Silver In The Wood – by Emily Tesh

Silver In The Wood was brought to my attention by a book club I had casually joined on Discord. A romantic fantasy with strong cottagecore vibes, I can’t say this book left me with any particularly strong impression, nevertheless I still enjoyed its fresh and simple escapism.

Title: Silver In The Wood

Author: Emily Tesh


Publication Date: 18 June 2019

Genre: Fantasy Novella

Stand Alone or Series: First book of the Greenhollow duology

Synopsis: For hundreds of years Tobias Finch has been living hidden away in his secret cottage in Greenhollow Wood, with only his cat and the local dryads to keep him company. Big, tall and rough-looking, Tobias is rumored to be and actually is no less than the Wild Man of legend; despite his appearance and his unsociable nature, however, he’s ultimately a peaceful creature, content with his quiet life in the wood to which he’s tethered.

Then one night Henry Silver, the new lord of the land, knocks at his door in a rainstorm; he’s young, handsome, dripping wet, and very passionate about local myths. After the obvious initial distrust and thanks to some convenient accident, Tobias gives in to Henry’s curiosity and lets him into his life; their relationship, started as an awkward and reluctant friendship, slowly develops into a subdued and sweet romance. Until the Lord of the Summer, a malicious magical creature from Tobias’ past, threatens to disrupt their lives and everything they hold dear.

Analysis: Silver In The Wood is written in a quiet, poetic tone well suited to its subject. While the story is told in third person, it clearly follows Tobias’ point of view – which is why a lot of the magical and mythical elements aren’t ever clearly explained, but are rather treated as obvious and natural, as they would indeed appear to the character. More in general, the wordlbuilding is deliberately vague, which only adds to the timeless, fairy tale vibe of the novella.

The fantasy adventure is quite thin in itself, and not especially gripping; sure, it adds some stakes and suspense and something close to a structured plot, however it was clearly never meant to main appeal of the book, and it mainly serves the purpose of keepin our characters busy.

On the other hand, the charm of this book is all in its atmosphere and in how it plays with easily recognizable (but always enjoyable) tropes: the reader is provided with a full display of cosy locations (hidden cottage and cute cat included!); with a world that despite its plot-relevant dangers feels simple, welcoming, and very distant from our daily concerns; and with a love story between two men that are aesthetically opposite, but obviously (at least in storytelling terms) meant for each other.

In this regard, it’s worth mentioning that, while the story appears to be set in a generic past and in a somehow traditional society, homophobia is never brought up as an issue, and any other unpleasant implication of such a setting – in terms of societal roles, power dynamics and whatnot – is similarly overlooked or brushed over. The two protagonists casually mention the expectation to get married, but only as an afterthought, never as a real concern; Henry has a rocky relationship with his own mother, but for reasons more related with his attitude than with his sexuality, and in the end the harsh lady warms up to Tobias quite easily once they team up in their monster-hunting quest . Which by all means makes sense as the entire point of the novel is to give us some respite from our real world’s troubles.

Conclusions & Recommendations: As I mentioned, I really have no strong feelings about this book. It was a fairly pleasant reading experience, even though it left very little behind. If you aren’t looking for anything too deep and thought-provoking, and are simply in the mood for some nice M/M romance steeped in woodsy folklore, this could be a valid choice.

Content Warning: Violence – Death – Kidnapping – Toxic relationship.

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