Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fandom Classics Part 62: The Sisters Doo

To read the story, click the image or follow this link

Carrot cake-flavored candy corn is a thing, in case any of you were wondering.  And in fact, it's a surprisingly delicious thing.  Of course, I like carrot cake and candy corn in their natural states too, but this particular venture into the dollar store candy aisle gets an A from me.

My review of Ponky's The Sisters Doo, below.

Impressions before reading:  I'm really digging the premise--that Daring and Ditzy are sisters.  It's one of those things that makes just the right amount of squint-and-you-can-kinda-see-it sense for a comedy/adventure.

Also, I know that the author is Mormon, and the sidebar ad on FiMFiction when I went to download this story was for  Coincidence, deliberate, or a vagarity of google's adsense algorithms?  I leave you to decide.  I thought it was funny, though--and since this is a comedy, let's call that a win on the "first impressions" front.

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Daring Do comes to Ponyville to seek out her estranged sister, in hopes of going on another adventure like they did in the good old days.  But a foalnapping with a root deep in their past quickly changes the equation, and soon they're back to working together--along with Daring's "new sidekick"--to save the day.

Thoughts after reading:  Let's start with the comedy in this fic, since it's the half of the comedy/adventure that gets second billing--that is to say, this is an adventure with comedy, not vice-versa.  As such, the humor tends towards the understated, but I found it often quite well-executed for all that--the author knows how to walk the line between clever and immersion-breaking with meta-jokes ("'Another day,' Ditzy sighed, 'another bit.'  She had never really liked that saying.  It seemed to lack a certain rhythm"), and consistently manages to balance drama with levity, such that the story retains a lighthearted, easygoing charm for most of its length, even as it delves into tragic backstories and the like.

As for the adventure part?  Although it's a bit late in coming, I actually appreciated that.  This story transitions smoothly and gradually from family drama at the beginning to apocalypse-averting at the end, without leaving the early elements by the wayside.  As a result, the story has a strong sense of forward direction, as the action/exploration elements of the fic come more and more to the fore.

Where I did have some problems was with the number of incompletely incorporated story elements.  Some of these take the form of extended references (one scene will prove completely inexplicable to anyone who hasn't at least read the first chapter of Background Pony), while others appear to be the result of the author trying to tell too many stories at once.  In order to fully appreciate this story, reading at least two side stories would be necessary--and only one of those was actually written.  Without the (nonexistent) second, the appearance of the Crusaders near the end--and more importantly, the crucial-to-the-reader information they've uncovered--come out of nowhere.

This is, in fact, an endemic problem with the story: crucial information frequently has no foreshadowing, and no explanation save "it happened off-screen."  That can work in limited amounts and when the stuff in question fits within the confines of the universe established, but in large amounts it inhibits investment by keeping important story information from the reader, and when "the stuff in question" involves extensive worldbuilding and significant, heretofore unhinted-at expansions of the setting, it lacks the organic believability of something which has been introduced and shown in the story proper.

However, much of the setting-expansion that did happen where the reader could experience it firsthand was enjoyable.  Ponky has a knack for name-puns, and both the foreign lands and the alicorn-related bits were consistently interesting... up until the end of the story, which was distinctly lackluster.  In addition to losing stylistic focus (a remarkably gruesome injury sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of the fic's much lighter tone), the last two chapters discard the previous... well, depth is probably the wrong word, but the characters throughout the rest of the story show a certain nuance through their deliberately exaggerated, but not unbelievable, emotions and attitudes.  Anyway, that's all put aside in favor of some of the most heavy-handed moralizing, and the most one-dimensional decision-making, that I've recently read.  Given how the rest of the story developed, this was remarkably underwhelming, and the fact that most of that moralizing was being delivered by a young child without any particular regard to what a young child actually talks like only exacerbated the problem.

Star rating:

The ending was very disappointing, both in terms of how various revelations were handled and in terms of overall tone.  But prior to that, the story had a breezy charm to it, and did a nice job of mixing humor with escalating excitement.

Recommendation:  Readers who don't mind heavy-handed endings, and who don't feel left out of the loop by obviously missing information, will find this to be a good mix of action/adventure, worldbuilding, and comedy.  Readers who do mind those things, though, will want to look elsewhere.

Next time:  Song of Syhlex, by The Descendant


  1. Ooh, a TD story? I don't even have to read the review (though I shall) to know that's goin' in my queue!

  2. Chris, I rather like the caramel apple candy corn, but it starts to get a little too tart after a couple handfuls.

  3. I don't remember the ending being that heady-handed. Been a while since I've read it though, because going back to my review I actually did note that. Huh. Guess I just didn't remember that part.

    1. Interesting. When I go back and reread old books and stories, I often find that my memory of them has fixed or forgotten problematic parts.

    2. I remember very vividly a lot of the earlier stuff from the fic, but the ending has also disappeared from my memory. All I can recall is that it felt rushed.

    3. This sort of thing is why I always reread a story before reviewing it, even though it may be one I've read before. More than once my review-reading experience has been very different than I thought it would be based on memory!

  4. I, too, do not remember how this thing ended. Though I think that's because I quit partway though. It's been a while, can't remember to clearly.