3 out of 4 stars
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In A Dragon’s Flame, Mercedese Jeffries takes a new look at the age-old tradition of dragons kidnapping princesses. In this world, there are rules by which the dragons are bound when it comes to their princesses, and dragon society upholds those rules rigorously. So what happens when a dragon falls in love with his princess? And what happens when a child born of that union realizes she cannot live safely among humans, but she also does not fit in among dragons?
My favorite part of the book was the dragon society created by Jeffries, with all of its rules. The addition of fixations, quirks that each dragon has that they must follow or go crazy, allows her dragons to both fit in with classic dragon mythos and still be unique.
A Dragon’s Flame is a pretty classic coming of age story; Al’zhah is a half-human, half-dragon trying to figure out where she fits in the world and find those who can love and appreciate her for who she is, not fear or despise her for what she is. The main characters are likable. There is some character growth during the book, especially among secondary characters. Al’zhah does not have as much growth as I would have liked to have seen, but it is there, and the ending is satisfying.
Even with a fairly standard kind of plot, A Dragon’s Flame is not your standard young adult fantasy. It is a young adult, erotic fantasy. I struggled with the idea of this “genre” even being a thing. Most people would never classify young adult books and erotica together. The description I read of the book before choosing to read it made it very clear there would be erotic elements in this book. I was honestly not expecting the young adult storyline.
I started reading romance novels in high school as did many girls I knew. With the exception of some of the erotic moments not being between people who were destined to be together, there was nothing more risque in Jeffries’s novel than you would find in a romance novel. In fact, it was like the erotic scenes were written with young adult (female) readers in mind. There were no vulgar words used. The scenes were actually pretty tame compared to some romance novels, and there were only four scenes in the book, with no even vaguely erotic content outside of those scenes. Do not get me wrong, a movie version of this book as written would get an R rating, but it would be a mainstream movie, not pornography. In fact, as I was trying to gather my thoughts about the book, one of the first ones I had was that if someone had picked up this book for the erotic elements, they probably would have been disappointed. But if I think of the book as being aimed at 17 or 18 year-old young women, it all makes more sense.
The thing that I liked least about this book was Jeffries’s attempt to play with point of view and verb tense. When we are in Al’zhah’s point of view, we are in first person, present tense. But we often switch to other characters’ points of view, at which point we switch to third person, past tense. Present tense verb structure is difficult to pull off when the entire book is written that way. When the book goes back and forth between present and past tense (and not just for flashbacks), it can be really disruptive to the reader. I believe it was also disruptive to the writer, as the most common mistakes in the book were verb tense issues.
I struggled with rating this book. My general thought is, if I can recommend the book, I will give it three stars. If I cannot recommend the book, I will give it two stars. The verb tense issues really bothered me, and it was light on character development for a coming of age story. Those combined with the odd genre had me seriously considering two stars, but in the end, I rate A Dragon’s Flame by Mercedese Jeffries three out of four stars.
The new take on the dragon/princess relationship was wonderful. The dragon society with their rules and the history of the world that gets revealed were truly great fantasy elements. And I could honestly recommend this book to young women in their late teens and early twenties who are looking for a bit of spice in their fantasy coming of age novel.
A Dragon’s Flame
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