The Story of Silence by Alex Myers is a beautiful book, a fairy tale that’s full of heart, a joy to read.
The Goodreads description‘s first paragraph sold me right away, rounded out with the perfect comparison titles:
A knightly fairy tale of royalty and dragons, of midwives with secrets and dashing strangers in dark inns. Taking the original French legend as his starting point, The Story of Silence is a rich, multilayered new story for today’s world – sure to delight fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale.
Naomi Novik’s Uprooted was one of my top five favourite reads of 2020 – a selection dominated by fantasy stories either written by or about women, and with a frequent focus on sexuality or gender.
Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale was another book I devoured last year – the first in the Winternight Trilogy which weaves stories of Russian folklore in an atmospheric tale of adventure, wildness, love, loss, magic, daring, difficult decisions, and moral ambiguity.
I didn’t see how The Story of Silence could hold up to my sky-high expectations from these two comparison titles, but it did and I loved it…
The gentle pacing allows the reader to grow up with Silence while experiencing their inner struggle to do what is demanded of them versus what is true. Gender and sexuality are issues kept hidden, the secrecy heightened by Silence’s high-profile position as the earl’s only child and the medieval setting with entrenched classes and gender roles.
‘Nature is but the mould that forms us,’ the nymph said. […]
‘Nature might have given you delicate hands, but if you work all day with wood, what happens?’ […]
We can form ourselves, through our labour, through our love, through our desire. We can form our own selves, despite what Nature intends.’Chapter Four, The Story of Silence, Alex Myers
But on top of all that, The Story of Silence is a fun fairy tale of knights and minstrels that balances the wonders of magic with the mundanity of everyday medieval life.
The book was a gift from my partner who knew nothing about it, but thought I might like it so grabbed it. The Story of Silence wasn’t on my radar, but the moment I opened the wrapping paper and read up about the book I knew it sounded like a bit of me. It’s such a beautiful signed hardback too, and will be taking pride of place on our bookshelf.
Now I can’t wait for Alex Myers’ next book, I know I’ll be giving it a go!
‘… having a ready supply of stories is most important when you don’t want to disclose your own.’Chapter Twelve, The Story of Silence, Alex Myers