FimFiction Link - Short ID: 460329/hold-on-ta-this-fer-me-sugarcube
Published: Apr '20 — May '20
'Hold On Ta This Fer Me, Sugarcube' is a ten thousand and nine hundred-word shortfic. It features a brooding exploration of Ponyville, ten years after a disastrous campaign against the changelings caused the death of most of the population, including several Element-bearers. Applebloom sits in Sugar Cube Corner and tells the story of how she waited for ten years for AJ to return. Before I delve into spoilers, my initial score would've been a 6-7/10, but the last chapter made me incapable of recommending this story.
If you were to only read the first four chapters, my summary is an adequate representation of what happens. The rest of the M6 come together, listen to Bloom's story and they slowly reconcile. If the story would've ended with AB ending her tale and the world bracing for a brighter future built on the sacrifice of those who died, I would've ended this review saying, that while I've found the violence far too gratuitous (I just can't take filly gutting and princess vivisection seriously without any proper buildup,) I still found the message heartwarming and the finale cathartic. Though, I have to admit, Chrysalis being assaulted by a Fluttershy who's been pushed over the edge by Twilight goading her with the deaths of her beloveds was also extremely hard to take seriously.
Not that any of this matters though, because this wasn't how things ended. In the last chapter, the author decides to become far too ambitious and clever for their own good. The scene in the SCC? The protag's delusion caused by overdosing on medication. Those deaths? Some of them did actually happen, but as previously dead characters keep popping up or getting mentioned, (like the princesses, unless the author means Starlight and Flurry, in which case, very unfortunate phrasing,) the validity of her account is shattered. And what's even worse, the whole Changeling war becomes a secondary thing, ended off-handly by a single remark:
>That’s right, the Elements conquered Chrysalis and fell to Sombra.
I can almost visualize the author putting "lol" at the end of that sentence.
It is then hastily established, how the protag along with the other foals became quasi-child soldiers against Sombra. This completely crashed the narrative escalation for me. Have one conflict or the other, but basically being told that the story you've been listening to until now was at best dubiously true (in-universe) and at worst a complete waste of time due to being a near-total fabrication of a drugged-up pony's mind is awful. The Sombra-war was dealt with in around five paragraphs, with zero context or buildup, just AB sacrificing herself before the protag wakes up in a hospital, surrounded by those she thought dead and gets her happy ending.
Overall: 4/10 The wanton-edge of the first half can easily be forgiven due to its strong drama. The plot-twist, however, sucked out all enjoyment I had from this story.