Author: Tray Ellis
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 143 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
At a Glance: Though not quite what I had expected, Pyresnakes turned out to be a fairly adorable, entertaining, and creative fantasy story, if a little on the short side.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: There is another world existing alongside the one most see everyday, and although it is a place of magic and wonder, the dangers are very real.
Aran, an artist, grew up on his grandmother’s tales of the Side-by-Side world. He never expected his knowledge of folklore would aid his boyfriend, Brandon, in an arson investigation, but the snakes that burst into flames when agitated are something he recalls from those childhood stories.
When Aran vanishes, Brandon knows his time as a state trooper won’t help find him, so he enlists the aid of Aran’s grandmother, Ruth, and they venture into the Side-by-Side world.
But Aran has no memory of his life prior to crossing between worlds, and he’s enjoying the company of his handsome new companion, Ren. Even if Brandon and Ruth reach him, convincing him to return to his former home won’t be easy. In a contemporary fairy-tale adventure set among forests and trails, Aran must choose between a mystical fantasy world and the man he loves.
Review: Going into this story, I think I was expecting a log of angst and tension, with a fight against time. What I ended up getting was a mostly adorable little sort-of-fairy tale-fantasy mix. Was there angst? Eh, a little. Nothing as drastic as what I had been imagining. Was there tension? Not a lot. Drama? Some. But mostly, it was a journey to self-discovery for Aran, and even Brandon, as he and Ruth navigate the Side-by-Side.
The world building, for such a short length, was done pretty decent. When it comes to trying to fit a whole fantasy world in a shorter length novella, all the while having the plot to contend with, it’s not easy to balance. A lot is never really explained about the Side-by-Side, leaving the reader to sort of guess at its magical properties. Yet, I still have a clear picture of the Side-by-Side and its beauty. Though I still have some questions on the hows and whys of certain aspects, I don’t really feel like I missed out on anything super important.
Aran and Brandon had already been together several years, so the relationship was already set as the story starts. This is where the story sort of lagged for me. I really would have liked a little more time witnessing them as a couple. Because of the quick transition into Aran going missing, everything that was written about their already established relationship felt like I was getting a quick recap rather than getting to experience it and being invested in them together. I really liked both characters, but for the most part, it was because of their individual personalities rather than their connection.
Despite the fact the romance/relationship aspect wasn’t quite what I was expecting, there were a lot of good surprises for me in this little journey. I loved the idea of the Side-by-Side and the type of people who are able to find it and exist there. It is described as such a special place, a place where people go to find themselves and embrace who they were meant to be. Those individuals who yearn for something more but don’t always know exactly what it is, like Aran. Those in the Side-by-Side have no need for money, no yearning for power they have a deeper need, a desired connection.
Then there are those, like Brandon, who are never meant to end up in the Side-by-Side, just being who they intrinsically are makes it impossible for them to stay there without help from someone else who is meant to be there. It was interesting to see the different reactions people had to Aran and Ruth in the Side-by-Side, as opposed to Brandon. I felt really bad for Brandon because he was so out of his depth, and no one was really forthcoming with him. He was such a good person and he truly wanted what was best for Aran and Aran’s happiness.
Aran’s disappearance started a journey for him, Brandon, and Ruth. And ultimately, for me, the story was more about finding oneself, making choices and being true to who you are. They each had to take their own separate journey to get their HEA.
Though not quite what I expected, Pyresnakes turned out to be a fairly adorable, entertaining, and creative fantasy story.
You can buy Pyresnakes here: