Circe & Telemachus from its first blurb, and was grateful to Eloise Abelard for sharing a copy. Now, having had the time to read it (and re-read it), I am pleased to say that I am absolutely delighted with how the story turned out.
This is an altogether lovely story that has the feel of myth. Abelard weaves a lovingly crafted tale where every phrase, every word, is chosen with the utmost care. Just cast your gaze upon the introduction of our spellbound lovers:
Golden-haired Telemachus, ringlets cropped short in a boyish style, had come of age.
The Lady Circe, her skin as pale as milk and her hair the fiery red of polished copper, sat upon her throne.
The story of Circe & Telemachus deliberately echoes that of Circe and Odysseus, right down to the transformation of sailors into swine, but with one notable difference. Where his father depended upon the intervention of the messenger god, Hermes, to spare him from Circe's magic, the very nature of the spell itself is what spares Telemachus. Not knowing his true self, he is trapped in an eternal twilight, from which the world can only be released if he discovers himself.
While magical transformations are a staple of classical mythology, I loved how Abelard refused to indulge in such instant wish-fulfillment. With Telemachus temporarily tapped in time and resistant to any such spells, Circe must instead coax the femininity out of this "most maidenly boy," and allow him to "learn his new place in life slowly, just as most girls do." As in the original tales, Circe does use trickery and dreams as part of her plans, and Telemachus is tested along the way, but his failures are what ultimately open him up to the potential of "a secret girl, hidden in the body of a boy . . . a pearl, held fast within an oyster."
A perfect read for fans of sensual feminizations, encouraged by love rather than lust, Circe & Telemachus is a gorgeous tale that is to be savored. I was a bit taken aback by the twist at the end, but also excited by the potential of what comes next.