House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess (448 pages)
In House of Dragons, Five Second-Borns Find Themselves in an Unexpected Situation
With the emperor dead, the five royal families of Etrusia prepare to send their first-borns and their dragon companions to compete for the open throne. Although there’s no rule that these candidates have to be the oldest child from each house, that’s been the case for as long as anyone can remember.
As readers follow a point of view from each house, though, we realize that we’re witnessing something unprecedented: the candidates from each family are not the first-borns who’ve been preparing their entire lives.
Told through five points of view, this novel tells the story of five candidates and their dragons as they compete in a series of challenges to win the throne. Because these characters were not expected to be selected, they’re all a bit out of their depth. Each character brings their own set of skills and fears to the competition making for a gripping yet relatable journey.
Here Be Dragons
In House of Dragons, the competition itself is entertaining, and the uncovering of secrets is intriguing, the high point of this novel is the dragons. Each of the five competitors brings their own dragon; animals they’ve bonded with since they were both children. We encounter five different types of dragons, all with unique personalities and strengths. Watching the dynamic not only between dragon and rider but also among the dragons themselves is heartwarming and, at times, stressful — or worse.
The Bottom Line: 5/5 Brookie Stars
If you’ve read my reviews before, you’ll know I’m a sucker for dragons. While the trope can be overused, Cluess’s portrayal of these mythical beauties is refreshing. Her dragons are almost more like dogs in personality, making for much more relatable relationships. I found myself comparing my own two dogs to two of her dragons.
Cluess also does an impressive job of balancing five individual points of view along with the fantasy elements of her story. The unraveling of mysteries is also carefully done and will keep even the most careful reader guessing.
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Rachel Gomes is a 30-something high school English teacher who lives with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband and their son. Rachel is a voracious reader who loves to learn and has her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. She’s happiest listening to podcasts and talking to friends about the latest news in nerd culture.
Favourite book: Don’t make me choose between A Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter
Favourite brunch spot: The Farmer’s Table