Dreamspinner Press, $1.49
Historical Fantasy, 2008
No, that is the correct cover art. Andrew Grey’s Love in War in part of a series called Daydreams, which consisted of bite-sized stories, and I suppose the publisher at that time decided that a simple cover would suffice for all the stories in the series. The stories are not linked to one another, as far as I know. Still, given that I am pulling things out randomly from the dark recesses of my external hard drive, I am not sure whether I had purchased other stories in this series. Look, it was thirteen years ago, alright?
Originally figures of ancient mythology, satyrs were half-man, half-goat creatures who were companions and followers of the Greek god of wine and the inspirer of ritual madness and ecstasy, Bacchus. Satyrs lived for sex with all women in general and particularly with fairies. Eventually the fairies disappeared, and satyrs turned their carnal appetites exclusively toward humans. Over the centuries, satyrs bred with humans, resulting in creatures whose appearance varies from the classic satyr to those with only a tail and small horns. As a remnant of their magical past, many satyrs are long-lived and possess a special gift or talent that develops as they grow and mature, such as weaving erotic and sensual dreams as well as nightmares.
Over time, it was determined that dream weaving posed many risks and that the dreams of others should be left alone. In order to give satyrs another outlet for their hedonistic tendencies, the monthly satyr gathering, the Bacchanal, was created. This gathering is held beneath the full moon, and most satyrs are drawn to it, driven by an internal need. The Bacchanal is a night of stories, wine, music, and massive amounts of sex, lasting from sundown to sunrise. In keeping with the satyr tradition of storytelling, here are some of the stories of the Bacchanal.
I only have one question: does the satyr in this setting have two pee-pees?
Sadly, the author isn’t planning to do a multi-phallic hoedown here. In fact, this isn’t even a conventional romance at all. While the story opens with our narrator Cembran, a satyr, being the mate of Tristan, the lead satyr of the Bacchanal. He shares his story, as per the tradition mentioned in the excerpt, and it’s about him meeting and eventually loving Joseph, the son of a family that hired him as a farmhand. The two sign up to become soldiers in the American Civil War—if you guess that they joined the Union army, give yourself a credit to spend at the romance trope boutique—and I’m sure nobody is shocked when this romance meets a premature end. The author really shows his hands and kills whatever poignancy he may be aiming for here, just like a horror story that starts with someone narrating the story and allowing everyone to know that this person is the last one standing.
If the author had removed the framing device, un-satyr’ed the narrator, and made this story a historical tale of wartime romance, it might have done the trick so much better. In fact, I won’t be shocked if someone told me that this story started out as a historical fiction.
As it is, the narrative is elegant and sometimes graceful to read, but the author really has shot himself in the knees and one more in the groin for good measure by framing the story in the way he did. I’m alright with this story, but there is no way I will feel anything while reading it, not after what the author has done to it here.