Friday, October 28, 2016

Mini-Reviews Round 157

It's almost Halloween, so this seems like a good time to review some dark and/or spooky fics.  If all goes according to plan, I'll have A Fleeting Light With Funny Characters I'm Not Going To Copy-Paste Right Now out on the 31st proper, but if you need something to hold you over until then, click down below for reviews of a few other such stories!

It Was Me, by BlndDog

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A small sailing ship answers a distress call from a vessel which, when they approach, seems to have no crew aboard.

A few thoughts:  There's nothing terribly "pony" about this story, insofar as a single passage about the value of pegasi in a boarding situation is all that would require even the slightest bit of reworking were this story to be set on Earth.  If that's not the sort of thing that bugs you, though (and to be fair, this isn't a story that's actively hostile to its pony setting), then this is a fine example of the "pick them off slowly, hold tight to the mystery" school of horror storytelling, and while the ending is predictable, it's perfectly effective for what it is.

Recommendation:  This would be a good choice for a reader looking for something short and creepy, which doesn't abandon its sense of mystery as it goes.

Cursed Be He That Moves My Bones, by Lucky Dreams

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Sweetie Belle spends a night alone in the hospital.  Which wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the ghost in the closet.

A few thoughts:  Despite the active haunting going on here, this isn't really a "spooky" story.  Instead, its solo SoL tag proves accurate: this is a tale that's slightly funny, slightly sad, and downright heartwarming at the end.  The clever development on and expansion of the titular rhyme doesn't hurt, either; it's always nice to see good poetry.  But mostly, this is a story about empathy, and where it shines is in developing both Sweetie's fears, and her fundamental friendliness.

Recommendation:  This is a fine blend of the homey and the supernatural, and though it doesn't go much farther than to show its single night, I'd still have no trouble recommending it to those looking for something sweet and affirming.

The Lies We Make, by volrathxp

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Twilight discovers an ancient tome with some strange fiction.  Only, as Celestia knows, its tale isn't fiction at all: there was once a princess named Serenity, and her charge was to judge the souls of the dead...

A few thoughts:  The writing's a letdown on this story; in addition to some comma issues, the narration tends strongly towards telliness, and dialogue is often excessively expository.  Meanwhile, the story has a moral that I found a rather... unfortunate (everyone can be forgiven, but that's coupled with explicitly barring one creature from ever being forgiven, apparently out of spite).  It does have a nice tie-together ending which is appropriately negative without being tritely cliche or pointlessly dark, though.

Recommendation:  Fans of ponyland history might find the premise worth investigating, but I wouldn't recommend it to readers put off by weak writing or unrealistic dialogue.

The Last Days of Parrsboro, by Eakin

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  A series of diary entries from the various inhabitants of a small town in Nova Scotia, and the dreams of a great and terrible creature which first haunt, then beguile them--a creature which takes the form of a majestic and terrifying pony.

A few thoughts:  This is a weird premise, and the author wisely plays it completely straight, making this an unambiguous supernatural horror story rather than try to get too cute with the second half of the fic.  The story does a nice job of starting out with a normal, but still engaging premise, before getting increasingly into mental and body horror, as well as cult staples in general.  In the end, I found the Equestrian elements a personal distraction, but I think many readers will have more or less the opposite reaction--to find that the juxtaposition with the show actually enhances the disturbing.

Recommendation:  Fans of cultish horror ought to give this a look, as should readers looking for an effective (if, occasionally, marred by over-convenient detailing) use of journal format.


  1. I actually just read Parrsboro; 'weird' definitely covers it.

  2. Parrsboro sounds exactly like my cup of tea!

  3. I'm still a little surprised you copy-pasted the symbols in the last post. I am looking forward to the review, by the way, even if I'm a little nervous.