I don’t manage to write very many book reviews, except when the book is so good that I don’t want to keep it to myself.
Dragon Rain by Vonnie Winslow-Crist
Keeping things honest here, I have to admit that I love dragons, stories about dragons, anything about dragons. And so I expected to love this book.
However, the book turned out to be even more wonderful than I hoped (and assumed). Dragon Rain, the collection of the stories (the last story also has the title of Dragon Rain), is a brilliant, thoughtful, and entertaining compilation of stories about all kinds of dragons, old dragons, young dragons, scary dragons, revengeful dragons, kind dragons, humane dragons, insightful dragons. Their interactions with humankind make for unforgettable stories. You end up wishing more people behaved like these dragons.
A girl brings milk to an ancient dragon just as her grandfather, a dragonslayer in his youth but later reformed, had taught her. The dragon, having enjoyed many different shapes in his stages of dragonhood, lives in a nearby pond and loves the girl from afar. When he asks her, she decides to accept dragonhood and become his bride. Together their love brings rain to a parched land.
A sad, lonely girl weeps seven tears into the castle moat, which summons a dragon from the water who promises her happiness if she weeps seven tears into the moat every year. After that she meets the love of her life.
A princess tells her executioner the story of how she was sentenced to death, due to her evil father who refused a dragon’s offer of marriage to her, which would have required a fair dowry of treasure. However, since she is secretly married to the dragon, she assumes the shape of a dragon and saves herself,
With the help of a vampire friend of his grandfather’s, a young cabinet maker frees an imprisoned dragon, kept enslaved to provide heat and fire for a blacksmith. On Midsummer’s Eve they use the distraction of the celebrations to free the dragon and get him his revenge.
Two boys think they have discovered the body of a young woman. However, she is well cared for by her dragonflies and transforms into a dragon. Because she is feeling generous, she lets the boys go although she says they will meet again someday.
At the oracle of Delphi the dragon created by Mother Earth has a vision of her own death. She asks to have children of her own and Mother Earth makes this possible. The dragon loves mothering her children. In return Mother Earth later asks the dragon to do her a favor which results in the dragon’s allowing the birth of the creature who she realizes will later kill her.
A woman calls up a demon after her husband is murdered. The demon in the shape of a dragon devours the woman’s murderer in front of her and then assumes the shape of a panther while noting the woman’s scent for later. It reminds her that it will watch her for the rest of her life. She decides to learn about healing and magic while hoping to get a message from her dead husband through the portal of her mirror.
A man in Kyoto falls in love and marries but is unhappy about being poor. He chooses to abandon his wife and marry a wealthier woman which will enable him to take a good job far away. When he returns, his first wife still loves him but explains that she is a dragon. She dies and crumbles into dust. A magic dragon then appears and tells him she will kill him, but doesn’t tell him when.
A girl rescues a wyvern and raises a dragon who calls itself Wolfbane. Her evil father has it killed. Her parents die; she gives away all her possessions and rejoices because she can fly away with the no longer dead dragon.
A poor man gives up his coat and thereby rescues a snake. He returns it to its pond. The snake reappears as a young girl and takes him to the dragon’s lair in the pond where she and her parents transform into dragons. They reward him with a coat that never wears out, a rice cake that keeps replenishing itself, and a sack of coins and precious stones.
On a planet far, far away a girl and her grandfather, grateful to Anna Tuwa, the spirit that sustains them, harvest bodaway nests from caves, being careful not to damage the eggs which they leave with their bodaway dragon parents. Broth from the nests has medicinal value. Other greedy people in their group, though, aren’t as moral in their behavior and destroy eggs. The bodaways take their revenge, sparing those who treated their nests and eggs with respect.
A boy from the bayou remembers what his grandfather taught him. He helps an enslaved dragon in human form regain her skin, return to her dragon form, get revenge on her captor, and joyfully re-enter her swamp and reunite with her dragon relatives.
A barren queen follows the advice of a fairy in order to have children but doesn’t follow it precisely enough. As a result she gives birth to one healthy girl and one girl covered in dragonskin. The fairy, in the shape of an old crone, takes the little dragon away with her. 18 years later the fairy says that the dragon can regain her human form if a man is willing to marry her. When a good man with a horse’s leg marries her, the fairy makes sure that both lose the curses that changed their appearances.
A woman pays a dragon with her body parts in order to travel back in time and undo a great wrong she committed which resulted in an innocent man being hanged. The dragon then has mercy on her and restores her body parts. Her first child has a birthmark shaped like a dragon.
A young woman helps a dragon colony in a flooded underground city by killing the necromancer who controls the corpses of those who drowned so long ago. She uses common sense, salt, a mirror, and a dagger rather than magic. The woman is then bonded forever with the dragon, and they will seek a new life together.
An orphan boy saves a salamander from an evil cook. A dragon who has witnessed the boy’s actions rescues the boy and incinerates the cook. The dragon then takes the boy to an elderly, kindly magic-wielder who needs an assistant.
Oddvar, an orphan taken in by his grandparents, follows the advice of his grandfather, selects an oak tree, and cuts it down to whittle to a dragon’s head for a ship. Oddvar’s family knows how to imbue timber with the magic of dragons. Alone in the forest, he is confronted by a lindwyrm who wants to eat him and his horse. Oddvar tricks the lindwyrm into being consumed by bonfires and collects the treasure from its lair which he uses to pay the trolls to accompany him home through the dark. One troll advises him on how to make the best use of the lindwyrm skin and tells him his fate is to sail with dragons.
A widowed dragon cares for her wyrmling children. She tells them stories of long ago when dinosaur dragons ruled the world and stories of the present when human beings kill dragons. This was how she lost her mate who comforts her with the vaporous spirit that left his body as he died. Like those of his ancestors before him, her mate’s tears provide rain for his children. She wants to lead her children to the safety of the sea which will protect them from the murderous human beings. The trip is dangerous. They are pursued. One of her daughters is too slow. One of her sons insists on sacrificing himself to save his sister and is killed by the human called George. She sees her son’s spirit lift up from his body as he dies. She is able to lead the rest of her children to the Mediterranean Sea where they are safe. She later longs to join the other dragons in the spirit world in order to bring the dragon rain of her tears to her children. A bolt of lightning grants her this wish.
The stories are unforgettable, and you will never want to forget them. Do yourself a favor and give yourself the gift of this fantastic book.