Raunch Review: Harry Potter

Raunch Review: Harry Potter


Quick Note: I wrote this post ages ago, before COVID-19, shelter-in-place, and social distancing was a thing. I debated posting it, but eventually decided it should go live. I want to help foster a sense of normalcy during these difficult times. So, with that as a goal, let’s side-eye some of the faux-profanity from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, eh?


Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Review: Harry Potter
Raunch Review: Harry Potter
The Author: J. K. Rowling
Work in Question: The Harry Potter Series
The Profanity: “Merlin’s Beard”

Within the Harry Potter series, there is one example of faux-profanity that is a bit of a conundrum for me. Partly because it’s played for laughs, but mostly because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. “Merlin’s Beard” desperately wants to be profanity. It reads like a pejorative. It follows typical stylings of oaths evoking a name and pairing it with a physical feature. We don’t see these often today, but many oaths of this kind were popular in the Middle Ages, and later due to semantic drift, they became the mild-minced oaths popular in the 20th century.

But even in the magic-filled world of the Potter series, Merlin remains little more than a historical figure. He’s not worshiped or viewed as a deity, he was merely a respected wizard of antiquity, so evoking his name carries little weight. It’s not blasphemous, and this makes it odd to see his name employed in this manner, with no reason for its usage given. Oaths are rooted in a rebellion toward authority, and there’s no rebelling here. It’d be like an American swearing by Martin Luther King, Jr. or Abraham Lincoln. It wouldn’t carry any punch. So, while Harry Potter has done well in the past, it stumbles here, leaving us with a pseudo-oath more befuddled than anything else.

Score: Half Swear (2.0)

🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


Love in the Time of COVID

Love in the Time of COVID

With everything happening around the world today, it feels like a strange time to write a blog post—yet, here I am. As many of you know, I live in Seattle, Washington. One of the United State’s hotbeds during our outbreak of COVID-19—the novel coronavirus currently wreaking havoc across… well, everything.

As it stands, Kari-Lise and I are currently doing our part to social distance ourselves away from others, and we’re lucky that we’re both able to work from home. Not everyone can, and that adds a lot of extra stress into people’s day-to-day. Since last Wednesday, I’ve really only left my house to get groceries.

It’s been surreal watching this roll across daily life. People have lost their jobs. Events have been canceled. Much of the city is on lockdown—schools, restaurants, bars, churches, gyms, theaters, etc. are closed. Businesses have reduced their hours, some have closed completely, a few permanently. Nothing here is normal. Everything feels slightly off and a little uncertain. Time stretches past in long intervals. It’s easy to get distracted reading and re-reading the same gibberish over and over. There’s an odd pall hanging over everything you do and a mild panic bubbling beneath the surface. I have a few friends both here and abroad who suspect they might have contracted COVID and knowing that gets your mind spinning. Thankfully, all are staying home, resting up, and all seem to be on the mend.

At the time of me writing this, Washington State has passed a thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19—hopefully, with the city shut down and the stay-at-home measures in place, we’ll start to see a slowdown sooner rather than later. I’d love for all of this to be over in a few weeks, but honestly, I don’t see that happening. I don’t know how this is sustainable. It boggles my mind that corporate America isn’t demanding comprehensive and expansive testing. We’d be able to properly quarantine and care for the sick and wouldn’t have to shut down entire swaths of a city based on assumptions.

Regardless of the next two weeks, it’s becoming more and more clear to me that this pandemic will have a profound impact on the economy, our society, and ultimately our culture. It’s important to reflect on this. The world as we knew it won’t ever go back to the way it was, it never does, it can’t—it’ll emerge different, changed by what we’re experiencing now, hopefully for the better.

I’m not sure if a post like this is helpful or not to the grand dialog as a whole, but it’s useful to me. I’m usually not as open on here about the day-to-day of life, but perhaps I should be—being vulnerable in times like this is how we can come together and build empathy for our varied experiences. Humans are stronger together, and one way or another, I’m sure we’ll get through this. Until then…

Be kind to everyone. Give grace. Don’t horde. Help where you can. Love each other.


The image above comes from the cover of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s El amor en los tiempos del cólera, or as we know it in English: Love in the Time of Cholera—of which I shamelessly stole as a title for this post.

Have questions for me? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

Five Genre-Busting Fiction Writers You Should Read

Five Genre-Busting Fiction Writers You Should Read

When it comes to reading, I always appreciate the weird. I’m drawn to tales that are on the fringe, stories that are difficult to place within traditional genres. Weird fiction—as a result, calls to me. There’s something about those category-defying stories that make me feel at home. Perhaps you also enjoy stories like this? (If you read and enjoyed my books, I’d wager you did.)

It’s been a while—Halloween, actually—since I’ve given book recommendations. So, let’s rectify that today. Below I’ve shared five authors who write fiction that’s a little hard to pin down. As of this year, whenever I share books, all links will now go to IndieBound instead of Amazon—be sure to support your local bookstore. Also, where possible, I am now linking to each author’s official website. So be sure to give those a visit as well.


"Trail of Lightning" by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse

Recommended Book: Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1)

What begins as a gritty desert-focused modern fantasy following a Navajo monster hunter quickly expands into something more—Roanhorse takes the contemporary threat of environmental catastrophe creates a refreshing post-apocalyptic setting in which she places her southwest desert setting. What you end up with is a world that reworks your standard monster-hunting tropes and takes them into fresh and wonderfully strange territory. A fantastic read.

Also by Roanhorse: Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2), Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience (Short Story)


Fonda Lee

Recommended Book: Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)

Transcending your standard genres and weaving an intricate wuxia tale of criminal clans in a pseudo-1980s city, Lee goes in places no other fantasy has before. A story of family, crime, and honor, complete with magic enhanced abilities and kung-fu style action. Here you’ll find complex characters, a visceral world, and a high body count. A perfect blend of genres to create a unique and utterly refreshing experience.

Also by Lee: Jade War (The Green Bone Saga #2), Exo


"All the Birds in the Sky" by Charlie Jane Anders

Charlie Jane Anders

Recommended Book: All the Birds in the Sky

A strange and often surreal tale that weaves together a helping of science fiction, a dash of awkward romance, a smattering of academy fantasy, and a hefty serving of the downright bizarre. It’s hard to truly pin down this tale of love during that awkward twenty-something malaise—it’s been called magic realism, it’s been called fantasy, and it’s something right in the middle. Polarizing it might be, but it’s solidly unique.

Also by Anders: The City in the Middle of the Night


"Winter Tide" by Ruthanna Emrys

Ruthanna Emrys

Recommended Book: Winter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy #1)

Often it’s easy for series rooted in Lovecraft to slip entirely into the horror genre. However, Emrys takes a different approach. Here she creates a forlorn experience that reexamines the atrocities and ramifications of American internment camps and the Cold War through a slightly stranger lens. History and horror are woven together here in a fascinating (if not polarizing) tale of human nature.

Also by Emrys: Deep Roots (The Innsmouth Legacy #2), Imperfect Commentaries


"Chapelwood" by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest

Recommended Book: Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches #2)

Taking the historical account of Lizzie Borden and coupling it with Lovecraftian Horror, Priest manages to create an engaging and wonderfully weird series in The Borden Dispatches. While her first book is delightful, her second is divine. The characters are more established, the plot tighter, the world richer, and the events within more distressing with every page turn.

Also by Priest: The Toll, Brimstone


If you’ve spent any time here, you’ve undoubtedly you’ve heard me sing the praises of one of these authors before. But, perhaps they’re new to you, and hopefully, you find something here to enthrall you, and you’ll discover a new genre-defying world to explore. Have a suggestion of your own? Is there a favorite genre-busting author who’s work you enjoyed? Leave a comment below and let me know!


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Raunch Review: Judge Dredd

Raunch Review: Judge Dredd

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Review: Judge Dredd
Raunch Review: Judge Dredd

The Author: John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra
Work in Question: Judge Dredd
The Profanity: “Drokk”

With instances of censor-slips, we usually see creators go the easy route. Spellings or pronunciations are changed just enough to trigger a memory in the audience, so they connect the slip with the profanity it’s replacing. Generally, these sorts of faux-profanity don’t score very high around here. They’re lazy, typically unoriginal, and often hold back worldbuilding rather than enhance it. At first glance, it’s easy to see Judge Dredd’s “drokk” as a slip, but one must view the word in the context of the world it inhabits.

Raunch Review: Judge Dredd
A sample of Dredd’s linguistic drift as applied to faux-profanity

On the streets of Mega-City One, there are plenty of faux-profanities. In most cases, they’re excellent examples of linguistic and cultural drift. That is to be expected in a future setting, since language changes continuously, and Wagner took this into account when writing the series. There are plenty of fantastic examples of plausible drift within a language: “God” becomes “Grud,” “Jesus” becomes “Jovus,” “Elders” are “Eldsters,” “Gasolene” is “Guzzalene,” and “Scavengers” are called “Scavvers.” So it’d make sense to see other words develop as well. While the usage is familiar, there’s a pedigree that points to this being more than just a simple censor-slip. “Drokk” emerges as something wholly its own blending in with the semantic argot of Mega-City One. A solid bit of fictional profanity.

Score: Half Swear (4.0)

🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.