FimFiction Link - Short ID: 482568/a-woman-worth-saving
Published: Feb '21
You know, for a story that was aiming for a very obvious detective noir vibe, I don't think it quite reached the point.
What struck me about the first couple of chapters is how quickly everything was introduced. Mysterious lady walks into detective office. Encounter with thugs and ladies of the night under dim streetlights. A smoky bar where unsavory characters meet. That's just in a chapter and a half. Part of me wondered if this was going to be a pastiche of sorts, but they're all played straight and with little fanfare. If I was a cynic, I'd say the story is just going through the beats. Thankfully I am not. I actually had a good time with this. I've read few stories with Celestia acting as part of a buddy cop duo.
Regarding characterisation, I think it was alright when it came to Rarity, Celestia, and Twilight. Nobody else really had a character. There were a lot of mentions and cameo appearances, but it felt like they were going through a list of characters when filling out bit roles. "So and so came by. And then we talked about that guy. Oh, and it's a shame you had to see her, such a shame." It came off a bit tacky.
As far as the romance goes, having it mostly shown through the initial flashbacks and only have allusions to it in the body of the chapters made it feel superficial. I suppose it's the kind of thing you'd write when you're writing with fans of the ship as your audience. As someone who doesn't mind Twirity, I found the romance aspect to be below average. As fun as their banter is, the relationship is just backdrop for the noir story. You could say that it's in line with the simplistic romances of the grizzled detective and the femme fatales or damsels in distress of the genre, but Mel has written decent romance before. I don't know why it was downplayed here.
I was wondering why Celestia was so coy about the Nightmare's identity. We, the audience, know Luna is NMM, so I was expecting some sort of twist. And there was a twist. I did not care for it. There was, what? One or two lines of foreshadowing for it? It makes sense in that Celestia was constantly playing her cards close to her chest (and so was Twilight), so Rarity and us as the readers were kept out of the loop. But that still means we were kept out of the loop, and that doesn't make for a satisfying subversion. Also, for the last two chapters, Rarity stopped feeling like the protagonist. She just followed Celestia around and didn't have any big say on what happened other than giving Twilight a moral pep talk before the climax. That was odd.
In the end, the characterisation of most of the cast was paper thin. The plot itself is formulaic and with expected unexpected twists and turns. The resolution resolved very little. And the character arcs were less of an arc and more of a speedbump.
Truly a noir tale. 10/10