Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall #Review #Afternoon Delight

Sand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall #Review #Afternoon DelightSand and Ruin and Gold by Alexis Hall

Genres: Fantasy Romance, M/M Romance
Published by Riptide on September 22, 2014
Pages: 44
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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four-half-stars  

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

Delighted Reader Afternoon Delight

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Great review hun. I will be honest…I am a happy ending gal. If there isn’t a happy ending I get pretty upset…but sometimes its good to read something that is intense and no guarantee of a happy ending. If I had to choose a favorite fairy tale…beauty and the beast wins!!

    • I have to be in just the right mood for an open-ended ending to work for me because usually I’m a Happy Ending type too.

      Yay for Beauty and the Beast. It’s my fav too!

  • Lola R

    Is this a standalone? With 44 pages that is really short if it is, but from your review I figure it works. Although the lack of details and explanation could be annoying.
    I remember when my sister and I where kids that my mom once got a darker fairytales book and we still liked those stories even though they where less happy ending. I always liked the Little Mermaid and Mulan when it came to the disney movies/ stories. I still like books with plots similar to mulan where a girl has to disguise herself as a boy. I haven’t read much mermaid stories though.

    • Yes, this one stands alone, Lola! Its very brief and it doesn’t give lots of description and development so it’s not for everyone.

      Oh yes, Mulan! I have watched that like three times. It was great. I love mer people stories and have tried several. I liked the Little Mermaid for the music. I still hum and sing those songs.

  • I loved this book too! It was such a true fairytale, sticking close to the sort of Grimm roots I love. Also, the bittersweetness of it added to how much it resonated with me. At first, I genuinely wondered how this was going to go… but ughh was I pleased with the turnout! 🙂

    • I was pleased too. So bittersweet and perfect in a classical way.