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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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12/23/2006 Archived Entry: "e-book review: Everyday Spectres: The Collectors"

Everyday Spectres: The Collectors
By Camilla Bruce
A Torquere Press e-book, published November 2006

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Here I go again, reviewing yet another e-book by Torquere Press. The story was short and sweet, so I'll try to keep my review the same way.

First of all: I loved this little story! I mean that literally, it's only fifty-seven printed pages long once you've downloaded it. So if anyone asks you what it's about, you can say it's about 57 pages long. Okay, okay, I'll behave! "The Collectors" is a modern fairy tale about dragons, knights and princesses, with one important exception: all the main characters are gay males.

Our hero is an old dragon named Septarian, who passes as a middle-aged human male by dint of disguise, not unlike the dinosaurs in Eric Garcia's dino detective series. Except the dragons in Camilla Bruce's universe don't have to go to extremes to hide their reptilian features, thanks to centuries of interbreeding with humans. Our hero wears blue contact lenses over his silver eyes (which have vertical black pupils), ties his tail to one leg with soft cotton strips before putting on his pants, which are described as spacious (he'd probably be comfortable in baggy hip-hop clothing, if he looked young enough to pass as a teenager), and his usually wrinkled white shirt (he prefers comfort to style) hides the lavender scales on his neck, shoulders and back. There are purple streaks in his long, black hair, which hides his pointed ears, as well as the pear-shaped diamond earrings he wears. After all, he is a dragon, a race known for its fondness for jewels, as well as a jeweler who owns and operates an exclusive jewelry shop known as the Dragon's Den, which he runs with his cousin Serena, a beautiful redhead with red scales beneath her burgundy suit, which is carefully tailored to hide her tail, and Cathleen, another she-dragon with white-blonde hair who ties her tail up beneath a short skirt. (I wonder if she wears opaque pantyhose to conceal the scales on her legs?)

In addition to being jewelers, the staff of the Dragon's Den are also collectors of a rare essence which comes from princesses, male and female. Yes, according to Ms. Bruce princesses come in both genders, and they don't have to be of royal blood to possess the precious essence, which dragons milk from them (without killing them, happily) in order to stay young.

But dragons aren't the only ones who collect essence from princesses; knights do too, and they are no more human than dragons, even though they also interbreed with humans. Naturally dragons and knights are bitter enemies in this universe, competing to see who can collect the best essence from the most beautiful princesses. So when a male princess turns up at a local ice cream bar - Nathaniel, young, hot and gay, and positively reeking of essence - Septarian is forced to go hunting himself, since his resident hunter Cathleen is obviously useless in this situation. Complications ensue when a knight shows up to pursue the beautiful ice cream boy too; this particular knight is the tall, dark and handsome Cid, who is also Septarian's ex-boyfriend. Yes, a dragon and a knight once had a thing together, much to the dismay of both their families. It didn't last very long, but it left them both with bittersweet memories, which affects the way that Septarian approaches the beautiful Nathaniel.

So who ends up getting the princess, the dragon or the knight? All I can tell you is that you'll be rooting for the dragon in this little fairy tale, and I mean "fairy" in the nicest way. Camilla Bruce's humanoid dragons won me over as completely as Eric Garcia's humanistic dinos, though I was a bit put off by the continuous references to hot young men as princesses, even when they aren't gay. This story has both humor and sweetness, and stretches the facts of the dragon and knight legend just enough to enable you to take it seriously, the same way that Garcia manages to explain plausibly why the dinosaurs didn't really die out but adapted to fit into a human-dominated society. And the sex, needless to say, is both sweet and hot! It gets a bit complicated at times, the way that interspecies sex usually does, but nobody gets hurt or killed, and in the end they all, more or less, live happily ever after. And isn't that what's supposed to happen in a good fairy tale?

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