As a collector of fairy tales, I’m always excited to come across something new I’ve never seen before. There’s a beauty in old collections of Andersen or Grimm, in their many iterations filled with illustrations and well-worn tales. It’s a genre I highly respect, and it’s no easy feat to add something profound and deeply moving to the oeuvre. Silver in the Wood is just that — a profound and deeply moving look at an ancient tale set within a mysterious wood on the edge of civilization. The story goes beyond the watchful eye of a folklorist, breaking through the walls of awed storytelling to show us the truth behind the mystery. We see how this mysterious man in the wood was created, how he came to be rooted to this place long past his time. It’s fascinating to get that backstory, to watch as a myth is broken apart. The magic doesn’t disappear as you discover he’s just a man in a magical place.
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NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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I was most impressed by the author’s reverence for the relationship between Tobias and his woods. This isn’t a book filled with magical battles and larger-than-life occurrences, though there are a couple of those moments. For most of the book, it’s an examination of the little things that have grown to be Tobias’ everyday life. We get an understanding of how alive a forest can be as it works together to create a cohesive being. The trees feel each other, the ferns and the vines work together to enclose the life within. It’s only when Tobias eventually leaves the forest that we realize just how special and unique it is. The outside world moves a mile a minute with its trains and dirty cities brimming with people. In the wood, it all falls away, moving on its own time without a care in the world for what happens beyond the tree line. Tobias and Henry are fascinating characters, but it’s the wood itself that proves to be the real center of this expert character piece.
In the end, Silver in the Wood is a wonderful jaunt into the fairy tale genre. The pages are brimming with life and originality, begging you to venture further down its well-worn paths to discover the mysteries that lie within this little, unassuming wood.
Silver in the Wood
By Emily Tesh
Published by Tor.com