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Non-Pony Review: Maplecroft

25 Jun

More non-pony content! I know, I’m scared too. The characters in this story aren’t colorful equines or even quadrupeds! There is some magic though, kinda, so maybe we’ll survive. In pony related news, my 151 notifications over on FimFiction still kinda intimidates me.

Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches by Cherie Priest

Started strong. I used the Kindle sample feature to grab the first chapter or two and when I got to the end of that I was hooked and bought the whole thing right away. Most odf the story after that was good. I liked the characters, the mystery, and the monsters.

However, I was disappointed by the ending. The mystery never went anywhere. Not that I expect a full reveal for a Lovecraftian story mind you, but I want to see the story reveal some kind of clue about the nature of the events we see. This story gives next to nothing. The sense of urgency and the narrative climax at the ewnd aren’t even that impressive. Plus the main character, or at least the one with the most focus, just falls apart near the end.

I liked the format. Switching perspectives and mostly uses letters and (apparently) journal entries with just the occasional real time as-it-happens scene. Always been a big fan of after-the-fact indirect storytelling. Especially for Lovecraftian horror stories. The reason it works so well for this genre (for me anyway) is that it, first off, gives a sense of distance. That the reader is experiences the aftermath of the event when it is too late to change or influence anything. For a genre about things that should not (or can’t) be understood this can be very effective. The second reason it works is that it can remove the tension of physical danger and/or survival. Perhaps not for the whole story since often the end is the (in narrative) author trailing off or puts in a “and now they come for me” sort of thing, but any scene before the last one they can be sure the viewpoint character survives in more or less one piece because otherwise they would not write what is being read. I consider this important because the Lovecraftian horror genre is not about threat to life or limb. So by removing the more visceral danger the story can focus more on the intellectual struggle, the loss of sanity. As well as allowing the reader to engage in the mystery, to try and figure out what is going on with the characters. Or more to the point figure out what is happening to the charactesr when the format is by design incomplete. Letters and diary entries aren’t the whole story after all. What details are the characters leaving out, on purpose or because they missed something?

Now, all stories are fictional (you know what I mean) but in a more immediate/immersive story a reader might want to grab a character and demand answers or shout that they are being stupid. In this style of a story at one remove that gets taken away. The reader isn’t witnessing the events, but reading about them over someone else’s shoulder. So the reader is given another layer of helplessness from only being able to read and watch without any (imaginary) way to influence or intervene.

All of that means I wanted to love this story. The first half or two-thirds were great. The end was disappointing. I’d average it out to a mostly okay to somewhat goode. I intend to give the sequel a try but I don’t have very high hopes for it.

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1 Comment

Posted by on June 25, 2016 in Reading 2016, Reviews

 

One response to “Non-Pony Review: Maplecroft

  1. Anonymous

    June 27, 2016 at 12:27 am

    Whenever I don’t visit fimfiction for a while, I end taking even longer to return to the site due to the number of notifications.

     

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