Tales of the Nun and Dragon edited by Adele Wearing

I’ve got to start out by mentioning the cover. I love Vincent Holland-Keen’s style. The eyes of the Dragon do it for me in a big way. Although I read an early review copy I have seen some of the interior art by Keiran Walsh and they also look pretty darn nice.

I have to admit that I was nervous about reading this because to me the  Nun & Dragon sounds like a pub. I obviously wasn’t the only person who thought that because drinking establishments are a running theme through a lot of the stories. I usually find with anthologies that there are a few strong stories, a few weak ones and that that I just do not like at all. I don’t think there is a single story in this one that I’d describe as weak. The only part I did not enjoy was the single poem. The words were fine, but if I can’t get the pacing in my head then I really don’t enjoy poetry. Unfortunately this was the case with this one.

This is not a short anthology there must be about 100k words so the value for money is pretty good. It starts with a story by Sarah Cawkwell which is always going to be a good thing as far as I’m concerned and yet again she hasn’t let anybody down with this story. As I journeyed through the various flavours of fantasy I got to see both Nuns and Dragons in many different lights. There are a lot of kick arse martial Nuns in this book. If like me the catholic faith is not something you particularly like or want to read about don’t worry too much as you’ll get to not only heroic religious exploits but also the corruption and debase nature found in the human race. There are also elements of other genres in this anthology. I liked the steampunkesque (I know it is not a real word but I like it) shotgun and sorcery story and the voyeuristic sci-fi apocalypse story was a complete change of pace and style.

I could go on-and-on with this review by talking about every story but I don’t want to spoil the sense of discovery that I felt whilst reading each story. I do have to mention the final story by Karen Davies though as it finishes the anthology so perfectly. It is nice to see an ending that flips things around and makes you think.

This is a great anthology. There are a lot of featured authors with some great books coming out soon (Pat Kelleher has a book that I am desperate to read due out soon) which makes this a great way to discover new obsessions for your reading pile. Even though I have a review ebook version of this book I will be buying a hard copy to put on my bookcase. I can’t really pay a book a higher compliment than that.

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