Description from Author: When the dangerous rogue dragon Anya crash lands in an isolated mountain village during a snowstorm, Kiri saves her life. Anya awakens seemingly cured of her madness and in thanks offers to show Kiri the country outside her village. Kiri seizes the opportunity.
At the royal court, Kiri learns that the construction of the Great Mountain Road has opened the way to dangerous magic. One has already been murdered because of it–and with the murderer still on the loose, Kiri realizes Anya may be the next target.
To protect Anya, Kiri begins her own search for the murderer, and for those seeking to profit by harvesting the magic in the mountains. To find the answers, she will have to follow the trail of Pristina Aikaterine, a long-vanished member of a league devoted to the hunting of magical creatures.
Meanwhile, 200 years in the past, Pristina races to prevent the rising civil war.
Book Review: This is a basically a Fantasy murder mystery with dragons and a very scientific sort of magic. There’s political intrigue and adventure, but not a great deal of epic fights or cultural diversity (no elves, trolls, goblins, etc.; it seems to be just humans and dragons). But it does have its fair share of action and adventure shared between dual storylines (we get to read about the events in the past as they influence the present, the two taking turns unfolding as we read). Overall, it was a very entertaining read, as the mystery kept me guessing as to who was truly behind everything.
So here’s a look at the book, covering its Narration, Content, Characters, World Building, Artwork, and Overall Response.
Narration: Three out of Five. This is probably the weakest part of the novel. The description isn’t remarkable or in-depth, and I frequently wanted to know more about the places we were visiting. We only reached the level of detail I longed for when the action demanded it, like in the beginning when Anya crashed into a barn or later, when Kiri was chasing a mysterious assailant along the cliffs of the sea.
Also, there were times when I felt like the dual storylines were a touch frustrating. I wasn’t that interested in Pristina’s plot, save for during certain scenes, and it felt like it interrupted the action and flow of Kiri’s story more than anything. Still, there were clues to the present that cropped up in that past, which made me all that more eager to return to Kiri and the present.
Content: Four out of Five. It takes a while to setup, but once Kiri learns about the murder behind Anya’s madness, the story really picked up and changed from a “what will become of this young woman who saved a dragon’s life” to a classic “whodunnit” (with just the teensiest touch of romance; even though this is classed as New Adult, it felt more Young Adult than anything, since there is little to no language, no sexual content, and, for the most part, Young Adult concerns like belonging, standing up for yourself, embracing the way you look, etc.)
And one of the benefits of the dual storyline is it keeps things moving. While one plotline is still “gaining steam,” the other might be in the middle of scouting at a secret mine or under attack from mercenaries. So, even though I wasn’t as interested in the Pristina portion of the plot, I felt that it did provide valuable variety.
Characters: Three out of Five. The characters were not particularly new and inventive, but I did feel they were at least strong. Kiri was my favorite, with her longing to belong and her logical, rational way at dissecting what goes on around her. Pristina struck me as impulsive and defensive, with a definite need to prove herself to…who, I’m not sure. Herself, I guess. And Anya was typical dragon: clever, full of herself, and quick to do whatever she feels is required by the situation (she reminded me a bit of Ramoth from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series).
What really made this book interesting was the side characters and trying to figure out which of them was involved in killing a dragon, and why. Honestly, without the mystery, this would probably have just been another fantasy dragon book.
Artwork: Subjective. The cover is amazing, I think. Beautiful, evocative, and…well, it’s a flying wyvern dragon with gold swirls in the background. Fantasy imagery at its finest, it definitely made me want to read the story behind the image.
World Building: Four out of Five. It felt like the world of the story was developed, but we didn’t get to know about the details, similar to what might happen if we visited another country and didn’t have time to focus on the diversity or soak in the culture. I’d be interested in learning much more about the country of Rak and how it operates–politics, religion, morality, international relations, and the nature and “jobs” of other dragons than those in Anya’s class–but it was a murder mystery, foremost, so the author may not have felt she had time to bring other elements into the story.
Overall Response: Fourteen out of Twenty, or 3.5 overall. In some ways, I felt like the “sleek/sparse” narration of the story was a carryover from mystery novels, which don’t always go into as much detail, culture-wise, as fantasy books, but because this is a crossover novel, I feel like the lack of narrative details would hurt this story on a second-read, when you already know the solution to the mystery.
But, simply as a mystery (one with action, adventure, dragons and suspense) it’s a great read and a good addition to the fantasy offerings available today.
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Copyright 2016 Andrea Lundgren
Cover used by permission from Cecelia Isaac