The Legend of Gentleman John

Title: The Legend of Gentleman John
Author: T. J. Nichols
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 1, 2018
Genre(s): Historical, Fantasy, Short Story
Page Count: 36 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Banyn, a fae, escorts the souls of children to Magh Meall, but one Christmas, he comes for a lad who isn’t quite dead, and he breaks a rule rather than wait while John fights a battle he’ll ultimately lose. So begins a long-running affair that crosses the border between life and death, the human and fae realms, and even oceans to strange countries with different gods and rules.

John Rourke renounced a religion that had no place for him and returned to the old ways. Convicted of theft, he is sentenced to transportation and suffers brutal punishment—until he escapes to live on his own terms as a bushranger. When vengeance against his tormentor consumes him and threatens his life, John finds he has only one holiday wish—to see his fae lover one last time.

This is one of those tales that starts near the end and then sequentially goes back to describe how it got there. The historical setting is interesting and certainly adds to the atmosphere of the story. The fae aspect is touched upon frequently but it always seems to be just out of reach, as it is assumed was the author’s intent. The focus is on the central character and the supporting role the fae character plays. There is clearly a contextual set of activities but these and the other characters involved are marginalised. This is a shame because there is an obvious opportunity to develop this into a full novel.

The central character is transgender with the romantic interest being male. The romantic focus is on male-to-male liaison as well as human to fae. There is implied rather than explicit sexual contact. This is frustrated by the time jumps because everything is episodic.

As this is a short story, there is a lot of hopping around. In general, this is well flagged so the reader is not confused. However, it does affect the flow of the story.

The ending if the story is interesting as it makes sense of the book title. In all it was a very interesting concept, but the reader can feel short-changed because there is so much more that could have been said in all areas of the story.

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Galley copy of The Legend of Gentleman John provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.