Book Review: A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent

 

Anyone who knows me, based on the title and cover of this book, would think that I would be stark raving bonkers over it. Madley, passionately letting my inner geek out to play with the dragons.

Eh. Not so much.

This is one of those novels that I circled around forever. Sometimes, when I finally bite it is a great read. This time, it was a pretty good story, but the voice in it kind of… hmm… how to explain it.

The voice of the character is spot on. Isabella is writing after a long career, obtaining and sharing knowledge of her beloved dragons. A pragmatic scientist in a country and time that didn’t allow easily for women to do such… well… she finds a way. Through her husband.

Using Lady Trent’s voice is both brilliant and little bit off putting. There are clues hidden here and there, among things that she says to her readers or about her editors. Things that contemporaries of hers would know, but we the reader wouldn’t. Such as the following:

(SPOILER ALERT BELOW>> SPOILER ALERT BELOW)

The careful reader will remember that she signs the preface as Isabella, Lady Trent. But her husband wasn’t anything beyond a Mr. Hmmm….. I knew what was coming before it did, but even still…. it just was… too remote.

The voice, however, also puts a wall between action and emotion. It’s a little old fashioned that way. I wasn’t as intently invested in this book as I have been in others simply because of that wall. I may be a lazy reader, but I just didn’t feel like breeching the wall and taking apart the book piece by piece.

I did end up reading it all the way through— if it had been atrocious there was no way that that would happen.

Mixed feelings on this one, peeps. Have any of you read it? What did you think? Have you read any books that you couldn’t decide if they were good or not?

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