Review | The Faerie Hounds of York – Arden Powell

About the Book

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.

145 pages (Kindle)
Published on August 20, 2020
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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. 

5/5 stars