Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Review of the Month, May 2014: Green Fairy

Title: Green Fairy
Author: Kyell Gold
Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy/Gay Romance
Formats available: Hardcopy: https://www.sofawolf.com/products/green-fairy
Rating/advisories: PG-13
If Sol can just survive his last year of high school, he can escape his homophobic small town and go live with his Internet boyfriend for the summer. But when he loses his starting spot on the baseball team and converts to vegetarianism — a wolf, giving up meat! — his father threatens him with a hot, muggy summer working in the peach cannery unless he gets his act together. His teammates, who suspect his sexuality already, won’t make it easy for him. But even with nobody on his side but his best friend Meg (who is even less popular than he is), the teenager finds answers and solace in an unlikely place: a 1901 book about a tragic gay romance in the bohemian district of Lutèce, around the famed Moulin Rouge. Inspired by the spirit of the era, Meg and Sol share a glass of absinthe, with startling effect: Sol begins to dream that he is a cabaret dancer named Niki, offered a chance to escape his difficult life through romance — at the price of his beloved art of dance.

When the dreams seep into his waking life, Sol adds “going crazy” to his worries, and the problems of a couple that lived a hundred years ago to the ever-growing list of his own. To save both Niki and himself, Sol will have to learn the difference between reality and illusion, and discover what love and life mean to him.

My Review from Goodreads.

4/5 stars

This is the second book by Kyell Gold that I have read. Where in the last one was a lot of older works, this is a relatively newer piece, and it shows.

Reading ‘Green Fairy’ after reading a few other furry fiction books was a whole new experience. Where a lot of furry writers take a storyline and drape an furry cloth over it, Gold actually uses the fact that they are anthropormorphic animals in his story. Suddenly senses other than sight are important, such as the sense of smell to which Gold uses brilliantly with Sol and his family. Biting becomes a valid method of fighting when a brawl breaks out and otters live in houses containing multiple pools. No longer is the fact that the characters are furry just simply a window dressing, but rather, they are an important factor within the story, another tool for Gold to use in his writing.

The characters shifts throughout this book took a bit to get used to at first. I actually didn’t expect it, and when it first happened, much like Sol, I was a tad bit confused. But as the story continued onward, and as I got used to it, it added an interesting element to the storyline, and another dimension to the characters within. Suddenly, you’re getting two different viewpoints of the same series of events, and a sort of mirror version in Sol’s real life world. It all ends up blending in a sort of magical manner which I found both unique and wonderful.

There were some elements that took me out of the story however. One of them is the use of animals such as mice and squirrels as rodent pests in a world of anthropormorphic characters. Gold has mentioned before that in his worlds, there are those species that have evolved, and those that have not. This allows for things like eating a steak, or in this case, mice being pests where rats have evolved into a type of people. Though I will admit that this method works, the mice/rat dynamic actually caught me off guard, with both species being so close together. If Gold had perhaps left out the reference to mice, I would not have stumbled over it in the story.

Carcy was another stumbling block of the story for me. The foreshadowing of what would later happen was perhaps a bit too blatant. From the moment he starts texting Sol in the story, there is a sense of what will happen later. It is no surprise he is who he is when the confrontation finally occurs. (though this could just be my suspicious nature) I was also surprised that the wolves did not pick up his scent in their house, as it would be a very alien scent among many familiar ones. With all the concentration put towards the wolves and how their world relates to smells, you would think that they would notice it fairly quickly.

One last thing that struck me is more a personal experience thing and not so much a critique. Now, let me begin by saying this. I am straight, and I am Canadian. Within this story, the amount of issues that face Sol in the twelfth grade strike me as being over the top and borderline horrific. The fact that a lot of the behavior that occurred happened at school, and was harsh and cruel, strikes me as unrealistic. That said, as mentioned above, I am Canadian, and straight. This means that I come from a country that is far more forward thinking when it comes to the subject matter of same-sex couples, and it also means that I have never experienced this kind of behavior because I myself am straight and thus wouldn’t come up against it. That is not to say it doesn’t happen, nor does it detract from the horror of what occurs. In fact, it makes what happens in the story in regards to Sol’s sexuality that much more brutal/cruel/horrific. Hence, I am not pointing out this as a flaw, but rather, something I wasn’t able to fully relate to, though I am more than sure others will. (which will obviously help in them relate to Sol, and build a good reader/character relationship)

‘Green Fairy’ was an entertaining read, and one that I enjoyed from start to finish. Gold’s writing has come a ways since his older works, and his skill with language has only improved. His description of the Moulin Rouge is easily my favorite part of the entire book. It really made me feel as if I was there, and made me long for Niki’s sections rather than Sol’s boring life at the beginning of the story. (which changed later on as Sol’s personal life became more interesting) Gold did a great job bringing together the modern and the historic, and the story flows from one scene to the next with next to no issue. Overall I have to say I will most likely read it again later on.

One last thing. The talented art of Rukis really helped to enhance this tale. All the pieces contained in ‘Green Fairy’ are wonderful and a pleasure to look upon. Choosing them to do the art was a wise choice.

So if you are into anthropormorphic work, pick this story up. Even if you aren’t, this story is really well done and I would easily recommend it to non-furry readers as well.

Voice: It is one of my largest issues with Kyell’s work that he very frequently over-dramafies how difficult being gay is. It’s no cakewalk, but most of the time the drama comes from over-the-top homophobia and the character’s completely self-fueled fear of coming out. It leads to me just sort of laughing at the character’s conflict, which is never a good sign.

On a positive side to this, he seems to be moving away from that. Red Devil doesn’t use coming out as a drama maker, neither did Bridges, nor many of his more recent works. Even the more recent entries in OoP series haven’t. I’ve enjoyed the results.

I think it has to do with the time that Kyell grew up. He was in college when the Challenger blew up (28 years ago, 1986, so he grew up from about 1968-1986 approx. Not the most accepting time for same sex couples) Compared to children today who are realising/experimenting/whatever, we are extremely more accepting of same sex couples and thus our literature is starting to reflect that more often. We have calls for submissions for urban fantasy anthologies that are same sex relationship positive and anthologies aimed at gay/lesbian youth literature.

I have a bit more understanding of the overdramatization of coming out issues. I was born in raised in a state that was one of the first to legalize gay marriage, but even when I was in high school only a few years ago, I had kids (attempting) to beat the crap out of me each day. I was lucky in that my parents were both accepting (and the day I came out was the happiest day of my sister’s life), but it was still a huge struggle.

I think the Dev and Lee series has been VERY accurate with it, and Green Fairy was pretty accurate with it as well. A lot of what Sol dealt with, I dealt with as well. My trouble was more about the classroom than the locker room (though if I was out when I still was taking gym classes then I’d probably have had the same issues), but it was still almost as bad.

I won’t say that being gay means you’ll immediately sympathize with the story. Everyone’s experience is different, and that experience will probably effect how you will sympathize with the story.

I had other issues with this story, but the coming out part definitely wasn’t one of them.

I respect your experience Sean. For me, I grew up homeschooled in the south. Meant that my social life involved a whole bunch of kids whose parents refused to put them in school because their schools didn’t explicitly teach creation. I didn’t have that difficult a time.

Idk. I may be odd. I felt no pressure to “come out” and I grew up in a conservative Christian household, and I was never really angsty or upset about the fact. Maybe it’s just weird to me that Kyell’s characters can’t think about something other than being gay a large portion of the time (this is also less true for the OoP series).

Differing experiences lead to differing impact of books.

I still, however, maintain that Green Fairy’s message b[/b] which is “Don’t trust online boyfriends/people you meet online” was a lot less deep than Red Devil’s “You must run towards things you want rather than run away from things that you don’t; the first will get you where you want but the second will lead you into danger.”

And I am Canadian, and it’s often hard to remember that socially the USA isn’t as forward thinking as we are.

Here is my two bits’ worth: