Today’s story will haunt you.
[Dark] [Drama] [Horror] • 69,824 words
The Millennial Summer Sun Celebration is only a few years away, but Rarity’s fashion career seems to be ending before she can begin it. Now, she has one last chance to find a place for her talent.
But as she works to create the boutique of her dreams, a forgotten piece of Ponyville’s past is waking up. Secret memories lie forgotten in dusty basements, unrighted wrongs scratch at locked doors, and Rarity finds herself caught up in a history that may be doomed to repeat itself.
For although she is the first to set hoof in the Old Town Hall in thirty years, she can’t help but feel that something inside was waiting for her.
FROM THE CURATORS: The sort of story that can inspire top scores from our curators is almost certainly going to accumulate superlatives along the way, but even so, there were some head-turning compliments in our discussion. “This is a fic that works on so many levels that it has to be read, and is certainly one of the best stories produced by the fandom,” Soge said, while Present Perfect had superlatives of his own: “The horror bits are always effective; chapter 8 in particular is one of the most frightening things I’ve ever read.”
Much of our commentary centered on the story’s original approach to its horror elements. “This is a pre-show mix of slice of life and drama woven through with a consistently unsettling gothic horror,” Present Perfect said in his nomination. “It feeds on fear of not just the unknown, but the known, daring to cross that old standby of ‘don’t show the monster’ and still make it work.” You wouldn’t think a horror tale could work so well as a prequel for canon, either, but it got repeated praise for squaring that circle. “This is a very Pony horror story, because if friendship is magic, well, it stands to reason that there ought to be an opposite sort of magic when friendship curdles and goes sour,” AugieDog said, while Soge praised it more broadly: “The horror elements are genuinely unsettling, benefiting from a sufficiently original monster, great atmosphere, and most importantly, the ability to merge its most gruesome elements seamlessly with pony world. Were that all this fic did, it would still be worthy of a recommendation.”
But it went beyond that with exemplary character work, illustrated by Present Perfect’s praise: “Rarity’s characterization is fantastic, as she matures ever so haltingly from a stuck-up would-be fashionista into more of the generous, caring pony we know. The original characters are also memorable and fit into the setting effortlessly.” AugieDog added: “The picture the story paints of several of Our Heroines in the years before the show starts is just about perfect as well.” That was, as Soge said, just part of the magic at work here: “The way Thornquill weaves characterization, world building, and pre-show history together works flawlessly, so that even its most out-there elements — like Pinkie being a real estate agent — work in the story’s favor without ever feeling forced.”
Read on for our author interview, in which Thornquill discusses biting bugs, dead approximations, and reflective escape engines.