Author: Chrys Cymri
Rating: 4/5 stars
Synopsis: Bishop Nigel smiled at me. ‘Holy water doesn’t harm vampires. Which is just as well, as it would make it impossible to baptise them.’
When I was asked by a dragon to give him the last rites, I never dreamed it would lead to negotiating with his cannibalistic family or running from snail sharks. Life as the priest of a small English village is quite tame in comparision. At least I have Morey, a gryphon with sarcasm management issues, to help me. And if all else fails, there’s always red wine and single malt whisky.
As if my life weren’t complicated enough, a darkly beautiful dragon named Raven keeps appearing where I least expect him, I’ve met a handsome police inspector who loves science fiction as much as I do, and my younger brother is getting into trouble for trying to pick up vampires.
That’s what happens when you’re dealing with an incredible and dangerous parallel world full of mythical creatures. And I have to learn to navigate it all without losing myself, or my brother…
Source: E-copy from the author
I cannot thank Chrys Cymri enough for providing me an e-copy of Penny White and the Temptation of Dragons. It was pure fun to peek into the daily life of Penny White, vicar of a small English village and Vicar General of Incursions. The latter title makes our Penny a dragon rider, a snail shark tamer and a friend of a gryphon among many things.
What gripped me in this book?
We have an adorably crazy protagonist. Penny is a Doctor Who and Buffy fan and she often throws in references to these and other series during conversations. Being a Whovian myself I welcomed this addition to the character. She is a very funny individual, she often goes into witty banters with Morey, the gryphon who becomes a sort of sidekick in the story. I liked that she was realistic (you know, despite the fact that she was surrounded by all kinds of mythical creatures). She is a very caring person, yet sometimes she fights her inner battles against selfishness – like all of us do. She fulfils two different kinds of role successfully and that’s something, if one of the roles occasionally include dealing with cannibalistic dragons or entering a bar full of drunk harpies…
It was great to get a glimpse of the everyday life of a vicar in England and get to know what tasks they have to handle. Of course the book was spiced up with humour, but I believe we get a close-to-real picture of what goes on in a vicarage if we take the colouring layers off the story. You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy Penny’s day to day journey though; even religious matters are shown in a humorous light (however, religion is not treated offensively, remember, both the protagonist and the writer are priests).
The part that is set on Earth reminds us how impossible – impossibly ridiculous? – people can be sometimes. Consider this excerpt for example:
The baptism family grinned indulgently as I apologised and let the call go to messages. But then I had accepted without comment the name they had given their son, Friday Storm (He was conceived on a Friday during a storm) and that they had chosen eight people to be the godparents. Including an atheist who was still happy, they said, to make the promises and the profession of faith.
But Penny doesn’t spend all her time on Earth. After she encounters a dying dragon on the road and gives him the last rites she is offered a job: she has to help mythical creatures and humans that accidentally end up on Earth or Lloegyr (a parallel world where the creatures live).
Penny gets to meet dragons, vampires, unicorns, elves, harpies, gryphons and other strange beings. I was so pumped when it turned out there are snail sharks in the book!! I have a thing for giant snails/ snail monsters for some reason.
All of the creatures speak Welsh (a language I want to learn since I watched Torchwood), that was really lovely!
The plot revolves around the death of the dragon and how Penny learns to manage her double life. She also has to try to keep the peace between James – her brother – and the gryphon, Morey, she ends up living with.
There is a mysterious dragon that appears to her at the most unexpected places, too. Raven takes an interest in Penny and the vicar soon realises the curiosity is mutual. I have to confess I was afraid there would be human/dragon racy stuff in there – I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with that – but the relationship is written very tastefully so far. It’s all hugs and dragon rides (no pun intended, haha :).
There were a few tiny things for which I took away a star, but they weren’t major issues.
One: Penny’s reaction was too mild when she saw the dragon in the beginning and she digested the existence of Lloegyr too easily I think.
Two: There was too much booze in the story for my liking but drinking became a character trait of Penny in a way, so I got used to it after a while.
And three: I was a bit confused during the first half of the book because I didn’t understand why one person can see the creatures but others can’t. It gets explained too late why it’s so, I think.
But then again, these don’t change the fact that I loved this novel and I can’t wait to read the second instalment in the series. I think I haven’t written such a long review in a while and I still could go on and on… It means something, doesn’t it?
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