August slipped away so quickly that I can only hope the rest of the year will move a bit slower. I want to enjoy the fall, feel cozy and read more in September because I only ever read *checks notes* four books this month. Five if I finish Harrow the Ninth by next week. Listen, I started a new day job in August (how’s that for a life update?) and I’ll take what I can get on the reading front for now. Along with the new job, I started on a new translation project and that has been taking up my nights.
My new job is WFH, which is its own can of worms, but so far it’s been learning the ropes and getting to know my coworkers. It’s a completely different environment for me, what I do has little to do with any other work I’ve done before, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I feel a bit more motivated to focus on creative outlets because I can compartmentalize better.
That being said, I did read an e-ARC of Emily Tesh’s Drowned Country, which is the conclusion to the Greenhollow Duology. Despite being a continuation of the same story, both novellas have a distinct flavor.
“Any place long inhabited by the supernatural will in due course become supernatural in itself.“Drowned Country by Emily Tesh
I read the first novella, Silver in the Wood, back in April and loved it. It has a quiet sort of charm, a sense that you are visiting the hidden corners of a familiar world. The characters are well-versed in the queer magic of this world, they live in it, it’s in the air they breathe. At least, Henry Silver (gentleman scholar, hunter of secrets, lover of fairy tales) certainly is. He goes out looking for more, finds a burly yet incredibly tender man in a timeless wood and falls in love. Tobias is the Wild Man who “lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow”. He has nowhere else to go, being tethered to the Wood so intrinsically that he can’t even remember the last time he did anything but watching over it. So when Henry Silver finds his way to Greenhollow, he watches over him as well.
The way the passing of time is handled in this novella is fascinating. Not just in terms of time as Silver and Tobias experience it, but in terms of the narration, which is soothing as it is disconcerting. I flew through it without realizing, lost track of time and space. I really appreciated the parts about lore as well. The difference between Silver’s scholarly approach to the supernatural world versus his mothers’ (who is, arguably, a badass) was exactly what the novella needed to go a little deeper. Pull that curtain and reveal the mystery, so to speak.
Moving onto Drowned Country, I wasn’t sure if the cast and plot would persist or change. This novella somehow did both? Both continuing Henry and Tobias’ tale and building upon it. The narration switches from Tobias to Henry, who, as it turns out, spends most of his time sulking around being dramatic. I mean, I get it, but I also loved this new perspective we got of him. Tobias on his part does a fair bit of changing as well. Maybe Adela Silver, monster hunter extraordinaire and Henry’s mother, is the only one who stays the same, sure as a rock.
The sequel has that streak of fanfiction Silver in the Wood has, which I believe is the heart of it. It’s why I was able to curl up with it despite having trouble finding pleasure in anything I read. It thrives on character relationships, and not just romance. Drowned Country is able to count on the reader’s bond with Henry and Tobias to elicit emotions. Henry’s flair for the melancholic also contributes to this. Even with the weird fond secondhand embarrassment I felt for him, it was delightful to read how self-conscious he was about some things.
Also, oh my God, was I wrong about how the opening pages of this novella would go. Tobias and Henry adopt a plucky young woman, but before adopting her, Maud literally has the most perfect character introduction ever. Her retorts about everything Henry and Tobias did, their instant connection, made me pace around my room in happiness.
I do hope if you’re reading this you give these novellas a chance, because there are many more things to enjoy about them.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an eARC of Drowned Country via Netgalley.