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Locks of Love: A Modern Gay Fairy Tale by…
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Locks of Love: A Modern Gay Fairy Tale

by Jordan Castillo Price

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Locks of Love a Modern Gay Fairy Tale by Jordan Castillo Price belongs to a subgenre that is harder than it looks to do well – the retold fairy tale. Retold fairy tales take the bare bones of a familiar tale or myth, and replicate the plot points, but always with a subversive twist. The setting might be futuristic, the relationship gay, or the gender roles switched.

However, fairy tales can bore many of us readers because they are populated by archetypes and not real characters with real personalities and real motives. The very entertaining Locks of Love avoids this pitfall by using the tale of Rapunzel as a springboard to launch a full-bodied first-person viewpoint in Hal, a locksmith with the unusual psychic talent of being able to communicate telepathically with doors to convince them to open their locks for him. He lives in a gritty urban alternate-universe in which everyone has weird little psychic talents such as this.

The short story opens with Hal on assignment. In a bad part of town, he sees a gorgeous, long-haired man who is stuck in a fifth-floor loft with no way down. The man, Micha, pleads for help, and Hal is smitten, even though an industrial steel door sends him a taciturn warning that he’s in over his head. (“As doors go, it wasn’t all that chatty, the way residential doors can sometimes be. It was a working man’s door, and it had a job to do. Go, it told me. Just get out of here.”) Now Hal must confront Micha’s captor, and it’s anyone’s guess what that man’s talent will be.

Val for AReCafe ( )
  AReCafe | May 23, 2014 |
Even knowing this story was written by JCP and was therefore probably good, I still hesitated to buy it. Several reviews stated that it was too short. Since that's a common complaint I have about short stories and novellas, it was a good bet I'd feel the same. Still, when a sale came around, I bought it.

While it was certainly as readable as everything else by JCP that I've tried, it really was too short. I got a brief look at the story's world, I got to know Hal a little, and I got to meet Micha and get the barest hint of what he was like, assuming he was telling the truth. Then it was over.

The best parts of the story were the world it was set in, the moments when Hal got to use his gift, and Hal's “voice.” Every character had their own gift, and I enjoyed getting to find out what it was. I loved that Hal didn't just tell doors to open – he had to convince them to open. Every door he touched had a personality of its own, suited to whatever it was part of. Hal's car door was protective of him and didn't like to open for anyone else. The door at a sewing factory had a strong work ethic and wasn't inclined to open without a key. In some ways, Hal reminded me a little of that door. He just wanted to do his job, with a minimum of fuss.

The weakest parts of the story were Micha and the attempt at romance, or at least attraction, between him and Hal. Micha was gorgeous, but I didn't feel like I got to know him enough for him to be anything more than that. I couldn't even get a sense of whether he and Hal could manage to last for more than a few days as a couple. There were indications that, unlike Micha's past lovers, Hal might like him for more than just sex. Unfortunately, the story was too short to really convince me of that.

I thought this was an interesting take on the Rapunzel story, although I snorted a bit when I found out what the “talismans” were. Would a guy like Hal really have called those things talismans? Anyway, although this was an okay story, it's the weakest of JCP's works I've read so far.

(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Sep 24, 2013 |
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