Please allow me to start this review with two words: Penny White! I need a Penny White in my life. This heroine rocks. She’s in her mid-thirties, a widow, a Vicar in a struggling English parish, and a lover of all things sci-fi. She’s not afraid to swear (after removing her vestments, of course) and her affinity for wine and a good scotch bring her squarely into that indefinable realm of a wholely relatable fictional character. She’s not perfect, in fact she’s perfectly flawed, and if Penny were real I’d be first in line to fill out an application to be her BFF.
The plot of Temptation of Dragons strains credulity, but in a rollicking good way. Dragons are real. Gryphons, vampires, harpies, unicorns & snail sharks (What in heaven’s name are snail sharks? Why, they’re voraciously carnivorous snails who move at lightning speed and who have a smile that could make Jaws jealous.) all live alongside one another in a parallel realm Lloegyr and, sometimes, in our own world. The Church is aware of their existence and Penny finds herself tapped to fill the role as Vicar General of Incursions. In other words, she’ll be the one responsible if a fantastic beast should start causing trouble on her parish turf.
She’s in over her head, coming to (exuberant) terms with the strange new world, learning to navigate the oft tricky politics of the denizens of Lloegyr and it’s religious establishment. Thankfully she has the assistance of Moriarty, Morey for short, to guide her through. Morey is a young (for his species) gryphon: opinionated, quick to irritation, but indispensable to Penny. Their friendship isn’t instantaneous, it takes hard work, but in the end you know they’re ready for whatever adventure hurtles their way next.
I loved the way Chrys Cymri was able to blend fantasy & religion into such a spellbinding tale. This book is full of hope & humor, mystery & strife. The laugh-out-loud moments were too numerous to count and any book that can manage to throw in a relevant Torchwood reference gets high praise from me!
If you’re tempted by the first book in the Penny White series, it’s free to read on Kindle Unlimited HERE. Be sure to check it out!