2014 EVENTS:
Holly Bourne, Non Pratt and James Dawson - 30th October
Becca Fitzpatrick - 15th November

Friday, 14 November 2014

GUEST REVIEW: The Bone Dragon - Alexia Casale

Friday, 14 November 2014
GENRE: Fantasy
PAGES: 320
FORMAT: Paperback
BUY IT: Waterstones
RATING: 5 Stars

Evie's shattered ribs have been a secret for the last four years. Now she has found the strength to tell her adoptive parents, and the physical traces of her past are fixed - the only remaining signs a scar on her side and a fragment of bone taken home from the hospital, which her uncle Ben helps her to carve into a dragon as a sign of her strength. Soon this ivory talisman begins to come to life at night, offering wisdom and encouragement in roaming dreams of smoke and moonlight that come to feel ever more real. As Evie grows stronger there remains one problem her new parents can't fix for her: a revenge that must be taken. And it seems that the Dragon is the one to take it. This subtly unsettling novel is told from the viewpoint of a fourteen-year-old girl damaged by a past she can't talk about, in a hypnotic narrative that, while giving increasing insight, also becomes increasingly unreliable.

This will be a short review to avoid spoilersg. You’ll see in the review-at-a-glance graphic above that I avoided declaring a genre for this one. If pushed, I’d have to go for magic realist thriller (which I realise isn’t an official genre, but it’s the closest fit I can come up with). It’s more magic realist than full-on fantasy, dragon notwithstanding, as it clearly takes place in our world and the dragon is the only fantasy element. The thriller aspect is achieved by means of very close first-person narration by Evie, who is clearly hiding many things. The reader is left to tease out the fragments of information and decide where the half-truths and omissions lie.

This is a gorgeous treat of a read – which is an odd thing to say about such a trauma-filled book – due to its dark beauty and the lyricism of its prose. If the premise intrigues you at all, you should absolutely give it a go.

This is my initial comment on closing the book:

Beautiful, startling and tense. A real struggle to classify by genre, with magic realism elements within a coming-of-age narrative which, at times, feels like a psychological thriller. Evie’s anxieties, fears and development are conveyed perfectly; I have rarely felt I’ve known a character so thoroughly (especially given all the gaps in her narrative).

- Beth.

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