Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Truth in the Dark

Title: Truth in the Dark
Author: Amy Lane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Publisher URL:
ISBN: 978-1-61581-530-2
Genre: [M/M] Fantasy, Twisted Fairy Tale
Rating: Recommended Read
Literary Nymphs Reviewer: Mystical Nymph

Deformed since birth, Naef, a, ugly, club-footed cripple, has led a painful existence, shunned and despised by everyone in his small fishing village except his mother and older sister, Gwen. He’s a bitter, angry man who lashes out viscously at the tiniest slight. His family is the only people he cares for and when his sister falls in love but refuses her suitor in order to stay in the village to protect him, Naef’s desperate to find a solution that will ensure her happiness.

Aerie-Smith lives on an enchanted island and after an unintentional slight to a Fae woman, he was cursed to walk upright in the form of a lion. He’s the cousin of Gwen’s suitor and he hires Naef as a companion for a year. At the end of their time together, Naef will be expected to complete a particular but regrettable task, after which he will be returned to his family.

While traveling by ship to the enchanted island, one morning Naef wakes to find his body’s been transformed by the same magic that curses Aerie-Smith and his people. Naef now has the perfect, strong body he’s always dreamed of, but that doesn’t mean he believes he’s changed on the inside—on the inside he’s still convinced he’s nasty and ugly. Naef doesn’t know why Aerie-Smith finds him likable, but he’s not stupid enough to turn down someone as gorgeous as his lion-king host. It’s not long before Naef realizes that dreams do come true, in the dark, in his lover’s strong arms.

Truth in the Dark was a totally unexpected jewel of a story. It’s a well written and twisted slant on the classic Beauty and Beast tale, with bits of heartfelt emotion, fun, desire and love interspersed throughout the story. It’s a true romance in every sense of the word and pulls at the heartstrings in the most effective ways. Be aware—this isn’t a sunshine and flowers type of story. Get the tissues ready.

The writing and character development is so good, the story so absorbing and the pace so fast, I don’t even care that the plot is a little predictable -- but not too predictable. The author still manages to throw in some unexpected and creative tidbits, making for a complexity I never expected in a fairy tale. The numerous secondary characters flesh out the story nicely and I particularly enjoyed the appearances of Naef’s protective sister, Gwen. Likewise the enchanted citizens of Aerie-Smith’s island—parrots, monkeys, sheep and every other manner of human turned animal..

Ultimately, Truth in the Dark is a story of Naef’s redemption, showing him that people are more than just the sum total of what appears on the outside. They are the goodness of the love and heart hidden within.

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