Series: Walk on Wild Side
Also available: Walk on Wild Side Anthology
Rating: (I really liked it! )
Dreamspinner’s 2016 Daily Dose anthology includes 30 romantic male/male shifter stories released one a day during the month of June.
Synopsis: In 17th century Alaska, silver-eyed Allakau is unable to be recognized as a man by his tribe as he refuses to hunt or kill animals. When he saves a narwhal from his brother’s spear, his father gives Allakau an ultimatum which may banish him from the tribe and effectively sentence him to death. After meeting another being who shares some of his own characteristics, he will have to navigate the traditions and survival of his tribe, the safety of his family, his own survival, and being true to himself in a harsh and magical world.
Review (minor spoilers): The author takes a wonderfully romantic fable (the virgin and a fantastic beast) and adapts it for an historical, multicultural, male/male romance setting. The work explores both modern concepts (vegetarian animal lover) and ancient myths in a distant and unique setting, allowing the story to ensconce conflicting values into the heart of the setting. The need in many societies to hunt for simple survival is contrasted with both modern ideas of what is truly humane along with traditional values regarding purity (and even Buddhist and similar philosophies regarding the importance of preventing animal suffering) .
As rich as these ingredients are baked into the general setting and initial struggles, the story continues on to explore more traditional romance themes, albeit with a nicely paranormal and mythical touch. The resolution of a main plot issue towards the end included additional interesting fantasy elements, but also wrapped up fairly quickly (as it is only a work of novella length). Overall, the set up was intriguing, the relationship issues nicely magical, mythical elements effectively interwoven, and the ultimate reunion a bit passionate.
I was absolutely thrilled with the initial recognition/reunion scene, and very much enjoyed the intercultural and mythical interplay in the setting and the story. I was disappointed in the physical part of the reunion, almost to the point where I think it might have been better if the sex was left out entirely.
Recommended for fans of: narwhals and unicorns; characters who were born “out-of-place;” vegetarians in a hunting-based society; adaptions of traditional fantasy elements to a different cultural and male/male setting.