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The Faerie Hounds of York

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England, 1810. The north is governed by a single rule. Faerie will take as it pleases.

William Loxley is cursed. A pale and monstrous creature haunts his dreams, luring him from London to the desolate, grey landscape of his forgotten childhood. There, it will use him to open a door to Faerie—a fate that will trap Loxley in that glittering, heathen otherworld forever.

His only hope of escaping the creature's grasp lies with John Thorncress, a dark and windswept stranger met on the moors. The longer Loxley stays in Thorncress' company, the harder it becomes to fight his attraction to the man. Such attraction can only end in heartbreak—or the noose.

But Thorncress has his own bleak ties to Faerie. They come creeping in with the frost, their howls carrying on the winter wind. If Thorncress' past catches up with him before they can break the curse, then Loxley will not only lose his soul.

He'll lose Thorncress, too.

"Beautifully creepy and eerily magical, with a bittersweet romance that I loved." - Stephanie Burgis, author of Snowspelled and Masks and Shadows

201 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 20, 2020

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About the author

Arden Powell

15 books217 followers
Arden Powell is an author and illustrator from the Canadian East Coast. A nebulous entity, they live with a small terrier and an exorbitant number of houseplants, and have conversations with both.

So far they have written fantasy, sci fi, southern gothic, horror, historical fantasy, and fantasy and contemporary romance. They intend to eventually write in every single SFFH genre possible. Everything they write is queer.

They can be found on twitter @ArdenPowell, on their blog at ardenpowell.wordpress.com, and via newsletter mailing list (sign up here: subscribepage.com/u2p5e1).

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5 stars
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294 (43%)
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144 (21%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 173 reviews
Profile Image for tappkalina.
642 reviews395 followers
October 16, 2022
"Do you not consider it a sin?"
"I don't see how one can both preach love and condemn it in the same breath. I fear a public hanging far more than I fear Hell."

Probably the most spooky, unique and atmospheric thing I've read this year. Or ever, let's be honest. It totally blew my mind. But sadly I have a built-in hatred for historical settings, and it definitely took away from my enjoyment.

Perfect for Halloween.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
Author 68 books955 followers
August 19, 2020
This Regency fantasy novella is gorgeously creepy and eerily magical, with some genuinely frightening moments and a bittersweet but amazing romance whose final twists and turns I did not manage to predict at all. Perfect for fans of Susanna Clarke or Zen Cho!
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
832 reviews3,724 followers
March 26, 2022
2.5, maybe? Liked the atmosphere and the dark, evil fae pictured here but the story itself never really won me over, and it felt very long for such a short book. Also wish they wouldn't have used g*ps* twice (even in a bad light, including a slur is always unnecessary imo)
Profile Image for sassafrass.
447 reviews6 followers
July 13, 2021
i didnt anticipate that ending in the least!! also loved the depiction of the fae in this one - always delightful when they lean more eldritch than boyband
Profile Image for Claudie ☾.
542 reviews133 followers
December 16, 2022
A beautifully written and haunting tale. It took an unexpected turn near the end, and I can’t say I’m 100% satisfied with the ending, but it was a very enjoyable, atmospheric read. My only complaint is this: I wanted more romance! I think it would’ve been better if the MCs had more time to fall in love.
Profile Image for lauraღ.
1,395 reviews58 followers
May 5, 2022
“Necessity,” he said at length, “will drive a man to learn any manner of things. Necessity, and love.”

3.5 stars. A really unique, melancholy little tale of historical fantasy. Loxley travels back to his childhood town in a bid to rid himself of a strange curse that he doesn't comprehend and has only just realised the existence of. He's aided by a windswept stranger he meets on the moors: Thorncress, who knows more than Loxley about Faerie phenomena, and devotes himself to helping Loxley. It's a fairly short novel, and while it does have plot and structure, something about it just felt very... conceptual, the whole time? Not that that's a flaw. I do love when a book runs almost purely on vibes, and this was that. Lots of descriptions of the bleak landscape, the lonely moor, and punishing weather. The setting felt like a character in and of itself, and I love that. I liked the folklore/fae aspect, and the author's take on popular myths. There's a lovely little romance at the centre of this; one that I wish had more set-up and build-up, but a lovely one nonetheless. The book went places that I really did not see coming, and I don't know if I loved it. But I definitely respected it, and my heart felt so full at the end. 

Parts of it made me think of this Hozier song, and if I'm making Hozier comparisons, then you know I had a good time. Kudos.

Content warnings: .

“If the devil wants us, he must fight Faerie for the privilege.”
Profile Image for Kahlia.
540 reviews37 followers
December 27, 2021
This was delightful! Excellent atmosphere (I always love a misty moor), proper creepy fae, and I really liked both characters, particularly seeing Loxley come out of his shell and find an ability to express his desires and a sense of being tethered to something meaningful. The pacing was just about spot on for a novella, though it does feel a little insta-lovey because we're told the weeks pass with Loxley and Thorncress spending time together but it doesn't really feel that way due to the shorter length.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,007 followers
January 7, 2021
The Faerie Hounds of York did not quite go the places I expected it to. It started off with Loxley finding himself in a fairy ring, rescued by a gruff but kind stranger, Thorncress. Warned to leave the area and get himself to London, away from Faerie influence, Loxley quickly finds himself under Thorncress's care again. A bond is forming between them, as Thorncress tells Loxley he will help him solve his mystery and get free of the Faerie... if it's possible.

There's one hell of a moment with this book which I didn't expect, given the genre; I shouldn't say too much unless I spoil the impact, because it turned a story I was mildly enjoying into something more intriguing for me. Some aspects of the romance genre are still here, but there's a subversion of certain expectations which put me on the back foot. I shouldn't say too much about that!

I enjoyed the characters and the bond they form, but that moment of subverted expectation might've been the best bit -- I could otherwise have wished for more build-up, more familiarity with the inner lives of the characters (particularly Thorncress). On the other hand, then there'd be less mystery... In any case, definitely enjoyable.
Profile Image for Andrea.
567 reviews51 followers
July 7, 2022
Really atmospheric and I instantly liked the characters.

But... it should have been a full-length novel. You're thrown into the middle of a scene with no idea what's happening, who's who, or how the characters met and why they're interacting.

Still, I was interested in the plot and how Loxley and Thorncress would solve their dilemma.

Unfortunately, the conclusion was really unsatisfactory for me, so while I enjoyed reading The Faerie Hounds of York, I can't rate it more than 3 stars.
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 18 books420 followers
May 3, 2021

First of all, that cover art knocks my socks off. I don’t know what it is about it, but it just works for me.

You know how sometimes you’re just in the mood to read a really good book about fantasy set in our real world? But not like… urban fantasy? Maybe something a bit more historical? Regency, perhaps. And add in some fae.

Yeah, it’s like that.

The Faerie Hounds of York is a novella I came across when I was wandering my way through Kindle Unlimited trying to find a book to read that would scratch that particular itch. It looked short and sweet with a punchy synopsis so I thought, “why not.”

Well, suffice it to say, I stayed up until about three in the morning one night reading this book. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Everything about it delighted me, and when it was over, I had this book hangover that really surprised me. I mean, this was exactly what I was in the mood to read. I was so enamored with the book, I had to think about it for over a week before I thought, “I finally have the words to review that.”

In the early 1800s, Northern England is basically ruled by the fae. They take what they want, and you get to basically just deal with that. The Faerie Hounds of York opens up with one William Loxley waking up in a faerie circle. A mysterious man named John Thorncress sees him there, and tells him to get on out of here. Go back to London where it’s safe.

What would be the fun in that?

So with Thorncress and Loxley’s paths crossing and twisting together, it’s soon discovered that Loxley is cursed, and being haunted by dreams of terrifying creatures. Thorncress and Loxley work together to figure out how Loxley ended up in the woods, and come to a terrifying conclusion. And, while all of this is going on, we’ve got a bit of a romance simmering as well.

I will say, the first thing that impressed me was the atmosphere. From the first page, I had a sense of time and place, but more than that, I had an eerie atmosphere that just burrowed under my skin and lived there. This book works on a few levels, but Powell was a master manipulator of emotion and tension. It really sucked me into the story from the first word, and left me gasping for breath once it was through.

Furthermore, I typically read stories about fae being beautiful and otherworldly, but Powell’s weren’t like that at all. I’ve never really see fae presented like this before, and I truly enjoyed it. Otherworldly, yes, but also there are elements of horror here that lead to some shocking, heart wrenching, brutal scenes that really stuck to my bones.

This novella is about 140 pages long, so there’s not a whole lot of room for the author to lay down a foundation and then expand upon it. Powell thrusts his readers into the center of the action on the first page, and from there, as you follow Loxley, you’ll feel his confusion, determination, the shocks and desires he feels as well. In such a short amount of time, I truly felt that Powell did a fantastic job of not just telling a story, but creating a world and characters that shine both on and off the page.

Loxley and Thorncress are both interesting characters with plenty of layers. Thorncress was the mysterious, enigmatic one. I never quite managed to pin him down as I read, and I wasn’t sure I was supposed to. I understood, completely, how enchanting Loxley found him, and the reasons why. I also loved how the mystery that is Thorncress was used in the novel, not just as the character developed, but the plot as well.

Being a novella, there is never a dull moment or wasted word here. The story unfolds at a good clip, and its relentless forward motion never lets up. There’s plenty going on in the background as well, so while the story moves toward its ending, readers get a good glimpse of the world, the times, and the place (historical details) that add a layer of realism and nuance to the entire body of work.

The Faerie Hounds of York was a superb novella, constructed with a shocking amount of thought, depth, and passion. It’s dark, with elements of horror, and a nice dollop of emotion as well. If you’re ever thinking, “I’m really in the mood to read a book that will destroy me” then check this one out. It pulls no punches, and will leave you feeling, powerfully, its passing.

Profile Image for Meredith Katz.
Author 15 books165 followers
March 3, 2021
My feelings on this story are complicated.

On the one hand: There's a lot in it I truly and genuinely like. The slow unravelling of the mysteries at the heart of both characters was masterfully done, and the imagery and uncanniness of faerie was beautiful and well-executed. The narrative was consistent, and every time I had a slow fear something was happening, it was, which is excellent payoff. There were some convoluted and interesting tangling of christian imagery and faery imagery I liked too -- the apple, the haw, sin and unchristian thoughts, faerie vs the devil, and these two gay men marked by it: literally hounded. I'd definitely recommend people give it a read!

On the other hand, I found the narrative written in this even-handed, matter-of-fact way that, rather than feeling dreamy, felt withdrawn. A lot of emotional scenes happened without the interiority at the times where I wanted to see how the characters felt about things. I kept finding myself asking "why is this happening now" -- why is this question asked a week after being raised, why are the characters expressing feelings at this time and not another, why is he telling his sister's tale here, etc. We're told one character withdraws abruptly, but because the narrative is unemotive, we're told it rather than shown it -- he acts about the same way regardless. I had a hard time buying into the character's feelings because the narration often kept us out of them at key moments.

There were two other things that kind of ate at me. And the first I'll admit is a pet peeve -- I'm not letting it impact my rating, because there's no way for an author to avoid other people's pet peeves. But: I don't like the trope that 'fairies can't lie' because invariably the authors treat it as a part of historical folklore. It's not -- it was made up in modern fairy fiction in the 1990s, and because it was popular in these books, it spread. Plenty of other authors were like well, this person must have done their research, and put it in their own books as well, and now it's super popular as a known 'fairy fact' despite not showing up in fairy folklore. I've seen authors who choose not to include it being told they got some fairy folklore wrong by letting their fairies lie. And like, it's fine if you want to include it in your own work, of course, that's always a personal call. I won't ever be a fan of that choice specifically BECAUSE of how it's spread and that people don't realize it's anachronistic and then even more people will do it. But seeing it in historical fiction is especially a big bugbear for me -- even if you assume fairies absorb the beliefs and treat it as a modern folklore that binds them, it wouldn't have existed back then as a belief! Basically, this is a non-issue, it was just a one-off line at a key point rather than a major plot point, but I saw the mention in this story and was just like ahhh I need to talk about this. Anyway, this article is a fantastic folkloric analysis of this trope, if you want to read about someone going through and trying to source where it came from.

The other thing that ate at me is a bit more serious. Listen, I understand the author is queer and I am very much willing to give them a pass on this in a way I wouldn't in yet another TV show made by committee and marketed to a straight demographic. We're allowed to tell our own stories, and that includes telling our own horror stories and tragedies. As always, YMMV. But
Profile Image for Steve.
359 reviews70 followers
May 31, 2021
Very interesting. However, this novella is quite a bit outside of my reading preferences, as it’s at least as much a romance as a Fae/folklore fantasy. So I’m not going to star rate it (I don’t like to give low ratings to an author’s efforts just because I’ve chosen a read that doesn’t match my tastes, especially if the prose is good as it is here).

It’s set on the moors of northern England in the Regency period - around 1810, when Jane Austen was writing but it’s not based in her high society arena at all, more stormy, wild countryside. A Bronte feel, more than Austen, though I’ve only seen films based on Bronte sister novels.

The folklore part was interesting. The Fae/Fairie folk are more threatening, even alien, compared to recent folklore novels I’ve read recently. And the story ends in an interesting Fae related way too. Some interesting discussion on ‘changelings’, the genuinely held superstitious belief in past times that Fairie folk could take human babies and replace, in cuckoo style, with a weaker one of their own - made me speculate whether that was a good excuse in those times should a baby be found to not follow family resemblances!

But the novella is probably more committed to the romantic side of the story. Romance is not my thing (well, the fictional version anyway!), and I did find the two main lead characters (M-M in this case, though I’d say the same about M-F romance) to be stereotypical of the genre with one being rugged, tall, dark and reliable, the other being dependant and often in need of assistance.

So for the Romance readers amongst my friends I think you may enjoy this easy to read Fairie tale/gay romance combo, but not my cup of tea I’m afraid.
Profile Image for Frankie.
471 reviews121 followers
October 25, 2021
The Bayou was one of the best novellas I read this year so this was a little disappointing, but it's good to see just how quickly the author had improved. This book had an unsteady start. It was a little dull at the beginning, with an MC I found annoying. Plus, you can tell that the author isn't British because the faux historical prose felt unnatural, which is a shame because Powell writes so beautifully otherwise.

However, once I reached the halfway point I warmed to it. This book has creepy fae and a soft but instalove gay romance, and such a beautiful last quarter that it made me tear up. My poor heart.
Profile Image for Sarah (thegirltheycalljones).
412 reviews285 followers
October 19, 2021
3,5 stars. A sad and creepy tale for winter days.
Really liked it. Feels good to meet with the fair folk again - the real one, not the New Adult Sexy Faes that are, actually, barely faes at all - even if it was brief.
Felt like listening to a tale told by a mysterious being who's trading his story for something you don't remember, but agreed on giving away.
Profile Image for Victoria (Eve's Alexandria).
659 reviews382 followers
April 10, 2021
2.5* A chilling dark faery tale sort-of-but-not m/m romance, in which a Londoner finds himself drawn back to his childhood Yorkshire home to fulfil a promise he made on a Hawthorn tree when he was very young. There he meets a Romani man struggling with his own fae-cursed legacy and together they set out to free themselves.

It was nicely written, and I enjoyed seeing my local places on the page, but ultimately I felt the emphasis was on the wrong places in the story. The dreamlike quality of the prose never let me close enough to the protagonists - both Loxley and Thorncross felt like figures at a distance. Their emotional connection didn’t land as a result; rapid declarations of love and belonging together didn’t sell. l also wasn’t sure of the Romani rep here, or the way it’s used to leverage Thorncross’s difference in the story,

And I really didn’t like the ending. Not. At. All. Does it still count as a HEA if both of your MCs have died and only find their happiness in faery-heaven?

CWs: references to Romani slurs and racism; references to homophobia; death of sister (off page); death of parents (off page); deaths of MCs; burial of MC.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Eva Strange.
151 reviews42 followers
October 6, 2020
Make sure you have a blanket and a hot beverage ready before you pick up this book: the cold and desolation seep right out of its pages and into your bones. If you take the necessary precautions, though, this is the perfect comfort read for anybody with a fondness for fantasy, folk horror and romanticism.
Profile Image for Gillian.
885 reviews24 followers
May 31, 2021
3.5 stars

Don't go into this book thinking this a romance. It's not. And yet, it is romantic in it's own weird way. The fae here are of the deadly and dangerous variety and the I enjoyed the folklore aspect. It didn't quite grab me the way The Bayou did, but overall I did enjoy it.
Profile Image for Sarah Eliza.
76 reviews22 followers
January 3, 2022
"Perhaps no one would ever find him, and the foxes and ravens would speak his only eulogy from between sharp teeth and wicked beaks"
Profile Image for Tessa.
70 reviews
May 7, 2022
Maybe 3.5
In short: loved the setting, but the romance could have used some work and I'm not the biggest fan of the ending. The concept is better than the execution.
Profile Image for Rachael.
92 reviews7 followers
October 10, 2021
This book scratches the very specific itch I have for spooky/fae/ethereal/broody/English folklore influenced/Victorian era queer romance and I loved it!!
Profile Image for Arina, The Reading Rogue.
78 reviews24 followers
November 26, 2020
Do you ever just wanna sit back, relax, and be completely destroyed by a story?

Well, if you do, The Faerie Hounds of York might just grant you that wish, and if you don't, this is one book that sneaks up on you anyways.

From the very beginning, this was one eerie story, something that should have prepared me for what I got: a fairytale just like the classics.

By which I mean, of course, one tale of imaginative myth, of impending danger personified by a creature that would naturally fit any Guillermo del Toro movie, and a prince in distress being helped through the woods by a dark, brooding wanderer.

Together with Loxley and his companion, Mr. Thorncress, we slowly unravel the truth behind Loxley’s rendezvous in the woods, only to come to a terrifying conclusion.

Powell works the backdrop expertly, transporting the reader right into the scene, while also allowing them to peek into the historical happenings of the moment.

Right from the beginning, this story sets a sinister atmosphere, making excellent use of its setting, York, England, 1810. This place of very occasional sunshine, with a prevalent gloomy mood solidified by its overcast days, is the perfect playground for beings of another world to frolic with humans.

And none do it so as the Fae.

These are not your average creatures, or at least I have rarely (if ever) seen Fae depicted like this. It was such a far cry from the “otherwordly beautiful” depiction of the Fae that I enjoyed myself immensely.

Not to mention I love horror stories and this was a short slash to the heart. Being a novella, or, better said, because the author was great at constructing a story that was at once short and entertaining, there is never a moment of boredom.

An entertaining, eldritch fairytale with a gut-punch of a plot twist that I very much basked in reading.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Daniel.
671 reviews43 followers
July 4, 2021
This definitely has that lost-on-a-foggy-moor sense of vagueness going on. It's not a happy book, quite gloomy, and But I kind of enjoyed it. Mostly the earlier parts, less so the ending. And I finished it, which is more than I can say for the last several things I started. Do like that cover, too.
Profile Image for Shivanee Ramlochan.
Author 7 books129 followers
August 18, 2021
I'd been in dogged pursuit of atmospheric romance this year, and this gothic, moor-suffused, chilly novella offered me that abundantly, but so much more. It's not, perhaps, a conventional cup of tea romance -- it will strain, at the very least, preconceived notions of how a Happy Ever After ending might be qualified -- but I think it's *because* of that quality, of the writer's decision to take risks in writing about love's limits in the face of overwhelming magic, that The Faerie Hounds of York will prove far less forgettable than comparable fare.

I felt keenly the fear, isolation and dread of the protagonists, felt how overwhelmed by their circumstances they both were, felt the long arm of grief on both their shoulders. It's a rare feeling to wish for a shorter book to be longer, but in this case I could have easily read 300 pages of their bleak, yet achingly tender journey. There's a softness and grace in falling in love here, despite woefully sinister odds, that I so deeply appreciated: the sense that even in an icy, desolate terrain, if you reach for love with all your heart, you may be rewarded with another's good heart to hold.
Profile Image for J.A. Ironside.
Author 57 books309 followers
August 31, 2020
This was a strange and wistful short novel. Part M/M romance, part historical faerie tale, part folk horror. Loxley wakes inside a faerie ring with no memory of how he came to be there or even when he left London. The taciturn and dark Mr Thorncress releases him and so begins the struggle to wrest Loxley's soul from the claws of Faerie. Thrown together by events and by a tortuous journey across the North Yorkshire Moors, Loxley finds his feelings for Thorncress changing as it becomes harder and harder to keep a personal secret.

I really enjoyed this, despite it being small in scope - barely half a dozen characters. Thorncress is Bronte-esque but with a heart of gold. Loxley is naive and honest and sweet. I half wonder if the author read Wuthering Heights and wondered what would happen if a better version of Linton and Heathcliff fell for each other, cutting Cathy out entirely. It's certainly one with the landscape - the craggy, unforgiving and open moors. I had a few tiny niggles. There were Americanisms (Canadianisms?) which would never be used in an English setting - yard instead of garden for instance. A minor irritation. I also flinched a bit at how much time the MCs spent on the moor in bad weather - heavy rain can be a death sentence even now! Getting caught in heavy rain is especially dangerous since a lot of rain falls on the moors. The top soil is loose and huge flash floods and mudslides are not uncommon. In the past they've been big enough to sweep away villages. Which is why every Yorkshire set 19th C novel goes on about not being out in the rain! Now magnify that for heavy snow.
However overall this was a poignant and sweet faerie story in the model of the unsanitised version of the Good Folk which came long before the Victorians cleaned up cautionary tales for use as children's stories. I'm a bit ambivalent about the end because it seems that the final message is that two gay men cannot be happy in this reality. On the other hand, this is echoes of Wuthering Heights again where Heathcliff and Cathy find each other on the moors after death (and I would be a hypocrite if I objected to that echoing!)
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