The blurb is an accurate description of this short story. Personally, I found it like a fairy tale straight out of Grimm’s. It had the same bittersweet, haunting, and mysterious quality to it and none of the happily ever after of the cleaned up fairy tales. Oh, not that it was totally dreary in its ending, but it wasn’t all princes and happily ever afters either.
This fantasy story begins when a king requires his scientists to make him a son to his exact specifications. The scientists fulfill their task, but as with anything that has the spark of life- the son is his own creature. He has something extra or maybe it’s something lacking so he disappears from the life of a prince to join the Mer Circus. He becomes a caretaker of the daily needs of the mer and eventually becomes a trainer. He is happy and content until a couple new mer are transferred to their circus from another circus. His encounters with the adult male, Nerites, lead him to disturbing conclusions and startling reactions. He then learns that some things are not meant to be kept in a cage.
The story is super short, but I was enchanted by it. There is so much more that could have been said to explain the world or expand the story and character development. I probably would have liked that too, but yet I liked this story just fine the way it was. It left me with questions and surmises- I have to imagine things. The ending was open-ended too. It pointed toward a specific direction, but left a lot, again, to my imagination. Normally, I like to know specifics, but whether it was the author’s writing or my mood, I was content with this story.
As a prime example of what I mean about a lack of details, the main character doesn’t even have a name. He is almost a blank slate and learning from the world around him. He was drawn to the Mer people so he ran away from his kingly father and became a member of the Cirque de la Mer. He learns to become sociable and treat the other workers and trainers as his family even though I got the impression that they might only see him as this quiet, shadowy boy-man. He observes the mer and sees them as something more than the other animals in their care unlike his co-workers who see the mer folk much as one sees the dolphins. This young man doesn’t understand attraction so he is confused and frightened by his attraction to Nerites. They cannot communicate vocally so it’s interesting how things still manage to develop though never as far as an actual relationship.
I loved this for the story and would recommend it to those who enjoy the darker, older fairy tales. I’ve seen this listed as m/m fantasy romance, but personally I think it’s more accurate to place it under fantasy fiction as there is really no romance to speak of.
My thanks to Riptide Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this story in exchange for an honest review.
Discussion Starter: This story really did remind me of some of the older fairy tale versions that were darker, sadder and didn’t always end well. I was wondering about preferences when it came to fairytales. I was raised on both Grimm’s and Disney and happen to like both. How do you feel about fairy tales? Do you need your Happily Ever Afters or do you like a story that has no guarantees and a lot of sad stuff might happen? Or hey, do you have a favorite fairytale?
Literary Pickers #78 Window
Romance Roundabout #76 FR
Mt. TBR #48
New to Me #44 author
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