Author: Harper Fox
Cover Artist: Harper Fox
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 06/20/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Gay Romance
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.
The Little Mermaid for grownups. In reverse. With working-class folks. No princes. No singing seafood.
Jeremy Priddy, known only as Jem or Priddy to his friends (or those who pretend to be his friends), had a dream of escaping a dead-end life in a dead-end Cornish coastal town. He and his best friend Kit were going to go off to university and become marine biologists. But a bad choice one night in a bar in Penzance left Priddy dazed and damaged, and he barely manages to land a job as the lighthouse keeper in Porth Bay while Kit goes off to pursue the dream they shared.
He’s only nineteen.
Then on a dark and stormy night (really!), Jem pulls a drowning man out of the surf, and finds his whole sad little world knocked ass over teakettle—but in a good way. Harper Fox takes a timeless fairytale and somehow renders it contemporary, injecting the right amount of sly humor to give it humanity without ever coming close to parody.
Every time I crack open a new Harper Fox book, I fear that it won’t live up to the last. But I was, once again, instantly caught up in Fox’s elegant prose and gorgeous, poetic descriptions of place and time and people. Without ever becoming purple, Fox manages to make the most prosaic setting magical, and the most outrageous story of merfolk and gay romance both plausible and, somehow, desperately necessary. Just as Jem begins to realize that he is not insane, and that Merou is just what he says he is, the reader embraces the fantasy and jumps in to join him with a full heart.
Priddy’s Tale is a short novel, but full and richly satisfying. Fox is one of those authors who takes a shorter form and makes it enough, in every way. She has flirted with the paranormal in her fantastic Tyack & Frayne series (also set on the Cornish coast), but here she has risked tipping into absurdity and managed to pull it off exquisitely.
Once again, I find myself wishing that Hollywood wasn’t so homophobic, and that this book could be made into a movie. Ah, we all have our fantasies.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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