Candles and Thorns
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My project is a 50-80 page fantasy novella, dealing in themes of courage, changing institutions, and interpersonal relationships. It is the story of Vas Pennery, a young farm boy whose quiet lifestyle is threatened when a death cult takes root in the sleepy village of Riversend. Vas Pennery seeks to take action against a cult that is heavily inspired by death cults of Latin America and Santa Muerte, a saint in Mexican folk Catholicism who has a strained relationship with Rome. When Vas struggles to find a way to save the village from dark forces, his friends and other villagers antagonize him. The village of Riversend serves as the backdrop and ultimately the society that this cult and the church it takes over, disrupts. While many modern fantasy novels and stories cover themes similar to my own, my creative artifact specifically utilizes the Butlerian, sensual creative writing technique. Additionally, my story blends high fantasy tropes and low fantasy realism with modern psychology and social science research. Major themes in my story include courage, the challenge society faces when institutions undergo a change during times of peace, and the interpersonal relationships and interactions of people suffering from depression, grief, and fear. The main problem I seek to solve is how interpersonal relationships are affected by institutional and societal change, the nature of cults and the personalities drawn and repulsed by them, how those personalities relate to institutions and society, and how and why people have the desire to take action but the fail to do so. I will address these problems with literary fiction writing methods in a fantasy genre which combines key elements of high and low fantasy into, perhaps, a new subgenre altogether. Behind this writing method will be anthropological, psychological, sociological, and historical research on humans and society.
Sword and Sorcery
Aggie Creative Collective
Ashley, Reagan (2019). Candles and Thorns. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from