This is quite a ride. Steampunk, meets dragon lore, meets romance. A tomboy heroine. A magical watch. A bad lord – and a yummy one. Being in love with your best friend’s fiancé. And dragons. This book has it all…
When Wylie’s father dies she discovers a strange device hidden in his bed, and that’s when the adventure begins. In trying to save her home from being razed to the ground Wylie begins to understand just what she could become. She discovers that she may lose the love of her life in order to fulfil her destiny. Which way will she jump?
All of this is set against a backdrop of nineteenth-century London, a backdrop that is well researched and well written, and doesn’t seek to sugar coat the dirt or the danger to be found on the streets.
A Perfectly Charming Tale Where Steampunk Meets Dragons
‘A dragon emblem took up the entirety of the front, and its wings opened to reveal the watch face.’
When Wylie’s father dies, little does she know what she has inherited from him. The pocket watch she finds turns out to hold more than sentimental value. Which is as well because her best friend’s father is trying to throw Wylie and her fellow residents out of their homes – oh and the man she loves is her best friend’s fiance. This wonderfully tangled human triangle is set in a steampunk alternative version of 19th Century London – but a steampunk with dragons!
The cover of this book is one of the most eye-catching and attractive I have seen for a long time. I am normally not a fan of the ‘headless torso’ style, but that is because that torso is usually mostly naked. This cover seems to excel by throwing the emphasis onto the dress, style and atmosphere – and if captures it perfectly.
‘The great airship parade had all of lower London mafficking about like a herd of wild horses.’
The book is written in an odd, slightly naive, style with wonderful archaic dialect words like ‘lollygagging’ and places with names like Lugwallow sprinkled into the text to give it a kind of alien quaintness. The story progresses for most of the time at a sharp clip and has some unexpected twists along the way. The characters are all delightfully painted and I especially liked Quincy!
The story is a marvellous mix of adventure and love story, with a tale of friendship, trust and betrayal woven in. The world it is set in seems very real, even if the supernatural morality is a little confused – more on that in a bit. The tale told has a warmth and feel-good sense to it and is usually well-paced to keep the reader engaged and turning pages. I really wanted to know how it would end – and was gasping alongside Wylie at the twist…
“The whole essence of humanity is inherently evil as a matter of fact.”
On the downside though, there is a very dry journal section that gives an overlong chunk of exposition in the middle of the book, which I felt could have been shortened considerably as it really slows the whole of the story down and takes us away from the key events. My other major gripe is with the morality. Firstly the assertion made by Wylie’s mentor that humans are inherently evil – I beg to differ. In fact, having stated this, the book then gives it the lie by the warm-hearted and loving behaviour of so many of the characters – even one who should be the personification of evil!
Then it says that good and evil have to be ‘balanced’. This is often used in YA fiction and never makes any sense to me. The argument goes that good and evil must both happen equally and one must not be allowed to happen more than the other. So, if I torture this innocent puppy to death you can then help those ten little old ladies across the road. If I didn’t torture that puppy, you couldn’t help them, as that would be unbalanced good. The book offers no reason for why unbridled good would be a bad thing – probably because it clearly would not be.
But I can forgive this book all that. Because this is a book that is wonderfully sweet without any saccharine, has lashings of charm, a story that draws you in and a heroine who you care about passionately before you have finished the first chapter. Oh – and it has dragons! I loved it!
The Dragon Lady is the first in The Dracosinum Tales series of books by Angelique S Anderson