Book Reviews

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis

RATING: 5/5

Oh my goodness…another book that had me welling up and smiling through life affirming heart surges! The Girl with the Dragon Heart is a truly magical book, in all senses of the word, and it caught me in its spell.

BLURB:

Once upon a time, in a beautiful city famous for chocolate and protected by dragons, there was a girl so fearless that she dared to try to tell the greatest story of all: the truth. Silke has always been good at spinning the truth and storytelling. So good that just years after arriving as a penniless orphan, she has found her way up to working for the most splendid chocolate makers in the city (oh, and becoming best friends with a dragon). Now her gift for weaving words has caught the eye of the royal family, who want to use her as a spy when the mysterious and dangerous fairy royal family announce they will visit the city. But Silke has her own dark, secret reasons for not trusting fairies …

Can Silke find out the truth about the fairies while keeping her own secrets hidden? From the author of the magical The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart comes a second magical adventure perfect for fans of Cressida Cowell, Cornelia Funke and Peter Bunzl

REVIEW:

You know you really loved a book when you pick up its sequel and find you’re full of anticipation and excitement about returning to its fictional world. That’s how I felt with this one. I read the first book in the series, The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart, earlier this year and loved it (see my review here). So I was thrilled to get a copy of this one from NetGalley in exchange for a review.

The Girl with the Dragon Heart has all the warmth and adventure of the first book but it most definitely raises the stakes, and I loved this one even more. I’m not sure if it’s because the main character is a human this time (as much as I loved the dragon in girl form – who is in this book too), or if it’s this particular human. Silke is a wonderfully, loveable character and fabulous role model for young girls and boys. It was great to learn her story and ride along inside her head, feeling all her vulnerability, determination and good intentions. And what a fabulous story it is – I mean, Burgis adds fairies, magic and storytelling to the already amazing combination of dragons and chocolate. It felt a little like this novel was written for me and my joyful inner child.

It is wonderfully written – at times truly lyrical – with an enthralling plot that offers a surprise or two. It’s so full of heart – just wonderful. I was lost in this vibrant world.

I especially loved the undercurrent of wisdom and humanity. The plot tackles quite complex ideas about power, loyalty and diplomacy, along with the possibility that true wisdom and strength can lie in the heart of a 12 year old girl – just a magic-less human girl – who has known suffering, lives in the midst of poverty and carefully observes the world around her. Oh, and can also capture an audience with the magic of storytelling. There’s some really insightful and thought-provoking lines that hold real truth, and could offer great discussion points.

This book has all the ingredients of a bestselling middle-grade novel – dragons, fairies, magic, chocolate, danger, wisdom, loss, friendship, courage, several feisty and determined female characters (and some great male ones too), an exciting plot (I could go on) – and I really believe this books deserves to be just that.

WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?

100% yes. I think this is an ideal book for parents and children to read together, as well as one to read alone. It’s middle grade – so aimed at 9-12 year olds, but it’s content is suitable for younger readers who read up, or who are read to. There’s such wonderful opportunities for discussion – so definitely one to share. And of course this is one for all those adults who (like me) believe the best stories are sold as ‘children’s stories’!

The Girl with the Dragon Heart will be published by Bloomsbury Books on August 9, 2018 in the UK, November 6, 2018 in the US and Canada and September 1, 2018 in Australia. Find out more about this book and the author here.

Thank you to NetGalley for my advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

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