Tales of The Nun and Dragon collected by Adele Wearing

September 7, 2012

Come, rest your weary bones, draw a flagon and hark to the tales of Nuns & Dragons, of bravery and steadfastness in the face of mighty and implacable foes. Settle down and indulge yourself in wild flights of fancy brought to life by your fellow travellers.”

The Nun & Dragon is a local like no other – share in the wild and wonderful tellings of a gifted panoply of authors, tales replete with wonder, a liberal coating of mysticism, the odd splash of darkness and a sprinkling of grim humour.

Over the last couple of years my passion for short stories has been re-ignited by some great small publishers and the anthologies that they are producing. Anthologies are a great way to discover the work of writers you have never read before so when I was offered the opportunity to take a look at the latest from Fox Spirit I jumped at the chance. C’mon dragons, nuns the coming together of the two. That’s never going to be a bad thing is it?

The Ballad of Gilrain by Sarah Cawkwell – Gilrain the knight and his trusty manservant, Therin, meet a troublesome dragon. This first story features a nice blend of humor and action to start things off. In addition you can download the entire ballad as an MP3 from the Fox Spirit website. I like extra touches like that.

Incident at Wearing Abbey by Mark West – A lone walker out in the woods and is attacked by a strange creature. When he wakes he finds himself in Wearing Abbey where he meets a group of nuns who seem to know a lot more than they are letting on. West’s take on the anthology theme brings us nuns with guns. Great fun.

Journey to Blackfire Keep by Colin F Barnes – A purple skinned Lizard man called named Billtong, a daring airship chase and a lost dragon civilization. Action packed, fast paced fantasy is always a winner with me. As an aside, I’ve noticed that often in an anthology there will be stories that feel like a preview to something larger. Journey to Blackfire Keep feels like that. I’d love to see this world explored in a bit more depth.

Nil Desperandum by Ren Warom – Malk meets a nun, actually that maybe the mother of all under exaggerations, Malk meets the worst nun ever. Things go downhill from there. A darkly comic tale is exactly what I would expect from this author and, you know what, it’s exactly what I got.

The Killing of Sister George by Pat Kelleher – Sister George versus school boy William Treadmore is the ultimate battle of wills. The unstoppable force meets the immovable object. Proper old school horror, please excuse the pun, and extra points for referencing the famous play. This was one of my favourite tales from the entire collection.

The Bells of Freedom by Cat Connor – A lost journal, a supernatural detective with a guardian angel called Horlicks and a suspicious acting nun. Like the story from Colin Barnes this screams ‘potential’.   The set-up just seems to good to leave as is.

The Sound of Latex by Peter Ray Allison – Sir Valiant is in a bit of a predicament and he meets a very special, strangely dressed, nun named Willow von Trapp.  Almost verging into the realms of nunsploitation this slightly campy, slightly surreal fantasy tale worked well. The back and forth dialogue between the two main characters were a real treat.

Loop by S.J. Caunt – Regular readers of the site will know that I’m a sucker for the end of the world. It’s always a pleasure to have a front row seat to the End of Days, especially when that final battle involves Robo-Nun and a creature known only as The Beast.  I admit this was an unexpected, but thoroughly welcome, surprise to find some science fiction pop up in the mix.

Into the Woods by Geri Clark Hellery – Robin, Edward and Billy are out in the woods. One of them has a secret that the other two aren’t going to like, not one bit. A dark tale that has put me in mind of some of my favourite 80’s horror movies. 

The Last Hunt by Karen Davies – Morgan Keel and his band of pleasingly disreputable mercenaries are on a dragon hunt when they meet the redoubtable Sister Yenza. I can’t think of a better way to round things off than with this final hunt. I’ve read a few of this author’s fantasy stories now and she has a genuine knack for the genre. I loved the nods toward the various characters backstories that are hinted at but never fully revealed.

Hard to believe but that’s actually less than half of the stories, I wouldn’t want to spoil all the surprises now would I?  There are a whole host of other tales, some vivid artwork and even some striking poetry, still left for you to discover. The rest of the collection has a nice mixture of established as well as up and coming new writer’s work to read. There are stories from Mhairi Simpson, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Jasper Bark, Francesca Terminiello, Kate Laity, Wayne Simmons, V.C. Linde, Catherine Rogers, Andrew Reid, Joan De La Haye, Simon Bestwick, Jay Faulkner and Sammy H K Smith.

The best news is that each writer has brought their ‘A’ game and produced something that works well as a standalone but also fits seamlessly into the collection as a whole. I was spoiled for choice with all the differing, iconoclastic interpretations of the nun and dragon theme. There is definitely something here for every taste whether your looking for traditional fantasy, horror, science fiction or dark comedy. Well worth checking out.

Tales of The Nun & Dragon is published by Fox Spirit Books and is available via Amazon from Monday 10th September.

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