Now, to stick with the theme ("internet fiction about hooved animals at
Christmas Hearth's Warming"), here are some holiday fics! In fact, let's do romance-tagged holiday fics while we're at it, because why the heck not? Check out my thoughts, below the break.
Generous Gifts, by BlazzingInferno
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Spike has the perfect present picked out for Rarity... until Rarity throws a wrench in the works by proposing that the girls and he all do an anonymous gift exchange. Now, he needs to figure out who drew Rarity's name, and get them to swap with him.
A few thoughts: This is straightforward Raraspike, so if you find that squicky, this is a bad choice. That said, it's firmly on the "cute/sweet" side of the shipping angle, as opposed to the "lust/desire" side, which made it much more palatable to me than I otherwise might have found it. It also leans heavily on the impoverishment of a few of the main six as a plot point, but the characterizations here are strong, and Spike gets a number of strong and entertaining moments playing against the other ponies (and, especially, against Angel bunny!), which made this a easy story to enjoy on its own merits.
Recommendation: Readers looking for something with a very seasonal plot ("the true meaning of Hearth's Warming presents") with a light shipping twist will find exactly what they seek in this fic.
Twilight's Hearth's Warming Carol, by Bats
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Twilight is being excessively dense, so Luna arranges her her to be visited by three ghosts in her dreams on Hearth's Warming night.
A few thoughts: Here's another shipping story--but unlike Generous Gifts, it's an unapologetic shipfic, rather than a sweet story with a romantic angle to it. As such, it has a lot of the hallmarks of a "typical shipfic:" Twilight is painfully obtuse, love is treated as "friendship-plus," ponies have a tendency to expound upon their feelings for the benefit of the reader, and so on. Those are all things that shippers (at least, Twijack shippers, in the case of this story) tend not to mind, but that can turn off more general readers. Outside of that, though, the story is well-written and has some excellent humor, both character-based and in playing with its well-known inspiration (or both: "The door burst open, and Luna fell forward onto the floor, wrapped up in heavy chains. 'Oh, for the sake of the moon,' she growled, kicking off the chains as best she could. 'Why would you associate ghostly visitations with chains, Twilight Sparkle? That’s not even old fashioned, it’s just strange'"), which makes it a pleasant enough journey when it's not following its mandatory stations.
Recommendation: If you're looking for Twijack shipping in a Dickens-inspired package, this is a very solid comedic take on the idea. It's probably not a great choice for more general readers, though.
Mistletoe Kiss, by Alexandrite Ward
Zero-ish spoiler summary: Discord fills Fluttershy's home with greenery--including a sprig of mistletoe in the doorway.
A few thoughts: This is a terribly telly fic; lines like "She reluctantly believed him" fill the narration. If you don't mind that, this is a fluffy scene without any real grounding or development; it takes "Fluttershy and Discord kiss" as its entire raison d'etre, without meaningful expansion.
Recommendation: If you find "Fluttershy and Discord kiss" inherently fulfilling and don't mind very expository narration, this might not be a bad choice. For readers who don't meet both of those criteria, this is probably not a fic to specifically seek out.