Book Reviews for She Dreamed of Dragons
Firstly, I know this is marked as a young adult book, but in my opinion, it’s a solid middle grade novel, and I’m going to review it as such.
This reminded me a bit of THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL by Soman Chainani. Trina is a dragon mage, something which is very rare, and she’s a powerful one at that. But as a dragon mage, she doesn’t fit in at the school of mages. But then the school of mages itself is an outcast in a kingdom ruled by witches and wizards. Not much time was spent on the School of Mages (which is a good thing) since the real story happens at a tournament, where from 200 partakers, one will be chosen as the kingdom’s heir.
This entire set up was wonderful. I’m not usually one to get into dragon, witches and castle stories, but this one pulled me in right away. Trina is an enjoyable character, who has several kinks, but knows right from wrong and has a heart of gold. She’s easy to cheer for and adore. The rest of the characters are fun and entertaining. I know several of the reviews here say that there isn’t enough character depth, but for middle grade readers, it’s perfect.
There’s action, and the plot is very well-paced, never leaving a reader of the 8-12 age group time to set the book down. And the dialogue was peppered with humor among the tension, creating a great atmosphere.
The scene descriptions are vivid but never wordy. Most of the book is pushed along through the dialogue and adventure, but this is something I enjoy.
The only thing which I felt was a little lacking were the subplots. The story is pretty laid out, and there’s very little happening with the other characters in the group or any secret, side-line tale. If there’d been a little more of this, I believe this story could have ridden along with the best.
As it is, SHE DREAMED OF DRAGONS is a super, fun read. I can only recommend it to fantasy fans ages 8+.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
This was an interesting magic world. Witches and wizards aren’t the only magical people. There are nonnies (I never figured out exactly what they were). There were also mages who I think were people whose magic powers from other creatures (elves, pixies, dragons, etc)? That was a cool idea. As you’d imagine there is some tension between all the groups. I liked that the hatred made a bit of sense but I liked that it wasn’t plain hatred across the board. Some people were a bit more open minded about being around ‘others’.
I’m always a fan of school settings so She Dreamed of Dragons was fun because of the setting. I also enjoyed the competition feel that was added to the story. These classes weren’t just for education. They were to prepare the future king or queen for their duties. Elements of the story were definitely a bit reminiscent of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Trina was a fairly likable heroine. She wasn’t motivated by ambition. She didn’t want to win. She just wanted to get an apprenticeship. Even when things start falling into place, she still doesn’t want the crown. She just wants what’s best for the kingdom. I didn’t totally love that everything worked out for her all the time. Sure there were some missteps but in the end everything turned out fine. I would have liked to see her struggle because it would have allowed her character to grow a bit more.
The side characters were nice enough but I wanted more from them. Eddy had a nice little turnaround with his feelings toward witches and wizards. I was really hoping to explore that a bit more because the idea of him changing his mind because of a pretty girl is bit disappointing. Fenton was nice enough, just a bit blah. I did appreciate that his and Trina’s relationship progression was slow and natural and no love triangle!
The story ran a bit younger than I was expecting. I think Middle Grade readers could easily read and enjoy the book. In some ways, the book definitely had some MG elements to it. There wasn’t much depth to the bad guys. They were just bad and that’s it. The story also moved along pretty quick and didn’t dwell too much on had happened.
The bottom line? Very entertaining and a quick read!
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.
Overall: 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.
Fifteen-year-old Trina is a dragon mage, attending the poor and decrepit mage academy in a country run by the witches and wizards–the same people that hunted dragons and other magical creatures to near extinction. And the same that are withholding financial support from the academy. So when news drifts in about a Royal Tourney, a competition to find the heir to the throne, Trina and her cousin enter–the only mages in the whole competition–with some hope of gaining support for mages. What she doesn’t expect is becoming the frontrunner. Nor falling for a wizard.
Walker did a great job with this book in that she captured the dislike between two disgruntled races (wizards and mages), created an altruistic and brave heroine, added a touch of romance, and created an exciting plot. I enjoyed it. However, it did feel a bit lacking in some areas. In terms of character development, I felt that Trina was a little bit too altruistic and innocent, in that it came off a tad unbelievable. Especially for her age Also, I never really felt that the villain in the book was given full depth; I still don’t fully understand why it was that she wanted to take over the kingdom. Was it simply that she didn’t think the queen was proper or mannered enough? That seems a bit drastic.
As for the story, I really did enjoy the competition and the other characters involved there. The climax was pretty great, too, although I am sad that the reader did not get to go on the journey with Trina to find a dragon. Overall, it’s a really cute story–an amazing fantasy story with an exciting plot, but not quite the depth I was looking for. I’d still recommend it, though.
I had the opportunity to read this story to review as part of the tour.
For the most part, it was exactly what I expected. Although it is classified as YA (I’m assuming because the age of the characters) it reads more like a middle grade fantasy. It is clean–no foul language and aside from a couple of kisses and the singular use of the term ‘make out’, I feel it is appropriate for a younger audience–I’d let my 10 year-old read it where most YA books would have to wait until she’s older. I’d say this one is a great way to introduce kids to fantasy books and would recommend it as a precursor to books like Harry Potter.
I really liked the characters. I felt that each one was well developed and I liked the way the characteristics of the mages’ magic comes through in their personalities. Trina, as a dragon mage, has powers involving fire. While fire can be uncontrolled and destructive, it can also be warm and comforting. At various points in the story, Trina embodies these very characteristics. Her cousin Eddy is a pixie mage and he can be mischievous and doesn’t tend to take things as seriously as he should but he shouldn’t be discounted for there is more to him than meets the eye. These are just a couple of examples of the incredible way Walker weaves magic into her characters.
The story itself is wonderful. It is well written and achieves the level of believability I like to see in a fantasy. Yes, it is in a magical world where magic is an everyday occurrence but the people still act like people inevitably do. There is prejudice–which effects the Trina, Eddy and Trina’s sister (who is a Nonnie- non-magical) as the only non-witch-or-wizard contestants in the tournament. Despite the way she’s treated by the majority of those around her, Trina still manages to treat others fairly and with acceptance rarely shown to her. The way Trina reacts to others makes this story more than just a fantasy- it also reinforces the merits of human decency. (There is part of the story that kinda reminds me of the episode of Sofia the First where they have the princess test… yes, I also watch kids shows… BTW Sofia is one of my favorites because she exhibits a lot of the same characteristics I admire in Trina.)
I mentioned before that the story was mostly what I expected. There are a few twists I didn’t see coming but I will say they fit much better than the path I thought the story would take. And while there aren’t a lot of details in this particular part of the story, I feel that Trina’s actions begin to reflect what you’d expect in a YA. (I feel I need to clarify something. Trina is a mature character, probably more mature than most YA characters with her developed sense of responsibility and duty. But part of YA is learning to make the tough decisions and she does this by going off-script–it’s one of those twist things–and that is as much of a spoiler as you’re going to get!)
I would gladly pick up another book by this author and if she ever decides to tell what happened in the mountains, I will be first in line to read it!
She Dreamed of Dragons is a fun fantasy that fans of Harry Potter would enjoy. In Ms. Walker’s beautifully imagined world, mages and witches don’t get along. The witches harbor the secrets to their magic carefully and blame mages for turning their king into a spider. Mages, along with fairies, pixies, and other creatures are pretty sure witches eat puppies along with other terrible things.
Trina is a dragon mage, one of the rarest, so there’s no one for her to apprentice to. Her father died trying to restore the king to his human self, but still, the witches don’t trust mages. A sentiment encouraged by some who’d like to take advantage of the weakened queen as she’s (obviously!) unable to bear children to carry on the line.
So a tourney is organized to find the best witch or wizard to become the new queen or king. Mages weren’t invited, but the head of the mage school makes sure that Trina crashes the party and has a little help getting into the competition. Trina has no interest in becoming queen, she only agrees to go to keep an eye on her impulsive pixie cousin.
But soon Trina finds herself at the top of the competition, much to the chagrin of her witch roommate and the powerful Etiquette teacher who’s determined the roommate is the proper lady and potential queen that a mage could never be. It seems the contest is rigged and only if Trina learns to control her dragon powers can she fulfill her destiny as well as complete the job of saving the king.
This was a fun story, with training, testing, and magical points counters similar to a bit of the Harry Potter series, but it’s not nearly as dark of course. There’s a lot of fun like a device that transforms clothing and hairstyles magically for events like the dancing competition and a Halloween party. Trina has to fight her dragon powers overwhelming her and accidentally setting everything on fire. The ending was great (not giving away any spoilers!)
The only complaints I had were a bit of a slow start, not enough conflict with the nasty roommate which makes it read younger than YA, or at least early YA, and when Trina sets off to master her dragon powers, it’s a big, unexpected leap – and the reader doesn’t get to see any of it. She returns and is able to save the day. It felt like this was a much longer book, but something had to be cut to keep the word count down. Personally, I would have sped things up in the beginning and let us see this training. For this reason I give the book 4 stars rather than 5. A minor nit, at times the POV was close third with Trina, but occasionally it would slip into an omniscient voice with a couple head hops. I think only writers would notice this.
Recommended! Kids will certainly enjoy She Dreamed of Dragons.
Throne of Glass meets Harry Potter
October 21, 2014
By Steven (via Amazon)
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
I was impressed by what the author managed to accomplish in this book—to take the best elements of both the “competition for a title” and “school of magic” subgenres of fantasy, and forge them into a very good story. Trina, the protagonist, is a reluctant hero—she only enters the competition to become heir to the throne so that she can find a mage to become apprenticed to, in order to develop her own magical abilities. With some of the very early elements of the story—magically flying mail, a school of magic, you get a sense of wariness that the story might become derivative of Harry Potter or some of the HP clones in that subgenre. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was a very unique plot.
There was some exposition in the beginning that I felt could have been tightened up some, but it’s relatively short. The setting descriptions are done very well—I really felt drawn into the story, and the author did a great job of world-building. The dialogue seemed authentic, like how teenagers would talk. There were some very neat magical touches throughout the story.
I liked Trina’s story arc—she had good character development through the book. There was a very interesting moral choice that she made toward the end. The author uses her to make a good inversion of the whole “damsel in distress” trope. There was a plot twist that I wasn’t expecting, which made for a very good surprise. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I would definitely read more if the story was continued in a series (there was no indication as to whether this was the first book of a series or not). This is a relatively quick read that I think YA and MG audiences would especially enjoy.
The writing is great, and the plot deviates from the traditional tropes
December 29, 2014
By Laura L. (via Amazon)
This Young Adult fantasy novel features a cast of likeable and memorable characters and takes place in a fully-realized magical world in which magical creatures are waning and a kingdom’s future depends on a tournament to crown a new princess. There are many trials and pitfalls along the way that test the book’s heroine, Trina, and serve to strengthen the bonds of friendship she shares with her companions.
The writing is great, and the plot deviates from the traditional tropes of the genre to deliver some pleasant surprises. Recommended for fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain books.