A guest review by Sammy
Review Summary: A heartbreaking story of the unconditional love of one man for his daughter, and how the love of another man helped him survive terrible loss.
Blurb: When Pryor’s daughter Lily is taken by a wolf, Pryor is convinced she has turned into the creature he sees lurking in his woods. He swears she promises to return to him. But is it his despair and desperation making him see things or is there something more lurking in the shadows of the forest? When he meets Ned, a silversmith who helps him with a plan to bring his daughter back into his life, he begins to live again. But can his newfound love help ease the horror that may be waiting? What if the ultimate horror isn’t when Lily was taken but it’s when Lily returns and he realizes his nightmare has only just begun…
Review: Pryor sits on the deck and watches the woods every day. He waits for that one fleeting glimpse of a young white wolf. In that terrible and breathtakingly painful moment when their eyes meet, he catches a brief glimpse of a lost soul…the soul of his daughter, Lily.
With heartbreaking detail, Lily by Xavier Axelson, tells the story of a man who in the blink of an eye loses the one most precious thing in his entire existence, his young daughter. From a series of flashbacks juxtaposed with the present day, we watch the story of Pryor’s life unfold. The details are not complete; in fact, much of this story is left undone as if the author wanted to impart only those elements that he felt were truly needed to make sense of the situation. However, just enough detail is given for the full horrifying effect of Pryor’s tortured existence to be understood.
On a typical afternoon, Lily, Pryor’s only child, is playing in the back yard. Their home sits on the edge of a deep wood. One moment Lily is there, the next she is gone, pulled into the wood by a wolf. While it is never fully explained why or how Lily is taken, it is quite clear from the onset of this story that Pryor suspects she is now the white wolf that prowls the edge of his property almost every evening. She has become a changeling, or a werewolf, he suspects, although he shares this belief with no one until he meets Ned. Ned, a retired army veteran, works as a silversmith in the local jewelry shop. Pryor, driven by the need to have something tangible to remember Lily by, goes to the shop to have a piece of jewelry made.
The two men make an immediate connection. Although the story dances around whether or not these two men are outright gay or merely bisexual it is very clear on their instant attraction. For the first time since Lily’s change, Pryor feels something akin to love, which in turn becomes hope.
Now the two men join forces to see if, by the wearing of the silver necklace Ned has fashioned, Lily can be forced to remain in human form. While the story details are once again sketchy, we are privy to the fact that Lily is able to return to human form only one day a year, Father’s Day. We then witness the vain attempts by Pryor and Ned to leash the beast that has taken over Lily’s soul, to no avail. The end of this little tale is bittersweet and decidedly gut-wrenching.
There were so many pieces of this story that played out like a beautiful symphony. The encounters, both sexual and non between Ned and Pryor as they explored the possibility of loving one another. Pryor’s determination to hold onto the humanity of his daughter despite all evidence supporting the fact that indeed the better part of her was a feral beast, unpredictable and wild. The small details of a life that was being lived on the edge of reason, such as Pryor’s penchant for holding vigil each evening in the hopes of seeing the creature his daughter had become emerge from the woods.
Unfortunately it is just these same pieces that became the core of my main criticism of this work; that the reader is left yearning for more…a clearer understanding of why Pryor’s wife left him; of why Lily was taken; of how Ned could believe the fantastical story of Lily’s changed form with such ease. So many questions were left unanswered that they began to overshadow the pleasure of the reading.
Indeed, the 3.5 star for this novel stems from the frustration I felt when the author would begin to lead us right to the cusp of a deeper look at the back story that had led us to a certain point in the novella only to veer off to delve into another memory.
However, despite these minor irritations, the novella was truly a moving story of unconditional and selfless love. A love that while bittersweet, remained hopeful and allowed for life to go on and new love to grow.