Title: The Forester
Author: Blaine D. Arden
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Pages: 50 (.pdf)
Characters: Kelnaht, Ianys, Taruif (the Forester)
POV: 1st Person
Kelnaht, a cloud elf, is a truth seeker caught between love and faith. Worse, a murder committed ten days before Solstice reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit: Kelnaht’s former lover Ianys, who once betrayed him, and the shunned forester named Taruif, who is not allowed to talk to anyone but The Guide, their spiritual pathfinder. When Taruif turns out to be the only witness for the crime, Kelnaht has to keep Ianys from sacrificing himself and losing his daughter, while at the same time realising he’d gladly sacrifice himself to end Taruif’s loneliness.
I so wish this novella had been titled The Forester: BOOK #1 because, let me tell you, there’d better be a BOOK #2 in the works or else. Or else I just might cry.
Blaine D. Arden knocks this one right out of the ballpark on her first swing, in a CSI meets Law & Order meets J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy/mystery; then, to top it all off, she throws in a little tickle-your-fancy with a sweet ménage à trois, which comes together in a world where elves and magic rule. It all adds up to one wonderful read, as far as I’m concerned, evidenced by the fact that I was cursing myself the whole way through for not being able to read faster so I could see what would happen next.
There’s been a murder committed in the forest community, and as the Truth Seeker, it’s up to Kelnaht to investigate the crime and find the perp. His abilities exceed simple forensics, however, as he is also able to reach out with his mystical abilities and senses for guidance, which gives the story its police procedural meets the otherworldly atmosphere. But while the mystery was entertaining, it came in second for me when compared to the intrigue presented in the relationship between Kelnaht, his ex-lover Ianys, and the Forester, an elf who has been shunned for reasons I won’t divulge, and whose name is forbidden to be spoken aloud.
The Forester, Taruif, is a bit like the proverbial elephant in the room. He lives on the outskirts of the community, is seen but not heard, is noticed but ignored by all but The Guide. So, what’s a Truth Seeker to do when the one and only person who may be an eye witness to a crime is the one and only person he is forbidden to speak with? It’s a conundrum, especially when the investigator is also incredibly attracted to the forbidden. And especially when the man who betrayed Kelnaht, the man he still loves, is discovered to be the Forester’s secret lover. Whew! Got all that?
Now, the crime is resolved before the end, but the relationship between Kelnaht, Ianys, and Taruif? No, that’s only just beginning, which is why I must have a sequel to this story. There are hurdles crossed, but there are still more in the way, and the navigating of them must be done carefully or else all might be lost, and that must be avoided at all costs because these three men, well, they just fit together so perfectly.
Reviewed By: Lisa