To read the story, click the image or follow this link
Crossovers with television or video games tend to go over my head, but crossovers with books... that's more in line with my interests. So its nice to see that it's time for a Dresden Files crossover! My review of Chengar Qordath's Forever!, after the break.
Impressions before reading: I really like The Dresden Files, a series of books about a wizard detective who lives in modern-day Chicago. I'm not quite sure why; the first few books weren't all that well-written, frankly, as the author was clearly still trying to find his "voice." And about the time the writing improved, the story started moving away from its original conceit (which I loved) and more towards straight-up supernatural adventure as Harry became more and more powerful. Still, I really enjoy those books, and have been faithfully reading each one as they've been published.
So it should be no surprise that I've already read this story, and have been following the sprawling in-progress sequel (which, being incomplete, I'll hold off on reviewing for now). Honestly, I'm looking forward to re-reading this.
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Chicago's only wizard-for-hire unwittingly invokes Pinkie Pie, who immediately appears and--what else?--begins planning a party.
Thoughts after reading: To a certain degree, crossovers are almost always more enjoyable to people who are familiar with both of the things being crossed than to folks who only have one of the books/movies/tv shows/video games/whatever in question as a reference. Still, as I've discussed elsewhere, I think that it's reasonable to ask that a story which appears on a site specifically dedicated to My Little Pony should be accessible to all readers regardless of their grounding in the story's other element(s). And when that story is six-starred, suggesting that it's considered on of the best stories on that site by the reader base, I definitely think it's fair to expect a story to be readable and understandable to all ponyfic readers, even if it might not be equally enjoyable to all.
In the broadest terms, Forever! certainly accomplishes this. Although I have no doubt that Dresden Files readers will get more pleasure out of the depictions of major characters from the books like Lieutenant Karren Murphy, if only because of how well Chengar Qordath captured her attitude and mannerisms, the way she's presented here make it clear to any reader what she's like, what her relationship is to Harry, and so on.
However, a number of smaller points would be lost on any reader not familiar with the books. Molly is mentioned a few times in passing, but without knowing that she's Harry's apprentice, these references are meaningless (and her father's appearance in the story, while no less understandable in context, loses some of its depth). Likewise, conversations with Ebenezer McCoy or Nicodemus are less intrinsically amusing than they are amusing because of the way those characters interact with Harry in the books vs. in the context of this fic. While I don't think the non-Dresden-reading ponyfans would have trouble following the action, I suspect that most of the humor of segments such as those will be lost on them. There just isn't a good way to provide enough context for how Nicodemus and Harry have sparred verbally and physically against each other in the past in a story this short, and when much of the humor is dependent on that context... it's certainly not bad, but it's something that only Dresden Files readers can really appreciate.
On the other hand, those are relatively minor instances and, as I said, at no point is it difficult to follow the action or dialogue for readers of any stripe. And the characterizations really are spot-on; Harry's affable snark and penchant for quips (the source of much of the humor in this story) come through very clearly, and the pony side of the equation is also handled very adeptly. Pinkie's appearance is never really explained, which is probably a wise choice--even though there's magic that could theoretically bring a fictional character to the "real world" in the Dresden-verse (this is a major element of the sequel, in fact), a short comic story about the things she gets up to during a brief visit is well advised to not get caught up in the nitty-gritty. Forever! is short and to the point, and does a good job of not dragging.
I don't have much else to say, save that the writing really does do a pretty good job of matching the source material, and that the comedy was excellent for fans thereof. Also, I personally thought the "stinger" ending was unnecessary, but that's just me. In point of fact, I have no doubt that for some readers it will be the best part. And in any case, I certainly wouldn't consider it inappropriate given the tone set by the rest of the story.
Star rating: ★★★☆☆ (what does this mean?)
This is a crossover that generally does a good job of keeping itself accessible to all readers. Moreover, it does a good job of combining snarky narration and Pinkie Pie zaniness in ways that don't grate. Despite the merely okay handling of some of the minor characters and the lack of cohesiveness to those without past familiarity with the characters (and some punctuation confusion, which I just realized I forgot to mention above), Forever! is consistently amusing.
Recommendation: To fans of The Dresden Files, I recommend this without reservation; it does an excellent job of mimicking the wizard's style, and the characters are almost always spot-on. For others, this is still one to consider, if you're looking for something more in the "wacky comedy plus deadpan observations" line of humor.
Next time: The Rummy Business of Old Blooey, by Cloud Wander