Title: The Mistleberry
Genre: Paranormal (Historical)
Rating: Five Petals
On the Author's Website:
This is a story I’ve wanted to write for years, and is freely inspired by and borrowed from three wonderful books which are some of the most Christmassy stories I think you can find, not to mention beautifully written fiction. They are: The Armourer’s House by Rosemary Sutcliffe, The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M Boston, and The Thirteen Days of Christmas by Jenny Overton. They did this first, and much better than I ever could: I highly recommend all three.
For those interested in the history, this is set in the year 1670-71, in the middle of the reign of Charles II. All of the Christmas customs, traditions and festivals here are real and appropriate to the time, and still exist in parts of the UK . I have however taken some liberties with the timing and the mixing of them.
This was written for Rolf, with much love - admit it darling, it's more fun than a tie. Merry Christmas.
It's the holiday season and the Mistleberry is my go-to holiday read, so I thought I should review it. I honestly can't count how many times I've re-read this story. It's that good.
Lynden, the main character, is a very interesting person. He's quiet and reserved, but his every thought is well conceived. He had scarlet fever as a child which left him blind. When his guardian passes away suddenly, Lynden is forced to flee the life he had always lived and must run to his uncle's home. I found it absolutely amazing how Ranger managed to describe every aspect of Lynden's new experiences without use of color or form. The weight of someone's footsteps or the intensity of their voice gave more description of the people and surroundings than had Lynden been able to see.
The magic is just as beautifully written. The story is about Christmas and the old ways of celebrating. Holly is spread over the windows to keep out the evil spirits and flowers spread around the spinning wheel to keep the wee folk from cutting your thread. It is the time when the Green Man has faded and the Wild Hunt is on the search for oath breakers and the unbaptized. The mix of traditions in the time before the old Pagan beliefs had been totally assimilated into Christianity or drummed out of Christmas entirely was very interesting to read, especially since it is based on fact. Perhaps because Lynden is blind, he can hear the Wild Hunt as it slowly draws closer and closer. Fairy magic is in the air and Lynden must do whatever necessary to keep the Wild Hunt from taking those he loves.
I think my only disappointment in this story is the fact that there isn't any romance. The time period isn't one where gay relationships are allowed, nor is there any indication that Lynden is interested in Mark that way. They quickly become close friends and that friendship is fun to read. I just can't help wanting that little bit more, no matter how much it doesn't fit into this type of story.
This story is free online. Some of the formatting needs to be fixed, which I think was caused by the uploading process. I decided not to mark the story for it down as it doesn't detract too much from the reading experience.
I absolutely recommend this story. It's an amazing take on the classic Christmas tale, weaving old and new traditions with just a touch of magic. I have re-read this story dozens of times and I know I will probably read it a couple dozen more in the future.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.