Secretive Selkies and Lyrical Prose; Nine Years of Silver by Parker Foye

Posted 22nd June 2019 by Sia in Fantasy Reviews, Queer Lit, Reviews / 0 Comments

Nine Years of Silver (Love Has Claws #1) by Parker Foye
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Fantasy
Representation: Queer Protagonists
Published on: 16th April 2019

Briar Augustin, a bounty hunter, returns to his hometown on the trail of a killer. There he becomes once more entangled with his first love, Quinn Lawrence, who is as integral to Briar's hunt as he is to the mythology of Lastings. Can Briar find his bounty and return to the city, resisting the call of the sea? Or will he be drawn back into Lastings' secrets—and the arms of Quinn Lawrence?

Lastings: Where some things can only be mined out.
* * *
Nine Years of Silver is the first story from Love Has Claws, a speculative fiction trilogy linked by the town of Lastings. It is not necessary to read the series in order.

Content Warnings: mentions of abusive childhood; bloody violence; off-screen murder; drowning (real/dream); claustrophobic scenes.

This beautiful novella is without question going onto both my favourites and best-of-2019 shelves – and Parker Foye has won a permanent place on my list of auto-buy authors. I cannot wait for the rest of the Love Has Claws stories!

Nine Years of Silver ought to be too short to fit all the eerie, lyrical wonder into it that it does – and yet it fits just right, the pacing flawless and every word carefully and perfectly placed, not a single one wasted in an act of economic poetry that makes for an incredibly potent whole. Nine is a joy to read, Foye’s turns of phrase and poignant description marrying beauty to bluntness in a way that flawlessly evokes the little seaside town – village? – of Lastings, a place of rock and salt and sand whose magic is just waiting for you to stop looking for it like a tourist and really see it.

Superficially, Nine is a story about a lawman on the trail of a criminal and closing in; there’s a very slight Wild West flavour to it, especially as the Rangers seem quite reminiscent of the Pinkertons. It’s a trope we’ve seen before – Ranger Briar is back in his hometown looking for a killer and ends up reconnecting with a past love – and yet nothing about it feels stale; Briar’s first act upon reaching Lastings is to politely seek conference with the local genderqueer witch, and the story never lets up on its sense of wild, elemental magic from there on out – something only strengthened by Foye’s repeated use of oceanic imagery, to great effect. Tiny details imply a much larger world with skilful worldbuilding; there’s no need for infodumps when all is woven into the narrative so smoothly, and I dare you not to fall in love with these characters, because they are wonderful.

I picked this up on a spur-of-the-moment whim, and I’m so glad I did. I cannot recommend it strongly enough; it’s interesting, beautiful, and deceptively simple enough to draw you in and hold you even when you feel too frazzled to concentrate on reading anything at all. I have no doubt whatsoever that I’ll be rereading it often.

Bring on the next in the series!

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