One upon a time, Prince Efrosin was cursed as an infant with a lack of physical or emotional gravity. This means that physically he is not bound to the ground and will fly away if not held or tied down. The only time he has any weight is when he is in water, and Efrosin spends long hours every day in the rivers by the palace. He also has no emotional gravity, making him incapable of experiencing any depth of emotion. No strong fear or sadness, anger or remorse, or even love or lust. He instead is almost childlike, delighted with almost everything and unable to take things very seriously.
One day while outside, Efrosin’s rope bonds break loose and he flies away, getting caught in some branches deep in the woods. He is found by Dmitri, a young woodsmen who lives alone. Dmitri has a curse of his own, binding him to the land where he lives. The two men find an instant attraction to one another, and much to his surprise, Efrosin experiences a sexual awakening for the first time. The two immediately fall for one another, although it just a matter of time before the palace tracks Efrosin and brings him home. Not only that, but the witch who cursed them is not pleased to see the men find happiness together and is out for revenge that could keep them apart for good.
This was a really fun story and I found it light and sweet and amusing. I couldn’t help by be entertained by Efrosin and his innocent ways. He is so open to trying and doing new things, not having it in him to feel real fear or concern. He says what he thinks and finds each new experience rather delightful. Although he drives his servants crazy with his lightness and levity in just about all situations, I found him kind of cute. When he meets Dmitri, suddenly Efrosin starts changing by tiny bits, although he barely notices it in himself. All he realizes is that for the first time, he can feel real lust and emotion for someone, and I cracked up at his enthusiasm for trying out this sex stuff he has been hearing so much about, and his delight at his newfound sluttiness.
For his part Dmitri is so lonely, trapped on his land and living in the middle of the woods. When Efrosin bursts into his life, Dmitri barely knows what hit him. Efrosin is so colorful and full of light and energy, and Dmitri is instantly drawn to him. Although he is pretty sure he shouldn’t be jumping the lost heir to the kingdom, Dmitri can’t help himself in the face of his own attraction and Efrosin’s enthusiasm. I really liked Dmitri as well, full of gentle patience for Efrosin’s less endearing qualities. He is reliable and sturdy and used to making his own way in the world, and becomes the steadiness that balances out Efrosin’s flightiness. I liked the contrasts and similarities between the men. Dmitri is lonely, rarely seeing others in his little patch of woods. He is self-sufficient, forced to rely on only himself for his survival. On the other hand, Efrosin is constantly surrounded by others, not only because he is the Prince, but because he is never safe from the dangers of flying away. Yet for all the people in his life, few really care about him or have patience for him.
I enjoyed the fairy tale aspects of the story and thought they were well done. I am not sure of the origins of the tale, but it is full of witches and curses and all sorts of mythology. I would be curious to learn more about the original story and how this version differs. The concept of these two opposite characters – one tied down and the other full of flight – is quite unusual and created a really interesting dynamic. I also enjoyed the lore of the witches, especially the one who represents Earth. We often see Earth portrayed as steady and solid, someone grounded with deep roots . Yet here we see it as turbulent, full of bubbling lava hiding under the surface, one that brings famine and earthquakes and other devastation. This was such a different take and I found it quite interesting. My only complaint here is that things started to verge on monologuing a little toward the end as we hear all about the master plan. But overall I think this was done very well.
I really enjoyed both characters, but the place where the story fell a little short for me was the chemistry between them. It is clear that they lust for one another and their curses draw them together, but I had a hard time feeling that emotional bond. This is mostly because for the vast majority of the book, Efrosin is really incapable of feeling one. It is clear that Dmitri brings out more gravity in him than anyone else, but he still just seems so childlike. Efrosin is just delighted to find himself attracted to Dmitri and that for once his body responds. But it is almost like Dmitri is a toy, something bright and shiny that he wants to play with, rather than always a real connection. This definitely improves over time, but in the short time span of the story, it made it difficult for me to feel his real emotion. For Dmitri’s part, I wanted a bit more of sense of what was drawing him to Efrosin other than attraction. Efrosin drives most people nuts; what is it about Dmitri that he finds him charming and endearing instead? Some of this is the nature of the fairy tale format with the curses creating a bond that gives these guys instant attraction. But I needed a little more to really feel the connection between them.
So overall I found this an enjoyable and fun story. It was an unusual tale and I was drawn into the book immediately and it kept my attention throughout. The characters are entertaining and endearing, especially Efrosin, and I got a few giggles along the way. If you are looking for a light and fun read, and especially if you like unique fairy tales, I’d give this one a try.