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Romeo and Juliet: A Gay Dragon Retelling by Annabelle Jay

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Almost everyone in the world has heard of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, and anyone who’s read or watched it knows that the ending is less than happy. From the chorus, we’re told that this love story will not end well:

Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life,
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.

Wiliam Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

If you take a closer look at the first two paragraphs of the back cover blurb for my latest book, Caden’s Comet: Book Four in The Sun Dragon Series, you might find hints of a familiar tale:

Before King Roland ruled over Earth, four dragon kingdoms fought over the plentiful planet: Ice Dragons, Sun Dragons, Earth Dragons, and Bone Dragons. One day a young dragon named Prince Grian slipped aboard the Sun Dragon ship and traveled to Earth, while on that same day, an Earth Dragon named Caden snuck away from his village. The two met and fell in love, but both were killed in battle.

 The Artists, creators of the universe, were furious about the death of these true loves. As punishment, they erased the Sun Dragon race, banished the Bone Dragons to Draman, and put the Ice Dragons in the North Pole, where they could not harm the Earth Dragons. The Artists declared that the dragons would remain cursed until the true love between Grian and Caden was born again and they reunited all dragons in peace and harmony.

In a lot of ways, the prologue and premise of this book are based on that same pair of star-crossed lovers. Grian and Caden, two half-humans/half-dragons, are from different dragon clans (their “households”), yet they fall in love and fight to be together, Of course, much like Romeo and Juliet, the original ending for Grian and Caden is death—until years later, when Prince Grian is reborn on the planet Draman, where Book Three of the series ended, and tasked by his fair godparent Skelly with finding his soulmate on Earth.

However, in a lot of ways, Caden’s Comet uses Romeo and Juliet to tell a very different tale. Romeo and Juliet meet and fall head over heels, like a lot of romance movie characters do, but what happens when that “spark” is manufactured by the universe and not the characters themselves? When Grian does find his soulmate, things don’t go at all as planned, and he ends up questioning the whole idea of a “soulmate” in the process.

In a lot of ways, I think Grian’s story is a lot truer to most people’s experiences of love than Romeo and Juliet. Sure, we all want the instantaneous love of a fairy tale, but how many of us actually find it? Or even if we do, how do we know that “spark” isn’t just our own little universe manufacturing the idea of love that we want it to?

Either way, most of us will end up disappointed in the process.

Unlike us, Grian has a chance to make his own “happily ever after,” and though being in charge of your own destiny is a lot of pressure, in the end, it’s the only way that Grian will ever reunite the dragon clans (and in the process, save the world).


Long ago, in the days before King Roland, the four dragon kingdoms—Ice, Sun, Earth, and Bone—battled for dominion over the bountiful planet Earth. Prince Grian, a young dragon, hid aboard a Sun Dragon ship, traveled to Earth, and met Caden, an Earth Dragon who’d run away from his village. Despite falling in love, destiny’s plans for them turned cruel, and both perished in the war.

The Artists who created the universe could not let this tragic loss of true love go unpunished. They wiped out the race of Sun Dragons, exiled the Bone Dragons to Draman, and banished the Ice Dragons to the North Pole, safely away from the Earth Dragons. Only the rebirth of Grian and Caden could break the curse. One day, the return of their love would usher in an age of peace and prosperity for all dragons.

But when Prince Grian is reborn, he finds reuniting with his soulmate on Earth will be no easy feat. As he searches for his lost love, the Earth Dragon Protection Society, or EDPS, searches for him, ready to kill him when they find him. If Grian can elude the EDPS, he might find that the true love he once had isn’t guaranteed to bloom a second time.

Cover Artist: Stef Masciandaro


Exclusive Excerpt from Caden’s Comet

 Skelly carefully slid into the lake. Imitating Queen Sara Lee, the last person to visit the cave, the fairy fell forward, face-first, into the water. In the beginning, everything was dark. Then, at the periphery of Skelly’s vision, the Milky Way emerged. The arm of Orion grew closer, and then a solar system appeared.

Recognize anything? the Mother asked.

That little planet over there—it’s Earth, isn’t it?

Earth drew closer, and then it began to spin backward. Scenes fought for their attention, spinning Skelly through the planet’s history. A wizard turning humans into Earth Dragons; four dragon kingdoms fighting for power; the original kingdoms safe on their own planets.

A long time ago, the Mother explained, the four dragon species were not just breeds. They were clans, from the Sun Dragons on the sun to the Ice Dragons on Pluto and the Bone Dragons and Earth Dragons in-between.

Finally, the planets disappeared, replaced on the left side of their vision by a young Sun Dragon prince with blond hair sneaking aboard a ship to Earth while a young Bone Dragon with dark hair and pale skin did the same on their right. The two scenes came together, and on the cobblestone streets of the planet’s capital, they embraced.

What happened to them? Skelly asked.

A king appeared, brandishing his scepter at the blond prince.

“Grian, you are forbidden from seeing that Bone Dragon ever again!”

“He has a name, Father. And Caden isn’t just a Bone Dragon, he’s—”

“And don’t think you can escape my all-seeing eye,” the king interrupted. “Guards have been posted at every door.”

Yet the next image showed exactly that: Prince Grian escaping to see Caden again and explaining, with tears in his eyes, what his father had dictated. Little did he know that in the background, fire filled the sky as a Sun Dragon attack on Earth began. Sun Dragons and Earth Dragons fell, drenching the much-desired land with their dragon blood.

No! Skelly tried to yell, but what could the fairy do? The battle drew closer, and Prince Grian and Caden fell, their hands still clutched in eternal love.

Though Skelly was still underwater, the smell of charred flesh and burning wood remained. Images of death and destruction filled the blue lake, and everywhere the fairy turned, dragon bodies appeared.

What does all of this mean? Skelly asked the Mother.

So powerful was the Queen’s grieving at the loss of her only son that she attracted the attention of the Artists, the magical beings who created the solar system and all its planets. Furious at the gluttony of all of the dragons, the Artists changed the rules of the universe. In their rage they erased the entire Sun Dragon race, banished the Bone Dragons to Draman, and gave the Ice Dragons a small piece of land in the north, where they could do the Earth Dragons no harm. Then they added a new creature to Earth’s animal kingdom—the human being—and everything changed.

And where does my Grian fit into all of this? Skelly asked.

The Artists declared that the dragon species would remain cursed until the true love between Grian and Caden was born again, when the two would reunite all of the dragons in peace and harmony. We thought the Grian born to Allanah the witch was the one to break the curse at first, but he soon proved to be a necessary pawn to assist in the rebirth of the real Prince Grian. Your Prince Grian.

And Caden?

The Mother had begun to fade, but her face appeared again for one more moment.

No one knows. But don’t worry, little fairy—true loves always find each other.

The next second, Skelly was alone.


If there’s one thing author Annabelle Jay believes with all her heart, it’s that there is no such thing as too many dragons in a book. As fantasy writer with few other hobbies—does being bribed to run with her partner or dancing awkwardly in the kitchen count?—she spends every day following her imagination wherever it leads her.

A hippie born in the wrong decade, Annabelle has a peace sign tattoo and a penchant for hugging trees. Occasionally she takes breaks from her novels to play with her pets: Jon Snow, the albino rabbit who is constantly trying to escape; Stevie, the crested gecko that climbs glass with the hairs on its toes; and Luigi, the green tree python that lives at the foot of her bed despite her best efforts to talk her partner out of the idea.

During her day job as a professor of English, Annabelle is often assumed to be a fellow student playing a prank on the class—that is, until she hands out the syllabus. When people stop mistaking her for a recent high school graduate, she will probably be very sad.

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