Thursday, 10 November 2011

review: Dragon's Bait

by Vivian Vande Velde
Harcourt, 2003
young adult fantasy

The day the village decides Alys is a witch is the day Alys gets tied to a stake and left to the mercy of whichever dragon fancies a maiden for a snack. And sure enough, along comes a dragon -- only this one promptly transforms into a human who offers his help in exacting her revenge upon the town that lynched her in the first place. With a dragon by her side, Alys will be unstoppable... but is that what she really wants?
The cover:

So maybe Alys's pose is a little on the scaredy-cat side, but otherwise this cover is magnificent. The earthy colour tones totally yell medieval, while the dragon looking like whoosh of smoke thinning down to a detailed head and forebody is OMG cool. PS: That Booklist blurb says: "Wicked wit and well as a gutsy heroine and a sexy dragon." And man, is he sexy. *grins*

The book:

Short, sweet and wonderful, Dragon's Bait is perfect for people with short attention spans or those who aren't into swallowing high fantasy -- and for everyone else, too. Vivian Vande Velde takes the classic theme of revenge and turns it into an enjoyable fantasy tale for all ages.

Alys. The whole novel is about her personal growth, and watching her develop is the real treat of the story, especially as so much of it happens when she's butting heads with Selendrile (hot name alert!), the dragon. Though Selendrile doesn't exactly condescend to butt heads with her at first. That's what makes reading his gradual loosening up almost as much of a pleasure as Alys's. And the two together? Pure awesomeness. Such unspoken-for chemistry, yet so chaste in the best way -- love love love love love.

The plot is straightforward: Alys wants revenge. The way she gets it, however, isn't: Selendrile wreaks all kinds of havoc with his human form (what can I say?: he's sexy), a witch and her soul enter the equation, and another witch-burning finishes the whole shebang off.

Dragon's Bait is light on the worldbuilding, but it's so much fun -- without being light fluff, too -- that it doesn't even matter. Oh, and have I mentioned how sweet Selendrile is at the end of the book? Seriously, I reborrowed this just to reread that part. <3

Rating: 4.1 out of 5