Title: Priddy’s Tale
Author: Harper Fox
Length: 159 Pages
Category: Fantasy, Folklore, Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: I read Priddy’s Tale beginning to end in a single sitting—it was just that sweet.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: What doesn’t kill you sometimes makes you wish it had…
Priddy’s a lost soul in a part of Cornwall the tourists don’t get to see. He’s young, sweet-natured and gorgeous, but that’s not enough to achieve escape velocity from his deadbeat village and rotten family life.
He’s a drifter and a dreamer, and self-preservation isn’t his strong suit. An accidental overdose of a nightclub high leaves him fractured, hallucinating, too many vital circuits fried to function in a tough world. When a friend offers him winter work in a lighthouse – nothing to do but press the occasional button and keep the windows clean – he gratefully accepts.
His plans to live quietly and stay out of trouble don’t last very long. A ferocious Atlantic storm washes a stranger to Priddy’s lonely shore. For a shipwrecked sailor, the new arrival seems very composed. He’s also handsome as hell, debonair, and completely unconcerned by Priddy’s dreadful past.
Priddy has almost given up on the prospect of any kind of friendship, and a new boyfriend – let alone a six-foot beauty with eerily good swimming skills – out of the question entirely. But Merou seems to see undreamed-of promise in Priddy, and when they hit the water together, Priddy has to adapt to Merou’s potentials too, and fast. His lover from the sea might be a mere mortal from the waist up, but south of that line…
Far-flung west Cornwall has a hundred mermaid tales. Priddy’s loved the stories all his life. Now he has to face up to a wildly impossible truth. Merou’s life depends upon his courage and strength, and if Priddy can only find his way in the extraordinary world opening up all around him, all the ocean and a human lifetime needn’t be enough to contain the love between merman and mortal.
Review: One of the things I’m always awed by in Harper Fox’s work is the author’s gift for setting a scene. Without fail, Fox has a way of describing her settings that is so evocative—the tang of the sea air, moonlight diffused by scattered clouds on a dark autumn night, the rain-swept shores of the Cornish coast, and the undersea world made of magic and legend—everything comes together to immerse you in the atmosphere of this story in a way that makes you forget what’s going on around you for awhile, and I love that about her writing.
Priddy’s Tale is a romantic fantasy and so very lovely, and also makes you wonder at the possibility of those oft-told seafaring tales of the merfolk—which have never been proved yet have never been disproved either, so you can give your imagination free rein. I not only love the ways in which the author paints her word pictures, but I adored this story because of Jem Priddy himself. Give me a flawed hero and a heartwarming happily-ever-after, and I’m pretty well a guaranteed puddle of goo every single time.
This is story that could have gone wrong in any number of ways, to be quite honest, considering that Priddy’s tragedy is by and large an internal battle. He could have come off as unsympathetic, and it might have been easy to dismiss his addiction as a weakness in character—but for the fact that Priddy doesn’t really pity himself. I felt so much affection for him as he battled his demons and warred with himself and the resulting affliction that plagued him after an accidental overdose that fried his circuitry. But Priddy is a survivor and it’s the way he faces his challenges that endeared him to me in every way.
When Merou is introduced, there’s no subterfuge on Fox’s part, no coy attempts at misleading readers. We know exactly what Merou is, even if Priddy doesn’t at first meeting. And, we know that these two are headed toward a magical romance, even if we don’t know quite how the mer legends will allow it to be accomplished. Having the local Cornish lore woven into the storyline added an interesting layer to Priddy and Merou’s relationship, and to the eventual suspense that threatens to expose the merpeople. And, of course, Merou is charming and mysterious and beautiful and challenging and cheeky too, so it’s not difficult to warm up to him; though, I did find myself wishing he and Priddy had spent more time together to build their relationship on page.
In addition to everything else I liked about this book is the narration of this tale. I’m not going to give anything away, but I’m either a little slow on the uptake or Harper Fox did a good job of obfuscating at just the right pitch to throw me off the scent. Whatever the case, I loved the little jolt of surprise I got when I’d made it to the afterword and discovered who it was telling the story, so much so that I went back and read the forward again just to let it all sink in. It was a fun little twist to a plot that I was already invested in and charmed by, so much so that I read Priddy’s Tale beginning to end in a single sitting—it was just that sweet.
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