And now for part 2 of my reviews…
Synopsis: Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, accidently travels to Equestria after being attacked in the Nevernever. Twilight is none too amused with their newest ‘guest’, but trouble is brewing. Somepony is planning something sinister and the mane six may need Dresden’s help, however little some of them want it.
Review: The Dresden Files is one of my all-time favorite book series, as Jim Butcher has both a flair for the descriptive and an able eye for well-written, hardboiled noir inner dialogue. This crossover fanfic captures the tone and style of the Dresden books quite well, to the point that I was jonesing to reread the actual books once I finished this story. The thing that draws me into Dresden novels (and, by extension, this fanfic) is the protagonist’s penchant for longsuffering, self-deprecating inner dialogue that coincides with an external willingness to bluff and wisecrack his way past opponents who are far out of his depth, combined with an ironclad refusal to back down when his friends are in danger. Overall, it makes for delightful reading, and judging by the comments on the story, several people have been convinced to read the books as a result of the excellent writing here.
Note that while Strange Friends is entirely Human in Equestria, False Masks does dive a bit into the protagonist-turned-pony trope.
The Light Goes Out (finished)
Synopsis: There comes a time when the light must go out; but how do you know if you’ve burned brightly enough?
Review: This is the first truly sad piece I read on fimfiction, and directly led to me discovering Eternal. Whereas Eternal is a sprawling, wide-ranging piece of fiction that oscillates between pathos and adventure/world-building, The Light Goes Out is 3,000 words of concentrated philosophical tearjerker, covering the last moments between Celestia and Twilight at the end of her journey. The concepts in this short piece resonate strongly with me, and it was only slightly awkward to be sitting at my desk at work with happy/sad tears rolling down my cheeks. Beautifully written, and one of the more potent short fics I’ve read.
Background Pony (ongoing)
Synopsis: “My name is Lyra Heartstrings, and you will not remember me. You won’t even remember this conversation. Just like with everypony else I’ve ever met, everything I do or say will be forgotten. Every letter I’ve written will appear blank; every piece of evidence I’ve left behind will end up missing. I’m stuck here in Ponyville because of the same curse that has made me so forgettable. Still, that doesn’t stop me from doing the one thing that I love: making music. If my melodies find their way into your heart, then there is still hope for me. If I can’t prove that I exist, I can at least prove that my love for each and every one of you exists. Please, listen to my story, my symphony, for it is me.”
Review: I know I said in my previous post that Anthropology was the defining work for the character of Lyra Heartstrings, and I still believe that to be true, but it would be a crime not to mention this alternate interpretation. The premise is vaguely similar to that of The Silence in Dr. Who — Lyra receives a curse that turns her into a true background character, never able to make a lasting impression on any living thing around her. The story starts off after she has already gone through the classic stages of grief and has come around to acceptance of her fate, working to find meaning and purpose in her Groundhog-Day-ish life.
What stands out to me here is the sheer quality (and quantity) of the writing. Achingly beautiful turns of phrase abound, and almost every chapter is longer than most multi-part fics on the site, clocking in at an average of roughly 20,000 words each. The first-person protagonist is philosophical, introspective, and uses a large vocabulary to good effect. Each chapter features a semi-standalone chronicle of her interactions with various characters from the show, pulling together a poignant (if loquacious) vignette while advancing the overarching plot. While the story isn’t finished, each chapter provides enough partial closure for me to wholeheartedly recommend this excellent work.