Witches of Fruit and Forest

Witches of Fruit and Forest: Nine Laws Short Stories cover by K. A. Cook. Cover features scenery of a dense forest of green and gold leafed trees, the ground underneath covered by thick clusters of grass and yellow-flowering shrubs. Background shows pink flowers peeking through the foreground shrubbery. Text is set in a white, slightly-curving serif type; white curlicues matching the text, set in each corner, form a broken frame around the text.

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.

As the PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are updated with each new story, please consider them live documents (as opposed to a complete book).

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.

Links: PDF (read in browser) | PatreonWordPress | Tumblr

PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 16, 408 words / 65 PDF pages.

(Some stories have been reprinted in the Hallo, Aro and Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold collections.)

Most stories contain loveless, polyamorous, promiscuous, non-partnering or non-monogamous allosexual aromantic protagonists; this collection focuses most on non-monogamous allosexual aro experiences. Please expect at minimum non-explicit sex mentions and references in all stories (including those with aro-ace characters). Many contain romance references, depictions of physical intimacy, sexually suggestive language, descriptions of sexual attraction/desire and references to sexual acts.

Additionally, many stories contain depictions of amatonormativity, misogyny, sex negativity, cissexism, sex worker antagonism and aromantic antagonism.

Blurbs and specific content advisories are listed below. Each header link will direct you to a page containing story length and alternate publication information.

Hunter

The Citadel assumes that Prudence obediently searches for the Sorcerer Potentate’s missing twin … but she has her own reasons to hunt the Ring’s witches.

Content advisory: Please expect casual, matter-of-fact mentions of the protagonist’s infertility and the misogyny-meets-amatonormativity (and heteronormativity) of requiring or pressuring women to marry (men). I also reference unspecified antagonism towards queer people and the misogyny associated with traditional Western gender roles. All sex references are non-explicit and non-suggestive. A character in another story (Luck of the Ball) is unknowingly misgendered by Hunter‘s protagonist due to hir family’s continued belief that ze is (or should be) a cis woman.

Before Crows’ Eyes

Even knows himself: son, baker, non-partnering. He doesn’t want to want sex, marriage or children; he wants the village’s acceptance of a life best lived crafting seed buns and fruit pies. He doesn’t want the local flock of crows as his only companions; he wants human friendships free of pressure and expectation. Most of all, he wants Ma to let go of the idea that a sorcerer’s magic can and must “fix” him.

Desperation leads Even into the forest to seek the only person who can advise him on resisting a sorcerer: the witch Miser Felled, “skilled purveyor of magic and pleasure”. A master of scandal-provoking arts never undertaken before open windows and watching birds. A mysterious figure who has more in common with Even than just an affinity for crows … and offers a more extraordinary solution than he ever thought possible.

Content Advisory: This story depicts a background culture of sex negativity, heteronormativity, amatonormativity and allonormativity, including the presumption of one’s possessing a binary gender, experiencing sexual and romantic attraction, and marrying someone of the other binary gender. Please also expect moments of ableism and degendering as well as antagonism targeting the non-partnering and childless/childfree. The aro-ace narrator, who isn’t sex or romance favourable, is pressured into dating and marriage to the point of his mother’s threatening the magical equivalent to conversion therapy.

The Cage and the Road

Prudence Revered revels in her work as witch-hunter. (Well, census-taker.) What’s not to appreciate in travelling new roads, meeting new people and experiencing new freedoms–ones impossible as the demure once-wife to the Sorcerer Potentate? If she prefers to bed and befriend the witches she tracks down, well, she doubts the Citadel cares (much) about a minor official’s lack of interest in investigation and interrogation. The only clouds on her endless horizon are those ignorant souls who preach the rules that once caged her–the rules witches taught her to break.

She thought herself content wearing the Citadel’s uniform, but when a chance-met companion expects Prue to wage a moral war against unwed witches and provocatively-shaped trees, she fears that her new life isn’t different enough from what she thought to leave behind.

Content Advisory: This story depicts a culture of misogyny, sex negativity, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, amatonormativity and allonormativity, including the presumption of one’s possessing a binary gender, experiencing sexual and romantic attraction, and marrying someone of the other binary gender. One of the characters uses the ableist term “delusional” to refer to a trans man and engages in “think of the children” rhetoric in response to sexually-suggestive displays. In addition, please expect sex references and depictions of the protagonist’s desire for sex. As in Hunter, this story contains a very casual reference to infertility and continues Prue’s unknowing misgendering of Luck Vaunted.

Bones of Green and Hearts of Gold

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…

Content Advisory: Depictions of and references to amatonormativity, allonormativity, aro and allo-aro antagonism, misogyny, and sex negativity (particularly as it overlaps with misogyny). This story makes the use of colour/seasonal metaphors that do not fully correlate to our understandings of a-spec identity and (intentionally) fail to include all a-spec identities. It also takes place in a culture of general allosexual alloromantic privilege where a-specs of all identities experience (non-identical) shapes of marginalisation. Please expect descriptions of physical intimacy, kissing and sexual attraction along with the usual fantasy fare of death mentions and references to violence.

Witch

The forest road promises you the chance of a world beyond marriage’s expectation … but the witch waiting by the roadside offers up queerer, stranger proofs of validity.

Content advisory: Literal and metaphoric depiction of a human protagonist’s sexual attraction for a not-quite-human witch, as well as that entity’s attraction for the protagonist, in a fairy tale centred on allo-aro sexuality and reclamation of stereotype. Please expect references to aro antagonism, amatonormativity and sex negativity in terms of how they intersect to harm allo-aros as well as passing references to misogyny, queer antagonism and trans antagonism.

⁕  Blog  ⁕  Fiction  ⁕  Collections and Anthologies  ⁕  Nine Laws  ⁕  Allo-Aro Fiction  ⁕