The Forester is an impressive mix of fantasy and murder/mystery. The writing is superior and the romance is a nice touch without being too easy and ignoring the many potential problems. I personally liked the mystery component of the story more than the romance as ménages are a tough sell that I don’t always appreciate. Overall I quite like this novella and recommend it even if the threesome didn’t quite win me over as a reader.
The story starts with the investigation of a murder of a lovely elf. The investigating elf is called a truth seeker and uses a mixture of old fashioned evidence gathering and magical intuition to understand and solve the crime. Kelnaht searches for clues to the elf’s murder while dealing with the sudden re-emergence of an old romantic interest and his forbidden lover.
I found this short story/novella very entertaining, interesting, and satisfying. I didn’t want it to end and quite literally didn’t put it down from beginning to end. The fantasy aspect of the story works incredibly well blending recognizable investigation techniques with a good use of magic. The magic details are introduced seamlessly into the story and used liberally. In fact the investigation aspect is what caught me at the start and the world building surrounding the elves and their lives is what held my attention. I wish the story had actually been longer to involve more of these details.
It would have been nice to learn more about how the politics and magic of the elves are used. I loved the details of the Guide and the apprentices and easily could have read more of that. Additionally I think the story suffers from just not enough space. While satisfying enough in the current length, the story does suffer. It tries to establish a threesome while solving a murder all while creating a complicated world of fantasy. It’s a tall order that does well but each element needs more space.
For example the threesome is interesting but I’m not entirely sold on it. Part of that could be that ménages are a tough thing for me as a reader to buy into anyway and perhaps other readers will like this aspect more. I feel there is too much left out to really understand and believe how fast these three men came together. Kelnaht and Ianys have a history, one where Ianys betrayed and crushed Kalnaht. We’re told a bare minimum of details about this as Kel almost instantly forgives the other man. I would have liked more background about these two and how Kel could go from insanely angry to insanely in love so quickly. Two sides of the same coin sure but Kel’s emotions flipped too easily and suddenly for me.
Likewise the murder investigation starts to take a backseat to the romance. By the time they discover who is the culprit, there are no other possible subjects at all. It’s almost an afterthought, which is unfortunate given the great set up. The story could have embellished both the investigation and the romance, not to mention given more space and time to the world building and come out with an even more interesting and stronger story; at least in my opinion.
As it is the story is well crafted with good writing and an excellent attention to detail. The flow of words is absorbing and ultimately this is a very entertaining story. In fact I wanted much more of the story because I liked it so much and I look forward to what this author writes next. I really hope it’s within this same world.