Soultaming the Serpent by Tar Atore

Jun never knew adventure until she took her first step out of her village at age 60 and then found a young man, which only led her to more adventures and stories, some of which point to home.

The last dragon died half a century ago and Jun Weaver still dreams of the rain that hasn’t fallen since. Her mundane life takes a turn when she encounters Aurel, who she suspects may be the one that holds the key to restoring balance and is destined to find the elusive serpent from the prophecy. 

Joined by Casey, Jun’s closest friend and the village brewer, the three embark on a journey to unravel the prophecy's intricacies, figure out what the serpent's role truly is, and why the dragon has to die, not knowing they are being watched. Follow our trio as Jun discovers a love of adventure, Casey’s devotion takes an unexpected turn, Aurel spills his secrets like dust in the sand, and the three of them discover the true power of their bond. 

PUBLISHER: Self Published
YEAR: 2023
LENGTH: 179 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Minor Character(s), Bi/Pan Secondary Character(s), Ace/Aro Main Character(s).

*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book. 

One of the wonderful things about queernorm worlds is not needing to endlessly explain every little thing. This means that there's emotional room to dig into nuances which otherwise would likely be subsumed through navigating prejudices. In SOULTAMING THE SERPENT, Jun is aromantic, and while she cares deeply for Casey, she knows she doesn't love him the way he loves her. When Aurel enters her life, she feels like there has to be some kind of choice between the two of them, even though neither of them is a romantic possibility for her. What could have been a frustrating love triangle instead blossoms into a story of queer love and companionship in the face of antagonistic forces. 

The worldbuilding is explained at the level of information that the people within the world have. They don't know the details of the cycle, or why a dragon is required for rain, but they deal with the shape of how things are even when they don't know the underlying reasons. This style of storytelling means that information gaps are between characters, each trying to sort through legends and conflicting information in order to figure out what actually happens in the cycle with the Chosen One, Serpent, and Dragon. 

Things I love, in no particular order: Having so much lavender referenced in the story; the relationships between Jun, Casey, and Aurel; the way the cycle resolves; trying to deal with prophecies and fated things without an instruction manual.

This is a delightfully moving story, well worth reading.

Moderate CW for grief, confinement, blood, violence, injury detail, medical content, torture, death.

Minor CW for drug use, alcohol, animal death

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A person in a straw had stands on the edge of a hill and looks at a dragon in the distance. The image is mostly purple, with white and black for detail.


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