Jul
29th
2016

Today's story explores a side of Trixie we know all too well, and today's story explores a side of Trixie we've never seen before.

Great and Powerful

[Alternate Universe] [Drama] [Sad] • 3,470 words

With nowhere left to go, the Great and Powerful Trixie finds herself returning to Canterlot, the city she tried to get away from so long ago...

FROM THE CURATORS: Like Trixie herself, there's a lot more to Great and Powerful than first impressions would indicate.  "This story looks like a typical 'sad Trixie' fic at first, as we see her morosely reflecting on her ill fortune and general misery in her old(er) age," Chris said.  "But a bit less than halfway through, it throws a wrench into the works which caught me totally off guard."  Present Perfect agreed: "I really want to call this just another Sad Trixie, but I can't."  It wasn't only the twist which impressed us, but also its execution.  "This flows seamlessly between canon and what could easily be an AU, and ends up feeling larger than its word count," Soge said.

Given our curators' different approaches to fiction, however, what was most remarkable about this story was how much overlap there was in what we found praiseworthy.  "It makes good use of intentional repetition, and manages to be almost completely opaque about what actually happened without alienating the reader," Chris said, and Soge echoed his appreciation of that: "There is something kinda vague, almost mystical in its presentation."  Another point of agreement was the thoughtful use of MLP's wider world.  "There are also a few really clever inclusions of minor bits of canon," Chris said, which Present Perfect appreciated too: "I can't be down on a story that turns 'Trixie doesn't trust wheels' into an immediate, serious issue," he said.  "And that salt and pepper metaphor! That's not the kind of thing you ever see in fanfic."

Neither was the overall tone of the piece, AugieDog thought.  "The word I want to use is 'elegiac,' but not in the modern English sense," he said.  "In Classical Greek and Roman times, an elegy was more than just a funeral poem ... it often dealt with endings, but they could be happy endings, sad endings, satyrical endings, et cetera.  Here, we get two endings, both of them happening at the same time and in the same place but both of them at least a universe apart from each other.  And they're both wonderfully elegiac, the first in a poetic and sad way and the second in a 'recalling a life well-lived' way."

Read on for our author interview, in which Between Lines discusses Arctic trips, Crackerjack boxes, and Slinky Jengas.

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Jul
23rd
2016

The Round Robin Reviews are written by different groups and reviewers taking turns each week. If you are a story reviewer or part of a group that reviews stories and would be interested in joining the Round Robin Reviews, feel free to PM Wanderer D, Professor Plum, or ElDorado to tell us about it.


Time for Rage Reviews’ turn at the Round Robin, part three.  Onwards!

We here at Rage Reviews are known for our highly critical preferences when it comes to literature, but even jaded individuals like ourselves come across things we enjoy every now and then.  Whenever a story presents strong, endearing characterizations, impeccable grammar, and memorable settings amongst other such qualities, we sigh in relief that good fiction does, in fact, exist.  As such, every month a number of our reviewers get together to present a collection of stories that they feel did something right, something that other writers can learn from.  We’re pleased to now be able to share our monthly spotlight with all the readers, rather than just those who happen to be a part of our group.

All the stories selected here were done so at the discretion of our official reviewers, meaning it’s their personal opinions on the matter.  We hope you enjoy them!



A British Gentleman’s pick:

“Essenza di Amore”, by Cerulean Voice

Genre Tags:  Adventure, Drama, Alternate Universe

        Orphaned as a filly, a young pegasus named Kaviyayu is raised by an adoptive Earth pony family in a secluded, peaceful village. When a strange unicorn drops by the village, Kaviyayu and the other foals are captivated by her tales of the world, as well as her various spells and illusions for their amusement. But there's something about the way she doesn't speak of her own family... how she never removes her traveller's cloak... how she seems to take a very strong interest in Kaviyayu…

Who is this mysterious mare, what does she seek, and just what is so special about that pendant she wears?

This is the tale of how a seemingly ordinary filly rose to become both a princess and a beacon of love to ponies all over Equestria. Based on the back-story of Princess Cadance, as given by G. M. Berrow's pony novella, Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell. Also loosely inspired by symphonic metal band Nightwish's sixth studio album, Dark Passion Play.

Who among you, my good ladies and gentlemen,  loves Princess Cadance? I will admit, at first I did not. When I first heard of the season two finale, I recall thinking:

"Twilight has a hitherto unmentioned brother? Who is Captain of the Royal Guard? And he is marrying a princess? A hitherto unmentioned princess? Who is a hitherto unmentioned alicorn? Is this the work of professionals, or has some twelve year old badfic writer gotten really lucky..."

Of course, my worst expectations were not realised: while the episodes ended with a near naked deus ex machina, the good far outweighed the bad; these are the favourite episodes of many in the fandom.

Candance herself has definitely grown on me.

So today, my good ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a rather lovely fic starring our rather lovely Princess of Love.

Essenza di Amore is an origin story for Cadance, based on the novel Twilight Sparkle and the Crystal Heart Spell. Here, we see a young pegasus Cadance, called Kaviyayu here for reasons I shan't go into, and her adoptive earth pony family. And it is in that family, and the extended community they exist in, that this fic really shines.

The author, Cerulean Voice, has done an excellent job here with his / her world building, constructing a pleasant an unique earth pony community, and with his / her OC's populating said community with pleasant and well written ponies.

The antagonist of the piece, Lady Prismia, is particularly good value.

It is because the author took the time to set up the community, to establish the characters and to give the audience a chance to come to like them that the conflict said antagonist generates so effective.

The eight deadly words are: "I don't care what happens to these people."

Because of the auther's good work at the start, you will care. And that is good.

It is a wonderful fic, and well worth checking out.



Winter Solstice’s pick:

“How Ponyville Was Made”, by Cola_Bubble_Gum

Genre Tags:  Dark, Random, Slice of Life

Ooooooh, I know how I should start the story! I do I do! It should start with 'once upon a time'! Right?

No?

Awwww, I guess you're right, Cola. Everyone likes it the way it is now!

(Oh, and it's a story about when I was a little filly and my friends were all colored rocks! She said it needs that or else nobody'll know what it's about when they click it -- whatever that means!

Seems light-hearted and bubbly, doesn't it? But that's the deceptive beauty of this tale: it's pure Pinkie Pie, spot on, but with a disturbing undercurrent. This is the pony we know and love, but there's something very wrong with her here. NotCupcakes wrong, but very close to it.

One day a very young and miserable Pinkie finds a rock. It was rainbow colored, but still, just a rock. Until Pinkie gets an idea in her head and decides the rock needs some friends. Then our story begins.

This tale was unsettling for me for I am a parent, and I could easily imagine how I'd feel if I saw my daughter playing with and talking to rocks like this.  It would scare the hell out of me, for that's the worst part: it seems so innocent on the surface, but it's far from that.

This tale is told in first person, entirely from the aspect of Pinkie, so we're given a trip inside her head. I leave it up to the reader to decide if that's someplace you'd want to be.



Rainedash’s pick:

“Maybe”, by JohnPerry

Genre Tags: Drama

Some ponies never change. Prince Blueblood is one of them.

It's tough giving more characterization to a character like this. Too many go to an extreme really making their life sound awful and that they're just the victim. This story didn't do that. Blueblood is without a doubt a douche that needs to change. What it does is simply let people understand his mindset. It humanizes him in a way I haven't seen often.



Kamikakushi’s pick:

“Instability”, by Eakin

Genre Tags:  Dark

Tirek has won, and Twilight's friends are gone. She and the other princesses have just one chance left. Maybe if one of them can go back, she can warn them right when he escapes and stop this all from happening.

It might be a long shot, but it's the only chance they have left.

Maybe it's just my love of hopelessness that's not apparent until the very end, or maybe it was just tickling my fancy for dramatic irony, but this story establishes some small semblance of hope in a hopeless situation only to rip it from the characters at the last moment in a chilling sense of déjà vu. It's just nice when a story lines up with canon so well in a way one wouldn't normally expect. This one in particular played off everything that drove me insane in the season four finale, and then did the impossible—made me enjoy it. While not the greatest story in the dark genre, it does its job very well, and is certainly worth a read.



Shrinky Frod’s pick:

“Cant”, by Rambling Writer

Genre Tags: Horror

There's an old book that's falling apart. Twilight wants to copy it down to preserve it. But it needs to be as accurate and precise as possible, to preserve the state of the original. That shouldn't be too hard. After all, it's not like the text will change whenever she looks away.

Right?

Horror isn't the most popular subgenre in this fandom, and even when it does show up it's rarely done well. Most attempts at it are rehashes of Creepypastas, or along the lines of Multiple Nights of Baked Goods at the Spectromatic Liquid Manufacturing Facility.

There are some authors, particularly Horse Voice (who was a contender for this month's recommend from me) who do a better job of it, but it's even better when you can find something that delves into the realm of psychological horror.

Cant, by Rambling Writer, is precisely that story. I won't say too much, for fear of spoiling the story, but I'll say that as both a reviewer, an individual with an anxiety disorder, and as a part-time grammar Nazi, this story hits a very particular nerve for me, and deserves more attention than it has managed to get so far.



And so ends our third round of reviews.  We hope to see you next time.

Fare thee well!

Report Wanderer D · 624 views ·
Jul
22nd
2016

Twilight stars — reluctantly — in today's featured story.

Twilight is Annoyed

[Dark] [Tragedy] • 2,429 words

Twilight has been alone for a long time. She's not sure how long anymore, but the color of the sun is giving her some ideas.

Twilight stopped dreaming a long time ago, but she is now plagued by visions. Visions of the past. Visions of the worst moments of her life.

Twilight is feeling really annoyed right now.

FROM THE CURATORS: As longtime ponyfic readers, we are always looking for something a little different — so when Present Perfect noted in his nomination that "I can't say I've read a dark fic quite like this before," the strong execution of this story's style brought us around to quick agreement on its feature.  "I'll call it another example of Pony horror done right," AugieDog opined, while Soge praised its freshness: "It is a clever idea, a more-or-less by-the-books take on ImmorTwilight that still manages to bring something new to the table."

That novelty was in this story's memorable depiction of its protagonist.  "I really love how the author chose to represent Twilight, and establish her inner conflict," Soge said, and Horizon agreed: "The way this pulls off its slow reveal while keeping Twilight broken and unmoored is a big thing right."  The prose was a major contributor to that.  "What works best is the sentence structure," Present Perfect said.  "So many begin with 'Twilight', which just drives home how alone she is. Her actions are choppy, there's little in the way of transition from one to the next, which along with her constant repeating of actions sells her fractured and damaged mind."

Oddly, we found ourselves approaching the story's laconic, direct style rather differently.  "A little more subtlety would have gone a long way here," Soge said.  "However, it is a striking, memorable fic, able to convey much through style and atmosphere."  AugieDog admired its restraint, though: "The way everything's so tamped-down here — the emotions, the language, the storyline, the grammar — it just all works really well."  And Chris disagreed with them both: "I say, there's nothing wrong with hitting the reader over the head with a two-by-four as long as you let them hold the wackin' stick themselves," he said.  "Subtle? No. But even as it abandons nuance, it still gives the reader freedom."

Read on for our author interview, in which Protopony350 discusses breadcrumbs, robot obsessions, and double-necked guitars.

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Jul
19th
2016

Seattle's Angels is a group that promotes good stories with low views. You can find us here.

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Report Wanderer D · 1,123 views ·
Jul
15th
2016

We're back! Hope everyone had a good time at Bronycon.

Today's story lays bare two characters united by redemption — with a side of tea.

Discourse on Fillies

[Drama] [Slice of Life] • 15,532 words

Diamond Tiara always knew that someday she'd be invited to dine with the Princess at the Royal Palace. She didn't think it would happen like this.

But she's going to sit there and be polite and smile and not be bothered by all the ways this is all wrong. Because that's what good fillies do, and Diamond Tiara is a good filly now.

Right?

FROM THE CURATORS: This is one of those stories that was turning heads well before it reached our reading queue.  "Having seen no fewer than ten journals in a row signal boosting and praising this story, I knew it was only a matter of time before it ended up here," Present Perfect noted, as AugieDog pointed out its heavily upvoted suggestion in our story recommendation thread.  And while not all of us appreciated the story equally, we found a story whose ideas were big enough to justify the acclaim.  "The author needs some special sort of commendation for giving us the idea of The Princess by Macavallo, then for making it be the book Diamond Tiara has based her entire life upon, then for making Machiavelli work in an Equestrian context," AugieDog said.

However, what really turned our heads was the exemplary work on the story's two main characters.  "This really excels at framing a child's concerns about the world, but the big thing right is the interplay between Diamond Tiara and Luna, of the tribulations shared by the rich and actual royalty, and of how the scope of their differences varies exponentially," Present Perfect said.  AugieDog agreed: "The way the author handles these two characters is what's making me nominate it."  Even the story's critics found that powerful.  "I bounced off this story," Soge said, "but the parallels between Tiara and Luna are interesting, and her view of the world, particularly her comparisons between the rich and the nobles in the context of MLP's world, are nothing short of fascinating."

Also held up for acclaim were the story's heartfelt moments.  "This was angling for my upvote as early as the 'Feelings are like muscles' speech, and the little profundities just kept on coming," Horizon said.  "The dig about uselessness and Luna's response to it and the very adult handling of DT's outburst (on both sides) was just amazing.  'Trying always counts' was so on-point I think I accidentally stabbed myself with it."  That was a consequence of the beautiful framing of the premise, Present Perfect argued: "Two characters in a state of reformation — 'state', because reform isn't something you achieve and then go do something else after — trying to help one another? Brilliant, and a fantastic use of everything we learned in Crusaders of the Lost Mark."  It all added up, as Horizon said, to a winner: "In between picking the right characters for the discussion, using them faithfully, and teaching me something about Earth history, this succeeds on multiple levels."

Read on for our author interview, in which Daedalus Aegle discusses radiant inventors, muddy Machiavellis, and the missing directions of Norway.

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Jul
9th
2016

The Round Robin Reviews are written by different groups and reviewers taking turns each week. If you are a story reviewer or part of a group that reviews stories and would be interested in joining the Round Robin Reviews, feel free to PM Wanderer D, Professor Plum, or ElDorado to tell us about it.


It’s me again, FIMFiction. Yeah, that’s right, PaulAsaran, that solo guy throwing reviews at you once a week. You ready for my third swing at the Round Robins? Of course you are.

No need for a big intro from me this time, folks. I’ve said my hellos twice now, I think you all get the gist. Those of you who missed it the first couple times can hit up my user page to get all the same info, including my reviewing methods/rules, a link to my review schedule (updated daily), and generally everything you could possibly want to know.

Unless I missed something. Then ping me. I won’t bite. Probably.

Today we’ve got a few requests that went above my expectations, a sequel more deserving of attention than its predecessor (or so I feel), and a delightful piece of fuzz and drama starring my favorite showmare!

Stories for This Session:

From the Flames in the Firelight by Snowybee (Requested by Snowybee)

Tables Have Turned by JoeShogun (Sequel to Of Birds and Bees and Awkward Things)

My Own Demon by Ryuko (Requested by Ryuko)

Trixie Lulamoon and the Horrendous Hypothesis by kudzuhaiku (Completed Story)

Dusk Falls by NorrisThePony (Requested by Danger Beans)

Total Word Count: 185,516

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 3

Pretty Good: 2


From the Flames in the Firelight

16,424 Words

By Snowybee

Requested by Snowybee

Once again, this author calls upon me to cast judgement upon her. Snowybee is longtime friend of mine, and also a fan, and she often tries to get my opinion on her works. Her self-doubt is pretty high, and I try to be encouraging, but I also strive to maintain honesty in my reviews. Anything less would be unfair to her. In the case of this story, she had me pre-read the second chapter long before she started publication. At the time, it just seemed like an oddity.

Oh, how things change.

From the Flames in the Firelight begins with the revelation that something is wrong with Cadance on a deeply emotional level. Princess Luna decides to investigate, and realizes that her niece is more than just troubled – she is on the verge of a physical and mental breakdown. Seeking to help, she offers Cadance the chance to try a very risky spell in which her subconsciousness and consciousness will meet without any barriers in a pseudo-dream, the dangers of which are unknown. Desperate for a solution, Cadance agrees. What follows is a descent into the past and a battle for sanity.

Holy wow, folks. Snowybee’s trademark writing style of freeflowing thought, metaphor and uncertain clarity is put to full use in this one. Sometimes her stories are tricky to get through because of the writing style she offers, but in a story of dreams where reality and fantasy mix? It’s a tour-de-force. On the one hand, I struggled to grasp the exact nature of what was happening, or the truth behind the events that were brought before us. And yet the descriptions – at times confusing and yet startlingly clear all at once – only make Cadance’s journey all the more fascinating. I can honestly say I regretted getting to the end.

I say all of this, but must add a caveat: the writing style really can be confusing if you’re not paying proper attention. For those of you looking for something easy to read, you might want to set this aside for when you’re feeling more ambitious.

But don’t you dare throw it away.

“Okay, so the writing is pretty. Whoop-dee-doo. Tell us about the story.”

After the real story begins in chapter 2, things got a little confusing to me. This may have to do with the fact that I never actually read the canon rendition of Cadance’s ascendance, although I have some generally good knowledge thanks to Cerulean Voice’s Essenza di Amore (which I am trying to resist comparing this to). As Cadance steadily goes deeper into her own personal battle, certain things gradually become more and more clear. Those with a stronger knowledge of Cadance’s past will probably pick things up much faster than I did, although I get the impression that the story she told Twilight left some things out.

Slow – and at times, confusing – as the story may have been initially, it nonetheless remains thoroughly interesting. The mystery, the danger, the suspense and the urgent desire to understand Cadance’s predicament all coalesce into something worth getting invested in. By the end of chapter 5, I wasn’t able to look away.

If there was any real issue with the story, it’s that it ends in a way that leaves questions unanswered. Some people may get to the end and say “Wait, that’s it? Shouldn’t there be more?” Yes, I was one of those individuals. However, I have it good authority that Snu is considering a sequel to clarify things, so I’m not going to let it bother me too much.

In summation, this story has been awesome. I have always said that if Snowybee could find the right way to channel her writer’s voice, she could make something great. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the evidence I’ve been waiting for.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?


Tables Have Turned

23,169 Words

By JoeShogun

Sequel to Of Birds and Bees and Awkward Things

Oh, Luna, you are such a wonderful mare.

Okay, so a small breach of etiquette here by selecting a sequel for the Round Robin, but I swear it’s justified in that it’s really easy to jump into this one without knowing anything of the original. And, frankly, if you haven’t read the original, what are you still doing here? Go on, go read it. There’s a link right above this review. I’ll wait.

Okay, done? Good. You’re welcome.

Tables Have Turned follows in the hoofsteps of its predecessor via the exact same subject matter, but with a much broader focus. The story begins when Twilight, doing a little shopping, comes across her now-teenage assistant Spike unwittingly ogling a certain somepony, which leads her to the sudden and panic-inducing recognition that her “little guy” is growing up. Rather than give him the dreaded “talk”, Twilight calls upon some royal help. One thing leads to another, and Twilight ends up at a bar with the rest of the Mane 6.

Drinks are drunk, explanations are made, and soon they all decide to share their own “coming of age” experiences.

This was fun. No bones about it (I’m sorry), I grinned the whole way. From Applejack’s poor timing involving her brother to Rainbow’s self-proclaimed “uncool” journey of self-discovery, each mare has something interesting to bring to the table. Each tale is wildly different from the other, and the bonus chapter is nothing less than riotous – while also managing to throw in some legitimately interesting and creative creation theory in there. Twilight is the only one that doesn’t get her story detailed, but that’s because hers was the focus of the original story, so no biggie there. And seriously, after reading this, what would stop you from going to check that out?

The only complaint I have is a minor one, and unquestionably subjective, which is that JoeShogun clearly went out of his way to guarantee that the stories didn’t mesh up with common expectations. That’s not necessarily a bad thing on its own, it just felt like the author said “How can I totally shock everyone reading this? By doing the exact opposite of what everyone expects!” Except that, in so doing, he did… well, exactly what I expected. As soon as it happened the first time, predicting the nature of the rest of the stories was pathetically easy.

But that didn’t make them any less amusing, so as I said, minor complaint. This is, on the whole, a far better story – err, stories – than its predecessor. Read this if you’re feeling like having a little fun and aren’t squeamish about the sex topic.

Oh, who am I kidding?

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?


My Own Demon

2,439 Words

By Ryuko

Requested by Ryuko

I had long forgotten about this. Many, many months ago, Ryuko (who went by a different pen name then) asked me to pre-read this and offer some advice. It was so long ago that, to be honest, I can’t even recall what advice I gave. When I recognized what I was reading, however, my interest grew rapidly.

My Own Demon stars the six-year-old Zephyr, an earth pony who suffers from a significant speech impediment. Yet that’s not the only thing he suffers from; every night for as long as he could remember, Zephyr has had an unwanted guest. Is it a ghost? Is it a demon? Whatever it is, Zephyr is powerless of fight it, and its ability to disappear in an instant means his parents are clueless as to why he screams in the night.

This was a curious story. The sense of helplessness in Zephyr is strong and relatable, both from his inability to communicate his situation and his parents’ unwillingness to believe anything is seriously wrong due to his age. Ryuko puts us in the eyes of a child forced to confront something beyond understanding, and that leaves a strong impact.

Yet the thing I like most is the unanswered question of just what Zephyr’s mysterious tormentor is. The nature of the enemy is vague at best, but it is by no means the product of an overactive imagination. Is it something that all foals face, but ultimately forget about as they grow older? The story description mentions Zephyr’s past, so perhaps it is something related to the unwitting colt’s history? Maybe it really is some kind of demon, which has targeted him for no other reason than that he was an easy victim. The story makes no attempt to answer, and this pleases me greatly. It’s the kind of mystery that can inspire material in others who so desperately want an solution.

I suppose if I had to point out something to be critical of, it’s that Ryuko seems overly fond of semicolons. What, you were expecting me to attack the plot in some fashion? *Sigh*, fine. The only thing I can think of is that I question the need to expound upon Zephyr’s day between the two nights of the story. It was brief enough to not be a major distraction, though, and most of the section did an exemplary job of demonstrating the nature of his parents’ views for the situation. Which, come to think of it, may have been one of the criticisms I had in the past.

All in all, this is a strong first-time showing for a budding new author. Certainly not the best dark or ‘Weird’ story I’ve read, but certainly worth my time. I’m only sorry it took me so long to get to it.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


Trixie Lulamoon and the Horrendous Hypothesis

28,667 Words

By kudzuhaiku

Completed Story

Ah, kudzuhaiku. Some love their work, some hate their work (or so I’ve heard), but there’s little doubt that they’re one of the site’s most prolific authors. I only thought my average weekly wordcount was strong. Today’s story addresses my all-time favorite side character, Trixie Lulamoon, and takes place some years after the events of the show. Exactly how long is unclear, but it can’t be more than seven or eight.

Inspired by the relationship between Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo, Princess Twilight decided to create a government program that provided incentives for ponies to take on mentor roles to foals. Seeing this as a way to get some quick bits, Trixie convinced Twilight to let her act in this capacity for the orphan Sumac Apple. Now the two of them are headed for Ponyville once more so that little Sumac can take a special test to determine his educational future, and the opportunities and potential are mounting. Along the way, both Trixie and Sumac must come to grips with what they are to one another, and Trixie must find the courage to rise above her past.

You’ll notice that I said nothing regarding a hypothesis in that summary. That’s because said hypothesis is nothing but a background catalyst to the real story. Hence the reason the title sounds so off to me.

What I really didn’t appreciate was the choice of perspective writing used in this one. I never got the technical lingo down, but kudzuhaiku uses that style that switches character perspectives in the blink of an eye, without warning or preparation. It’s frustrating at best, even when handled well (and in the author’s defense, it is mostly handled well). It can also be extremely confusing, especially when the perspective flies between three or four characters within just a few paragraphs. I’ve never liked this method of writing, and I feel this story is a good indication of why.

The dialogue felt a little rough at times. A few lines could have been revised to provide more impact, either via what was said or via the narrative description surrounding it. Even so, kudzuhaiku does a pretty good job conveying emotion via body language. I never thought I’d say this, but they may have even gone overboard in that regard, giving us a little more detail than was necessary. Even so, I can’t deny the effectiveness of the methods used.

Setting that aside, however, what we end up with is a veritable gem. Sumac is written as a believable and interesting young colt who has spent his entire life on the road, facing hardship and poverty, making no friends and being satisfied with what little he can get from his guardian. Trixie, in turn, is wonderfully characterized as a pony growing older, struggling to get by both for the sake of her ‘kiddo’ and her own sense of guilt. As the story slowly moves onwards to the big moment at Twilight’s Castle, we get to learn more and more about their relationship, and it’s a delight to see.

Sumac is adorable, Trixie is relatable (how many of you actually believe that one?), the minor worldbuilding provides just enough to keep things interesting. My displeasure with the changing perspectives aside, the writing style is endearing and at times fun, and the extra characters who show up are handled well. Above all else, Trixie’s and Sumac’s endeavors may actually tug at your heartstrings.

As a slice of life, this is everything I could want. As a Trixie fic, it is nothing short of delightful. I would strongly recommend this story to anyone who likes Trixie and/or would like to see her taking on a more selfless and motherly role. The story is believable in context and, despite the troubling perspective issues, the delivery is good. Give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good


Dusk Falls

114,818 Words

By NorrisThePony

Requested by Danger Beans

Celestia decides to take a vacation in some random podunk town and things don’t go as expected. Heard of it? Yes, yes you have. I’ve picked the ones I want to read, and when the authors finish them, I will read them. Until then, I have no intention of reading the same thing again and again.

But then the Bean said “Screw that!” and requested Dusk Falls, which appeared, more or less, to be more of the same. I was not enthusiastic.

Right away, Dusk Falls defied my expectations by not following the tired and true “Celestia decides to try living like an everyday pony” routine. No, this story’s purpose is far more serious. Taking place a few centuries after the defeat of King Sombra, it brings us to a time when Celestia’s and Luna’s relationship is deteriorating at a frightening pace. It’s reached the point that they can barely stay in the same room for more than ten seconds without resorting to heated arguments, and they’re desperate for a solution.

The solution they choose is for Celestia to take a year-long vacation, leaving Luna to run Equestria on her own for the duration. They hope, for one, to put a little more limelight on the blatantly underappreciated sister, while also giving them some time to cool down from one another’s presence. Absence, they hope, will make the heart grow fonder.

And so Celestia settled down in the northeastern coastal tourist trap known as Dusk Falls. In another unexpected twist, she doesn’t even bother disguising herself; every pony in town soon knows that the one and only Princess of the Sun has taken residence in a beachhouse just past the lighthouse. As these stories go, it just so happens Celestia chose to live in a place brimming with conspiracy, betrayal and unspeakable demons set to complete a centuries-long plan aimed at global annihilation. That mare just can’t get a break.

(What? Spoilers, you say? I eagerly invite you to read the story’s description.)

To say this story defied all expectations would be a severe understatement. Rather, it smashed them with a sledgehammer the size of the sun. From the constant struggle between the Royal Sisters to fix their relationship, Celestia’s patient search to solve the mysteries of her temporary home, right down to the rapid climax, everything worked well. Celestia felt so very real for all her flaws and achievements, yet is still very much like the alicorn we’ve come to expect, and Luna’s rough, imperial manner suited the downturn we all know she is steadily approaching at this point in her life.

More than anything, I am pleased with how this story brought an old villain of the past back. This baddie is one I’ve longed to see reproduced in a format of MLP that could effectively demonstrate its deadly nature. Not only did From Falls succeed in that vein, it actually exceeded my hopes, and I am nothing short of thrilled. Best of all, it provides a vague explanation of coming events, just enough to suggest the reason for them but not enough to concretely declare “this is the cause!”

And then we get to a conclusion which feels like neither a victory nor a defeat, but a patient acceptance of reality. While I imagine the “Happy Ending Crusaders” rejecting it offhand, those who appreciate that touch of reality and consequence in their tales ought to leave satisfied.

If I were to complain about anything in this story, it would be that it seems to take a lot of time to build up to the point. It takes a few chapters and several thousands of words to finally bring up the Dusk Falls ‘problem,’ which may leave some readers displeased. It can be argued that this makes sense, as in a way the threat in this little town isn’t the only, and arguably not even the dominant, point of the story. I could even see my own realism argument making this feel okay. It will likely depend upon your individual perspective whether this story starts too slow or is at just the right pace, so I will make no attempt to justify the issue one way or another.

The only other thing to complain about is that the prose could use a little polish in order to deal with the typos and odd word choice that show up fairly regularly. They don’t ruin the story by any means, but they do distract.

All in all, I enjoyed this one. It depicts the building tension between the Royal Sisters in a way that feels fresh, puts Celestia in a place of public living without resorting to all the old tropes, gives the antagonist a role it deserves (I’m scowling at you, Hasbro), offers some great worldbuilding insights, and even manages to throw in the potential for apocalypse with a sprinkling of the legitimately ominous. Well written, creative and attention-grabbing, it’s a solid piece of work that certainly deserves more attention than it has.

Which is why it’s here.

Bookshelf: Why Haven’t You Read These Yet?


If you enjoyed these reviews, feel free to check my blog on Thursdays for the latest set! The goal is to write at least five reviews every week. I also accept review requests – see my profile page for more information.


That’ll do it for this edition. Be sure to check out these fine stories, and we hope to see you all next time!

Report Meeester · 1,039 views ·
Jul
8th
2016

Groups Posts are a monthly group advertisement blog open to anyone who wants a signal boost. If you're interested in having your group advertised in one of these, send me a PM with the name of the group, a link to its front page, and a brief description of what the group is for. I'll copy this directly into the post, so write it like you're trying to tell other people about why they should join or pay attention to your group - anything up to around 150-ish words is fine.


From now until the start of August, Poniverse Fimfiction is once again hosting a fanfiction contest centered around its band of mascots, now with some new faces included!  Want to take a place in Poniverse canon and earn some prizes for your trouble?  Then click here to learn how you can enter the Poniverse Mascot Summerpalooza 2.0 contest!  We'll take everything except Mature-rated entries, so long as one or more of our mascots are in a starring role in your entries!


MacinDash Community

Do you agree that Rainbow Dash and Big Macintosh are the best couple? Then this group is for you. We love MacDash in all it's many forms. We're even running a writing contest with a cash prize, so come and check us out for all your Rainbow Apple needs.


Sparlight Kingdom is a group dedicated to stories about Spike and Starlight Glimmer. The stories which are about them can range from romance, friendship, slice of life, mature content and teen content.


Flutter-Dash Shippers

Are you looking for a group that has specifics and is not all over the place? If so, join the FlutterDash group. This group is dedicated to any E or T rated stories with no sex. The group allows for stories with language. Another thing this group is good for is promoting stories. If it gets a lot of members, then stories that people post will get more views, resulting in better ratings for users stories. So if you would like to, please join. This group wants people to enjoy stories that they would like to see.


Songs From The Heart is a group dedicated to the love of music. Whether it be a story inspired by music, or music you love and want to post here. Hell It could be your own music if you chose.

Everyone is welcome, so come on in and stay awhile!

That's it for this month. See you in August.

Report Eldorado · 465 views ·
Jul
1st
2016

NOTE: We will be skipping next week, in favor of Bronycon! Spotlights will continue as normal the week after.

Anypony for a comedy about Twilight Sparkle causing the apocalypse?  Today's story delivers.

Anypony for Doomsday?

[Comedy] [Slice of Life] • 11,613 words

All unicorns build doomsday devices!” Those five words were words that Twilight Sparkle never expected to hear next to each other and in that specific order in a sentence.

King Sombra has returned, and upon discovering that Twilight Sparkle has not even considered building a doomsday device, has given her an ultimatum: Either she builds a device that has the sole purpose of destroying the world, or he starts defacing her books.

The clock is ticking: Will Twilight be able to get in touch with her inner mad science and save her imperiled reading material? More importantly, is she really destined to bring about the end of the world? Are unicorns really nothing more than a cosmic reset button, poised to bring a halt to all existence at a moment's notice even in the face of past evidence suggesting that they're not very good at it? Will Twilight succeed where all others have presumably failed? Does she even want to?

Join in as we follow the journey to answer the question on minds the world over: “Anypony for Doomsday?”

FROM THE CURATORS: If there's anything rarer around here than all of us agreeing, it's all of us agreeing on comedy — and yet this story scored a unanimous approval for exactly that reason.  "I was laughing from just the description," Soge said, while AugieDog called the story "just plain full of chocolate-sprinkled giggles."  Present Perfect upped the ante: "I cannot remember the last time I read a story so serious about being silly.  It's gleefully goofy, wonderfully wacky, and quite a larf indeed."

But if this fic is serious about its comedy, it's a special sort of seriousness that toes up to the line of the Random tag.  "This is a purely ridiculous story, one that's perfectly willing to destroy its own internal consistency, to casually toss aside its very premise, or to unapologetically break the fourth wall," Chris said.  "But if there's one thing a cracky fic must absolutely be, it's consistently funny, and there is precisely zero dead space to be found here."  Present Perfect seconded that: "This wastes no words not being funny. The running gags (doorbell!) are funny, the sudden status quo changes are funny, the premise is funny, everything's funny."  And AugieDog drew comparisons to the classics.  "This made me think of Mark Twain's line about the weather in New England: 'In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four-and-twenty hours,'" he said.  "There were so many chuckles per column inch in this story that when I hit something that didn't work for me, I knew that I just had to keep going to find something that did."

It wasn't just the joke density that impressed us, but how many of them landed.  "This fic is golden," Soge said, "with many different and clever running jokes that always seem to work, like the constant weather openings, the naming conventions, and the editing mistakes."  Horizon specifically called those out as well: "The jokes about editing mistakes are an example of the comic touch that makes this story exemplary.  The first time I saw one, I disliked it as a cheap fourth-wall cop-out — but it kept pushing on with the gag, and owned it so thoroughly and so creatively it broke through into something hilarious."

Read on for our author interview, in which PhycoKrusk discusses exciting underwear, deserving joy, and lion/eagle errors.

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Jun
28th
2016

The Round Robin Reviews are written by different groups and reviewers taking turns each week. If you are a story reviewer or part of a group that reviews stories and would be interested in joining the Round Robin Reviews, feel free to PM me (Wanderer D), Professor Plum, or ElDorado to tell us about it.

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Report Wanderer D · 1,078 views ·
Jun
24th
2016

There's plenty to enjoy about today's story — but if you suddenly and mysteriously fall in love with its tale, it's time to run away screaming.

True Bowmance

[Comedy] [Drama] [Slice of Life] • 10,049 words

Coming from a proud family celebrated for their ability at helping ponies fall in love, Archer wants nothing more than to be able to carry on the Cupid tradition.  What helps is that her mother is one of the most successful Cupids to ever walk Equestria.

What helps less is that Archer is possibly the worst.

But that's not going to stop her from trying.

FROM THE CURATORS: For a story whose main character so consistently fails to touch hearts, this certainly grabbed ours.  Soge, for example, praised the story's emotional impact and construction: "This is a straight-up adorable, really heartwarming fic, and one I really enjoyed reading.  All the ponies are characterized very well, and are very believable in their actions, without that affecting negatively either the plot or the comedic timing."  That humor, too, drew its own share of praise.  "The comedy in this story is consistent and engaging, a nice blend of puns, callbacks, and narrative observational humor," Chris said, and AugieDog agreed: "This is just so appealingly goofy."

On top of that, True Bowmance was stuffed with sharp ideas that fired up our imaginations.  "It never ceases to amaze me, the stories we can come up for for incidental characters," Present Perfect said.  "Who comes up with 'matchmaking earth pony magic' for someone like Archer?  This is an excellent work of original, on-tone world-building."  Chris was equally impressed with that for similar reasons: "On that note, isn't 'hereditary matchmakers' just a perfectly Equestrian job?  I mean, it edges creepily up on suggesting that free will is an illusion, but stays firmly on the heartwarming side of that line."

The cherry on top of this tale's sundae of matchmaking failures, however, was the exemplary character work.  "Pinkie works wonderfully as both comic relief and moral support," Present Perfect noted, while Soge enjoyed the main character's portrayal: "It does the whole 'oblivious youngster' thing, a la early-seasons Cutie Mark Crusaders, very well."  That led to a comment from AugieDog that sent shivers down all of our spines: "The only thing that would've made this better would've been the Cutie Mark Crusaders trying to help Archer out, but I find myself thinking the town might not have survived that particular meeting."

Read on for our author interview, in which Ceffyl Dwr discusses kelpie brothers, Bonfleur, and genealogical invasions.

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