FimFiction Link - Short ID: 350781/krastos-the-glue-maker
Published: Oct '16 — Nov '16
Sometimes, stories enrapture you. They make you feel so immersed in their world, be it by their prose, the characters, the tone, that you can forget about the real world for a while. That's not what happened with this story. In fact, today's story has made me feel and think things I've never experienced before.
Before I say anything about the story itself, I urge you to go read 'Krastos, the Glue Maker'. It's barely over ten thousand words, and there are worse ways to spend the better part of an hour, and regardless of what I say here, it's a good story.
We start with the CMC looking for inspiration for a costume contest. Who wants to do the same boring old monsters when you can just choose something nobody has ever heard before and sweep the win? Like this "Krastos" guy from zebra culture. Just like those Japanese movies from the late 90s scared Hollywood into making remakes, this may be their key to success!
The only problem with choosing an unknown creature is that, well, nopony is going to know what you are. To solve this, the girls take it upon themselves to start a guerrilla marketing campaign, spreading rumours about this heinous Glue Maker and its deeds among the citizens of Ponyville.
The only problem with that, is that Krastos is what we westerners know as a tulpa, and by making everypony aware of it, the CMC have unknowingly manifested it into reality. Since there's no Jackie Chan in Equestria, this means Krastos is now free to wreck havoc in Ponyville.
I don't want to make a beat by beat recount of the events of the story, in part because I don't want to spoil it, but mainly because doing so would highlight what I feel is the biggest drawback of this tale.
Think of it this way. You have a story about a big bad monster. You need to build its credibility as a threat. So there should be scenes where ponies start suspecting something's amiss. Where they discover the first hints of something evil lurking in the shadows of Ponyville. Of course, once the threat is made evident, there should come moments where it makes an attack. When we get to know the extent of this threat and the danger it presents to ponies.
This is exactly what happens! Chapter two has a scene where the M6 discuss rumours of Krastos at Sugar Cube Corner. And chapter three has a scene where the market ponies find that a statue has been beheaded. Later on, there's a scene where everypony is running in panic and Krastos makes an attack in the schoolhouse.
And that's where the problem laid for me. Because the first time I read this story, I couldn't fully get into it because all that went through my mind was "Oh, this is the scene where the threat is established. This is the scene that foreshadows the fate of a character. This is the scene where that pays off".
Due to how isolated and short each of those moments felt, my brain developed an anti-gestalt sentiment where I could not enjoy the story as a whole due to its individual components standing out so much. When Krastos starting raking up a body count, instead of dread building up in me, I was thinking "Oh, yes. This is the logical progression of events. This is how the next scene should continue."
Honestly, that kind of disconnect has got to be one of the worst kind of feelings a story can evoke in a reader. Even anger can keep you engaged, but a total detachment from the story makes you not care. Part of me wonders if Horse Voice made a basic outline of events and proceeded to write just that. A leads into B, which continues to C, and that makes D happen. And that's why it feels so bare bones. You could argue that the length of the story played against it, but I've read complex and compelling stories in ten thousand words before, so I'm not sure it's safe to say word count was the only reason.
I should say that this became less of an issue as the story went on. Once ponies made their last stand against Krastos, I was already invested again. Perhaps a bit of restructuring could've made this issue not stand out as much. Insert a few breather moments here and there. Have Krastos leave a bigger trail before ponies start figuring out what's going on.
Upon a recent re-read, I enjoyed it more, though I could still feel there was something off about it. Nevertheless, what I said at the start still stands. The story is not bad. What's more, I think I can now understand where Horse Voice was coming from. Take this bit of dialogue from the first chapter:
>"The contest ain't as big as it used to be. Last time we had a chance to enter, Golden Oak was still standin'. But we went crusadin' instead. I know that was important, but even if we win now, not as many ponies are gonna see it."
For those of you who don't know, HV wanted to make a story about Krastos for years. He often talked about it in blogs and other places. So, yeah. I can understand having a story you want to tell, but it's taken so long you no longer know if you'll have an audience, and that dampens your excitement. I can't imagine you'd want to delay getting that story out longer than you absolutely have to.
Nevertheless, I still don't know how to feel about Krastos. On the one hand, my first time reading it gave me such clashing thoughts, I can't say I enjoyed it. However, upon re-reading it, those feelings were much weaker and my engagement in the story increased as a result. There's a part of me that can envision this being polished into a super deluxe slasher story that's super spooky. Its current version, however, is just alright. Definitely something I'd recommend for anyone looking for a short horror tale, but nothing that I would consider required reading in the Horse Voice library.