She Dreamed of Dragons (review)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Title: She Dreamed of Dragons
Author: Elizabeth J.M. Walker
Release Date: August 29th, 2014
Genre: Fantasy - Magic
Age Group: YA
Source: Author
Rating: 3.5 Stars

“Trina is more likely to set the palace on fire with her powers than be a princess – could a dragon mage be the next ruler of the magical kingdom of Dorlith?

Trina is a fifteen-year-old dragon mage in a kingdom ruled by witches and wizards – the same people who have brought dragons and other magical creatures near extinction. Trina can barely control her fire powers and is desperate for an apprenticeship, but finding a fellow dragon mage to be her teacher is proving more difficult than coming across an actual dragon.

Then there’s the Royal Tourney – a competition presented by the Queen to find a successor to the throne. Trina heads to the competition in the hopes of sparking some interest in the mage society and earning herself an apprenticeship.

She never intended to be a frontrunner in the competition.

She never meant to catch the attention of the evil witch trying to take over the throne.

She never expected to fall for a wizard.

Now Trina must face tough decisions about who she is and who she could become. Trina must ask herself: Can she really win the Royal Tourney?”
*Received a copy for an honest review.*

Upon receiving the request to read and review this book, I was immediately captured by the word 'Dragon.'

She Dreamed of Dragons followed Trina, a rare dragon mage, in a time where mages were distrusted and looked down upon. All she wanted was to find a master to teach her to control her magic, but her cousin had something else in mind. With the king under a magical curse, the queen decided to hold competition to select her heir. Trina's presence in the competition was requested in order to keep her high spirited cousin from getting into too much trouble.

I read a lot of paranormal books, and witches/wizards and mages are a frequent topic. Often the two groups are used interchangeably, with only a few differences. So it was interesting the read a book, not only with the two groups, but where they were also enemies as well. At first I wasn't sure they're were going to be any differences, part of that I believed to be plot related so we can learn they weren't too different by the end. But I was pleasantly surprised to learn their were more than just magical cats and broomsticks differentiating them.

As a dragon mage, Trina is imbued with strengths of a dragon. Most get super strength or inherited magical abilities, but Trina's connection to fire is far stronger than any like her. What could have easily turned into another "special girl" plotline, took a refreshing turn. Even though she was the first female dragon mage in many years, she didn't let it go to her head, and she didn't think she was hot shit. Yet even though she cannot see her greatness and was self-conscious like a typical teenager, something about her strength kept this book from falling into the undeserving-average heroine trap.

I liked Eddie. He was this jokester type of character with a grudge against witches/wizards. After a mage tried to kill the king, their country turned on the rest of the mage population and held them all responsible. Being one of only two mages in the competition to rule all, Eddie doesn't have it easy. Tensions were high, and Eddie had a tendency to redirect his frustrations and turn them into insults against the witches/wizards. I fully expected to hate him because of that, but watching him look out for his cousin you begin to see how much he was projecting to protect those he cared about.

I was expecting some sort of romance, even before I saw it in the blurb, and of course she'd fall for a wizard. While it was predictable, first wizard we saw, I didn't hate the romance. Fenton wasn't a bad character. He was cute in that geeky, aloof sort of way. While he wasn't the greatest wizard of all, he was a decent love interest. I just didn't particularly ship them as a couple. But the romance was just another element of the book, not the focus, so it all worked out. I particularly loved that about the book. She had more important things to focus on, and while the romance was a nice touch for her life, she was able to focus on what needed to when she needed to and didn't get distracted by it.

The world of She Dreamed of Dragons was interesting. At times it felt like a pure fantasy world, with kings and queens and magic. But at others I couldn't quite tell when it took place. There was talk of media that felt more in tune with today's media. "Photos" and "cameras" kind of thing. So I couldn't quite get an initial feel of the book. Add in a slow start, and I wasn't sure where this story was heading.

But as we moved a long, and got deeper into the competition I grew to like the story. There were aspects of this world that I really loved beside the characters. The magical clothing archway and their system of mail to name a few. And the story itself was entertaining.

She Dreamed of Dragons started off with an uncertain future, but it had plenty to keep my attention. I'm glad I got a chance to read this ebook. It was cute, had fun characters, and intriguing plot. A young adult reader or even a middle graded reader would enjoy this story. Older readers looking for fun story about finding and learning to believe in yourself might like this novel as well.

"Trina never liked it when people labeled mages as being all the same -it felt wrong to assume all witches and wizards were the same." (9%)

"Weel, what's with being miss nice-to-every-witch-she-meets all of a sudden?" (Eddie)
"Because I know what it's like to sit in a meal hall full of happy people surrounded by friends and be the only one eating lunch by myself. (Trina) (23%)

"I just...I want someone to tell me what I'm supposed to be doing." (Trina)
"I don't...I don't think anyone really knows what they've supposed to be doing. Not now. Not ever. Everyone just keeps on going...Maybe hoping one day they'll know..." (Fenton) (62%)

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