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REVIEW: To Bring Him Home and Other Tales – Warren Rochelle

To Bring Him Home and Other Tales - Warren Rochelle

Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi

LGBTQ+ Category: MM, FF, MF, One triad, with a gender shifter

Reviewer: Tony

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About The Book

We all need a place to call home, a place where we belong, and are safe, and loved. For the lovers in these stories, finding home is easier said than done. Quests must be taken; dragons must be slain. Rocket launchers need to be dodged. Sometimes one might have to outrun the Wild Hunt, and sometimes they have to reimagine and recreate home. But these lovers do find homes, homes in each other’s hearts.

The Review

To Bring Him Home and Other Tales are mostly set in an alternate future Earth where magic exists along with Elves, witches, etc. The world is not a good place, as it is also populated by fanatics and bigots and, let’s face it, paranormal and gay folk do not rate highly in the eyes of the bigots. Where the stories do not involve paranormal beings directly, life is still not particularly good. Happily, there is always some light at the end of the dark and dank tunnel for the main protagonists.

The stories:

‘To Bring Him Home’ is full of good ideas, but does not really work for me. It takes elements of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ and grafts them onto gay teenage love story. It is written from the viewpoint of a naive eighteen year old boy, but he seems to be much younger. Fletcher, the protagonist, oscillates between a whinging ten year old and an eighteen year old young man about his first experience of love and sex. There are some good ideas and some dark characters, but it needs more work to realise its potential.

There seem to have been a number of off page conversations and decisions that jarred me. This is something that occurs few times throughout the collection. I kept thinking I must have missed something, but when I checked back I found the reader was not present when the thing was said or decided. It’s a shame, as the references could be deleted without effecting the stories in any negative way.

‘Linden Grove’ is a sweet short story about Felix, Mark and Lucy. Felix and Lucy have both had poor luck in finding love and the right one. Now Felix has found Mark, and he thinks it is all going well until Mark tells him a secret. The revelation changes everything for Felix. Lucy has a secret of her own and she’s going to support Felix in his loss in any way she can. In the end, things work out in ways neither her or Felix could have imagined.

‘Blue Ghosts’ tells the story of the world recovering from alien rule which destroyed human civilisation and made pets of the human race, carrying out genetic manipulation on them. It builds on ‘The Wild Boy’ by the author but is set some time in the future of that story.

The world is split into two camps, one which accepts what happened and is trying to rebuild, and the other which wants nothing to do with it, hating the surviving families which have retained some of the gifts they were given. This group, who title themselves true humans, also go about destroying any electronic machinery, even that which was created by humans before the alien invasion.

The two protagonists are right at the forefront of the conflict. They are made to question what it is they want from each other and life. This story has legs, for sure, and I’d love there to be a sequel.

‘The Day After The Change’ is about the result of magic bursting back into every ones’ lives, changing everything about how they think things should be. For the two couples featured here, the change is about finding your true self and being truthful to it. That’s not to say it is going to be easy. 

‘Green Light’ is a dark story set in a rather nasty North America run by an even nastier elite who rule by fear, hate, enslavement and extermination. The title ‘Green Light’ could be just about love getting the green light to proceed or it could also be about the two warriors being given the green light to wipe out the small community the protagonist Walker lives in. He’s not one of the warriors, but his lover is. It is a brilliant story about love in a time of hate, and about the people at the bottom of the pile just surviving and waiting for those at the top to decide when to rain fire down on them.

‘Ever After’ is a very short story but it’s everything it needs to be. Two guys meet in a gay bar and fall in love but . . . And it is a really big but. Read it yourself to find out just how big!

‘The Latest Thing’ is another short one, but with an equally big obstacle in the way of true love. Well, life is full of obstacles that just have to be got past or over or sidestepped.

‘Darkling’ is the last of the flash fiction pieces featured here, about a magician who conjures up a demon who is not at all what the magician expected.

‘Horn, Long and Low, Far and Away’ is another version of the other world where elves live, but these are the type of elves you’d do well to stay away from. Alex doesn’t have that option, as he is seduced and spirited away to Faerie to feed the hunger the elves feel for sex and the chase. The chase is a hunt carried out with humans as the prey, and death is the prize if they are caught. Luck, however, is on Alex side, but I’m not about to tell you why. It’s an exciting – if wordy – tale about Tintagel and the consequences of spending time in Faerie.

There are a few low points in these stories, but all in all this is a good collection that I enjoyed very much.

The Reviewer

Tony is an Englishman living amongst the Welsh and the Other Folk in the mountains of Wales. He lives with his partner of thirty-six years, four dogs, two ponies, various birds, and his bees. He is a retired lecturer and a writer of no renown but that doesn’t stop him enjoying what he used to think of as ‘sensible’ fantasy and sf. He’s surprised to find that if the story is well written and has likeable characters undergoing the trails of life, i.e. falling in love, falling out of love, having a bit of nooky (but not all the time), fending off foes, aliens and monsters, etc., he’ll be happy as a sandperson who has just offloaded a wagon of sand at the going market price. As long as there’s a story, he’s in. He aims to write fair and honest reviews. If he finds he is not the target reader he’ll move on. 

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