The cake: chocolate cake with green vanilla cake center; chocolate ganache frosting; green buttercream decorations

Vanilla * 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour * 1 cup granulated sugar * 1/4 tsp baking soda * 1 tsp baking powder * 3/4 cup unsalted butter * 3 egg whites, room temperature * 2 tsp vanilla extract * 1/2 tsp salt * 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature * 1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

Chocolate * 2 cups all-purpose flour * 2 cups granulated sugar * 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder * 2 tsp baking soda * 1 tsp baking powder * a pinch of coarse salt * 3 large eggs * 1 cup low-fat buttermilk * 1 cup warm water * 5 tbsp safflower oil * 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

The Fantasy Inn's interview with Emily Tesh

Review 5/5 stars — a lyrical folk tale with high reread value

In an interview with The Fantasy Inn, Emily Tesh described her debut novella <i>Silver in the Wood</i> as "what if a very depressed queer version of Tom Bombadil living in a beautiful creepy magical wood was also a monster hunter and then he fell in love." Which is to say that I was always likely to adore this story—and Tesh's deft storytelling only added to my enjoyment of the lush, green setting and its inhabitants.

In tone and atmosphere, <i>Silver in the Wood</i> did remind me of Tolkien, but also of Naomi Novik's and Robin McKinley's writing. The story is built around the Green Man mythos; Tesh's prose is an homage to the original folk tale and its era while the characters feel mysterious yet relatable. I loved Tobias (he actually reminded me of Radagast the Brown AND Tom Bombadil), so I was pleased the narrative was heavily character-driven, delving deeply into Tobias's past as well as his changing view of the world as Henry Silver became a larger part of Tobias's life. The plot grew out of Tobias meeting and growing to like Silver, which brought Tobias back into touch with the fast-paced human world. Just when I thought I could predict the flow of the ending, Tesh threw me for a couple of loops. The last third of the book included more twists and sudden changes than I expected could reasonably fit in just over a hundred pages, but they were very well executed.

Speaking of length, I found the bite-sized novella format worked very well. The story is somewhat cyclic in nature, focusing on themes of growth and rebirth. I read it twice back-to-back because I liked the writing style and was never bored. After all, folk stories are meant to be told over and over!

I highly recommend <i>Silver in the Wood</i> to anyone who enjoys atmospheric fantasy or fairy tale retellings. Emily Tesh's writing is full of beautiful descriptions, emotionally deep characters, and magic woven into a subtly epic setting. Saying I'm excited to read more of her work is an understatement.