“There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.
When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.”
I utterly adored Emily Tesh’s Silver in the Wood. That’s it. That’s the whole review. What? You need more? Alright, then…
The story unfolds gradually with a inevitable kind of beauty, like a flower coming into bloom after a long winter. It’s a romance of the quiet, slow-burn sort, the kind where you the reader know from the meet cute that they’re destined to be together the but characters struggle to see it through the morass of their own personal anxieties and emotional constipation. The novella is also a supernatural mystery about a young man taken by a wicked forest creature and a pair of monster hunters saving England from chaos and evil. By the end the two halves have fused together in a way that’s both surprising and delightful.
Silver and Tobias have the instant rapport that comes from two lonely people discovering an unexpected connection with one another. Tobias brings an aura of calm and patience to Silver’s boundless energy and eagerness. They fit in just the way that Fabian, the villain of the piece, does not. Perhaps once he and Tobias did fit, or perhaps they both pretended they did, but those days are long since passed.
I don’t know where Tesh has been all these years, but she’s a gem of a writer. The world of Greenhollow Hall and the lives of its inhabitants are gorgeously rendered. She is a captivating writer, one who can describe a scene in detail without burying the reader in minutiae or losing sight of how the characters influence and are influenced by the scene.
Fans of C.L. Polk’s excellent Witchmark will love Silver in the Wood. This is definitely a summer must-read.
It was the middle of an autumn downpour when Tobias first met Henry Silver. Summer had come and gone, and the wood was quiet. Tobias was snug inside his neat little cottage with Pearl asleep on the hearth, tail twitching occasionally as she dreamed of catching sparrows. He had all his knives laid out in a row on the table and his oilstone to hand. He looked up through the cloudy panes of his one good window and saw the young man in a well-fitted grey coat stumbling along the track with wet leaves blowing into his face and his hat a crumpled ruin in his hands. Then Tobias didn’t even really think about it, just stepped outside and hollered for him to come in. The young man looked up with a startled expression. He had a soft boyish face and pale grey eyes, and his mud-coloured hair was plastered to his skin.
Thanks to Tor.com Publishing for sending me a review copy.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or borrow it from your public library.