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Technical Writer from the U.S.A.'s Deep South. Writes horsewords, and reviews both independently and for Seattle's Angels. New reviews posted every Thursday! Writing Motto: "Go Big or Go Home!"

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Paul's Thursday Reviews CXV · 8:52pm May 10th, 2018

What’s up, folks? You all hanging in there?

Me, I’ve made a little change to my usual methods. I’ve done no writing whatsoever since Monday of last week. This is going to be murder on my daily wordcount averages, but it’s worth it if it means getting the Bulletproof Heart Alpha draft finished faster. As of right now I’ve completed 18 of 26 chapters in my line-by-line read-through, which is way ahead of where I’d have been otherwise. Once I complete that task I aim to look through a list of subjects I’m compiling on the go that I may or may not place into the story at various points. All-in-all, it’s going far faster than I hoped. With luck I’ll have the Beta copy sent out before my sister comes to visit the weekend-after-next.

Speaking of, I still need Beta readers! I’ve got seven confirmed Betas so far, but I want a few more. I’m planning to make a post in a group or two after this in hopes of luring guinea pigs people in for that, but if anyone wants to spread the word I’d be appreciative.

In other news, the attentive among you may have noticed that the number of reviews in these blogs has gone up slightly. That’s no fluke. I’ve been scheduling more and more reviews to be released per blog, and now we’re finally seeing those changes. The increase will come gradually, and by the time I get past my next review break it will be maxed out at 10 reviews/week. I made this decision based on how far ahead I was getting with my lower review counts, but I’m not actually increasing how much I read, so it’s not like I’m trying to kill myself with horsewords. We’ll see if holding the count at 10 works over the next few months. If I start having trouble keeping up, the count will go back down.

Alrighty, enough yak-yak. To the reviews!

...or is that more yak-yak?

Stories for This Week:

Yes, Apple Bloom, there *is* a Santa Hooves by Lucky Dreams
What I brought back from Manehattan by Crystal Moose
Tell Me She's Adopted by Erisn
The Cold Light of the Stars by AbsoluteAnonymous
Magical Pony Ultrasounds by AbsoluteAnonymous
Restless Couriers by Cadejo Jones
The Adventures of Schadenfreude by Daemon McRae

Total Word Count: 52,635

Rating System

Why Haven't You Read These Yet?: 0
Pretty Good: 5
Worth It: 1
Needs Work: 1
None: 0

This was an absolute delight and not at all what I anticipated.

Not so much a story as an exchange of letters, this one starts with a hoof-quilled letter to “Santa Hooves” from Apple Bloom (aged 7 ½ in this version of events) asking for a cutie mark. Surprisingly, she gets a letter back. Said letter is typed and businesslike, the kind of rejection you’d get from a corporate entity than an individual. Things escalate from there.

For the record: read the scanned version. Lucky Dreams had the patience to literally hand-write the letters of Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, Applejack, and Santa Hooves. Well, I presume it was them, but they could have had help to ensure the hand(hoof?)writing was appropriately different every time. Regardless, it looks like it took a lot more work than simply typing up the contents. Add to that how the letters from “North Pole Enterprises” looks passably official for someone who made it up for a horse story.

Lucky Dreams has written a lot of creative and interesting stories, typically impressing with their imagination. But this may be my favorite just because of the unusual and extremely effective manner in which it is delivered. Forget the time of year, just read it.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
A Candle in the SkyPretty Good
A Light in Dark PlacesPretty Good
Fly Before You RunPretty Good
In the Place the Wild Horses SleepWorth It

This was… disappointing. But I probably should have seen that coming from the issues in the title alone. Oh well.

This story runs on a common idea in which Applejack is Apple Bloom’s mother, in this case from an ‘incident’ in Manehattan that she didn’t even understand until after she returned to the farm. The concept… well, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a story centering on it before, but I know it’s not a new one. Still, I’m not holding that against it.

The problem is how much Crystal Moose attempted to do with so little space, sometimes taking steps that don’t make a lot of sense. For example, after being reminded of the situation, Applejack decides to head out for a walk to clear her head. Somehow, this means walking through downtown Ponyville where everyone can see how miserable she is and ask questions as opposed to someplace actually peaceful like the west fields. And somehow I’m supposed to believe that this deep dark secret she’s been determinedly holding onto for the last however many years is going to come out now just because Twilight and Rarity confront her about it with a little more force than normal.

Yeah, not buying it.

But then we’ve got all of these little scenes going on. It’s fine that the author wanted to paint a clear picture from beginning to end, but doing it so quickly stunts the realism of the whole thing and waters down the emotion. Couple that what a number of grammar mistakes that, while not too intrusive to the immersion, don’t do the story any favors. Oh, and of course Crystal Moose blatantly ignores the one scene that anyone reading this story is reading it for, i.e. Apple Bloom’s reaction. Poor form.

All in all, this could have been better. The characters are good and all and the idea, while hardly original, could be worked to great effect, but the pacing needs a lot of work.

Bookshelf: Needs Work

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
A Good Girl Never…Pretty Good
Any CostPretty Good

Erisn hates Flutter Brutter with a burning passion.

Nope. That’s it. That’s all you need to know regarding what this story is about. But if I did have to elaborate, I’d explain that it’s about Starlight being encouraged to meet Fluttershy’s visiting parents and reacting to their existence with extreme violence.

I might have gotten a chuckle out of it.

To be clear, I enjoyed flutter Brutter for what it was and the lesson it teaches, especially relevant in this age where children are being taught that they don’t have to try in order to achieve anything. Plus, Fluttershy was great in that episode. But it definitely had its faults, and Erisn latches onto them like a headcrab latches onto the head of idiot scientists. I found it amusing, more due to the extreme reaction than anything. As a reaction piece, this does exactly what it set out to do.

As a story? Eh, reaction pieces rarely make for good plot. If you’re here for that, you’ll want to skip this one. If you really liked Flutter Brutter, you’ll definitely want to skip this one.

But if you want to read some silly, exaggerated ranting about everything wrong with an episode just for the fun of it? Knock yourself out.

Bookshelf: Worth It

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
How to be CruelPretty Good
How to be KindPretty Good
What Lies Beyond the DanceWorth It

Twilight was beyond excited at the opportunity to stay up all night watching an eclipse, but she never thought Princess Luna would offer to join her for the occasion. As the two prepare for a night under the stars, they both find very different things to think about.

Written shortly after Season 2, The Cold Light of the Stars offers a bittersweet glimpse into the mind of Princess Luna and how she sees herself in relation to the moon and the night. It is about her battle with her own nature and the loneliness she feels is inherent to her being. Above all, it is about her quiet plea for help. In all of this, I have nothing but approval. The end result is something atmospheric and contemplative, and AbsoluteAnonymous worked that well.

However, it does face a bit of quirkiness. For example, the first half or so of the story is almost entirely extrapolation, a lengthy bit of ‘what’s going on, why are they here, and how do they feel’. On the positive side, this is part of what gives the story its great atmosphere, an atmosphere that reflects the subject matter well. On the downside, I can see some people getting halfway through the Twilight part and thinking “are we going to get to the point or what?” only to turn away when they discover they’ve got to go through all the same stuff for Luna.

Couple that with line breaks that grow more and more frequent as the author feels the need to switch perspectives every few paragraphs. Normally, I would prefer this method of keeping track of perspectives, but when you’re jumping back and forth between two characters so quickly it gets to be excessive. In an extremely rare event, I would actually have preferred an omniscient narrator to this.

The Cold Light of the Stars is by no means perfect, but it is certainly a good entry in AbsoluteAnonymous’s collection. If you’re interested in a more reserved Luna, an innocently curious Twilight, and some pleasant atmosphere, there’s no reason not to check this out.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Home GrownWHYRTY?
A Million Things to DoPretty Good
Where You Can't FollowPretty Good
Sweet NothingsWorth It
Diamond in the RoughNeeds Work

Pinkie and Rainbow have been dating for about a month now. So when Pinkie shows up at Rainbow’s place claiming she wants to have kids, Rainbow’s only got one answer: it’s waaay too soon for that! But Pinkie is Pinkie, and she’s not about to take “no” for an answer.

The first and most obvious thing of note: AbsoluteAnonymous did a great job capturing the characters’ in-show qualities in this one. Were it not for the adult topic and lack of a moral, it would be indistinguishable from an episode. Rainbow’s and Pinkie’s fighting over the matter, at once childish and amusing, kept things interesting from beginning to end. At the same time, the author shows interesting restraint by refusing to give the audience what it most certainly wants, even going out of their way to have fourth wall-breaking Pinkie mention it.

I was so sure the last scene was going to have some final shipping joke regarding the pair involved. Drat.

There’s nothing particularly special to make this one stand out, but it’s still a fun little story. If you’re interested in Pinkie just being Pinkie Pie and others having to put up with that, this should be worth your while.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
Yeah, how about no? You guys can look at the last review if you want this again.

Restless Couriers

4,547 Words
Cadejo Jones failed to provide cover art.
Recommended by Pascoite

A winter storm far too powerful for the pegasi to control engulfs Ponyville, leaving Apple Bloom and Granny Smith alone at the farmhouse amidst the worst blizzard of the filly’s young life. Alongside the chill and the steadily dying fire, Granny decides it’s time to tell a dark story to her youngest relative. A story about strange ponies that come with the fiercest storms, accompanied by the howl of timberwolves and seeking ponies to carry their task.

When this started, I honestly expected it to be about Wendigos. What we get instead is a mystery involving ghosts and the inevitability of death. Cadejo Jones does a great job generating atmosphere, knowing exactly when to let the dialogue or the scenery do the work. This is a proper ghost story, and it even dabbles with the Weird via its plethora of unanswered questions that do nothing to dissipate the anxiety induced.

Well written, nicely paced, and very effective. I think I’ll be exploring the rest of this author’s works in due time.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good!

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
New Author!

If you haven’t been introduced to Schadenfreude, I highly recommend it. Daemon McRae has crafted what may be the single most entertaining character in the fandom: a pony whose special talent is to be as annoying as possible. Watching him work is a thing of beauty. This story decides to go a little deeper into who Schadenfreude is, by identifying who his parents are and how he got his beloved job as Prince Blueblood’s butler.

But we also get to see who Schadenfreude is as a pony. You learn about his personal morals, his limitations, and even find that he can be a good guy when he feels the inclination. Which is more common than you might think.

Also, I am now convinced that the little typos present throughout this story are Daemon McRae’s method of getting into the Schadenfreude spirit of things. They’re too… appropriately placed to have been mere accidents, especially after I noticed an improperly placed “know” right before a properly placed “no”. It’s got to be on purpose, and when I realized this I was grinning almost as much as Schadenfreude himself. Well played, author.

The story is a bit winding and the chapters could be longer. The biggest issue, perhaps, is that the story is so brief when there are a variety of topics that still need to be dealt with. But Daemon McRae only wrote this for fun, and stopped when it no longer was so. I can’t possibly blame him for that.

In the end, this story was as entertaining as I could hope, and I didn’t come away disappointed. Feel free to explore all of Schadenfreude’s stories, as they’re universally short and will leave you with at least a chuckle at his antics.

Bookshelf: Pretty Good

Previous stories reviewed for this author:
The Corner of (Our) EyesWHYRTY?
SchadenfreudePretty Good
Schadenfreude 2: Schadenfreude HarderPretty Good

Stories for Next Week:
Life's a Joke, Here Comes The Punchline by Signas
The Turning of the Screwball - The Strange Case of Button Stitch by Warren Hutch
"What is harmony but the suppression of free will?" by a human
Twilight, Revised by Vimbert the Unimpressive
Transdimensional Zoology by AbsoluteAnonymous
Doing Well by Doing Good by Baal Bunny
Complex Apartments by Phaoray

Recent Review Map:

Paul's Thursday Reviews CX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXIV
You Are Here
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXVI
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXVII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXVIII
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXIX
Paul's Thursday Reviews CXX

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Comments ( 3 )

I've always been curious about Schadenfreude.
*clicks appropriate button*

Massive bonus points for not only a LICD reference, but like the original version of that joke (I think). It’s been forever since I saw that style!


I haven't read LICD in about two years - they were too frequently going into politics at that point - but I couldn't help thinking that line was perfect for Schadenfreude.

Maybe I should get back into the comics again...

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