by Ally Blue, paranormal (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-529-2

The cover for Fireflies is too pretty for words. I wonder what Ally Blue bribed artist Anne Cain with for that cover. For something so pretty, I hope Ms Cain received at least a lap dance from her favorite J-pop boyband stars for her effort.

Joseph Vines has a secret of sorts. When he was five, he encountered a fairy. No, that's not an euphemism for some dirty old gay pedophile wanting to touch Joey inappropriately, although that was what his mother seemed to believe when Joey told her about his secret friend. His mother is half-right though: exiled sidhe fellow Braeden Shay does want to touch Joey inappropriately, although he at least waits until Joey is of legal age. Which he is when this story takes place, thank heavens.

At 25, Joey has been haunted by the memory of his own Tinkerbelle encounter. He isn't sure whether the encounter really took place or it was a product of his imagination. One thing is for sure though: before Braeden left him, he promised that he would come back to Joey to teach Joey how to fly. Joey still wishes to grow wings and fly so he's still waiting for Braeden to show up in his life. So, what will Joey do when his wish comes true and Braeden reappears into his life? Braeden will reveal some things about Joey and his family that Joey has no clue of before whisking Joey off into an adventure where Joey finds himself playing the role of Sleeping Beauty who has finally been awakened by his Prince Charming into his role to take down his evil daddy that has been terrorizing poor butterfly-winged sidhe critters everywhere all this while.

Contrary to what some nasty rumor would suggest, Fireflies is not a metaphor-heavy autobiography of a survivor of Michael Jackson's kiddie harem. Okay, seriously, I wish Ms Blue has actually taken the time to let Joey and Braeden connect on some emotional level before getting them into bed with each other, because any sexual/romantic bond that was allegedly formed when one of the characters was a five-year old kid is not going to cut it.

The story doesn't have much room for characterization and plot development. I don't know why the author doesn't let the story be longer in order to make her characters come off more fleshed-out. As it is, Joey turns into some crybaby pansy when he reunites with Braeden, constantly feeling insecure about his abilities when he's not crying that I am tempted to get politically incorrect and call him a sissy because my goodness, he is.

One thing good about Fireflies is the backdrop. From the exotic botany Joey works in to the magical world of the sidhe, there is plenty of atmosphere here to give the setting a most vivid feel. It is therefore unfortunate that the characters soon settle into being such familiar stereotypes and the story rushes to its closure without the author having the opportunity to fully develop the storyline and the characters into something more memorable. The idea of a gay take on Peter Pan is more than fine, but the execution is too rushed and leaves too much to be desired.

Rating: 69

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