Emrys Bogey loves being principal of Mystic Hollow Elementary. As a bogeyman, Emrys is used to people being afraid of him and not quite fitting in, but Mystic Hollow is a special town that serves as a refuge for Otherkind. Emrys is also crushing on one of his staff, teacher Jayden Bell. However, as Jayden’s boss, Emrys has been keeping his interest to himself.
Jayden might be human, but he too loves working at Mystic Hollow and teaching the diverse student body made up of so many Otherkind. Jayden also shares Emrys’ attraction and he works up the nerve to ask him out. Emrys can’t help but worry whether Jordan will truly be able to accept him and how things might work between a bogeyman and a human. However, while Emrys may be huge, tattooed, and with giant antlers, all Jayden sees is the total sweetheart he really is.
The Bogeyman and the Teacher is a prequel story that leads into Chloe Archer’s Monster’s Hollow series. As an introduction to this world, I think it does its job well and this story really gives readers a chance to get acquainted with both the town and the series world building. This is a varied supernatural world, extending beyond the vamps and shifters that we often see in paranormals into things like gnomes, lamia (snake-like creatures), dryads, and, of course, bogeypeople (“boogeymen” in the American pronounciation). Archer does a nice job showcasing the varied characters and supernatural beings, without the story feeling weighed with too much time spent introducing everything in this shorter format.
This story is sweet as sugar and Emrys and Jayden are adorable together. They find each other too cute for words, everyone else finds them too cute for words, and pretty much the whole town seems to be rooting for them to get together. There is virtually no conflict here, as Jayden asks Emrys out at the start of the book and most of the story is the two of them being sweetly excited as they anticipate their date a few days later. I appreciated that the issue of the men being boss/employee is addressed and resolved quickly, so there are no consent issues to worry about. We do get a little uncertainty from Emrys as he wonders if Jayden will accept him and how things will work between them, but this is really a minor, barely there conflict. The tone here is light and frothy and the men are just sweet and happy and head over heels for each other. I do think some readers may find this one too saccharine, honestly. Maybe on another day it would have been all too much for me, or perhaps if it had been a full novel versus novella-length, but I found myself enjoying this quick little sugar bomb and really liking Emrys and Jayden together.
This story is pretty mild in the heat department, but there are some sexual elements here and there. For me, with all this sort of wide-eyed sweetness and earnestness, the occasional sexy thought or comment felt a little awkward. It was sort of strange to have these decidedly G-rated “may I walk you home and hold your hand” type moments for the majority of the story juxtaposed with bouts of thinking about butt plugs or whatever. But overall, I think Archer makes it work.
My other issue here is that this book leans a little heavy for me in setting up the first full novel in the series, The Orc and the Manny. This is a fairly short story and I’m not sure it added much to have Emrys so excited to meet the MC from the next book and to learn so much of the man’s backstory. It was really just a lot of background for the first book and I’m not sure it added much here. That said, I have the first novel lined up and will be reviewing it later this week. I am looking forward to see what else this series has to offer, and enjoyed this prequel story.
Note: This story was originally written for the Class of 22/23 M/M Romance Prolific Works Giveaway in June 2023 and is now available for sale.