel worlds in AU fanfic and the characters of your favorite world are written to have always lived in that setting.

For example, let’s take Harry Potter. We all know about the boy wizard who got into a school that teaches witchcraft and wizardry and whose parents were killed by Lord Voldemort. An AU fanfic might go something like this:

There’s no magic in this world. Harry Potter’s parents were murdered by a sadistic serial killer/cult leader believed to be dead. And Harry is “famous” for being the lone survivor of the madman’s killing spree. To protect the baby from the cult’s zealous followers, he is given a new identity and placed in the care of his godfather Sirius Black (who also had to change his identity). However, they are discovered when Harry turns 11. And with no other choice, Harry is forced to go to Hogwarts (a co-ed boarding school known for being the best secured school to ensure the privacy and safety of its students).

Honestly, it makes me wonder how many works out there started out as a fanfic of another work but was different enough in story and writing style that it became recognized as an original work

The following selections are different enough to count as their own stories. But they have staggering similarities that it makes me wonder if one started out as the fanfic of the other.

What I found is a mix of great and mediocre. A lot of the works I mentioned stands out great on their own even when compared to a similar book (that I’m thinking might have been based on it). While others..not so much.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard


Frostblood by Elly Blake

What makes them eerily similar?

  • One supposedly “superior” group with powers trying to eradicate another group of people with powers
  • Differences with both groups have something to do with their blood
  • Main protagonist is involved in a love triangle with one guy being the rightful heir to the throne and the other being the younger brother who usurped the former

Which one to read?

Up to you. But because I read Victoria Aveyard’s book first (and it was published first), Frostblood starts sounding like a copy of Red Queen. To be fair, the main protagonists are two different characters. And their worlds are different. But the way the tropes are grouped together leaves me thinking Frostblood to be unoriginal.

Personally, I’m going with Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen.


Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

What makes them eerily similar?

  • the word Prythian (it’s a name of Daughter of the Blood and a place in ACOTAR)
  • the very good looking male love interest being used as a sex slave by the bad guys and often referred to as a “whore”
  • A guy with (non-angelic) wings in Daughter of the Blood is referred to as half-Eyrian (pronounced as eer-yan) while the guy with (non-angelic) wings in ACOTAR is referred to as half-Illyrian (pronounced as ee-leer-yan)

Which one to read?

BOTH. READ BOTH! Both are so awesome! Despite the similarities I mentioned above, both are completely different stories. And written in completely different ways.

But please note that A Court of Thorns and Roses is less trigger-y than Daughter of the Blood. Sure both are pretty sexually explicit. But Daughter of the Blood depicts heinous acts on little girls.

Romance lovers would definitely want to take a look at both

Excellent world building for both IMO

Additional Note: After finishing the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy, I noticed that the author used concepts and terms from other works. LOL. But I think of it more as a shout-out to the great authors who thought of them. What she borrowed were terms and concepts after all. Not another person’s story.

Book 2 has the term “winnowing” which sounds exactly like a “wrinkle” in Madeline L’engle’s “A Winkle in Time

Book 3 has the term “Like calls to like” mentioned several times. A very cool sounding term that was the main hallmark of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Seige and Storm, Ruin and Rising)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling


Schooled in Magic by Christopher G Nuttall

What makes them eerily similar?

  • both feature some young “Chosen One” figure
  • Both grew up in non-magical environments and are suffering there. It’s been mentioned several times that being in a school of magic is one of the best (if not THE BEST) things that happened to them

Which one to read?

BOTH. Sure nothing beats Harry Potter. But don’t disregard Nuttall’s Schooled in Magic. I thought his magic system to be unique.

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