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Stinium_Ruide
Group Admin

Which Head is Which? by Robipony will be the next story I will reviewing today. This appears to be a casual short piece that invites the reader to play along with the story. Well, let’s see what this little game is…

TWhich Head is Which?
Returning home from a long trip, you're surprised to stumble upon your friends, Flash Gloom and Gash Bloom. Upon meeting the two dullahan twins, they invite you to play a fun little game in the Weeping Willows theme park. So who is who?
Robipony · 7.7k words  ·  33  3 · 384 views

This review will contain spoilers. Please proceed to click the link above before reading the review to enjoy the story first.

Summary

Coming home, you meet the two Dullahan twins who invite you to play a little game with them. Are you able to differentiate the two seemingly identical twins in a game of hide and seek?

Content/Plot Analysis

I must first allude to the fact that I did not have any prior knowledge of what a “Dullahan” is. Being integral to the story, a “Dullahan” is actually a mythological creature in Irish culture. Literally meaning “without a head” in Irish, it is a headless rider who can remove its own head and hold it in its arms. Additionally, they are also capable of re-attaching their heads to their bodies.

Note that the story is written in the second person perspective, and “you” are a unicorn stallion, which is a point proffered in the earlier prequels of this series of stories. For the purpose of this review, I will refer to the “you” in the story as this unicorn stallion.

Alright. I think that we can now start our discussion on the story’s content proper. The core arc of this story specifically revolves around how, in an apparently simple game of hide and seek, will a unicorn stallion interact with the Dullahan twins. From this, the story conveys the relationship between the Dullahan twins exclusively, and with the unicorn stallion inclusively.

The story begins with the unicorn stallion walking back home in Ponyville, with mysterious and strange noises emanating from his surroundings. While one would argue that this part of the story is not necessarily pivotal to the development of the central arc of the game of hide and seek, it must be noted that it was difficult for me to empathize with the unicorn stallion’s fear.

I believe there are a few notable explanations to this observation. First, throughout this section, the author describes what was happening around the unicorn stallion to explain why the unicorn stallion could possibly feel fearful of the environment around him. However, there was little here to showcase how fearful the unicorn stallion was, in terms of his innate reflex actions in confronting his fear through showing how he would react to this. In the story, it was described that “…primal fear resonated through…[the unicorn stallion’s] hooves…”which certainly shows that he was afraid, but the extent of this fear was left, by and large, open and unexplored, though there were some instances where the author did so, like in how “…[he gulped] down some saliva…”

Owing to the former point, the pacing of this section became rather accelerated. The sharpness of shorter sentences and paragraphs here meant that the so-called threats to the unicorn stallion felt like they were resolved quickly. Supplementing this scene with a greater amount of suspense, by slowing down the section with greater descriptors would help to bring the reader to step into the hooves of the unicorn stallion and build a more disconcerting atmosphere for the reader to immerse into.

Anyways, after getting the shock of his life, the unicorn stallion calmed down when he realized that his friends, the Dullahan twins were behind all of this. They playfully proposed to play a game of hide and seek, but when he must accurately deduce which twin he had managed to seek out before hunting for the other, else the twin would have another opportunity to hide again. Tempted by the prospect of interviewing them should he prevail, he agreed.

It was enjoyable to play along with the stallion in the story as he fumbled around the park. It was also quite entertaining to see how easily he would be frightened by theme park cardboard cutouts and so on, which is certainly believable and even relatable, since this was foreshadowed by the first act of the story. The Dullahan twins were inventive in the many ways they had attempted to tease him, which made the overall experience frustrating for him, but somewhat satisfying for me actually.

However, when running through a mirror maze, the unicorn stallion suddenly had a flashback that reminded him of his brother. This begs many questions; why did a mirror remind the stallion of his brother? And why, of all the memories he could possibly have of him and his brother, could he think of the time they sat down and played a game of chess together after he was presumably unemployed due to his injury? Something mentally scarring must have happened between then and now to result in this. It must also be acknowledged that this memory happened in Canterlot, and his brother was inviting him to live together with him in Ponyville, where the unicorn stallion now lived.

As I have yet to read the prequels and the sequels to this story, this section is more of me postulating about this, though I will say that I was thinking about how the mirror maze would trigger this memory. As the memory did not exactly speak of mirrors or reflective surfaces, the transition to this flashback was somewhat off from the context of the story. I believe that the author wishes to explore the backstory of this unicorn stallion, and potentially his relationship with his brother before he had moved to Ponyville, but I felt that this flashback was a convenience to do so. Depending on the implied message the author wishes to convey, the flashback might have been better presented before the game, like in the first act, or after, in my opinion. Inserting the flashback in the middle of the game, especially when he had almost cracked the code, was a distraction to the immersion to the fun of this section, I posit.

After finally managing to deduce which head is which, the unicorn began asking the Dullahan twins to get to know more about their species, which helped to build the characters of the two twins more organically. The interaction between the Dullahan twins and the unicorn helped to show the relationship they all had with each other. It was an opportune moment for both the author and the reader to be able to gleam into the lives of the Dullahan twins in the context of, not just this story, but also the entire series. The development of romance between one of the Dullahan twins and the stallion was too a subtle hint at potential arcs the series could progress, which was well shown in the story.

Even the transition to how one of the twins sharing about the hardships, or even the cruelty they had faced during their younger days by their aunt was natural to me. One could argue that it did not match the narrative of the plot following, but I think that would be a myopic way of looking at the situation in the story, for there was a connection to how one twin had the tenacity to support the other.

On the other hoof, I felt that the unicorn stallion could have been depicted to be more emphatic, when that twin was mentally beating herself up for letting her sister bear the brunt of their sorrow. I wished that he would have a greater spectrum of emotions that would ring through when he was confronted with a situation that he had never experienced before. The author could consider his helplessness, concern and sadness of their past plight more to introduce greater pauses between the dialogue and instill a deeper sense of empathy in the reader too.

And finally, the ending. It had me question whether the romance in the story was only exclusive to the stallion and one of the Dullahan twins. Strangely, the Dullahan twins did give Irisa, the stallion’s maid, that revealing outfit which she wore to trigger the conversation between the duo. Was all this planned and purposefully instigated by the mischievous Dullahan twins? Definitely a thinker to end this piece.

Language

Technical errors were not necessarily scarce in this piece. Let’s take a look at some of the more salient recommendations that I would like to put forth to the author.

You had considered the idea of writing a story with a dullahan and who would be a better pony to ask then one or two ponies which were actual dullahans?

You had considered the idea of writing a story with a dullahan and who would be a better pony to ask than one or two ponies which were actual dullahans?

Flash Gloom giggled. "Your prize is a kiss from one of us. Specifically the one whose head you guessed first.

Flash Gloom giggled. "Your prize is a kiss from one of us. Specifically the one whose head you guessed first.(“)

Admittedly Gash did seem a little more open then she had when you last saw her at the Rich family's Nightmare Night party.

Admittedly(,) Gash did seem a little more open than she had when you last saw her at the Rich family's Nightmare Night party.

Clearly there was some sort of joke here that neither of them were fond of.

Clearly there was some sort of joke here that neither of them was fond of.

…they had only fallen unconscious and hadn’t gone completely comatous.

…they had only fallen unconscious and hadn’t gone completely comatose.

Slowly you turned around to find yourself face to face with a creepy bugbear-like creature, it's mouth dripping a thick, pink, foamy fluid.

Slowly(,) you turned around to find yourself face to face with a creepy bugbear-like creature, its mouth dripping a thick, pink, foamy fluid.

Stance

This is a light-hearted tale on a unicorn stallion being jumped on by two mythical Dullahan twins to play, not one, but two silly games. I think that the author should consider bringing out the “you” in the story more emotively and the ideas more cogently by regulating the pacing more dynamically.

Content/Plot: 6/10
Flow/Communication: 5.5/10
Language/Readability: 5.5/10
Overall: 5.7/10

<For archive purposes: 5.7/10>

iAmSiNnEr
Group Contributor

The review makes me want to read the story now. And also uh

 better presented at before the game

Is that at supposed to be there?

Stinium_Ruide
Group Admin

7500519
Getting revenge after my rounds of editing eh? Thanks for the fix.

7500514 Well, it isn't quite what I expected, but it makes sense and is acceptable.

Admittedly the scene with the mirror makes a bit more sense with the context of the events of the previous story, Don't Lose Your Head, but seeing as anyone can join the series at any given time, I probably should have thought of a better way to work it into the scene (or at least made a bit of a reference to the mirror involvement from the previous story).

Overall, great review. Keep it up.

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