/mlp/ Fanfic Reviews

In Birdsong

FimFiction Link - Short ID: 514171/in-birdsong

Published: Mar '22

Review in No. 38384714
'In Birdsong' is a one thousand and one hundred-word oneshot. Fluttershy stumbles upon a corpse.
Horror in a thousand words is not exactly an easy thing to pull off and, though it does achieve eeriness, I feel this story doesn't quite get there either. Individually the motifs this story uses are pretty intriguing and, had the story been a bit more focused and longer, I don't doubt that the author could have done them justice.
However, sadly, as one can guess from the story's length, this isn't really the case. I feel like the story tries to reach for two different sources of horror and just ends up falling to the ground between them. What I expected this story to be about (based on the title and most of the narrative) is some sort of supernatural or ethereal birdsong that either comes from some kind of predator that murders in a meticulous and gruesome way or from another being lured in by the rabbit's corpse. This would be all well and good but then suddenly, without any forewarning or anything, this plot-point falls largely to the wayside and Fluttershy grows a horn then resurrects the rabbit, which from then on exists as some sort of unnatural revenant. Please understand, I'm not trying to be dismissive or snide with this summary, it's just that due to the vague phrasing, abstract storytelling, and the spontaneous way things happen, I was left largely in the dark about what just went down and that feels less creepy and more just confusing.
The question phrased at the end of the story was also a bit odd. I assume the author must have put it there with the intent to cap things off, but not only has Fluttershy no reason to believe the alicorns experience what she experienced, but I'd much more imagine that she would be asking for the Princess's help to investigate whatever force caused the gruesome murder of the rabbit or what she should do with the reanimated corpse. I love cool one-line endings as much as anyone, but I sort of feel like the story chose the wrong thing to shine the final spotlight on.
If I consider this as a story that only intends to play into emotions without much actual plot, I guess it kind of works. The prose is pretty and the descriptions are vivid enough to evoke a feel of unease, but I just can't help but wish the author either took the time to properly flesh things out or chose to focus on one of the two main horror motifs instead of trying to cram both into a text only twice and a bit as long than this very review.
Overall: 5/10 It's a bit of a shame. I like the prose, even if it is a bit purple. I also like the feelings the fic evokes. However, due to its length and thematic zigzagging, the narrative itself just feels odd and unsatisfying. I guess it's not the worst time to spend five or so minutes, but the story screams of unfulfilled potential.