Friday, February 8, 2013

Review: Dragon Slippers

Dragon Slippers
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was first introduced to Jessica Day George's writing when I read about her book Tuesdays in the Castle. A sentient castle? Princes and Princesses who need to be in charge when their parents are feared dead? People out to get them? Perfect. As soon as I finished reading it at the end of last year, I put the next book in the series, Wednesdays in the Castle, on my Goodreads Want to Read list.

I don't know why I hadn't gone looking for more of her books. I think it was the sheer number of books already on my plate. So it wasn't until 3:00 this morning, wanting to find something to read on my kindle since I couldn't sleep, that I came across Dragon Slippers. Written in 2007, it is the first book in the Dragon Slippers trilogy. It follows the adventures of Creelisle (Creel) Carlbrun as she is first thrust into her aunt's daft plan of having a dragon - who no one knows for a fact exists - capture her so a nobleman can come rescue her and sweep them all away into the lap of luxury. (I told you it was daft!) Instead, Creel sort-of befriends the dragon and helps him avoid the tedium of fighting the nobleman in return for part of his hoard. It isn't what she expects, and it leads her on a journey she could never have imagined. And all because she wanted to open her own embroidery shop!

I was entranced by this book! For the last couple of weeks, I hadn't been feeling the desire to read. I'd pick up a book, read a few pages, and find something else to occupy my attention. But not Dragon Slippers. I didn't want to put it down to come get my kids ready for school. I had to see how Creel was going to get out of the first dragon's cave. I wanted to know if she'd quit the shop she was apprenticing in. I wanted to know what Larkin was up to. I just had to know more.

Part of what I enjoyed about this book is that it took elements of some of my favorite fantasy and wove them together into a wonderful work that is all it's own. The beginning, with Creel going on a long journey away from a house that didn't understand her had underpinnings of Talia in Mercedes Lackey's Arrows of the Queen (though, to be fair, Creel didn't have it half as hard as Talia did). Her relationship with Prince Luka reminded me very much of the movie Ever After - without her having to pretend she is someone other than who she is. The dragons coming back reminded me, in a small way, of the Dragonlance Chronicles. It was like George took my favorite parts of novels, cleaned up the bits that didn't work, and made it into a cohesive novel.

I loved the strong female characters. Creel had a backbone that I love to see in YA novels, because it shows young women that they CAN do whatever they want to do. The Duchess was the first to really support Creel with her embroidery - and was able to put spoiled Princess Amalia in her place. Even one of the dragons, Niva, is one of the stronger characters in the book. The men aren't exactly week, but generally the human men aren't as fleshed out in this book (beyond Prince Luka and Tobin). But this didn't really bother me - most of the rest of the men were just background characters anyway.

The book's spin on a dragon's hoard was wonderful (though I won't tell it for those who haven't read it and don't want to be spoiled). It was something that I hadn't seen coming but made perfect sense. After all, not all humans are the same, why should all dragons be?

The ending, however, made me angry at my local library. They didn't have the ebook copies of the second book, Dragon Flight for me to borrow. I think I may be spending some of my Christmas money on picking up the series.

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