Catherine’s Mini Book Reviews 2

Thursday 22 September 2016 by

A Natural History of Dragons, Marie Brennan, Titan Books, Book, Reading

A Natural History of Dragons

This was both a bookclub choice and came recommended by several people so I was keen to get into it. I quite liked the leisurely pace of the story as it suited the set up that this is the first part of a series of memoirs. Isabella is a bit manipulative, but her older self does own up to it as she recounts her youthful adventures. I loved that science was at the forefront of what would otherwise be considered a fantasy book. The dragons were not treated with the reverence fantasy normally accords them but rather like any other animal worthy of scientific study (including dissection). The setting draws heavily on the Victorian era, including a fair bit of cultural baggage, which allows for a feminist, women in science angle to underpin Isabella. Some of the plot points felt a bit telegraphed; I found myself waiting for them to happen and the map wasn’t usefully detailed. But the illustrations were a fab inclusion and I’m absolutely looking forward to reading the later books and seeing more of Isabella’s evolution and discoveries.

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan is published by Titan Books

Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho, Pan Macmillan, Book, Reading

Sorcerer to the Crown

First off, kudos to Zen Cho who deftly and successfully inserts modern issues and ideas into a book that would fit perfectly in Georgette Heyer’s oeuvre. It feels more like fiction from history than historical fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Zacharias is noble to a fault, a principled gentleman of his time and a fab, if somewhat reluctant, hero. The system of magic and the squabbles with Fairy work beautifully, the discovery of the cork made me laugh. Other magical complications ensured the world-view was broad and characters varied while never jarring against the tone or setting. The story has moments of tension and drama as well as farce and romance, all of which suit the paradigm. Prunella is delightfully complicated, wonderful but not particularly likeable. She is clever as they come and perfectly suited to the politics of a Regency London season, and beyond, but I’m not sure I’d want to be friends with her, even as I admire her. All in all, a seamless blend of two of my favourite genres and a credit to both.

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is published by Pan Macmillan

You can follow Catherine on Twitter: @dogandbooks

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