Title: The Big Reveal
Author Name & Publisher: Eve Francis (Less Than Three Press)
Publication Date & Length: June 29th, 2016 – 116 Pages
Samus Mallory believes the right kind of fantasy can change someone’s life. Which is why she started to teach fantasy literature at her university, and why Jackie Vasquez, a cute cosplayer who always cross-plays, catches her eye.
As the two connect over their favourite novels and a cyberpunk game called Hack The Planet, Samus thinks she’s found the perfect person to be herself around—until their busy schedules and Jackie’s upcoming graduation ceremony puts a strain on their relationship, and Samus fears she’s to blame.
But as Jackie spends more and more hours on a new cosplay, she starts to realize that her fantasy life—and future—might not be what she and everyone else has always envisioned.
What a lovely and sweet story. It’s short enough to read in an afternoon, but long enough for a well-paced romance to blossom. The first word that comes to mind with this is natural. Everything in it feels so completely organic. Samus and Jackie meet, discover they had a prior connection (not terribly unusual in a university setting), and slowly build friendship and love. Their discoveries about themselves and each other are realistic, a few bumps and lots of mutual respect.
This is a story about discovery, which fits perfectly with the theme of speculative fiction and gaming. Some people may not be interested in another coming out story, but I liked how it was handled here. For one thing, it didn’t feel like some primer on all things transgender. It also wasn’t full of drama. Samus (who is already living life the way she wants) and Jackie (who is just making some important self-discoveries) are really good together. I loved so many of their interactions and how they both handled their relationship. Samus was kind and respectful, and Jackie asked good questions. I loved when Jackie wondered about “copying” Samus rather than becoming self-aware.
There are also plenty of fun moments. I won’t spoil them, but I will say that I loved the cat-sitting. The sensual moments between Samus and Jackie are lovely and well done. Some things were spelled out and done really well, while others were implied. It was a nice balance.
Overall, I really liked this story, and I’ll definitely look for more by the author.
I liked this book because it challenges some of the preconceptions many have about transgendered people. A lot of people get hung up on the genitals that a trans person has, that may not agree with the gender they present. It feels to me, that the more people are exposed to stories where it’s not only normal but nothing to make a big deal over, the more they will understand. That’s part of why I really liked this book; Jackie doesn’t feel that having a penis makes Samus any less of a woman. Also, the simple fact that Samus is extremely matter-of-fact about the bodily boundaries that Jackie has makes an incredible impact on me. There are no intrusive questions about why Jackie feels this way. Jackie says she doesn’t like something and Samus says okay, no problem. There isn’t any pushing of the boundaries either. And it’s that respect from both, not only respecting each other’s boundaries but also respecting (and feeling safe with) the other enough to be able to communicate about their desires and hang ups. I did feel that Jackie’s transformation was incredibly telegraphed, but that isn’t actually a bad thing. It shows her state of mind before her own realization, and Jack’s state of mind once he does realize who he really is and how he really feels. And it’s that sort of mental and emotional click where everything finally makes sense and feels right that is so important to show to others who may not understand until they see that. Anyway, I really enjoyed the book, and would definitely look at others by this author.
Eve Francis’s short stories have appeared in Wilde Magazine, The Fieldstone Review, Iris New Fiction, MicroHorror, and The Human Echoes Podcast. Romance and horror are her favourite genres to write in because everyone has felt love or fear in some form or another. She lives in Canada, where she often sleeps late, spends too much time online, and repeatedly watches old horror movies and Orange Is The New Black.