Dragon Catching

Up the mountain, in that cave,
There lives a fierce and fiery dragon,
And it’s about time someone caught it.
I shall be the valiant knight,
Who stands by to guard with sword in hand.
Josephine and Connor shall be the ones
To slam closed the gates, once the beast is caged.
Tommy will stand by with the lasso in hand,
To rope the creature should it escape.
And now I think that all is ready—
Oh, you? Ah, yes, I almost forgot
You can be the bait!

Imitation of Shel Silverstein’s “Play Ball”

The Mage

(This story is from a prompt about new beginnings)

Mage titleThough I knew I had to steal the key, my conscience still smote me brutally. It wasn’t like it had been my idea. The hall was black-dark, but it wasn’t hard to flick open the lock on the tiny box and remove its contents. I could feel everything through my thin gloves, black as the shadows, as if they were a second skin.

The lock snicked shut as I closed the metal box. Ghosting over dark velvet floors, the massive ornate door in view, I was already triumphant. I would get my pay, and he would get his key. The authorities wouldn’t find out who’d stolen it; they never did when I was involved.

“Going somewhere?” The chuckle froze me by the door. Light spilled from a slit in the hall panels, an emerald eye peering through. I stared back through the dark mask across my face. I held my breath, waiting to see what she would do. Not that she knew anything was missing. Yet.

The mahogany panel slipped further open, light spreading toward me but stopping just short. “You do know you aren’t the first.” Her wrinkled lips pursed, eyes narrowing. “But I think I’ll give you a chance.” She stepped back. “Come in! Show me you can use that key, and I’ll let you keep it.”

I stayed motionless, mistrustful of her offer. Besides, it wasn’t my key; I didn’t want it, nor did I particularly want to steal it. “I was hired to take it, not use it,” I said, the words spilling out against my better judgment.

“Perhaps you’d like to change allegiances then.” She grinned. “You’re the best that’s ever tried! I almost missed catching you. And I assure you, I pay much better.”

I wavered, unconvinced, but she hadn’t called for help or tried yet to stop me. Cautiously, I approached, shadows unfurling behind me as the revealing light swirled before my boots.

She sank into a curving armchair, and I saw she was clothed in a riot of colors bright as her eyes. I stopped by the door, and we watched each other until she flicked a hand. “Go on, girl.” Slowly I uncurled my fingers, glancing at the slender key made of irregular wooden chunks fashioned together. Except…it was a puzzle, not a key.

Guessing it was supposed to open some way, I began shifting the pieces. Bit by bit they came apart until the last cluster fell open. Inky smoke spilled from them, unfurling into dark shimmering scales, an angular head, and slender body. I recoiled in shock as a sleek wolf-sized dragon gazed up at me.

“Ha! You thought he’d hire you to take a simple key?” the mage laughed.


“That is magic, my dear. Never ask of magic ‘how.’” She waved airily. “Don’t worry, that dragon won’t hurt you. She’s yours remember!” I looked from the dragon, tail neatly wound around her feet, to the woman, who chuckled again. “I told you I pay better.”


(This story is from a photo prompt, included below)

SpiritsWind whispers through the soft feathers of my wings. I swoop down, landing before the wooden building half buried in pristine snow. The place looks strange in the pre-dawn light, as if it really is haunted.

I was sent to investigate this place, as rumors were spreading that it housed a malicious or ghostly presence. Standing in front of the old gray church, I can start to believe the rumors, though it is still hard to imagine anything mean enough to take down a dragon. I crunch closer, past ice glazed trees, feet sinking through ice to soft snow.

Movement flickers at the corner of my eye. I stop, staring through a broken window. Nothing. I move closer, through snow the color of my scales. Just as I reach the steps up to the door, a blur of movement explodes past me. I jump as an unearthly wail rends the air. I stagger as the thing charges in front of me.

Black is the first thing I notice, stark against white snow. Black hooves thrash the air, tangled black mane whips in a non-existent wind. Before I can react, the creature screams again.

“Antira!” he wails. My eyes widen. I haven’t spoken, let alone said my name.

“What?” I ask.

“Beware, Antirrhinum! Our kinds have not met in a thousand years, but the time is soon that they will meet again!”

I stare. “Your kind?”

“The Myrjieque Chevala, the Magic Horses,” he says.

I snort. “What dragon fears a horse?” The stallion stills, only his forelock billowing slightly.

“None, but the one who took my life. For I think she has learned the curse of the spirit form.” Quick as he’d come, the ghost horse whirls and disappears back inside the building. I stand and stare for a moment, realizing…

I leap into the air. I will tell the others of the horses approaching. But no more. I do not belong with them. My old enemy is right—even in life, I had not truly belonged in the land of the living, but in this surreal place of spirits.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy Review

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

“I do not need reasons to exist. I do not need to justify the space I take up in this world.”

The-Lady's-Guide-to-PetticoatsWe return this week to the second book in the historical fantasy series of novels with very long titles. Although I would never read a series out of order the first time around (I’m too much attached to chronological orders and backstories), this second book of the series is absolutely my favorite, due in no small part to its main character. I already spent a paragraph in my previous review expressing my affection for her, and now that she’s our leading lady I will no doubt spend this entire review rhapsodizing about her. (Also maybe the dragons. I always love books with dragons.) You have been warned.

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue Review

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

It’s beginning to feel like he’s shuffling his way through the seven deadly sins, in ascending order of my favourites.

The-Gentleman's-Guide-to-ViceI have returned after my month long hiatus! Between NaNo (which I failed), the holidays, and working on my printing press, I spaced off doing reviews for…quite a while. I am finally back though, and will try to keep up with at least biweekly reviews. Despite my not finding time to write reviews, my reading hasn’t slowed much so I have a fair number of books to do reviews on in the coming weeks. Now without further ado, I should get on with this week’s actual review.

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Reverie Review

Reverie by Ryan La Sala

“Kane absolutely did not want to fight the Dreadmare. He wanted to kiss the Dreadmare. Maybe.”

ReverieI decided to read this book for the Big Library Read which occurred this month. I’ve been in a couple “general” book clubs (i.e. not specific to one genre, like mystery), and had come to the conclusion that any book picked for a book club type event would always be some form of realistic fiction or nonfiction. Imagine my shock when I began reading Reverie and my instincts immediately began screaming “YA contemporary fantasy!” As soon as I got over my surprise I was immensely pleased. My favorite genre, finally getting some of its due!

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This Coven Won’t Break Review

This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling

It turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying Hannah’s magic than ever.

This-Coven-Won't-BreakThis week we return to the realm of contemporary YA fantasy, and to a book world I’ve reviewed before! This book is the sequel to These Witches Don’t Burn, a duology following Hannah, a teenage Elemental Witch in Salem, Massachusetts.

Much like the first book, This Coven Won’t Break is filled with as much magic, mayhem, murder, and twisty plots as can be. Another too-close-for-comfort betrayal tops off the climax of this book, though I’m glad to say a certain Blood Witch survives the encounter better than some others who fell under Sterling’s pen. The plot continues from the threads started in book one, but some of those threads end in very unexpected ways. This book, much like its predecessor, leans strongly into its mystery elements.

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These Witches Don’t Burn Review

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

“I need a new T-shirt: someone tried to kill me, and all I got was this stupid concussion.”

These-Witches-Don't-BurnThis was one of my favorite reads of 2019, and no wonder. A YA fantasy filled with magic, mayhem, murder, and high stress, high stakes mystery? What more could one ask for. (Okay, so maybe a little less murder would have been nice for my poor bruised heart.)

First off; the magic. I loved the perfect balance that was struck of explaining the many types of magic while not overloading the reader with information. As a chronic over describer, I am always in awe of authors who can explain complex world building without pausing the plot for a whole chapter to focus on it. Sterling does a wonderful job of giving you enough information to understand what’s happening, without stopping to illustrate how each Castor, Elemental, and Blood Witch’s magic works at once.

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Cemetery Boys Review

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

“Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.”


I’ve never been one for horror, but I do love a good ghost story, and this one certainly delivers. Being squarely within the YA fantasy realm, with Maya death gods, magic, and plenty of ghosts, this was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020.

I will admit after reading the synopsis that while I was excited to read Cemetery Boys, I was also afraid it would be one of those heart wrenching books that haunt you for the rest of eternity. A living MC falling in love with a ghost boy? That sounded like a recipe for heartbreak to me. Because of my preconceptions, I spent a good 90% of the book in a state of stress, waiting for the moment Julian would be released or turn maligno, all while frantically trying to come up with alternate scenarios that did not involve Julian dying…like, permanently.

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