Review published on October 28, 2017.
All is not what it may at first seem. This is a fantastic YA debut that is exceptionally well crafted. Despite having a large cast, it is easy to get into as well as get engrossed in. There is a yin yang balance towards good and evil that is supported by old backdrop stories, which are punctuated throughout and are very powerful in terms of keeping you hooked into the story, whilst gaining a deeper understanding of what has passed.
Our main protagonist, Asha, is a strong, fearless, yet reflective female dragon slayer. Only dragon numbers are dwindling, so the only way to draw them to her is tell them some of the forbidden stories. But this makes them stronger and able to breathe fire. Asha’s father the king has warned against doing this and stresses the importance of killing all the dragons to atone for her sin when they killed her mother and left her with a permanent scar. Her brother seems weak, yet loyal, and her betrothed who has control of the army is the arrogant baddie you will want to hate. The story is extremely well layered with a complex storyline, with many characters not turning out not to be as they first appear. All the characters are bold and memorable, and the noble dragons in particular have fantastic characters that you readily fall in love with. You definitely won’t want them to get hurt.
The story runs at a rapid pace and the reveals are ongoing and relatively rapid. There is some young romance amidst all that occurs, not necessarily with a really happy ending. There is too much going on to fully capture the whole story, but this makes for a very engaging and compelling read that adults and young people alike can enjoy. Kristen Ciccarelli, I think, will soon have a strong fan base.
Sara Garland 5/3
The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
Gollancz 9781473222854 hbk Oct 2017
SECOND OPINION: House of Spines by Michael J. Malone
The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Edginton and I.N.J. Culbard
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