01/05/2009. Contributed by Kelly Jensen
pub: PS Publishing. 129 page hardback. Price: £10.00 (UK), $15.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-90630-151-4.
check out website: www.pspublishing.co.uk
This novella by award-winning author, Marly Youmans, and is inspired by the French medieval tale 'Valentine And Orson'. The story of twins abandoned in the forest at birth (one raised as a knight, the other becomes a wild man of the woods) has been subtlety tweaked to fit into our century and set amidst the glorious redwood forests of California.
Although born in the forest, the Val and Orson of this novel are not abandoned. Belle watches helplessly as her first son is stolen by a wild woodsman, unable to give chase as she births her second son. She is helped by the kindly logger, Fergus, who becomes husband and father to her remaining son. He becomes known by a forest name he chooses for himself, Valentine, and it is through his eyes we follow the story.
At knight of sorts, Valentine works tirelessly to preserve the old forests, in particular a many hundreds year-old tree affectionately known as Thoor Ballylee. While he has often thought of his brother, whom in his mind he has named Orson, he has never glimpsed him in the forest and seems as much a legend as the tale he is named for until a volunteer named Diamond comes to sit in Thoor Ballylee.
Filled with the beauty of the sequoias and forest they are trying to save, the soft touch of romance and as quiet yet touching as the night walks Valentine takes, the story recounts a re-uniting of more than just brothers. From the first chapter to the last, this novella delivers on all points.
Marly Youmans first came to my attention last month when I read and reviewed for SFCrowsnest, PS Publishing's anthology magazine, 'Postcripts # 17'. She authored the standout 'Rain Flower Pebbles', a short story that placed her name in my memory. Therefore I was delighted with the opportunity to read this novella for review.
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