Being a Steampunk-y romp with magic, goats, evil villains, and, naturally, dragons.
Book Review No. 19: Dragonfell by Sarah Prineas
Genre: Children’s Fantasy (middle-grade)
Content for the Sensitive Reader: Family tension, level of battle/suspense/violence typical for fantasy.
Completion Date: Summer 2019
BookmarkedOne Rating: 7/10
So after falling in love with Sarah Prineas’ Magic Thief series, I had to snap up Dragonfell.
I mean, seriously. Dragons.
Was it as good as the story of the irrepressible thief Conn and his Ganalf-y wizard Nevery?
No. Few things are.
But it wasn’t bad. Dragonfell still has that odd hybrid of magic and thread of steampunk that belongs to Sarah Prineas alone. The characters (particularly Rafi) were charming, and she knew all the emotional stops to make it a story worth reading.
Not to mention, of course, dragons.
There is a dragon that hoards books and has little round spectacles.
Along with plenty of dragons that hoard other things and have personalities of their own…but you know which one is important here.
So I guess my main complaint is that it seemed too quick. In The Magic Thief, Prineas had several books to develop the relationships between characters, to settle conflicts. It felt slower, more natural as things fell into place. Dragonfell, we had a single volume.
This could be a bit of my own prejudice, though. I am firmly a Return of the King-style ending type of girl. So long and complete you are shocked when the book actually ends.
The steampunk flair Prineas adds makes Dragonfell something other than your usual dragon-princess-village story formula.
When was the last time you had two dragon-seekers driving an old-fashioned automobile? With goats in the backseat?
If that doesn’t sum up the book’s whimsical nature, I don’t know what will. It’s not overblown, but the light touches of steampunkiness are just about right.
Then there’s the characters.
Maud, determined to see the world and have adventures; and Rafi, who’d rather be at home with his dad and his cliff and his goats. Maud is chatty, scientific, and perpetually good-natured. Rafi is mysterious, quiet, simplistic, and has odd dark eyes a strange smile that seems to be frightening to everyone he meets.
Rafi was my favorite, if I have to be honest…
It also reminded me a bit of the first Dragon Rider book by Cornelia Funke. The strange, loner character, the home of dragons far away in the mountains, the sweet, good-hearted characters and simple villains…but without the references to Eastern religious traditions/reincarnation by way of a magic system.
The ending conflict…well, to avoid spoilers, let’s just say it was dramatic. Perhaps not too dramatic for the age group, but it wasn’t exactly a comfortable picnic. Due to the brevity of the book however, it was quickly resolved and everyone goes on their merry way.
So while it doesn’t have quite the voice or satisfaction of The Magic Thief, Dragonfell isn’t half bad. If you know a young someone (or a not so young someone) with a craving for dragons, it should be just the thing to satisfy.