The Penny White Series
Bishop Nigel smiled at me. ‘Holy water doesn’t harm vampires. Which is just as well, as it would make it impossible to baptise them.’
When I was asked by a dragon to give him the last rites, I never dreamed it would lead to negotiating with his cannibalistic family or running from snail sharks. Life as the priest of a small English village is quite tame in comparison. At least I have Morey, a gryphon with sarcasm management issues, to help me. And if all else fails, there’s always red wine and single malt whisky.
As if my life weren’t complicated enough, a darkly beautiful dragon named Raven keeps appearing where I least expect him, I’ve met a handsome police inspector who loves science fiction as much as I do, and my younger brother is getting into trouble for trying to pick up vampires.
That’s what happens when you’re dealing with an incredible and dangerous parallel world full of mythical creatures. And I have to learn to navigate it all without losing myself, or my brother…
Raven’s ears flicked. ‘Dragons aren’t known for their patience.’
‘More is the pity,’ said the unicorn. ‘Father Penny and I were about to amicably settle our differences. A dragon invading our home vastly complicates matters.’
Five months ago my life was changed forever when I learned about Lloegyr, the sister nation to England on the magical parallel world of Daear. Thrilling rides on Raven, a darkly beautiful search dragon, break up the monotony of my life as the priest of a small village church. Nor are things dull at home, not with a sarcastic gryphon, a snail shark, and my younger brother all sharing my living space. And then there’s Peter, the almost too perfect police inspector who enjoys Doctor Who and single malt whisky as much as I do.
But Lloegyr is facing its own struggles. As various races such as dragons, gryphons, elves, vampires, and harpies flood to the rapidly growing cities, they all trust the unicorns to act as peace makers. But dead humans are turning up in the city of Northampton, with wounds which only a long spiral horn could have made…
A blast of wind flicked hair from my face. Long toes wrapped around my waist, claws prickling through fur and clothing as I was snatched from the ground. The dragon lifted me high into the grey skies above Llundain. Of the many words going through my head, ‘Oh, bother,’ was the only one worthy of a priest.
When I’d discovered the existence of Daear, Earth’s magical parallel world, I thought all of my dreams had come true. Riding the handsome dragon, Raven, arguing with my gryphon Associate, Morey, and raising Clyde, a mischievous snail shark, lessen the monotony of my life as the priest of a small village church. And I’ve also met Peter, a man who agrees with me that Doctor Who and single malt whisky are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
But Raven has gone missing, and finding him would mean a hazardous trip to the Arctic. Morey’s attempts to prove himself worthy of marriage to his love, Taryn, are putting all of us in danger, particularly my younger brother, James. Can I keep those I love safe in a world which has little love for humans?
‘You’ve never told Clyde?’ Morey asked. ‘About what happened to his mother?’
‘How can I?’ My pen drew an outline of a shovel on my notepad. ‘I killed her with a gardening tool.’
Life certainly hasn’t been dull since my first visit to Lloegyr, a magical country which parallels England. My household now includes a family of cat-sized gryphons and a hymn-singing snail shark, and I’m visited regularly by Raven, a darkly beautiful dragon. And I enjoy the excitement of planning our wedding day with Peter, my handsome fiancé.
But Lloegyr offers danger as well as wonder. My brother is recovering after being hunted by a pack of gryphons. I was dismissed from my dream position as minister of a church in Lloegyr. And something non-human seems to be stalking Peter.
Then there’s the mystery of Clyde’s true identity. Is he just a large carnivorous snail who loves beer and children’s TV programmes? Or does his unusual shell point to a far greater destiny, one which could threaten everyone who knows him?
I stared at my shopping list, wondering what any normal human would make of it. ‘One box of communion wafers. Six bottles of fortified wine. Several pints of goat’s blood for the curate?’
After an extended stay in the magical country of Lloegyr, I’m ready to resume life as the priest of a small village church. Clyde needs time to heal from his wounds, I’ve been given a vampire deacon to train, and Peter and I have to make some important decisions before our wedding day.
But the problems of Lloegyr have followed me home. Raven is still recovering from the Spirit Ceremony. The vampires living in my church are being unreasonable. My back garden is slowly filling with snail sharks. And Her Majesty’s Government wants me to find out why vampire colonies are emigrating to England.
I love Peter, but there are so many other demands in my life. Will he accept that there are just some things I cannot give him?
‘Are you saying,’ Commander Hubbert demanded, ‘that a pack of dinosaurs have our vessel?’
I shrugged. ‘That seems to be the best explanation. The nessies have the submarine.’
Heartbreak. And I thought I’d already had more than my full share. Even the wonders of the magical country of Lloegyr can’t entirely dull the pain. The company of Raven might help, but the dragon has gone to a monastery to fight the influence of the Noble Leader’s spirit.
But there’s little time to grieve. A dead merwoman has turned up in a killer whale’s pool. The Archdruid wants me to find a home for a winged unicorn. And the vampires in my church prefer to be naked when they attend meetings.
Now Her Majesty’s Government has requested my help to bring a stolen nuclear submarine back to Britain. This will mean negotiating with rat kings, merpeople, and were-orcas, and all of them have agendas of their own…
‘I’ve been very patient,’ Raven said. ‘No drake will chase a draka who isn’t interested, or not yet ready for him. But you’re no longer attached to Peter, and you chose to remain in this world for my sake. How much longer am I to remain waiting and wondering, paradoxical Penny?’
Raven. The darkly beautiful search dragon has been a constant in my life ever since I first stumbled across the magical country of Lloegyr. Now he demands to know whether we have a future together.
But there are other challenges in my life. The humans stranded in Lloegyr need homes and jobs. Clyde is facing opposition as he explores a calling to the priesthood. A warren of traumatised were-rabbits has somehow become my responsibility. And what should I do about Llewellyn, the kind and generous were-wolf who wants us to be more than just partners in ministry?
Good thing Lloegyr has its own distilleries. Surviving all this will take copious amounts of whisky…
‘I'm not used to an entire country seeking me out,’ I said slowly. ‘Could you please explain why the Daear equivalent of the United States of America has sent three gryphons over to Lloegyr, what this has to do with bees, and why it’s me that they want?’
God knows my life has been very full the last eighteen months, ever since I stumbled across the magical country of Lloegyr. Living alongside dragons, gryphons, were-wolves, and a snail shark has been both a joy and a challenge. You’d think my friends would understand that red wine is the best medicine after another demanding day.
It would help, of course, if I could simply settle into my work with the not-weres at Saint Raphael’s. I might even be able to decide whether to accept Llewelyn’s marriage proposal. But gryphons have flown across the Atlantic to ask for my help in convincing honey bees to return to Earth. Once again I’m faced with leaving behind everything I know. Can I really cope without touching even a single drop of whisky?
Raven changed direction, flying us towards the town. The helicopter followed suit, tracking us from around a hundred feet away. Wind from the whirling rotor blades blew my hair around my face. I flinched as a voice blared through loudspeakers. ‘Enemy combatant, land now!’
The dragon reared into a hover. ‘I’m not your enemy! And I recommend you don’t make me into one!’
The time I’ve spent away from Lloegyr has given me time to make some important decisions, but now I have to face the consequences. Marrying Raven has certainly complicated my relationship with the Church and Bishop Aeron. And there’s renewed danger from Cadw ar Wahân as the secretive group takes new action against those who dare to find love outside their own species.
There is also troubling news coming out of England. The British government is rounding up Lloegyr refugees and placing them in detention centres. My family has gone into hiding. And somehow the rat kings are involved with it all. Protecting the country and the people I love has never seemed so hard before…