In taking a break from my A Song of Ice and Fire reread (they’re great and all but are just so dang long; also, to be honest, the sexual violence is starting to get to me), I decided to revisit Sarah Hoyt’s Shakespeare-faery mashup Ill Met by Moonlight.
It completely didn’t cross my mind when I first read it, but Ill Met by Moonlight is a really wonderful treatment of LGBT issues as pertaining to fluidity in gender and sexuality.
The novel tells the story of how a young, pre-theatre William Shakespeare falls in love with the beautiful faery Quicksilver. However, it turns out that this faery is of a royal house and can change from male aspect to female aspect at will.
As it happens, Quicksilver too falls in love with Shakespeare, but in both of his aspects. He also expresses affection for the female faery Ariel. It should be noted that he is not entirely comfortable with any of this. A tangled web, indeed.
As shape changing is viewed by faery society to be distasteful and lowbrow, Quicksilver is regarded as something of an outcast merely for exhibiting a trait that comes naturally to him. And although the faery is clearly struggling with his dual nature for the greater part of the book, he eventually reconciles both parts of his personality.
Overall, the treatment of Quicksilver’s dual personality (and its obvious transgender/bisexual implications) is even handed, dignified, and above all, sympathetic.
All things considered, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Ill Met by Moonlight, both in terms as an entertaining novel in its own right and as an example of how to treat LGBT issues with sensitivity and grace.