SILVER IN THE WOOD
by Emily Tesh
Published June 18th 2019 by Tor
| Fantasy | Novella | LGBTQ+ | Adult |
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I am always looking out for low fantasy books, especially if they are inspired to folk and fairy tales. Silver In The Wood caught my attention with its beautiful cover and once I opened the first page, I couldn’t put it down. A wild man, the mystery of a curse and gay fae? Yes, please.
The setting is a generic 19th century, the time when fairy tales were studied by scholars and laymen alike. Henry Silver is a young, cheerful man who rents the estate of Greenhollow and in the woods that surround the manor, he meets Tobias Finch.
A lonely, big man who has been named the Wild Man of Greenhollow, Finch enjoys his quiet life in the woods. He hunts and takes care of the forest, returning every evening to his hut.
I liked the way these two characters complement each other: Finch so quiet and reserved and Silver so chatty. Finch cautious and Silver reckless like all youth are. Their odd friendship is interesting to witness as it grows and the way Silver flirts on and off with Tobias is quite endearing. Silver starts off as the typical adorkable character, although I personally felt very differently about him at the end of the book.
The story hooked me from the beginning. It starts off slowly: it’s easy to realize there is something otherworldly about Tobias Finch, though you can’t quite understand what. Little by little, through both Finch’s thoughts and Silver’s studies, the picture gets clearer until that dreary night when no one should be outside in the wood.
Except Silver is.
I don’t want to give away anything, I fear it is too easy to spoil a story that relies on mystery and that is 100 pages long. I’ll just say that the second part of the book has less fairy tale atmosphere, it reminded me more of magical realism (or fabulism). Overall I’d say that although feeling like a fairy tale or a legend of a sort, this story could be easily categorized as magical realism.
At the end of the book, the conflict is resolved and everything comes back to normal. More or less. I believe Emily Tesh handles the mystery well, no questions went unanswered; I got to the last page with that sense of satisfaction that comes from knowing everything. Everything that there is to the story.
I love when authors are inspired by folk and fairy tales, but manage to write a story that is both rooted in the tradition and original. Emily Tesh has written a captivating fantasy story that could be the local legend of any country village in England.
SHOULD I READ THIS?
One-sentence summary: a young man arrives at Greenhollow, where Tobias has lived quietly for years, and will mess his peaceful existence when he mess with the curse of the wood
Read if: you enjoy low fantasy, fantasy with a mystery twist, mystery stories, sleepy hollow-like stories
Think twice about it if: I’m having a hard time thinking about a reason not to read this book, it’s fantasy but also realistic. It has mystery and romance. Murder and curses.
Emily Tesh grew up in London and studied Classics at Trinity College, Cambridge, followed by a Master’s degree in Humanities at the University of Chicago. She now lives in Hertfordshire, where she passes her time teaching Latin and Ancient Greek to schoolchildren who have done nothing to deserve it. She has a husband and a cat. Neither of them knows any Latin yet, but it is not for lack of trying.
Tesh is the author of Silver in the Wood.