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"Just because something's dangerous doesn't mean it has no place in the world."
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Of Cinder and Bone is a 2016 science fiction / contemporary fantasy mashup novel by Kyoko M.

After centuries of being the most dangerous predators on the planet, dragons were hunted to extinction. That is, until Dr. Rhett “Jack” Jackson and Dr. Kamala Anjali cracked the code to bring them back. Through their research at MIT, they resurrected the first dragon anyone has seen alive since the 15th century. There’s just one problem.

Someone stole it.

Caught between two ruthless yakuza clans who want to clone the dragon, Jack and Kamala brave the dangerous streets of Tokyo to steal their dragon back in a race against time before the world is taken over by mutated, bloodthirsty monsters that will raze it to ashes.

It is the first novel in the series, followed by Of Blood and Ashes and the third novel Of Dawn and Embers.

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This series contains examples of:

     Of Cinder and Bone 

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Thankfully, Okegawa is never given the chance to act on his attraction to Kamala, but it’s definitely clear that he favors her.
  • Absurdly Sharp Claws: Pete.
  • Accents Aren't Hereditary: Jack's parents both have Southern accents, but he doesn't.
  • Action Duo: Jack and Kamala in the second half of the novel.
  • Adorkable: Jack. He’s shy and blushes a lot and is hopelessly in love with his best friend.
    Faye: God, why is it so hard to stay mad at you?
    Jack: It's the big doe eyes.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Kamala calls Jack a “useless pagal.” The latter is a term in Hindi for a foolish person. He calls her "angel" in return once they start dating.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: After the shootout in Kabukicho, Kamala patches Jack up.
  • Alliterative Name: Dr. Lana Lawson, Jack’s psychiatrist.
  • Alternate History: Dragons existed, both in prehistoric times and after the dinosaurs. They went extinct after a worldwide dragon-hunting obsession sometime in the 15th century.
  • Always Save the Girl: Okegawa only convinces Jack to surrender by threatening to kill Fujioka.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Jack tells Kamala he loves her before they almost die.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Subversion. Jack and Richard fix Jack’s front door.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jack and Kamala.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Faye loves winding Jack up. She does it on purpose, in fact.
  • Betty and Veronica: Jack’s in love with Kamala, but he still clearly is drawn to Faye in spite of it.
  • Badass in Distress: Fujioka, but like a true badass, she rescues herself.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Okegawa betrays Yagami, but he refuses to kill him, although he knows the yakuza want him dead if he doesn’t cooperate. It’s largely because they were raised together as brothers, and Okegawa never had family except for him.
  • Berserk Button: Don’t insult Kamala in front of Jack. He also becomes rather hotheaded around his father, due to their checkered past.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: You really shouldn’t call Kamala “the bitchy best friend” in front of Jack. It won’t end well.
  • Bi the Way: Faye, and possibly Kamala.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Although Jack and Faye are romantically linked, Jack’s first reaction to finding out Faye’s ex got rough with her is to ring his doorbell, smile, and break his nose, even though Faye herself took care of it that same night via Groin Attack.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: While disguised as a Fakeout Makeout, Jack and Kamala share one of these while in Japan and later before they decide to have sex.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Surprisingly, none of the humans pull this off. Pete does.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A large part of the story takes place in Japan, so some conversations are written in Hirigana. There’s also a gag phrase written in Hindi from the exasperated Kamala.
  • Blood Brothers: Yagami and Okegawa.
  • Black Sheep: Jack and Kamala in their own respective families. Jack's parents are farmers, and while both sharp people, they have no real evidence being intellectuals or interested in higher education. Conversely, Kamala's parents raised her to be a medical doctor, but shortly after she becomes one, she quits and becomes a post-doc for Jack's research project instead, much to her father's dismay.
  • Brains and Bondage: Jack. He likes to be dominant in the bedroom, but has hang ups about handcuffs due to be bullied when he was a kid.
  • Brainy Brunette: Kamala.
  • Breath Weapon: Pete can spit venom and her bite is lethally venomous as well. As we find out at the end, Baba Yaga is a fire-breathing dragon.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Fujioka is quite gorgeous.
  • A Boy and His X: Jack and the dragon Pete.
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Fujioka cuts Jack off from falling in love with her in their flashback, knowing that she can’t open up and that she’s always going to be on the road.
  • Break the Badass: Okegawa finally gets under Fujioka’s skin during interrogation by mentioning her late husband, Det. Kyoya Saito.
  • Broken Pedestal: Even though he was yakuza, Yagami held Okegawa in high regard for saving his life, only to find out later it was all staged and he’d been lying to him for years.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Both Jack and Kamala do this to their respective fathers.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Jack tries and fails multiple times to tell Kamala he’s in love with her, but is only successful when it looked like they were about to die. Oops?
  • Cannot Talk to Women: Jack’s pretty terrible at it. He gets introduced to a cute girl at a party and immediately starts talking about his research project instead of flirting back.
    Kamala: So...how did it go with Kim?
    Jack: You notice the chair is empty.
    Kamala: You talked about the research project, didn't you?
    Jack: No.
    Kamala: (glares)
    Jack: ...maybe.
    Kamala: You're so useless, Jack. (she ruffles his hair) Cheer up. The night's still young. I'm not giving up on you.
    Jack: Yet.
    Kamala: Never.
  • Casual Kink: Fujioka likes rough sex and handcuffs. Possibly duct tape as well.
  • Character Development: Jack changes from a shy bookworm to a much more emotionally balanced person capable of protecting and appreciating his loved ones. Kamala opens herself up more to taking emotional risks, as does Fujioka.
  • Childhood Friends: Yagami and Okegawa, though it’s under false pretenses.
  • Cliffhanger: Jack and Kamala get Pete back, but find out Baba Yaga has been cloned and is running amok in Tokyo. Plus, Kamala is pregnant.
  • Clone Degeneration: Part of Pete’s ridiculously accelerated growth is that she’ll die if she keeps growing at such a rate.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Okegawa tortures Fujioka to find out where Jack and Kamala were told to report in the event the three of them were separated.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Okegawa is torn between following orders and betraying his big brother.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: One of the things that Jack is unnerved by when he first sees Okegawa is the trenchcoat.
  • Cool Pet: Pete. I mean, who doesn’t want a pet dragon?
  • Declaration of Protection: Subversion. It’s Kamala who proclaims that she will protect Jack.
  • Double Agent: Subversion. Okegawa was hired by the Inagawa to infiltrate the inner circle of the Sugimoto family and the Yamaguchi-gumi. However, he does genuinely love Yagami like a brother and was upset that he had to betray him.
  • Doctor, Doctor, Doctor: Specifically referenced by Jack’s psychiatrist Dr. Lawson.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Jack goes by his nickname, not his real first name.
  • The Dragons Come Back: After Jack and Kamala's project is successful, it opens the door for new dragons to return from extinction.
  • Drinking Contest: Faye unwisely gets into one of these and inadvertently causes a bar fight.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Kamala gets a little distracted seeing Jack’s shirt off for the first time.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Jack doesn’t like his first name.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Jack also doesn’t like his middle name Bartholomew.
  • Everyone Can See It: Apparently, Jack and Kamala’s coworkers all had a running bet about when they’d get together. Kamala’s parents also immediately notice after seeing them together.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Faye uses this trope to her advantage.
  • Eye Scream: Mentioned, but the second person Pete killed died from venom spat into his eyes.
  • Facepalm: Kamala has an epic one when she finds out Jack is paying Fujioka $1,000 per day to retain her as their bodyguard. It also cues a Fun with Subtitles moment, as the phrase she exclaims in Hindi translates to 'Shove all the planets in the solar system up my ass!'
  • Failure Knight: Subversion. Jack is so fiercely protective of both Kamala and Pete after Det. Stubbs is murdered by the yakuza because he feels responsible and wants to bring them to justice.
  • Fakeout Makeout: Kamala kisses Jack to distract both him and the yakuza following them.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Subverted. Jack's father Richard didn't stop him from pursuing his interest in dragons, but it was clear Rick disliked his career choice and wanted him to go into a more practical field. Smaller clues are given about his father's disinterest in the arts, like Jack naming their dog D'Artagnan (nicknamed Dart) and Rick rolled his eyes, but accepted it anyway.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Okegawa pretends to be easy going, but he’s ruthless.
  • Flipping the Bird: Jack really doesn’t care for Yagami.
  • Flirtatious Smack on the Ass: Subversion. Kamala asks Jack to pinch her after they find out the eggs have started gestating after only 24 hours and, well, she didn’t say where.
  • Foreshadowing: It turns out Jack’s dream about a little girl came true.
    • Jack and Kamala's mention of Baba Yaga, the deadliest dragon of them all, turns out to be prophetic.
  • Fossil Revival: Subverted. Jack and Kamala aren't using samples from prehistoric times, but they are DNA samples from centuries ago that they augment in order to create the dragon eggs and sperm used for the project.
  • Freudian Excuse: Yagami’s reprehensible actions towards Jack and Kamala were out of love for his adoptive brother, Okegawa, and to inadvertently avoid having to crawl back to his father after his project got derailed.
  • Friends with Benefits: Faye suggests this. Jack considers it, but ultimately declines the offer.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Kamala slowly starts to grow romantic feelings for Jack over the course of their ordeal getting Pete back.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Kamala and Jack attempt not to kill any of the yakuza, but they also don’t pull their punches, so to speak.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Subversion. Once Kamala finds out Fujioka is a woman, she starts getting protective of Jack and realizes she has unresolved feelings.
  • Groin Attack: Implied. Kamala mentions after Faye’s ex laid hands on her, he was singing soprano for a while.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Yagami gives one to Jack, who is visibly shaken as he realizes he’s not wrong.
  • Headbutt of Love: Shared after Jack tries to “break up” with Kamala in the R&D facility.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Fujioka.
  • Here There Were Dragons: Literally. There were various species of dragons before the dragon-hunting era wiped them all out.
  • Heroic BSoD: After Pete flies away, Jack is devastated that she slipped right through his fingers.
  • Hidden Depths: On the surface, Jack seems like your typical straight-laced, shy science nerd, but he’s actually got unresolved anger issues and he enjoys rough sex.
  • Holding Hands: Kamala holds Jack’s hand while they wait for his parents to arrive. It’s not the first time they’ve done it, but it’s rather significant.
  • Honor Before Reason: Okegawa could have turned on Yagami at any point over the plus ten years he spied on him, but he never did until he had no choice. Even then, he refused to kill him when he had the chance.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Jack is 6’2’’ and Kamala is 5’4’’.
  • I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: The main reason Jack keeps his feelings for Kamala to himself. Eventually, it just becomes too much to hold in.
  • I Owe You My Life: Yagami to Okegawa.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Fujioka’s is bad enough that she has to put a pillow over her face during Jack’s, uh, oral presentation.
    • Kamala's is so intense that she calls Jack by his first name.
  • Imprinting: Jack and Kamala explain that most dragons do this, as Pete demonstrates. She’s only affectionate and protective of them, and no one else. However, they think this is because she was the only surviving offspring. If she’d had siblings, she may have been more social.
  • Inconvenient Attraction: Jack is quite distraught when he realizes he loves Kamala, both because of his lack of luck with women and because they’re partners as well as best friends.
  • Indy Ploy: By the time Fujioka and Kamala show up at the R&D facility to save Jack, it all becomes this.
  • Insult of Endearment: Kamala’s “useless pagal” nickname for Jack.
  • Ironic Name: Pete is both female and named after the famous friend of a Disney dragon.
  • It's All My Fault: Jack blames himself for the death of Detective Stubbs.
  • A Kiss For Luck: Faye lays one on Jack.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Jack cracks his before going up to Faye’s ex and breaking his nose.
  • Lets Wait Awhile: Kamala attempts this, but with the added stress of being attacked outside of her apartment, she’s finding it difficult not to sleep with Jack. Spoiler alert: she does.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Jack and Kamala bicker and tease each other constantly.
  • Likes Older Women: Fujioka is in her forties and Jack is in his mid-twenties during their affair.
  • Living MacGuffin: The dragon, Pete. While the method to create her is stolen by the yakuza, studying her puts them at an advantage to clone more dragons in the future.
  • Love at First Sight: Kamala for Jack. She even notes it in her speech to Keiko Sugimoto, though she doesn’t realize until later that the look he gave her was romantic adoration.
  • Mafia Princess: Keiko Sugimoto is fully aware of her father’s dealings with Yamaguchi-gumi and doesn’t seem to have an issue with the organization.
  • Mama Bear / Papa Wolf: Jack and Kamala become very protective of Pete.
  • Meaningful Name: Rhett means “passionate” or “enthusiastic”, which is quite fitting for him.
    • Kamala means “red lotus”; her favorite color is red and her mother calls her “my flower.”
    • Jack's father Richard is kind of a dick.
  • Messy Hair: Jack’s hair always sticks up in the front, usually because he reflexively runs his hands through it when he works.
  • Mood Whiplash: After the intense scene to find out if Fujioka’s alive, her first words to her rescuers are, “Took your fucking time, didn’t you?” Plus, in the ambulance, after Jack admits he can’t stop staring at her because he’s glad she’s alive, she calls him a pussy.
  • Motive Rant: Both Yagami and Okegawa get one.
  • Nerd Action Hero: Jack.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: By kidnapping Jack to cure the dragon, Yagami and Okegawa unwittingly give him the chance to steal it back.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Subversion. Jack is kidnapped only to be released into Sugimoto’s R&D facility to help cure his dragon rather than being tortured or killed. It bears mentioning that he does take a liking to their espresso machine.
  • Noble Demon: Okegawa staunchly refuses to kill his adoptive brother Yagami.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Okegawa forces Jack to turn himself in or he’ll have Fujioka killed.
  • Oblivious to Love: Kamala doesn’t put it together until Jack says it out loud.
  • Opposites Attract: Both Jack and Kamala and Jack and Faye.
  • Pet the Dog: It may be simple misogyny, but Okegawa makes it clear that Kamala isn’t to be harmed during their dispute.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Kamala knocks Yagami—a grown man twice her size—on his ass with just one punch.
  • Poorly Timed Confession: Hoo boy, does Jack pick the wrong time to tell Kamala he loves her.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: Jack is understandably a little woozy after Kamala kisses him.
  • Precision F-Strike: Fujioka. “Took your fucking time, didn’t you?”
  • Raised by Orcs: In this case, Okegawa was a street urchin drafted and raised by the Inagawa-kai to infiltrate the Yamaguchi-gumi.
  • Ransacked Room: Okegawa tosses Jack’s place to get the data about the project, but also because he’s an asshole and wanted to leave a message.
  • Really Gets Around: Faye.
  • The Reveal: Pete’s enormous size after being abducted.
  • Save the Villain: Although they really don’t want to, Jack and Kamala discuss that they should probably save Yagami along with the kidnapped Fujioka.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Yagami could have surrendered Okegawa after he stole the dragon, but instead he quietly pays off the right people to get them both back to Tokyo.
  • Sex God: Jack doesn’t get laid often, but when he does, he’s quite good at it.
    Fujioka: Congratulations. You’re the valedictorian of cunnilingus.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Jack. He doesn’t care for jeans or casual wear.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Apparently, Yagami had a habit of calling Kamala Jack’s girlfriend.
  • Shipper on Deck: Despite having lingering feelings for Kamala herself, Faye actually encourages Jack to go after her.
  • Shirtless Scene: Kamala gets rather distracted when she sees Jack shirtless for the first time.
  • Shoulder-Sized Dragon: Pete starts out this way. She doesn't stay that way, though.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Jack is shocked when Faye quotes The Princess Bride before wishing him good night.
    • Jack references the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Captain America (Chris Evans) in a comparison to explain Pete's abnormal biology. Though, he does mention the Matt Salinger and Reb Brown versions as well.
    • Kamala's Fun with Subtitles moment of exasperation is an homage to a line from Firefly, where Wash exclaims, "Shove all the planets in the solar system up my ass!" in Chinese. Kamala says it in Hindi.
    • Reign of Fire is thrown a mention, as it was partially responsible for the book's creation, according to the author.
    • Jack mentions that the most popular question he usually gets after people find out what his project is about is if he's seen what happened in Jurassic Park.
    • Faye is reading a novel from the Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels series when Jack and Kamala arrive home after the unveiling of the dragon eggs.
    • Misaki Fujioka's name is an homage to two of the author's favorite female anime characters: Misaki Ayuzawa from Kaichou wa Maid-sama! and Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Though Yagami’s speech does wear him down, Jack is all too happy to tell him to screw off with his high-handed beliefs.
  • Sleep Cute: Kamala cuddles with Jack after their ordeal in Kabukicho. Too bad it’s interrupted by a nightmare.
  • Smiting Evil Feels Good: According to Jack, punching Faye’s abusive ex felt so good he almost had to change his pants afterward.
  • Smooch of Victory: Jack gets overexcited after they incapacitate Okegawa and gives Kamala a victory kiss. Fortunately, it happens so fast that he doesn’t realize it until much later. It should be noted that Kamala didn’t even bat an eye at the kiss, either.
  • Smug Snake: Okegawa.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Poor Jack is bad with women and nervous around children and strangers.
  • Strangely Arousing: Jack gets a Raging Stiffie after Kamala threatens him.
    Jack: (lying on the floor of his hotel room, after Kamala flattened him) I have the weirdest boner right now.
  • Suicide Mission: Fujioka tells Kamala the odds of rescuing Jack without the help of the police are pretty much zero, but Kamala still decides they should go after him.
  • Surprisingly Normal Backstory: Kamala, most notably. Though her father is stubborn and hardheaded, she grew up in a completely normal, loving household and has no signs of trauma whatsoever. Her only gripe is that her parents groomed her for being a doctor from birth, so she ended up rebelling when she realized her life would hold no surprises if she stayed passive.
  • Take That!: Kamala makes one at 50 Shades of Grey.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: While Jack’s attractiveness isn’t detailed, quite a few people have said he’s good looking.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Jack.
  • Tattooed Crook: Actually a plotpoint, since irezumi tattoos are rare and it gives Jack, Kamala, and Fujioka a lead to follow once the dragon tracker fails.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Averted. Neither Jack nor Kamala bat an eye at Fujioka only having one bed in her guest room, since they’d shared one previously.
  • The Tease: Faye.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: “I’m not the one with the broken nose, bitch.”
  • Took a Level in Badass: Jack and Kamala by the end.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Faye and Kamala. Faye has girly traits, but has a Tomboy personality.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Subverted. Jack admits to being attracted to Faye’s outrageous personality and looks, but his heart belongs to Kamala.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: After the Tokyo ordeal, Jack and Faye settle into this trope.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Okegawa firmly believes that after they have the dragon and the data that they should just kill Jack, but Yagami disagrees.
  • World of Snark: Pretty much the whole main cast is snarky, both heroes and villains.

    Of Blood and Ashes 

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The world's deadliest dragon is loose. God help us all.

The world's deadliest dragon, the infamous Baba Yaga, is loose on the streets of Tokyo. Dr. Rhett "Jack" Jackson and Dr. Kamala Anjali have been tasked with helping the government take down a dragon the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex after it sends part of the city up in flames. Things worsen when they lose track of dragon in none other than Aokigahara, the Suicide Forest—a section of woods in Japan that is rumored to be one of the most haunted places on earth. They've also got the yakuza who cloned the dragon hellbent on getting her back, and they don't care who they kill in order to re-capture the dragon. Jack and Kamala are joined by CIA field agent William Fry and dragon-hunting expert Juniper Snow as they infiltrate the forest to hunt the dragon before she can hurt anyone else. Between the ruthless yakuza hot on their trail and the growing mistrust in their small hunting party, it will take a miracle for Jack and Kamala to make it out alive...

  • Action Dad / Action Mom: Subverted. Kamala's pregnant with Jack's child when they go after Baba Yaga.
  • Action Survivor: Faye.
  • Bad Dreams: Understandably, Jack has chronic awful nightmares after surviving Aokigahara. It's only when Faye comes over to spend the night that he gets some rest.
  • Bad Vibrations: As he pauses to catch his breath, Jack notices the impact tremors that are right on top of each other, meaning the giant killer dragon has now broken into a sprint after him.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. Faye gets a nice goose egg on the back of her head and a bruise around her cheek after surviving Winston's kidnapping.
    • However, it's also Lampshaded with Kamala, who somehow escapes the entire debacle without a scratch on her.
    Fujioka: For God's sake, you don't have a scratch on you yet again. Are you just indestructible or something?
    Kamala: No, I just know how to stay out of the line of fire.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: We find out even Jack has a breaking point. Aisaka finds out the hard way and it leads to her death.
  • BFG: Agent Fry is toting a Desert Eagle .50 as a backup plan for Baba Yaga.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Referenced by name, in fact. There's a fake one after Fry and Kamala find Baba Yaga already subdued, but it's then played straight not long afterward.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The team finds and recaptures Baba Yaga, but Kamala and Jack take a break from their relationship after he tells her he kissed Faye.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Somewhat Justified. From what Aisaka knows of Jack, he's no more than competent in protecting himself, and she left him no tools to get himself loose from the tree, so her revenge plot makes a least a bit of sense with that in mind. However, she still massively underestimates him and pays for it with her life.
  • Breath Weapon: Baba Yaga's fire is literally hot enough to melt solid steel.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Jack, while explaining that he knows how to use an automatic weapon. Snow perfectly sets him up for a The Mask of Zorro reference.
    Snow: Do you know how to use that thing?
    Jack: (imitating Antonio Banderas) Yes. Barrel end points at the other man.
    Snow: (Death Glare)
  • Bring It Back Alive: The yakuza want Baba Yaga brought back alive. Jack and Kamala want to retrieve her alive as well, but it makes no nevermind to Fry and Snow, which causes a conflict of interest in their group.
  • Damsel in Distress: Acknowledged and averted with Faye, who saves herself simply by being observant and waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.
  • Dark-Skinned Redhead: Juniper Snow.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Agent Fry.
  • Death by Genre Savviness: Aisaka knew Snow by reputation and doesn't take chances coming up against her fairly, so she uses Jack as a human shield. It backfires. Literally. Snow simply shoots Aisaka right through Jack's side.
  • Dragons Are Demonic: In history, they have been villified for preying on children and livestock when they were living outside of heavily populated areas. Baba Yaga is by far the most villified dragon of the species, as she is the dragon equivalent of a T-Rex and is capable of destruction on an epic scale. However, it's Deconstructed to show that her erratic, seemingly evil behavior stems from having an underdeveloped brain that causes mood swings. She's just an animal.
  • The Dreaded: Baba Yaga is the most feared dragon in history for a reason.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: Baba Yaga's Tokyo attack.
  • From Bad to Worse: The second the team lands in Aokigahara, everything proceeds to start going wrong immediately and it gets worse with every hour they spend there.
  • Genius Loci: Referenced by Dr. Friedman. It's believed the forest itself is malevolent and lures people to their deaths.
  • Giant Flyer: Baba Yaga.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Sugimoto company's cloning of Baba Yaga does indeed create the creature, but after a mysterious person aids in her escape, she is unmatched in her power as she evades capture and resists most of the forces sent to subdue or kill her.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Baba Yaga's roar is terrifying.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: It's obvious, but Aokigahara aka The Suicide Forest.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Faye is well aware of the trope, as she already has some prepared for Jack and Kamala after the Baba Yaga attack. It's invoked again after Winston attacks them.
  • Ignored Expert: There are shades of this in the first book, but in this one it's more explicitly shown why Jack and Kamala had only ever planned to clone the non-dangerous species of dragons. The untold destruction and death Baba Yaga wreaks over Tokyo and even Aokigahara is exactly why no one but them should have had access to the cloning technology that brought the dragons to life.
  • Infant Immortality: Ultimately played straight, but certainly toyed with, as Kamala faces the exact same dire situations as Jack while pregnant.
  • Ironic Echo: "Die well."
  • Love Triangle: It finally comes to a head when Jack and Faye kiss after their brush with death and it sets off a true love triangle, or love square if you count Faye's complicated feelings for Kamala that she refuses to confess.
  • Made of Iron: Subverted. From start to finish, let's list off Jack's injuries: he's still recovering from a gunshot wound in his bicep, he's got a bruise to the temple from being punched, two black eyes from being headbutted by Winston the hitman, bruised ribs, a sprained wrist, and finally a gunshot wound through his side. It's no wonder he collapses at the end.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: What Kamala's father fears in the long run. He was already dismissive of Jack when they met in the first book and he fears what associating with him will do to Kamala's reputation. He also has been through the headache of marrying outside of his race and religion and doesn't want Kamala to face backlash from their family if she does decide to marry Jack someday.
  • Mama Bear: Edie is vehemently against Jack going after Baba Yaga. It's directly in contrast with the first book where she isn't thrilled that he goes after Pete, but she understands the deep emotional connection he has to the dragon. Here, he's going out of his comfort zone into a haunted forest to hunt a dragon the size of a T-Rex with at least two people he doesn't know. Her fear and anger are completely justified and his choice causes a rift in their relationship.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Aokigahara. The others see nothing out of the ordinary in the forest, but how much of Jack's hallucinations were fictional and how much was real?
  • Mood Whiplash: During Faye's final showdown with Winston, he calmly tells her to put the briefcase and car keys down before he seriously injures her, to which she responds with, "Suck my dick."
    • Additionally, Jack saves Snow's life and immediately begins rubbing it in her face. It may seem out of character and it is—by now, he's completely unhinged from being drugged. It goes even further after Snow saves Jack's life in return after Aisaka catches up to him and he's completely livid that she actually shot him.
  • Monster Clown: Jack's first hallucination (that he recognizes, anyway).
  • Mook Lieutenant: Aisaka Tomoda, Okegawa's second-in-command.
  • Mushroom Samba: Both for comedic and non-comedic purposes. Aisaka drugs Jack with a hallucinogen as revenge for putting her boss Okegawa in the hospital. Jack experiences intense episodes of hallucinations, from killer clowns to pink elephants. It also affects his behavior somewhat by the time he runs into Snow and is fully off his tits on drugs by this point, as well as being sore, exposed to the harsh cold, and scared out of his mind.
  • No Name Given: We never find out Winston's real name.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Baba Yaga. She destroys out of fear and territorial behavior, not out of malice.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Winston.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Kamala's mother Sahana is incredibly understanding and accepting of both her daughter's career and her relationship with Jack.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: There are thirty-seven identified species of dragons thus far and they are directly related to both dinosaurs and reptiles. They also show signs of cognition that are uncharacteristic in reptiles. Pete, for instance, has mannerisms and characteristics that are more similar to birds of prey or mammals.
  • Percussive Therapy: Faye, after kissing Jack and realizing she's screwed up the two most important relationships in her life at the same time with that one kiss. She berates herself as she performs said therapy on a reflex bag.
  • Prehistoric Monster: Baba Yaga.
  • Professional Killer: Winston. He changes his face with every assignment, making it impossible to tell what he looks like, and has allegedly been at it for twenty years.
  • Protectorate: Jack and Kamala for each other.
  • Red Shirt Army: Baba Yaga pretty much makes mincemeat of the mercs and yakuza who show up in Aokigahara.
  • Salt and Pepper: Detectives Robert Carmichael and Ernie Houston.
  • Shout-Out: The hitman insists that Faye calls him Winston after the character in the 2001 action-comedy The Mexican.
    • Jack references The Mask of Zorro in the forest with Snow.
    • Jack mentions the Big Damn Heroes moment when Fry and Kamala show up on a helicopter just before he and Snow were about to be overtaken by the enemy.
  • The Shrink: Dr. Lana Lawson and Dr. Bruno Washington, Jack and Kamala's psychiatrists respectively. Both are of the benevolent and friendly variety.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Jack and Kamala intensely dislike Juniper Snow, and it's very much reciprocated, but they don't have a choice but to work together to capture Baba Yaga.
    Snow: (about Jack) I swear to all the stars in the night sky, I have ne'er hated another person on this earth as much as I hate you.
  • Theme Naming: Confirmed that the format for the books in the series will be "Of X and X." Usually, it's two nouns, with one of them pertaining to an attribute or trait of dragons.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Averted. Jack and Kamala both enrolled themselves into therapy after the events of the first book. Jack even cites that he wouldn't have made it as far as he had afterward if he hadn't started going.
  • Toilet Humor: Jack escapes detection from Baba Yaga by (reluctantly) jumping into a pile of her droppings. The droppings mask his smell and fool the dragon into thinking he isn't there.
  • Trapped with Monster Plot: Jack and Baba Yaga in the underground tunnels, most prominently.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: Jack and Kamala's cloning method, via the yakuza and the Sugimoto company. Jack's research had only just been initially successful when the yakuza steal it, and so the consequences or long term effects and results haven't even come about yet, but they still go on to clone Baba Yaga in spite of it. Naturally, it backfires on a friggin' epic scale.
  • The Un-Reveal: Winston's real name.
    • Whether or not what Jack saw was just a result of hallucinogen or if any of the things he saw were actually ghosts in the forest.
  • Villainous Rescue: Subverted. Kamala and Fry reach a part of the forest where there are too many mercenaries for them to face alone, and Baba Yaga proceeds to wipe all but two of them out without hesitation.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Kamala outright bodyslams Snow when she tries to drag her back to the campsite rather than going after the lost and stranded Jack.
  • Worthy Opponent: Winston recognizes Faye's tenacity and wants her to become a fully realized version of this trope for him.

     Of Dawn and Embers 

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"Jack...why is there a dragon in our backyard?"

It's been six months since Dr. Rhett "Jack" Jackson and Dr. Kamala Anjali had their dragon cloning project shut down by the government. Just when they think they've gotten their lives back together, an agency within the government hits them with another suckerpunch: a criminal organization has cloned dozens of dragons in order to hold vicious dragon fighting rings. The government recruits Jack and Kamala to help them track down the organization. Jack and Kamala set out to put a stop to the illegal fights before any more dragons die…or worse, escape.

  • 10-Minute Retirement: When Calloway first comes to Jack with the assignment, he turns it down, but Kamala convinces him they should accept it to prevent things from getting worse and hurting them or others in the long run.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Winston always calls Faye “blondie.”
  • Anger Born of Worry: Jack snaps at Kamala, but later reveals it’s because he’s stressed out about having the same strained relationship with their daughter as he has with his father.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Faye manages to unearth one by memorizing the key swipes on Winston’s burner phone, which ultimately saves his life after he’s shot.
  • Ascended Meme: Libby offers to babysit Naila, and Jack agrees but insists that if her first word is "yeet," he's coming after her.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: The smugglers. The retrieval team are understandably livid.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Libby tries to flirt with Jack at first, but he develops more of a step-brother dynamic with her as they continue interacting. He even talks her out of going on a rage-fueled suicidal mission to find Larry once they realize he’s a mole.
  • Big WHAT: Faye’s reaction to finding out Winston was married, and his ex is also a hitter.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted, but Calloway mentions the trope anyway.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Calloway and Libby.
  • Cat Like Dragons: Pete very much shows the behaviors of a common housecat.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Faye is caught in one. If she tells Jack and Kamala or the authorities about the hit, Winston will back out and leave the assassin—which they both later learn is his crazy ex—to take them out, but if she helps him, she’s now an accessory to whatever he does. Even if she can prove to the cops that she was aiding him under duress, it still doesn’t mean she won’t be charged with something eventually.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Kamala suffers a doozy of one after the Nordic sea serpent incident.
  • Cold Reading: Stella does one on Faye and Faye returns the favor.
  • Contract on the Hitman: Winston mentions he had been in Cambridge/Boston clearing up one of these contracts, after he killed the driver of his assassination attempt on Jack and Faye, but the driver turned out to have Mob ties.
  • Demolitions Expert: A lesser version of the trope, but Winston describes Stella as “old-fashioned” and being rather good with explosives. He’s proven right not long afterward.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Libby points out the fact that Jack was basically willing to die for her after only knowing her for a few days.
  • Dye or Die: Subverted. Faye wears a wig, has colored contact lenses, and dyes her eyebrows so no one will recognize her.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Stella calls Winston “Pooh Bear.”
  • Evil Mentor: Stella questions if Winston is this for Faye, but he denies it. Faye, however, is still unsure of Winston’s true intentions.
  • Exasperated Perp: Shannon recruits Jack to break Zhang specifically because of this trope.
  • The Family That Slays Together: Stella and Winston, during their marriage.
  • Flirting Under Fire: Calloway and the female SWAT officer.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Libby is impulsive and hot-tempered, whereas Calloway is level-headed and patient.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Libby. Faye also has some tinkering experience, with her dragon tracker.
  • Good Taming, Evil Taming: Subverted. Jack and Kamala intended to clone dragons to study the non-threatening species and someday release them into the wild to rebuild damaged ecosystems; the yakuza and other interested parties are cloning dragons with the intention of bringing back the dragon hunts.
  • Groin Attack: Libby snaps when she gets face to face with Lackey Larry, who turns out to be a mole who almost got her brother killed and she manages to get him once in the crotch before Jack pulls her off of him.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The Nordic sea serpent’s horrifying wail.
  • Heroes Unlimited: Instead of just Jack and Kamala, they join up with Shannon, Libby, and Calloway to continue their task of trying to capture the dragons and shut down the smugglers.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Winston is in no way a good person, nor does he have a Heart of Gold, but he does have a soft spot for Faye. Stella claims he’s actually a sweet guy for an assassin, enough to nickname him Pooh Bear.
  • I Am Not My Father: Jack’s internal struggling with the baby on the way has a lot to do with his strained relationship with his own father. He worries he’ll raise the kid with the same psychological issues he had growing up.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Faye infiltrates the facility by lucking out and seducing a security guard so he’ll let her in, pretending that she “lost” her security card.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: How both Stella and Winston got into the facility. Faye uses a different variation, instead impersonating a recently hired intern.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Calloway and the SWAT officer’s reaction to the dark, locked shipping container is exactly this trope.
  • Like Brother and Sister: After Libby reveals she’s mostly just pulling his leg by flirting with him initially, Libby and Jack settle into this relationship.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The instructions left on the hit for Jack and Kamala.
  • Mean Boss: Seriously, Shannon is not a nice fellow by any stretch of the imagination. To the point where when Jack punched him when they first met, his accompanying agent didn’t even report the assault and Shannon had to lie about it since “there were no witnesses.”
  • Missing Mom: Calloway and Libby’s mother.
  • The Mole: Lackey Larry.
  • Morality Pet: Faye appears to be one for Winston.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Highlander dragon is no joke. The Nordic sea serpent is borderline, as it only sounds a little scary, but proves to be almost as deadly as Baba Yaga.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: Some of the dragons are implied to be aggressive, loners, or foul-tempered even before being bred by criminals who egg them on to kill each other. This is exactly why Jack and Kamala had carefully selected non-dangerous species when they began the project.
  • No Pregger Sex: Averted. It’s heavily implied Jack, Kamala, and Faye are all still sexually active even this far into her pregnancy.
  • No-Tell Motel: Exclusively what Winston uses whenever he’s in town on a job.
  • Noble Demon: Firstly, Winston coming to Faye about the assignment rather than letting it go. Secondly, Winston saves Faye’s life in the train yard.
  • Perky Goth: Libby. She’s tattooed, pierced, wears black, and yet one of the sweetest characters.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jack, once he realizes what the black-tinted water inside the pool in the shipping container is a prelude to.
    • Winston, once he sees the laser scope focused on Faye.
  • Overprotective Dad: The kid’s not even born yet and Jack is already showing signs of this trope.
  • Polyamory: Jack, Kamala, and Faye appear to be in a healthy, honest polygamous relationship with each other. They balance time that they spend together and often pair off at different points while still being loving and compassionate when all three of them are together. However, since Jack and Kamala work together, they have to overcome Faye’s feelings of being left out of important decisions, like the one to offer help to the government.
  • Professional Killer: Stella and Winston. And they were married hitters, no less.
  • Promotion to Parent: Though he is still alive, Libby and Calloway’s father suffered a lost limb and Calloway had to step in to help raise his sister as his father struggled to recover.
  • Properly Paranoid: Faye. Winston warned her in the previous novel that he’d be back once the heat was off, and it turns out, she was right to expect his return in under a year.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Hoo boy. Winston’s ex-wife is a piece of work, to say the least.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Possibly implied with Winston, if Stella is any indication. They were happily married until the incident in Harlem broke them up.
  • Red Herring: Agent Shannon seems like the possible culprit for who ordered the hit, but it turns out it's Lackey Larry.
  • Rose-Haired Girl: Libby.
  • Running Gag: Jack’s deadpan delivery of “that’s racist” to the Calloway siblings.
    • Poor Jack has now been shot three times over the course of the series. The third time, he finally shouts, "Why does everyone keep shooting me?!"
  • Secret Test of Character: Subverted. When Winston returns to confront Faye in Florida, he rather easily allows her the upper hand to get his gun, but it turns out it was never loaded to begin with, which Faye figures out rather than trying to shoot him.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: The arctic dragon is among the rarest of all dragons. Less than one hundred had ever been spotted in the wild.
  • Shout-Out: As with the previous novels, references abound.
    • Jack can't help but quote Highlander as soon as they begin discussing the dragon's anatomy.
    • Faye's fake ID is Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird from Marvel Comics.
    • Jack and Libby fervently discuss which of the Avengers is better: Captain America or Thor.
  • Spit Take: The novel opens with one from Jack when they find Pete in the backyard.
  • The Stoic: Agent Shannon, very much so. If he cracks a smile at all, it’s usually while saying something awful.
  • Stupidest Thing I've Ever Heard: Jack’s opinion of Shannon and Calloway willingly walking into the trap laid by the dragon smugglers, although they have tons of backup.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The Nordic sea serpent and the female Netherland dragon.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Averted with Jack and Kamala, but played straight with Faye. No surprise, though—Faye is extremely defensive and doesn’t like discussing her true feelings.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Winston doesn’t know much about dragons, but he figures the flamethrower ought to do the trick for the Nordic sea serpent.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Winston’s quiet “Ah, hell” when he sees the laser scope.
  • Thrill Seeker: Calloway admits this is part of why he captures predators for a living.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Faye is able to break a chokehold and get Winston’s gun when he first resurfaces, which seems to impress even him. She also is competent enough to memorize Winston’s burner phone code, call a Back-Alley Doctor, find a proper hideout, and then destroy all the evidence of their activities before Winston even wakes up.
  • Vague Age: Winston’s features, which he changes frequently, means his age is pretty much indeterminable. According to small clues he’s given Faye (although he could very well be lying), he can be anywhere from forty to sixty years old.
  • Volleying Insults: If you leave Jack and Shannon in the same space for too long, it invariably ends up this way.
  • Wham Line:
    “Our cover’s blown. She was waiting for us the whole time.”
    “She who?”
    “Stella. My ex-wife.”
    • “Jack…why is there a dragon in our backyard?”
  • What If the Baby Is Like Me?: Jack frets about this quite a bit, and with justification, as he has a penchant for getting into trouble and occasionally loses his temper if provoked.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: Jack and Kamala are quickly becoming this trope, as this is the second time the government has asked them to step in to capture rogue dragons and stop the illegal cloning organization.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Zhang’s reaction to seeing Jack again.

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