Book Review

Elf Child – Book Review

Elf Child is a story by David M. Pierce that came out in 2003. I mention the year, as this is a book I have previously read. I bought this book about a year after it came out from an LGBTQ book store in San Diego. I remember reading it and falling in love with it. It was always so refreshing to read fantasy-type stories with an LGBTQ protagonist.

My original copy I had lent to someone and sadly never got back. But I recently was able to find a used copy. I was so excited to read it again, and I have to say that, 15+ years later, my opinion of it has changed, slightly.

I still like the story, but there are parts that either did not age well or at the time didn’t stand out to me. The story is about Russ, who is a changeling or as they refer to themselves an Elf Child. He is older than he appears. His physical form changes throughout the story, but generally in the early to mid-20s range. His mother and he both live in San Diego and have spent years keeping their existence a secret.

Russ goes through life in near-perfect happiness. He can be as attractive as he wants and uses that ability to hook up with random strangers. Then one night, he meets a random guy who is a bit full of himself. But Russ decides to follow through anyway. During their initial meeting at a bar, Russ runs into another guy named Eric. He feels an instant attraction to him but doesn’t want to drop his confirmed hookup.

After leaving the bar, he starts to get annoyed with his random and the frustration starts to cause him to lose control of his appearance and he starts shifting. He decides to drop the encounter and return to the bar to talk with Eric. Nothing becomes of it and Russ wishes more would have.

Through a later chance encounter, they meet again at Russ’s work. He is wearing his work face and realizes he can’t reference who he was the previous time they had met, so he acts as if they had never met. The two men start dating and Russ begins to fall for him and realize that he needs to make a tough decision. Tell Eric the truth or string him along until he can no longer keep up the façade.

The basic working of the story was still great, and I loved it. But some stuff left me a bit sour. Eric has a best friend that was at the bar with him. He shows up throughout the story, but he is basically the “single fat gay boy” trope. He is described as being sloppy and weird and has no fashion sense. Then later his character loses weight, and he is treated as if, now he is worthy of dating.

Also, Eric freaks out when he discovers the truth about Russ. This is understandable, but the way it plays out does not feel quite right. We see both Russ’s and Eric’s perspectives throughout the story and can see that Eric is scared. He starts to act as if he is obligated to be with Russ. He is afraid if he leaves, either Russ or Russ’s mother will kill him. Granted, she does have a threatening nature about her, but the way he reacts to Russ as if he is a crazed killer doesn’t quite make sense, given what the reader has seen.

Then there is a plot twist at the end, which granted stories do have crazy coincidences, but this one is such a crazy huge stretch that it goes past convenient. I don’t want to say what it is, as it gives a big spoiler that I don’t want to ruin.

As a whole, I still enjoy the book, and like I said it was an early LGBTQ Urban Fantasy story for me. So, it will always hold a special place. But if you do decide to read it, I would suggest remembering the era in which it was written.

That being said, I still believe as I did then, this would make a cool movie, especially if they update a few parts and tropes to modern times.

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