by Jessica Day George
Conditional Recommendation: A young seamstress gets an unusual pair of slippers from bargaining with a dragon and becomes a major player in facing the threat against her kingdom.
I picked this book up after a string of poorly written but decent books and let me tell you, my mind sighed in relief as the storytelling easily engaged me and I sunk happily into the fantasy. It’s amazing how much good storytelling can do for you! This has fairytale vibes and a surprising amount of suspense and action considering the main character is a poor seamstress. But crazy things happen when that poor seamstress meets a dragon! I loved the story, the characters were fun, the protagonist was innocently spunky, and the suspense pulled you right along. This is the first book in a trilogy, but it’s seems to me that this could easily have been left at one book since the story wraps up nicely at the end.
Poor Creel. She can’t believe her aunt wants to sacrifice her to the local dragon. It’s a ploy to lure a heroic knight so that he will fight the dragon, marry Creel out of chivalrous obligation, and lift the entire family out of poverty. Creel isn’t worried. After all, nobody has seen a dragon in centuries. But when the beast actually appears, Creel not only bargains with him for her life, she also ends up with a rare bit of treasure from his hoard, not gold or jewels, but a pair of simple blue slippers—or so she thinks. It’s not until later that Creel learns a shocking truth: She possesses not just any pair of shoes, but ones that could be used to save her kingdom, which is on the verge of war, or destroy it.
Creel is a simple country girl needing a job in order to make her way in the world after her parents’ deaths. So, after her unusual experience with a dragon, she makes her way to the King’s Seat, the large capitol city of the kingdom, in order to find work as a dressmaker. I love her innocence and matter-of-fact way of thinking and acting. She is without drama, hardworking, pragmatic, and sincere. She also proves to be a good friend both to dragons and people she meets along her adventure.
I was quite surprised at how suspenseful I found this book! I was on the edge of my seat, even experiencing trepidation at picking up the book to read again because I didn’t know how much more suspense I could take—when would the mystery be revealed? When would the sinister foreshadowing finally rear its ugly head?? Maybe you won’t find it as suspenseful, but the plot sucks you in and is a really enjoyable adventure with dragons, royals, political intrigue, threat of war, good friendships, and tiny slices of romance.
The ending wraps up well but also is really well done in hinting at future hope and adventure. As I said, you could easily be satisfied with this ending and not continue on in the trilogy.
There are, of course, dragons, but no other magical creatures. There’s no magic, but rather mentions of old alchemy and the enchantment of the slippers. This book is very light on the magic and fantasy as far as this genre goes—comparable to Cinderella.
The only thing I want to mention is that Creel prays to the “triune gods” which are a set of three fictitious gods and have no comparison to the trinity of the God of the Bible. Creel prays when she’s in need or desperate, but doesn’t otherwise worship them or perform any religious acts. It’s just a light sprinkling throughout and not a major thread or critical part of the story.
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