This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.
Published: May, 2016 in Mothership Zeta
Genre: urban fantasy
Setting: Manhattan, present day
Summary: Short version: Dragons are best at exploiting greed
Long version: Charisma is a dragon posing as a young woman so she can slip through life in Manhattan, but still steal all the gold and jewels that she deserves. She’s caught by Abby, who blackmails Charisma into giving her an interview. Charisma figures she can work on Abby’s greed to get what she wants, so she goes along with it. Turns out, Abby was just bait for Brooke, a vampire who wants Char’s hoard and to turn her into a thrall. There’s a big fight in the vault that Brooke ultimately loses. Abby is able to convince Char to work with her stealing from magical creatures doing bad things.
Final thoughts: This was a really fun story. I loved the tone of the whole story. In fact, I had to read a couple of quotes to my kids. For example, Char says, “I knew I was good, and with my entire hoard at stake, there was no way I was going to lose to a witch paparazzi and a vampire boxer.” Or the fact that she baits Brooke into biting her, but dragon blood is hot so Brooke burns her mouth.
I will admit I’m a sucker for a dragon story. In this case, Charisma has a few skills I’m not used to seeing in dragons. She can use a smoke cloud to focus the greed of those around her and distract them from her stealing. Too bad a vampire doesn’t have to breathe. She can also track all of her hoard, and uses that skill to disarm Brooke’s thralls when the lights go out in her vault. The fighting is clever and Abby is able to win over Charisma by appealing to her greedy side. Overall, very high quality.
Title comes from: Charisma uses a puff of smoke as a weapon. It makes anyone who breathes focus solely on the acquisition of shiny things.