REVIEW: Deeper into the Woods by Not Poignant

Once, in the realm of the fae, a Seelie War General – Gwyn ap Nudd – committed a terrible crime, and went to the most unlikely of places for assistance; the home of an Unseelie waterhorse he’d never met before, for a most unconventional form of healing.

Warnings: Dubcon, non SSC BDSM, violence, mentions of abuse, mentions of cannibalism

Category: M/M

Deeper into the Woods is the first in a fantasy epic series known as The Fae Tales, filled with faerie lore and political intrigue, and lots of BDSM content. While this first installment is much shorter than the rest, and more smut forward than the sprawling epics that come after, it is an introduction to two of the leading characters in the series that is both beautiful on it’s own, and important context for the rest of the series. While I often try to read and review a whole series at once, I found that as I read the second installment that this first was so very different in nature (or, at least, in scope) that I wanted to review them separately.

WRITING
The author’s prose is extremely lavish and well paced. It takes it’s time to keep you well in the POV characters experiences and viewpoints, and does it with such flair that it’s hard to stop reading once you’ve started. This particular story gives a backstory to the relationship between two of the rest of the series’s lead characters: Gwyn and Augus. And, if taken as a standalone, it is a story about a man visiting a pro-Dom for a BDSM therapy session to help with his unraveling mental health. It’s a trauma exploration and healing narrative, and a beautiful one at that, with the details of Gwyn’s trauma as well as his guilt over his own actions slowly drawn out of him by Augus in a kind of interrogation sequence. The meat of the story is the psychological profile of Gwyn, but also the satisfaction that Augus gains from breaking him, and the ways the two interact. Exclusively character driven, it is a compelling little novella that explores BDSM and its effects on its characters.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
Since the majority of the BDSM content in this book is non-sexual in nature, that means that it hinges entirely on the emotional, and how the activities that the characters are engaging in effect them mentally and emotionally, not just physically. It begins with the first three chapters in Augus, the Dominant character’s POV, and then the last three in Gwyn, the submissive’s. And since the story concerns so much Gwyn’s mental health and evolving emotional states, this means that the first half is mired in the careful observations of these changes and reactions, while the second is fully submerged in the direct experiences of them. This connection between the characters, and the extreme attention given to the sadist POV of Augus, becomes immediately intimate in a most chilling way, as well as conveying Gwyn’s broken psyche beautifully to the reader as well. The way that Augus takes care in breaking Gwyn down to bring him through his trauma is a loving depiction of BDSM as therapy, with the Dominant becoming a therapist, and it is an intensely emotional reading experience.

WORLDBUILDING
The world of The Fae Tales is very lore driven, and based on Welsh, Scottish and Irish folklore. The way that the fae function is touched on, the concepts of how they interact, their caste system, their sense of self and where they derive magic, is all present in this story, even if it is not the main feature. The way it is presented doesnt feel info-dumpy at all either, instead it treats the facts of the setting as givens, letting the reader discover it at a leisurely pace around the rest of the narrative. If you are already familiar with this folklore, terms like Seelie and Unseelie will be familiar, but if you are not, it does a lovely job at letting the reader learn these terms without bombarding them with a barrage of facts. Just as the concept of a heartsong, a core principle that every fae carries deep within their being, is a primary point of the story, embedded in it’s narrative in a way that seemlessly gives the reader a peak into the story’s world.

STEAMINESS
Since the story is so principally about a BDSM session, it goes without saying that there is a lot of extremely steamy content. As I mentioned, most of the BDSM content is not even sexual in nature, and there is a lot of Domination play that has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with the slow and careful breaking down of Gwyn’s will via things like extended predicament bondage. This makes it an extremely compelling read emotionally, which also in turn contributes to how sexy it is. The content is at times absolutely brutal, and Augus is not a soft Dom. Since this is not SSC style BDSM and does not use safewords, it lands squarely in dubcon territory, but Augus is a pro-Dom and this is entirely a session. One that, at the end of it all, is designed to help Gwyn to work through his trauma and guilt. The care with which Augus impliments his cruelty is delicious, and the ways that Gwyn reacts are breathtaking to read. I have rarely read anything so sexy even when it is not involving sex, and it is proof that BDSM is far more than mere sex fetish. Utterly gorgeous, sensual, intimate and sexy stuff.

I highly recommend this piece, even though it is short compared to the others in the series it is singularly one of the best pieces of BDSM fiction I have ever read. On it’s own its glorious, and as the introduction to a wider story it’s even more compelling. Hat is off to the author, as this was a piece I will not be forgetting any time soon.

Have you read Deeper into the Woods? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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