Sunday, March 2, 2014

Serpents of Sky: Nine stories of dragons (Heidi C. Vlach)

Serpents of Sky: Nine stories of dragons
Heidi C. Vlach
Heidi C. Vlach, publisher
Fiction, YA? Collection/Fantasy
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: An old woman encounters unexpected magic in the rose garden, a desperate scientist draws inspiration from a fantasy tale, two dragons argue over the fate of a fledgling planet... in nine stories, the many facets of dragonhood are explored.

REVIEW: Like many collections, this one is a mixed bag... so much that I wonder how far apart these stories were written. The first seven tales vary in tone and depth, from lighthearted to dark and whimsical to poetic, yet all held my interest. The final two, however, a legend and an adventure, had an oddly amateur feel to them. Set in an invented world called Aligare, basis for other novels by the same author, they introduce three nonhuman races in a setting that can't seem to decide if it's wholly alien or based on Earth; anthros and smeerps tangle with ordinary horses and other mundanities. The amateur feeling isn't helped by the author sketches of the races; she paints better pictures with her words, unfortunately, and the sudden insertion of art into an otherwise non-illustrated book hints that she wasn't willing to trust her skills. The writing tries too hard at times to drive home the otherland feel, coming across as clumsy rather than clever, and the story is half a step away from Fluffy Bunny territory: everyone's pleasant and helpful, nothing goes wrong that can't be fixed, and the only darker twist is telegraphed early on. Still, I enjoyed the variety of the earlier tales enough to justify three and a half stars in the ratings.
(As a side note, it appears that there is also a paperback edition of this title; for some reason, however, it doesn't show up with the Kindle version. Since I read the eBook, that's what I linked to above.)

You Might Also Enjoy:
Dragons Composed (James Ferris, editor) - My Review
The Book of Dragons (Edith Nesbit) - My Review
Here, There be Dragons (Jane Yolen) - My Review

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, Brightdreamer. Thank you for reading Serpents of Sky and taking the time to post a review! I hope I'm not imposing, but I'd like to answer some of the questions you pose.

    The nine stories were all written in the past year, except Clearsight which was written in late 2012. The Aligare world is intended for adults, and every bit of it is intentional; I'm well aware that many of its elements are not to everyone's taste. As for the Aligare art, the first novel was published without any introductory art because I didn't think it was necessary. But a large percentage of early reviewers said that they wanted more help visualizing the races. I think the lesser evil is a quick look at some introductory artwork, as opposed to the tediously long descriptions that bloat a lot of high fantasy, or the disruption of checking a glossary.

    Again, I'd like to thank you for posting your review. Positive reviews are useless without negatives to balance them.