This calls for a celebration. I finished my reading goal on goodreads! I somehow managed to sneak in one last book yesterday and that means . . . I have a total of 1000 books in my READ shelf!
I’m making a bit of fuss over nothing. There were no fireworks this morning. No CONGRATULATIONS. Nothing exciting happened when I input the latest book. I’ve certain read over 1000 books, but I didn’t always keep a record when I was younger.
Book number 1000 was A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn.
It surprised me by being quite ordinary. I kept expecting action and excitement and romance, but the book kept sliding down a different path. It was more about knowing yourself and your place in the world. For Marni, a princess who has a rather tragic background story – that world is one of magic. Of a forest that moves, that is full of strange laughter and tiny creatures, and, of course, there is a dragon.
This year I encountered five very different dragon worlds. Most of them did not come out this year, but this is when I discovered them.
I’m going to list them below and countdown to my favorite.
5 Best YA novels with dragons that I read in 2015
5. A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn
There is only one dragon is this book. He is something made of myth and story. “There is no familiarity here, no urge to reach out and stroke his razor scales. . . . Yes, there is his size, and his teeth, and his claws, but he is beautiful, pure, and I near wish he would eat me up . . .”
The language throughout Hahn’s book is stunning, and best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Don’t look for action here, but heart. Mostly confusions of the heart. Whether Marni is among humans, or inside the magic, nothing is ever simple.
4. Dragon’s Keep by Janet Lee Carey
The dragons on Wilde Island are predators.
“The dragon’s tongue lashed out like a devil’s whip. He lowered his head, saying ‘Sweet morsel.’ Dragons know many human languages, being sharp-witted and slit-tongued so the words did not surprise me.”
They are deadly monsters who hunt humans. Although the humans have their dragonslayers, they also have a memorial dragonstone to list all the victims the dragon has taken. It’s a very medieval world, and Carey captures that with all its superstitions and dangers.
The princess Rosalind has a strange curse. She was born with a scaly blue-green dragon’s claw, instead of one finger. This “cursed” deformity brings her a surprising connection to the dragons.
This is a story of surviving.
3. The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin
A classic story of dragons that exist at the edge of the world.
The Farthest Shore is the third book in the Earthsea Cycle. It is a slow read too, but it builds as only Le Guin can do it. The Archmage Sparrowhawk and young Arren are on a quest, searching for answers. Why is magic fading from the world? This is not really a YA book, but it’s a coming of age story and masterful written.
The dragons are immortal and wild, both dangerous creatures and irresistibly fascinating.
2. Seraphina and the companion tale: Shadow Scale by Rachael Hartman
I highly recommend Seraphina. It delighted me in so many ways. The dragons especially. It was the best book I read last year. The companion tale Shadow Scale came out this year. It wraps up some loose ends, and explores more of the world, but just wasn’t quite as good as the first. The ending felt a little too much like a deus ex machina.
The dragons in Seraphina are numerous, and they have a human form known as saarantari. Dragons and humans in this world have formed a tenuous peace between each other. No longer trying to kill and destroy, but to learn and communicate. Harder than it sounds. The dragons here are not emotional creatures, like humans are, but rather they are scientific, rational and logical. Mostly. When they take human form they can experience emotions, but they are still dragon.
“I was eleven years old. Orma had been teaching me meditations for months. . . He thrust a mug of water under my nose. I grasped it shakily and drank. I wasn’t thirsty, but any trace of kindness …. was a thing to encourage.
‘Report, Seraphina,’ he said, straightening himself and pushing up his spectacles. His voice held neither warmth nor impatience.
I shifted on the hard floor. Providing me with a cushion would have required more empathy than a dragon – even in human form – could muster.”
A more traditional fantasy, but so unexpected, from the philosophical discussions, the strange inner world Seraphina keeps in her mind and the humanness of dragons, the dragoness of humans.
1. The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
Ah yes, if you haven’t discovered Jasper Fforde then you have to try him. I cannot repeat this enough. His newest series is YA, although I could argue about that, but at least it has all the classic wackiness of Jasper Fforde novel. Instead of classical literature, or nurse tales or aliens – this time the world is all magic. Dragons. Quarkbeasts. Big magic. Little magic. I don’t know how this book doesn’t explode from all the humor and zaniness inside it.
Jennifer Strange is an orphan. There are plenty of orphans around since the Troll wars. Jennifer manages Kazam Mystical Arts, even though she is only fifteen, and as she explains, “Working with those versed in Mystical Arts was sometimes like trying to knit with wet spaghetti; just when you thought you’d gotten somewhere, it all came to pieces in your hands.”
There is only one dragon in this book and one dragonslayer. One dragon left in all the world, and the dragonlands are a highly valued property. Until the dragon dies no one can get their hands on it. Also, magic is dying out in the world. Jennifer’s boss the great Zambini has disappeared and it’s up to Jennifer to sort things out. Don’t worry. Even if she can’t use magic, she has a quarkbeast and the magicians at Kazam may be unusual and mostly old retirees, and, even if things get crazy, it will always be entertaining.
Currently Reading: The gaslight effect: how to spot and survive the hidden manipulations other people use to control your life by Dr Robin Stern
Current distraction: Playing Xenoblade Chronicles X