For eighteen years, Wren has lived isolation with his guardians, Grum and Krulch, in the heart of a deep, peaceful forest. His life is tranquil except for the doubts that torment him: why does he look so different from his parents, and how did two male ogres manage to birth a small, pale creature like Wren?
Everything changes when he accidentally wanders too far from home and comes upon an entire village of people who look like him. One in particular, a scribe’s apprentice named Valerus, is simply the most beautiful being Wren has ever seen.
His elation soon turns to fear when the people of the village tell Wren he is one of their own and must remain with them—abandoning the ogres who raised him. Though he would love to stay with Valerus and build a new life, he doesn’t want to do it at the expense of the life that made him. But if he wants to enjoy a promising future, he’ll have to find a way to unravel his mysterious past.
Source: ARC from Less Than Three Press via NetGalley
This is a cute, quick fantasy read with hints of M/M romance and not a lot going on, although it does explore issues of prejudice and difference. Wren is an okay hero, if incredibly naive. He’s spent eighteen years in the care of his ogre fathers but has never asked where he came from, despite the fact that he looks completely different and has a rudimentary understanding of reproduction. Not that this really matters, because Wren very soon finds himself travelling beyond the world he knew and meeting up with strange people who look just like him.
Of course the first person he meets is Valerus, who he falls madly in love with. There isn’t really much of a romance in this short tale. Wren casts moony glances at Valerus, Valerus doesn’t object – clearly it’s love! Which slightly irritated me, especially when the villagers were guilting Wren into staying and trying to convince him that his loving fathers were just fattening him up. Personally, I’d have got annoyed with Valerus for being just like the others, but no, Wren is a lovesick puppy who sees Valerus as the high point of his day, regardless of the prejudice he’s spouting.
However, because this is short and cute, Wren’s troubles are addressed and made good in nicely convenient ways and divides are bridged. I wish there had been more ogre time, because I really loved Wren’s fathers, and it might have been nice to have known more about wider ogre society, but this book isn’t anywhere near long enough for that. In all it’s sweet, but not too deep, with the short length allowing only for the most superficial relationships and development. A nice way to pass an hour or so, but not particularly memorable.
The Long Journey Home is out July 15th!
Visit Cassandra Pierce for more details.