Reviewed by Katinka C.
TITLE: Truth and Roses
AUTHOR: Veronica Sloane
PUBLISHER: Torquere Press
LENGTH: 23 pages
BLURB: High in the trees of a dense forest rests a bower made of roses. It stands as a delicate fortress around the Prince, a magician and ruler of the surrounding kingdom. Given the choice, he would stay there forever, but the world outside makes its demands in the form of a dragon and a persistent amnesiac young man, whose only desire is to serve his Prince.
They say the Prince had eyes of steel that could see through the uneven pleats of time, and hair made of smoke that snuck into other people’s minds to wrap around their thoughts. Some say he was a foundling, others a changeling, and still others that he was born of a woman who beheld her child and promptly died of shock.
I think I will just imagine that this Prince looks like the Goblin King from Labyrinth. If only because everything is always better when you add some Bowie. With 15 pages, this is a super-short high fantasy tale about a mysterious prince and an ordinary man who does a very unlikely thing; he decides to visit the Prince in the woods one day. In the tradition of classic fantasy stories this story includes talking wood creatures, dragons that need to be slain, magic and a dash of instant love.
In so few pages, there’s not much room for depth and character motivation, so when the ordinary stranger decides that all he ever wanted is to love and cherish the Prince, I guess you will just have to take his word for it. Only in fairytales, right! For a similar reason, it’s difficult to say truly meaningful things about Truth and Roses. What I can say is that I enjoyed the crafty, somewhat flowery writing style of the author. It provided the story itself, which was somewhat stiff and formal, with a rich atmosphere that I thought fit the genre like a glove. Though I would probably have to read something a little longer to be able to tell if Sloane can write a well-plotted story with three-dimensional characters as well.
One day in the warm, wild spring, a young man from the southern reaches of the Prince’s domain approached the ancient stand of trees that the Prince called his palace. The man had ordinary brown hair and ordinary brown eyes and he wore ordinary clothes. “What are you doing here?”a sparrow asked from a low-hanging branch. “I’ve come for the Prince.” The ordinary man smiled. “Is he at home?”
“No one visits the Prince,” a chipmunk said at the man’s feet. “He lives alone. Stays alone. His people wait for him to visit them.”
“Is that so?” The man looked up at the bower so many feet of the ground, then shrugged. “Not me.”
I do wonder if these mini-stories by Torquere Press are the best way to offer new, promising authors exposure? Personally, I’d include these snippets in the form of a bonus story in books of bestselling authors instead. There are tons of fabulous and free stories out there in the m/m genre, some of which have beautiful covers too. It would be a shame if readers therefore let these teasers pass, because I think this author deserves to have more people sample her work.
Truth and Roses would probably be a great addition to a book with bundled fairytales. Since there’s only a little, chaste romance in it, it could even qualify as an adventurous bedtime story for children. After all, sometimes princes do not wish to kiss fair, helpless maidens but young, handsome men!
Katinka C. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.
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