FimFiction Link - Short ID: 543850/in-the-pale-moonlight
Published: Oct '23
The subject matter is too dark, I think, to really fit in with FiM.
Even so, the story does the best job it can with it. Luna witnesses the nightmare-memory of what seems to be a murder; she and her sister grapple with the ramifications of what Luna has seen. It's not a very complex idea, and so the story is not that long, but once again The Hat Man delivers a solid basic philosophizing fic.
Another thing that stands out here is how well the dream that Luna initially observes is described: the details that are present and absent, emphasized or not. I also like how this Luna behaves and her responses to what she's seen; the tie-in at the end is clever.
"In the Pale Moonlight" is a 5k story that could be described as a murder mystery. It has been a few months since S1E2, and Luna has returned to visiting Equestria's nightmares. She observes a peculiarly realistic nightmare in which a unicorn stallion appears to have committed murder. She realizes that the nightmare recalls a memory of a real murder, and she convinces Celestia that the murderer must be found.
About half of the story is spent on this setup, and it's a good setup for a murder mystery. Given how long the story spends on the setup, it's surprising how rapidly the rest goes. Luna, by remembering landmarks she saw in the nightmare, seems to identify the town instantaneously. The story describes literally zero searching. It goes straight from the scene where Luna convinces Celestia that there was a real murder to investigate into the scene where Luna arrives in the correct town; and only a few dozen words into that scene, she's found the right house. Then it's just a matter of confirming what Luna already knows.
I think the mystery has undeveloped potential. There's a missed opportunity for Luna to search. For example, to have her re-enter the murderer's nightmare to learn more about the event. Really developing the search, however, would require thousands more words. This could easily be a 10k fic, maybe even more if Luna encounters a few obstacles.
Besides the mystery, the fic also deals with Luna's regrets over her actions as Nightmare Moon. I thought this part of the story was weak. There are a few paragraphs of introspection, and those are nice, but they don't really go anywhere. Like the mystery, it's a good idea that could be developed into something more substantial. Again, this would add thousands of words. Plus, expanding this without expanding the mystery would radically change the character of the story.
The writing is pretty good. There are a few typos ("shrowded" for "shrouded") or word misuses ("attrition" for "contrition"), but there aren't many of these, and they're not too distracting. I could quibble with some of the word choices, I guess.
While there are some issues, the story is short enough, and is overall good enough, that it's easy for me to recommend. 7/10.