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Ever since little Tess cut off her doll’s hands and painted them blood red, she’s longed to live in a gruesome fairytale. But when grown-up Tess can hardly tend her own wounds, how can she free a golden-haired woodsman from his curse?

Larissa Brown, author of the Viking love story Beautiful Wreck, crosses genres again with a novella that’s part fairytale, part psychological horror, with a dash of fated love.


Publisher and Release Date: Soul Mate Publishing, April 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Contemporary and Fantasy Medieval Era
Genre: Contemporary and Historical Fantasy Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Jill

“I am cursed,” he says. “To chop wood through all time.”

After losing her hand several months earlier in an accident, Tess is struggling with life and reality. Ever since she was a child, she’s had a fascination with fairy-tales, but not the sweet, pink-infused ones – her taste runs to the rather dark, grim horror stories. Her writings in the journal that she has had since she was ten, has reflected these forbidding and dire tales. Now Tess’s real life has mimicked those fairy-tales of which she is so fond, where the children so often lose their hands. One weekend, Tess goes off to a medieval re-enactment with her sister. It’s there she meets the woodsman, Andr. Much like in her beloved fairy-tales, he is scary and grim, and yet she’s drawn to him. But is he real?

Written in third person, Ms Brown weaves a fairy-tale of menacing, thorn-infested hedges and gloomy, closed-in forests. Tess’s meeting with Andr, the medieval huntsman – who insists her name is Tress – provides the romance. Their meeting is not by accident, but fate.

Tress has a similar feel to Ms Brown’s Viking/time travel romance, Beautiful Wreck in that it’s written beautifully and is highly imaginative. It is very different though, in its rather forbidding atmosphere and Tess’s curious fascination with the macabre, and what seems to be her often tenuous grasp on reality. Despite its dark overtones, there is a happily-ever-after.

“You must know there’s a way out of every curse. A release.”

This is an unusual, yet highly readable novella. Larissa Brown demonstrates again her command of imagery and prose. After reading her impressive début, I thought Ms Brown an author to watch, and that impression has only been reinforced after reading this, her second book.


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