In the final pages of The Vexation of Vampires, Penny’s engagement with Peter fell apart when they realized they could not compromise on one of their most important differences: whether to have children. Author Chrys Cymri forces her protagonist to cope with her sorrow over the lost bond while torn between her duties to Earth and Lloegyr. A dead merwoman in an orca pool at a Sea World-like facility, a stolen submarine assignment from Sue Harkness, and providing spiritual guidance to both Skyler and Clyde give the priest plenty to do, and learning how to manage multiple commitments may just be part of Penny’s post-break up journey.
The Nest of Nessies is Penny’s story at its core, and when I tried to distill it down into a prominent theme, I kept coming back to the word “conviction.” Our protagonist makes a series of decisions based on her deepest beliefs, even when they may have dire consequences. What matters most to Penny is that she can live with her choices and that she feels she has done the right thing overall.
Cymri presented the idea of humans being most drawn or imprinting on a certain mythical/Daer species in book one (Penny’s is dragons, hence her struggle with staying neutral with Raven.), and after reading The Nest of Nessies, I think that her version of Loch Ness monsters may be my jam. Anything that will treat a submarine like a toy and can be bribed with gold necklaces to release the humans falls into the realm of aquatic canines for me, and I want a tiny, itty bitty one to keep in my spare bath tub!
Penny’s desire to help the displaced and disenfranchised people from Lloegyr painfully reflects the current refugee issues debated worldwide. I cannot speak for the author, but I know Syrian refuges continue to flood towards Europe, and other nations face similar military strife and food shortages. Penny represents some of the best of Christianity, in my opinion, because she opens her heart to all in need regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or species and works to provide safe harbor for the most vulnerable.
In many ways, I found The Nest of Nessies to be the most heart-wrenching installment in the Penny White series yet (Yes, even more than Clyde’s sacrifice in The Vengeance of Snails.), because the bulk of the protagonist’s challenges felt timely and real. I relate strongly to Penny, because we share many character traits, and her choice in the last several pages left me gasping because of the finality of her gesture. I have no idea what further adventures Chrys Cymri has for Penny White, but I am along for the ride. The strong-willed, dragon and whiskey-loving vicar still has important tasks ahead of her, not the least being finding her own true happiness.
4.5 Bribes for Dinosaurs out of 5
Author: Chrys Cymri
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, LLC
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