Anna has problems. Her fiance, Kevin, is sleeping with her cousin Lily. Her life as a computer tech and researcher seems all right, but something is missing. This all changes when she meets Franklin.
But Franklin has a very serious problem. He believes that he is under a curse. In the past, an ancestor killed the dragon Yaeglik, and all of that ancestor’s descendants have been blessed with wealth and cursed with a short life. Despite this, the two fall in love and it seems that both have found a measure of happiness. But a dragon’s curse can’t be dispelled so easily, and Anna will find this out first hand in a way she will never expect.
Three stars out of five. A good book that’s striking mostly for how different it is, although not always in the best ways.
- Anna is a much different character than usual. I don’t want to say that’s she’s eccentric, but she seems distant from others and not always able to process what they want or need. She’s also passive, and is complex. Somewhat of an odd duck; she’s definitely the type to prefer riding her bike around town than a car, and there’s enough layers to her to make her unusual in Christian fiction. She’s real in a sense, but not heroic at all. More like an average if slightly odd woman gets wrapped up in something she isn’t quite sure how to deal with.
- When the book has the dragon, it’s very interesting. The concepts of the dragon and the city Franklin flees too are the best parts of the book. They honestly needed more space than was devoted to them, especially when you get near the end and its hinted the dragon has its own agenda that it fulfills through people.
- It’s an unusual kind of Christian spec fiction. I tend to call this book magical realism more than straight fantasy, although I’m not sure it’s an apt label. It’s more of a literary novel with decent fantasy elements than your typical fantasy. It’s more about character that is enhanced by the problem of the dragon than say a spiritual fantasy, or an alternate-world one. It uses elements of this, but the tone is different and seems more like it’s be shelved in the literary instead of the science fiction. It’s not bad at all, and shows that indie writers have a lot more freedom to explore tone and genre than mainstream authors.
- Less Anna, more dragon. I think there’s a little too much focus on Anna’s day-to-day life and interactions at the expense of the supernatural aspects of the book. I’m not saying she should shout “By the power of Grayskull!” and go chop Yaeglik up into sushi, but the supernatural stuff is well done and suffers from lack of explanation, while we get tons of scenes early on with just establishing her day-to-day routine and conversation. The ending confrontation was excellent, and you wish more like that would have happened.
- It could have started on the second half, for that. The second half of the book is quite clever, and is stronger than the first. I’m not sure of the explanation why it happened, if the dragon did it or if it was a side effect for Anna being there, but the book started to come alive when that plot twist happened.
- I wasn’t sold on Franklin. Ironically I was sold very much on both Kevin and Jacob, who felt realistic. Jacob especially was well done, and despite his flaws you can’t help but sympathize with him a little. Franklin though didn’t really seem to work for me. He’s a man who either suspects or knows he is beset by a supernatural force and is prone to heart attacks; he should be far more unstable than he was shown. The ending of the first half did this masterfully, but otherwise I really didn’t get him and his actions. Why in God’s name look for love from a woman when he knew how his curse worked? A certain reason comes to mind, but I don’t think explains it because it would throw a ton of doubt on why he latched on to Anna at all.
This was a tough one. The first time I read it, I wasn’t too keen on it, but on later readings it opens up some. In both cases, it was a striking departure from normal Christian fiction, with a literary sensibility and a taste for ambiguity that you don’t find often. It’s a very symbolic book that you could read in multiple ways. Yaeglik isn’t an easy shorthand for the devil, and the novel has on the whole very good characterization.
However, I think it needed a little more explanation to really shine. Things happen, but there isn’t a reason why. Why can Franklin escape into that city when beset by the dragon? Why was it Anna who the dragon didn’t like? How exactly does that dragon fit into a world where people believe in Jesus and God? It may be a toss-up for each reader, as it depends on your tolerance for ambiguity. I think it erred a little too much on the side of it, and could have used some more background. Others might find it fine.
It’s a strong first effort though, and well worth the purchase if you like indie or different fiction.