Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Mini-Reviews Round 213

It's santa-hat time in FiMFicland!  If you've got an account, consider bedecking it for the holidays.  Go from this:

To this:

And enjoy your month of stylish accoutrementery!  And once you've done that, you'll no doubt be in the mood for some seasonal fics, but you needn't fret on that count either; head down below the break for a couple of reviews of Christmas-ish fics.

Yule in a Donut Shop, by Rune Soldier Dan

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Joe keeps his shop open on Hearth's Warming Eve; he has nowhere else to be, and neither do the poor souls who come to him the evening before the holiday.  But then something miraculous happens, and Joe finds something worth caring about--and he's not the only one so infected.

A few thoughts:  This fic is A Christmas Carol blunt at all times: from the "look at these sad sacks!" start to the spiritual intervention to the positively glurge-y ending, there's not a single ounce of subtlety to be found in this fic.  Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on what you're looking for, though; this story hits its notes like Gallagher hits a watermelon, but they strike true nonetheless.  The tone isn't consistent--it's quite a stretch from the early going to, say, some late-fic crackshipping--but it does hit a gamut of emotions as it moves along.  And the writing is telly in a good way, its overt expressiveness matching the fic's style, and letting the author work in a few good lines along the way.

Recommendation:  If "Christmas fic" is something that appeals to you in the abstract, this would be a good choice: it's as cutesy, overwrought, and un-subtle a piece of writing as you'll ever see, full of "bah humbugs" converting to "Happy Holidays" and general goodwill towards ponies... but if that all sounds intolerably twee to you, you are absolutely correct in thinking that you wouldn't enjoy this.

Home, by RBDash47

Zero-ish spoiler summary:  Applejack makes her favorite pie only once each year.  It's a family tradition--one which binds her to her mother.

A few thoughts:  This is a quietly heartbreaking story, all the more so because it's not actually a sad story.  There's no enforced tragedy here; simply a staid, unassuming look at the kind of minor holiday traditions which persist through generations.  The gentle melancholy is occasionally let down by the construction taking a turn for the overwritten ("She remembered the first time she had gamboled into the kitchen as a young filly, rambunctious with the excitement every foal experiences[...]"), but the larger part of the story is told in a direct but not emotionally manipulative manner perfectly fit to the desired tone.  And the realism of the underlying story is no mistake: as the author mentions in a linked-to blogpost, this story is largely autobiographical.  That sense of realism comes through clearly in the finished work, to its great benefit and to the author's credit.  Home feels real, but never feels disrespectful or ill-considered.

Recommendation:  If you're in the market for a short, aching vignette, this fic is a good bet to leave you with that tightness in your chest that you're looking for, without overplaying and veering away from the reminiscing tone it strikes so well.


  1. Hey, this is a rare treat! I've read both of these!

    I seem to have liked "Yule in a Donut Shop" more than you, as I didn't find it so over-the-top sweet. And on the other hand, I didn't like "Home" as much. It was pretty telly at the wrong times, and it felt more like a scene than anything making a point, but I might have seen an earlier draft of it.

    1. I thought they looked familiar when I saw the titles. I've read and up-thumbed both of them too, and (more importantly) remembered each one inside. Heart warming Hearth's Warming.