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To Bring Him Home and Other Tales

by Warren Rochelle

To Bring Him Home and Other Tales - Warren Rochelle
Editions:ePub: $ 5.99
ISBN: 9781646568956
Size: 5.25 x 8.00 in
Pages: 320

Home, a place where we belong and are safe and loved. Home, the house in which we grew up, a neighborhood, a culture, even a country. Home is a state of mind, it is a place of the heart, and in the heart.

Finding home, coming home, and bringing home the one we love is a journey, a journey that can be a dangerous adventure. For the lovers in these stories, adventures can include quests and fighting dragons and demons, past and present, physical as well as mental and emotional. Rocket launchers need to be dodged, the Wild Hunt needs to be outrun. For some of the lovers here, home has been lost, or they have been forced to leave, as is too common for LGBT+ youth.

In this collection queer positive speculative fiction stories, explore the idea of what and where home is in the lives of these lovers. Will they survive their quests, defeat their monsters? Will they find a place to call home?

 

Excerpt:

EXCERPT FROM "To Bring Him Home" (title story)
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.

He found his mother in her bathroom, lying on the bathmat by the tub, like a discarded hotel towel, white and crumpled. Fletcher knelt down and touched her bruised face, tenderly traced the hand prints on her skin. Cold. He then pressed his fingers against the veins in her neck. No pulse. Wishing he could cry for her, he put the same fingers under her nose. No breath, Dead. Emptied. He picked up her arm and it flopped as if boneless, She was wearing her bathrobe. He pulled it close, to hide her body.

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Fletcher knew where to look, upstairs, behind the locked attic door. Through the door he could hear what he had come to call Paul’s favorite music, soft, far away, with harps and wind chimes, and what sounded like the wind, and the rain, storms. and voices singing in a strange language he had never been able to identify. The music sort of reminded him of the wind chimes on Sam’s porch. Of course.

He tried the knob. This time the door was unlocked.

“Fletcher. You’re awake. I knew you’d come up here,” his stepfather said in his cold and dark voice. He sat at a desk facing a door frame standing in the middle of the attic. Inside the door frame: darkness. Around it, Fletcher could see the rest of the attic: the shelves, the file cabinets, the odd boxes. The skylight was open, mid-day sun streamed in. Even so, the room was cold, a cold that was coming through the door, as if blown by some faraway wind. Paul’s black staff leaned against the door frame. He closed a little carved box on his desk and the music stopped.

“What did you do with Sam? Where is he? Where are his parents?” Fletcher asked, shivering and hugging himself against the cold.

“Where they belong,” Paul said, leaning back in his chair. “The dreams have escaped for millennia -- even before Her Majesty came to power -- into human minds. Fairy tales, myths, story upon story. A few times, the different peoples and creatures slipped through -- what was it your hero said? -- ‘there were many chinks or chasms between worlds in old times’? -- yes, I’ve read all those stories, too; they were useful to me. That was before Her Majesty. So, there are people like you and your mother, fey-touched, gifted with Sight that lets you see through glamour. Very useful to people like me.”

Fletcher swallowed the scream in his throat, knowing he had to listen, to understand, not to let this man get to him, break him into tears. “Where is Sam? What kind of a person are you?”

“I told you: There. You can call it Narnia if you like, or what did Tolkien call it? Never mind. The Celts came up with many other names, such as Tir n’Og, the Blessed Isles. Words and sounds can be dreamt, too; echoes can linger. She can’t stop the dreams of what once was, of once upon a time -- slow them down, but not stop them. But Her Majesty can and must stop those who escape her winter,” Paul said, as he sorted what looked like rolls of parchment, stuffing some back into tubes, into different parts of his desk. “I am a bounty hunter, a tracker, and you, my dear Fletcher, and your mother, are my canaries.”

My dreams. I dreamed of the neighbor, I dreamed of Sam. Now I know where his music comes from.

“They hadn’t planned on Sam falling in love and having sex quite just yet, which shattered the weak child’s glamour -- and I smelled him on you, his magic,” Paul said, his words dripping disdain and scorn.

“Mama’s dead.”

Paul shrugged and Fletcher hated him for it. “I needed her energy to open the gate -- I was running a little low. A few days from now, no problem. You want him back?”

Fletcher slowly and carefully nodded his head.

“You think you’re in love. Fletcher! What do you know about love -- who have you ever loved or who’s loved you? And when he asked for you, at the moment of peril, you pulled back. Don’t be a fool: you’re not in love.”

“My father loved me; I loved him. My mother -- before you used her for food. Sam loves me.”

“Then go get him. Into Faerie. No happy elves, no dancing fauns, no chatty mice, no heroes with magic swords. No performing Lion, just Her Majesty’s winter. No English children. Your boyfriend’s there, Fletcher. Or you could stay here and help me -- starting with finding that sanctuary. Do you know how old I am? Her Majesty rewards her faithful: I am two hundred and thirteen of your years old. I have anything I want.”

I want Sam.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Liliyana Shadowlyn on The Faerie Review wrote:

Rating & Review
5 out of 5
I thought this was a great collection. Tied together with the underlying theme of home, each story brought to life new characters and worlds. I was really impressed by how well each story was written, without feeling like I was left with a lot of questions at the end. I’m not saying I wouldn’t have enjoyed more time with the characters, but I thought Rochelle did a great job of packing a lot of depth into each tale. Highly recommend for anyone who enjoys queer fiction, as this runs the gamut a bit.

Tony on QueeRomance Ink wrote:

The Review
To Bring Him Home and Other Tales are mostly set in an alternate future Earth where magic exists along with Elves, witches, etc. The world is not a good place, as it is also populated by fanatics and bigots and, let’s face it, paranormal and gay folk do not rate highly in the eyes of the bigots. Where the stories do not involve paranormal beings directly, life is still not particularly good. Happily, there is always some light at the end of the dark and dank tunnel for the main protagonists.

The stories:
‘To Bring Him Home’ is full of good ideas, but does not really work for me. It takes elements of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ and grafts them onto gay teenage love story. It is written from the viewpoint of a naive eighteen year old boy, but he seems to be much younger. Fletcher, the protagonist, oscillates between a whinging ten year old and an eighteen year old young man about his first experience of love and sex. There are some good ideas and some dark characters, but it needs more work to realise its potential.
There seem to have been a number of off page conversations and decisions that jarred me. This is something that occurs few times throughout the collection. I kept thinking I must have missed something, but when I checked back I found the reader was not present when the thing was said or decided. It’s a shame, as the references could be deleted without effecting the stories in any negative way.
‘Linden Grove’ is a sweet short story about Felix, Mark and Lucy. Felix and Lucy have both had poor luck in finding love and the right one. Now Felix has found Mark, and he thinks it is all going well until Mark tells him a secret. The revelation changes everything for Felix. Lucy has a secret of her own and she’s going to support Felix in his loss in any way she can. In the end, things work out in ways neither her or Felix could have imagined.

‘Blue Ghosts’ tells the story of the world recovering from alien rule which destroyed human civilisation and made pets of the human race, carrying out genetic manipulation on them. It builds on ‘The Wild Boy’ by the author but is set some time in the future of that story.
The world is split into two camps, one which accepts what happened and is trying to rebuild, and the other which wants nothing to do with it, hating the surviving families which have retained some of the gifts they were given. This group, who title themselves true humans, also go about destroying any electronic machinery, even that which was created by humans before the alien invasion.

The two protagonists are right at the forefront of the conflict. They are made to question what it is they want from each other and life. This story has legs, for sure, and I’d love there to be a sequel.

‘The Day After The Change’ is about the result of magic bursting back into every ones’ lives, changing everything about how they think things should be. For the two couples featured here, the change is about finding your true self and being truthful to it. That’s not to say it is going to be easy.

‘Green Light’ is a dark story set in a rather nasty North America run by an even nastier elite who rule by fear, hate, enslavement and extermination. The title ‘Green Light’ could be just about love getting the green light to proceed or it could also be about the two warriors being given the green light to wipe out the small community the protagonist Walker lives in. He’s not one of the warriors, but his lover is. It is a brilliant story about love in a time of hate, and about the people at the bottom of the pile just surviving and waiting for those at the top to decide when to rain fire down on them.

‘Ever After’ is a very short story but it’s everything it needs to be. Two guys meet in a gay bar and fall in love but . . . And it is a really big but. Read it yourself to find out just how big!

‘The Latest Thing’ is another short one, but with an equally big obstacle in the way of true love. Well, life is full of obstacles that just have to be got past or over or sidestepped.

‘Darkling’ is the last of the flash fiction pieces featured here, about a magician who conjures up a demon who is not at all what the magician expected.

‘Horn, Long and Low, Far and Away’ is another version of the other world where elves live, but these are the type of elves you’d do well to stay away from. Alex doesn’t have that option, as he is seduced and spirited away to Faerie to feed the hunger the elves feel for sex and the chase. The chase is a hunt carried out with humans as the prey, and death is the prize if they are caught. Luck, however, is on Alex side, but I’m not about to tell you why. It’s an exciting – if wordy – tale about Tintagel and the consequences of spending time in Faerie.

There are a few low points in these stories, but all in all this is a good collection that I enjoyed very much.

felinewyvern on Bonkers about Books wrote:

My Review: I received this book in exchange for an honest review. This was such an interesting collection of stories. I really loved the title one with all its references to some of my favourite fantasy novels and writers.
Wasn't too interested in one or two of the others (mostly because they were too short or just didn't spark my interest as much).

Overall though it's a great book and should be on any fantasy lovers shelf, especially if they like LGBTQ+ stories.

Anne Barwell on Drops of Ink wrote:

5 out of 5 stars
I enjoyed all of these stories, which are a mix of novellas, short and flash fiction. I’m impressed with how the author writes well in all these story lengths and across the sub genres of speculative fiction. I particularly loved the literary references throughout the stories, and the strong sense of character and place.
Although I enjoyed all the stories, which are all 5 star reads, a couple of the longer ones stood out so I’m going to review those in more detail. I was impressed with how much story and emotion is in the flash fiction, and how with all the stories, the author explored different worlds, characters, and cultures.
To Bring Him Home
I loved Fletcher and his love of all things fantasy, and how the stories he loses himself in don’t quite equate with the real thing. I thought the idea that drives the story is very clever, and the worldbuilding is fabulous. These fairies aren’t like those in the stories. I liked Fletcher’s strength of character and how he will do anything to save Sam. Their relationship and friendship is sweet, and I liked how they both had to be strong to commit to their future together.
Blue Ghosts
This science fiction novella paints an interesting future after an alien invasion. I loved Quentin and John-Caleb’s relationship, and that Quentin struggles to put his past behind him. I liked that Quentin works in library and literary salvage and recovery, and how that feeds into the story’s conclusion. I also liked the social commentary which has echoes of disturbing forces in today’s world. The world building is interesting, and I loved the different societies they meet.


About the Author

Warren Rochelle lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. He retired from teaching English at the University of Mary Washington in 2020. His short fiction and poetry have been published in such journals and anthologies as Icarus, North Carolina Literary Review, Forbidden Lines, Aboriginal Science Fiction, Collective Fallout, Queer Fish 2, Empty Oaks, Quantum Fairy Tales, Migration, The Silver Gryphon, Jaelle Her Book, Colonnades, and Graffiti, as well as the Asheville Poetry Review, GW Magazine, Crucible, The Charlotte Poetry Review, Romance and Beyond, Migration, and Innovation. 

 

Rochelle is the author of four novels: The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010), all published by Golden Gryphon Press, and The Werewolf and His Boy, published by Samhain Publishing in September 2016. The Werewolf and His Boy was re-released by JMS Books in August 2020. His first short story collection, The Wicked Stepbrother and Other Stories, was published by JMS Books in September 2020. His second story collection, To Bring Him Home and Other Tales, and his stand-alone story, Seagulls, were published by JMS Books in September 2021.