Song of Oestend takes place in an alternate reality and resembles the Old West, but with some odd technologies, ancient mysticism, and ghosts thrown in for fun. I would feel comfortable labeling it as steampunk, paranormal, or fantasy, but I labeled it as fantasy because both steampunk and paranormal fit into that genre.
Aren Montrell is a social leper from the city, and to get away from it all, he travels to Oestend for a job as a bookkeeper. Of all the cities he could have chosen, I honestly have no idea why he chose Oestend. Oestend is in the middle of nowhere, so Aren has to live on a ranch that people die on every year, and he doesn’t know the first thing about that life. There are deadly storms, and every night wraiths come out and suck the souls out of anyone who isn’t behind a protective barrier. If that’s not bad enough, the town is also super conservative, and once he moves there, he realizes he’s the most eligible bachelor of the entire region. And he’s gay—not bi-gay, but truly gay. He literally can’t even get it up for a woman. Knowing he’s probably meeting his demise, socially and otherwise, Aren decides to move there anyway.
And he surprisingly finds himself. Aren undergoes a metamorphosis after moving to the ranch, and the entire town changes with him, including a hot foreman named Deacon. Aren isn’t the only one who was stuck in a rut, and Deacon has to keep up with the times or become lost in the past.
I thought this novel was sweet. There was also a lot of tension between Aren and the ranch hands, including Aren and Deacon specifically. Even though this seems to be Aren’s story, because it’s mostly told from his point of view, I think it was very much Deacon’s. Being with Aren allows Deacon to open up to someone in a way he never could before, and that friendship becomes precious and fragile to both of them.
If you like the Old West, ghost stories, a light bondage scene or two, and/or a breathtakingly sweet story, check this out.
Marie Sexton is also A. M. Sexton, and I’ve written reviews about her work before. She’s been writing hot and interesting stories for many years, and you can find more information about her on her blog, and you can also find her list of works on her website: http://mariesexton.net/
Here’s a link to the review I did of Release: http://www.bethbrockbooks.com/?p=391
Check out Goodreads for reviews on her other works: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3292500.Marie_Sexton
Beth Brock is a reviewer for DSP and QSF. She enjoys reading, writing, running, family and food, and fills her life with bent bunk. She especially loves to discuss LGBTQ+ literature. Her website is http://www.bethbrockbooks.com. You can find her on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/BethBrockBooks.