Modern Serpents Talk Things Through is the cutest thing ever! And weirdly, I’m saying that sentence without a trace of sarcasm or snark or even condescension. In a very short amount of space, this mini-book made me laugh, got me fully invested in a romance, and made me cry a litte to boot. Not bad for 11,000 words.
Modern Serpents is very short. Word count wise, it’s in that weird space between a short story and a novella (a novelette, I guess). Anyway, it’s a very effective short piece. I could picture it being a full-length book but it didn’t need to be to get its story across. It’s like a really good chocolate truffle.
Modern Serpents is about a dragon named Tina who lives in a world of dragons. She is in therapy and having a hard time confessing to her therapist that she’s fascinated by humans. In fact, she’s so fascinated that she is keeping one – sort of as a pet. She’s terrified that people will find out that she likes humans, and desperate to keep her relationship with this one in particular, Kate, a secret.
Now, the parallels to the fear of coming out as LGBT are pretty obvious. Maybe a little too obvious. But to me, that made this story all the more touching. Some LGBT readers and writers have been commenting for years that we need more Queer love stories with happy endings. This one is bittersweet. Kate is human and she won’t live as long as Tina. But they are determined to be happy in the time they have, in the open, and it’s quite beautiful and touching as well as being very, very funny.
I loved Tina and Kate. I loved the humor. I loved the whole story. It’s a parable, not to be taken very literally or too seriously, although it has something very serious to say. So you don’t want to get too hung up on things like – if Kate is a tiny human, and Tina is a big dragon, and they have a romantic relationship, is it also sexual? And if so, how would that work? Nope, just move on. Every time you find yourself wondering about practical things just stick your fingers in your ears and chant “metaphor, metaphor, metaphor”.
There is no sex in the book, mercifully. But there’s definite chemistry and in just a few short pages this author accomplishes what a lot of authors can’t do in a whole book – the author makes me believe that these two belong together, by establishing their comfort and rapport with each other.
At one point Tina finally gets some support from an avenue where she did not expect it. This source makes the following speech:
We were very careful, you know…after all I was terrified of what might happen if anyone found out. Especially my mother or father. We had to snatch moments together, when I was certain no one might catch us.
Now, of course, I wish that I hadn’t given a thought to all that. They are such…delicate creatures. Humans, I mean. They are like mayflies. I could see him aging almost before my eyes. I remember when his hair changed. One day it was the color of straw in the summer, the next it was white, pure white. That was when I realized how little time we actually had. By then, of course, it was almost too late. E had already wasted so much.
You shouldn’t waste your time worrying about whether other people think you should feel guilty or not…You should live your life the way you want to live it, and not for anyone else. If you have the chance to be happy, however briefly, you should take it.
Tina and Kate know that they have many challenges to face during their short time together. For one thing, Tina will have to help Kate keep from being eaten by other dragons. They know that their time together won’t be easy, but the last line of the book is this:
The darkness fell, and they were together, and they were happy.
Beautiful. Best last line ever. It’s touching and triumphant and utterly without pretention. When you find yourself with an hour (maybe half an hour – I read this in one quick bite) to spare, and you are feeling stressed out or cynical and you want to laugh and be moved, pick this up.