Peacock and Dragon by Jenny Worstall

I’ve already read a collection of short stories by Jenny Worstall (Infant Barbarian) and her romantic comedy novel (Make A Joyful Noise) so I was expecting to find some more light, charming writing about family relationships in Peacock and Dragon, her new collection of short stories. Certainly the stories are about family relationships and they are light, easy-to-read stories written in her same clear, direct style but these stories have slightly darker overtones with hints of the paranormal and I think they are her best yet.

At the start of Peacock and Dragon the author has written “With apologies to William Morris”. This sent me on a Google search and now I know a lot more about Morris’ designs than I did a few days ago; the titles are not all references to his designs though. The Morris theme threads through the stories and inspires much of the descriptive writing as well as the titles.

In Strawberry Thief there is a picture of domestic bliss and harmony until something shocking and unexpected happens. The story line is fairly predictable but it gets an unusual twist and is made much more interesting by the hint of the “ghost story” which permeates it.

Peacock and Dragon has a set of parents with an unusually old fashioned approach to a teenage pregnancy in the twenty first century. Fortunately Jasmine has a good friend with a sensible head on her shoulders who is able to stand by her and all ends happily ever after. The twist is in the advice of a maternity nurse who has seen it all before and her contribution to the story lifts it to another level of interest.

Love is Enough is about a failure to trust and communicate which leads to devastating consequences when drama reflects life and life reflects drama. At first I thought this story was funny but as it evolved it became rather tragic and the ending was blunt and final.

The opening chapters of Make a Joyful Noise are included at the end of the collection and there is enough there to help you decide if you want to read the whole thing which I would certainly recommend.

Peacock and Dragon is a very readable collection of short stories. It’s a good introduction to Jenny Worstall’s writing and if you’re already familiar with her work you'll find an interesting development in her skills as a short story writer.

You can find details of all Jenny Worstall’s books on her author page at Amazon UK or Amazon USA.