Book Review: The Nun’s Dragon (with bonus novella Lilith) by Christine Emmert

dragon

 

If you have read this blog with any regularity, you know I am a HUGE HUGE HUGE fan of Stant Litore and his Zombie Bible series.  So when he asked me to review a book written by a friend, I gladly obliged.

I didn’t exactly know what to expect, a nun and a dragon?  But it is the “Eclectic” bookworm, so I gave it a shot.  And I was pleasantly surprised.

Here is the synopsis:

A friendship between a dragon and a nun? 

It’s certainly one unwelcomed by the Church. And when Sister Agnes Dei is found dead, crushed beneath the convent’s water wheel, those who knew her are left with troubling questions. Why did Agnes Dei die? Why does a great wyvern grieve at her grave site? What is holy and what is not? 

Soon the nun’s dragon will return to the convent, and the secrets that stir at his coming will shake everything this convent believes. 

This book includes two thrilling works of fiction by Christine Emmert, author of ISMENE. In the novella LILITH, an artist must defend her infant son against the darkest of predators. In the novel THE NUN’S DRAGON, one sister’s love for a wyvern changes the shape of her world. 

With an afterword by Stant Litore, author of The Zombie Bible.

Lilith is up first.  And as a mom, it truly freaked me out.  Even though my child is seven, and isn’t in danger of being scooped up by a barn owl any time soon.  While reading this book, my daughter was learning about eagles and owls in school and would run up and down the halls screeching and pretending to swoop down and snatch her prey.  Freaky.

I know absolutely nothing about Genesis or the story of Lilith.  Like Mr. Litore’s novels, I am now propelled to find out more about this mythical creature:

Lilith was the first woman, wife to the fallen Adam.  She did not cause his fall.  Before he could tumble from Paradise, she rejected it.  All of it.  The wifely submission even in lovemaking.  She had  a hunger for angel babies.  Flying up to heaven she devoured the infant cherubs while God was busy finishing off the last touches of the Universe.  In denying Adam his spousal rights she became a renegade.  For a time she stayed close to Lucifer, but she lacked his audacity.  She was on her own.

Ms. Emmert builds the suspense, the near hysteria of the main character’s obsession with Lilith.  And abruptly it crashes down.  An amazing skill of writing.  And with that memory of Lilith and the garden in your mind the reader moves on to The Nun’s Dragon.

I grew up Catholic.  But I know absolutely nothing of the church prior to Vatican II.  I know nothing of cloistered nuns, their lifestyle, their beliefs.  Even less about this lifestyle during the middle ages.  And my knowledge of dragons stems from Smaug in The Hobbit (the movie, not the books, I know it makes a difference because my husband says so).

The author employs a very different writing timeline.  She starts with the present, with the death of Sister Agnes Dei, and then hops back and forth.  In some novels, the only thing this does is create confusion.  But it works with this book.  The reader gets to know the young woman who became Agnes Dei.  You find out first person how she came across her dragon and how their relationship developed.  It is enough information at the right time to successfully build and keep interest in the story.

Again with Lilith, the themes about the role of women in the world are forefront.  Agnes Dei is beautiful.  She is cloistered in the nunnery because she is beautiful.  It is said of her, by the priest that visits them “Her face is sin itself…like that of Eve”.

I had a very hard time with the different characters in the nunnery.  Especially Sister Clare.  My image of nuns growing up were of little old ladies who prayed a lot and looked like penguins.  Very different from that of my mother’s, when nuns were allowed to beat children for misbehavior.  I don’t know why I was shocked at the cruelty of Sister Clare.

Even without all the mythology and dragons, it would be an amazing story.  Christine Emmert makes the drama in the nunnery interesting.  Something that I never thought possible.  She injects intrigue, ulterior motives, questioning loyalties, and a little bit of romance into a place where none of the above are said to exist.

The writing is also exquisite.  Extremely well written.  Almost lyrical like the author of the afterword, Stant Litore.

I’m not sure what I expected, but I didn’t expect this.  Very well written, wonderful story, excellent drama and emotions.  And Lilith scared the hell out of me.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Interview: Christine Emmert author of The Nun’s Dragon and Lilith | The Eclectic Bookworm
  2. Gede Prama
    Feb 24, 2014 @ 02:38:50

    I am happy to read it. Have a beautiful day 🙂

    Reply

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