A Natural History of Dragons: Lovely Language, Needs More Dragons

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Madeleine’s Score: It was okay—wouldn’t read it again
(3/5 cool points)

First, I must admit that I didn’t look into this book before reading it. I was simply drawn in by the GORGEOUS cover and the fact that it was about dragons. I also knew it was written as a fictional memoir, but that’s about it.

Therefore, while I hoped for a sweeping tale riddled with all manner of dragons throughout, complete with grand action and epic romance, it turns out that such a book is precisely what the narrator, Lady Trent, does NOT read herself—she prefers natural history to “sensational novels,” and her own story reads much more like the former.

Even the bit of romance we get in the book between Lady Trent and her husband is viewed through a practical lens, with emotions surfacing infrequently (and such emotions surprise Lady Trent when they appear). Had I done my homework before jumping into this book, I likely would have given it four stars instead of three, but I can’t help being disappointed that there weren’t dragons on every page or a sweeping narrative propelling me forward.

Where the book really succeeds is in the unapologetically scientific character of Lady Trent, as well as in the crisp, clean language that would occasionally include a poetic phrase of such beauty that it made me stop reading—“The dragon within my heart stirred, shifting her wings, as if remembering they could be used to fly.”

I may have wanted more dragons (and I still do), but this book is lovely despite their intermittent presence.

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