FimFiction Link - Short ID: 512696/the-reaper-in-red
Published: Feb '22
'The Reaper in Red' is a one thousand and eight hundred-word oneshot. A red figure marches through Canterlot.
I admit I didn't want to originally click on this story, because I'm not very interested in stories that feature humans. As it turns out, in this story's case the tag is a bit misleading, because the character in this story is not a human, but rather the personification of Death, who just so happens to have a humanoid form. Why it is not a pony is not really given any explanation, but - surprisingly enough - I realized this actually added to the experience for me.
Considering the story's length one should obviously expect no huge overarching story. However, what the fic set out to do is accomplished very nicely. I really like how, despite the shortness of the fic, it still goes into detail about how exactly death "works" and it's all done in a way I greatly enjoyed. How 'casually' Celestia and Death talk, how only foals see Death and later forget about him, how Thestrals are immune to this, all help to naturally slot a very supernatural being into the world. This is all done with nice varied prose and simple literary devices that make the text playful without feeling purple.
The only part of the fic that didn't necessarily hit as hard as it could have for me was on its emotional front. Don't get me wrong, I love how the little Thestral pleads for the life of the dying mare and the end of the fic was sad as well, however, since the character was an OC whose whole background was given to us in about two sentences worth of text, her passing simply doesn't have the same impact as a more-intimately known character's would.
Overall: 7/10 The "Kindly Death" trope is not new, even in terms of horsewords there have been previous examples, but for what it's worth I think this story does the concept justice. Can recommend.