FimFiction Link - Short ID: 318437/holders-boulder
Published: Mar '16
'Holder's Boulder' is a five thousand and one-hundred word oneshot. Maud wakes up one night, feeling that something is amiss. She notices that Marble is missing and glancing out the window she sees her walking towards the eponymous rock in a trance. By the time she gets out Marble is already missing and Maud finds her in a closet, in the process of destroying the family's cherished heirloom, Holder's diary. Maud successfully snaps her out of her episode and, upon glancing on the words "a great eville" vows to fix the journal and find out the secret of the boulder.
I have read one terrible and one amazing story from Horse Voice before, this one leans far more towards the good one, but in my opinion, doesn't quite reach it. Regardless, it's still a nice fic and I recommend it. As the rest of the review contains unmarked spoilers, this is your cue to stop reading.
Let's start with the good things: I like how the evil force in the boulder is so mysterious. This story operates with Lovecraft-esque horror, giving us absolutely no concrete information about what Maud is facing. One thing is clear: The evil can't be defeated, just sealed away and Maud's heroic self-sacrifice provided a strong epilogue for the fic. Speaking of whom, Maud's characterization is very well done in this fic. The author takes care to weave her condition into the narrative and it works very naturally. The fic also nicely depicts the inherent bleakness of the Pie-family farm.
However, I also had a few issues with the fic. For one, while I like that the antagonist is so mysterious, I feel like its presence is greatly diminished by basically not doing anything for the entirety of the fic. If we think back to Lovecraft, in his stories the reader can always see what sort of horrors the monsters do or at the very least what they look like. In this fic, it just mind-controls Marble a bit, murders a bunch of cicadas in an attempt to break out, and then gets promptly defeated by Maud. Sure, it costs her her life, which is a great tragic scene, but we don't have a single clue what sort of horror she saved the world from. Keeping things under wraps only works until a point, eventually you need to give the reader a jolt. Similarly, giving it a voice and familiar emotions like rage were big mistakes in my opinion, as it removes much of the alienness of the being. Finally, while the reconstruction of the journal was a great hook, I don't think the fic used it to its full extent. The greatest reveal - that the boulder is in fact a prison for an eldritch being - is given away immediately at the beginning of the story. Afterwards the rest of the info doesn't feel as important as it largely just elaborates on the mysterious origins of the rock.
Overall: 6/10 It's not a badly written story by any means, but I feel like certain artistic choices stop it from being nearly as impactful as it could be. I mostly recommend it.