by Cecelia Holland
I picked this up on a whim; the cover and synopsis made it sound like yet another maiden-befriends-a-dragon standard fantasy novel, with her family in the balance. I was wrong. I’d never heard of the author, but apparently she has been writing historical fiction since the 60s, and she took that wealth of experience and added a dragon to make this gothic tale of a family fighting to keep their sovereignty against an encroaching empire.
I actually wish the dragon had featured in the story more than he did; I want to know more about his history and why he was so intrigued by Tirza. Why they could understand each other when no one else could. I’m disappointed that was never explained.
The mysteries of the castle were never really explained, either, though one of the stories Tirza tells the dragon hints at it. Castle Ocean seems to be alive, in some ways, refusing to be altered from its original construction by slowly reverting any changes and luring invaders down dark hallways they will never find their way out of again. The gothic atmosphere of the novel was fascinating.
It definitely absorbed my attention for several hours. I’d give it a 3/5, I think. Not incredibly outstanding, but well done and a little hypnotic.
From the cover of Dragon Heart:
Where the Cape of Winds juts into the endless sea, there is Castle Ocean, which is either haunted or simply alive, and therein dwells the royal family that has ruled it from time immemorial. But there is an Empire growing in the east, and its forces have reached the castle. King Reymarro is dead in battle, and by the new treaty, Queen Marioza must marry one of the Emperor’s brothers. She loathes the idea and has already killed the first brother, but a second arrives, escorted by more soldiers. While Marioza delays, her youngest son, Jeon, goes on a journey in search of his mute twin, Tirza, who needs to be present for the wedding.
As Jeon and Tirza return by sea, their ship is attacked by a shocking and powerful dragon, red as blood and big as the ship. Thrown into the water, Tirza clings to the dragon and after an underwater journey, finds herself alone with the creature in an inland sea pool. Surprisingly, she is able to talk to the beast and understand it.
So begins a saga of violence, destruction, and death, of love and mosters, human and otherwise.
This sounds entertaining – in dragon books, though, I usually end up wishing there were more dragons!