The popular 'Harry Potter' fan fiction 'Manacled' is way darker than J.K. Rowling's original story. Here's what to know about the plot before you read it.

  • SenLinYu's "Manacled," a fanfic inspired by "Harry Potter," is massively popular right now.

  • In the book, the Order of the Phoenix has lost the war against Voldemort and Harry Potter is dead.

  • To replenish the magical population, Hermione Granger is forced to be Draco Malfoy's surrogate.

Fan-fiction stories inspired by "Harry Potter" have existed since nearly the moment J.K. Rowling's works hit bookshelves, though few are as beloved as "Manacled" by SenLinYu.

"Manacled" takes place in the "Harry Potter" universe, but SenLinYu also took inspiration from "The Handmaid's Tale," offering a darker look at the wizarding world.

If you've only heard of "Manacled" on social media or through word of mouth, you may be confused about what exactly it is, especially since it's a whopping 370,515-word story, according to its Archive of our Own page.

Insider created a beginner's guide to the fanfic to help you ease your way into SenLinYu's world. (Warning: The rest of this article contains some spoilers for "Manacled.")

'Manacled' follows Hermione Granger in a world where Harry Potter is dead

"Manacled" splits from the "Harry Potter" canon after the end of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," as SenLinYu said in an author's note. Instead of good triumphing over evil, Voldemort and his followers won the magical war against the Order of the Phoenix and killed Harry Potter.

Hermione is alive, but she has been imprisoned in a soundless, pitch-black room by none other than Dolores Umbridge for 16 months when "Manacled" begins. Copper handcuffs prevent her from accessing her magic, essentially making her a Muggle.

When the story opens, Hermione is released from her solitary confinement to find that she is still at Hogwarts, though she has no way to escape because she cannot access her magic.

A healer also reveals that her magic appears to have turned inward on her brain since it has no outlet, creating protective blocks around memories she wants to keep secret. But even Hermione cannot access those memories, so she has no idea what her own parents' names were — or what secret her brain is guarding about the Order.

Emma watson herione granger deathly hallows
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger.Warner Bros.

Meanwhile, the magical population diminished significantly because of the war, and Voldemort and his followers are working on a repopulation effort, as is the case in "The Handmaid's Tale."

Because she has magical blood, Hermione is forced to be a surrogate for the High Reeve, Voldemort's second in command, whose identity is kept secret from the public. To Hermione's shock, the High Reeve turns out to be her childhood nemesis Draco Malfoy. Draco is married to a dark witch when Hermione becomes his enslaved surrogate, and she has no idea how he rose in Voldemort's ranks during the war.

As Hermione's memories slowly come back, she will not only piece together how the Order fell apart but also discover a history with Draco she could have never anticipated.

The subject matter of 'Manacled' may be disturbing to some readers

Because "Manacled" was inspired by "The Handmaid's Tale" and takes place in a world where an evil overlord is in charge, it's unsurprising that it is much darker than Rowling's original works written for children.

SenLinYu states in a content warning ahead of the story that "rape and non-consensual sex are a significant and ongoing aspect of the plot," so readers who are uncomfortable with depictions of sexual violence may not want to read "Manacled."

Likewise, the story also includes themes of battlefield violence, trauma, and death of beloved characters, and it often leaves readers emotional.

There's even a trend on TikTok where readers post videos of themselves before and after they read "Manacled," and nearly all of the posts show readers sobbing at the conclusion of the story.

"Manacled" was first published on Archive of our Own (Ao3) over the course of 2018 and 2019, and it can still be read there today with illustrations from Avendell. The fanfic can also be read on and inkitt, downloaded to an e-reader through Ao3, or readers can listen to an audiobook version of the story on Spotify and YouTube.

SenLinYu did not respond to a request for comment.

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