Review of The Forester by Blaine D. Arden

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 1 comments
Title of Book: The Forester
Author: Blaine D. Arden
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 50 page novella
Primary Relationship(s): m/m/m
Category or Genre: Fantasy
Does this Review contain spoilers?: Yes (mild)
Did you own this already, or was a review copy provided to you? Provided by author for review.


The blurb on Storm Moon Press indicates The Forester to be what I would describe as a ‘murder mystery fantasy short story’. Colour me intrigued. On the other hand, The Forester is written in the first person point of view. It stars elves. There are sentences like “Will you join me, Master”, and descriptions of moss, wings, and everything but the fairy dust I fully expect the elves carry in their leather pouches. 

All of these things usually repel me. Fantasy is riddled with tropes, and on first glance it seems that so is The Forester. Had I been in my local Sci-Fi bookshop I’d have gone straight past the shelf, and headed right for the Android vs. Aliens shelves. 

Fortunately the copy that was kindly provided to me by the author, Blaine D. Arden, proved me wrong.

The Forester is fifty pages long. The problem with short stories is that they’re usually quite short. Brevity can force an author to stuff the story full of facts or leave out huge chunks of detail that are necessary for the reader to feel familiar with the setting, cast and story itself.

But Blaine D. Arden has managed to keep the story self-contained, as well as offer the reader thorough world building and a rich cast of characters. There is very little exposition, though some where it is necessary as told through our main character, Kelnaht’s point of view. The reader isn’t given endless explanations of why, but rather, how. And all of this is done through action, showing rather than telling. It’s a short story that makes use of its limited page count. 

The story even offers us a small insight into a larger social structure, but where the writing really shines is in the introduction and description of the cast. The characters have varying backgrounds, and each is comfortable with their place in this society. The three main characters are also nicely connected even before the story begins, and their connection develops throughout the story alongside the mystery of whodunit.

Because, surprisingly, this is not just a love triangle. It’s got a nice little murder mystery. Think of it as CSI, but with elves, if you will, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Also, well done, the victim is discovered in the second paragraph, the fact of the murder is established not too much further down, and following this is the unraveling of the mystery as well as the introduction of the love triangle.

Our protagonist and our narrator, Kelnaht, is a Truth Seeker amongst the cloud elves. He’s charged with finding the murderer, but he’s also got his own problems of a lost love and a budding attraction to another man. 

Kelnaht’s former lover, Ianys, serves as the catalyst for this novel’s menage romance. In a very true and heartfelt way his reasons for leaving Kelnaht are revealed, and he serves as more than the middle man. And, speaking of, there is sex. Not just sex for the sake of getting off (though certainly, that is a valid a reason as any!) but the sex is used as a barometer for the mood of the story. 
There is angry sex, hurt sex, tender sex, loving sex, and all very well written. Just like Kelnaht, I also found myself wanting more. 

Unfortunately, it had to end. The Forester is 50 pages long. The one complaint I might have is that it seems too big a story for just 50 pages, but to be quite honest... it’s not even a valid complaint. The story is exactly as long as it needs to be. This story is full of tropes from voyeurism to the murder mystery, to the scorned lovers and the shunned member of the tribe, but it’s all done to a high standard. 

The Forester benefits from the first person point of view, in that it limits the information to the bare necessities. The story gives us a murder mystery where you wouldn’t necessarily expect one, as well as a complex and ultimately satisfying love triangle.

I’m still not sold on Fantasy as a genre, but I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up anything by Blaine D. Arden again.

By Madison Reese. M/M writer and reader, non-fiction nut. (Blog | Twitter | Goodreads)


Post a Comment