Monday, October 7, 2013

All About Middle Grade Reviews: The Handbook for Dragonslayers

The Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell, May 28, 2013. 336 pages. Published by HarperCollins. Source: Library.
Tilda has never given much thought to dragons, attending instead to her endless duties and wishing herself free of a princess's responsibilities.

When a greedy cousin steals Tilda's lands, the young princess goes on the run with two would-be dragon slayers. Before long she is facing down the Wild Hunt, befriending magical horses, and battling flame-spouting dragons. On the adventure of a lifetime, and caught between dreams of freedom and the people who need her, Tilda learns more about dragons—and herself—than she ever imagined.

Merrie Haskell, author of The Princess Curse, presents a magical tale of transformation, danger, and duty, starring a remarkable princess as stubborn as she is brave.
First Sentence:
That's the sixth knock this morning.

One of the things I cannot resist when it comes to books is dragons. I’m not sure how it came to pass, but I do love me a great fantasy book that makes use of dragons.

It has been some time since I’ve read a decent fantasy book that featured dragons…okay, not that long since the last one was when I discovered Dealing with Dragons. But what made this one stand out was the way the characters viewed them-some saw them as pure evil while others were only really bothered by the ones that caused destruction.

While I ended up loving Tilda, Judith, and Parz, what I enjoyed the most in The Handbook for Dragon Slayers was the setting and the combination of The Wild Hunt, Dragons, and the saints and knights that protected their lands. I loved the way Merrie Haskel combined the various story elements to make a wildly entertaining fantasy read wrought with adventure with a story that makes you look behind the appearance of people to see who they are on the inside. In short, the tale of Mathilda and her struggle to find her place and accept her role as princess (while seeing that there are those who care about her even with her foot) is one that you do not want to miss.

Even though The Handbook for Dragon Slayers was really good, the first twenty-five pages were a little slow going. While it may have taken a little time for the story to pick up and for me to get into the characters head, I ended up enjoying this book immensely because the author did such a great job with Tilda’s story and progression of her character (from that of one thinking only of herself and her unhappiness to that of one willing to stick around and do what is right). So, the only problem I had with this book is the slow start, but in the end the slow beginning is not in itself such a bad thing.

Final Verdict: The Handbook for Dragon Slayers – A remarkable fantasy story about overcoming your limitations and giving your all. I’m sure that everyone will find a little of themselves reflecting back to them as they read about Tilda.

The Handbook for Dragon Slayers earns 4.5 out of 5 pineapples.

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