In the Ring, all know that witches scorn respectability, mock propriety and parade promiscuity. In Blackvale, all know that witches lure princesses into towers, force maidens into servitude and turn enemies into crows. Everywhere, all know that while a witch’s magic has its uses, their queer ideas challenge the rule of kings, mothers and sorcerers alike. But what if a coven offers the only safety for a sorcerer running from the Citadel? What if the princess seeks the witch’s aid in escaping her handsome consort? What if a baker can only find understanding from someone deemed dangerous and predatory? What if only witches defend against the parading heroes insistent on romantic rituals and heirs conceived in marriage?
Nine Laws: fairy-tale-inspired stories focusing on non-partnering, polyamorous and sex-favourable aromantic characters.
A coven of gentlewoman witches seems like the perfect place for Luck Vaunted to hide from hir powerful brother, father and husband. Even better, the upcoming Guildmeet ball offers the new Luck the perfect chance to experiment with genderlessness, magic and sex, if only ze can avoid more sorcery-revealing accidents. Sure, the witches welcome hir with open arms, but after hir twin’s betrayal, how can ze risk trusting anyone but hirself?
When hir brother attends the Guildmeet, a lover expects romantic intimacy and a quest of boots threatens to reveal hir deceit, Luck can no longer outrun hir monsters. Hir only chance of escape: the Westhold coven. But how does ze ask, when ze has lied to them, too?
Some fairy-tale families are formed by blood or marriage. Others are formed by aromantic witches defending each other against respectability, amatonormativity … and the sorcerer potentate’s heir.
Contains: An allo-aro genderless person on the run from hir family; a coven of four aromantic-spectrum witches ignoring all the rules about gender and relationships; and a version of Cinderella that rejects the amatonormativity of Disney’s fairy godmother’s ignoring familial abuse until it prevents the heroine from attending a dance to find a husband.
Ponder Sheafed can’t stop asking questions. Ze isn’t the girl others presume hir to be. Ze won’t become a wife or let a wedding’s absence stopper hir lust. Ze isn’t good, so maintaining hir kinsfolk’s high regard demands a complicated dance of stealth, secrecy and untruth. Ponder does, however, own some ability in deception … so when tragedy befalls hir family, how does ze explain that–despite all appearance to the contrary–ze can’t trade hir life’s service for a unicorn’s magic?
Only virtuous maidens may enter the forest to seek a creature as pure as a unicorn. Returning home empty-handed avoids provoking Father’s rage by confessing unacceptable truths, so what options has ze other than embarking upon a farcical quest for hir family’s salvation … and dreading the failure to come? No unicorn can ever grace an unrepentant liar!
Ponder isn’t good. But neither, ze discovers, is the unicorn.
Contains: A genderless, non-partnering allo-aro who speaks lies to live hir truth in a village that prizes a girl’s goodness above all else … and a unicorn whose duty to humans has been wildly misrepresented.
Constance, princess of Blackvale, knows the duty of a summer-hearted heir: wed the prince, birth the child, symbolise her people’s prosperity and fecundity. Love, joyously and passionately, a man even she believes handsome and kind. But what if her heart can’t cast summer’s warmth? What if she feels solely the profane desires of skin and flesh? What if Blackvale’s crops wither and rot unripened because their future queen can’t—and won’t—bow to the nonsensical-seeming rule of seasons?
She knows only one way to avoid catastrophe, falsehood and marriage: surrendering herself to the Forest Witch. Not even for his daughter will the king risk angering the feared but necessary master of briars, protector of forests and abductor of women.
Constance expects a lifetime’s bondage to a dangerous witch, freeing her cousin to inherit Blackvale’s throne. The witch has other ideas…
Contains: A multisexual allo-aro princess who, in the name of duty, wants the witch to lock her away in a tower; and a trixensexual allo-aro witch who sees hope and possibility in the princess seeking hir protection.
All know that acceptable sexual attraction walks in twain with romantic love and intimate partnership. Sorcerers’ wives know that their daughters must marry to further power’s cause. Royals know that a kingdom’s prosperity demands the happily-ever-after of monogamous marriage and future heirs … and if romance here cannot be found, it must at least be feigned. In a world so constrained, where can a princess give language to her aromanticism? Where can a baker avoid his mother’s insistence that he love and wed? Where can a villager celebrate that dreaded, threatening possession of desire untethered from love?
Where else but in a witch’s company?
Witches of Fruit and Forest collects all Nine Laws short stories: tales of magic and fantasy exploring aromantic identity.
Contains: Magic, vegetable gardens, a riot of blackberry, abundant queerness, human and not-quite-human aro witches, loveless and non-monogamous protagonists, and stories like to end with rebellion–or gloriously casual sex.