FimFiction Link - Short ID: 525598/a-skeleton-in-the-closet
Published: Oct '22
I'm too tired to write a lot but E-D doesn't disappoint. His prose and worldbuilding are as distinctly unique and as impeccable as ever.
The way everything seems like a parody, and yet despite that he manages to build genuinely tense plots and make you genuinely care, is honestly absolutely genius and I cannot think of any other writer that does this, let alone does this so successfully. But where WiBD is a slow-burn long-form adventure where a grand mystery slowly unravels while you learn about the weird underpinnings of the cosmology, and also the main character is so ridiculously OP that most danger is quite temporary and it's more interesting to figure out how they overcome it this time than it is ever truly in question whether they'll overcome it at all - A Skeleton in the Closet is, instead, a totally different approach. Here you will see that same trademark style applied to a short novella taking place over the course of one day and one night, focusing on just a dozen characters, with the main "grand adventure" taking place entirely within one bedroom and the vast worldbuilding being merely hinted at through contextual remarks. A self-contained arc, with a remarkable setup, gripping climax and extremely satisfying resolution, all in the span of ~24k words. Go read it, and doubly go read it if you've checked out WiBD before and enjoy E-D's style. (Or conversely, if you enjoy this then go read WiBD next. Also in either case go read Final Corruption too while you're at it, I should write a review of that at some point.)
Incidentally, it's not just stylistically similar but it's actually set in the same world as WiBD, and it's very neat to see how the wackiness of that world affects the normal, everyday life of schoolkids. In WiBD, we mostly see a lot of what goes on in the wild spheres of society, the higher-ups, the monster hunters, the mad scientists, the outcasts, etc. - but not too much of the actual daily normal life of normal, average, Equestrian citizens living peacefully.
I could write more, such as how I love it when authors give a compelling and deep characterisation as an alternative interpretation to characters were pretty flanderised and underused in the show, but like I said I'm tired and anyway it's only 24k words so go read it.
This is the best Nightmare on Elm Street sequel we never got.
I like how fleshed out this little AU is in the little piece we have in the waking world. Luna doesn't bother with keeping watch over dreams,
so now dream demons lurk around Equestria, killing ponies in their dreams. To combat this--and a number of paranormal threats--there are state-mandated combat training classes to all fillies and colts. Wonderful. Back to the dream demons they're kind of like measles. It can kill you, but it's better to get it while young in a controlled environment.
And when Snails gets... infected, Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon organise a party so all the kids in class can get infected. Except the CMC. Fuck those guys.
Have you seen The Dream Warriors? It's a good parallel to this story. The kids team up and beat up a dream demon in very personalised dream scenarios that tackle each of their fears. Some are better and more interesting than others, but each have their charm. It's interesting to see the ways the kids deal with the dream demon as things get progressively more dire, and I had a lot of fun all the way through.
Still, many of the dreams feel like wasted opportunities. Not that each had to be a deep character analysis, or anything, but there were chances to have them be better than just "this nightmare represents this aspect of the character, k thx by". At least spending a bit more time on them would've helped.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this one and I hope more people read it.