by Arilin Thorferra
As a horror fan, giants hold a very special place in my heart. A childhood full of monster of the week movies made me into the horse I am today. Giants played no small (ahem) part in helping me see monsters as more often dangerously misunderstood creatures than outright evil figures.
And, yet, I don’t particularly find myself attracted to the giant mythos. Not that I’m against Macrofurry stuff. I do like transformation stories and I do like submissive characters; so there’s quite a bit of overlap there with size shifting.
In this tale set in a furry universe in a vague period prior to Hawaii’s statehood, Russel the cougar is looking to become a literature professor at a very posh American University in San Francisco. It’s probably in the 1950’s, even if the villain of the piece, Cornelius Bennett, is known as a “rail baron.” The first few pages felt nearly as staid and boring as any academic event that one might expect, but when the curvaceous otter Kailani enters the scene, things to pick up. I enjoyed every scene Kailani was in; even the scene where they are discussing The Great Gatsby. She is simply one of those people who are larger than life. *ahem*
And it’s to the authors credit that Kailani’s robust presence doesn’t overshadow the other characters in the scene with her. Russell becomes a bigger personality when he’s with her and, later, trying to be with her. Often in stories with this type of transformation from quiet protagonist with a plan to hero of the tale, the author relies on the cast to tell the hero/heroine that she changed. Here, I felt it.
No one had to tell me.
I especially liked feeling all of Russell’s conflicting emotions and I cheered as he scrapped the burden of a lifetime of checklists and mile-markers.
I liked that both San Francisco and the islands felt very real and well researched. I did not feel the time period as well researched, but then I am OK with an alternate reality of an Earth packed with multiple species having a different history. I tend to demand it, in fact, so I didn’t really miss the temporal veracity too much. It’s enough that nothing really contradicted the feeling of a mid-20th century America… not even the color’s in the magazine Russell should hide when he has company.
Trader Vic being in San Francisco, also suggests the 1950’s… but that brings me to the only serious flaw to this tale. There are too many mentions of things from our mundane universe. I say this fully aware that this isn’t a big deal for most of the Furry reading community. Things change in a culture with multiple species, I should think, otherwise all these creatures might as well be humans in zipper back fur suits.
But that said, this novella is worth reading for the adventure and the soft romance… even if I sometimes forgot what species Russell was. And if you love giant, powerful female furs going doing a bit of wrecking ball work, this book is a must buy.