Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Short Story
Themes: Shifters, Experimentation
Queer Level: Gay Main Characters
This was an interesting take on experimentation and shape-shifting in a sci-fi universe—and was written as a part of Goodreads’ M/M Romance Group’s ‘Love is Always Write” event. Ashlyn Daube handled this particular story request (which can be read in detail on The Ivory Prison‘s Goodreads page) excellently and has a knack for immersing readers into this eerily quiet, single-room world—or, at least Gabriel’s room feels as though it’s the whole world. And for him it really was.
I loved how easy it was to empathize with him, especially because we begin learning the outside world with him. Like that friend you latch onto when neither one of you knows where you’re going. Gabriel is so innocent compared to the place he’s confined to, and it’s a relief when the facility finally changes hands and the workers handle him more gently, even going as far as to give him greater freedom than what was available before.
That, of course, is also where Lukas comes in. Lukas is an unbelievable sweetheart, particularly towards Gabriel, and since they are experiencing similar situations; they hit it off immediately. Supportive, affectionate, and kind, he is able to walk Gabriel through the hardships the two boys share. They bond quickly and convincingly.
The ending… I won’t spoil it; but the ending successfully ties up the loose ends and opens new questions for the upcoming sequel. It can work as a standalone, a short one-shot “fluff” if you will, but I know I’m looking forward to seeing even more.