A guest review by Jenre
A sweet fantasy romance set in Amy Lane’s Green’s Hill world where flighty sidhe, Whim, learns the meaning of constancy from a human, Charlie.
Whim believes himself to be the least powerful sidhe at Green’s Hill: he is as constant as a bumblebee in a hurricane and as faithful as a stray breeze. Whim’s prince believes there is more to him than that and on Litha, the night of the summer solstice, sends Whim into the mortal world where he strives to give a piece of himself to others.
It is on Litha that Whim meets Charlie, a young, desperate human who steals a kiss. Whim steals one back and, in turn, craves another taste of this extraordinary man. Their vows to return next Litha and finish what they started launch a thirteen-year tradition of celebration between the mortal and the immortal, between love and patience, that is sustained by Whim’s driving, faithful compulsion to love and keep his human close to his heart.
Amy Lane has written a number of m/f and m/f/m fantasy books set in the faery world of Green’s Hill, a place governed by a sidhe, Green, and populated by faery folk, shifters and vampires. This story fits in and around the events of those other books. I haven’t read any of the other Green’s Hill books and it isn’t really necessary to have read them to understand the events of this book.
The story follows sidhe, or elf, Whim. He lives on Green’s Hill along with his brother Bracken. Whim’s name is very appropriate, as he’s forgetful and inconstant with a mind full of butterflies. His friend and sometimes lover vampire Adrian, persuades Whim to visit the human world on occasion and Whim decides he will make an annual trip at Litha (or summer solstice) to the human world and bestow a favour on a lonely human by giving them a night of carefree passion. During one of his visits he meets Charlie, a lonely young gay man. The two heroes hit it off and spend a companionable night together. As dawn approaches Whim asks Charlie to meet him at the same time, same place next year, thus beginning a yearly relationship which deepens into so much more for both man and sidhe.
This romance has a lovely bittersweet tone to it, as we follow Charlie and Whim as they meet each Litha and deepen their relationship with each other. I thought the way that the relationship strengthens as time moves on, and the way it develops year by year brought a sharpness to what could have been a bit of a mushy story. When Whim first meets Charlie he is 18 years old and full of promise and as the years go by Whim (and the reader) see that promise develop until Charlie is a mature man, careful of his responsibilities. Much of the story follows the last few years of their yearly ritual, as Whim waits patiently for the time when he can take Charlie back to Green’s Hill with him, and Charlie longs to go with Whim but feels unable to leave his life behind, or ask to go. There’s a real yearning in the story, yearning by both characters to be able to spend more time with each other and for the time to be right for that to happen.
As Charlie matures, so does Whim, so that he’s a very different sidhe at the end of the book from the first. I liked that this story was just as much about Whim as it was Charlie. I also liked the snippets of information we are given about Green’s Hill, the world of the sidhe and the powers and limitations of that race. It all added the the setting which managed successfully to have one foot in the fantasy world and the other in the world of humans with the bridge being the feelings that Whim and Charlie have for each other. I also liked that not everything is easy for the pair, they both have to make sacrifices, lose loved ones and make changes in their lives before they can be together.
If I have any complaints about the story it’s the way that the book used a sudden crisis to resolve the ending. I actually felt this was a little out of keeping with the rest of the book, and that perhaps I would have liked the story better if events had not conspired to force the issue rather than Charlie making the choice of his own free will. Having said that, I understand why the story ended as it did, and that perhaps the conclusion was suitably dramatic.
Despite this niggle, this was a pretty great novella. I loved the main characters, especially Whim and his ever-changing hair, and strong moral sense despite his flightiness. I liked the setting and the idea of the story in general. If you like fantasy stories with faery settings then you’ll like this book too and I recommend it to anyone with a love of fantasy or who wants to read an unusual book with sympathetic characters.