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Reviewed in the United States on September 3, 2021
Spend an evening in a place where dragons live and breathe fire, converse in mind-speak, perform magic, travel through time, and are bringers of good fortune or retribution. You’ll find that place in the eighteen short fantasy stories that comprise Dragon Rain.
DRAGONS GOOD, DRAGONS BAD, DRAGONS AS MAIN CHARACTERS
All of the stories are solidly in the fantasy genre. Nature spirits and fabulous creatures (wyverns, wyrms, trolls, fairies, vampires, etc) play major roles in nearly every tale. Reverence for life and nature infuses all the storytelling along with a sense of karma and good behavior being (usually) rewarded.
In 209 pages this book offers slice-of-fantasy vignettes to extensive works that could be novelized. In all of them, there is a strong sense of story that complements the fantasy environment and character elements. This makes for compelling fiction that holds reader interest. It held mine such that I “got into” every story in the collection.
Several of the stories are set in medieval Japan and the dragons in these stories are positive and associated with good fortune (as is appropriate for that culture). Others are more European in setting. The Hearth Dragon is a good example of a Western Civ medieval setting that even includes a vampire. This is my favorite story in the collection because of its sympathetic cast of characters. It could easily be made a novel or series.
Some stories are based on mythology and folklore (Motherhood, Wolfbane, Magic) while others have a Science Fiction flavor (Veil, Bloodguiltless). Some are fantasy/dragon twists on tales usually told in other genres (Bayou, Dragonflies). So there is a creative range in the storytelling.
BROAD IMAGINATIVE RANGE WITHIN FANTASY GENRE
That imaginative range is this collection’s strength. None of the stories struck me as cliche or “old hat.” Though all are based on dragon-fantasy-mythology themes and conventions, the plots and story arcs are unique and compelling.
I also like the consistency with which the dragons are presented across the stories. They are all intelligent shape-shifters, often possessing powers of magic, are usually sympathetic to good humans (though there are a couple of monsters), and often serve as positive harbingers.
Several of the stories end with allusions to a greater life ahead for the protagonist. This is in keeping with dragons being portents and does provide a feel for the story as an instance of larger life, but it can make the story feel abbreviated.
Overall, the feel I get from these stories is that the author is a capable storyteller, very well-grounded in mythology and folklore.
I much like this short story compilation. I think it well-written with engaging storytelling that prompts reader immersion into even the shortest of the stories. The fantasy world-views assuming magic, myth, and dragons feel natural. The prose often reads like a classic fairy tale, transporting the reader into a universe of imagination resonating with deep folkloric themes. And Dragon Rain is a fun read.
Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2021
An interesting collection of deft short stories that pull together a lot of different mindsets and POVs. Vonnie Winslow Crist's pens give you the feeling that different authors contributed with the perspective of their own unique imaginations. The only real commonality to the stories are the clean, smooth style of gliding words after each other. The editing is very well done and adds to the pleasant experience of the read.
There's always the risk that one bad apple of a submission will drag the rest of the book down--not so here. I enjoyed all the stories of the dragons and their backstories. A curse? A benevolent spell made in haste? Tiny beasts or gigantic beasts, from different planets to neighborhoods that could be your own, and every story is packed with questions on our relationship with them, and theirs to us. I very much enjoyed this book and tried to stagger out the reading slowly. I was still sad to finish it.
Everybody knows someone who is just a little dragon-obsessed. This would make them the perfect gift.