Rhonda Parrish asked to read her anthology "Aphanasian Stories". It contains three stories of varying length but I chose to read. "Sister Margaret". It is the shortest of the three and the one whose premise caught my attention: " A vampire hunter and a half-incubus swordsman are hired by a priestess to kill the undead pimp that is extorting, torturing and murdering vulnerable girls."
I will examine plot, characters, and polish, and then assign a grade.
The plot here is condensed; about 10 pages. I like that because it has a 'routine job' air to it which gives it a great degree of grounding. While I enjoy prolonged epics as much as the next fantasy buff, they have a grandeur and dramatic nature that puts them at odds with day-to-day life. This kind of small scale over-and-done-in-a-day fantasy story has a laconic appeal; a lot of action and emotion compressed in a small time period.
I would like to use this opportunity to bring up the Rule of Drama. It is summed up by TvTropes as "If the potential for conflict is visible, then it will never be
passed over." This is why heroes encounter setbacks in their adventures and why the villain always had the advantage; more conflict-->more drama-->(ideally) more exciting story. That is not the case here. Michael goes in reasonably prepared (sufficient spell power, a partner) and with a simple and flexible plan. He accomplishes the job quickly and leaves. Sure it would look anticlimactic on screen and wouldn't fill an episode but it makes him look like a professional and a badass one at that. If Rhonda writes any more stories staring this guy, I'll buy them.
Finally, I like the classic structure. The Hero receives The Call to Adventure from a Priestess to slay what is (mystic structure-wise) a dragon to protect the local community. He collects supernatural aid, goes into the dragon's lair, slays the dragon, and returns to the priestess. Putting an urban fantasy on top of this time honored structure is a big hit with me.
I like Michael as the protagonist. First Person Narration without a frame narrative usually sounds weird to me but this works because of Michael's personality. He's given to reminiscing and his narration sounds more like thinking to himself than true narration. Also, like I said above, he appears a professional because of his planing and execution. Combined with his deadpan wit, makes the book a joy to read. I would sum him up in "another day, another job, another vampire".
The story's namesake, Sister Margaret, is surprisingly well developed considering her little screen time. I could discuss her character at length but it would be spoiler. Suffice to say that she is much more complex than a typical Damsel Errant.
No problems here. I don't see spelling errors, grammar issues, or word cruft.
Trickster Eric Novels gives "Sister Margaret" an A+
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