Silver in the Wood: A hopeful tale about renewal

Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsSilver in the Wood by Emily Tesh science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsSilver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

Silver in the Wood (2019) is an enchanting novella by Emily Tesh, who is a finalist for the 2020 Astounding Award. It is the first in Tesh’s GREENHOLLOW DUOLOGY; the sequel, Drowned Country, will be released in August.

Tobias has lived alone for a long time. He’s a sort of guardian of the forest, keeping its assorted supernatural creatures from getting out of hand. (He’s also a couple of other things, which you’ll find out about later.) Tobias is shaken out of his routine when he has a meet-cute with Henry Silver, the new owner of the manor house at the edge of the wood.

I don’t think the word “England” is ever technically mentioned, but this feels like the folkloric English forest. Reading Silver in the Wood, the reader feels like one wrong turn might lead them to Mythago Wood, and a different wrong turn might take them to Wylding Hall. It’s beautifully described and mysterious.

Drowned Country Emily Tesh

Sequel

And like those other settings, it also has dangers lurking within its depths. Silver in the Wood starts as a quiet, mellow sort of tale, but takes on a darker edge in the middle as spring approaches. Every spring equinox, a force rises again in Greenhollow Wood — one that Tobias has never been able to stop, and which poses a threat to Silver. This isn’t exactly a story about the fae, but it isn’t exactly not, either.

At this point I should mention one more major character in the novella. I won’t spoil everything about her, but I’ll just say that she’s a plump fortysomething monster hunter who calls herself a “practical folklorist,” that I was completely charmed by her, and that I’ve decided I want to be a practical folklorist when I grow up.

After what seems like it might be the end of the story, Tesh instead moves back into the gentle mode of the beginning, and gives us some more quiet character development and a few more twists. It’s ultimately a hopeful tale about renewal after a long period of torpor.

Readers who are into woodland folklore should not miss Silver in the Wood. It’s a worthy addition to the literature on the topic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to Drowned Country.

Published in 2019. There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads. When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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2 comments

  1. Jana Nyman /

    I’m so glad you liked this one, Kelly! I hoped you might, and I’m looking forward to Drowned Country, too.

  2. I want to be a practical folklorist, too!

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