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Book Review: Dragon Rose by Christine Pope

Dragon Rose by Christine Pope

Image: Dark Valentine Press

It’s a cliché to say that it’s a tale as old as time, but Christine Pope’s Dragon Rose is a Beauty and the Beast story that dabbles in all the tropes without falling prey to them.

Rhianne is a quiet artist who just wants to be left alone and not have to marry a man twice her age. She’s a very sympathetic character, smart and likeable without ever coming across as perfect. Realistic for a woman at her time in her world’s history, she knows how to read, but has never had the luxury of books. Her passion is painting, which she’s rarely had the luxury of either, but she has the talent and some training. Through her ups and downs, she carries the book well.

Theran Blackmoor is a man who has been cursed into a dragon, having a pure dragon form and a somewhat humanoid form. He is the monster who summons maidens to his keep – and their doom. Since he has been cursed for five centuries, he’s wise to all the troubles inherent in his plight, and he does his best to avoid them. His world-weariness is the perfect foil for Rhianne’s naiveté, and he has the rich voice of a dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug anyone?).

Like in all of Pope’s Latter Kingdoms books, there is a little magic left in this world. Blackmoor’s curse is the obvious one, but Rhianne herself has “true dreams”, which her grandmother says is a gift from the gods. One night, she dreams that it’s time for the dragon to summon all of the maidens between 16 and 20 to choose his bride, and sure enough, it happens. Circumstances having conspired against Rhianne (in a way that doesn’t feel contrived), she volunteers to take the place of her friend who is soon to be married, and she is whisked away to the Black Keep.

Naturally, she is curious about the dragon’s previous brides, and naturally, information is scarce, but pacing of the clues and the romance throughout the book are quite on point. There are places where I knew what was going on before Rhianne did, but others where I was just as surprised as she was. I read the whole book in one rainy weekend, and I’m looking forward to coming back to it later because it feels like a book that has at least one or two more readings in it.

Christine Pope has written two books based on this trope, Dragon Rose and Breath of Life, and here’s a blog post about it.

Dragon Rose, and all of the Tales of the Latter Kingdoms are available for Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo and as audiobooks from iTunes, Amazon and Audible. Also by Christine Pope: Ashes of Roses.

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