Vintage Treasures: Dragonfly by Frederic S. Durbin
Dragonfly was published in 1999 by Arkham House — the last novel the legendary publishing house produced in the 20th Century, and very nearly their last novel, period (they published one subsequent novel, John D. Harvey’s The Cleansing (2002), and about a dozen collections and anthologies, before effectively shutting down in 2010.)
It was an extraordinary coup for a debut novelist to win a contract from the publisher behind the earliest collections of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and numerous other major American fantasists. But Dragonfly was an extraordinary novel. The International Horror Guild nominated it as Best First Novel of the year, and Weird Tales called it “A marked success… makes us marvel that if could be a first novel.” Rambles labeled it “The perfect book for the Halloween season.”
Ace Books reprinted Dragonfly in paperback six years later, with a cover by Merritt Dekle (above). The paperback is becoming harder and harder to find these days, so when I stumbled on a new copy at Half Price Books this summer, I snapped it up immediately.
I first met Fred when I bought his terrific story “World’s End,” the tale of two warrior women both caught in the grip of prophecy, for Black Gate 15. In his review of the issue, Matthew Wuertz said:
Kian seeks to do the god Arhazh’s work by slaying a princess at World’s End. The princess Erhin seeks a crown at World’s End. Their paths seem certain to converge, but the monkey-god who follows Erhin pleads with her to return from her journey prematurely, even if greater gods demand more from her… The tale is full of action, with a bit of humor thrown in as well. It is a very fast read.
Here’s the Arkham House hardcover edition of Dragonfly, with a wraparound cover by Jason Van Hollander (click for bigger images).
Dragonfly launched an impressive career for Fred. His next two novels were:
The Star Shard (Houghton Mifflin, 2012)
A Green and Ancient Light (Saga Press, 2016)
Dragonfly was reprinted by Ace Books in October 2005. It is 327 pages, priced at $6.99 in paperback. There is no digital edition. The cover is by Merritt Dekle
Our previous coverage of Frederic Durbin includes:
Frederic S. Durbin’s The Star Shard Now on Sale
Rolling Cities and Ship Building: A Talk with Frederic S. Durbin, by Patty Templeton
Oz and Frederic S. Durbin Discuss Hallowe’en Monsters
Cover Reveal: A Green and Ancient Light by Frederic S. Durbin
Future Treasures: A Green and Ancient Light
A Downed Pilot, a Mad Duke, and a Riddle in the Grove of Monsters: A Green and Ancient Light, by Patty Templeton
Publishers Weekly Selects the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels of 2016
See all our recent Vintage Treasures here.