Friday, January 1, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 113

Happy New Year!  Have some old fics!  Get 'em below the break.

Help, by Daemon of Decay

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Fluttershy isn't feeling well, but with a little help, she's sure to be just fine.

A few thoughts:  This belongs to the "body horror reveal" school of creepiness, which isn't really one I enjoy; I generally find such reveals either anticlimactic, or too viscerally gross to properly enjoy.  This story fell into the former camp; although horrifying in its own right, over 3000 words of ominous setup frankly had me expecting something even more disturbing, which is always a risk when one's story is building up to a single moment.  With that said, I won't deny that the reveal is disturbing, fits the setup (and characters' behavior) well, and is disturbing without delving into cheap gore.  It's a predictable story in that you know something awful is coming from the moment you tuck in, but since the appeal of creepy fics is in the sense of mounting dread, I'd actually call that a good thing.

Recommendation:  For fans of horror of the "mounting dread" variety, this would be a good choice.  I doubt it has much appeal outside of its target audience, however; readers who skip over the Dark tag as a matter of course probably needn't make an exception for this piece.

Schadenfreude, by Daemon McRae

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Prince Blueblood's butler has a special talent for seeing when something's about to go wrong for another pony--and he revels in it.

A few thoughts:  This ends up not being much of a "story" at all; it reads more like the first chapter to a longer work that doesn't exist, introducing a character without giving him any sort of arc or development.  The humor here is awfully mean-spirited (as the title might suggest), but also rather crude (which it might not), and I found the protagonist's constant vinegariness tiring, even in a story as short (1600 words) as this.  In the end, I found I liked the idea of a character with a cutie mark in "other ponies screwing up" quite a bit, but I wish this had been more an exploration of that than an exercise in foul-mouthed mockery.

Recommendation:  In this case, the title doesn't lie: if you're just here to take some pleasure in others' discomfort, this story will indulge that with malicious glee.  If you're looking for anything more than that, however, you'll probably be disappointed.

The Misfile, by Alexstrazsa

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  After mailing in her taxes, Rainbow Dash realizes she filled out the form incorrectly, and races to avert certain disaster.

A few thoughts:  There's not a lot to this story; it doesn't concern itself with things like "what Dash did wrong" or "how does Equestria's tax system even work," instead playing out as a simple comic race-against time.  Within those bounds, it does a nice job of keeping the story quick and lively; even though the story doesn't get especially silly, it's full of well-written humorous panicking.  I found the ending to be something of a disappointment, though, in its abruptness and lack of resolution.

A few thoughts:  This would be a good choice for readers looking for something amusing and easy to read, without a lot of over-the-top absurdity or over-explaining.

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