I didn’t really know what to expect from this fantasy gay western romance, fantasy and western seemed a strange pair, but I have to admit the author blended them in a perfect way, avoiding any friction between the genres.
Aren comes from a wealthy family, boarding school, good college, but I gathered they were not so tight or supporting of their own son. Aren is orphaned by mother, sent to boarding school as a little child, it was quite obvious that he lacked a fatherly figure. Abused by older kids when he was in boarding school, he moved to college to end up the kept boy of a college professor, someone who used, and again, abused him. When he got tired of his new boy toy, he sent Aren in the Oestend, i.e. the equivalent of the Far West of the XIX century, a place where civilization and modernity are still strange words.
The setting is fantasy since there is a lot of paranormal elements in the story, and there is the use of “modern” elements, like electricity, in an old fashioned environment, like a XIX-century-like cattle ranch, but truth be told, I think the author opted for the fantasy to have a little more “freedom” with her characters, allowing them an homosexual relationship with, yes, a little opposition, but at least not a death-by-hang crime.
In the Oestend Aren meets Deacon, the foreman of the ranch in which Aren will be the bookkeeper. Deacon is a Native of the Oestend, like Olsa, to very old housekeeper of the main house. They are pretty much how you would imagine to be the Native Americans, people with very old traditions, having their roots in ancient times, still very much bonded to them. As it is, the Wraiths, the ghosts haunting the Oestend lands, and killing the farmers are ancient warrior ghosts who, I gather, are still protecting their lands and their people. It’s strange but in the end, I was almost feeling sympathy for these ghosts, even if they killed a lot of people, and amongst them, good and bad men.
The relationship between Aren and Deacon is not easy but neither too complex; as soon as they realized the attraction is reciprocated, Aren and Deacon settle into an almost “marriage” bond, an equal partnership where they comprehend and support each other. Deacon is for sure the stronger in body, but Aren has a better emotional balance. It’s strange, and well welcome, but Deacon doesn’t substitute the fatherly figure Aren was searching, on the contrary, he gives that power in their relationship to Aren to make him emotionally independent and stronger.
Amazon: Song of Oestend
Amazon Kindle: Song of Oestend
Paperback: 412 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (October 26, 2011)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott