Gay romance fiction

Review: Truth in the Dark by Amy Lane


Truth in the Dark by Amy LaneAs a story model for romance, Eros and Psyche is hard to beat. There's a reason that Beauty & the Beast succeeds so completely when it's presented in a new incarnation, whether its Cocteau or Disney.

First things first, Amy Lane is a haunting, subtle, skilled writer who refuses to settle for easy solutions. Every book she's written carries pain and secrecy thumping inside its ribs like a dark heart. Faced with the "update a fairytale" challenge, she's not going to settle for a facile approach.

Knife, the protagionist, is the direct converse of what most writers would tackle. He is literally deformed, arguably ugly, but fiercely appealing for reasons that aren't easy to explain. Aerie-Smith is beastly in stark, upsetting ways; if he is sexy and commanding, those things are handicaps as much as strengths. There are no quick fixes on offer here. Yet it IS a fairytale, and Lane walks her Knife's edge to wring delicious sweetness and sadness out of a very old story.

Lane also digs right at the core of the original myth. She knows her Apuleius and (I'd imagine) many many versions of this story as well: from C.S. Lewis to NBC. What she has used to built her plot, the curse, the romance IS the hub of the myth itself: the act of seeing, the power and peril of secrecy and sight, the trust it takes to expose ugliness in yourself and others, the painful struggle between Truth and Darkness.

I don't like spoilers in reviews, so I won't ruin any of the witty twists she puts on her kingdoms or their quirky inhabitants. I'm not going to crow about her dynamic prose and her singular characterizations and her knack for odd emotion from unexpected sources, because you'll either see them instantly or think I'm an ass for raising your hopes. And I will only hint at the slivers of heartbreak and hope that she plants at strange moments. I will assure you that it is a fairytale with a happy ending, but one that comes with a keen sense of the cost of happiness and endings.

I loved this retelling, and I'm even more of a fan of Amy Lane than I was going in, which is saying something. She is a treasure.