Genre

Fantasy, Mystery

Audience

Adult, & Mature Teen

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2023

Themes

Temptation, desire, virtue, consecrated life, True Love, kidnapping, trafficking, exploitation, fish out of water, enemies-to-lovers, Dragons

 

Reviewed by

Corinna Turner

Private Investigator Vern is the only dragon on either side of the inter-dimensional gap that links the Mundane and Faerie worlds. Until he wakes up one morning to find he has been turned into a human. As though that isn’t enough for an immortal, sexless being to deal with, he’s also head-turningly, smolderingly attractive! But reversing the curse will have to wait. The cousin of his PI partner Sister Grace has disappeared after taking a job with a Mundane cosmetics company, and they both suspect foul play. Can Vern solve the mystery, rescue the damsel in distress, and regain his true form—all while dodging every attractive woman in the Mundane?

Vern the dragon has frequently been a fish out water since being forced to move from Faerie to the Mundane, but in this story Fabian takes it to extremes! Although the deeper exploration that I was anticipating of “sexless being becomes male” got somewhat bypassed by other elements of the plot, Vern’s struggles with unfamiliar human emotions, hormones, sensations, sense of taste—even how to keep his balance without wings and a tail—provide ample opportunity for comedy: “Bacon’s much easier when I can breathe fire on it.”  

While I appreciated “HuVern’s” antics and mishaps as he attempts to infiltrate the suspicious cosmetics company as a male model, I did find myself missing “VernDrake” at times. I suspect for many established fans of the Vern books, Siren Spell will be either their stand out favorite or their least favorite in the series. But, either way, it’s a Vern book, which means hilarious good fun. And, as usual, faith is interwoven with plot and humor in a charming but unobtrusive way.

A significant—and more serious—plot strand in Siren Spell deals with a consecrated religious feeling sexual temptation for a member of the opposite sex. Nothing inappropriate occurs and it is a realistic portrayal—religious are human too. In fact, through this plotline, Siren Spell does an excellent job of highlighting the keen interest the devil takes in the temptation—and fall—of the consecrated. However, readers who would find this element not to their taste would be advised to skip this Vern outing.

The influence of the devil on even the actions and decision-making of devout persons is also highlighted, briefly but effectively.

It should also be noted that the Lord’s Name is taken in vain a couple of times, usually by secular characters, and there is one reference to lesbian behavior coupled with a gentle intimation that it is wrong. At one point a priest also says, “Kissing a pretty woman isn’t, of itself, a sin,” a line about which some parents might wish to have a more detailed conversation with their teens.

Although most of the Vern books are equally accessible to religious and secular readers, to enjoy Siren Spell, secular readers will need to be comfortable reading about a traditional view of sexual morality. The majority of Protestant readers should find this an engaging read, although readers with a serious aversion to Catholicism may not enjoy the positive portrayal of priests, religious, and all things Catholic. Catholic readers are likely to particularly enjoy this book because of the aforementioned, as long as they are comfortable reading about magic as a natural God-given ability.

Fabian has produced another hilarious and engaging—if more than usually challenging—Vern tale.

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