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Titanium Dragon

TD writes and reviews pony fanfiction, and has a serious RariJack addiction. Send help and/or ponies.

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Read It Now Reviews #98 – Suited for Terror, Boo! Haunted House!, Morsel of Truth, Family Matters, Unnoticed · 10:38pm Nov 2nd, 2016

Halloween (or should I say, Nightmare Night) has come and gone, but it left us with a trio of stories which lingered in the featured story box – Suited for Terror, Boo! Haunted House!, and Morsel of Truth. In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I’d read all three, and polish off two more recent stories that caught my eye.

Today’s stories:

Suited for Terror by Estee
Boo! Haunted House! by shortskirtsandexplosions
Morsel of Truth by Pen Stroke
Family Matters by The Cyan Recluse
Unnoticed by Estee

Suited for Terror
by Estee
Comedy, Slice of Life
4,412 words

There are several reasons Rarity stays inside on Nightmare Night. Because she's Generosity, and it makes more sense to be giving away treats than to go out collecting them. Because really, costumes are their very own fashion trends, darling, and there's only so much a reasonable pony can be expected to deal with per season. But mostly because when it comes to the truest holiday nightmare of Ponyville, the thing which sends colts, fillies, and adults galloping their screaming way into the night?

She's it.

Why I added it: Estee is a good writer.

Rarity’s friends try to talk Rarity into going out and spending Nightmare Night with them. Alas, Rarity is insistent on running her BOOtique – the scariest thing she can imagine.

Of course, this is the scariest thing that Rarity can imagine. A cautionary tale to everypony who comes by, so that they don’t make the same mistakes she did.

Much screaming ensues. Almost all of which is from the poor ponies looking for candy.

This story is very silly and not to be taken too seriously – unlike Rarity, who seems to be taking things all too seriously, as she does every year.

Recommendation: Worth Reading.

Boo! Haunted House!
by shortskirtsandexplosions

Romance, Slice of Life
3,289 words

It's Starlight Glimmer's first Nightmare Night in Ponyville, and she invites Trixie to go to a Haunted House attraction with her. As it turns out, Trixie is very very easily frightened. Almost too easily. Certainly it's not some silly excuse for the sideshow magician to cling to her very best friend... right?

Why I added it: SS&E is a good writer.

Trixie goes to a haunted house with Starlight Glimmer and is, apparently, completely terrified of it, being a giant scardy-cat.

But why would she go to a haunted house with Starlight Glimmer if she hates it so much?

Unfortunately, while I am certainly a fan of ponies using being scared on Nightmare Night as an excuse to cling to someone, and Trixie being a big scaredy-pony was fun enough, the transition between the silly first bit and them being cute together felt kind of jarring, and the second scene of the story didn’t end up making me smile the way that the first half did.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.

Morsel of Truth
by Pen Stroke

Slice of Life
4,349 words

There is a bit of truth to every legend, though the ravages of time can bury it deeply. Myths and lore become twisted, melded, and torn the longer they are around. One of Equestria’s oldest legends is that of Nightmare Moon. It is the core of Nightmare Night and the excuse for children to go out asking for candy with a single, common rhyme.

Nightmare Night, what a fright. Give me something sweet to bite.

Why I added it: It was featured.

I wanted to like this story, but I have the suspicion I never was the kind of person who would enjoy it.

The core conceit of this story fundamentally resembles a children’s horror story. But not the kind you’d find in those Scary Stories books.

No, this more resembles the sort of tame story a parent would tell a six year old. I think. I wasn’t ever a normal kid, so I’m not sure that this ever would have been something that I would have enjoyed.

But it reminds me of such stories both because of its repetition, and because it is a fairly simple story that has characters react in a horrified way (perhaps justifiably) that didn’t really sell its scariness. It is ultimately a pretty tame story, even if perhaps there could be scary implications – but it can’t really sell itself on being scary because of its nature.

And while there’s nothing wrong with that per se, it does lend itself to a bit of disappointment because while the characters feel something, I don’t.

Overall, it was a cute story idea, but alas, I think it was too long. The Rule of Three exists for a reason – repeating something more than twice before subverting it ends up feeling kind of lame, and this story basically repeats itself five times before Pinkie ends up subverting things and bailing out her friends (however inadvertently). This is one of the problems with throwing in more than a couple of Twilight’s friends – it can make a story feel repetitive, and this ended up stretching out past that point, as the scenes were ultimately very predictable and yet we had to go through all five before getting to Pinkie’s.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.

Family Matters
by The Cyan Recluse

Drama, Slice of Life, Tragedy
7,778 words

Prince Blueblood. Last of his Noble line. Canterlot's most eligible bachelor. Aristocratic, affluent, and arrogant. But, surprisingly enough, a stallion who knows what is truly important in life: Family.

Why I added it: I liked it in the writeoffs.

This story is told as a series of flashbacks, alternating between the past, where we see Prince Blueblood growing up into the pony he is, and the present, where we first see him get drunk and break furniture, followed by him disguising himself to go about some task in secret. The Blueblood in the present seems far too pleasant compared to the pony we saw at the Grand Galloping Gala, but still bitter in his own way.

And the story tells us why.

This is a pretty good story; it’s greatest strength lies in Blueblood’s cold and rather bitter attitude towards his parents and, ultimately, himself. We see that he treats his servants better than one might expect a jerk like him to, and it quickly becomes clear that his behavior at the Gala is a ruse intended to drive away other ponies.

The story explains why it is that Blueblood doesn’t want anypony to like him, and just what it is that bothers him so about his parents, who are a dark stain on Equestria.

If I had a complaint, it is that this story doesn’t really quite feel like Equestria; ponies dying on the street doesn’t seem like something that would be allowed in that bright and cheerful world. But if you can buy into the drama of the piece, and the shallow selfishness of the nobility, this works well.

Recommendation: Worth Reading.

by Estee
19,756 words

It's only been a few moons since Spike moved to Ponyville, and the settled zone hasn't quite gotten used to having a dragon around, any more than his sister has become accustomed to managing all the duties of a small town library. So while she sorts out late fee notices, he's expected to work the front desk and speak to patrons. Ponies who don't know how to talk to him. Ponies who seem to be having a hard time even looking at him. So when Twilight finally sends him to collect a book from a truly unresponsive patron, it's almost a relief.

Except that the pony isn't there. Will never be there again.

And just about nopony seems to care if she was ever there at all.

Why I added it: Estee is a good writer.

Spike is sent out by Twilight to go retrieve a long-overdue book from a pony in town. Heading out through a cold drizzle, he finds himself at her house, where he discovers that the pony in question is dead.

He doesn’t find the book. But he does find a very unsettling feeling. Because it seems nopony knows who the mare was, and that the only thing anyone cares about is buying the stuff she had in the house at discount prices.

This doesn’t set well with Spike, so he sets out on a journey to find out just who the mare was.

Estee’s stories are always a hit and miss affair for me – sometimes, they’re things I really enjoy. Other times, I’m left feeling kind of cold by them. And still others, I’m left wondering how a piece ended up as long as it is.

This story manages to clock in at almost 20,000 words, but it doesn’t feel like it was 20,000 words worth of content. The story lingers a great deal; it takes us several thousand words just to get to the house, and then more to get to Spike’s journey of discovery. All the Mortal Remains is half the length of this story and yet felt like it actually had more happen in it.

And when Spike is spurred on his journey, his motivation feels like it is broken up across the story – it is hard to grok Spike’s obsession with finding out who the mare was, and indeed, it doesn’t feel like the story did enough to directly call out the fact that part of why Spike was upset was because of the parallel between no one thinking of the dead mare as a person and no one thinking of him as a person. It took me until after I finished reading the story to really draw the connection there, because it simply never felt like the story was explicit enough about it – even when Spike talks to Derpy and sees someone else that no one really sees.

This is too bad, too; it was an interesting angle for the story. Estee’s Equestria is not the show’s Equestria; Estee’s world is a darker place full of unpleasant ponies and racism and unfairness. And this story really is focused on seeing that world through the eyes of Spike, someone who both is and isn’t a part of normal Equestrian society, who has been treated at times as if he wasn’t even a real person, even by Twilight, a pony he considers to be his sister (and who is seeing him increasingly as her little brother).

And the idea here is good. But the lack of an explicit link – and Spike constantly avoiding discussing it – really undermines our ability to really grok Spike throughout the story. It is hiding why the main character is doing the things he’s doing, and unfortunately, in a story as emotionally focused as this one is, that really, really hurts its ability to communicate its message.

This story also suffers a bit from Estee’s other common problem – sometimes, Estee’s characters, instead of having distinct voices, end up sounding far too much like Estee. Derpy lacks a really distinctive voice, and sounds far too much like the prose. And that’s a problem, because if your dialogue sounds like your prose, it can really detract from the dialogue’s ability to stand out, and it also sounds like the author is speaking through the character, rather than the character speaking on their own.

All in all, I wanted to like this story. But I don’t think I can recommend it. It is quite long for what it is, and its weaknesses ultimately feel like they undermine what makes the story interesting.

Recommendation: Not Recommended.

Suited for Terror by Estee
Worth Reading

Boo! Haunted House! by shortskirtsandexplosions
Not Recommended

Morsel of Truth by Pen Stroke
Not Recommended

Family Matters by The Cyan Recluse
Worth Reading

Unnoticed by Estee
Not Recommended

And there we go! Five more stories reviewed.

Work on my TwiDash story continues; it has managed to creep up past 10,000 words, which honestly makes me worried, as I didn’t think it was a 12,000 word story, but that is where it is looking like it is headed. I’m going to have to ship it around and see what folks think about it.

I’ve also been digging up some of my other works and poking at them.

I also tried playing a few narrative games recently – Gone Home is something I might end up writing more about sometime, as it really shows how writing and presentation can both make and break a story, as well as the importance of actually sticking the landing and ending your story correctly.

Meanwhile, Pony Island was a kind of strange experience.

And I’ve been trying to get more actual stuff done as well. I dug up my unfinished Veteran’s Day story from last year, and after I finish my TwiDash piece, that’s going to be the next thing I attack.

Number of stories still listed as Read It Sooner: 158

Number of stories still listed as Read It Later: 547

Number of stories listed as Read It Eventually: 2040

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Comments ( 7 )

I like how even the stories you choose to review solely because you think their authors are good writers still sometimes get "not recommended" reviews. Shows that you are unbiased.

Author Interviewer

I watched RedSquirrel456 play Pony Island a while ago, and it's pretty neat. :)

It is a neat idea for a game, but I have to say that the actual "Pony Island" bits got pretty tedious around the second act of the game.

I try!

Though it does make getting me as a follower into something of a tax. :trixieshiftright:

I also tried playing a few narrative games recently – Gone Home is something I might end up writing more about sometime, as it really shows how writing and presentation can both make and break a story, as well as the importance of actually sticking the landing and ending your story correctly.

As someone who loves Gone Home more than life itself, I can't tell whether to be afraid or not and that leaves me more terrified than ever. :rainbowderp:

I haven't finished it, but I basically agree with this. There's a lotta cool stuff going on, and then there's also bits that I'm like god why am I still being forced to play this shitty minigame.


I haven't finished it, but I basically agree with this. There's a lotta cool stuff going on, and then there's also bits that I'm like god why am I still being forced to play this shitty minigame.

The worst thing about it is that as you get deeper into the game, you actually end up playing that game more, not less. At least half of the final act is spent playing that game.

I feel like it was a mistake to stick with that game past the first act, as the point is that you're delving ever deeper into things.

4282544 The feedback is worth far more than the downvote tax.

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