cover image The Hatchling

The Hatchling

Vyria Durav. Vyria Durav, $8.99 trade paper (90p) ASIN B09X2BCBDT

Durav debuts with a sweet, queer dragon fantasy that thoughtfully handles gender identity but fails to fully fly. Healer-priest Sarric is sent along with a group of hunters to slay the dragon Onyx, who has recently settled on the outskirts of Rivermist. Always androgynous, Sarric is subjected to cruel jokes and pranks by the hunting party—right up until Onyx crashes onto the scene, scaring off the hunters and abducting Sarric. Sarric’s sure it’s the end, but Onyx, who occasionally takes over the novel’s narration, is not the bloodthirsty animal Sarric believes. In fact, the dragon used to date Sarric’s most beloved teacher. Onyx helps Sarric to realize her true gender identity, leading to an admirable exploration of coming out and self-acceptance. There’s not much plot here, with little conflict and low stakes, but for readers who wish to see themselves in epic fantasy worlds that have long excluded them, this slow, sensitive tale provides just that. It’s far from a page-turner, but it’s not without its merits. (Self-published)