Editor: Rhonda Parrish
Authors: Aurora B.C. Donev, Joseph Halden, Jennifer R. Donohue, Gwen C. Katz, Damascus Mincemeyer, Amanda Kespohl, M.D.L. Curelas, Jennifer Lee Rossman, JB Riley, Stephanie Loree, Laura Vanarendonk Baugh, Megan Engelhardt, Kevin Cockle, Krista D. Ball, Blake Jessop, Candas Jane Dorsey
Publisher: Poise and Pen Publishing
Released: September 22nd, 2020
I received a copy of Hear Me Roar in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Hear Me Roar is the latest short story collection edited and curated by Rhonda Parrish. This time around, the focus is all about strong female leads, and dragons. Of course there had to be dragons involved.
Naturally, anything focused on dragons is enough to get my attention. So here I am. This collection contains sixteen short stories, all with unique twists and takes on classic dragon tropes. I’ll review each story below, but the stories included are: The Princess of Dragons by Aurora B.C. Donev, Light Chaster, Dark Hunter by Joseph Halden, Defend Us in Battle by Jennifer R. Donohue, Blacktooth 500 by Gwen C. Katz, Father Christmas, Mother Hubbard, The Dragon (And Other Selected Scenes From the End of the World) by Damascus Mincemeyer, The Naga’s Mirror by Amanda Kespohl, Madam Librarian by M.D.L. Curelas, Of Dragon Genes and Pretty Girls by Jennifer Lee Rossman, Blackout by JB Riley, Ginny and the Ouroboros by Stephanie Loree, Red in Tooth and Maw by Laura Vanarendonk Baugh, Serpent in Paradise by Megan Engelhardt, Tia Time by Kevin Cockle, For the Glory of Gold by Krista D. Ball, The Rise of the Dragonblood Queen by Blake Jessop, and A Night in the Philosopher’s Cave by Candas Jane Dorsey.
“The stories which fill these pages span spectrum. They vary in voice and genre. Some of the dragons are easily recognized as such, some not so much but each story has a unique and interesting take on the ’empowered women and dragons’ theme.”
The Princess of Dragons by Aurora B.C. Donev
The Princess of Dragons is an absolutely adorable short story, and believe it or not, it’s written by an elementary school student. I can honestly tell you that I wasn’t expecting to find something like this inside!
It’s a tale of a princess, her love of dragons, and the scuffles she finds herself in with her fellow sisters (all of whom belong to their own fantasy creature). It’s quick, it’s sweet, and it’s entertaining.
“The princess of the dragons grabbed a screwdriver. Whistle, clink, screech, click. ‘Phew,’ she said. ‘Done.’”
Light Chaster, Dark Hunter by Joseph Halden
Choices. Life is full of them, though sometimes they catch us when we’re least prepared. This is the story of one prison guard, and the decision she has to make. Help a little old woman tend to her baby dragons, or turn away from the injustice all around her.
“Eventually, they will have to accept a woman in their ranks.”
This was an interesting take on the whole dragon trope, and probably one of the most unique ones I’ve seen, at that. I almost wish that this had been the first story in the collection, as I think it would have set the tone quite nicely.
Defend Us in Battle by Jennifer R. Donohue
Ah, the classic tale of dragon/monster hunters and the lineage they leave behind. One father is teaching his daughter the ropes, despite all the risks that may come with hunting dragons.
“I’m thirteen the next time we kill a dragon.”
I honestly think I would have liked this one more if it hadn’t felt so…done (?) before. Also, I tend to lean towards the stories that don’t hunt and kill dragons, no matter how justified it may be. That’s just my personal preference though. Still, it was well-written and interesting.
Blacktooth 500 by Gwen C. Katz
Dragons exist, and not only that, but they’re now actively used in the world of racing. One mother and her daughter are about to join a race that changes their lives – and the way they regard one another (for the better).
“Mindless of the forbidding landscape, the dragons strain against their harnesses, held back only by their carts’ claw brakes.”
This was a sweet mother/daughter story, one that I honestly hadn’t thought to expect from a collection about dragons. It had a lot of fun twists, and wasn’t afraid to simply be itself.
Father Christmas, Mother Hubbard, The Dragon (And Other Selected Scenes From the End of the World) by Damascus Mincemeyer
Two explorers survive together after the world has fallen apart. All things considered, they’re doing pretty well for themselves, that is, until they get a new mission, which takes them on a very unexpected adventure.
“You know, when it was all said and done, the apocalypse kinda sucked.”
I like the premise of this story, though I feel like I’ve seen it somewhere else as well (not that this is a bad thing, mind you). The title does get a bit funnier, once you’ve read the story (as suddenly it makes sense!).
The Naga’s Mirror by Amanda Kespohl
This is the story of one girl, and the journey she found herself on. She literally swam through the waters of her memories, and in doing so made the most unique friend ever – a dragon.
“In a moment, I am quite literally drowning in my own memories.”
What a unique premise! I really enjoyed this short, though I regret that it wasn’t longer. Not just in a ‘oh, it’s a short story’ sense, but because it felt like something was missing towards the end. I would have liked to see where the rest of the story led.
Madam Librarian by M.D.L. Curelas
Miriam has been the librarian in her town for a very long time. Longer than most people would realize, come to think of it. As such, she takes the banning of books quite personally. Though perhaps that part isn’t so surprising.
“An anger like nothing she’d felt in decades burned in her belly. The nerve of these people, making decisions about her books.”
Madam Librarian is easily my favorite of this whole collection. A female dragon whose hoard is a library? Yes please! I could read about this character all day, no joke.
Of Dragon Genes and Pretty Girls by Jennifer Lee Rossman
The twelve animals of the Zodiac are being placed together in order to race. Why? Well, it’s the best way to decide the order of the new calendar, naturally. It’s all brought together by one brilliant character, who had to go to great lengths to find her dragon.
“So I need a dragon”
This was an interesting story, though I’ll admit that I struggled to get into it at first. Once I did, I enjoyed the premise well enough, and would have happily read more, had it gone on longer.
Blackout by JB Riley
Warnings: Sexual harassment, sexual assault (intent)
What if the imaginary dragon you had as a child wasn’t exactly imaginary? What if they showed up again one day, when you needed them the most? How would they fit in with a modern world? This short stories asks all those questions, and more.
“You never go into caves alone.”
I really wanted to like this short, as I love the core concept of an imaginary creature popping up again later in life (I know it’s been done, but I still like it). Unfortunately, I found the other core concept of this story to be a bit off-putting, especially in a collection that is supposed to be all about empowerment. Maybe that’s just me though? That or perhaps the author did too good of a job describing the antagonist, because he made my skin crawl.
Ginny and the Ouroboros by Stephanie Loree
Two sisters. Two paths in life. One dragon egg – and the change it brings about. This is the story of Virginia Washington, and her sister, and the story they found themselves in the center of.
“She’s never seen so many beautiful things in one place.”
This story is a little bit weird, a little bit sweet, and very sad. I really enjoyed it, though it does require a bit of an emotional investment from the readers. Consider yourself warned.
Red in Tooth and Maw by Laura Vanarendonk Baugh
In a world where dragons exist, you’d think that the media (and the public) would go crazy for any and all updates. But apparently that is not the case in this story, as wildlife preserves fight to keep their dragons happy and healthy.
“Dragon conservation should have been a shoo-in for public support, but it seemed information overload and queasy politics had rendered everyone jaded these days.”
I love it. I absolutely love the idea of a wildlife preserve taking charge of dragon care. While I’d like to argue the point about the public not caring enough to fund the project…I can’t. It’s a little too real for comfort, in that sense. Otherwise, it’s a delightful diversion, blending fact and fiction.
Serpent in Paradise by Megan Engelhardt
Two ladies (scientists, of course) head off to an island in hopes of getting a vacation. Instead, they get the adventure of a lifetime. And absolutely no time to relax, though the cost was surely worth it.
“’I never look for trouble!’ I protested.”
This was another fun addition to the collection, though I might be biased thanks to the inclusion of two awesome female scientists. Oh, and a cat. That probably swayed my opinion a little bit as well. Still, it was funny and charming.
Tia Time by Kevin Cockle
Tia Time is probably the hardest to describe short story of the whole collection. It’s unique, bringing technology into a world of dragons (or is it the other way around?) in brilliant fashion. All while pulling in lots of referential humor and the like.
“And you’re going to think that I’m screwing with you, but I want you to sit there, and listen, okay? Listen right to the end.”
This one admittedly took me a bit to get into, and by the time I did, it was basically over. The trials of short stories, right? Though seriously, it does have quite a lot of potential. It’s funny and quirky, which I appreciate.
For the Glory of Gold by Krista D. Ball
Ah, dragons and their gold, a classic tale, no? Well, For the Glory of Gold twists that expectation on it’s head, once again. The Duchess of Toronto, a famous female dragon tells her story of how she got her hands (erm, claws) on even more gold.
“Personally, she loathed the term humanity. How human-centric.”
This was a hilarious addition to this story story collection. It took the whole obsession dragons have about gold and really ran with it – straight to a surprising twist.
The Rise of the Dragonblood Queen by Blake Jessop
It’s time to take the classic tale of the damsel in distress and flip it on it’s head. This is a princess who has never been afraid to speak her mind, even while her family continued their generation long feud against a dragon.
“If I told you what I really think of you, my father, this kingdom, and your stupid war with my family, your scales would fall off.”
I really enjoyed this one. Actually, I’d argue that it’s in my top two favorites from the collection. It was funny and sassy, and not at all what I expected. It’s basically everything I would have wanted from this collection of short stories.
A Night in the Philosopher’s Cave by Candas Jane Dorsey
Two sworn enemies, brought together by the ceaselessness of time. It’s a classic tale of how two enemies can become friends (or almost that), if put in the right situation for long enough.
“Some day I can’t lift my own bones either. It’s not annoying, it’s entropy. But today’s a good day.”
This was an interesting story, one with a lot of potential. I would love to see it worked up into something more. Though I’ll confess that I didn’t feel as much for the characters as I would have liked – maybe that’s something that could be fixed in a longer version? Either way, I’d read it!