At the end of The Marriage of Gryphons, Penny agreed to marry her human suitor, police officer Peter, but it may not be as simple as a few words of agreement. James continues to suffer the consequences from his daring ploy to win the gryphon hunt, and Penny receives an offer to return back to her post in Lloegyr despite her disapproval of child labor. Raven’s reappearance complicates the situation further, highlighting the stark differences between the two males’ love styles; however, the biggest change is the birth of Morey and Taryn’s first clutch, five boisterous baby gryphons with personalities and carnivorous needs, infusing youthful energy into Penny’s (mostly) calm life.
The Vengeance of Snails is the hardest of Chrys Cymri’s novels to distill into a single theme, because there are several parallel plot lines that are essential to the whole; however, I believe that rebirth or resurrection comes closest to my interpretation of each piece. The latest installment in Penny’s story contains the most overtly Christian imagery and themes in the series to date (It makes sense when you know who is the focus of this arc.), but I continue to appreciate the fantasy elements as well as being able to acknowledge that religion plays a major role in both the author’s and author avatar’s lives.
Book four of Penny White’s saga manages to be the most intense installment in the series thus far, because almost every character faces major life changes. I believe it may also have the most scenes in Lloegyr/Daer as well, since Penny and her diverse household end up returning to the post in Caer-grawnt despite the strain it places on her engagement. James and Clyde both make huge steps towards adulthood (Yes, James is technically of age, but I agree with Penny that he still needs some looking after.), although the repercussions of their choices will resonate through the subsequent novels. (I love me some Clyde, and the snail shark’s story arc both broke my heart and delighted me.) I also think I want a Jago plushie (in lieu of an actual Jago, since that’s asking for too much with two dogs and three cats).
As a child-free woman, I also want to discuss Penny’s ambivalent feelings towards having children. Cymri does not provide much detail about why Penny and Alan chose to not have biological children, although caring for James may have been enough to keep them busy, but she struggles with the knowledge that Peter strongly desires his own children. Penny does not dislike kids; she simply doesn’t seem to need her own to be fulfilled. Given her independent spirit, I hope the character holds strong to her reasons, and if Penny does change her mind on having kids (She is about 38 in this book, so she doesn’t have an unlimited amount of time.), I hope it’s because she wants to, not just because of Peter. I find it refreshing to find a woman, especially one with religious convictions, who does not want or need offspring for completion. They are becoming more common in literature, but I know I identify with Penny even more thanks to this element of the characterization.
The Vengeance of Snails tackled more serious topics than I anticipated from a Clyde-centric novel (entirely my own guess after seeing the title), but it developed each cast member in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Book 5 promises to bring more Daer to Earth in The Vexation of Vampires, but I anticipate heartbreak, growth, and major choices going forward. I’m not sure if Penny will be able to follow through with her marriage to Peter, and while I don’t know if Raven truly understands what a human woman needs, he may grow to become someone who deserves her.
4.5 Baby Gryphons Hunting Prey out of 5
Creative Team: Chrys Cymri (author)
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC
Click here to purchase.