Stealing the Dragon (Cryselle’s Review)


Title: Stealing the Dragon
Author: Mell Eight
Cover Artist: London Burden
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Length: 27k words
Rating 3

A Guest Review by Cryselle

Review Summary: Comes across as middle grade or very early YA: the story works on plot terms, but the hints of romance sit strangely.

Blurb

Stealing from a dragon’s hoard is never a bright idea, but stealing from a baby dragon’s hoard can lead to tears, sniffles, and smoke in the middle of a busy marketplace.

Jerney, a witch who does work for a well-known thieves’ guild, knows exactly who’s to blame for the brazen theft. With no other choice in the matter, he quickly becomes entangled in trying to help the baby dragon. What he doesn’t expect is that his own heart might get stolen in the process.

The Dragon’s Hoard Series

Review
The promised baby dragon really is a baby—he might look like he’s a seventeen year old human (probably the author’s signal that “yes, I know he’s too young for a sexy story”) but in dragon years that makes him more like a bright four year old. Tori’s adorable, and part of his problem is that even people who know better treat him the way his human form looks, not in an age-appropriate manner.

Uncle Bast, for instance, (that’s Prince Bast to everyone else) thinks Tori’s mature enough to handle an investigation, but if it’s anything more complicated than “who ate the cookies?” he’s really, really wrong. Sending him to the market alone is a lot like sending him to play in traffic.

The traffic in this world is horse-drawn, with a medieval feeling level of technology and a developed magic system. Practitioners absolutely have to be literate and attain levels of skill as they can master them. That’s where we get Jerney, who has to teach himself as he can from others’ magic books. He’s valuable to his wicked uncle/stepfather because he can be sold, and once his mother is out of the way, he will be. Jerney’s an enterprising child and becomes an enterprising young man—he finds a way out of the horrid fate wicked uncle plans for him, his younger brother, and infant half-sister, and comes to prosper. We see enough of his childhood and youth to know his world and circumstances, and he’s in his mid-twenties before he meets the baby dragon. Jerney’s a likeable character, he’s moves in the reality of his world without being hardened by it, and his family feeling is very strong.

When an impetuous thief steals one of Tori’s treasures, we’re set off on a rollicking adventure where the theft must be sorted and wider plots revealed and solved. Both characters’ strengths and weakness contribute to the plot, and the resolution is very satisfactory. Good fun!

Both characters have POV scenes, and the voices are dramatically different, which I thought was good characterization and also part of my unease with this story. Jerney’s voice matures as he goes from a bright six year old to a competent young man, and Tori sounds like the kid he is. So far so good. Then mix the sexual element in here, and it gets a little squicky.

Let me emphasize that there is absolutely no contact between the characters aside from an over-exuberant kiss that Jerney shuts down immediately because it is inappropriate, the action of a child who is learning how to behave and has skipped ahead in his own timeline. Everybody’s clear on this, even Tori, eventually. But the issue has been raised, and the inescapable conclusion is that Jerney’s going to be celibate for the next thirty years, and I don’t even want these ideas floating around in a story where one of the characters comes across as four years old.

There are a couple of secondary relationships in the background. Tori’s much older brother Nyle has a male lover, and their story appears in another book in this series which I plan to read. Jerney’s younger brother is now a young man, and there’s a hint of someone’s interest in him. That was probably meant to be reassuring that the other party wouldn’t do something inappropriate with a child, but it’s actually sort of creepy in an “I’ve been waiting for you to grow up” way.

So where my problems lie with this story is that it’s trying to be everything to everyone. It doesn’t work as a romance, because Tori isn’t a romantic candidate—he’s a child, and not even saying there’s enough lag time to let him grow up will make this work for me. It does work on the adventure/fantasy level, which I enjoyed very much. A version of this story that had all sexual/romantic elements excised (except please leave Nyle and Leon as an established couple) I would put into any eleven year old’s hand. But Tori is just too child-like to make his actual age a consideration. YMMV. 3 stars

6 comments

  • Now I really have to read this story to see how I feel about Tory after reading your review and Sirius’s comment. As you know, I love dragons and I tend to think of them in terms of dragon years rather than human. I had forgotten that Larissa had reviewed this book sometime before so I’m off to read her review again.

    One dragon creating controversy is not unusual. 😀

    Thank you for this lovely review Crys.

    • SPOILER FOR BOOK ONE AT THE END.

      I am so curious what you will think about this book Wave. After Larissa’s review this book became one of my comfort rereads – not because it is perfectly written but because Tory just stole my heart as very few characters from much better written books did . Not that this one is a horribly written story, but you know what I mean. I also think of Tory in dragon years but I feel that to a small degree he absorbed human behavioral traits and I think she did a good job portraying that in his personality. I also think Tory’s curiosity about “relationships” meant to remind us about his unusual conception in book one where his no less curious mommy ( it is a secondary plot, very small moment so I am not telling any significant spoilers here) decided to find out what it means to have sex a human way and then did not realize that she got pregnant a human way and would have to stay in human form for nine months to make sure baby gets born. That also happened after she observed Nyle and Leon. And in this book Jerney cuts down a learning process after a kiss :). I thought it was very funny.

  • Lol this book has the honor of being reviewed twice, that doesn’t happen often! Funny to see how we look differently at this story. 🙂

  • I bought this story after Larissa reviewed it on the site. Adored Tori – probably because of Larissa’s review never thought of it as romance, so for me it worked as a solid four stars. I mean, I hear you about not wanting the hints even but for me, because Tori is a dragon stucked in a human body, the hints were amusing. As Tori says in the beginning – it was hard for him to fake maturity for a long time. The way I interpreted him was that while he is definitely a little baby dragon because he is stuck in human body he at least saw around him how humans like him behave. Not sure if that makes sense. Like when he saw Nyle and Leon – he of course did not know what ” being in relationship” means , he knew on the intellectual level that they are in the relationship. This is not what he would have ever known had he been in his dragon form and still cave bound. So I was ok with him wanting to learn stuff lol. Thanks for the review.

    • I didn’t realize it had already been reviewed. 😯 **Eyes the culprit who handed it to me.**

      • Was that moi? Mea culpa. Remember, lots of stuff happened when I was moving. I was not myself (is that a good or bad thing?)

        Chocolates are in a basket on your doorstep, waiting to be eaten.

        Tori’s mother. 😆

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: