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More Phoe! This story is a direct sequel to Chasing Rainbows, which you can read here (or you can read my review of it here). Everything's after the break.
Impressions before reading: Well, Chasing Rainbows wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, so I doubt this will be either. Other than that, I don't have much of any idea what I'm getting into. Like I noted in my review of Chasing, I don't read much shipping.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: After spending a night in one another's company (no, that's not a euphemism--they literally just spend the night together), Dash and Fluttershy must reconcile their feelings towards each other with their goals, dreams, and self-doubt.
Thoughts after reading: Let me start off by saying that this really isn't a stand-alone story. In fact, it's essentially Chasing Rainbows: Chapter Two, picking up exactly where that story left off. As such, it's a little hard to judge independently. Specifically, I'm not sure what to say about the (lack of) setup for the ship. My thoughts on the matter I already stated in the previous review, but does that carry over to this story?
Oh well. Here are the bare facts on that front: from the very first sentence, the reader is expected to know and accept that Fluttershy and Dash are both romantically inclined towards one another. If you can't accept that as a precondition to reading this fic, you will be very disappointed by the reading experience. If you're willing to take it as a given, however, this story is very well done.
Phoe's writing and editing are both excellent as usual, though there are times when unnessessary modifiers begin to clog the story. Examples, like "With nothing substantial or at all very groundlike to dig her hooves into, she worried very much that she would get blown through a wall and back into the rain," are present, but thankfully are the exception rather than the rule. Overall, the writing is clear and clean, with just enough use of florid turns of phrase to set each scene.
I appreciate the realistic, often humorous way in which Phoe approaches relationships. When Dash woke up with her muscles all tied in knots because she didn't want to move and disturb Fluttershy, I could immediately empathize. I know that feeling, and I can relate to it. This kind of recognition of the physical (and in other places, the emotional) realities of romantic interaction helps to ground the story, making the characters more relatable. The only place where this sense of believability is lost is fairly late in the story, when Dash becomes somewhat more maudlin than I was prepared to accept. Coupled with what may or may not have been a hallucination (I couldn't tell if what she was seeing was meant metaphorically or not--a rare lapse in clarity), that scene did induce some eye-rolling on my part. But, I am pleased to say that the rest of the story does not fall into this trap.
Chasing Rainbows focused exclusively on Dash and Fluttershy. While they remain the two main players this time around, the story also introduces Angel Bunny as a character. He plays a much-needed role as Master of the Obvious, and also provides plenty of grumpy, curmudgeonly humor, helping to keep the story from becoming to heavy or angsty.
Finally, I just want to say that I loved the "Peliponysian" joke. What can I say, I'm an absolute sucker for stupid puns. Besides, now that "Paleopony period" is canon, we can even definitively say that the joke fits the show's aesthetic.
Star rating: ★★★☆☆ (what does this mean?)
Recommendation: First of all, I would not recommend this to anyone who hasn't already read Chasing Rainbows. If you read that story and liked it, then I can't imagine that you wouldn't love this continuation. The writing style and strong characterization from that story are both present here as well. If you aren't a shipping fan, or if you read Chasing and didn't enjoy it, then I would give this one a pass.
Next time: Sunny Skies All Day Long, by PhantomFox