Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: 3 October 2017
Rating: 4 stars
‘Asha lured the dragon with a story.’
I will start by saying that I was given an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
This book reaffirms my love of YA fantasy and my love of dragons. The world Ciccarelli has created is new and exciting. I adore the idea of telling stories to dragons and having the dragons tell you stories in return. I highly recommend!
Our protagonist, Asha is a dragon slayer and she wants to destroy them all. This is her amends for telling stories as a child and causing a dragon named, Kuzo, to burn down Firgaard. If she kills Kuzo and gives his head to her father she will fulfill her task and bring an end to the Old Ways. But more importantly, if she can kill Kuzo she won’t have to marry Jarek.
Sure we’ve seen the whole princess wants to terminate her arranged marriage. But it’s not often you see the princess than falls in love with a slave. I will point out that the slave, Torwin, was never her slave but her betrothed’s. I really enjoyed seeing their relationship unfold. It was a slow burn, which was believable. Asha is a girl who has been told her whole life of cautionary tales of what happens to people who fall in love with slaves and that they are not like her. She spends most of the narrative fighting against the romance. She struggles with these beliefs but in the end, Torwin proves to be loyal and treats her like no one else does.
At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Asha. We see that she is the best dragon slayer but the reason she is the best is that she breaks the law and tells old stories to lure them. She comes across as arrogant, entitled and more than a little dangerous—the perfect mix for an unlikable character. But, as the narrative unfolds, it’s as though she starts to trust the reader and shows us who she is beneath the dragon slayer exterior.
The dragons are not just sprinkled in there as standard fantasy elements. They are just as dangerous, threatening and intelligent as Asha. When they aren’t fighting for survival you see a side of them that’s curious and protective which reminds me of Toothless or Saphira.
I adore the way Ciccarelli weaves in the stories of this world. After a chapter, there might be a story told in fairy tale tradition. The story will be the one Asha tells within that previous section. This is an amazing idea. We get the story without it clogging up the pace of the action scenes.
While I adore the world and the dragons, I would say that it does feel like a debut and the plot feels predictable. However, since I was so captivated by the world, the predictable plot didn’t affect my enjoyment of reading this book.
Similarly, the secondary characters are only there to further Asha’s narrative arc. I don’t feel like I know them. Her brother, while mentioned multiple times he only appears when she’s in trouble. Her cousin, Safire, exists only as a hurdle to Asha’s task and to show her humanity. Everything that happens to Safire is done as a way to keep Asha in line. I would love to see these characters become more fleshed out in the rest of this series.
Overall this is a pretty fantastic start to a new series! I adore Asha and Torwin! The world is amazing—Arabian inspired, dragons, and storytelling. Who could ask for more? All I can say is that it’s going to be a long wait for the squeal!