Title: Galen and the Forest Lord
Author: Eden Winters
Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Fantasy / Shifters / Romance
Length: Novella/30,000 words
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Raine
Summary Review: Original and fun parody of shifter lore in romantic folk tale fable.
Blurb: By the time Galen Olaf-kin woke up and smelled the spiced ale, it was too late, and he never finished the wicked deed for which he stood trial. Banished from his home, he flees to the forest, taking nothing but the unwanted infant he’s rescued. Perhaps the legends are true and the forest lord will take them both in. The lord is said to give sanctuary to outcasts, but none of the stories mention the naughty, tempting things he whispers, or that he shares Galen’s forbidden passions.
Lord Erik rolls his eyes at the prophecy that says when human hands deliver a babe to the forest, he’ll meet the mate destined to reunite forest folk with humankind. What interest has he in a child? The handsome human who brings the babe is another matter entirely, and a little thing like destiny won’t stand in Erik’s way of claiming the golden-haired Galen as his own. Or will it?
Sometimes prophecies are overrated, legends incomplete, and heroes not always the sharpest swords in the scabbard.
This is a fun, broad humour-based parody of many M/M shifter traditions, set in a Red Riding Hood forest and village folk tale. I kept expecting to hear a rather toneless Greensleeves sung in the round.
The fairy tale motif is carried on the muscular back of an unexpected babe in the woods. The naive, kind hero Galen is tricked out of his birth right and banished for being attracted to lads not lasses. With the baby he has saved from what he thinks is slavery he is forced to face the dangers of the forest. The wolves of the close by forest had always been a source of scary fire-side stories.
Legends and predictions are manipulated in this story with all the delight of a political spin doctor. Old Jarl, a seer with a very loose concept of interpreting prophecy, Kitta a white witch and Lady Eydis, the Alpha Bitch herself all help to save Galen and Erik, the Forest Lord from themselves. If in addition they preserve two precarious societies — well that provides an extra happy ending.
The details of the the Forest Lord’s court are displayed with a great deal of robust humour as many shifter tropes are tormented with varying degrees of success. I particularly enjoyed the inner wolf dialogues. Also I think I blushed as I realised Erik had caught me with his:
Honestly who’d believe he could determine a man’s length with simply a sniff? Half your clan that’s who.
Although carefully guided by various would-be powers behind the throne, I was pleased that Erik displayed some strong instincts of his own that showed why he was a successful leader. Personally I need at least a certain level of charisma in my heroes, even in parody. Humour is ever a movable feast, and somethings worked better than others for me. I found Galen and the villager’s dialogue, however, had a slightly irritating whiff of ye olde dialect about it.
Both Galen and the Forest Lord Erik are enjoyable characters, with their own mix of the heroic and unheroic; they display outright stupidity, but also kindness, honesty, bravery and unexpected cunning. However when push comes to shove they show they are meant to be together in this quirky and funny fable.