It is extremely unfortunate that I have to do this, but I am hosting Booknest’s reviews for the foreseeable future in regard to SPFBO. Their site was hacked and has not yet been reinstated, so in the meantime, they will have placeholders here
This review was written by Drew McVittie
Miss Mildred Percy has more or less resigned herself to a dreary life at Ashby Lodge when an unexpected inheritance from a dimly remembered great uncle arrives. It doesn’t seem like much; an oddment of books, papers, boxes and pouches. And one curious looking stone…
Having spent seventeen years stuck somewhere between being a tolerated guest and an unpaid governess in her younger sister’s home, Miss Percy has no real aspirations beyond the possibility of someday standing up for herself in the face of said sister’s cutting remarks. The sudden appearance of a chest full of curiosities previously belonging to her eccentric Great Uncle Forthright bequeaths to her sparks of rebellion and self-determination along with it’s contents. Her inheritance, and a chance encounter shortly afterward, leads to her not only forging new friendships; Miss Percy soon begins to take matters, and her life, into her hands in more ways than one.
Speaking of the chest’s contents, it will not be a spoiler to say that the stone mentioned above proves to be an egg which soon hatches into a baby dragon named Fitzwilliam, or Fitz, for short. There’s something endearingly kittenish about Fitz; the scampering after food, the burrowing into blankets, etc. Of course, kittens eventually grow into cats and before long it becomes too much of a risk to keep Fitz in her quiet little village. If the first half of the novel is about the gradual growth of both these characters, the second half is about Miss Percy’s desire to find out more about Fitz and a possible home for him.
The supporting cast often feels like they were made to be mirror images of each other. The warmth and care Mrs. Babbington shows Miss Percy is in sharp contrast to her sister Diana’s cold dismissiveness and the steady help and support provided by Mr. Wiggan serves to highlight the selfishness of the novel’s eventual antagonist. This is perhaps best indicated in their attitudes towards Fitz; Mr. Wigan sees a conscious being to be cared for while the other only sees a commodity to be sold.
If I had to choose a word to describe this book; it would be charming. Miss Percy makes for a deeply relatable heroine; it’s easy to be sympathetic when she is put upon by her family and watching her discovering a purpose and her own worth is a pure joy.
The only thing that I can think of that might deter some readers is that it is a relatively light read that doesn’t delve into fantasy beyond its core conceit. There isn’t even a great deal of dragon lore in this instalment beyond quotes from the titular Guide at the beginning of each chapter. Having said that though, none of that is necessary to make this an enjoyable cozy fantasy. It’s a simple premise, well done.
8 out of 10 Ddraigs.