Sylva swallows an acorn sweetmeat at the Garden of Earthly Delights Fair. No garden-variety recreational drug, the acorn transports her to a fantasy forest where she must successfully face three trials before she can earn the title of Nymph. Her sponsor and handler for these trials is the faun Leander. He forces her to call him Master, giving her pleasure but refusing her the thing she most desires. What she views as a temporary escape from her static life becomes a lesson in having the courage to take what you really want.
Review: I’ve read plenty of erotica and fantasy themed books, but The Garden Rules by Sharon Lynn Fisher probably needs a classification all to itself.
Told from the first-person perspective, the short story focuses on the adventures of a woman named Sylva who indulges in a sweetmeat at the Garden of Earthly Delights Fair. For those readers like myself who aren’t familiar with that term, it apparently is a type of recreational narcotic. She’s talked into trying a new sweetmeat, which sends her subconscious into an erotically charged world full of strange characters.
I don’t have any problems adding a bit of erotica to my fantasy, but I have to admit that the inclusion of a faun is rather odd. I had to Google it to find out that it is a half man/half goat creature. That doesn’t exactly rate high on my personal hotness scale.
With appearances from a well known statue and Marie Antoinette, the storyline takes a dive into the completely bizarre. Even the erotic elements, complete with BDSM and f/f scenes, couldn’t put the story back on track.
If this is what happens as a result of indulging in recreational narcotics, I think I will pass.