We’ll make a spirited effort to sing the praises of today’s story.
Daring Do: The Opera
[Mystery] [Slice of Life] • 10,016 words
Diamond Tiara is excited to have a starring role in Autumn Blaze’s new opera. She knows the Opera House isn’t haunted, but if it were, she’d be ready to give any Opera Spirit a stern talking-to.
FROM THE CURATORS: This story was already on several of our radars when it took second place in the Season 9 Bingo Contest — and it didn’t take us long to discover why it did so well. “The humor’s on point but knows when to get out of the way of the narrative, the mystery is neither too obvious nor impossible, and the story does more with Diamond Tiara than the show ever did,” FanOfMostEverything said in his nomination. While our praise was wide-ranging, two factors stood out. “This all comes down to two aspects,” Present Perfect said, “the characters and the twist.”
It was remarkable work on the former which came up most often in our discussion. “The character work throughout really carries the story,” AugieDog said. “I especially like the way that, after the twist, the early scenes take on a deeper meaning and lead to the realization that, without noticing or even meaning to, Tiara has had this literally life-changing effect on another character.” Horizon also admired the protagonist: “The early look at Diamond Tiara’s redemption, especially her conversation with her parents, solidly carries the otherwise slow Chapter 1. (And I’m also a fan of its song lyrics, which is no small thing.)” And Present Perfect was more broadly impressed: “Diamond Tiara is especially well-written, important since this is really about her. I very much appreciated the exploration of what she has to do as a character post-Lost Mark. And Autumn Blaze strikes me as one of those characters like Maud Pie that’s going to be hard to write, but AlexTFish handled her blabbermouthing with aplomb.”
But the praise for the story’s central mystery was equally effusive. “I absolutely did not see the twist coming, and the misdirection it went to justifies a feature by itself,” Horizon said. “The story gets a fantastic amount of mileage out of the things it doesn’t tell you, and the mystery, as FOME says, is very well calibrated.” Present Perfect agreed: “I was amazed that I could be so right and so wrong about the twist at the same time. The devil was in the details!” And all of those details pulled together to make the story a joy to read … occasionally, for an unusual version of joy. Or, as Horizon put it: “I am incapable of voting against a story with such a transcendently awful pun in Chapter 5.”
Read on for our author interview, in which AlexTFish discusses spiky redemption, Magna Cartas, and 400 kinds of trouble.