Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Legend of the Mountain Ash by Ruth Sims

The Legend of the Mountain Ash by Ruth Sims
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Romance, GLBT, M/M, Gay
Length: 14 pages


Ethan is a Doughboy wounded in the battle for Belleau Wood. Davy is a reviled British conscientious objector serving in a military hospital. Two young men drawn to each other in the midst of the horrors of the Great War. Neither has a family, for the soldier's has all died and the CO's has cast him off in disgust for refusing to take up arms.

The bond of love that grows between Ethan and Davy takes them to Ethan's beautiful Appalachian hills, where they build a home and make a life. It is there they find that their love is strong enough to conquer everything, even time and death.

The opening lines of Ruth Sims' short story puts the reader at the feet of a storyteller swaying in a rocking chair on the porch of a log cabin such as Ethan and Davy live in. The Legend of the Mountain Ash mixes the eeriness of myth with a story set in a time we can recognize.

In a few brief words, Ms. Sims captures a hideous time for the young men in World War 1, the fighters and non-combatants both. Ethan and Davy, the wounded and the medic, find love in the horror and a refuge in the Appalachian Mountains where Ethan was born.

The outer world intrudes on them again, when the drought of the early thirties brings destitute, thirsty strangers through. Davy lives his beliefs with every breath, and will not turn anyone away, though they have barely enough for themselves. Ethan, a good man but more pragmatic, stops arguing about it, but looks at the empty sky, saying he'd give anything for rain.

Sometimes, someone or something will take you up on that kind of offer, particularly in the Appalachians. Ethan got his rain.

The story goes in waves of disaster followed by quiet happiness, described in language simple and poetic. There's years of background covered in a few pages at the beginning, with no dialog. It's a common structure in a folk tale though frowned on in modern romance, so let the opening set the right sort of expectations. Ethan and Davy are almost archetypes of good men and devoted lovers, but the setting and situation make them unique, and keeps the story anchored in time. Stating dates created a weak point; it pulls the reader out of the flow of legend. I think we could have been well enough anchored from knowing the events of the Great War and the Dust Bowl. The ending explains almost a little too much, but it's still mystical. And happy.

The love between Ethan and Davy comes through wonderfully clearly, not needing any explicit descriptions of their lovemaking, and I don't want that kind of detail from the storyteller in the rocker. This is a love story with a folk tale feel, and I will sit at Ruth Sims' feet any day. 4 marbles


  1. Great to see a new review from you. This one sounds lovely, and is going right onto my 'to read' list. Thanks, Crys!

  2. Now that Dark Divas has their site all moved and some other issues worked out, they are posting my reviews! I am so happy! Now I can cross post to here and to Goodreads without messing with their system. Once it posts there, it's everywhere! Like Mushrooms! Well, better than mushrooms I hope. I have several stacked up for them... Check the coming soon slideshow...


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