This may or may not be taken as blasphemy – particularly coming from not only a fantasy reader, but a fantasy writer – but the fact is, I’m not super into dragons.
Don’t get me wrong! They can be cool and all. If they’re done right. And by “right”, I mean they need to bring more to the table than just, “We’re dragons! ‘Nough said!” If and when I ever decide to deliver a story featuring THE mythological beast synonymous with fantasy (meaning above and the beyond the cameo appearance in “The Song Caster”, and my sorta-kinda dragon character who’ll be making her debut in Xchyler Publishing’s paranormal anthology this fall), it’ll be because I’ve come up with an at least semi-original spin that I feel will do this venerable creature justice.
So, that’s the place I was coming from when I picked up a pair of dragon books by (as coincidence would have it) a pair of Rachels. Did these fire-breathing (and, in both cases, shapeshifting) lizards brings their A-game? Read on, reader…
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Blurb: As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: keep quiet, don’t cause trouble, and stay out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t fly in a family of ambitious magical predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.
Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ—a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit—Julius has one month to prove that he can be a ruthless dragon or kiss his true shape goodbye forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are considered monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.
He only hopes humans are more trustworthy than dragons…
My Thoughts: Sorry, Julius Heartstriker, but it’s true: You really are a nice guy. Like, truly. And I very much like that about you. Sure, it was also cool to watch some of your siblings do their more blatantly draconic thing – Justin’s fearless badassery, Chelsea’s deadly creepiness, and the unpredictable* Bob. (*Irony intended.) Not to mention the death spirit cat. They all did their part to help things pick up speed as the story went along, until we all went roaring through the climax. But I’m a bit of a sucker for a super sweetheart (if they happen to have an “awww!”-worthy backstory, so much the more darling), and it was a pleasure, Julius, to watch you grow – both in your partnership with Marci the mage, and into your own strengths. Way to dragon up, dude.
HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): C’mon, kids. When was the last time I told you not to read a Rachel Aaron book? The e-book’s been out for a while, and now it’s finally available in paperback, too, so if you’re a diehard physical-book-lover like me, that excuse for not giving this book your money is dead. (Also, as of recently, the first sequel is out! ^o^)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Blurb: Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
My Thoughts: So, I basically loved everything about this book. Seraphina’s passion for music, the blunt wit of her voice, pretty much any exchange between her and… well, most of the people she spoke with, but the excellent Lucian Kiggs in particular. There were mysteries afoot and a full cast of characters I cared about, including dragons religiously divorced from human emotion. The world was fascinating, and the storytelling fun. Even the glossary at the end was entertaining! I laughed. I cringed. I mentally fondled this or that turn of phrase. I yelled at the pages and earned disparaging looks from my sisters. I smacked myself for not having sought out “Seraphina” sooner, and for leaving Book Two on the library shelf when I finally snagged Book One. “Shadow Scale”, you’d better believe I’ll be coming for you.
HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): YES, SHUT UP, YES.