FimFiction Link - Short ID: 523932/the-scourge
Published: Sep '22
'The Scourge' is a three thousand and seven hundred-word oneshot. An unnamed professor is trying to find the source of the Changeling "myth."
This fic is an interesting hybrid of the journal format combined with classical prose and I think it works quite nicely. The narration is evocative, though I must say that the non-journal parts worked a lot better in my opinion, as the professor's notes don't really feel all that professional. It's not that it's bad or anything, but things like bucking and fucking used at the same time or the protagonist randomly breaking into all-caps hurts immersion a little and in general it's just not nearly as colorful as the third-person segments are.
As for the story itself, I quite liked it. I wouldn't say there is anything very surprising in the fic (it's fairly obvious from the get-go where things would end,) however, the journey itself is fun despite the fic's short runtime. I'd say it's almost like a Lovecraft story, in particular the Shadow over Innsmouth, with the way of how suspicious figures turn up and events happen and how the protagonist's curiosity gets the best of him. The ending too was well-executed in my opinion. While it could have been a bit even less on the nose, I do appreciate that the author tried to not beat us over the head with what exactly happened, allowing the reader to realize what exactly happened in the conclusion.
The only part that I didn't really like was the first city. I somewhat expected it to be in fact a city inhabited by Changelings who try to keep up the appearance of normalcy, but as it turns out it was just a place where no one bothered to really warn the protag and instead just collectively decided to play coy. It's not exactly a massive issue and the rest of the fic more than makes up for it, but it felt a bit weird. Secondly, the length. Now, I do hold that it's a perfectly enjoyable story as is, but if it was just a bit more slow-boiling (perhaps around eight-thousand words or so) with an even subtler approach to the "horror", I think it would've worked even better.
Overall: 6/10 A predictable, but well-executed plot presented with an at times more, at times less elegant prose. While it won't really turn your world upside-down, it is regardless an enjoyable read and I can easily recommend it.