The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 10.

“You’re a minor and your dad’s loaded. You’d be surprised how much that gets you.”

They aren’t followed. Eli doesn’t think too hard on why, just hurtles with Zoe as fast as they can down the mountain.

It doesn’t last long. Zoe is good at many things, but running isn’t one of them. Eli pulls her along but eventually she topples to her knees in the dirt, leant forward and gasping. “I— I can’t—” she keeps starting, but she’s breathing too hard to finish. Eli just helps her to sit down on a nearby rock and strains his ears to listen for pursuit. Either there isn’t any, or Brooklyn and Fargo are much stealthier than they look. Eli’s betting it’s the former.

“It’s okay,” he says. “We’re okay. We can stop here.”

It takes Zoe a really long time to start breathing normally again. Eli thinks she might actually be having some sort of attack, her breath is coming so hard and raspy, her skin like dragonfire beneath his hands. He has nothing to help her through it, so instead he just sits, and tries to say soothing things. If anyone comes across them, Eli will just yell at them until they go get medical help. He figures no ones going to be too suspicious of a girl who’s struggling for air.

It takes a long time, but eventually Zoe’s breath returns to something like normal. Which is about when she starts sobbing in huge, big, noisy gulps. Eli lets her cry it out against his chest, his arms around her shoulders while her little feather earring tickles his throat. He feels strangely numb, considering everything that’s just happened. Like he’s accidentally poured all his panic and fear into Zoe, maybe, and now she’s experiencing it for the both of them.

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2019-02-22T07:07:35+00:0022nd February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 9.

“Stars of the sky and spirits of the land, we call upon your aid.”

It’s nearly eleven by the time Eli gets to Zoe’s place, mostly care of him taking a good twenty minutes trying to figure out how to change back into a human. When he finally gets it, he’s surprised how . . . wrong the shape feels; too small and too fragile and too smooth. Widow Adeline just laughs at his discomfort, feeds him another plate of bacon and sausages, and sends him on his way.

Eli’s head is in such a spin by the time he’s standing at Zoe’s front door that he’s almost forgotten why he’s supposed to be here. His eyes keep drifting to the sky, at the blue peeking between silver clouds. He could be up there, right now. Just him and the wind. It’s a strange thought; makes him feel restless and uneasy.

The Chungs are not early risers, so Eli gets offered breakfast for the third time. Mr. Chung is making crepes, stuffed with mascarpone and berry compote and smothered with maple syrup. Eli loves Mr. Chung’s crepes, except today something about the smell of the syrup and berries makes his stomach turn. He tries one anyway, minus the syrup; the crepe is like eating paper and the berries are so sweet it makes his teeth hurt. The mascarpone tastes okay, so he eats as much as he can, then pushes away the rest with a muttered apology about having already eaten.

“Your loss!” Zoe announces, and promptly devours everything he didn’t.

Today, Zoe is in her Supernatural outfit; a cute black dress and little blue tie underneath a long tan duster. Her earrings are two little black feathers, which Eli finds somewhat ironic when he pulls the tattered peryton feather from his satchel.

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2019-02-19T17:41:58+00:0019th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 8.

“Concentrate on yourself; how you are, how you should be.”

The next morning, when Eli arrives at the mansion at the top of Rosemont Heights, Widow Adeline is waiting for him with a lawnmower.

“You’re late,” she says, peering down at an diamond-encrusted gold pocket watch.

Eli looks at his own watch. “I’m two minutes early!” 6:58am on a Saturday. Eli hadn’t even know this time existed.

“By my watch, you are late.”

Eli splutters at the indignity. His watch gets time from his phone, which in turn gets time from wherever it is that phones get the time from. Point being, a place more accurate than Widow Adeline’s fingers can wind. Before he can figure out how to explain this, Adeline waves towards the lawnmower.

“Well,” she says. “Get on with it. The grass will not cut itself.”

Eli looks between Widow Adeline and the lawnmower. The thing must be older than he is, lurking, rust-covered and vicious, in the grass. “I thought you were going to teach me to be a dragon!” It sounds kind of stupid, now that he says it out loud.

It also earns him a scowl and a tsch sort of noise. “Discretion, boy,” Adeline scolds. “But, yes. That was the arrangement. This is your first lesson.”

“To cut grass?”


“Which is teaching me what?”

“Well,” is the answer, smirk curling blood-red lips. “You’ll have the entire time you’re doing it to work that out.”

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2019-02-15T16:53:51+00:0015th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 7.

“What you have just experienced is a Hatching.”

When Eli next wakes, he’s in bed he doesn’t know, in a room he’s never seen.

He’s also naked. And there’s a cat, sitting on the pillow next to his head.

The cat is not pleased when Eli bolts upright in a sudden rush of panic. Things come back to him in flashes; his flight through the woods, his transformation, his fight with the peryton. Widow Adeline.

Eli has never been inside Widow Adeline’s house, but the decor around him certainly screams “elderly woman.” The bed he’s in has four huge, carved wooden posts, and the duvet is both overly plump and makes a slightly crunchy plastic sound when he moves. The room looks like a guest room, with heavy velvet drapes and shelves of leather-bound books and odd curios. The only light comes from an ornate brass fitting on the wall; the sort with cherubs that looks like it was retrofitted from gas to electricity.

The sheets, Eli notes, are covered in blood.

It’s not his blood—a quick once-over reveals no injuries worse than bruises—but he is absolutely covered in it, and the sight makes his lip curl in disgust.

No one else is in the room, just Eli and the cat, so he gets out of the blood-stained bed.

His satchel is sitting on a chair nearby, a little folded card perched on top. The inside of the card is full of the sort of old-timey looping handwriting that Eli has to squint at to decipher. It says:

Don’t fuss about the sheets. Take a shower. There’s a robe if you need it. I will be downstairs waiting. — Ms. A.

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2019-02-12T17:30:15+00:0012th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|


The actual publisher, Bloomsbury, deems [Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses] as for a teen audience. But if you’ve actually read the book, like me, this gives you a double-take. The graphic sex scenes in both this book and its sequel, though great in my opinion, are not suitable for the entire “young adult” audience. 13-year-olds finding this book in their section of the library is profoundly discomforting to me.

Mya Nunnally on women’s fiction.

This is from a longer article about the problems with speculative fiction written by women being constantly mis-categorized, in this case as being “for children” when it isn’t.

I found the quote above interesting because it’s something I ran into, albeit reversed, when trying to shop The Dragon of Rosemont High. The characters in that are about fifteen, and the book was pitched as young adult. But the feedback I got from multiple editors was that it felt “too young”1 for “young adult”, and that I should “rewrite it as a middle grade” novel, i.e. bump everyone’s ages down a year or two and set it in a middle school, not a high school. I had… Issues with this,2 particularly because at the time there was an active online dust-up going on in the YA scene with Actual Teens positing that, like. Maybe “Young Adult” fiction was swinging a bit too far towards the “adult” rather than “young” side.

And, to be clear. Like, DoRH deals with some pretty heavy issues; there’s violence and death, gore, slurs and the sorts of people who use them, and aspects of young sexuality. But, like. It’s about fifteen-year-olds, and is intended to be read by people who’re also about that age?

But, apparently, “books about fifteen-year-olds” fall into some kind of marketing black hole that’s too old for middle grade (i.e. children) and too young for “young adult”, which now apparently means “adults who read otherwise ‘adult’ books with seventeen-year-old protagonists”. Which… okay. Sure.

Publishing. Go figure.

  1. The fact that one Unnamed Editor From a Big 5 Publishing House also specifically mentioned the fact that the main character experiences bullying as making him feel “young” and “unlikable” was just… wow. That happened. And also ironically only the second hottest take I’ve ever gotten from a Big 5 editor. ^
  2. Not the least of which was being asked to essentially rewrite an entire novel on spec but, y’know. Never let it be said that publishing isn’t wildly exploitative! ^
2019-02-20T09:04:54+00:0011th February, 2019|Tags: books, culture, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH, young adult|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 6.

“At least Lacroix will know it wasn’t you.”

The circuit around town is a bust. Zoe picks up and examines several black feathers along the way but Eli knows, without knowing how he knows, that they aren’t feathers from the peryton. Several times he gets a strange feeling, like he’s being watched, but he never catches sight of anything unusual and nothing jumps them from the shadows.

Eventually, they end up back outside the Chungs’, Zoe regarding her feathers with a critical eye.

“Well,” she says, “I can make up some of the locator charms with these tonight. We can meet up tomorrow to test them out.”

Eli nods in agreement, then they say their goodbyes. Zoe offers him a lift back to his place (“I’m sure Dad won’t mind”), but Eli declines. The clouds have finally lifted and the sky above is clear and studded with stars, moon hanging like a big silver grin against the dark.

It’s getting cold, but Eli doesn’t mind. He likes night times out here. Back home—back in his previous home—the city was so bright that the closest they ever got to dark was a kind of dull, yellow twilight. In Rosemont, there are actually stars.

Eli is so busy watching them, in fact, that he doesn’t notice the peryton until he almost runs into it.

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2019-02-08T16:53:53+00:008th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 5.

“Its not 1692 anymore. Witchcraft isn’t illegal.”

When he finally finds Zoe at lunchtime—dressed in an Attack on Titan Survey Corps uniform—she double takes.

“What happened to your face?” she asks, incredulous.

“Huh?” He didn’t think the Goon Squad roughed him up that badly.

Zoe makes a gesture in her own general facial area. “I seem to recall a lot more light wounds last night.”

Eli puts his own hand on his cheek before he realizes she means the injuries from his fight with the peryton, not Arthur Lacroix. “Oh. Yeah, they were gone this morning. Guess your magic potion worked, huh?”

Zoe gives him a very strange look. “Ee, you realize it’s just, like, herbs and honey, right? It’s not . . . I mean, it’s never”—another vague gesture—”before.”

“So you’re more powerful than you thought. That’s good, right?” Because if Zoe’s a witch, maybe it won’t matter Eli’s a monster.

“I guess . . .” Though Zoe looks like she can’t decide between being proud and being scared. She finally settles on resigned, sitting down on the retaining wall behind the science block. “I heard you got the third degree from Lady Lacroix this morning,” she says.

It’s as good a segue as any, so Eli takes it. He tells Zoe about Lacroix, senior, and Lacroix, junior. The latter in particular elicits a great deal of consternation and warm hands, running across his cheeks and his limbs, checking him for injuries.

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2019-02-05T17:22:55+00:005th February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 4.

“How lucky do you feel, Elias?”

On Friday, Aunt Addi is cooking breakfast. As soon as she sees Eli, she gives him a bone-crushing hug.

“Addi?” he asks. It’s not his face, that he does know. Whatever Zoe put in her potion, it worked, and now Eli’s skin is as healed as it was on Tuesday. Maybe better, given the way his acne seems to have vanished along with the bruises.

He gets one more squeeze before Aunt Addi takes a step back, still holding onto his arms as she regards him with soft pride. Addi is five-foot-nothing, all neat uniform and tight braids. Not stern, exactly, but Eli doesn’t think he’s seen quite this expression on her face since . . . since he came to live here.

“You’re a good man, Elias Drake,” she’s saying, apropos of nothing Eli can see. “Your daddy would be proud of you. I want you to remember that.”

“Um,” says Eli. “Thanks, Aunt Addi.”

It’s a strange interaction, but it’s followed by a plate of waffles, so Eli doesn’t think too much more about it. Particularly not when Addi says, “You might see Lacroix at school today.”

It takes Eli a moment to realize Addi means Ms. Lacroix, not Arthur or Morgan. “Is it about the murder?” he asks, trying to not appear too interested.

Judging by Addi’s sigh, he fails miserably. “Murders,” she corrects. “There was another overnight.”

The shiver ripples up Eli’s spine before he’s even really processed the words. Like something shifting just beneath his skin, hot and angry.

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2019-02-01T17:57:43+00:001st February, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 3.

“What would you do? If you had a pet monster, I mean?”

Zoe is waiting for him on the sidewalk outside her house, eyes wide and phone clutched in her hand.

“Eli!” She starts running as soon as she sees him, and they crash together bodily in the middle of your street. “Eli, I got your text. What happened? What did you do?” She reaches a hand up to ghost it around the dark halo of his hair, currently even more fried than usual. “You look like you’ve been electrocuted!”

“I saw it!” Eli grabs Zoe’s forearms, hauling her forward. “Zee, I saw it! I saw the monster!”

“Monster?” Zoe’s expression twists, dubious, and she pulls back just slightly. “What monster? Ee, what are you talking about?”

“The monster, Zoe,” Eli says. “The one that killed that dude. It’s real. I saw it. Addi is out again and I was going to make tacos but we didn’t have the ingredients,” it comes out all in one big rush. “So I was walking to the ShopStop down that road that goes behind the houses, y’know? Where you wanted to do the photoshoot? And anyway I saw it. It was . . . it had these antlers and was kind of like a deer, but it had wings, too, and—”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” This time, Zoe does extract herself, stepping backwards and out of Eli’s grasp. “Ee, are you high?”

“No!” God. Monsters nothing. His Aunt would kill him. “Zoe, I know it sounds crazy but you gotta believe me. I saw the monster. It attacked me!”

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2019-01-29T17:07:39+00:0029th January, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 2.

“I’m kinda trying not to think about the horrible murder right now.”

On Thursday, there’s been a murder.

“Did you hear? There’s been a murder!”

Apparently it’s a Sherlock day today, judging from Zoe’s black overcoat and blue scarf. Eli isn’t sure whether the theming is appropriate, but it’s subdued enough that maybe no one else will notice.

“I guess that’s why Addi was out last night,” Eli offers, hugging his books closer to his chest. Across the quad Lance makes the I’m-watching-you gesture, a big white gauze pad taped to his neck.

“They think it happened last week. Guy didn’t turn up for his shift at the gas station just out of town. Sheriff found his body like five miles away in the woods, torn to shreds. Like it’d been mauled by an animal.”

Eli tries not to think of sharp teeth and yellow eyes.

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2019-01-25T17:06:17+00:0025th January, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|