by Emily Tesh
Published on June 18, 2019 by Tor.com
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
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.
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I’m not entirely sure what to say about Silver in the Wood. I liked it but I also felt like I was missing something. . . but also not? It was a weird feeling.
Novellas aren’t usually what I go for when it comes to reading material but I liked the dark fairy tale vibe I got from the synopsis for this one and decided to give it a try! It’s a quick read, probably took me no more than an hour to get through the whole thing, and the ending left me both wanting more and also satisfied all at once.
I think the former comes from the writing style. It reads very much like an extended fairy tale. Tobias, the man in the woods, is different. Not quite human. You don’t really know what he is at first but it’s clear he’s got something special going on with the forest around him. Obviously I wanted to know more! Then Henry Silver’s character is introduced and he’s such a bright spot against the brooding Tobias that I really wanted to know how that whole bit worked out, especially when the inklings of a romance subplot began threading through the main story.
The first half of the story felt more exploratory as Silver tried to learn more about the woods and Tobias and all the local legends. The second is where things grew a bit darker but not as much as I would have liked, and the tension wasn’t as heightened as I think it could have been if it had been a longer book with more time to flesh out the characters and their interactions. I think a longer story would have strengthened the romance between Tobias and Silver too. I liked it well enough but Silver in the Wood is only a little over 100 pages. There just wasn’t time to really give the characters a chance to explore that romance to its fullest.
I was pretty satisfied with the ending, though. While there were aspects of the story that I wanted more detail for, the overall story wrapped up in a full circle kind of way. I think it worked for the fairy tale-esque plot and the characters who were both fully realized and mysterious.
Silver in the Wood was a nice break from longer fiction, I have to say, and I would certainly pick up another novella (or full length novel) from Emily Tesh in the future.