Buy Link: The Forester
Author: Blaine D. Arden
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: Short Story

Rating: 4.25

Kelnaht is a Truth Seeker, tasked with investigating the murder of a fellow elf, Cyine.  Cyine has been strangled, and suspicion turns toward the Forester, an elf that has been shunned from the community.  Kelnaht is strongly attracted toward the Forester (Taruif), but is not allowed to even speak his name, let alone enter a relationship with him without risking being shunned himself.  He is not allowed to talk to him directly either, making it difficult to clear his name in the murder.

Complicating matters is the involvement of Kelnaht’s former lover, Ianys.  Ianys broke off their relationship because he wanted a child, although his female mate has since died. Kelnaht still loves him, despite his hurt over the abandonment.  Ianys reveals to Kelnaht that he is now involved with Taruif, and that Taruif witnessed someone suspicious at the scene of the murder.  Ianys wants to lie and say he is the eyewitness, but Kelnaht doesn’t want him to risk getting caught and losing his daughter.  And revealing his relationship with the Forester will put Ianys at risk. Kelnaht must decide if he can protect the men that he loves while still discovering who really murdered Cyine. And once the murderer is caught, he must figure out if there is any way to have Taruif and Ianys in his life the way he truly wants.

I enjoyed this short story and the glimpse into the elfin world.  There was just enough detail to create an interesting and rich world, without getting bogged down in too much minutia for a short story.  The murder investigation moved along well and the techniques Kelnaht uses to analyze the evidence and speak to witnesses are really interesting.  The power (or energy) that Kelnaht uses to examine the evidence is very parallel to modern investigative techniques.  I think Arden did a nice job laying out the mystery and resolving it nicely in a short number of pages.

I also liked the relationship between the three men, although I do wish there was a bit more time for things to develop, especially between Kelnaht and Taruif as they were the two without a preexisting relationship.  But this is one of the limitations of the short story format, and I think Arden does a nice job giving us a feel for the threesome and what the future might bring.  It was a nice intertwining of a darker mystery with a nice, sweet romance.  I really liked Kelnaht and was rooting for him to find his way to the men he loved.

This was my first story by Arden and I really liked her voice and the way she made this new world approachable and interesting.  I will definitely keep my eyes open for more from this author.

Cover Review: This is so beautiful.  Such nice detail and I especially like how it portrays a specific scene from the book.  Really lovely.