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SISTERS, SALT, AND DRAGONS, Contemporary Fantasy - Allora Dannon

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Name: Allora Dannon
Title: Sisters, Salt, and Dragons
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Comps: Female The Goonies meets Jurassic Park with dragons.

Hook Line: 
Retired in disgrace to a small, modern-day mining town, an ex-dragon hunter swears the only good dragons are dead ones—until the day a "not-so-good” dragon saves her life.

As far as Estel’s concerned, the only good dragons are dead ones, and Estel was good as hell at hunting dragons until she failed to stop the one that killed her brother. Now 30, retired, and disgraced, all Estel wants are simple things: love, a non-lethal 9-5, and a quiet life for her family and—most especially—her youngest sister, Hope. But, sequestered away in a modern-day salt mining town in Upstate New York, Hope was born into peace never knowing there was a war, or dragons, to begin with. So when Hope discovers a dragon egg, of all unforgivable things, she doesn’t kill it—she secretly keeps it.   

Everything changes when their grandfather (leader of the dragon hunters) dies, their parents go missing, and Hope’s egg hatches. Hope accidentally forms an unbreakable bond with the hatchling who manifests unusual abilities dragons and hunters alike will kill for. While Estel, struggling to keep her family safe, unearths clues from their dead brother warning of catastrophe brewing deep in the mines: thousands of hoarded dragons eggs poised to overwhelm mankind. But as the hunters descend on their town for an ominous memorial gala, Estel and Hope will need to find a way to work together … or watch as everything they love burns.

Prose Sample: 

Estel hated sunsets.

And the late September sky was already awash in bruised hues, outlining rows of gnarled apple trees against the slash of dark horizon. She knew most people enjoyed the colorful blurring of day into night, but those same people had clearly never hunted—or been hunted—by dragons before. They were deadliest at dusk, when mottled dragon scales became nearly invisible in the riot of color. Somehow, creatures with wingspans larger than most commercial aircrafts were rendered almost undetectable. 

She was hot beneath her fatigues; sweat pooling at the base of her spine as she lay flat, propped up on her elbows, rifle pressed into her left shoulder. She had orders, like the half dozen other strike teams peppering the ridge overlooking the valley on either side of her. Whatever they were looking for tonight was supposed to be big—big enough to warrant pulling most of her class out of training for a rare demonstration.

She blew out a slow, measured breath.

“We probably won’t see anything anyway,” Joe grumbled. Her older brother sounded listless, agitated even. 

She settled deeper into the shadow of the nearest apple tree, peering through her scope, ignoring the sour smell from rotting apples strewn about her. “You ok?” she asked instead. He sat just a few feet from her, back pressed against some of the large rocks that formed their cover, rifle laying placidly in his lap. His gaze drifted down into the valley too, but he didn’t look happy about it—also unlike him. Joe loved the hunt, and he’d been waiting for an opportunity like this his whole life. But his hazel eyes were faintly glazed with ... boredom? Worry?

She was used to him being assured—the oldest, the best of them. Her skin tingled, and she shifted her weight nervously, repositioning her sights. She concentrated on her elbows sinking into the damp earth, the sound of the wind rustling leaves around them, and the steadiness of her own breathing. The orchard trees were getting murkier by the second between the dark and fog that seemed to be drifting in. She frowned. The fog was moving in fast.

Too fast.

Something snapped to their left, and their bodies simultaneously sharpened with motion. Estel swung her legs around and focused her rifle, wincing as her headset crackled to life in a too-loud gurgle of static. Her hand flew to her earpiece, silencing the static that flared painfully before the line went dead.

“What the … ?” She looked back. Her brother’s face had formed a sort of wordless question, eyes wide and mouth parted slightly. “Joe?”

He launched to his feet without a word—and without his gun—bolting through the tangle of branches behind them in a frenzied burst of motion.

She didn’t wait. 

She should have waited.
Allora Dannon holds a MA in creative writing, has published short fiction in The Summerset Review, Pennsylvania English, and The Sonder Review; is a member of the Romance Writers of America; and was a finalist for the 2020 Launchpad Manuscript Competition. She has a dragon (Smaug) tattoo, resides on her family’s farm in Western New York with 12 chickens (half with dragon names), and her mini direwolf, Digory.

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