REVIEW: Novella-The Great North- J. Scott Coatsworth

The Great North Book Cover The Great North
J. Scott Coatsworth
Nove;lla, Science Fiction, LGBTQ Fantasy
Other Worlds Ink
July 12, 2023

Dwyn is a young man in the small, isolated northern town of Manicouga, son of the Minstor, and betrothed to marry the beautiful Kessa in just a few weeks.

Mael is shepherding the remains of his own people from Land’s End, a village much farther north, chased out by a terrible storm that destroyed the town.

Both are trying to find their way in a post-apocalyptic world. When they meet, their love may change the world, and the course of history.

Review by Ulysses Dietz
Member of the Paranormal Romance Guild Review Team

This trippy little novella is a fascinating mixture of fantasy and sci-fi, with a post-apocalyptic surprise that I did not see coming.

Inspired, apparently, by the Welsh version of the St. Valentine’s myth, the story is set in an indefinable place called Manicouga, and focuses on the trials and tribulations of a young man named Dwyn. In a prospering village that feels vaguely medieval – but also somehow not – Dwyn is the son of the town’s Minstor, and one day, while picking corn on the edge of town, meets a ragtag group of refugees from a more northerly town called Land’s End.

It is a simple set-up – the survivors of a natural disaster are seeking temporary quarters, and look to the people of Manicouga for assistance. Their leader, a tall blond man called Mael, embodies his people’s culture, but also all of Dwyn’s problems, as he wrestles with his own immediate feelings for this strapping foreigner, and their implications in the context of his own eerily puritanical little civilization. All of this takes place in a very small world that seems to be part of a much larger world, which is for some reason very little known by the people of Manicouga.

Once Dwyn and Mael discover the secret to their shared ancestry, it all becomes clear – and something quite unnerving and different from what I was anticipating.

Coatsworth has his romantic agenda, along with his marvelous desire to re-cast a Welsh myth into something from which his readers can draw both solace and uncomfortable wisdom. You can’t read his stories without thinking, or at least you can’t really appreciate them if you don’t.

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