Title: Tales from Blackthorn Briar
Series: Oak King Holly King: Book Two
Author: Sebastian Nothwell
Length: 302 Pages
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: From the lyrical language to the fruitful abundance of imagination, I couldn’t help but feel Sebastian Nothwell poured his whole heart into the writing of these stories, which translates to me loving this world and these characters and hoping that it’s not the last I see of them.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Shrike, the fae Butcher of Blackthorn, and Wren Lofthouse, a mortal Victorian clerk, are bound together by love and fate. Their continued adventures (and those of their friends) are told in this collection of fantastical tales following the story of Oak King Holly King, including…
Wherein Shrike and Wren repay their debt to the Court of Hidden Folk.
Mr Grigsby’s Clerk
Wherein Mr Grigsby finds a replacement for Wren – and perhaps more than he bargained for.
Jack in the Green
Wherein a certain Horse Guard wanders into Blackthorn Briar.
Wherein the Holly King surrenders to the Oak King.
The Holly King’s Peril
Wherein Wren and Shrike discover danger in the wilds of the Fae Realms.
The Ballad of Daniel Durst
Wherein Daniel embarks on his authentic life in a bold new land.
Review: If you read and enjoyed Sebastian Nothwell’s lovely Oak King Holly King and thought the Happily Ever After was the end for Wren Lofthouse and his fae love, Shrike, you’ll be pleased to know the author is not done with these characters, nor the charmed world in which they exist, just yet. He has composed an anthology of short stories/novellas in Tales from Blackthorn Briar that is, by turns, relentlessly sexy, romantic, suspenseful, full of wonderment, and bursting with even more love and comfort, not only for Wren and Shrike but for their friends as well.
Mabon kicks things off in a supremely erotic way when Wren and Shrike return to the Court of Hidden Folk to fulfill a bargain made in Oak King Holly King. Shrike introduced Wren to a world in which he was not only accepted but his sexuality was neither a crime nor uncommon. In doing so, Wren is experiencing carnal satisfaction in ways he could have only dreamt of before, and he’s made some lovely friends in the process who feature prominently throughout the rest of the collection.
Wren’s former boss, Mr Grigsby, gets his own happy beginning when a new clerk arrives with a letter of recommendation to fill Wren’s still-vacant position. Hull participated in the erotic rites with Wren and Shrike at Mabon, and proved to be a warm, kind, and charming sort. Mr Grigsby certainly thinks so too, but he has hidden his desires his entire life. Not to mention he is in his latter years and can’t fathom that Hull isn’t out to betray him in some way rather than being sincerely attracted to him. I found this story to be exceedingly heartwarming, most especially in Hull’s absolute sincerity and the way he earns Mr Grigsby’s trust and affection.
Jack in the Green and Winter Solstice go on to fulfill the collection’s eroticism with an old acquaintance from book one, and in the roles the Oak King and the Holly King represent at the change of the seasons. It’s a different sort of sword fight, to be sure, and Nothwell doles out the metaphor in the sexiest of ways.
The Holly King’s Peril is the longest of the stories by a good margin, and does nothing less than solidify the loving connection between Wren and Shrike when Wren’s life is threatened by an injury of the sort he could only encounter in the fae realms. It was to his great good fortune that a human practitioner of advanced medicine living with the fae came to his aid. The loving care and devoted focus Shrike gives Wren during his long convalescence doesn’t go unnoticed and, in fact, it gives Wren reason to self-doubt. This story is full of hurt and comfort and the sort of love that makes for a wonderful fairy tale romance.
The final story in the collection follows Daniel Durst to his happy-ever-after with his wife, Sukie, after they fled from England to Canada to start their new life together, and it ends Tales from Blackthorn Briar in a beautiful and joyful way, giving the opportunity for Wren and Shrike to now call Daniel and Sukie friends and for Wren to give the couple a sweet and personal memento in the bargain.
From the lyrical language to the fruitful abundance of imagination, I couldn’t help but feel Sebastian Nothwell poured his whole heart into the writing of these stories, which translates to me loving this world and these characters and hoping that it’s not the last I see of them. The Alt-Victorian landscape, the fae realms, and the diversity of characters serve to enrich the reading.
You can buy Tales from Blackthorn Briar here:
[zilla_button url=”https://books2read.com/Tales-from-Blackthorn-Briar” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon & Other eTailers [/zilla_button]