FimFiction Link - Short ID: 512350/belles-of-bridlewood-detectives-the-chain-pony
Published: Feb '22
'Belles of Bridlewood Detectives: The Chain Pony' is an eleven thousand and five hundred word G5 shortfic. Gloomy Sonnet finds a dead body in Bridlewood and with the help of two odd characters decides to investigate the issue.
Now, I'm not sure whether the author intended to portray Gloomy's deadpan attitude as something to take at face value or as a running joke, but I chose to interpret it as the latter and I believe it does a lot of good to the story. She's incredibly down on her luck and the author spares no detail to portray this with dripping angst. From being disappointed because the weather is nice and the foals are happy, to penning up a brooding poem at the sight of a dead unicorn, she's the antithesis of what one would consider a typical MLP character. In itself this could quickly get old, but her companions are different enough to offset her misery. Having one of the characters be deaf for instance was a really fun choice. The idea that ponies sign by wiggling their ears is both absurd, but also a sweet touch. The other companion's bubbly and emotional attitude is the perfect foil to the rest of the group and plays off nicely of the others' subdued malaise.
However, the actual narrative itself has issues. For one, after the dead pony is found, no one (except the protagonists) seems very worried about it. I mean, there isn't even a patrol or anything set up during the night, nor is anyone conducting any "official" investigation related to a clearly rare and unusual crime. Also, while the initial buildup of the tragedy is nicely presented and very much ominous, there is very little of actual detective work in the story. One would expect a bit more investigation and whatnot, but instead the plot largely resolves itself. The three mares immediately perfectly deduce the culprit, go to a random pervert stallion they have previous off-screen history with, he tells them exactly what to do and how, and then they accomplish this with very little actual setbacks. It's not terrible or anything, but the plot is a bit too convenient for me to feel invested in the events. Also, before the demon is banished it talks about something called "celestials" and "infernals" which I assume is a sequel hook, since the story makes absolutely no reference to them afterwards. I'm obviously not against the idea of such hooks, but I found the throwaway interaction between the villain and Lyrica a bit silly and it feels like a plot point that was left hanging.
Overall: 5/10 The characters are fun and play off well each other, but sadly I ultimately found the narrative uninteresting and contrived. If you like fun interactions, I recommend it, but if you expect Agatha Christie, this probably isn't the story for you.